Bursting onto the comic book scene way back in the late 1930s, Superman has been entertaining and amazing fans for generations. With his origin story rooted in all of our lives, Superman has almost passed from comic book into myth and legend. The ultimate boy scout who is always on the side of good, he’s incorruptible and he never kills, and on top of that, he has more super powers than most heroes put together. As such a strong hero with such firm morals, Superman quickly became the ultimate role model.
However, because of such a straight laced personality, it has become difficult over the years to add anything new to his story. Many have tried to change Superman or re-write his origin story, but it always comes out the same. Superman is always the good guy and we always know he will win in the end. After all, even death doesn’t stop the Man of Steel.
So what can comic book writers do? Invent different versions of Superman of course. That way he can be anything and everything. With that we look at the 15 most powerful versions of Superman.
There have been a few characters within the DC universe to have the name Superboy, whether it’s a young Clark Kent, a Superboy from a parallel world or the future son of Superman himself. But for this list we are focusing on Kon-El. Otherwise known as Conner Kent, Superboy is a clone of Superman and none other than Superman’s archenemy Lex Luthor.
When Superman dies, or at least that’s what everyone thinks, a clone of Superman is put in his place. Unlike several other Superboys, Kon-El is a teenager and has all the characteristics that a lost and angry teenager has, which makes him hotheaded and brash from time to time. Superboy shares similar powers to Superman such as strength and invulnerability, although he struggles to keep a lid on his anger sometimes which can make him a loose cannon. Once Superman returned from the dead, Superboy joined the Teen Titans and Young Justice to fulfil his role as the hero he was made to be.
14. Cyborg Superman
There have been two major characters that have become Cyborg Superman. The first and most famous is astronaut Hank Henshaw. When a solar flare hit Henshaw’s spacecraft during a space experiment, he and his crew started to mutate. The mutation was so strong that once back on Earth Henshaw’s crew, along with his wife, all committed suicide. Before Henshaw’s body disintegrates from the solar flare, he is able to upload his mind using NASA equipment. With the help of the birthing matrix that was used to send Superman to Earth, Henshaw creates a cyborg body with all the powers that Superman has. After this Henshaw finds out that Superman had thrown the Eradicator into the sun which caused the original solar flare. Blaming Superman for everything, the newly formed Cyborg Superman seeks revenge on the Man of Steel.
The newest Cyborg Superman was introduced after the New 52 relaunch. Named Zor-El, Cyborg Superman was saved from the dying planet of Krypton by Brainiac. As with Henshaw, Zor-El has all the same powers as Superman and also like Henshaw, Zor-El’s purpose is to destroy, kill and cause Superman as much harm as possible.
13. Red Son Superman
We all know that Superman is one of the most powerful beings in all comic book universes. As well as being powerful, he is also purely good. He has a clear idea of what is good and what is bad and he sticks to it. Unlike many heroes that have a dark edge or straddle the line of good and evil, Superman doesn’t. He never kills and he never uses his powers more than he has to.
The ideals and ethics of Superman can be traced back to his childhood. Being brought up by the Kents on a Kansas farm instilled many life lessons within him that he still sticks to today. So what would happen if Superman didn’t have that good and wholesome upbringing and was raised in the Soviet Union? Would he still be the boy scout we all know him to be?
That’s exactly what happens in the comic book mini series Superman: Red Son. Instead of his ship crashing in Kansas, Superman lands in the Ukraine in the middle of the Cold War. In this story Superman is raised with the ideals that the Soviet Union instil upon him and the world gulps as a superpowered alien is the Soviet’s new secret weapon. However, true to Superman form, the Man of Steel is still on the side of good and fights for all of us.
12. Calvin Ellis
With the vastness of the DC multiverse and an almost infinite amount of worlds and parallel universes, anything is possible within the pages of a DC comic book. So it’s no surprise that every now and again, reality and fantasy meet. On a different Earth there is one version of Superman that is not only powerful and can do everything the normal Superman can do, he is also president of the United States of America.
Calvin Ellis is said to be based on real-life president Barack Obama. On a similar story to Superman, Calvin was sent to Earth from a dying Krypton and adopted and raised by a human family. Only this time, Superman doesn’t just grow up to be a superhero, he also grows up to be president and leader of the free world. With all those powers and responsibilities combined, Calvin Ellis is a very powerful man within the DC multiverse.
