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Author Topic: Proving a point, need some help.  (Read 8565 times)
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RedSunOfKrypton
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« on: September 27, 2005, 10:53:04 AM »

I'm currently not at home and as such have no access to my books but I'm looking for some examples (scans would be helpful but I'd settle for anything) of Superman seeing through materials denser than lead. Post Crisis preferably but PreC is good too. Thanks much for any help.
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"...and as the fledgeling Man of Steel looks for the first time over the skyline of this city, this, Metropolis, he utters the syllables with which history is made and legends are forged: This, looks like a job...for Superman."
Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2005, 12:28:27 PM »

He was occasionally shown as being able to see through himself, and his own physical density, Pre-Crisis, was far greater than lead.  He's also been shown as being able to see through gold, which is nearly twice as dense as lead.  

FWIW, x-rays _can_ penetrate through lead, but just with difficulty, as anyone who thinks they can put film in lead-lined bags and check them in as part of their luggage will attest.  There's also been some inconsistency on whether or not he actually emits x-ray radiation, and how much he emits.  I prefer to think of dense materials as a challenge for him to not melt them down, but not an outright barrier as they are comically shown.  If Superman squints too hard at dense stuff, then he tends to generate heat vision and melt what he's trying to see through, so he goes easy with the dense stuff.  He eventually can see through lead and otther dense things, but it'd takes some time and focus, not something he could do at superspeed over an entire city.
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Captain Kal
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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2005, 02:36:33 PM »

In the real world, lead is used for radiation shielding not because it's particularly good at it but because it combines low cost with relatively high density.  Gold, uranium, osmium, and other dense elements would actually make far better radiation shields but their common use is prohibitively expensive.  In some applications, the use of Uranium-238 with its relatively low alpha-particle radiation is worth the expense of its use as a shield.

As Uncle Mxy pointed out, Superman has seen through denser substances than lead.  His X-ray vision is specifically unable to see through lead which makes us suspect the supposed Daxamite ancestry of Kryptonians is a factor here.  Also, Bizarro reversed X-ray vision can see through nothing but lead, at least Pre Crisis, which suggests the lead limitation is less to do with the lead itself than the X-ray vision power itself.
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nightwing
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2005, 03:12:52 PM »

I don't know that a lot of thought went into it, really.  I think the term "X-Ray vision" was at first just a quick and easy way to describe Superman's ability to see through things, but as time went on writers started taking it too literally.  X-rays are stopped by lead, so shouldn't his vision be...that sort of thing.  

Similarly, I remember cases of Superman ruining the film in people's cameras by aiming his x-ray vision at them.  This opens a huge, scary can of worms as it suggests Superman's exposing people to radiation every time he turns this power on.  By now Luthor, Jimmy and a host of others should be serious candidates for cancer.

I prefer to believe Superman's "x-ray vision" is nothing of the kind.  Of course that still leaves us with the question of why lead stops it...
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This looks like a job for...
RedSunOfKrypton
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« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2005, 05:18:43 PM »

With a nod to CK, here's some rehashed stuff combined with a theory of mine I posted elsewhere:

Quote
My thoughts....Well, in theory Superman can emit x-rays from his eyes and has done so several times even PostC, remarking once to a pregnant mother to be that the x-rays his eyes emit are benign and wouldn't harm her fetus.

As for not seeing through lead, it could be a genetically encoded psychosomatic problem. Think about it, if you have supervision, you're always (at least subconciously) going to know if what you're looking at is lead or not. It's common knowledge that X-rays can't pass through lead so if Superman thought "X-rays can't pass through lead so my x-ray vision shouldn't be able to see through lead" then he'd convince himself he couldn't see through lead. Now this is a real stretch, but what if this line of thinking were somehow encoded into his genetics as an instinct of some kind? It would explain not only why he can't see through lead, but also why he can't overcome this self sabotaging; because it's a part of his genetic makeup. It also explains why he can see through things that are denser than lead, neutronium for instance.

To further add to this, it's been said that Kryptonians are the genetic offshoots of Daxamites who also can't see through lead. This inability to see through lead under any circumstances could come from the fact that lead is horrendously poisonous to Daxamites and so to not be caught unawares of its presence, they evolved the instinct that keeps them from seeing through it. They'll always notice it because it's always opaque to them.


It's got some holes I know.
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"...and as the fledgeling Man of Steel looks for the first time over the skyline of this city, this, Metropolis, he utters the syllables with which history is made and legends are forged: This, looks like a job...for Superman."
Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2005, 07:28:13 PM »

Lead as an "extradimensional attractor" could make the Daxam vulnerability to lead and x-ray vision ineffectiveness vs. lead work.  But I tend to think of the Superman "lead" obsession as scientific doubletalk that has grown stale.  It's quite possible to limit Superman's x-ray vision in other ways (one that I just described, above) so Luthor can still hide the Kryptonite in the lead box.
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2005, 07:42:38 PM »

Or it just is...these are eyes that generate heat vision, selective see through abilities, and I suppose might squint a bit for telescopic vision...

Makes as much sense as a Green Lantern's ring having no effect on objects colored yellow (or Alan Scott versus wood, I suppose), despite some odd explanations...what about a particularly yellow orange color?
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2005, 10:21:58 PM »

Blue Guardians + Yellow Impurity = Green Lantern made a perverse sort of sense to me.
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