Superman Timeline

Alan Kistler

Alan Kistler is a freelance writer who has contributed to and He is a freelance video editor who occasionally acts in independent film projects. His blog is located at

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32 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Just a minor quibble. Martha and Jonathan Kent, from the pre-crisis time line, did not die of old age, they contracted a disease while on vacation with their super-son from opening a pirate's treasure chest. And why do I know this – I have no life. LOL!

    • Alan Kistler says:

      The disease came in a later story i believe. Originally, I think it was simply stated that they died. I'll double check.

  2. Rick Taylor says:

    Alan – Thanks for the time line. I really needed some bringing up to speed about the last decade.I especially like the part about the Waid mini-series that told us the S-symbol means 'hope' in Kryptonian.

    • Alan Kistler says:

      Yeah, i really liked that too. As Waid put it, he didn't want it to JUST be a family crest because Kal is not just the last son of El but "the last son of Krypton."And if you invert the symbol, you change it's meaning to "resurrection" in Kryptonian.

  3. Brian Alvey says:

    Same here. I knew much of the older stuff, but I haven't kept up with it all since the third to the last Final Never Say Crisis Again mini-series. So cool to see it all in one big smart list.Great work!

  4. mike weber says:

    Huh. I thought i remembered Red K being introduced a few years earlier. In its first appearance, Rde K was rather different from what it later became. Also, didn't that first Red K story a;lso introduce the Superman Revenge Squad?

    • Alan Kistler says:

      I'm pretty sure my date on the Red K is accurate. As for the Revenge Squad, nope, the first Red K story was a Superboy tale in which he encountered the Red K and started acting weird and no one understood why.

      • mike weber says:

        What i recall as the first – i'm pretty sure it must have come out about 1955 or so – involves a bunch of time-travelling lawmen who show up in Metropolis and explain that Superman is actually a time-travelling master criminal passing himself off as a Good Guy in the 20th Century and they're here to take him back.But how, say the Metropolis cops – he's too powerful to arrest.Simple say the other guys – we have this red kryptonite that will take away his super powers. Of course, the "future cops" are actually an organised gang (i seem to recall it as the first appearance of the Revenge Squad, but i could be wrong – i was baout six or seven at the time), and, while the Red K will, indeed, render Superman powerless, it will first cause his powers to go haywite, so that he will appear to be ruthlessly resisting arrest…It could be i'm remembering it all wrong, of course.

  5. Rick Taylor says:

    My favorite Red K story was when Superboy became SuperGIRL! They couldn't do that story today…Unles Chaykin retold it!

  6. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    From what I've been hearing, we may be seeing the Sandman Superman ("The Quarrmer" for those with a bottomless memory like me) again in the Super-books. One thing I liked about Luthor and Clark knowing each other as kids was watching all the young fans complaining that they obviously just did it to be more like Smallville. And I had the fun of reminding or informing them that in fact they were merely going BACK to the old story.Much like the assorted Confidential titles, Superman/Batman seems to operate in the same "Not quite in continuty" position. Stories that work well on their own but would play hell with mainline continuity can be conveniently ignored, while great stories can be shot from the canon. There's been a lot of bristling about that story in #50. I enjoyed it a great deal, but I agree it does seem to connect Superman and batman more than they really need to be.

    • Alan Kistler says:

      I haven't seen any indications that Batman/Superman takes place in separate continuity. Their stories all fit in fine with the rest of the DCU.As for the story itself, yeah, it connects them a bit more maybe, but it's comic books so I enjoy a touch of silly stuff that's put there just to make you go "aw."

  7. Anonymous says:

    A minor correction – Krypto first appeared in Adventure 210 – you listed it as Action 210.

  8. Joe in Philly says:

    I've given up on continuity. Who knows what's going on with Superman? At the moment, in Action Comics he's up against the latest incarnation of Brainiac, which is supposed to set up the "New Krypton" story. In Superman he's getting beaten up by Atlas, which I think is setting up "New Krypton" events as well, and/or something involving Jimmy Olsen. There are the events in "Final Crisis" and "FC: Superman Beyond" and "FC: Legion of Three Worlds" and maybe other "FC" tie-ins as well, for all I know. There's some silly story in Superman/Batman involving kid versions of everyone, and then there's whatever's going on in Justice League of America.As part of all of this, in "FC" Lois is near death while in other books she's fine and doing her usual thing. She was even seen in Trinity, yet another big story prominently featuring Superman. Trinity also has Wonder Woman and Batman…oh, except Batman has been also taken captive in "FC" and is going out of his mind or whatever in "Batman R.I.P."Who can possibly keep track of all of this? What order is all of this happening in? Who knows? Who cares? The only way I can enjoy the individual stories (if they're any good, of course) is by not worrying about continuity ever again.

