Superman is a fictional comic book superhero, one of the most famous and popular such characters and an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian artist Joe Shuster in 1932 and sold to Detective Comics, Inc. in 1938, he first appeared in Action Comics #1 (June 1938) and subsequently appeared in various radio serials, television programs, films, newspaper strips, and video games.
With a premise that taps into adolescent fantasy, Superman is born Kal-El on the alien planet Krypton, before being rocketed to Earth as an infant by his scientist father moments before the planet's destruction. Adopted and raised by a Kansas farmer and his wife, the child is raised as Clark Kent, and imbued with a strong moral compass. Upon reaching maturity the character develops superhuman abilities, resolving to use these for the benefit of humanity. With the success of his adventures, Superman helped to create the superhero genre and establish its primacy within the American comic book.
While referred to less flatteringly as "the big blue Boy Scout" by some of his fellow superheroes, Superman is hailed as "The Man of Steel," "The Man of Tomorrow," and "The Last Son of Krypton," by the general public within the comics. As Clark Kent, Superman lives among humans as a "mild-mannered reporter" for the Metropolis newspaper The Daily Planet (the Daily Star in original stories). There he works alongside reporter Lois Lane, with whom he is romantically linked. This relationship has been consummated by marriage on numerous occasions across varying media, and the union is now firmly established within the current mainstream comics continuity.
The character's cast, powers, and trappings have slowly expanded throughout the years. Superman's backstory was altered to allow for adventures as Superboy, and other survivors of Krypton were created, including Supergirl and Krypto the Superdog. In addition, Superman has been licensed and adapted into a variety of media, from radio to television and film. The motion picture Superman Returns was released in 2006, with a performance at the international box office which exceeded expectations. The character has been revamped and updated, most recently in 1986. John Byrne recreated the character, reducing Superman's powers and erasing several characters from the canon in a move which attracted media attention. Press coverage was again garnered in the 1990s with The Death of Superman, a storyline which saw the character briefly killed.
Superman has also held fascination for scholars, with cultural theorists, commentators, and critics alike exploring the character's impact and role in the United States and the rest of the world. Umberto Eco discussed the mythic qualities of the character in the early 1960s, and Larry Niven has pondered the implications of a sexual relationship the character might enjoy with Lois Lane. The character's ownership has often been the subject of dispute, with Siegel and Shuster twice suing for the return of legal ownership. The copyright is again currently in dispute, with changes in copyright law allowing Siegel's wife and daughter to claim a share of the copyright, a move DC parent company Warner Brothers disputes.