|1938||1938–1939||1939–1940||March 1940–1946||September 1940||1940–1941|
In June 1938, Superman made his debut in Action Comics #1 with this logo on his chest. This logo was designed by Joe Shuster and it was shaped like a yellow heraldic crest or a police badge with a red "S" inside. This logo only made a really short appearance in the cover of the first Action Comics and it was never use in the comics, but in can be seen in some early sketches of 1934 and 1936.
When Action Comics #1 was published, the artwork inside the comic was completely different from the cover, included the logo of the character. It was designed as a red triangle with a yellow background, the "S" also was changed. This logo was featured in several comics, it was often colored entirely yellow, likely by colorist trying to save time.
In Superman #1 there weren't many changes in the logo, except that the triangle became thicker, the outline was removed, and the "S" was designed with a stylized look.
In Superman #4 the logo had a drastic redesign, the red triangle was replaced with a white shield-like emblem with a black background and the "S" developed serifs. This logo later appeared upper corner of Action Comics covers until 1946.
For some reason, this logo is similar to the one used in the costume of New York World's Fair in 1939.
In Superman #6 the logo once again became a triangle, but this time it was yellow and bigger, also the "S" became a little more robust and the serifs are now more highlighted.
In Action Comics #26 the shield was designed wider and pentagon-shaped. this was also the first time the logo became five-sided, although some still drew it with three.
The logo, as seen in the H.J. Ward painting.
In Superman #9 the shield was redesigned to have a large, sharp upper serif. Like the 1938 logo, this one was sometimes colored yellow.
In Superman #26 the logo was designed like a diamond-shaped shield with a rounded bottom.
In that same year, DC Comics wanted to trademark Superman's symbol (just like how Disney did it with Mickey Mouse during that time), so Wayne Boring, who was the primary penciller of Superman back then, changed the design of the "S" to the one we all know and love today. The trademark applied to the basic design and all variations and it was used during the rest of the Golden Age era.
When Curt Swan became the primary penciler of Superman, he slightly modified Boring's design making the "S" more thicker and larger than before. This logo was used during the Silver Age and Bronze Age era of DC Comics until the end of the comic book series Crisis on Infinite Earths. The last time this logo was seen was in the comic book Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, which was Swan's last work as regular artist on the character.
In 1977, the logo was improved, making it straighter and having a vertical upper serif with a diagonal left edge and a black outline. This logo remains the most emblematic and longest-running version used by the character, and also one of the world's most recognized logos.
This logo originally started as a secondary variation usually seen in merchandise, mainly in shirt (it also made an appearance in the opening of the 1978 movie) and it wasn't officially used by the character in the comics until his death in 1993. In 2011, with the reboot of New 52, this logo was replaced, but it was still used outside the comics and it was brought back with the Rebirth series in 2016.
After the events of Infinite Crisis, the continuity of the DC Universe was rebooted, included Superman's, starting the Post-Crisis/Modern Age era of DC. And because of that, the storyline of the franchise was retold in The Man of Steel #1, introducing this logo designed by John Byrne. It was designed to be larger and straighter than Swan's logo, with a triangular or V-shaped serif and putting more focus on the large line in the middle of the "S". This logo was used until The Death of Superman in 1993.
In Superman (Vol. 2) #123, Superman was given electrical powers included a completely new outfit with a reimagined shield designed by artist Ron Krentz. The logo, instead of begin red and yellow/gold, was designed white and blue with stylized lightning bolt "S".
One year later, when the character was split in two entities (blue and red) a red variation of the logo was revealed and this only lasted for a few more issues, until he went back to his "classic-look".
In Superman (Vol. 2) #175, the yellow background of the Superman's shield turned "black", as a symbol of mourning due to sad events that made him change it. This appearance lasted for a period of time and it later returned to the original color scheme.
This version of the logo was formerly used by another member of the Superman Family: Superboy.
After the events of Flashpoint, the DC Universe was once again rebooted, and the continuity of Superman's franchise was changed completely.
In Action Comics (Vol. 2) #1 a new version of Superman debuted and instead of wearing his classic suit, he wears a t-shirt with this shield on his chest, jeans, boots and a small cape attached at his back. This logo it's similar to the 1977 one, but with the difference that the center of the "S" looks thicker and the red tone it's darker and yellow tone it's more pale. This logo only appeared in the first four issues and it was never used again.
A couple of issues later, Superman started to wear a "Kryptonian Armor" with this logo, which is a complete modernization of the classic logo. The "S" is now straighter and symmetrical and the lower serif was removed (though some artists continued drawing it regardless). This logo was used during the New 52 Era of DC, until it was concluded in 2016.