Kryptonite

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This article is about Kryptonite, the element from the Superman mythos. For other uses, see Kryptonite (disambiguation).
Kryptonite
Superman suffering from Kryptonite poisoning courtesy of villains Metallo and Titano.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Radio:
The Adventures of Superman
(June 1943)
Comics:
Superman #61
(Nov. 1949)
In story information
Type Element
Element of stories featuring Superman
Superboy

Kryptonite is a fictional material from the Superman mythos: specifically the ore form of a radioactive element from Superman's home planet of Krypton. First mentioned in The Adventures of Superman radio show in June 1943, the material has featured in a variety of forms and colors (each with its own effect) in DC Comics publications and other merchandise, including feature films, television series, and novelty items such as toys and trading card sets.

The established premise is that Superman and other Kryptonian characters are susceptible to its radiation, which created usage of the term in popular culture: Kryptonite being a reference to an individual's perceived weakness, irrespective of its nature.[1] To commemorate the 70th anniversary of Superman, the University of Leicester participated in a public relations exercise and presented the Geological Society with "mock kryptonite", termed krypton difluoride.[2]

Origin[edit]

An unpublished 1940 story "The K-Metal from Krypton", by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel featured a prototype version of kryptonite, being a mineral from the planet Krypton that drained Superman of his strength whilst giving humans superhuman powers.[3]

"Kryptonite" proper was introduced in the story arc "The Meteor from Krypton" in June 1943 on the Superman radio series. In 1949 kryptonite was incorporated into the comic mythos with issue #61 of Superman. In August 1993 pioneering female editor Dorothy Woolfolk stated in an interview with Florida newspaper Today that she had found Superman's invulnerability dull, and that DC's flagship hero might be more interesting with an Achilles' heel such as adverse reactions to a fragment of his home planet.[4]

Kryptonite gradually appeared more frequently, causing science fiction writer Larry Niven to theorize in tongue-in-cheek fashion that Krypton was in fact a Dyson sphere, and that this was the underlying reason for so much of the mineral finding its way to Earth courtesy of meteor showers.[5] In an effort to reduce the use of kryptonite in storylines, all known forms on Earth were transmuted into "k-iron" in a 1971 story arc[6] titled "The Sandman Saga".[7]

Forms of Kryptonite[edit]

Various forms of the fictional mineral have been created in the Superman publications:

