As Superman was adapted into other media, his origin story has been frequently retold. These origin stories adhere to the basic framework created by Siegel and Shuster, with minor variations made to serve the plot or to appeal to contemporary audiences. Some of the details created for these adaptations influenced the origin story in the mainstream comic series.
Superman’s origin was influenced by the science fiction stories appearing in pulp magazines that Siegel and Shuster were fond of and by a variety of social and religious themes.
Siegel and Shuster created multiple characters named Superman. The first was a villain with telepathic powers, published in the short story “The Reign of the Superman.” A later collaboration in 1934 with Russell Keaton has a Superman that is a meta-human sent back in time as an infant, where he is found and raised by Sam and Molly Kent. Yet another version, which was unpublished, was a crime fighter without any superhuman abilities, which Siegel and Shuster compare to another of their creations, Slam Bradley. They felt that a virtuous character originating from Earth to possess superhuman powers would make the character and stories seem less serious, inviting comparisons to humorous strongmen like Popeye. So they decided to make the third version a visitor from another planet.
Siegel has cited the John Carter of Mars stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs as an influence on the source of Superman’s strength and leaping ability being the lesser gravity of a smaller planet.Jack Williamson once remarked that Superman’s origin had strong similarities to a story he had written and published early in his career, where a Martian scientist sent his infant daughter into space to save her from their planet’s destruction.
Superman carries some similarities to Hugo Danner, the main character in the novel Gladiator by Philip Wylie. Danner’s great strength comes from a serum injected into him by his father while still a fetus which gave him the proportional strength of an insect. The scientific explanation for the source of Superman’s powers published in Action Comics #1 also compared Superman’s great strength to an ant‘s ability to carry hundreds of times its own weight and a grasshopper‘s ability to leap great distances. Wylie later threatened to sue National Comics for plagiarism. Siegel signed an affidavit that claimed Superman was not influenced by Gladiator, though he had reviewed the novel for his fanzineScience Fiction in 1932.
Because Siegel and Shuster were both Jewish, some religious commentators and pop-culture scholars such as RabbiSimcha Weinstein and British novelist Howard Jacobson suggest that Superman’s creation was partly influenced by Moses and other Jewish elements. However, Siegel and Shuster claim that having Superman drop out of the sky just seemed like a good idea. -Wikipedia
Superman debuted as the cover feature of the anthology Action Comics #1 (cover-dated June 1938 and published on April 18, 1938). The series was an immediate success, and reader feedback showed it was because of the Superman character. In June 1939, Detective Comics began a sister series, Superman, dedicated exclusively to the character.Action Comics eventually became dedicated to Superman stories too, and both it and Superman have been published without interruption since 1938 (ignoring changes to the titles and numbering). A large number of other series and miniseries have been published as well. Superman has also appeared as a regular or semi-regular character in a number of superhero team series, such as Justice League of America and World’s Finest Comics, and in spin-off series such as Supergirl. Sales of Action Comics and Superman declined steadily from the 1950s, but rose again starting in 1987. Superman #75 (Nov 1992) sold over 6 million copies, making it the best-selling issue of a comic book of all time, thanks to a media sensation over the possibly permanent death of the character in that issue. Sales declined from that point on. In February 2016, Action Comics sold just over 31,000 copies. The comic books are today considered a niche aspect of the Superman franchise due to low readership. -Wikipedia