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The Superman of Earth-Two is a fictional character, a comic book superhero published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Justice League of America #73 (1969). He is a version of the Kryptonian superhero Superman from an alternate reality called Earth-Two. Unlike the more popular Superman, the Earth-Two Superman is portrayed as decades older and is given the birth name of Kal-L.

Fictional character history

When the Golden Age of Comic Books came to a close in the 1950s, most of DC Comics' superhero comic books ceased publication. The commencement of the Silver Age saw characters such as the Flash and Green Lantern revamped for more modern times, ignoring or abandoning established continuity and thus creating a clean break between the two eras. It was later established that the Golden Age heroes and Silver Age heroes actually lived on Earth-Two and Earth-One respectively, separate parallel Earths in a single Multiverse.

However, Superman was one of the few exceptions; his stories had been published without interruption since his debut in 1938's Action Comics #1. This caused a continuity problem, specifically that Superman was simultaneously a member of the Justice Society of America on Earth-Two and also member of the Justice League of America on Earth-One. It was eventually established that there were two Supermen. The "current", Silver Age Superman was Kal-El from Earth-One, while the Golden Age Superman was Kal-L from Earth-Two.

Several minor differences between the two Supermen were established to make the distinction clearer. The names "Kal-El", "Jor-El" and "Jonathan and Martha Kent" on Earth-One became "Kal-L", "Jor-L" and "John and Mary Kent" on Earth-Two. Kal-L's S-shield symbol was slightly different. Stories featuring both Supermen also indicated that Kal-L was the older of the two, being depicted as late middle-aged with greying hair at the temples, while his Earth-One counterpart was a youthful man of modern times.

This not only allowed DC Comics to bring Superman's Golden Age stories back into continuity, but also led them to experiment with a Superman who wasn't the mainstream one. Thus, several differences between Kal-L and the more well-known Kal-El were introduced. Kal-L eventually revealed his dual identities of Clark Kent and Superman to the woman he loved, the Lois Lane of Earth-Two, and they got married. Their early marital life was depicted in the feature "Mr. & Mrs. Superman" in DC's Superman Family series.



Allies

As Superman, Kal-L was considered to be the first superhero in Earth-Two's history, being the first individual to appear in a colorful costume and display superhuman abilities. Clark received some training from his Earth-One counterpart in his teen years. He fought against evil, at first on a local level in his base of operations, the American city of Metropolis; later in his career, he would consider first the entire United Statesmarker, and then the whole world under his protection. In November 1940, Superman became a founding member of the Justice Society of America. He was referred to as an "honorary member" along with Batman during the Justice Society's original meeting. He subsequently appeared in two published adventures with this team during the 1940s and aided them on several other occasions retroactively as a member of the World War II organization known as the All-Star Squadron. He built a Secret Citadel in the mountains outside of Metropolis as his headquarters and as shown in Infinite Crisis, Superman eventually built a Fortress of Solitude comparable to that of his Earth-One counterpart.

In later years, he was considered an "elder statesman" of Earth-Two's superhero community, the one that later generations of superheroes looked to as an example and role model. In his secret identity as Clark Kent, Superman also enjoyed success at the Daily Star, of which he was appointed editor-in-chief in the 1950s, replacing George Taylor.

Fellow Kryptonians

In 1950, Superman encountered three other surviving Kryptonians known as U-Ban, Kizo, and Mala. All three brothers were members of the ruling scientific council exiled from Krypton after they attempted to conquer the planet. Imprisoned in suspended animation tube vessels, they were later freed. Later Superman's lookalike Mala created a counterfeit Earth.

At some point during the Silver Age, Superman's cousin Kara arrived on Earth after a lengthy journey from Krypton. When her father Zor-L discovered that Krypton was about to explode, he placed her in a spacecraft directed towards Earth. Although this occurs at the same time that Kal-L's ship is launched, Kara's ship travels more slowly, and she arrives on Earth decades after her cousin has landed. Kara’s Symbioship is designed to keep her in stasis during the journey and provide her with life experiences and education in the form of a virtual reality. By the time she arrives on Earth, Kara is in her later teens to early twenties.

The Symbioship provided virtual copies of Zor-L, Alura and fellow Kryptonians from within her home city of Kandor. Once removed from the ship, this virtual reality ceases to exist. Only Kara - Power Girl, as she would later be known - was known to interact with this virtual Kryptonian reality.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Kal-L was one of the heroes from various Earths who fought to save the Multiverse from destruction during the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths and was present at the battle at the dawn of time in which the five remaining Earths were merged into a single universe. As a result, Kal-L still existed and still remembered the history of his home reality, even though no one in the new reality remembered he had ever existed.