Green Originally red in color, the mineral debuted in Superman #61 (June 1943) and did not adopt its characteristic green hue until Action Comics #161 (Aug. 1951). Green Kryptonite weakens Superman and other Kryptonians. The character has been shown to become immune to the effects of green Kryptonite due to either repeated non-fatal exposure,[8] continuous long-term absorption of solar radiation,[9] or extremely high short-term exposure to the sun.[10]
Red Debuted in Adventure Comics #252 (Sept. 1958). Originally just weakened Superman, but to a greater degree. Later caused bizarre behaviour and transformations.
Anti-Kryptonite Debuted in Action Comics #252 (May 1959). Harmless to Kryptonians, but has the same effect as the green variety on normal humans. The power source for one version of the character Ultraman, Superman's evil counterpart.[11]
X-Kryptonite Debuted in Action Comics #261 (Jan. 1960). Created by the character Supergirl in an unsuccessful attempt to find an antidote to green kryptonite. Harmless to kryptonians, the mineral gives normal lifeforms superhuman abilities, as in the case of Supergirl's pet cat Streaky. Revised in Superman Family #203 (Oct. 1980) to have the same effect as the green variety on kryptonians.
Blue Debuted in Superman #140 (Oct. 1960). Affects the character Bizarro in the same way the green variety of kryptonite affects Superman.
White Debuted in Adventure Comics #279 (Dec. 1960). Kills all plant life, from any world.
Jewel Debuted in Action Comics #310 (March 1962). Fragments of Krypton's Jewel Mountains. Amplifies the psychic powers of the criminals imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, allowing the characters to project illusions or perform mind control.
Gold Debuted in Adventure Comics #299 (Aug. 1962). Kryptonite affected by atomic radiation, and capable of permanently removing a Kryptonian's ability to process yellow sunlight, which in turn nullifies all superhuman abilities.
Silver Debuted in Jimmy Olsen #70 (July 1963). Revealed to be a hoax.
Slow Debuted in The Brave and the Bold #175 (June 1981). A modified variety of green Kryptonite produced by supervillan Metallo that affects humans in a manner similar to the green mineral.
Black Debuted in Supergirl #2 (vol. 5, Oct. 2005). Can split a Kryptonian into two separate entities: one good and the other evil.
Orange Debuted in Krypto the Superdog #4 (Feb. 2007). Gives super abilities to any animal that comes into contact with it for 24 hours.
Magno-Kryptonite Artificially created by the villain Nero, "magno-Kryptonite" is magnetically attracted to all substances originally from Krypton, with such incredible force that not even the strength of Superman or Bizarro can escape it according to Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #92.
Bizarro Red Kryptonite Affects humans the same way red Kryptonite affects Kryptonians. Appeared in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #80.
Kryptonite-X or Kryptisium Not to be confused with X-Kryptonite, Kryptonite-X is a form of filtered/purified Kryptonite. Professor Hamilton used the term "Kryptonite-X" (The Adventures of Superman #511, April 1994, page 13) to describe the substance that restored Superman's powers after a confrontation with the villain known as the Cyborg Superman in Engine City (Superman v2, #82, part of the "Return of Superman" storyline). This substance was created when the Cyborg used a huge chunk of green Kryptonite in an attempt to kill the weak, powerless, recovering Superman. The Eradicator, who had fashioned a faux-Kryptonian body, jumped in front of Superman before the release of the Kryptonite energy could kill him. Despite the Eradicator's efforts, the Kryptonite energy hit Superman, but instead of killing him, it transferred all of the characteristic Kryptonian powers from the Eradicator to Superman, as well as saturating Superman's body with a purified/filtered form of Kryptonite.
Pink From Supergirl (vol. 4) #79, an alternate Earth-One timeline in a 2003 Supergirl storyline by Peter David. It affected the Superman of this reality by giving him gay tendencies. One of the results of this is Superman giving flattering compliments to Jimmy Olsen about his wardrobe and decorative sense. It spoofs the more "innocent times" of the Silver Age; Lois Lane is depicted in this story as not understanding what has gotten into Superman.[12]
Hybrid-K In Lois and Clark, Hybrid-K has the same effect on humans that Green Kryptonite has on Kryptonians. Created by a former S.T.A.R. Labs scientist Jefferson Cole, it was described as pure death, able to kill thousands without destroying any surrounding structures, making it 'environmentally friendly.' After framing Lois for murder, Cole stole the Hybrid-K from S.T.A.R. Labs, hoping to slaughter the people of Metropolis and have the carnage blamed on Superman and Dr. Klein in revenge for having him fired from S.T.A.R. Labs and imprisoned. He seeded rain clouds with the Hybrid-K to create a toxic storm. However, the chemical composition differed enough from normal Kryptonite as to have no effect on Kryptonians, thus, unaffected by the rain, Superman was able to whirlwind the Hybrid-K out of Metropolis. This only appeared in the Season 4 episode "Dead Lois Walking".
Periwinkle In Superman Family Adventures, Periwinkle Kryptonite makes Superman "fabulous," causing him to dance with Lois and imagine he sees disco balls and pink walls. Lois then lays a chunk of Periwinkle Kryptonite on Clark's desk and the two dance, proving that Lois knows Clark's secret identity.[13]

Hoaxes[edit]

Some varieties of the mineral appeared in Superman media but were revealed to be hoaxes:

