Comic Book Questions Answered - where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org). Here is a link to an archive of all the past questions that have been answered so far.
Reader Lou I. wrote in to ask:
Love the questions. Here's one that's puzzled and don't know if it has ever been addressed:
It's a fact that to build muscle, you have to challenge your muscles by lifting heavy weights repeatedly. That is the only way to build your physique.
If Superman can basically lift anything with little effort, how did he wind up in comics as a muscle-bound superhero? Shouldn't he look more like Christopher Reeve (even George Reeves) as opposed to Henry Cavill? The man can effortlessly defy gravity, but even if that were the test of his strength, that challenge would wear off very quickly as gravity's pull is a constant, not an increasing intensity.
In comic books, I think they came close to being realistic in the 1970's, but later incarnations have him bulging at every corner. Any thoughts? Thanks.
Let's take a crack at it, Lou!
I think that there are two basic possible answers to the question. I'll address each one.
First off is the "Kryptonian superman" theory.
In Superman #53, Bill Finger, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye delivered Superman's origin...
Notice their take on Krypton. This is not dissimilar from how Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster viewed Kryptonians in the Superman comic strip..
Essentially, then, Kryptonians are special kinds of aliens where their physiology makes them grow up to all look ripped.
The Kandorians were always in good shape, as well...
When he revamped Superman during the mid-1980s, John Byrne considered addressing the issue and ultimately decided it was a "pointless exercise" so just skipped it (he did have Clark Kent have a workout bench to at least explain how HE had big muscles)...