After grieving over the loss of his wife Lois and his friends from Earth-Two, Kal-L joins the remaining heroes for a final battle with the Anti-Monitor in the Anti-Matter Universe. Kal-L strikes the final blow that kills the Anti-Monitor once and for all.

Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three then reveals to Kal that he saved the Lois Lane of Earth-Two from the collapse of the Multiverse. Alexander then transports Kal-L, the Earth-Two Lois, the Superboy of Earth-Prime and himself into a paradise dimension and sealed themselves off from the universe.



As a tribute to the Earth-Two Superman before the Superman character was recreated by John Byrne in the Man of Steel mini-series, Kal-L's origin was retold in Secret Origins #1 (April 1986), written by Roy Thomas and drawn by former Superman artist Wayne Boring.

In post-Crisis continuity, Kal-L's role in various All-Star Squadron adventures was taken by the character Iron Munro from the Young All-Stars series. Kal-L's roles as the most respected member of the Justice Society of America and the person who found his cousin Power Girl were given to the Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott and Kal-El respectively. Lee Travis (the first Crimson Avenger) became the post-Crisis universe's first costumed hero after being shown a vision of Kal-El's future heroism before the start of his career (keeping Superman as the inspiration for Earth's superheroes in the new universe as well).

Kal-L later felt that the paradise was more of a prison than a refuge, and eventually discovered a doorway that would allow him to leave the "paradise" dimension without causing the destruction of the universe.

Infinite Crisis

Kal-L fighting Kal-El, in art based on the cover to Action Comics #1.
Art from Infinite Crisis #5, by Jerry Ordway.
Kal was initially content to stay in the "paradise" dimension until Lois began to fall ill. Kal then created a replica of Metropolis and the Daily Star office building in an attempt to help. After the attempt failed, Kal-L began to believe Alexander's claims that the "paradise" dimension they were in was eating away at their souls. Alexander and Superboy used Kal-L's distraction over Lois' health to break out of the "paradise" dimension and start their plan to recreate the Multiverse.

Appalled by the rapidly-deteriorating state of affairs in the world, Kal-L, along with his three companions, decide to emerge from their self-imposed exile to lend their aid. Kal-L batters an exit through the crystalline barrier which has separated them from the rest of reality.

Kal-L then meets up with his cousin Power Girl, explains her true origins to her, (as well as the previous Crisis and the merger of the remaining Earths, with Earth-One being dominant and some of Earth-Two's heroes having been lost), and enlists her help.

After having her memories restored by the Earth-Two Lois' touch, Kal-L then reveals to Power Girl that his plan is to bring back Earth-Two. Kal-L then attempts to enlist Batman's aid by claiming that Batman's distrust of the heroes has been caused by Earth-One’s darker nature, and promises that he will always stand by Bruce when the 'right' Earth returns. Batman, however, asks Kal-L if the Dick Grayson of this Earth is a corrupted version of Kal-L's one, and attempts to use the Kryptonite ring against him. Kal-L destroys the ring and departs.

Power Girl is knocked out and captured by Superboy-Prime after discovering Alexander Luthor Jr.'s tuning fork, which he plans to use to restore the Multiverse in order to search for the perfect Earth. Alexander succeeds in recreating Earth-Two, which causes Kal-L and the Earth-Two Lois, (along with the heroes who originated there), to be sent there.

The death of Kal-L from Infinite Crisis #7.
Art by George Perez.
Soon after their arrival on Earth-Two, the Earth-Two Lois dies after telling Kal-L she was happy to have lived such a long life. Kal-El hears Kal-L's screams of sorrow from the current Earth and investigates. A griefstricken Kal-L angrily attacks Kal-El upon his arrival and blames him for corrupting Earth-Two as he did on his own Earth. During the fight, both Supermen experience lucid visions of the other's life and attempt to change things on the other's Earth for the better. However, they both eventually fail.

After his battle with Kal-El, Kal-L realizes that a perfect Earth doesn’t need a Superman and that Alexander is using him for his own purposes. Kal-L then survives the collapse of the alternate Earths into New Earth and then witnesses the death of Kon-El, which makes him realize he condemned the wrong Superboy.

Kal-L and Kal-El then join forces to defeat Doomsday and Bizarro during the Secret Society’s assault on Metropolis.

