The Man of Steel

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The Man of Steel

There is arguably no more iconic superhero in the DC Universe than Kal El, better known as Superman. The Big Blue Boy Scout has been saving the world since 1938, and with Knight Models releasing some of the most exciting Superman miniatures to date, we’re going to take a look at the history of this mighty hero.

“It’s not the powers. Not the cape. It’s about standing up for justice. For truth. As long as people like you are out there, I’ll be there. Always.”

– Superman

Superman was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster in 1933, originally appearing as a bald, telepathic villain bent on world domination. Siegel and Shuster decided to re-write the character as a hero, re-imagining him from the ground up. Little did they know, they were about to create a legend in comic-book history. They drew inspiration from classical mythology, such as Hercules and Samson, and Shuster came up with a colorful look based on pulp science fiction comic strips and circus strongmen – creating the spandex-clad, caped crusaders that would go on to inspire superhero imagery for decades to come. In June of 1938, Superman made his debut in Action Comics #1 and since then he has become not only one of the most famous and iconic super-heroes of all time but also one of the most popular fictional characters ever.

Rocketed to Earth from the dying planet Krypton, the infant Kal-El was found by farming couple Jonathan and Martha Kent, who named the boy Clark and raised him as their own. They instilled in him strong moral values – and inspired him to become a hero. Under the rays of a yellow sun, Clark’s Kryptonian physiology grant him extraordinary abilities. Superman has super-everything – strength, speed, flight, and invulnerability, as well as his renowned X-ray and heat vision. The most powerful being on the planet, his amazing abilities are also a melancholy reminder of how different he is from the people he’s dedicated to protect. 

A universal icon, Superman means different things to the many diverse people he inspires: He’s an alien; an immigrant from a faraway land just looking to help; a country boy fighting the never-ending battle for truth and justice; a moral crusader against evil corporate tycoons and corrupt one-percenters that have overwhelmed the establishment. Superman is an unswervingly devoted to justice and morality – the gold standard of what all mankind must surely aspire to.

The Justice League of America

Even Superman needs a little help from time-to-time, and when he does, it is to the Justice League that he turns. Greater than the sum of their awe-inspiring parts, the JLA handles threats too massive for any single hero. Made up of the world’s greatest super heroes, their membership inflates and contracts around each new threat, but the core line-up is known as the Big Seven: Superman, the most powerful hero in the world; Batman, the apex of physical and mental human achievement; Wonder Woman, the Amazon’s princess and greatest warrior; Green Lantern, an intergalactic cop armed with his own power ring; the super-fast Flash; Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas; and Cyborg, a half-man/half-robot outfitted with the world’s most advanced technology.


Since his first appearance in Action comics No. 1 in 1938, and securing his own title in June 1939, superman has been through many incarnations and seen various changes to his origin story, his powers, and his famous costume. More than that, various continuities have sprung up around the Man of Steel, from the Supermen of alternate universes to reimagined versions by superhero alumni such as Stan Lee and Grant Morrison. Of all these variants, it is the non-canonical Elseworlds series that provided perhaps the most popular alternate Superman stories of all time.

Kingdom Come

In the not-too-distant future, most of the superheroes we know have retired, following the lead of Superman, and paving the way for a younger generation of heroes to come to the fore as Earth’s defenders. Unfortunately, many of these young metahumans have lost their way, preferring to battle each other rather than protect the weak.

When the Justice Battalion – a team of so-called heroes led by Magog – destroys Kansas during a super-powered battle, Superman realizes that he can no longer ignore what is happening in the wider world. Stepping out of retirement, the ageing Man of Steel calls upon his former contemporaries, including Wonder Woman, Red Robin, and Green Lantern (Alan Scott). The stage is set for an epic battle of old versus new, as these veterans seek to curtail the excesses of a callous generation.

Red Son

In an alternate timeline Superman’s spaceship lands not in Kansas, but in Soviet Russia. Instead of being raised to fight for ‘Truth, Justice, and the American Way’, Kal-El fights for Stalin and for socialism, the champion of the common folk. During the arms race between USA and the Soviet Union in the 1950’s, Superman is revealed to the world as the Soviet secret weapon. The Americans turn to Lex Luthor to rid the world of Superman, but Luthor fails, becoming the Red Son’s mortal enemy in the process. After Stalin’s death, Superman vows not to become ruler of Russia, but as an agent of peace for the entire world. Unfortunately, in his efforts to bring about world peace, he unwittingly allows Brainiac a measure of control over countless civilians, creating a Global Soviet Union.

When Brainiac’s schemes are revealed, Superman is forced to fight a host of villains, and even former comrades, until he finally defeats Brainiac but seemingly perishing in the attempt. With Superman gone, the Global Soviet Union falls apart, and Luthor steps into the power vacuum to stabilize the world.

Countless years in the future, Earth becomes threatened by the collapse of the Solar System’s now red sun. Lex Luthor’s far-future descendant, Jor-L, decides to send his son, Kal-L, back in time just before Earth explodes – back to a Soviet-controlled Ukraine in 1938…

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The Fall of Krypton

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The Fall of Krypton


Krypton was the home world of Kal-El, better known as Superman. It was a distant planet which orbited a red sun, and was once home to a technologically advanced civilization.


