www.cbr.com

Why Does Superman's Key to the Fortress of Solitude Look Like an Arrow?

This is Foggy Ruins of Time, a feature that provides the cultural context behind certain comic book characters/behaviors. You know, the sort of then-topical references that have faded into the “foggy ruins of time.” To wit, twenty years from now, a college senior watching episodes of "Seinfeld" will likely miss a lot of the then-topical pop culture humor (like the very specific references in “The Understudy” to the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal).

Today, based on a suggestion from reader David B., we find out why the giant key that Superman uses to lock/unlock the Fortress of Solitude was shaped like an arrow.

I did a "When We First Met" on when the Fortress of Solitude showed up in the comics a number of years ago, but I'll just repeat it here for context...

The first we hear of any secret base for Superman is in 1942's Superman #17, where we see Superman's "Super-Citadel"...

The story was written by Jerry Siegel, with art by John Sikela. That issue also contains a story which is the first "Lois tries to prove Clark Kent is Superman" story ever (you can read about that one here).

Seven years later, in 1949's Superman #58, we get our first mention of Superman's polar "Fortress of Solitude"...

Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye did the art, although no one is exactly sure who wrote the script.

It would be nearly a decade before we actually SAW Superman's Fortress of Solitude, and that was in 1958's Action Comics #241, written by Jerry Coleman with art by Boring and Kaye...

That story is a fun one, in that once Superman is in the Fortress, he gets a threatening message...

So the rest of the issue is filled with him trying to figure out who could have possibly gotten into his fortress without his knowledge. He eventually figures out that Batman is behind it (and he hid inside the key itself) and he decides to get back at Batman by making him think that he accidentally killed Superman (their relationship is really messed up. I should do a whole bit on times that they tricked each other into thinking that they killed each other - it's actually not THAT common, so maybe I can't even find five examples).

By the way, I absolutely ADORE the fact that Superman has a Clark Kent room in the Fortress of Solitude but it is barren unlike the ones for his other friends.

"They'll never guess I am not Clark Kent, because I have a room just for him. No presents, because I clearly despise Clark Kent, but still!"

Anyhow, notice how the key looks like an arrow? Why is that?

1 2
Is Captain Marvel Stronger In the Comics, or the MCU?

More in CBR Exclusives