www.cbr.com

When Did We Learn That Superman's Powers Came From Earth's Yellow Sun?

In "When We First Met," we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like 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.

Today, based on a request from reader David B., we learn not only when it was first discovered that Superman's powers came from a yellow sun, but when we learned that being underneath a RED sun can take away Superman's powers!

Continue scrolling to keep reading Click the button below to start this article in quick view.

When Superman debuted in Action Comics #1, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster kept things pretty darn simple when it came to Superman's superpowers. He simply came from a planet where everyone had superpowers...

Over the years, that origin was baaaaaaaaaaaasically followed (it was the origin that Siegel and Shuster introduced into the comic strips), but over the years, there were some alterations to the idea. In the first real Superman origin story in the Superman comic books, Superman #53 (by Bill Finger, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye), Finger added in the idea that Earth's gravity played a part in Superman's powers...

but at the same time, he also noted that the Kryptonians had X-Ray Vision and superhuman intellect and stuff like that....

Somehow, all of these things lasted not only into the 1950s, but past the introduction of Supergirl, even! It would not be until the very end of the 1950s, in December 1959's Action Comics #262, in a back-up story by Otto Binder and Jim Mooney, that we learned that the Earth's yellow sun played a part in Superman and Supergirl's super powers, as Superman explains to Supergirl here to explain away a seeming contradiction due to Supergirl not having super powers while she was living outside of Krypton before she came to Earth...

Here's the fascinating thing. David wanted to know when the first "Red sun affecting Superman" story was, and it was hilariously enough in the story BEFORE WE LEARNED THAT SUPERMAN GOT POWERS FROM THE YELLOW SUN! Yep, in the lead story in Action Comics #262 (by Robert Bernstein, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye), Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White go on a mysterious journey to Mexico where they are transported to another planet....

Superman loses his powers, but we aren't told WHY in the story, except for the red sun in the background...

Again, though, we didn't learn of the Red Sun issue until later in that issue!

Anyhow, they survive the two days before being allowed to return and they try to pull the "it was a dream" shtick, even when it was obviously not a dream...

There ya go, David!

If anyone else has a question/suggestion for a notable comic book first, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

What the Title 'No Time to Die' Tells Us About James Bond 25

More in CBR Exclusives