Just in case you have never watched TV, read a book, seen a movie, or looked at the comics, here is a brief history of Superman:
Shortly before the planet Krypton exploded, Superman (then known by his birth name, Kal-El) was put into an escape rocket by his parents and sent off into space. After crash-landing on Earth, he was discovered by John and Martha Kent, who raised him as their son, Clark Kent. As young Kal-El/Clark grew, he discovered his various talents, such as incredibly powerful strength and the ability to fly. Relocating to Metropolis, Clark began to live a dual life, working as a reporter for the Daily Planet, but turning into Superman whenever trouble surfaced.
The character of Superman first left the comics pages in the 1941, starring in several animated theatrical shorts. He then moved on to enjoy a successful radio show during the 40s, a popular live-action TV version starring George Reeves in the 1950s, and even a 1966 Broadway musical.
Almost ten years after the live-action TV show was cancelled, Superman returned to the small screen in The New Adventures of Superman. The series utilized the same basic cast as the 1940’s radio version, and consisted not only of stories about Superman’s world-saving exploits, but also of segments that showed him as a boy in rural Smallville. One Superboy cartoon played between two Superman episodes each half-hour show. Bud Collyer, who had provided Superman’s voice for both the Fleischer cartoons and the radio broadcast, reprised his role in this version, too.
The strong point of this version was its faithfulness to the comic book. The show featured villains from the printed stories, like Mr. Mxyzptlk and Brainiac.
In the show’s second season, Superman shared time with other DC heroes in The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. Regular episodes under the titles The New Adventures of Superman, The Adventures of Superboy and Aquaman aired alongside a rotating lineup of extras, including The Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern, The Atom, Justice League Of America, and Teen Titans. In its last season, Batman replaced Aquaman, resulting in The Batman/Superman Hour.
Sadly, Superman was as vulnerable to bad ratings as he was to Kryptonite. Hanna-Barbera’s Space Ghost finally proved to be too much competition for the Man of Steel, who left the cartoon airwaves in 1969.
Superman retained his membership in the Justice League, which kept him employed on Saturday morning’s Super Friends well into the 80s. CBS gave him another solo shot in 1988, but this version went the way of Krypton, destroyed after one season.
The most recent incarnation of the man with the “S” on his chest came in 1996, with The New Superman Adventures. Animated in the angular, darker style of Batman: The Animated Series, this Superman caught on with 90’s kids, becoming a mainstay of Fox Kids’ afternoon lineup.