Kryptonite is a fictional material that appears primarily in Superman stories. In its most well-known form, it is a green, crystalline material that emits a peculiar radiation that weakens and sickens Superman, but is generally harmless to humans when exposed to it in short term, however, when it gets into their bloodstream it can poison them. There are other varieties of kryptonite such as red and gold kryptonite which have different but still generally negative effects on Superman. Due to Superman's popularity kryptonite has become a byword for an extraordinary weakness, synonymous with "Achilles' heel".
Green kryptonite: art by Gary Frank.
The Adventures of Superman
|In story information|
|Element of stories featuring||Superman|
An unpublished 1940 story titled "The K-Metal from Krypton", written by Superman creator Jerry Siegel, featured a prototype of kryptonite. It was a mineral from the planet Krypton that drained Superman of his strength while giving superhuman powers to mortals. This story was rejected because in it Superman reveals his identity to Lois.
The mineral known as kryptonite was introduced in the radio serial The Adventures of Superman, in the story "The Meteor from Krypton", broadcast in June 1943. An apocryphal story claims that kryptonite was introduced to give Superman's voice actor, Bud Collyer, the possibility to take a vacation at a time when the radio serial was performed live. In an episode where Collyer would not be present to perform, Superman would be incapacitated by kryptonite, and a substitute voice actor would make groaning sounds. This tale was recounted by Julius Schwartz in his memoir. However, the historian Michael J. Hayde disputes this: in "The Meteor From Krypton", Superman is never exposed to kryptonite. If kryptonite allowed Collyer to take vacations, that was a fringe benefit discovered later. More likely, kryptonite was introduced as a plot device for Superman to discover his origin.
In the radio serial, Krypton was located in the same solar system as Earth, in the same orbit, but on the opposite side of the Sun. This provided an easy explanation for how kryptonite found its way to Earth.
Kryptonite was incorporated into the comic mythos with Superman #61 (November 1949). Editor Dorothy Woolfolk stated in an interview with Florida Today in August 1993, that she "felt Superman's invulnerability was boring."
Various forms of the fictional material have been created over the years in Superman publications.
|Green kryptonite||Originally red in color, the material debuted in Superman #61 (Nov. 1949) and did not adopt its characteristic green hue until Action Comics #161 (Aug. 1951). Green kryptonite weakens Superman and other Kryptonians. It can and will kill them with long-term exposure. Kryptonians under kryptonite exposure experience severe muscular weakness, usually to the point of collapse, and excruciating pain, with both conditions progressively intensifying. Kryptonians under kryptonite exposure usually develop a fever and eventually will lose consciousness before death. Under kryptonite exposure, the blood of Kryptonians begins turning green, and their skin gradually assumes a green color.
Although canonical depictions vary widely, the majority of accounts maintain that although kryptonite exposure victims experience severe weakness and pain, exposure in itself does not eradicate the victim's superpowers, except those related to physical strength. Therefore victims retain most of their visual and sensory powers, although kryptonite itself appears impervious to damage by heat vision. Kryptonite exposure does not compromise the subject's invulnerability to other forms of injury; therefore it is not a practical strategy for a villain to first expose the victim to kryptonite, then kill them with a gun or other conventional weapon. Some accounts maintain paralysis is an effect of kryptonite exposure, although most depictions show victims still capable of limited movement. Kryptonian characters have been shown to become immune to the effects of green kryptonite due to either long-term absorption of sunlight or extremely high short-term exposure to the sun. Post-Crisis sources establish that green kryptonite is also harmful to humans; with sufficient long-term exposure, it can result in cancer, as Lex Luthor discovered from a ring with a kryptonite jewel he wore to ward off Superman's presence.
