Superman has been around for over 80 years, but when the Man of Steel first appeared in the comics, he was very different. In the beginning, Superman was a powerful warrior who could jump tall buildings, outrun a speedy bullet, and outmaneuver baddies quickly. Of course, those bad guys were almost exclusively mobsters.
The first two supervillains Superman faced were only humans at the time, albeit brilliant and calculated humans. It took five years before a superhuman showed up to fight Superman, and it took 25 years before Superman faced his 10th supervillain, which includes megalomaniacs and aliens.
10 Ultra-Humanite (Action Comics # 13)
The first supervillain Superman faced took place in 1939, and that was surprisingly Ultra-Humanite. This was in 1939 in a story titled “Superman vs. the Taxi Protective League” and had Superman fighting an organization that victimized independent taxi drivers.
The boss of the mafia is Ultra-Humanite, the “smartest man on Earth”. At that time, he was not a giant albino gorilla, but an awkward little man. Eventually, he was able to transfer his consciousness and overcome his physical limitations to become strong and intelligent.
9 Lex Luthor (Superman # 4)
Superman’s main nemesis first arrived in 1940 on the pages of Superman # 4. This was Lex Luthor. It is important to remember that the Lex Luthor who would manipulate the world and one day become president of the United States was very different before. Crisis on Infinite Earths.
In this first appearance, Superman recognized Lex as a mad scientist who wanted to take over Earth. This first appearance caused Luthor to challenge Superman to different tests and he watched in disbelief as Superman passed them all.
8 The Joker (Action Comics # 51)
Two more years passed before the next supervillain showed up to fight Superman. This came in Action comics # 51 When Superman Had To Deal With The Villain Known As The Prankster. Unlike most villains, Prankster made magnificent and impressive jokes against people.
However, behind the scenes, he used these jokes to distract people while robbing them and committing crimes. The biggest joke in this first appearance was getting a bank to open his vault for him before Superman stopped him.
7 The Toyman (Action Comics # 64)
Toyman first appeared in Action comics # 64. Clark Kent first meets Toyman when a small Superman toy runs past him, stopping it himself. At first, Toyman seemed like a nice guy, and he had fun making toys that will one day amuse children too.
The truth is, I was making these toys to help you commit crimes that will make you rich. He was very similar to The Prankster in that he uses distractions to commit crimes and can never defeat Superman.
6 Mister Mxyzptlk (Superman # 30)
It took five years for Superman to fight a villain with superhuman powers, and that villain was an imp from the Fifth Dimension. Superman # 30 was Mister Mxyzptlk’s first appearance, and while he’s not a typical villain, he’s still someone who makes life difficult for Superman.
This imp wants nothing more than to be a nuisance and have fun. From this first appearance, Mister Mxyzptlk continues to appear randomly until Superman can figure out how to banish him again.
5 Brainiac (Action Comics # 242)
After Mister Mxyzptlk, no new supervillain was introduced for Superman to fight for 14 years. This villain appeared in July 1958 and remains one of Superman’s most powerful villains. In Action comics # 242, Superman met Brainiac for the first time.
At the time, Brainiac was a green-skinned humanoid figure, a glowing alien who appeared on Earth to rob various cities on the planet. In this issue, Superman discovers that the Kryptonian city of Kandor is aboard Brainiac’s ship.
4 Strange (Superboy # 68)
Brainiac opened the door for more fantastic villains for Superman to fight. The next to arrive was Bizarro, who first appeared in Super Boy # 68 as a tragic figure who never wanted to be a villain. It was an imperfect duplicate of Superboy.
Bizarro then appeared in Action comics # 254 when Lex Luthor created a second version of the creature based on Superman. Luthor couldn’t control it, and Bizarro became the troubled character that he remains to this day.
3 Metallo (Action Comics # 252)
In 1959, Metallo appeared for the first time. While this Superman nemesis has grown into a decimated creature over the years, he found his original destiny in Action comics # 252. Was a reporter in Metropolis who almost died in an accident.
A scientist rebuilt him using metal body parts, but his new heart required uranium to function. He later learned that kryptonite worked as well as uranium and made it one of Superman’s most dangerous threats.
two General Zod (Action Comics # 283)
With the introduction of Brainiac in 1958 with Kandor in a bottle, it was only a matter of time before the villains of Krypton appeared. That turned out to be the greatest villain in Kryptonian history in General Zod.
Superboy released Zod from his prison sentence in the Phantom Zone, thinking he deserved a second chance. Zod decided to take over Earth, so Superboy sent him back, but developed an enemy for life in the process.
1 Parasite (Action Comics # 340)
The 10th supervillain Superman faced off in his rogues gallery appeared in Action comics # 340. This villain was Parasite, a former researcher who was exposed to radioactive materials that Superman brought to Earth for analysis.
He ended up being a real threat to Superman because they fought the whole time. He absorbed Superman’s energy, weakening the Man of Steel the more they fought.
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