Clark Kent

From Academic Kids

This article is about a fictional character. The name Klark Kent is also used as a pseudonym by Stewart Copeland.
Missing image
Superman_296.jpg
Superman and Clark Kent. From Superman #296, February 1976. Art by Curt Swan.

Clark Kent is the civilian secret identity of the fictional character Superman.

Clark Kent's personality is traditionally described as being "meek" and "mild-mannered", and meant to hide his superhero alter ego. As a result, Clark usually avoids doing things that would make himself stand out, and adopts fairly conservative and introverted mannerisms. Clark Kent's traditional wardrobe consisted of a blue suit, red necktie, black glasses, and combed-back hair. To further distinguish between his two alter egos, Clark would also speak in a slightly higher-pitched voice and slightly slouch.

When changing into his superheroic identity, Superman would usually place his Clark Kent clothes in a secret pouch hidden in his cape. A few stories, however, have shown Clark discarding his clothes outright, depending on the circumstances and the story's artist. In the earlier comics, Clark's glasses were made from round-shaped glass fragments from the rocket that brought him to Earth as a young child, enabling him to use his heat vision while wearing his glasses without having the lenses melt. Recent comics show Clark with glasses made of ordinary lenses, requiring him to lift his glasses in order to use his heat vision.

Clark's occupation is as a reporter for the fictional city of Metropolis' newspaper, the Daily Planet. Coworkers there include Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Perry White.

As a result of Clark's personality, he traditionally found himself snubbed romantically by Lois Lane, who usually thought of him as too much of a wimp. More recent comics have reversed this, however, with Clark successfully proposing marriage to Lois in the early 1990s; eventually, Clark and Lois were wed in 1996's Superman: The Wedding Album.

Clark Kent traditionally lived at 344 Clinton St., Apt. 3B, a modest apartment building in midtown Metropolis. In the recent comics, the married Clark and Lois live in an apartment at 1938 Sullivan Lane.

Contents

History

Over the years, the comics have presented three major different versions of Clark Kent, with differing details.

Golden Age

In the original Golden Age comics, an infant from Krypton (originally named "Kal-L", later changed to "Kal-El" by the 1950s comics) landed on Earth during the ending years of World War I, and was adopted by John and Mary Kent (also sometimes called Sara and Eben Kent) of Smallville. Over time, Clark slowly discovered that he possessed an array of superpowers.

In 1938, Clark found himself orphaned again, as his foster parents had both passed away. He decided to move to Metropolis, and began work at the Daily Star (the name was changed to the Daily Planet in the 1940s) as a reporter. He also began his superhero career as Superman at this time.

After the establishment of DC Comics' multiverse in the 1960s, it was declared that this version of Clark Kent existed on the parallel dimension world Earth-Two, home of the Justice Society. Explaining away the changes made in the earliest comics, it was decided that the Daily Star existed only on Earth-Two, while the Daily Planet was its Earth-One counterpart. In a similar fashion, Clark's birth name on Earth-Two was "Kal-L", while his birth name on Earth-One was "Kal-El".

It was revealed in a series of flashback stories in the 1970s that the Earth-Two Clark had married his world's Lois Lane in the 1950s, after a spell cast by the Justice Society foe the Wizard caused Clark to forget about his superheroic alter-ego, and allowed him to behave in a less introverted and more "natural" manner, which attracted the attention of Lois. The same flashback stories also revealed that Clark became the editor-in-chief of the Daily Star.

In the aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths, this version of Clark was written out of continuity, and both he and Lois were sent to a paradise-like alternate dimension to spend eternity together.

Silver Age

In the Silver Age or Earth-One continuity (i.e. comics published starting circa 1955 and up through 1986), the two-year-old Kal-El of Krypton was discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent of Smallville, soon after his spaceship had landed on Earth. Adopting the infant and renaming him "Clark" (using Martha's maiden name), they raised the infant on their farm outside Smallville, where they soon discovered Clark had amazing superpowers (fueled by Earth's yellow sun and its lower gravity, versus Krypton's red sun and high gravity).

The Kents sold their farm while Clark was in preschool, and moved into Smallville (next door to Lana Lang), where they bought a general store. At the age of eight, Clark adopted the superhero identity of Superboy, and fought crime in Smallville until he moved to Metropolis after high school and the deaths of the Kents. There, Clark attended Metropolis University, changed his name to "Superman" sometime during his junior or senior year, and after graduating with a bachelor's degree in journalism, went to work at the Daily Planet.

