Plucky kid turned young adult superhero Jon Kent has become a major part of the Superman mythos. He’s the Man of Steel’s own son; or at least one of the few canonical ones. Jon has received in his own solo comic series’ and appeared as one of the lead protagonists of the Super Sons movie. His success stems from both his likable personality and, of course, his legacy as the son of the single most influential superhero in the world.
Yet despite all the fame this legacy gave Jon Kent, many fans have forgotten about Superman’s canonical daughter. The time-traveling superhero Cir-El was an excitable young hero from the near future who found herself marooned in the present day before her father conceived her. That was the original pitch for the character, but her origin story quickly became so messy that she DC Comics barely used her in their comics at all. Naturally, Cir-El eventually fell into obscurity.
Cir-El was first introduced in the obscure Superman: The 10? Adventure one-shot issue (by Steven T. Seagle, Scott McDaniel, Andy Owens, Tanya Horie, Richard Horie and Richard Starkings) released in 2003. During the issue, Superman battled the futuristic Icelandic villain Amok. Brainiac 12 has hired Amok in the far-flung future to go back in time to defeat the Man of Steel. When this scheme failed and Amok got overwhelmed by his own power, the futuristic Brainiac 12 and the organization known as the Futuresmiths revealed their next plan. They sent the future daughter of Superman and Lois Lane, Cir-El, to the present day as a sleeper agent.
The cliffhanger ending of the Superman: The 10? Adventure storyline was eventually reintroduced by writer Steven T. Seagle within Superman #190-194 (by Steven T. Seagle, Scott McDaniel, Andy Owens, Tanya Horie, Richard Horie and Comicraft). These issues followed up on the future Brainiac 12’s scheme. Cir-El was sent to the present day by the Futuresmiths under the guise that she was going to help her biological father battle the supervillain Radion. While Superman was skeptical of Cir-El’s claims that she’s his daughter from the future, both he and his wife Lois Lane soon accepted her. They even welcomed Cir-El into the Superman Family as the new Supergirl.
However, in Superman #195 (by Steven T. Seagle, Scott McDaniel, Andy Owens, Tanya Horie, Richard Horie, and Comicraft), Cir-El’s origins were again put into doubt. Superman traveled to the Futuresmiths’ future and learned the future Cir-El came from might have been a dystopic alternate dimension instead of the genuine future the DC Universe was heading towards. It was also brought up that Cir-El may be a clone created by Brainiac 12 and not the true daughter of a future Superman. The issue seemingly ended with Superman confirming that Cir-El’s DNA was the same as his own. However, whether she was a clone from the future, his actual daughter, or some alternate variant, was left unclear. What made Cir-El more confusing was that in Action Comics: Hungry Ghosts (by Joe Kelly, Pascal Ferry, Cam Smith and Guy Major) she developed a goth alter named “Mia” who took control of Cir-El’s body every time she used a Kryptonian superpower known as the Red Sun Burst. Readers wondered if Mia was the primary alter being mind controlled into believing she’s Cir-El, or if Cir-El has a form of dissociative identity disorder. The lack of answers further incited confusion concerning Cir-El.
Cir-El’s Origins Were Too Confusing For Her To Become A Major Character
Jon Kent wasn’t spared a confusing origin. He was born in the midst of the Convergence event when Superman and Lois Lane got trapped in a pocket dimension created by villains, Telos and Brainiac. However, the major difference between Jon and Cir-El is that there was never any doubt that Jon was canonically the son of Superman and Lois. Removing the clutter of the Convergence event comic, it was still clear that the real Superman and Lois conceived the Boy of Steel.
Cir-El, on the other hand, possessed a confusing combination of messy origin stories and unexplained plot points. The supposed “Supergirl of the Future” has nothing that grounded her. She was simply the “kind of” Daughter of Superman who might secretly be a clone and “may have” come from the future and “could be” secretly two people inhabiting one body. The lack of clarity robbed her of a concrete identity, unlike Jon Kent, who despite having his own confusing multiversal connections is without any doubt is the true Son of Superman. Thus, despite a few more appearances in Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman comic run in 2004, Cir-El was quickly removed from the Superman Family roster and ceased to appear in future comic book storylines.
Is There A Chance For Cir-El’s Character To Be Salvaged?
Despite being an immensely confusing character, there were still many enjoyable aspects of Cir-El’s Supergirl that redeemed her. For example, she was incredibly bubbly and enthusiastic. Cir-El often amused her “father” with her antics, and she could quickly become too much for Superman to handle. This led to numerous funny interactions where Superman would try to give Cir-El tasks in the Fortress of Solitude to keep her occupied, only for something to go wrong that either Cir-El herself would have to fix or would end up needing the help of other Superman Family members.
To that point, Cir-El also made several endearing friendships among the Superman Family, most notably Superboy, Tracy 13, the second Steel Natasha Irons, and Krypto the Superdog. Her interactions with these characters ranged from comedic thanks to Cir-El’s personality and confusing backstory (which even the in-comic characters were baffled by) or very heartwarming in other cases. Cir-El has many qualities that could be worth saving. However, her origins prevent her from seamlessly fitting into the DC Universe.
If Cir-El were to reappear, her origins would have to be extensively workshopped. In order to cut out confusion, it may be best to quit the “Daughter of Superman” moniker and just have her be a clone of Superman. Since her costume and design are already incredibly similar to Superboy (another famous Superman clone), changing her into a clone wouldn’t appear completely out of place. With 2023’s Action Comics run expanding with Superman Family with new and old faces, Cir-El’s return as Supergirl would be welcome, so long as she undergoes an appropriate revamp to make her more appealing and less of a convoluted mess.
Jon Kent is often the first DC character people think of when discussing Superman’s children, but the Man of Steel also has a canonical daughter. Read More