Superman 9 Best Supporting Characters In The Comics

Superman: 9 Best Supporting Characters In The Comics

The Superman mythos is incomplete without at least some of these essential faces backing up the Man of Steel in his many adventures saving the world.

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Superman 9 Best Supporting Characters In The Comics

Any great Superman concept is incomplete without at least some of his iconic cast of supporting characters — heroes, villains, friends, and family alike. Many argue that Superman is only as interesting as the people around him, contributing towards the character’s development and growth throughout his many years to turn the Man of Steel into the Man of Tomorrow.

Not only that, these characters are strong enough to hold their own storytelling-wise. Over the years, they have been deeply developed, evolving throughout mainstream comic continuity in many different directions, but more often than not remaining complex and well-written characters in their own right. As Superman has grown, so have they.

9 Lex Luthor

Superman 9 Best Supporting Characters In The Comics

Lex Luthor is indisputably one of the greatest comic book villains of all time. Initially appearing with red hair as a mysterious cult leader in Action Comics #23 (1940), he has since evolved into a mad scientist, a criminal mastermind, and finally, the billionaire industrialist John Byrne reinvented him in 1986. His personality has also been portrayed differently throughout the years, though most often retaining his genius-level intellect.

He is surprisingly depicted as a pseudo-humanitarian who sees Superman as a threat to humanity. In the end, Lex Luthor’s epic feud with Superman makes him as much a part of Superman’s existence as Lois Lane. He remains one of the most iconic villains in comic book history, second only to Batman’s nemesis the Joker.

8 Bruce Wayne / Batman

Superman 9 Best Supporting Characters In The Comics

Batman and Superman are an unlikely but beloved partnership — the lightest superhero of them all united with one whose whole theme is the darkness and night. Often dubbed the “World’s Finest,” Batman and Superman have fought together and even saved the world too many times to count. Their friendship, and sometimes even playful rivalry, is legendary.

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Of course, they have also butted heads a few times, and sometimes even become full-on enemies, such as in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) or the Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013). But in the end, the black-and-white superhero team-up remains iconic and unforgettable, with the polar opposites teaching each other something about what being a true hero means.

7 Jor-El

Superman 9 Best Supporting Characters In The Comics

The story of Superman began on the doomed planet Krypton. His greatest link to his long-gone world of origin was his father, Jor-El, who devised the craft that allowed the son of him and his wife Lara to escape their world. In one form or another, Jor-El continued to live as a presence in Clark’s life, whether as holographic representations, disembodied voices, a memorial statue, or in cryptic visions.

Following 2016’s “Rebirth” event, Jor-El even returned as a physical presence, involving himself in Clark’s family and helping to raise his grandson Jon Kent. From the minds of Superman’s original creators in a 1939 newspaper comic, Jor-El was even popularized as a God analogy by Richard Donner in the 1978 film — a heavenly father dispatching his son to Earth for the purpose of uplifting humanity.

6 Perry White

Superman 9 Best Supporting Characters In The Comics

The quick-tempered Perry White is the boss of Clark Kent and editor-in-chief at the Daily Planet. He can always be found as a permanent fixture of the newspaper’s office, barking orders and holding his writers to a high standard. However, it was not until after the reboot following Crisis on Infinite Earths that Perry was truly fleshed out.

From then on, Perry became more than just a background character but evolved into his own well-rounded contributor. He had more emotional dimensions, struggles of his own like dealing with the loss of loved ones or even fighting cancer. In his time, he has even dealt with the paper being sold to Lex Luthor, leading to a little adventure resulting in Bruce Wayne acquiring the Planet.

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5 Kara Zor-El / Supergirl

Superman 9 Best Supporting Characters In The Comics

Conceived as Superman’s cousin and a fellow survivor of their world’s destruction, Kara has had the most tumultuous history. Starting out as a sidekick, she was temporarily erased from continuity after John Byrne’s 1986 reboot reaffirmed Superman as the only survivor of Krypton until she made a return as a shapeshifting alien masquerading as a fellow Kryptonian.

The New 52 restored elements of her original origin but gave her an angry side that briefly led her to join the Red Lantern Corps as an agent of pure rage. Debuting as the creation of Otto Binder and Al Plastino in Action Comics #252 (1959), she has proven herself a notable ally to Superman, there to back up her cousin when one Kryptonian is not enough to handle some great threats.

4 Jonathan Kent

Superman 9 Best Supporting Characters In The Comics

The impossible task of raising Kal-El was undertaken by the Kents, a salt-of-the-earth family of Kansas farmers. The kindly couple was first introduced adopting the extra-terrestrial infant in Superman #1 (1939). He and Clark’s biological father Jor-El often represent two wisdom figures in the superhero’s life, balancing the two worlds they represent.

Prior to the New 52, he canonically died in Superman: Brainiac (2008) from a heart attack as an indirect casualty of the titular villain’s attack. He has also been totally absent from Clark’s superhero days in a number of continuities like those of Christopher Reeve, Tom Welling, or arguably the most comics-accurate Superman, Henry Cavill. His live-action portrayals across these versions and others remain top-notch and true to the essential nature of the character: warm, supportive, and inspirational.

3 Martha Kent

Superman 9 Best Supporting Characters In The Comics

In the New 52, both Clark’s parents had died before his first public appearance as Superman, but in almost every other mainstream iteration, at least Martha Kent was there for Clark when Jonathan was not. She is a symbol of kindness and love that, more often than not, keeps Superman grounded with a heartfelt, wholesome connection to humanity.

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Part of what makes Martha so great is that, in most origin stories like The Man of Steel (1986), Superman For All Seasons (1998), Birthright (2003), and Secret Origin (2009), she has been the one who created Clark’s iconic costume, either from normal materials or the blanket Kal-El was wrapped in. Hence the charming line adopted by the CW show Superman & Lois, “My mom made it for me.”

2 Jimmy Olsen

Superman 9 Best Supporting Characters In The Comics

First appearing in Action Comics #6 (1938), the awkward red-headed photographer at the Daily Planet is a staple of the softer, quirkier side of the Superman mythos. While typically dismissed as just a photographer cracking jokes in the background, Jimmy does take the initiative through his history in becoming one of Superman’s closest friends, often dubbed “Superman’s Pal.”

For a time, he even had two volumes of his own series in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen (1954 and 2019), and comics like All-Star Superman (2005) worked to expand Jimmy Olsen’s popularity in the new millennium. Olsen is a constant in both Clark’s and Superman’s lives, always willing to support his friend in times of need.

1 Lois Lane

Debuting with Superman in Action Comics #1, there can be no question that Lois Lane is the most invaluable supporting character of the mythos. Superman’s lover, a core ingredient of traditional depictions, and a great character in her own right, she remains totally irreplaceable as the one woman who could ever claim to be the destined partner to the most powerful man in the world.

Feisty, fearless, and arguably reckless, the daring reporter is a fixture of the lore with a tough-as-nails personality that makes her a fitting match for the Man of Steel. Her status as one of the most iconic female characters of all time has led to the consideration of many recognizable actresses for the role of Lois Lane, but those who have portrayed her thus far inherit a great legacy.

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