While Clark stayed single through the entire Silver Age, various stories that took place in alternate futures strongly suggested that he would eventually marry Lois.

In the anthology comic Superman Family in the 1970s and 1980s, a regular series of stories called The Private Life of Clark Kent featured Clark in tales in which he did not change into Superman, but instead had adventures that required he use his powers more subtly.

Modern Age

After comics writer John Byrne rewrote Superman's origin in the miniseries Man of Steel in 1986, various aspects of the above versions of Clark were radically changed.

In this revised version, Kal-El was sent to Earth as a fetus in a "birthing matrix" with a rocket engine attached, and was fully "born" once he landed on Earth where, as above, he was found by Jonathan and Martha Kent. Raised on the Kents' farm outside Smallville, Clark slowly gained superpowers, with said powers fully emerging around his senior year in high school. After graduating, he confided to Lana Lang about his powers, and then left Smallville to travel and explore the world for several years.

After this, Clark moved to Metropolis, and enrolled in Metropolis University. After graduating with a degree in journalism, Clark was hired by the Daily Planet, where he met Lois Lane. In the early 1990s, Clark successfully managed to propose marriage to Lois, and revealed to her his secret identity. This caused Lois intense heartbreak during the Death of Superman story arc in 1993, as to all appearances her fiancee was dead. After his revival, Clark's hair had grown considerably from his normal appearance, and since his superpowers toughened his hair to be more than a match for any scissors, he compensated by wearing his hair tied back in a ponytail normally but loose in his Superman persona. In 1996, the two were wed in Superman: The Wedding Album.

This version of Clark was written to be much more aggressive than his Golden Age or Silver Age counterparts; he was presented as Smallville High School's top football player, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, and particularly self-confident. This might stem from the decision by Byrne to make Clark the dominant emphasis instead of Superman. During the 1990s when Perry White was incapacitated with and for cancer treatments, Clark stepped into his shoes as managing editor of the Daily Planet.

The 2004 miniseries Birthright has altered aspects of Clark's origins yet again; what impact on Clark's comic portrayal this will have remain to be revealed.

Kent Family History

In the current Superman continuity, it was revealed that the Kent family in the 19th century were noted abolitionists who assisted the personnel of the Underground Railroad, like Harriet Tubman. The family moved to the territory of Kansas during the infamous Bleeding Kansas period to promote the cause of creating a free state by running a newspaper for the region.

Unfortunately, the family patriarch was murdered by Border Ruffians who wanted to silence him. Furthermore, the sons, Nathaniel and Jeb, argued and had a parting of the ways so deep about slavery that they found themselves on opposing sides of the American Civil War with Jeb fighting with the notorious Confederate guerrilla unit lead by William Quantrill. Nathaniel fought for the North and married a half-Native American woman who gave him a special traditional spiritual symbol that was apparently a forerunner and inspiration for Superman's chest symbol.

After the war, Nathaniel became a sheriff in Smallville, while Jeb became the leader of a group of bandits. Eventually, Jeb discovered he had a son out of wedlock years ago, and allowed him to join his gang. Unfortunately, his son turned out to be a murderous sociopath and Jeb approached his estranged brother to arrange a trap to stop his son.

Unfortunately in springing the trap, the son mortally wounded his father before being killed himself and Jeb fully reconciled with Nate before dying. Nate remained in Smallville and there the Kents have stayed for generations, including Jonathan and Martha Kent, Superman's adoptive parents.

In other media

Radio

  • Bud Collyer was the first actor to portray Clark Kent/Superman, in the long-running Superman radio program of the 1940s.

Movies

  • Bud Collyer also provided the voice(s) of Clark Kent and Superman in seventeen theatrically-released cartoon shorts for Paramount from 1941 to 1943.
  • Jeff East portrayed the teenaged Clark Kent in the 1978 Superman film.

Television

  • Johnny Rockwell portayed Superboy/Clark Kent in an unsold TV pilot, The Adventures of Superboy in 1961.
  • Bud Collyer returned to voice Clark Kent and Superman in TV cartoons of the 1960s.
  • Bob Hastings provided the voice of Clark Kent/Superboy in TV cartoons of the 1960s.
  • Beau Weaver gave voice to Clark Kent/Superman in the 1988 Superman cartoon.

See also

External links

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