|Red kryptonite||Debuted in Adventure Comics #255 (Sept. 1958). Originally red kryptonite simply weakened Superman, but to a greater degree than green kryptonite. Red kryptonite was later described as causing odd behavior or bizarre transformations, albeit temporary and non-fatal. The effects of red kryptonite are sometimes described as lasting exactly 24 hours, but in other accounts the effects may persist up to three days.|
|Anti-kryptonite/Fool's kryptonite||Debuted in Action Comics #252 (May 1959). Harmless to Kryptonians, but has the same effect as the green variety on normal humans. Anti-kryptonite is also the power source for one version of the character Ultraman, Superman's evil counterpart from an antimatter universe.|
|X-kryptonite||Debuted in Action Comics #261 (Jan. 1960). Created by Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) in an unsuccessful attempt to find an antidote to green kryptonite. Harmless to Kryptonians, the mineral gives normal life-forms 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 kryptonite||Debuted in Superman #140 (Oct. 1960). An imperfect form of kryptonite which affects the imperfect Superman duplicate Bizarro and members of the Bizarro League in the same way that green kryptonite affects Kryptonians. Kryptonians, however, are unaffected by it. Blue kryptonite is also the antidote to the random and bizarre effects of red kryptonite.|
|White kryptonite||Debuted in Adventure Comics #279 (Dec. 1960). Kills all plant life from any world.|
|Red-Green kryptonite (first variety)||Debuted in Action Comics #275 (April 1961). An alloy created by the villain Brainiac, the red-green kryptonite caused Superman to mutate, temporarily growing a third eye in the back of his head.|
|Gold kryptonite||Debuted in Adventure Comics #299 (Aug. 1962). Kryptonite affected by atomic radiation, capable of permanently removing a Kryptonian's ability to process yellow sunlight, which nullifies all superhuman abilities. In post-Crisis stories, this kryptonite only removes a Kryptonian's powers temporarily (in Superman II, the crystal chamber from Superman's Fortress of Solitude exhibited the same effect, although this process was reversed via Jor-El's green crystal).|
|Red-Green-Blue-Gold kryptonite||Debuted in Superman #162 (July 1963). An imaginary story in which Superman combines the minerals to power an intelligence-expanding device. An explosion occurs and the hero is split into two separate beings ("Superman-Red" and "Superman-Blue"), both of whom possess enhanced intelligence.|
|Silver kryptonite||Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #70 (July 1963). Revealed by Jimmy Olsen to be a hoax. In post-Crisis stories, silver kryptonite first appeared in Superman/Batman #46 (April 2008), modeled after the version that appeared in the Smallville TV series, season 5 episode 7 "Splinter", where Clark suffers paranoid delusions. Silver kryptonite causes Kryptonians to suffer from altered perceptions, loss of inhibitions, and extreme hunger cravings. On the Supergirl TV series, this kryptonite causes Superman to hallucinate his "greatest fear" of an attacking General Zod during the final episode of season 2, "Nevertheless, She Persisted".|
|Jewel kryptonite||Debuted in Action Comics #310 (March 1964). Fragments of Krypton's Jewel Mountains. Amplifies the psychic powers of the criminals imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, allowing them to project illusions or perform mind control.|
|Bizarro-red kryptonite||Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #80 (Oct. 1964). Affects humans in the same manner that red kryptonite affects Kryptonians.|
|Red-Green kryptonite (second variety)||Debuted in Superboy Comics #121 (June 1965). This caused Superboy to lose his powers permanently, but the Phantom Zone criminal Vakox unwillingly cured him, restoring his powers.|
|Red-Gold kryptonite||Debuted in Superman #178 (July 1965). Temporarily deprives Kryptonians of their memories.|
|Magno-kryptonite||Debuted in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #92 (April 1966). Created by the villain Mr. Nero, this variety is magnetically attracted to all substances originally from Krypton.|
|Red-Green-Gold kryptonite||Debuted in Superman #192 (Jan. 1967). An imaginary story in which the alloy permanently removes Superman's powers and memories of himself as Superman.|
|Slow kryptonite||Debuted in The Brave and the Bold #175 (June 1981). A modified variety of green kryptonite produced by the supervillan Metallo that affects humans in a manner similar to green kryptonite.|
|Kryptonite-X||Debuted in The Adventures of Superman #511 (April 1994). A one-time fluke, kryptonite-X was created when the Eradicator filtered a harmful barrage of kryptonite discharged by the villain the Cyborg Superman at Superman. The result was beneficial for Superman, supercharging him and restoring his ability to process solar radiation.|
|Pink kryptonite||Debuted in Supergirl vol. 4 #79 (April 2003). Pink kryptonite seemingly turns Kryptonians gay. This type of kryptonite was mentioned in a single panel in a story that was a satire of the plots of many Silver Age comic stories (such as those listed above) which featured some strange new variety of kryptonite. In the Justice League Action short "True Colours" it switches a Kryptonian's gender.|
|Black kryptonite||Debuted in Supergirl #2 (vol. 5, Oct. 2005). In pre-Flashpoint continuity, it could split a Kryptonian into two separate entities: one good and the other evil (the kryptonite manufactured by the villains of Superman III had just such an effect on the Man of Steel). In Dark Nights: Metal - The Batman Who Laughs #1, set on the Dark Multiverse's Earth -22, a Batman corrupted by the Joker creates a modified strand of black kryptonite. He tests this first on Supergirl, causing her to murder her family before dying. He then uses it again on Superman and Superboy, who literally tear apart Lois Lane before also dying themselves.|
|Orange kryptonite||Debuted in Krypto the Superdog #4 (Feb. 2007). Provides super abilities for 24 hours to any animal that comes into contact with it.|
|Periwinkle kryptonite||Debuted in Superman Family Adventures #9 (March 2013). A non-canon story. Exposure to periwinkle kryptonite causes Kryptonians to lose all inhibitions.|
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