ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Superman's Enemies: The Ultra-Humanite

Updated on August 4, 2015
John Lavernoich profile image

JOHN LAVERNOICH is the author of six published books, as well as a significant number of published short stories and articles.

The Ultra-Humanite, as he first appeared in 1939 -- and as he appeared during the 1980's.
The Ultra-Humanite, as he first appeared in 1939 -- and as he appeared during the 1980's.

When Superman first debuted in DC's Action Comics (1st series)#1 (June 1938), he initially fought common criminals, corrupt politicians, and foreign dictators -- but creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster knew that if the Man of Steel's popularity was to endure for decades to come, he needed enemies who would definitely challenge him and his super powers, since the character's history was rooted in both science fiction and fantasy.

The most famous and enduring of Superman's enemies remains Lex Luthor, who first appeared in Action (1st series)#23 (April 1940), thanks in part to his criminal intelligence and cunning which has, more often than not, nearly brought about the Last Son of Krypton's downfall. But almost a year before Luthor's first appearance, another criminal mastermind clashed with Superman -- and a villain who, after his last appearance during the early-1940's, would have to wait forty years for a comeback: the Ultra-Humanite.

The Ultra-Humanite, who first appeared in Action (1st series)#13 (June 1939), was inspired by the mad scientists who had been a staple of both fiction and mass media since the 19th Century, including prose novels, short stories, motion pictures, and radio. In point of fact, it was Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's 1933 science-fiction story "The Reign Of The Superman (published in the third issue of Science Fiction, the anthology magazine which Siegel and Shuster self-created), in which the title character was a bald-headed villain (and not to be confused with the Superman created by Siegel and Shuster five years later), that played a significant role in the creation of the Ultra-Humanite (and later on, to a greater degree, Lex Luthor).

In the Ultra-Humanite's first comic book appearances, he was an elderly man confined to a wheelchair, yet far from addled, given his high I.Q., the result of a scientific experiment. In the villain's first three appearances, he attempted to control Metropolis' taxi businesses (in Action [1st series]#13), cause a subway accident and create an invisibility ray (in Action [1st series]#14 [July 1939]), and unleash a deadly chemical virus not unlike those that have struck in the real world for centuries (in Action [1st series]#19 [December 1939]). By the end of Superman's third encounter with the Ultra-Humanite in Action (1st series)#19, the villain supposedly died, a victim of one of his inventions.

But the Ultra-Humanite did survive his brush with death -- as revealed in Action (1st series)#20-21 (January-February 1940), when his brain was transplanted in the body of a beautiful film actress, as the villain attempted to first kill some rich kidnapping victims, then use an atomic death ray in an attempt to destroy Metropolis. By the end of Action (1st series)#21, the Ultra-Humanite supposedly died (again) -- and that was the villain's last comic book appearance.

That is, for the next forty years. The Ultra-Humanite's next appearance would be in Superman Family#201 (May-June 1980), in one of four Mr. & Mrs. Superman stories; the others would occur in Superman Family#213-215 (December-February 1981-82). (And for those of you reading this who are probably a bit confused, the Ultra-Humanite originated on Earth-Two, the birthplace of the Justice Society of America -- and where that Earth's Superman and Lois Lane did get married.)

In Justice League Of America (1st series)#195-197 (October-December 1981), writer Gerry Conway and artist George Perez brought back the Ultra-Humanite, his brain now transplanted in the body of a giant and muscular albino ape, as he and the Secret Society of Super-Villains clashed with both the JLA and the JSA -- later on, during the mid-1980's, the revived Ultra-Humanite clashed with Infinity, Inc. in several issues of the super-hero team's comic book, as well as making appearances in the 1985 limited series Crisis On Infinite Earths. (Infinity, Inc. first appeared in All-Star Squadron#25 [September 1983], in which the Ultra-Humanite came back from the dead to clash with DC's Golden Age super-heroes during World War II.)

By the end of Crisis On Infinite Earths in 1985, the DC Universe was revamped, as the Multiverse was replaced by a new single Earth in which the Ultra-Humanite fought not the original Superman (who ceased to exist post-Crisis, but would reappear next in 2005-06's Infinite Crisis, which brought back the Multiverse), but a number of DC's Golden Age super-heroes who did survive the effects of Crisis. The Ultra-Humanite's last appearances during the 1980's occurred in New Teen Titans (2nd series)#38 and Infinity, Inc.#45 (both in December 1987) and a three-part World War II-era story in The Young All-Stars#12-14 (May-July 1988). During the 1990's, the Ultra-Humanite appeared in two Elseworlds limited series published by DC: The Golden Age (1993), which took place during the early-1940's, and Superman & Batman: Generations (1999), one of a trio of limited series written and illustrated by John Byrne.

In the first three issues of Legends Of The DC Universe (February-April 1998), the then-present-day Superman, at the start of his super-hero career, squared off with a scientist who became the U.L.T.R.A. Humanite (a nod of sorts to one of the Man of Steel's earliest foes, while having no connection to the original Ultra-Humanite in the post-Crisis era), as he attempted to destroy Lex Luthor in the wake of his minions killing his wife (and almost ending his own life).

The first Ultra-Humanite wouldn't reappear until 2002, in JSA#32-37 (March-August 2002), in which the villain takes over the body of 1940's super-hero Johnny Thunder in an attempt to conquer the Earth -- and which results in the second Crimson Avenger supposedly killing the super-villain. In addition to making various appearances in a number of DC comics in almost the past decade, including Power Girl (2nd series)#2 (April 2010), in which the Ultra-Humanite's back-story was revealed (including why he became a super-villain), and 2014's Superman: Doomed (which featured a revamped version of the villain) -- the super-villain has also appeared in several animated TV shows featuring DC super-heroes in the past decade (including several episodes of Justice League), as well as several video games in the past few years, including DC Universe Online.

Please visit John Lavernoich's official website:

The following is for sale on's website:


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)