It seems impossible, but we’re finally approaching the end of Lucy W.‘s request. Today we meet another iconic villain, Ultraman, the evil counterpart of Superman. So far, he only appeared in Smallville, always portrayed by Tom Welling: this version of the character was born on Earth-2, where Kal-El‘s pod was found by Lionel Luthor. Renamed Clark Luthor, Ultraman fully embraced his powers and used them to become an evil tyrant on his world, until he was fought by the good Clark and brought to his version of the Fortress of Solitude, to become a hero under the guidance of his universe’s Jor-El. Of course, in the comics things wouldn’t be this easy, as Ultraman is pure evil incarnate. Let’s see together… and be warned: multiple versions ahead.
The first Ultraman was Kal-Il, an alien born on planet Krypton, but on its Earth-Three version. When he was still a baby, Kal-Il was sent by his father Jor-Il into outer space on a pod, in order to make him a conqueror on alien planet Earth, where he would have acquired incredible powers. Unlike other Earths Kryptonians, Earth-Three ones became more powerful every time they entered in contact with Kryptonite, a rare radioactive mineral, and by the time that the pod had reached Earth, the toddler had encountered so many Kryptonite meteors that he was unstoppable already. He landed on Earth, where he traveled the world to look for other shards of the green stone, gaining one new power every time he found one. As an adult, he named himself Ultraman, and started a one-man conquering campaign directed to the whole world. Extremely powerful but still not invulnerable, Ultraman allied himself with other superhumans from his reality: Super-Woman (an evil Wonder Woman), Owlman (an evil Batman), Power Ring (an evil Green Lantern) and Johnny Quick (an evil Flash). Together, the five of them formed the Crime Syndicate, the world’s most powerful criminal organization, and they easily conquered most of the planet vanquishing armies and states. Not many people dared to oppose Ultraman and his men, the most notable of them being the heroic scientific genius Alexander Luthor, who led the resistance against the Crime Syndicate. Among his most precious conquests there was a tool to open portals to other realities: upon seeing powerful heroes on alternate Earths, Ultraman convinced the Syndicate to try a true battle for once, and challenged at the same time the Justice League of America from Earth-One and the Justice Society of America from Earth-Two. Things didn’t go exactly as planned, and the Crime Syndicate ended up imprisoned by Green Lantern. They eventually freed themselves, ready to resume their conquest: this time, Ultraman would have looked for allies, such as Earth-One Lex Luthor and Earth-Two Alexei Luthor, or the time traveler Per Degaton.
After a Crisis that wiped out Earth-Three and the Crime Syndicate, another Ultraman was born. This one was Lt. Clark Kent, a famous astronaut born in Centropolis, on planet Earth, but in the anti-matter universe of Qward. A star of the space program, Clark Kent’s adventures were constantly covered by the world’s best reporter, Lois Lane, who was secretly the Amazon Super-Woman, and who eventually became his wife. During one of his most daring space travels yet, something went wrong for Clark, as his ship imploded. What could have been his end changed his life drastically as he was abducted by an unknown alien species, who elected him as their expendable guinea pig. The aliens were looking for a way to empower living beings using a radioactive mineral known as the Anti-Kryptonite, and they experimented their method on Kent for months, modifying his body and crippling his mind. By the end of it, the experiment was a total success, far exceeding the aliens’ expectations: unfortunately for them, Kent was now so powerful when in proximity of Anti-Kryptonite that there was no way for them to control him. Lt. Kent killed his captors, and came back to Earth using nothing but self-propelled flight. With his mind severely damaged by the endless torture he had to endure, he was now a raging sociopath, and believing himself to be a god he renamed himself Ultraman and announced his intention to rule over the world as its sole master. Deranged yet charismatic, Ultraman managed to attract with his personality other super-powered criminals, including his wife Lois, and he formed and led the Crime Syndicate: with him as its leader, the Syndicate conquered the world, founding a dictatorship. Despite their ruthlessness, the Crime Syndicate was well-accepted on their Earth, and even sacks of resistance such as Justice Underground, H.I.V.E. or the Metal Marauders were seen as outlaws. One of Ultraman’s worst enemies, Alexander Luthor, came up with a plan eventually: he opened a portal to the positive matter universe, letting the heroic Justice League of America in to do his dirty work. This time, Ultraman had found something he could actually call a challenge…
Being either Kal-Il or Lt. Clark Kent, this man is a psychopathic egomaniac who thinks of himself of a god and treats everybody else as inferior beings worthy only of being squashed like bugs. As Ultraman, he possesses incredible powers, acquired by the exposure to Kryptonite in the first case and to Anti-Kryptonite in the second: he’s invulnerable and incredibly strong, he can fly, he possesses superhuman speed, stamina, durability and reflexes, he has enhanced senses that allow him to see also behind the barriers between realities, he can use the super-breathe, and also showed capabilities of heat vision and freezing breathe. Equal to Superman in all of his powers, but the opposite of him in morality and character, Ultraman is humanity’s worst nightmare, an evil tyrant who uses his seemingly unlimited power to kill, conquer and destroy: definitely nothing to do with “truth, justice and the American way”.