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Two Things That Weren’t Always In Superman Lore That Will Shock You

Superman was created in 1932 by Jerry Siegel and  Joe Shuster (who was born in Canada) in Cleveland, Ohio and first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938.  Now you might not have known any of that, but whatever – you know who Superman is.  However, things about who he is and how he lives his life have changed over time.

action-comics-1-superman I bet you know more about Superman than you think.  For example, I’m sure you’re aware that:

  1. he is also known as Clark Kent and Kal-El
  2. he’s from the planet Krypton
  3. he flies
  4. he shoots red lasers out of his eyes  (that’s a neat trick!)
  5. he has super strength, hearing and vision
  6. he’s invulnerable, except for Kryptonite (radioactive pieces of his home world if you have the patience to read about all the different types of Kryptonite, then you’re a Super Saint.)
  7. he’s a newspaper reporter
  8. he loves Lois Lane
  9. he’s grew up in Smallville, Kansas
  10. his nemesis is Lex Luthor

When it comes to Superman, I’ve always taken all of the above for granted, but a lot of that came to be as the stories rolled on.  I’m sure you’ve heard this:

“Faster than a speeding bullet!  More powerful than a locomotive!  Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!  It’s Superman!” to be followed by “Look!  Up in the sky!  It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s Superman!”

See, I’m fairly certain that the laundry list of abilities was there right at the beginning, because when Superman first showed up, he didn’t fly and he wasn’t vulnerable to Kryptonite.  This shocks me because outside of his red and blue suit, the flying and the Kryptonite are the first two things I think of when I see a picture of Superman.  But as you can see, it doesn’t say he could fly, it just says he could leap tall buildings in a single bound, which stands to reason – it’s not like the guy has wings or something.  It’s hard for me to imagine Superman just jumping around town like an asshole, but I guess that’s how it worked back in the day.  And it’s no wonder someone came up with the Kryptonite thing; as far as I can recall, that’s the online thing that Superman is vulnerable to (except love’s keen sting?), so what the hell did they do for any drama before Kryptonite? If Superman is out there fighting bad guys with no consequences (i.e., he can’t die), then you’re never worried about him – he might get banged up, but you know he’s going to get off the ground in a second and beat ass.  Adding that one little thing made Superman almost like us – he could die after all.  The Superman radio series (not the comics) invented the Kryptonite thing because presumably, the show was boring as hell.  “‘Superman arrives and punches the bad guys!’  Boom! Bang!  ‘Ow, my face!’  ‘And it’s a job well done by Superman!'”  I wonder how many weeks of shows went by before somebody changed Superman forever.  As for the flying, animating someone jumping over a building in the 1940s was no easy feet and for whatever technical reason and it took up too much screen time, so somebody said, “Screw it, just have him fly everywhere – it’s easier to animate.”  Suddenly, the characteristic that almost entirely defines Superman was born, and, as the promo for the original movie said, “You’ll believe a man can fly.”

Of course, if you’re not a dork like me, there might be a ton of other stuff noted here that you didn’t know, but I just can’t wrap my head around the lack of Kryptonite and flying.  How long were they going to publish stories about a guy with no vulnerabilities who just jumped really high?  I guess until somebody fixed it.

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About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of CreativeJamie.com and BomberBanter.com

Posted on February 14, 2012, in comic book reviews, lists and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Actually, Superman before Kryptonite could die. Since a lot of Superman’s powers are adaptions added to the original Jumping Superman, before his power could only withstand anything less than a tank blast so he was way weaker. Beside kyrptonite is not his only weakness, Superman can be killed buy anything magical if he allows them to get close enough. However when you think about it with all the adaptions he has now, i would think it was harder to actually kill superman now when he has a massive range of abilities, like the bat belt of superheros really.

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