Today we take a look at how Superman’s powers can provide the superhero with a certain amount of immortality.
In Comic Book Questions Answered, I answer any questions you might have about comics (feel free to email me questions at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Reader Mike J. wanted to know what exactly Superman’s deal was regarding immortality. IS he immortal?
Right off the bat, let me quickly explain why questions like these are so difficult by asking a very different question. How many sisters does Lois Lane have? For the vast majority of her comic book history, Lois Lane has had only one sister, Lucy Lane. However, at some point in the Golden Age, Lois had another sister, who was married and had a daughter, Lois’ niece, Susie Thompkins (I’ve written in the past about how Susie was briefly a major recurring character in the Superman books). Obviously, however, no one was really thinking things through when Susie was introduced. The writers just wanted to have a niece for the story. Continuity was a whole different kind of thing at the time (not non-existent, but quite another thing) and so sometimes it’s hard to give definitive answers to questions like “Is Superman immortal?” when DC has gone through so many different approaches to Superman continuity over the years.
With that said, I think there’s been ENOUGH consistency around Superman’s possible immortality that if we look at a few different stories from very different eras to see the guideline, we get our answer.
SUPERMAN’S ORIGINAL POWERS JUST JUST BEEN BORN A SUPERBEING ON KRYPTON
When Superman made his debut in Action comics # 1, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster kept it pretty darn simple when it comes to Superman’s superpowers. He was simply from a planet where everyone had superpowers …
Over the years, this origin has been baaaaaaaaaaaaasically followed (this was the origin that Siegel and Shuster introduced in the comics), but over time the idea has undergone a few changes. In the first true origin story of the Man of Steel in the Superman comics, Superman # 53 (by Bill Finger, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye), Finger added the idea that Earth’s gravity played a role in Superman’s powers …
but at the same time he also noted that the Kryptonians had x-ray vision and superhuman intellect and stuff like that …
So basically the original conception of the Kryptonians is that they were just inherently long-lived beings, maybe even inherently immortal, but really, obviously, no one even envisioned it in one way or another. ‘another one.
THE FIRST “IMMORTAL SUPERMAN”
However, the first definitive statement on Superman’s immortality during the pre-Crisis era of Superman came in the 1969s. Action comics # 385 (by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Georg Roussos) (released in 1969, the comic is set in 1970, as the issue’s author, Bates, was unsure whether it would be published in the last week of 1969 or the first week of 1970). Superman has to travel into the future to help some people, but he’s not able to use his traditional method of just breaking through the time barrier. .
As you can imagine, time traveling with a faulty time bubble was not the best idea Superman ever had and when he arrives 100,000 years into the future he discovers a little hiccup …
The story establishes that Superman is visibly aging, but he’s not really getting old in the traditional sense, as he’s still so powerful (even MORE, as we’ll learn later in the story) …
HOW AGE SUPERMAN AFTER THE CRISIS?
This concept (visibly aging, but effectively not aging) was the same in kingdom come (by Alex Ross and Mark Waid), where Superman conspicuously distinguishes between himself and the Terrans, who are dying …
However, this was contradicted by a later story, when Grant Morrison built an entire crossover, DC One Million, around the idea that today’s Justice League is called into the 853rd century (the year the 1 millionth issue of Action comics would come out if it was on a monthly schedule) for the return of Superman Prime, who had entered the sun at one point and was exiting now and as you can see in DC one million # 4 (by Morrison, Val Semeiks and Prentis Rollins), Superman Prime is in great shape …
This relates to the idea that the sun itself is the key to Superman’s powers and is possible immortality. As long as the yellow sun powers Superman, he could be immortal, but that doesn’t mean that he is LITERALLY immortal, as there is always a chance that he could be separated from the yellow sun and under these circumstances he could very well be. well die evemntually.
Likewise, there’s the whole thing about how he’s already DEAD, in the famous “Death of Superman” storyline, so obviously he’s not immortal in the traditional sense of the world in that he doesn’t. cannot die, because he obviously MAY die, he just will not die of natural causes as long as he has access to the yellow sun.
AND THE SUPERMAN OF MODERN DAYS? IS HE IMMORTAL?
The most recent comic book history to establish that Superman is indeed immortal is Action comics # 1000, which came out a few years ago and contained a story by Tom King, Clay Mann, and Jordie Bellaire that shows Superman returning to Earth to visit billions of years after she became uninhabitable so that he can say goodbye to his parents at their grave before Earth is destroyed.
As you can see, in this comic, Superman hasn’t even aged billions of years into the future.
So as to the question, Mike, I guess the answer is yes, Superman is basically immortal (as long as he has access to a yellow sun and, you know, a giant space monster with spikes doesn’t. not beat to death).
Thanks for the question, Mike! If anyone else has a question about the comic, please email me at email@example.com.
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