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When We First Met – The Evolution of Green and Red Kryptonite!

by  in Comic News Comment

Every week we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic book lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!'” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check ’em out!

Today, based on a suggestion by Omar Karindu, we look at the history of Green and Red Kryptonite and how long it took before they resembled their classic forms!

Enjoy!

Kryptonite was first introduced on the Superman radio show in 1943. It first made its comic book appearance in 1949’s Superman #61. But you might notice something peculiar about its first appearance…



Yep, it is not green (NOTE: The kryptonite is the swami’s gem)!

A few months later, Lex Luthor made synthetic kryptonite in Action Comics #141, and it ALSO wasn’t green!


The following issue, Action Comics #142, we finally see the synthetic kryptonite as green…


If you want to count this as the first appearance of green kryptonite, feel free. If you wish to wait until we see natural kryptonite be green before you’re willing to say that it is the first appearance of green kryptonite, read on!

In mid-1950, in Superman #66, Superman feels the effects of kryptonite, but once again, it is not green (well, we don’t see the color of it period)…



This continues into 1951 with World’s Finest #50 not even showing the color of kryptonite as it affects Superman….


Later in 1951, in Action Comics #158, it is explicitly NOT green….


A little while later, in Superman #71, it is once again not seen period…


Finally, later in 1951 in Action Comics #161, we see the first real green kryptonite…


That was quite a journey!

Go to the next page to see the evolution of Red Kryptonite!

Red Kryptonite is an interesting thing. The first appearance of green kryptonite, as shown above, was colored red. So is that the first appearance of red kryptonite? I don’t think anyone would really want to make that argument, since “red kryptonite” has such a specific meaning to it.

So instead, let us look to Adventure Comics #252, where we first meet kryptonite specifically noted as “red”…


However, as you can see, that red kryptonite does not match our understanding of what red kryptonite does…


So it is not until 1958’s Adventure Comics #255 that we first have red kryptonite do what it traditionally does (that is do weird stuff to Superman)…



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While it is fair to say that Adventure Comics #255 is the first appearance of red kryptonite, do note that even there, it is not specific about the effects. It seems like the alien is just saying that it splits beings and that is its only effect. So when did it become the traditional “different effect each time” red kryptonite?

It seems like Otto Binder first considered red kryptonite with this prototype story in 1959’s Adventure Comics #262…



And finally, in 1960’s Adventure Comics #268, red kryptonite was officially defined…



Later in 1960, in Superman #139, red kryptonite made its way to the Superman titles, as well…


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Fascinating topic, Omar Karindu! Everyone, feel free to send in ideas for other debuts that you’re curious about! Send your ideas to bcronin@comicbookresources.com!