Updated on February 8, 2022
Once again, it’s that quadrennial quirk of the calendar, Leap Day. Today in comic book-dom is also traditionally Superman’s birthday! (Not long after his pal Batman’s birthday…)
Why February 29?
As for why February 29 for Superman’s birthday, I assume the writers and editors likely chose today in part as joke. Other guesses: a joking explanation for why Superman’s so slow aging? A play on words (Leap Day for the person who “leaps tall buildings in a single bound”)? A way to get out of doing birthday stories annually?
The February 29 date was first given in the letter column of “World’s Finest Comics” #164 (February 1967). Specifically, the Leap Day birth date was said to be the date on the Kryptonian year that corresponded to February 29. As for his alter-ego, “World’s Finest Comics” #235 (January 1976) said Clark Kent celebrated his “birthday” on June 18, the day the Kents found his rocket. The June 18 date fits with the real-world June 1938 release of “Action Comics” #1, Superman’s first appearance. June 18 is also the birthday of Bud Collyer, Superman’s long-time radio voice.
Superman’s had the occasional birthday-themed story over the years. One such story includes “DC Super Friends” #9 (January 2009). However, the most famous story is Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ “Superman Annual” #11 (1985), “For the Man Who Has Everything.” Said story opens with mentioning the February 29 date.
Superman’s not the only cartoon character with a Leap Day birthday. DC Comics’ Captain Marvel and Little Orphan Annie also call today their birthday.
Other proposed dates
Comics being, well, comics (and thus inconsistent), other birth dates for Clark have also been offered over the years. “Action Comics” #149 (October 1950) is cited by some as an October date. However, that’s based on the issue’s cover publication date, not the actual comic’s stories. Meanwhile, the “Superman: Secret Origin” 2009-2010 miniseries showed December 1 as Clark’s birth date.
Another proposed date is April 18, the date “Action Comics” #1 went on sale on newsstands in 1938. This date was used in the 2016 “Superman: American Alien” miniseries.
Real world celebrations of Superman’s birthday
That said, February 29 has stuck as the most popular birth date for Superman. Time magazine used it for its Superman 50th anniversary issue in 1988.
DC Comics itself also used February 29 in 2016, for a promotional effort for the then-upcoming “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” movie. DC also celebrated April 18 in 2019, though their blog post’s text (“Superman’s birthday only comes around once every four years…”) suggests they view February 29 as the “official” birth date?
The Superman Homepage, a Superman fan site, also goes with the February 29 date, as does some mainstream media publications.
Superman Family birth dates/other relevant dates
The 1976 DC calendar lists other relevant dates and birth dates for the classic Superman Family:
- Pete Ross: January 21
- Terra-Man: February 25
- Lori Lemaris: February 27
- Perry White: March 12
- Mr. Mxyzptlk: April 1 (appropriately enough)
- Brainiac created: April 6
- Supergirl lands on Earth: April 11 (celebrated as her secret identity’s “birthday”)
- The Parasite: May 3
- Superboy changed his name to Superman (pre-Crisis): May 14
- Superman’s public debut (as Superboy pre-Crisis): June 11
- Krypto lands on Earth: June 29
- Steve Lombard: July 5
- Lana Lang: July 17
- Lucy Lane: July 25
- Bizarro’s creation: July 27
- Morgan Edge: August 7
- Lois Lane: August 17
- Pa Kent: September 1
- Supergirl: September 22
- Lex Luthor: September 28
- Supergirl’s public debut: September 30
- Ma Kent: November 7
- Jimmy Olsen: November 29
“Infinite Superman” by JD Hancock is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Flickr / cropped from original)