  • Silver Kryptonite: First featured in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #70, This Silver Kryptonite is a hoax revolving around the silver anniversary (25th year) of Superman's career. Silver Kryptonite in another form is a part of the Smallville TV series (see Smallville below), where Brainiac created it from a portion of himself to gain Clark's favor by "curing" him. A new, and non-hoax version of Silver Kryptonite appeared in the 2008 story arc The Search for Kryptonite, and officially debuted in the comics continuity in Superman/Batman #46. Batman is shown to be in possession of the Silver Kryptonite at the end of the story arc which introduced the material in the final panel of Superman/Batman #49. The graphic novel compilation of the Search for Kryptonite storyline refers to the Silver Kryptonite as "Magic" Kryptonite, due to it having an apparent spell upon the first chunk of it that was found. This Kryptonite did not harm Superman, but instead caused him to act like a child, and perceived everyone around him as 'chibi' versions of themselves. A second chunk of the material, apparently having the counter spell cast on it, restored him to normal.
  • Yellow Kryptonite: This one was used in a hoax masterminded by Lex Luthor in Action Comics #277.
  • Blood Kryptonite: In 52, the Cult of Conner - a religious sect dedicated to resurrecting Superboy, employed "blood Kryptonite" in a preliminary ritual to resurrect Sue Dibny. While physically resembling red Kryptonite, the "blood" variant drains a portion of life force from present attendees, intended to direct this energy towards an effigy of the deceased as part of a Kryptonian resurrection ceremony. It is later revealed that this was a manipulation of Felix Faust and the rock was either regular red Kryptonite or not Kryptonite at all.
  • Kryptonite Plus: 30 or so non-glowing, varicolored, banded rocks invading unnamed Super-aliens had left on Earth's moon and then said were Kryptonite plus or maybe a form of ultra-Kryptonite. They are really Tikron Stones, artificially made by the alien's ancestors. From Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #126 (January 1970).
  • Purple Spotted Kryptonite: Mentioned in Streaky's fictional story in the animated cartoon Krypto the Superdog. This phony Kryptonite made Krypto chase his tail.
  • Fake Kryptonite: Seen in an episode of the Superboy 1988 TV series, Superboy's friends are selling crystals which are labeled as "fake Kryptonite" to raise money for charity. These crystals are clearly false and the vendors make no dispute about it. However, they use humorous references such as "Buy one and have nothing to fear; even Superboy will run away from you!".

In other media[edit]

Serials[edit]

Columbia Pictures produced two 15-part radio serials that used kryptonite as a plot device: Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950).

Films[edit]

  • Superman III (1983): billionaire Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn) orders the creation of synthetic Kryptonite. Computer programmer uses tar to compensate for an unknown component of kryptonite, causing the newly created mineral to eventually turn Superman evil and split the hero into two beings. Gorman's "super computer" later fights Superman and uses a kryptonite ray.

Television[edit]