The two Supermen then team up to take down Superboy-Prime by dragging him into space through Krypton’s red sun Rao (which cause the three of them to lose their powers), and then crash landing on the planet Green Lantern Mogo. Kal-L and Kal-El, without powers, fight Superboy-Prime on Mogo’s surface, where Superboy-Prime savagely beats Kal-L to death.

Kal-El then intervenes and eventually manages to take down Superboy-Prime, who is then imprisoned by several Green Lanterns. Kal-L passes away in Power Girl’s arms after telling her that he’ll always be with her and whispers "Lois" as his last word.

Blackest Night

Kal-L as a Black Lantern.
Promotional Art of Blackest Night: Superman #1, by Eddy Barrows.


Kal-L and his wife Lois Lane Kent of pre-Crisis Earth-Two return to the DC Universe as soulless Black Lanterns in the midst of the Blackest Night. After killing an unknown number of residents of Smallville, they attack the Kent family by kidnapping Martha to lure his modern counterpart and Conner Kent into a confrontation. Kal-L and Lois have stated their intention, among the scheme of Black Hand and the Black Lantern Corps, is to reunite the family with Jonathan Kent in death. Kal-L proves to be almost unstoppable, until Conner steals the Black Lantern Psycho-Pirate's Medusa Mask, using its emotion-creating powers to draw Kal-L's ring away from his body, returning Kal-L's corpse to its lifeless state once more.

Kal-L's corpse is to reappear reanimated once again in "Blackest Night: JSA #2" when Blackest Night Lois Kent fights against Power Girl.

Powers and abilities

Superman has super-strength, the power of flight, super-speed, super-breath, arctic breath, super-hearing, super-vision (including X-ray, heat, microscopic and telescopic visions), and invulnerability to any force other than magic, psionics, and Kryptonite. An additional ability he possessed which his modern day counterpart didn't was an ability to "mold" his face to disguise himself, as chronicled in several Silver Age and modern day tales.

Originally, he was significantly weaker than the Silver Age Superman of Earth-One or the Modern Age Superman; it was later revealed his powers took longer to develop or be discovered. While he initially could only leap an eighth of a mile, Superman soon gained full-fledged flight by the early 1940s. By the time Kal-L met Kal-El in the late 1960s, the two heroes were almost evenly matched in terms of power levels. However, almost all later renditions of the Earth-Two Kal-L showed him exhibiting his more limited abilities including reliance for a time in his leaping ability while allied with the Justice Society on a case involving his cousin Power Girl and the immortal criminal Vandal Savage.

Based on Superman's first origin and subsequent reference by U-Ban, this Superman came from a race of Kryptonians that inherently possessed superhuman strength, leaping ability, and some visual aptitudes while on that planet to compensate for its greater gravitation pull. Most of the Earth-Two Kal-L orgin stories state his powers originated with his Kryptonian heritage and not the energy of a yellow sun (Secret Origins #1 (1986)) and retained his powers in red sun systems (Superman Family 186 and 207). A later conflicted re-interpretation stated Kal-L's powers fluctuated when under a red sun as noted in Infinite Crisis and All-Star Comics.

As a Black Lantern

As a Black Lantern, Kal-L's black power ring needs to be charged by feeding on the hearts of living beings within the emotional spectrum. The ring appears to have given Kal-L's body all of his previous abilities as a Kryptonian under a yellow sun would have, as well as his brain being able to recollect certain aspects of his former life. Wearing the ring, however, places Kal-L under the influences of Nekron and his disciples Scar and Black Hand.

Alternate versions

In the final issue of 52, a new Multiverse is revealed, originally consisting of 52 identical realities. Among the parallel realities shown is one designated "Earth-2". As a result of Mister Mind "eating" aspects of this reality, it takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-Two, including an alternate Superman along with other Justice Society of America characters. However, the names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the panel in which they appear.

Based on comments by Grant Morrison, this alternate universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-Two.

This separation was confirmed in Justice Society of America Annual #1 (2008) when during the battle between the JSA and Justice Society Infinity, it is revealed that this universe's Superman has been missing for several years after a major crisis. The Post Crisis Earth-2 Power Girl was searching for him for years.

It was revealed by Starman that the missing Post Crisis Earth-2 Superman was still alive (Justice Society of America (vol. 2) #23 despite being lost, unlike Kal-L who is dead.

Other media

In the Justice League episode "Legends", the League team up with the "Justice Guild of America", an analogue of the Justice Society. JGA member Tom Turbine is a cross between Kal-L and the Golden Age Atom. He also appears in the video game Justice League Heroes as an alternate costume for Superman.

References

See also



External links




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