|Known Relatives:|| Jor-El (Father)|
Kara Zor-El (Cousin)
|Portrayed By:|| Aaron Smolinski|
Clark Joseph Kent is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, he debuted in Action Comics #1 (June 1938) and serves as the civilian and secret identity of the superhero Superman.
Over the decades there has been considerable debate as to which personality the character identifies with most. From his first introduction in 1938 to the mid-1980s, "Clark Kent" was seen mostly as a disguise for Superman, enabling him to mix with ordinary people. This was the view in most comics and other media such as movie serials and TV (e.g., in Atom Man vs. Superman starring Kirk Alyn and The Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves) and radio. In 1986, during John Byrne's revamping of the character, Clark Kent became more emphasized. Different takes persist in the present.
Clark Kent's name is a combination of the names of actors, Clark Gable and Kent Taylor. His physical design is believed to be modeled after science fiction fan Walter Dennis, who sent Joe Shuster his photograph. Through the popularity of his Superman alter ego, the personality, concept, and name of Clark Kent have become ingrained in popular culture as well, becoming synonymous with secret identities and innocuous fronts for ulterior motives and activities.
First written in the earliest Superman comics, Clark Kent's primary purpose was to fulfill the perceived dramatic requirement that a costumed superhero cannot stay on-duty twenty-four hours a day, or throughout the entirety of a comic book series. As such, Kent acted as little more than a front for Superman's activities. Although his name and history were taken from his early life with his adoptive Earth parents, everything about Kent was staged for the benefit of his alternate identity he acquired a job as a reporter for the Daily Planet for the convenience of receiving late-breaking news before the general public, providing an excuse for being present at crime scenes and having an occupation where his whereabouts do not have to be strictly accounted for as long as he makes his story deadlines. However, in order to draw attention away from the correlation between Kent and Superman, Clark Kent adopted a largely passive and introverted personality, applying conservative mannerisms, a higher-pitched voice, and a slight slouch. This personality is typically described as "mild-mannered," perhaps most famously by the opening narration of Max Fleischer's Superman animated theatrical shorts. These traits extended into Kent's wardrobe, which typically consists of a softly-colored business suit, a red necktie, black-rimmed glasses, combed-back hair and, occasionally, a fedora.
Kent wears his Superman costume underneath his street clothes, which lends itself to easy transference between the two personalities. However, the purpose of this convention outside of fiction is largely dramatic, allowing Kent to rip open his shirt and reveal the familiar "S" insignia when called into action. When in action, Superman usually stores his Clark Kent clothing shrunken down inside a secret pouch hidden inside of his cape, though some stories have shown him leaving his clothes in some covert location (usually places like phone booths) for later retrieval. In addition with the Pre-Crisis comic book title, Superman Family, Kent is featured in a series of stories called "The Private Life of Clark Kent," where he solves problems subtly without changing into Superman.
In the wake of John Byrne's The Man of Steel reboot of Superman continuity, many traditional aspects of Clark Kent were dropped in favor of giving him a more aggressive and extroverted personality, including such aspects as making Kent a top football player in high school, along with being a successful author. Recently, some aspects of this change have been dropped, in favor of bringing back elements of the earlier, "mild-mannered" version of Kent. Feeling that Clark is the real person and that Clark is not afraid to be himself in his civilian identity, John Byrne has stated in interviews that he took inspiration for this portrayal from the George Reeves version of Superman.
Adopted by Jonathan Kent and his wife Martha Kent of Smallville, USA, Clark (and thus Superman) was raised with the values of a typical small, rural American town. Most continuities state that the Kents had been unable to have biological children. In the traditional versions of his origin, after the Kents retrieved Clark from his rocket, they brought him to the Smallville Orphanage, and returned a few days later to formally adopt the orphan, giving him as a first name Martha's maiden name, "Clark." In John Byrne's 1986 origin version The Man of Steel, instead of an orphanage, the Kents passed Clark off as their biologically-born son (after a lengthy months-long series of snowstorms trapped them on their farm).
In the Silver Age comics continuity, Clark gained superpowers upon landing on Earth, and gradually learned to master them, adopting the superhero identity of Superboy at the age of eight. He subsequently developed Clark's timid demeanor as a means of ensuring that no one would suspect any connection between the two alter-egos.
In Metropolis, Superman (as Clark Kent) works as a reporter at the Planet, "a great metropolitan newspaper" which allows him to keep track of ongoing events where he might be of help. Largely working on his own, his identity is easily kept secret. He sees his job as a journalist as an extension of his Superman responsibilities, bringing truth to the forefront and fighting for the little man. Fellow reporter Lois Lane became the object of Clark's/Superman's romantic affection. Lois' affection for Superman and her rejection of Clark's clumsy advances have been a recurring theme in Superman comics, television, and movies.
|Superman • Superman II • Superman III • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace|
|General Zod • Jor-El • Jonathan Kent • Martha Kent • Non • Ursa • Lara • Lois Lane • Lucy Lane • Lana Lang • Lex Luthor • Jimmy Olsen • Supergirl / Kara Zor-El • Superman / Clark Kent • Perry White • Otis • Ross Webster • Gus Gorman • Daily Planet • Metropolis|