  • Adventures of Superman (1952 - 1958): episodes "Panic in the Sky", "The Defeat of Superman" (both 1953), "Superman Week", "The Deadly Rock" (both 1955), "The Magic Secret", "The Gentle Monster" and "All That Glitters" (all 1958) all feature kryptonite.
  • "Superboy" (1988 - 1992) featured green kryptonite the episodes "Kryptonite Kills" and "Metallo" (both 1989), "Bride of Bizarro" (1990), "Kryptonite Kid" (1991) and "Obituary for a Super-Hero" (1992); red in "Super Menace" (1990) and the white variant in "The Battle With Bizarro" (1989).
  • Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993-1997) featured green kryptonite in several episodes, including "The Green, Green Glow of Home", "Barbarians at the Planet", "The House of Luthor" (all 1993) "Metallo" (1994), "Top Copy" (1995) and "Battleground Earth" (1996), with the red variety appearing in "Individual Responsibility" and "Ultrawoman" (both 1995) and "Lethal Weapon" (1997).
  • Smallville (2001 - 2011) featured kryptonite on a regular basis: a large quantity of the green variety descends to Earth in meteror shower, arriving in the town of Smallville, Kansas with the spaceship containing the infant Kal-El. The mineral is colloquially referred to by Smallville residents as "meteor rock", but is eventually called "kryptonite" by Clark Kent once he discovers his origins ("Rosetta", Season 2, 2003). Aside from being harmful to Clark Kent, the mineral produces bizarre changes in flora and fauna, including occasionally bestowing metahuman abilities on humans. These people are commonly known by the inhabitants of Smallville as "Meteor Freaks." The green variety of the mineral appears in several episodes every season, although other varieties appear, including red ("Red": 2002. "Exodus", "Exile", "Phoenix" : 2003, "Unsafe": 2005, "Crimson": 2007), black, formed when superheating green kryptonite ("Crusade": 2004, "Doomsday": 2009), silver ("Splinter": 2005), blue ("Blue": 2007, "Persona": 2008, "Kandor": 2009, "Salvation": 2010, 'Harvest": 2011), gem ("Persuasion": 2010) and gold ("Prophecy", "Finale": 2011).

Animated series[edit]

  • Super Friends (1973-1986) featured Kryptonite in the episodes "Rest in Peace" ("Krypton Steel"); "Darkseid's Golden Trap" (gold); "Terror From the Phantom Zone" (blue) and "Uncle Mxyzptlk" (red), with the effects differing to those displayed in the printed DC Comics publications.
  • Superman (1988) features a Kryptonite ring.
  • Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000) attempts a non-canonical explanation of the effect of the material on Superman. This series and The New Batman Adventures (1997-1999) showcase a three-part crossover story arc called World's Finest that demonstrates the effect of krytonite poisoning on humans.
  • Justice League (2001-2004) also uses this plot point.
  • In Batman Beyond (1999-2001) the two-part episode "The Call" reveals kryptonite has been kept safe in the distant future as an anti-Superman deterrent.
  • Krypto the Superdog (2005-2006) features green, red and even a purple-spotted variation.
  • Legion of Super Heroes (2006-2008) features green, while the Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008-2011) episode "The Battle of the Superheroes" features both red and green.
  • The Young Justice (2010-2013) episode "Auld Acquaintance" features use of the green variety.

Video Games[edit]

Music[edit]

Songs:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "TvTropes". TvTropes. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  2. ^ Barbara Whiteman (February 2003). "The Man of Steel Carries Kryptonite to Piccadilly" (Press release). Le.ac.uk. Retrieved July 8, 2010. 
  3. ^ Jones, Gerard. Men Of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book, 2004, pg. 181-183, ISBN 0-465-03656-2
  4. ^ Tippens, Norman. "Dorothy Woolfolk, Superman Editor", Daily Press (Hampton, Virginia), December 6, 2000. WebCitation archive.: As related by Tippens, who notes, "although there is no definitive record".
  5. ^ Niven, Larry. "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex," All the Myriad Ways (Ballantine Books, 1971).
  6. ^ Superman #233-235 (Jan. - March), #237-238 (May - June), #240 -242 (July - Sept.)
  7. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "New editor Julius Schwartz, new scripter Denny O'Neil, and regular artist Curt Swan removed the Man of Steel's greatest weakness from the face of the Earth." 
  8. ^ Superboy #58, July 1957
  9. ^ Kingdom Come #1 - 4 (May - Aug. 1996)
  10. ^ All-Star Superman #1 (Jan, 2006), DC Comics
  11. ^ JLA:Earth 2 (Sep. 2000).
  12. ^ "Superdickery.com: Seduction of the Innocent". Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  13. ^ "NerdSpan » Superman Family Adventures 16". Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  14. ^ http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/3537/3-Doors-Down-The-Better-Life/
  15. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/big-boi-presentsgot-purp-vol-2-mw0000174128

External links[edit]