11. Superman X
As with several other entries on our list, a lot of people within the DC multiverse like to play God and clone the superpowered Kryptonian. Skipping forward to the 43rd century, one such clone is Superman X. Being cloned from the DNA of the original Superman, Superman X has all the same powers as Superman and even a few extras. He can manipulate energy to create energy shields and even energy blades.
However, unlike the original Superman who was brought up with a good moral compass, Superman X didn’t have that opportunity. Although he does use his powers for good and wants to be the hero, he is often brash and merciless and is also willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. This is why Superman X is best suited working within hero teams such as The Legion of Superheroes; it’s one way to keep this superpowered loose cannon in check.
10. Superman Red/Superman Blue
If one Superman isn’t powerful enough to scare the criminals of Metropolis, then how about two? This has been the case for a few story lines over the years that have resulted in Superman splitting in two. Originally, Superman had his own bucket list he needed to complete and at the top of his list was to make the world crime free and basically have peace on Earth. So the Man of Steel built a device that would enhance his intellect and power, which it did. The unexpected side effect was that Superman was split in two; one red and one blue.
With two super powered and highly intelligent Supermen, the two get to work at saving the world, which they do. They also use their power to enlarge the Kryptonian city of Kandor, create a new underwater world for the people of Atlantis and also manage to cure all major diseases. As well as this, they also manage to solve a few personal issues as one Superman wants Lois Lane and the other wants Lana Lang. Not a bad day’s work!
9. Superman: The Dark side
As with a previous entry on the list, Superman: Red Son, what would happen to the Man of Steel if he didn’t crash land in Kansas? Instead of landing in a different country, what would happen if he landed on a different world altogether?
In Superman: The Dark Side, the baby Kal-El’s ship is diverted on its path to Earth and instead lands on the planet Apokolips, home of the overlord Darkseid. In this version of Superman, Darkseid is the one to raise him as Superman becomes his loyal and devoted disciple and helps in the destruction of New Genesis. As well as this, Superman doesn’t grow up to wear tights and a cape, instead he opts for a menacing black and red armour with a lighting bolt ‘S’ across his chest. An ‘S’ that is not too dissimilar from the ‘SS’ during World War Two! So not only is this Superman powerful, evil and terrifying, he also has a thing for weapons. This version and story may have only run for 3 issues, but Superman: Dark Side still deserves a mention on our list as not having his ethics shows us that Superman can be even more powerful if he doesn’t care.
8. Injustice: Gods Among Us
There have been a few storylines over the years that have revolved around the idea of what would happen if Superman went bad and whether anyone could stop him. In the recent movie Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, this idea was also played with as Batman saw an overpowered alien as a bad thing and tried to find a way to either stop or control him. However, with all the storylines and movies that have used this premise, the best version of this we feel is Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Stepping outside of the pages of the comic book for this entry and jumping into the video game world, Injustice: Gods Among Us sees an alternate DC universe in which The Joker wipes out Metropolis with a nuclear weapon and then tricks the Man of Steel into killing Lois Lane and his unborn child. This pushes Superman over the edge as he takes control of the world under the title High Councillor. He rules the world with an iron fist which forces Batman to form a resistance movement in order to stop him. It may only be a game, but it’s the best interpretation of just how bad it would be if Superman turned evil and just how powerful he could be if he crossed the line.
7. Superboy Prime
This is where the different versions of Superman can get a bit complicated. For this entry we are referring to Superboy Prime from an alternate Earth and not Superman Prime, who is also known as Superman Prime One Million. See further down the list for that entry.
Superboy Prime is from a parallel Earth known as Earth-Prime. In this universe superheroes only exist in the pages of comic books. A world that mirrors our reality. However, being the adopted son of the Kent family and named Clark, Superboy Prime didn’t know that he is in fact Kal-El and was sent to Earth from the dying planet Krypton.
Living a normal life until he was fifteen, Superboy prime didn’t know he was different until a comet passed and activated his Kryptonian powers. During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Anti-Monitor is destroying worlds and Superboy Prime ends up in the Paradise Dimension. Becoming frustrated and furious, Superboy Prime pounded on the reality barriers which caused a ripple effect throughout the entire DC multiverse.
6. Bizzaro Superman
Another clone of Superman here. The life and origin of the creature known as Bizarro is a complicated one as there have been many versions of this character. First appearing in Superboy, Bizarro was created when a scientist used a duplication ray on Superboy and created a copy. Other versions of Bizarro have appeared over the years and most of them have been created by Lex Luther. Whether he wanted a personal army of Supermen, a test dummy in order to find Superman’s weakness or because he just wanted to, Lex Luther has been responsible for most of the incarnations of Bizarro.