    • Alan Kistler says:

      I actually don't think it's that hard to keep track of. It's actually been stated a few times in different interviews that Final Crisis takes place after all the current storylines happening in DC comics. So of course Lois is fine in the other books. Those are all before FC.Likewise, Legion of Three Worlds is definitely taking place soon before FC and SUPERMAN: BEYOND is very clearly explained in its own pages to be taking place during FC #3 (they even tell you that time has temporarily been put on pause so that Superman has time to be sidetracked on this adventure).Since the Atlas story, Brainiac story and lil' Superman/Batman stories aren't finished yet, there's no point in worrying which one came first until AFTER they are each done. Personally, I think it's logical to assume that Atlas and the Superman/Batman two-parter take place before the Brainiac storyline since that story will no-doubt lead directly into the Kandor on Earth story.Trinity is a loooong series. So again, no point in worrying exactly where it fits until it's wrapping up.

  9. Charles says:

    Interesting list; However the Siegal Keaton unpublished strip from 1933… with the alternative time travel origin from a future dying earth is missing; also worth mentioning is the unpublished Siegal Shuster K-Metal from Krypton story from 1940 which would have introduced a early version of Kyrptonite, and would have seen Lois discovering Clark was Superman and becoming partners.

    • Alan Kistler says:

      As stated at the very beginning of this article, it was decided that this article would focus solely on what was published in the comics. I was well aware of the K-metal script and have a copy of it, but it was not published and therefore not on this list. The same went for newspaper strips adventures, radio plays, etc.

      • Charles says:

        True, but you mention as the reason for giving us the time line – Siegal's father death and the stories surrounding the origins of the character that have been in the news recently. Given that you begin before Action Comics no1, in 33 with the evil superman, I feel that mentioning the recent release of the Siegal Keaton strip online is relevant, especially given the smallville-esque back story Seigal had considered, and interesting origin angle.Granted the K-metal story was unpublished, but that wasn't Siegal's intention – it was to be in the comics as part of the continuity. I feel iit's worth mentioning in this context because both these pieces show far from being just a sketchy character tha Siegal had strong ideas of how to develop Superman, indeed the partnership with Lois wasn't implemented until some 60 years after Siegal intended.

  10. rik Levins says:

    Great timeline, Alan. And it is a little scary that you could do it so quickly–I certainly couldn't have.Okay, here's the scoop on Red Kryptonite.You are correct, Adventure #252 ("The Super-Sentinel of Smallville"), was the first appearance of the stuff. But it didn't do anything remarkable. It was just a "refined and concentrated" form of regular kryptonite, (created by bad guys from another dimension), which for unexplained reasons turned red. All it did was weaken Superboy, just like ordinary green K.The second appearance was three issues later, in which a Martian (who looked nothing at all like J'onn J'onzz), used what he called Red Kryptonite (he explained that it was red because it was from the red planet Mars), to split Superboy into himself and an evil, non-superpowered Clark Kent.Shortly after THAT, in Superman #128 (April 1959), Superman encountered the time-traveling villains from the distant future year of 2000 A.D. Mike got everything right except that the baddies, Vard and Boka, were NOT members of the Revenge Squad, but simply a pair of crooks who planned to force Superman to help them in their scheme to blackmail future Earth for billions.Since all of these stories appeared within months of each other, and each version of Red Kryptonite was different, readers wrote in demanding, "Make up your minds, just what DOES Red K do to Superman?" So the editors replied, "Uh, well, it, uh…it has DIFFERENT EFFECTS! Yeah, that's the ticket. Each piece of Red K has a different, unpredictable effect on Superman!"So, that was the story from then on. Soon the "rules" had been formalized: each piece of Red K had a different effect, lasting 48 hours, and after that Superman would be forever immune to that particular piece.They did, however, leave themselves a convenient out: Red K is very unpredictable, so even though the rules held true MOST of the time, there could occasionally be EXCEPTIONS. Sometimes the effects wore off sooner than 48 hours, sometimes they lasted longer. Some pieces COULD affect Superman more than once. And some, very rarely, could even affect Earth people.Of course, now that the various forms of colored kryptonite have once again been introduced into the DCU, all bet are off.

    • Alan Kistler says:

      Excellent. Thanks for weighing in on that and clearing up our confusion.And thanks for the kind words about the time line, I appreciate it.

  11. Alan Kistler says:

    The evil Superman story was the one exception because it was published in magazine form. As for the K-Metal story being intended to be published, I'd dare say that every story a person writes and submits is with the intention of having it published. But it wasn't. This was the criteria Bob and I agreed on and it's what we delivered. I'm sorry it wasn't to your satisfaction.

  12. Linda Gold says:

    Alan, thanks so much for the timeline. It is terrific. I am so glad to see you posting on the website and hope you will continue to do so. You have some much knowledge to share and it's great to see some of it here.

  13. KryptonMan says:

    Just a minor correction – Krypto first appeared in Adventure 210, not Action 210. Otherwise, a very enjoyable and informative list!

  14. Ken Pisani says:

    Nice to have this all-encompassing timeline. For anyone interested in preserving the legacy of Siegel and Shuster, here's a link to a story about saving the boyhood home of Jerry Siegel, where Superman was born.

  15. Ken Pisani says:

    Nice to have this all-encompassing timeline. For anyone interested in preserving the legacy of Siegel and Shuster, here's a link to a story about saving the boyhood home of Jerry Siegel, where Superman was born.

  16. Mau says:

    A little collection of 18 superman's shields.