Superman "S" Question

We should throw in that in the modern John Byrne revision, the “S” was designed by Pa and Clark Kent. (Ma designed the rest of the costume.)

You’ll note that in Pre-Crisis history, the “S” differed by era. The Superman of Earth-1 had the more traditional “S” of which we’re familiar, although it was slightly smaller than the more prominent S we see today. The Earth-2 Superman (who was the Superman that debuted in 1939) originally had a plain “S” in a rounder shield, and only later took the five-sided shape, but kept the plain “S.”

The Superman of Earth-3 had a “U.” That’s another story. :wink:

The recently released Blood of My Ancestors and Birthright mini-series put a new-ish spin on these issues.

The new Superman: Birthright series seems to explain the S as a Kryptonian symbol as well, if anyone cares.

It’s more common than you think. Ask Galactus, Devourer or Worlds!

Thanks, Askia, but I’m not going anywhere NEAR Galactus! :slight_smile:

Here is a copy of the first Sunday Superman comic, written and drawn by Seigel and Shuster. Scan throught the pages to the cover, and you can see a very clear closeup of the S. The creators clearly intended for the S to stand for Superman.

I seem to remember a story, pre-crisis that told of the symbol being even older.

Something about a sword formed during the creation of the universe that had the symbol on it that Superman was fated to find.

I’ll have to go through my comics to find this. Anyone else remember this?

Just to muddy up the waters, Superman Annual #10, (1984) was a story about “The Sword of Superman”, describing a sword formed at the moment of the big bang (i.e. ~14 to 20 billion years ago) with the “S” on the hilt. This story makes Superman out to be some kind of uber-cosmic character and is fanciful, even by comic-book standards. I have this issue, but it’s pretty dawn awful.

It’s actually a serpent trapped in a pentagram, or two yellow fish, depending on your occult bent.

The whole “House of El” thing was an invention of the movie. Prior to 1985, Jor-El wore a green tunic with a totally different symbol on it, a sun or something.

Okay, so what’s up with this?

It’s from an old (1960s) JLA story. Earth 1 and Earth 2 weren’t enough, so they brought in Earth 3, which had a “JLA” of bad guys, with powers similar to the JLA. Their version of Superman wore a costume with bare shoulders, and with a big “U”. I think it was for “Ultraman” (no relation to the Legion guy). Ironically, he acquired powers when exposed to Kryptonite.

It’s an S?

Gee – all this time I thought the symbol was two yellow fish swimming in opposite directions against a red background…

What if C-A-T really spells Dog?

IIRC when John Byrne began Superman again, the ‘S’ symbol was designed by Martha Kent, and was chosen over one which looked like the 1930s style ‘s’.


In addition to Superman and Galactus, the “A” on Aquaman’s belt was retconned (in the Aquaman: Time and Tide miniseries) to actually be “a gutteral Ch’a” (presumably, an Atlantean symbol).

Though, to be fair, we only interpret it as an “A” because we’re so English-centric, his actual belt-symbol is just the upside-down “V” without the cross-bar that the English “A” possesses.

Also, just to muddy the Superman waters a bit, I think the “S” symbol has a Kent connection as well. IIRC, in the “The Kents” maxi-series, a great-grandfather (or some such) of Jonathan Kent was given a blanket with an Indian symbol which looks amazingly like the Superman symbol. Supposedly, the “S” was a snake totem, and the pentagon around it represented five united tribes.

And let’s not forget that Apocalypse also has a big “A” on his belt. These guys must all shop at the same store.

Oh my dear lord…Godzillatemple is John Byrne! :wink:

Actually Vlad, it would make more sense that when someone was searching for a name to call this extraordinary man they would look at the strange symbol on his chest and come up with…

As far as I can tell, in the current mythos, John Kent and Clark designed the “S” diamond logo while Martha was sewing the costume and to my knowledge that hasn’t been changed, while Jor-El’s Krypton didn’t have family crests like that at all and Birthright appears to have more in common with the show Smallville than it does with the comics canon and Blood of My Ancestors, while it may be considered continuity, doesn’t really establish the “S” symbol as it is, just a sort of s-like curve that is the “mark of Rao,” though mind you, that doesn’t mean it isn’t supposed to have been sort of prescient, but it’s not really the source of the S, unless Clark was unconsciously tapping his “genetic memory” of his family and was inspired by that ancient symbol without realizing it, and it just happened to be similar to that old symbol from the Kent family history.


That reminds me of the gag about the real origin of Galactus…

Jack Kirby: “Hey, Stan, look at who I drew for the FF to fight next issue.”
Stan Lee: “Who’s this guy?”
Jack: “God.”
Stan: “God?”
Jack: “Sure. Big ‘G’ on his chest, omnipotent, shows up on your planet and it’s all she wrote.”
Stan: “I dunno, Jack… God?”
Jack: “Hey, the FF are pretty tough. Ben Grimm ain’t no pansy, y’know.”


I’d just like to point out at this juncture that Saturday Night Live once did a sketch called “What if baby Superman had landed in Germany?” The premise was that he’d have been raised by Nazis and been the Third Reich’s most deadly weapon during World War II.

His German name? Übermann, of course – with a “U” on his chest!