Although the reasons may differ, the result is usually the same. Bizarro comes out as a mirror image of Superman in an almost “Frankenstein’s monster” effect. Bizarro does have the same powers and strengths as Superman but because of the cloning effect, Bizarro is often less intelligent and almost childlike in his behavior and personality. This results in much damage and death at the hands of Bizarro. He is not always bad and sometimes he even wants to be like Superman and be the hero but because of his childlike persona he often causes more harm than good.
Another alternate version of Superman from a different world here, and as is the case with many versions of the Man of Steel, Ultraman is the villain. There have been a few versions of Ultraman over the years and most of them have been evil, power hungry monsters who want to control their worlds.
The version of Ultraman we are including in our list is from The New 52 reboot in which Ultraman is from Earth 3 and part of the Crime Syndicate which includes twisted and evil versions of much loved DC heroes. Coming from an alternate version of Krypton in which everyone is mean spirited and selfish, the young Kal-El is sent to Earth with the instruction to become the most powerful being in the universe and to use that power to seek vengeance.
Ultraman started his road to evil by killing his adopted parents, the Kents, as he no longer had any use for them. Forming the Crime Syndicate, Ultraman soon took over the world and rules with an iron fist. Ultraman shares all the same powers as Superman, however magic doesn’t hurt him and Kryptonite actually makes him stronger and in some cases grants him new powers.
The next entry on our list goes to Superman himself. The last son of Krypton has had a few evolutions over the years as new writers have tried to inject something different and even darker into the boy scout’s story. The fact of the matter remains that Superman has been in our comic books and our lives for generations now. So much so that Superman has become more than the comic books that he originated from. Passing from story into almost myth, Superman is the poster boy for everything that is good and true.
Being a super powered alien has caused a few problems for story writers over the years as we all know that he will win in the end. Whether it’s criminals, alien overlords or even death, Superman always comes out on top. So for that reason, Superman deserves a place on this list as he is the original, best and purest hero there has ever been.
3. Silver-Age Superman
Some readers out there may see this entry as a bit of cheat as Silver-Age Superman is in fact Superman. But because of the reintroducing and rewriting of some characters in the Silver Age, this Superman is more powerful than any other version of Superman there has been. With the exception of two, that is.
After World War Two, comic books were on the decline and the era that was know as ‘The Golden Age’ of comic books was over. So in order to get people excited about comic books again, DC started reintroducing their favorite characters, complete with new stories and origins. The first character they did was The Flash and after that they moved to Superman.
During The Silver Age this Superman was completely overpowered and no one came close to beating him. So much so that when DC started their Bronze Age of comic books, they actually weakened the Man of Steel and introduced stronger characters for him to fight as they thought this Superman was so powerful that it borderlined on boring.
2. Superman Prime One Million
Superman has many dreams and ambitions for his time on Earth and many of them he achieves. Being the symbol of good, married to his love Lois Lane and the leader of the Justice League, Superman’s life is pretty good. However, being an overpowered alien takes its toll on the Man of Steel as he slowly watches his friends, family and loved ones die of natural causes. Without being able to help, Superman becomes depressed and soon leaves Earth altogether.
Superman travels the stars and his travels last from the 21st century until the turn of the 700th century. During his travels he meets plenty of other beings and with each one he meets, he acquires vast powers and skills that really do put him on level with a god. Moving his Fortress of Solitude to the center of the super sun, Superman Prime One Million also broke through the Source wall and studied under The Source himself. Superman Prime One Million’s powers have almost unknown limits as he can seemingly do anything, this includes having powers and abilities over the 5th dimension.
1. Thought Robot
Number one on our list is a version of Superman known as Thought Robot. Thought Robot is a 4-D version of Superman that is a body of pure thought and put into a sentinel suit created by the Monitors to protect against the great evil. Thought Robot has vast power that puts him on level with if not above any other character within the entire DC multiverse.
As well as having the usual Kryptonian abilities such as super strength, flight, invulnerability, X-ray vision, etc. Thought Robot also has divine powers, energy absorption, dimensional manipulation and cosmic awareness. As well as this, Though Robot is also capable of adapting to any future events to counteract it, which means that he is always aware of what is coming and can therefore stop it before it happens. For this reason Thought Robot is by far the most powerful version of Superman there has ever been.