Superman 101: How well do you know your childhood superhero?

Kryptonite isn’t always green. Batman has been Superman’s boss and landlord. Clark Kent has shape-shifting friends. As Kal-El completes 80 years, take a close look at the original superhero
A first-of-its-kind Superman film starring Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeve was released in 1978.(Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection)
A first-of-its-kind Superman film starring Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeve was released in 1978.(Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection)
Updated on Dec 15, 2018 08:31 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByRachel Lopez

He really is well-disguised

Clark Kent’s glasses are lightly tinted, changing the colour of his eyes. His voice changes too, when he’s not Superman. That’s why he’s hidden so successfully all this time!

But he’s shown up with Clark Kent

How? Superman’s shape-shifting friends often dress like Kent and arrive where Superman is, so people aren’t suspicious.

An old flame is now a superhero too

Lana Lang, Kent’s childhood friend and crush (you see her a lot in the TV show Smallville), rescues a trapped alien in Superboy #124. As a thank you, she is gifted a ring that gives her insect-like abilities. Her superhero name? Insect Queen.

He totally trusts Batman

In the story Dark Knight Over Metropolis (Action Comics #654), Batman discovers a Kryptonite ring and gives it to Superman. But Superman gives it back: “I want the means to stop me to be in the hands of a man I can trust with my life,” he says.

Batman is his landlord, and boss

Wayne Enterprises owns the building where Clark Kent and Lois Lane have an apartment. In 2000, in the second volume of DC’s Superman series, Wayne Enterprises quietly bought the Daily Planet newspaper, where the two work.

Superman is a plant, Kryptonite is weed

A variety of the Australian Banksia plant is formally called Banksia Serrata Superman (but it has no superpowers). Kryptonite is also a a clone hybrid variant in the cannabis family (and doesn’t give you superpowers, no matter how high you get).

His powers are a bit undefined

In his first appearance, Superman’s powers were basically that he could stand anything short of an exploding tank shell and could leap great distances. More powers were added later – in the radio shows, he could fly. He’s had heat-sensor vision, X-Ray vision, strength, icy breath and a forcefield all along his skin. He can also heal, but what could possibly hurt him?

There’s a Superman museum

It’s not made of steel but in a city called Metropolis in Illinois, USA, is the Super Museum. Collector Jim Hambrick displays more than 20,000 items, one of the largest collections of the superhero’s memorabilia.

Kryptonite isn’t always green

The green kind weakens Superman; red is even deadlier and also causes mood swings; blue weakens his nemesis Bizarro; periwinkle loosens his inhibitions; silver gives him hallucinations; black splits him into good and evil; pink makes him gay(!); and that’s not the end of the rainbow.

He’s died once

In Superman#75, which sold 6 million copies in 1992. The creators at DC returned him to fans three months later, with a story about four individuals all claiming to be Superman.

He didn’t always care

Early portrayals show a hero who didn’t care how his powers were harming humans or creating a system of dependency. The moral conundrums over his powers, his loneliness and the fact that he is not human, came only later.

Super villains only came later

It wasn’t until Action Comics #13 that Superman squared off against Ultra-Humanite, a super-smart criminal mastermind with a crippled body.

And the world later still

Early on, Superman symbolised Truth, Justice, and (after 1940s radio broadcasts) The American Way. He was seen as the champion of the oppressed. But why should an alien hero only help America? He renounced his American citizenship in Action Comics #900, to help humans all over the world

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Tuesday, December 07, 2021