Over 200,000 years ago, Krypton had developed scientific advancements far beyond those of present-day Earth. It’s greatest scientists conquered disease and aging by perfecting cloning; vast banks of clones, kept in stasis, held multiple copies of each living Kryptonian so that replacement parts were always available in the event of injury. Kryptonians became effectively immortal, and for millennia they enjoyed an idyllic existence. However, as with all utopias, eventually the rot began to set in. The dangers of scientific progress without ethical concerns had a great impact on Kryptonian society. Wars raged, and weapons of unparalleled destructive capability were unleashed by soldiers who no longer feared death, and had long learned to ignore the consequences of their actions.


Hundreds of thousands of years of peace were destroyed in mere months. The pleas of peaceful scientists and great thinkers fell on deaf ears. Oceans boiled, great earthquakes wracked the planet’s surface, and in one mighty catastrophe, Krypton was utterly destroyed. A few refugees – including the infant Kal-El – were jettisoned into the unknown. Far-flung colonies turned on each other in anger; and in the Phantom Zone – an extra-dimensional Kryptonian prison – the greatest criminals in Krypton’s history plotted their escape…





Krypton was a planet of natural wonder and beauty, not least of which were its towering formations of crystals, which the Kryptonians used in much of their technology. When Krypton exploded, fragments of these crystalline structures survives, and became irradiated, flying off into space in the form of glowing asteroids. Some samples of this ‘Kryptonite’ fell to Earth, where it was discovered to have a detrimental effect on the powers of any Kryptonian living beneath a yellow son. Kryptonite is anathema to Superman, robbing him of his powers temporarily, and allowing him to be wounded or even killed. As a natural element, it is even possible, albeit incredibly difficult, to synthesize Kryptonite – a process successfully completed several times by Superman’s nemesis, Lex Luthor.



Villainous Kryptonians


Despite what many believed, Kal-El was not the only survivor of Krypton. The criminals of the Phantom Zone, and dangerous schemers from far-flung colonies plotted a return to power and liberty. It is to Superman that these villains are often drawn, either in a misguided bid to reunite their people, or from altogether more sinister reasons.

General Zod


Once Krypton’s greatest military leader, General Dru-Zod was banished to the Phantom Zone for crimes he committed against the people of Krypton. Trapped for years – long past the destruction of his home planet – Zod emerged from his interdimensional prison seeking revenge against the man he blamed for his captivity by going after his jailer’s surviving son: Kal-El of Krypton, the hero known as Superman.


Like all Kryptonians, Zod gains an array of powers after exposure to Earth’s yellow sun – including, but not limited to, super-strength, flight, super-speed, invulnerability, heat vision and x-ray vision. Beyond his physical abilities, Zod also possess a dangerously intelligent mind with a gift for strategy.


A leader by nature, Zod tends give orders on the battlefield rather than jumping directly into the midst of it, using his subordinates to take down his enemies. However, he is not above joining the battle himself, using his own highly efficient combat skills to force his enemies to kneel before him.





Faora was a member of Krypton’s military who despised Krypton’s ideals of peace and desired a return to the old days of a hard, militaristic regime. She allied herself with Dru-Zod, a colonel who shared the same dream. Faora was possessed of a singular bloodlust, and went on a murderous campaign in the name of Zod’s cause. When Zod and his followers were finally apprehended, Faoira was sentenced to 300 years in the Phantom Zone for her many crimes.


When Krypton was destroyed, Faora helped Zod unleash the genetically created monster, Doomsday. The creature weakened the boundaries of the Phantom Zone, allowing Zod and his fellows to escape.





Created by the increasingly unethical military scientists of Krypton, Nam-Ek is a genetically engineered super-soldier – a hybrid clone created by mixing Kryptonian DNA with that of a monstrous beast known as a Rondor. Nam-Ek has limited intelligence, and lacks the ability to speak, but formed an attachment to General Zod, whom he follows without question, As Nam-Ek was virtually superhuman even before he absorbed the rays of a yellow sun, he was instrumental in Zod’s quest to bring Krypton under military control, and was among the first to be exiled to the Phantom Zone along with his general and the murderess Faora.



On one dark day, the planet wept as the World’s Greatest Super Hero fell. No one will ever forget the day that Superman died. Nor will they forget the name of the monster responsible: Doomsday, a creature whose rampage of destruction and violence could only be stopped when the Man of Steel made the ultimate sacrifice.


Doomsday was originally created on Krypton as part of a deranged scientist’s quest to create the perfect hunter. The creature was subjected to cruel and terrible experiments – killed and cloned thousands upon thousands of times – a process that allowed his body to adapt natural defenses against whatever previously had bested him. Through this sort of rapid evolution, Doomsday became an unstoppable, nearly indestructible creature of violence and death that knew only hate and sought to kill everything in its path.


Doomsday possesses an immeasurable level of strength and invulnerability beyond those of even Superman. His disregard for life and endless rage make him an unpredictable and dangerous force, destruction itself let upon the world.

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