Superman may be the people’s hero, and he has a clear-cut gallery of rogues, but when there is a hero who has superpowers like his, there’s bound to be plenty of opposition. Lex Luthor alone has nothing but contempt for Superman just because of his powers.
However, there have been times when Superman’s friends have been his worst enemies – even trying to kill him. Whether it’s Jimmy Olsen, Wonder Woman or Batman, many allies have at least once tried to kill Superman in one universe or another. Thus proving that sometimes, those we love and trust the most can be our greatest threat.
10 ADVENTURE COMICS #271 (LEX LUTHOR)
Believe it or not, Superman and Lex Luthor were once friends. During the Silver Age, it is revealed the two went to school together when Supes was Superboy. This 1960 issue of Adventure Comics shows Superboy befriending a brown-haired boy named Alexander Luthor who loves science.
The two become best friends with Luthor even inventing an antidote for the effects of Kryptonite. All goes wrong when Luthor accidentally starts a fire in his lab and Superboy shows up to extinguish the fire by using his super breath. However, his blast of air accidentally drops acid on Luthor’s experiment and inadvertently causes Luthor’s hair to fall out. Luthor vows to devote his life to get revenge against Superboy, starting with attacking Superboy with a Kryptonite meteorite. 2003’s Superman: Birthright also reboots this origin.
9 INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US YEAR 5 #32 (HAWKMAN)
In a world where Superman becomes a ruthless dictator bent on ridding the world of all crime, his form of justice becomes unpopular with Batman and other heroes, turning allies into enemies. While many try to kill Superman in this universe, it is Hawkman whose thirst for revenge and attempt on Supes’ life is one of the most notable.
Upset over Hawkgirl’s choice to join Superman’s team, Katar uses a Kryptonite mace on his beatdown of the man of steel. It eventually turns out very bad for Hawkman, who Supes beats to death.
8 ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #636 (EMIL HAMILTON)
For the longest time, Dr. Emil Hamilton was a great ally to Superman, providing him with many inventions and devices which helped Superboy/Superman countless times. In 2005, Superman faced a new villain named Ruin, who vowed to kill Superman when he estimated the Kryptonian was sucking the sun of its energy and would kill the Earth in 4.5 billion years.
Hamilton first frames Pete Ross – former President of the United States – as Ruin before Superman finds out the villain is actually his long-time ally, Hamilton. After years of being sidelined and feeling threatened he’s being replaced by John Henry Irons as Supes’ scientific advisor, Hamilton goes mad and takes on the villainous alter ego.
7 DC COMICS PRESENTS #14 (PETE ROSS)
This 1979 issue featuring Superman and Superboy finds the latter trying to kill his older self, Superman. From being hit with a Kryptonite missile to being shackled in Kryptonite chains, Superman finally discovers the person truly possessing Superboy is none other than Clark’s childhood friend from Smallville, Pete Ross!
It turns out that Ross is very angry at Superman for being unable to rescue his young son, who was kidnapped by an alien race known as Nrvynians. Pete uses a body swap machine he had found in one of Lex Luthor’s lairs to switch bodies with Superboy and uses his strength to try and kill Superman with many forms of Kryptonite.
6 SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF TOMORROW #13 (JLA, ORION, BIG BARDA)
In this 1999 issue of Superman: The Man of Tomorrow, Superman is trying to rid the world of every nuclear weapon, but it is perceived as an act of terrorism by the United Nations as his methods are questionable. This is all under the evil machinations of the villain Dominus, who has taken mind control of Superman to exploit his greatest fear of not being able to save everyone.
Superman’s construction of an army of robot Supermen is further perceived as a threat as they will do anything to accomplish Supes’ mission. This grabs the attention of the Justice League of America who enlist the assistance of Orion and Big Barda, who will stop Supes at any cost – even using deadly Kryptonite on him.
5 ACTION COMICS #253 (JIMMY OLSEN)
In this 1959 story entitled “The War Between Jimmy Olsen and Superman,” Superman brings Jimmy to his Fortress of Solitude to show him some artifacts in the museum so Olsen can write a story for the Daily Planet.
However, when they return to Metropolis, Jimmy starts to exhibit the same powers as Supes. Soon, Jimmy’s malevolent behavior finds him trying to kill Superman with Kryptonite. This is one of the only times Superman’s best friend has ever tried to kill him; however, technically, it was merely a Kandorian criminal named El Gar-Kur, who looked exactly like Olsen, which became easy for the villain to trade places with the Planet photographer.
4 KINGDOM COME (SHAZAM)
In this 1996 miniseries showing the superheroes of the DC universe long retired, Superman is coaxed out of his respite by Wonder Woman to return to his heroic antics after a newer generation of superheroes run amok after the emergence of Magog, a super-powered being who uses execution as justice.
To help try to defeat the classic superhero’s return, Lex Luthor forms a league of villains and comes to control Billy Batson. Luthor uses Batson to transform into his alter ego, Captain Marvel/Shazam, and Shazam tries to kill Superman. The two come to a standstill fight, since Superman is susceptible to magic, with Shazam getting the best of Supes a few times. Fortunately, the betterment of the people wins out in time to stop the two allies from fighting anymore.
3 BATMAN/SUPERMAN #49 (LANA LANG)
There were many big-name villains to go against these two powerhouse heroes. But one of the most tragic villains to emerge out of this 2008 run was Superman’s high school girlfriend, Lana Lang. She is named LexCorp CEO and discovered by Superman to have sold Kryptonite to the U.S. government to make thousands of Kryptonite-made dirty bombs.
She threatens if Superman and Batman try to destroy any of the bombs, she will detonate all of the bombs placed throughout the world, making the world inhabitable for all Kryptonians. When Superman calls Lana’s bluff, thinking there’s no way she would do such a thing, Lana pushes the detonation button. She claims the sale of the Kryptonite weapons was so the thousands of LexCorp employees could keep their jobs and the company won’t go bankrupt. But, for Superman, it’s the ultimate betrayal. Fortunately, the toxic Kryptonite is expunged from the planet by the young, heroic Toyman.
2 SUPERMAN’S GIRLFRIEND LOIS LANE #65 (LOIS LANE)
This 1966 story is introduced as an “imaginary tale” and shows Lois Lane brainwashed by a magic ray, then married to Lex Luthor, who is a masked crook named Lexo, and soon plotting to destroy the Man of Steel. When Luthor is scheduled to perform a musical piece he wrote called the “Superman Sonata” on a piano at a concert hall, this time, it’s Lois who plots to combine Lex’s musical notes from the piano with her tonal vibrations from playing a Kryptonian instrument called the lythre to induce madness in Superman.
Her plan works, leaving him in a coma-like state. Superman is awakened out of his coma after the effects of the ray wear off Lois and she helps Lex come up with a cure. Even though it’s imaginary, this is one tale that remains memorable.
1 DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (BATMAN & GREEN ARROW)
In Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, Batman has become more grizzled and violent with aging and it’s not until President Reagan sends Superman to try and stop Batman that these two come to blows.
This story introduced the bat armor, which was later seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Unlike the film, the two friends’ fight here is a result of Superman being ordered to stop Batman and his vigilante team from handing out their own form of justice. Oliver Queen/Green Arrow shoots a kryptonite-tipped arrow at Superman, nearly killing him, leading to Batman beating Supes down, close to death.