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Author Topic: Superman' s Invulnerability  (Read 11133 times)
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chris6909
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« on: January 12, 2006, 07:54:30 AM »

I read an unofficial biography on superman's powers where it is suggested that his invulnerability works something like this:

His cells collects solar energy which creates a protective aura arround his body, like a force field. This explains the good condition of his costume. However, they want to simeltaneously pass this off as the source of his indestructibility.

Superman protected by a solar force field/aura?Huh?Huh?Huh???

Needless to say that I disagree with this silly theory. It has always been my understanding that superman's actual physical body is indestructible. This includes his internal organs: bone, tissue, lungs, heart, the whole shebang right down to his individual cells.

I figured it to be a combination of his cells's ability to absorb solar energy as well as his super dense molecular structure. That is, his Kryptonian cells's ability to absorb almost infinite amounts of yellow sun radiation combined with it's natural dense structure resulted in his cells binding together so strongly that they cannot be disrupted at a physical level as long as they keep on being radiated.

I also never liked the idea that his cells could store the energy for only up to three days (read that somewhere in some issue long ago). It seems to me that his cells should be able to retain this energy for much longer since they are such effective "solar batteries". For 6 months maybe?

Your comments on this will be interesting.
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Permanus
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2006, 08:41:07 AM »

The John Byrne retcon came up with the suggestion that Superman's invulnerability was a result of this aura of solar energy; this was also given as the reason for his costume never getting torn or dirty (in this version, his costume was just made out of ordinary material, not Kryptonian blankets), but this of course didn't extend to the cape, so we got image after image of Superman standing around with a tattered red beach towel on his back.

Personally, I think this is a rather silly idea too. I mean, how would it work? As far as I know, solar energy gatherers aren't indestructible. I prefer the explanation that Krypton was a far bigger planet than Earth, so a Kryptonian would have far denser tissue. (The science is still a bit wonky, but hey.) It diminishes the character to explain his invulnerability with "an aura". Superman's just really tough. Also, I can't help feeling that Byrne stole the idea from Alan Moore's take on Miracleman and his "tinkerbell effect".
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chris6909
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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2006, 10:15:54 AM »

Another few notes on this:

Considering my first comment it should therefore stand to reason that Superman could only be hurt by the following:
1. Kryptonite
2. Supernatural attack
3. Red sun radiation (although this was never one I could quite wrap my  mind around)

I'm not saying that he cannot be stunned or concussed. If a H-bomb gets dropped on his head without him expecting it, I'm sure he might feel a little off balance. What I am saying is that no physical assault could (or should be able to) destroy his body, whatever the source of the attack. Whether it be conventional weaponry, interstellar weaponry or any other physical energy source.

Maybe its just me, but I have always thought that his almost complete invulnerability was one of his most distinctive features, setting him far aside from any other super being.
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ShinDangaioh
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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2006, 04:19:16 PM »

His invulnerability did have some problems with gravity based weaponry and then there is the uncertantity of being hit by a lightning bolt(sometimes he is and sometimes he isn't).
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nightwing
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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2006, 05:01:16 PM »

I never thought that much about old Redbeard's take on invulnerability (it doesn't do to give his ideas close inspection), so until you mentioned "internal organs," I didn't realize a serious flaw in the whole idea.

To wit: there are any number of classic Superman tales that have him swallowing poisons, explosives, flames, noxious fumes or just plain old rocks with no adverse effects.  But how would any of this be possible if the secret to invulnerability is a force field?  I thought JB put forth that there was an aura around Supes, about an inch deep, that protected him and his costume (except for the cape, which ripped every issue).  But logically wouldn't anything he ingested have to penetrate that force field?  That is to say, an exploding grenade hitting his chest would have no effect, but an exploding grenade in his stomach would be inside the force-field, and thus fatal.  

Or am I missing something?
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Gary
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2006, 08:37:04 PM »

The force field would have to cover individual cells, or even molecules, rather than his body as a whole.

The force field idea precedes Byrne, by the way. There was a couple-page insert during the Schwartz era (which may have been reprinted from earlier times) where Supey summarizes and demonstrates his powers to the readers; in this, if I remember right, he states that the yellow sun creates a force field around his atoms, making him invulnerable.
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Great Rao
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2006, 02:40:20 AM »

Gary, as you note, this isn't quite the same thing as the 1986 reboot idea.  A force-field around individual atoms isn't the same as a force-field around an entire body.

chris6909, read this for a somewhat better explanation of Superman' s invulnerability.

S!
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2006, 09:14:53 AM »

There is one issue of Jim Shooter and Curt Swan's LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES that showed that Superman was invulnerable down to the individual cell. For instance, in order to perform brain surgery on the Super-Cousins, Shrinking Violet carried a piece of Kryptonite directly to the brain cells that controlled Superman's memory of Legion secrets (!).

When Violet planted the Kryptonite, she was attacked by Superboy's white blood cells, which were as invulnerable as Superboy himself.

This does raise a disturbing question by itself, though: apparently the Legionnaires keep some small amounts of Kryptonite on hand. Hmmm...?
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