The Supermobile as seen on Action Comics (first series) #481 (March 1978).
|First appearance||Action Comics #481 (March 1978)|
|Created by||Cary Bates, Curt Swan|
|In story information|
|Element of stories featuring||Superman|
The Supermobile, also known as the SMB, is the fictional vehicle for the comic book superhero Superman, and is capable of duplicating all of his abilities in situations where he finds himself powerless. It was introduced in a story entitled "It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Supermobile!", published in Action Comics # 481, cover dated March 1978.
When waves of red solar radiation from a long-exploded star reached Earth, the android Amazo reactivated and escaped his captivity on the satellite headquarters of the Justice League of America, seeking out his creator, Professor Ivo in the hopes of being returned to his deactivated state. With the rest of the Justice League imprisoned in another dimension by Amazo, though he makes sure they are able to watch him which they do, only Superman stands ready to defend Ivo, though he is left powerless by the red solar radiation, as he derives his power from Earth's yellow sun.
Luring Amazo to his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic, after teleporting himself and Ivo there and hiding Ivo, Superman unleashes his new secret weapon on the android: a small vehicle he has dubbed the Supermobile, which is capable of duplicating all of his powers, including invulnerability, as it is constructed of Supermanium, a metal so strong that "only Superman's heat vision can soften the substance, and only his super-strength is mighty enough to mold it!" He finally travels five days into the future, when the radiation has passed Earth, enabling him to regain his powers.
Superman rarely used the Supermobile again after the red sun radiation passed and he regained his powers in the following issue. He used it a few months later, fighting the Atomic Skull and Titano. The vehicle has made a few unofficial cameo appearances in recent years. A few different versions of the Supermobile were seen protecting a futuristic Ivy Town in All-New Atom #8. The classic design of the vehicle could also be seen atop the sign of Funky Flashman's used automobile dealership (which also contained a lot full of Batmobiles from various media) in the fifth chapter of the Doctor Thirteen serial "Architecture and Morality" in Tales of the Unexpected #5.
The Supermobile does not just duplicate Superman's powers, it acts as a conduit for the Man of Steel's powers, allowing him to channel them through the vehicle itself. The Supermanium hull of the SMB shields Superman from red solar radiation that would rob him of his powers, making it so that he remains at the height of his abilities as long as he is within the vehicle. When Amazo remarks that no engine on Earth could react as quickly and easily as the Supermobile's, Superman responds, "You're right about that, Amazo! But who said anything about an engine?", revealing that the vehicle is powered completely by Superman himself.
Besides invulnerability and flight, the Supermobile also channels Superman's other powers using the following devices:
- Large mechanical arms mounted on either side of the cockpit area, allowing Superman to both punch and grasp.
- A scope on the control panel which can be adjusted to work with each of Superman's vision-related powers: normal, telescopic, microscopic, x-ray, heat, and night vision.
- Air jets that pop out from various points around the vehicle, allowing Superman to use his super breath if he blows into a face mask attached to the control panel.
- A monitor and other communications and listening devices substitute for his super hearing.
In other media
- The Supermobile appeared in at least three episodes of Super Friends: "Terror from the Phantom Zone" (from the 1978 season), "Lex Luthor Strikes Back" (from the 1979-1980 season, The World's Greatest Super Friends), and "The Krypton Syndrome" (from the so-called lost episodes) of 1983.
- In episode "Battle of the Super-Heroes" of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Lex Luthor uses what looks like a version of the Supermobile, albeit in his standard colors of purple and green, to challenge Superman. It was quickly destroyed.
- Corgi Toys made die-cast models of the Supermobile in two different sizes, the "Junior" model (3 inches in length, about the size of a Matchbox or Hot Wheels car) and a larger, 1/36 scale version.
- Kenner produced a Supermobile to go with their Super Powers Collection, one that was big enough to fit the line's action figures. The design differed a bit from the original, however; the two mechanical arms were absent, replaced by a front-mounted "Krypton Action Ram".
- Cary Bates (w); Curt Swan (a). "It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Supermobile!", Action Comics #481, DC Comics, March 1978.
- Cary Bates (w); Curt Swan (a). "Amazo's Big Breakthrough", Action Comics #480, DC Comics, February 1978.
- Action Comics #481, DC Comics, March 1978, pg 13.
- Cary Bates (w); Curt Swan (a). "This is a Job For Supermobile!", Action Comics #482, DC Comics, April 1978.
- Martin Pasko (w); Curt Swan (a). "Beware the Eyes That Paralyze!", Superman Vol 1 #324, DC Comics, June 1978.
- Gail Simone (w); Mike Norton (a). "The Man Who Swallowed Eternity (Part II of II) - The Entropy of the Universe Tends to a Maximum", All-New Atom #8, DC Comics, April 2007.
- Brian Azzarello (w); Cliff Chiang (a). "Architecture and Morality Chapter Five - Sugar Mountain", Tales of the Unexpected #5, DC Comics, April 2007.
- Action Comics #481, DC Comics, March 1978, pg 10.
- "The Corgi "Superman" Supermobile". Texastoyman.com. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
- "Supermobile - Shields Superman From Kryptonite!". Actionfigureinsider.com. Retrieved 2010-09-29.