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Superman Replaces Mowgli in DC’s JUNGLE BOOK Universe

Superman once became Super Mowgli of DC’s Jungle Book, as one alt-universe comic book asked: what if the Man of Steel was raised by wolves?

Let’s face it – when it comes to finding a kid to adopt, every family would want to choose baby Kal-El (aka Superman). Not only does he grow up to become humanity’s greatest hero (major parenting bragging rights!), he’s also a well-mannered kid who rarely gives his parents any trouble (outside of a few heat vision-related mishaps).

As it turns out, Superman gets to be adopted by several different families in the comic books – including some with very little resemblance to the Kents. Thanks to the bizarre alternate realities of Elseworlds stories, Superman has been raised in the Soviet Union, as a human being on Krypton… and even in the jungle. By wolves. Yes, really.

Related: When Superman Is Raised By Apes, He Becomes TARZAN Instead

That unusual tale, which combined elements from the Superman saga with the Jungle Book, happened in Superman Annual #6, which told the tale of “The Feral Man of Steel.” In this world, Kal-El’s ship landed in the jungle where his cries were heard by M’r’r, a she-wolf who protected the Kryptonian infant from the tiger Kahn. Named “K’l’l” or “white skin,” the now-feral Kryptonian grows up happily in the jungle (and even gets a very dark tan) before the sun’s radiation begins imbuing him with his superpowers.

When British colonists, including the famed explorer Richard Francis Burton and his companion John Ellis invade the jungle, however, some of their men begin shooting at the animals and accidentally kill K’l’l’s mother. Alerted to her death howls, K’l’l flies to her side and issues a severe beating to the men – displaying his heat vision and flight powers as well. Fleeing with his adoptive mother’s corpse, K’l’l regains his own will to live by finally defeating and killing Kahn in battle. He then chooses to wear the tiger’s pelt as a sign of his new station as Lord of the Wolves – adding to it the S-shaped symbol of the House of El as a hieroglyph.

Seeking to kill the humans responsible for his mother’s death, K’l’l leads the animals of the jungle to their camp and nearly slaughters them all, but is stopped by Burton’s new fellow traveler – the American Lois Lane. Attracted to Lois, K’l’l breaks off the attack and even allows Lois to teach him their language. She also gives K’l’l the human name “Clark” and inevitably falls in love with him – something that angers the other member of the group – Lex Luthor.

Having acquired a chunk of Kryptonite after killing the tribe that found it, Luthor quickly discovers it can weaken “Clark” and decides to use the “Jungle Man” as a tool to take over the British Empire. Taking Clark back to England as a sideshow attraction, Luthor orders Clark to kill Queen Victoria during one of his performances. When Luthor threatens Lois, however, Clark turns on the villain, who’s barely able to hold him back with his Kryptonite-laced sword. Richard Burton arrives to help Clark take down Luthor, however, and the assassination is prevented.

In the aftermath, Clark is knighted by Queen Victoria as “Sir Clark of Kent” and given lands and wealth. Together with Burton, he led expeditions across four continents and ended up expanding the British Empire to the point where England took over one-third of the Earth. Clark and Lois eventually married and had children (all with his Kryptonian abilities) ensuring that the British Empire continues to spread over the generations.

A remarkable twist ending to both the traditional Superman legend and the original Jungle Book, the “Feral Man of Steel” uses the common thread of a man who achieves greatness thanks to being raised in a foreign but healthy environment with nurturing adoptive parents. It’s a remarkable tale that shows Superman can thrive under any circumstances as long as he’s found by the right people. Even if those people turn out to be wolves.

Next: When Superman’s Adopted By The Waynes, HE Becomes Batman    

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