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  1. #1
    Incredible Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    Default Superman being called 'Kal' - when did it start and how much does it continue?

    When did calling Superman "Kal" become a thing. It makes sense in the Silver Age. Through a good portion of that era, he had some memory of Krypton or else all his communication with AI Jor-El. I recall a Superboy story where he didn't like Jonathan Kent calling him "Clark" because he wanted to be called by his "real name" when they were in private.

    I haven't read 52, but maybe it makes sense there, too.

    But it seems like I've seen Diana, at least, call him that in a post-Crisis era. I remember being surprised by it. But my memory may be faulty. In any event, it really never made sense to me in post-COIE era because he'd never lived on Krypton, really, or gone by that name. He thought of himself as an Earthling...some of the time, anyway. Clark's the real guy (version I prefer).

    Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone knew where calling Superman "Kal" began, and how widespread it was (in regards to number of people using it or years used)?

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member DochaDocha's Avatar
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    I always figured Wonder Woman's use of "Kal" was a combination of various things:

    1) She's royalty so she uses formal titles instead of made up nicknames
    2) She's close enough to Superman that she wouldn't call him "Superman"

    but most importantly

    3) She's not going to call him "Clark" and expose any part of his real identity; it's no secret that Superman is an alien so using his alien name doesn't reveal anything really new

    Supergirl used "Kal" a lot. Basically, anyone who thinks more of his Kryptonian heritage than his human would prefer "Kal" or "Kal-El," kind of like how Vegeta always calls Goku "Kakarot."

  3. #3
    Death becomes you Osiris-Rex's Avatar
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    It would make sense that Kara would refer to her cousin as Kal because that is the name she first knew him as.

  4. #4
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Like DochaDocha said, it's mostly just people who are more formal, like Diana (and I think Aquaman, at least during the PAD harpoon-hand days?) and want to use his given "real" name, or people who see through Kryptonian/alien eyes like Kara and Zod and Maxima.

    I'm not sure when it started, honestly. We'd need a historian like Jim to pop in and provide some answers to that.

    But I'd say there's probably about a half dozen people who call Clark "Kal" on a regular basis, and at least one or two of them are probably villains (Brainiac, Zod).
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  5. #5
    Savior of the Universe Flash Gordon's Avatar
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    I've always thought it was the perfect thing for him to be called.
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  6. #6
    Spectacular Member qwertyuiop1998's Avatar
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    Idem, Most using kal to call superman is the ones who are formal or close to krypton(WW, Supergirl). But where it start I have no clue.........
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  7. #7
    Incredible Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DochaDocha View Post
    I always figured Wonder Woman's use of "Kal" was a combination of various things:

    1) She's royalty so she uses formal titles instead of made up nicknames
    I've seen this one over and over - that Kal is somehow more formal. I do not agree. Clark is not a nickname and is no more made up than Kal is or any other child (or adopted child's) name. Although (and it doesn't apply here) if a person did want to be called by a "made up nickname" or a diminutive of their own name or whatnot and Diana refused to do, I would find that to be very disrespectful of her.

    2) She's close enough to Superman that she wouldn't call him "Superman"
    Doesn't really make sense. Lots of people close to each other call the other by their superhero name when in costume.

    I agree that Kryptonians (or those connected to them) who think of him Kal-El should use that, but not for everyone else. Those who met or primarily knew him as Superman, who's secret identity is Clark Kent, reporter.
    Last edited by Tzigone; 07-15-2019 at 04:32 PM.

  8. #8
    Mighty Member Robanker's Avatar
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    I think it's Diana's way of using a more familiar name while not revealing any intimate information. Moreover, as the Spirit of Truth, she knows that it's his proper birth name. Whatever Clark may feel is his true name (assuming he prefers one to the other, which traditionally appears to be the case though the results change pre/post Crisis), nothing changes that he was bestowed the name "Kal" by his parents. I don't think she views his name and identity as Clark Kent as inherently wrong or any less valid, but it would simply just occur to her to refer to him by his truest name unless it caused him any discomfort. For what it's worth, so many people just default to "Clark," I would think that Superman appreciates that Diana respects his dual heritage.

    I would argue that someone like, say, Arthur has used it in the past because it links them as creatures of two worlds; it's kinship, even though they but heads from time-to-time. This probably extends to Diana as well.

    With Kara, she knew him as Kal when he was in diapers. Makes enough sense that so long as she's not being rude (for example, if he took offense to "Kal"), she'd prefer to refer to him by that name.

    I've rarely seen it as a dig at him. Even when some insensitive loudmouths (Ollie) are trying to get under Superman's skin, they still call him "Clark" or make fun of his Superman identity.

    The earliest I've seen it is some old reprints of Silver Age Superman stories. I'll be honest, I've only read a handful of GA Superman material so while it may happen there, my memory is he's usually referred to as whatever identity he's using at the time.


    Also, hey, post #1000. Perhaps I should stop talking so much about comics and read some more.
    Last edited by Robanker; 07-15-2019 at 07:39 PM.

  9. #9
    Astonishing Member DochaDocha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigone View Post
    I've seen this one over and over - that Kal is somehow more formal. I do not agree. Clark is not a nickname and is no more made up than Kal is or any other child (or adopted child's) name. Although (and it doesn't apply here) if a person did want to be called by a "made up nickname" or a diminutive of their own name or whatnot and Diana refused to do, I would find that to be very disrespectful of her.

    Doesn't really make sense. Lots of people close to each other call the other by their superhero name when in costume.

    I agree that Kryptonians (or those connected to them) who think of him Kal-El should use that, but not for everyone else. Those who met or primarily knew him as Superman, who's secret identity is Clark Kent, reporter.
    "Clark" was not a nickname I was referring to. "Clark" is off limits because if she says that in public, it partially outs Superman's secret identity. By nickname, I was thinking something like "CK," or "Smallville," or "Man of Steel" etc.

    In the early post-Crisis Superman era, Superman himself told WW to call him "Clark," and in my head she opted to change it to "Kal" for the secret identity reasons stated above. If Superman is cool with your knowing his secret ID, he probably doesn't want you to call him "Superman" because that's what random strangers and bad guys call him. Probably it's similar to a situation in which some celebrity who ended up taking a stage name probably wouldn't want his or her close friends to call him or her by the stage name.

  10. #10
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    I think Kal gets used because its a public known name, but still gives a sense of more private.

    I just read the story where Superboy and Wonder Girl have a date in Smallville after he came back to life.
    In this story Brainiac refers to Superman as Kal El and Superboy also calls him Kal El as he meet him in Lex Luthors old House.

  11. #11
    Astonishing Member marhawkman's Avatar
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    Yeah in many continuities, Superman's Kryptonian name is public knowledge. In some cases he has made public introductions of himself with his Kryptonian name as a way to feel more human and alien at the same time.

  12. #12
    Mighty Member LordUltimus's Avatar
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    I kind of like the idea of "Superman" being a literal translation of "Kal-El".

  13. #13
    Mighty Member Timothy Hunter's Avatar
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    I would prefer people referred to himself as Clark Kent instead of Kal El. Clark Kent is Superman not the reverse.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Hunter View Post
    I would prefer people referred to himself as Clark Kent instead of Kal El. Clark Kent is Superman not the reverse.
    His name is Kal-El.
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  15. #15
    Ultimate Member Sacred Knight's Avatar
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    Yep. Kal-El is just as much his name as Clark Kent is. Suppression of that side of him is a post-Crisis trait that I don't want to come back. Superman is Kal-El is Clark Kent. It all blends.
    "They can be a great people Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you. My only son." - Jor-El

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