Clark Kent (born Kal-El), known to the public as Superman, is the greatest superhero in the DC Universe. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman is often considered the archetypal comic book superhero, with his debut often seen as the start of the Golden Age of Comic Books.
In the Watchmen World, Superman and his cohorts in the DC Universe are fictional characters, debuting in 1938 in Action Comics. Superman is cited by Hollis Mason as his chief inspiration for becoming a costumed adventurer, having read the first issue of Action Comics. Mason is particularly fascinated by Superman, whose story presents the same basic morality as pulp fiction without its inherent darkness, ambiguity, and repressed sexual urges. Although these early superhero comics first saw enormous success, Mason comments in Under the Hood, "Of course all these old characters are gone and forgotten now, but I'm willing to bet there are at least a few older readers out there who will remember enough to know what I am talking about."
- In the real world, the superhero genre has been anything but brief. In the 21st century, it is arguably experiencing its greatest success.