Reign of the Supermen #51: Superman Inc.

Source: Superman Inc. (1999)
Type: ElseworldsBefore Batman Inc., there was Superman Inc. Well, on a parallel world, at any rate, where we ask...

What if the Kents Hadn't Found Kal-El's Rocket?

Based on: Action Comics #1
The true history: The Kents find Kal-El's rocket and raise him as their own. He grows up to lead a double life as both journalist Clark Kent and Earth's premiere hero, Superman­.
Turning point: What if the Kents didn't try to find the UFO they saw crash to Earth?
Story type: Deviated origin
Watcher's mood: Psych ward
Altered history: For whatever reason, the Kents never found baby Kal-El's rocket, so Super-Baby went out wandering and got himself run over by a car. Good news, it was sunny that day.
The traveling salesman who did the deed gave up boozing and became a lifestyle guru, leaving the baby at the next town's police station. Soon adopted, Kal-El grew up in Mays City as Dale Suderman. His adopted father died when he was small, and his distraught mother fell down the stairs and killed herself when he took up flying around the house. Dale wound up bouncing from foster family to foster family, thereafter blocking out both his powers and memories of his parents' deaths. The troubled teen found his first taste of happiness when he discovered he was a good athlete, getting quickly signed to the Los Angeles Talons basketball team. The public loved the triple-threat athlete and dubbed Suderman "Superman".
The Metropolis Monarchs' owner, Lex Luthor wanted to sign him to his team, bur Suderman had other plans... starting his own Metropolis franchise, the Spartans (S, meet Shield). From then on, Lex became obsessed with this man who elicited to much jealousy from him. While the Superman empire rose, with superhero cartoons Suderman designed based on his dreams, product endorsements and more, so did Luthor's ire. He sent both sports reporter Lois Lane and a private eye after Dale to find any dirt on him. The P.I. followed Dale's trail to Kansas, and to the salesman-turned-guru who told stories of a miracle baby. Soon, the rocket and its kryptonite heart were in Luthor's hands, and he used the Daily Planet to expose Suderman as an alien. In short order, Dale is in Lex's face, but gets thrown out of a window for his trouble.
It unlocks his powers, and the public's ire when Lex spins the story in his own favor. "Superman" is branded as a cheater and a danger and is shot by a kryptonite bullet at his next press conference. Between that, the death of a friend who acted as his conscience and a visit from fellow illegal alien J'onn J'onzz, Suderman flees the hospital to find himself. In the corn fields of Kansas, he is struck by lightning and knocked out. Fate attempts to reassert itself as the Kents find him and nurse him back to health. They have no idea who he is because they don't own a television, which makes their farm the perfect refuge. As Dave Sullivan, he works the fields and comes to think of the Kents as family. Meanwhile, Luthor is jailed for his part in the Superman shooting. With the lessons he's learned, he leaves Kansas once again after sending a video to the media telling the world he has left Earth to find his home planet. In reality, in enrolls in Lois Lane's journalism class at Metropolis University under the assumed name of Clark Kent. Could destiny soon find itself back on track?
Books canceled as a result: Perhaps all of them, though one could imagine Superman eventually coming on the scene in the heroic identity created for his animated series. This would in turn inspire other costumed heroes to come out of the woodwork. This DCU may be late, but it's coming.
These things happen: The Byrnified version of Clark Kent donned glasses only late in life and was a veritable football hero at Smallville High. His athletics career never went any further for ethical reasons. Still, Smallville owes Kansas' other schools an apology.

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