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Lorendiac’s Lists: Timeline of when Gold Kryptonite Has Been Used (1st Draft)

Again, here is the archive of the lists Lorendiac posts here – BC.

Last summer I suddenly started wondering just how often Gold Kryptonite, arguably the “ultimate weapon” to use against a super-powered Kryptonian, has actually been used to depower someone. In theory, the Earth-1 Superman (of the Silver and Bronze Ages) constantly had the threat of it hanging over his head. But in practice, how often did it actually demonstrate its dreaded capability to permanently remove Kryptonian super-powers? I had no idea!

Naturally I requested help from my fellow fans in compiling a list of such occurrences. My key requirement was that I only wanted stories that were apparently “in continuity” when first published, even if the continuity might have gotten rearranged later. This allowed me to include any Silver Age/Bronze Age stories that later got erased in the Post-COIE Superman Reboot.

On the other hand, if Gold K was used on someone in a story that was clearly meant to be separate from the orthodox continuity of its day, such as an “Imaginary Story” or “Elseworlds,” then that story wouldn’t qualify. This eliminates Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” and John Byrne’s first “Superman/Batman: Generations” miniseries, among other things.

I got several helpful responses. Then I largely forgot about the whole thing for a long time, but I had always intended to go back and compile that list, someday. Here it is, in case anyone is interested! (You’ll see that most of the uses of Gold K are from Pre-COIE continuity, but it has depowered characters in at least two Post-COIE stories, too.)

One warning: The events in Gold K stories from before 1979 have been summarized by yours truly from descriptions in online sources. I can’t swear that I have all the details accurate (and of course I leave out most of the available details that don’t directly apply to the use of Gold K within the story). If you see anything which you know I got wrong — or if you are aware of other successful uses of Gold K in stories I failed to mention (provided they are or used to be “in continuity”), then please say so!

Timeline of When Gold Kryptonite Has Been Used (First Draft)

1962. Superman #157. “The Super-Revenge of the Phantom Zone Prisoner.” Written by Edmond Hamilton.

First appearance of Gold Kryptonite “in continuity.” (It previously was shown in an Imaginary Story.) A Kryptonian named Quex-Ul had been sentenced to the Phantom Zone 25 years ago. His 25-year sentence is now up. Superman turns him loose. This is probably a mistake. Quex-Ul now has Superman-level powers and plans to use a chunk of Gold K (which Superman does not realize exists) as a weapon against Superman to depower him. After various complications, Quex-Ul repents of this plan and then accidentally gets too close to the Gold K himself and loses his own powers. He also gets amnesia as a side effect. (Most victims of Gold K, in later stories, won’t have that particular problem.) Superman arranges for him to get an honest job in the Daily Planet’s production department under a new name.

1963. Action Comics #304. “The Maid of Menace.” Written by Leo Dorfman.

Supergirl has her first clash with a new enemy, Black Flame, a Kandorian villainess who hopes to trick Supergirl into exposing herself to Gold K in an attempt to change the future (long story). Supergirl manages to depower Black Flame with the Gold K, instead.

1965. Superman #179. “When Superman Lost His Memory.” Written by Otto Binder.

This is a borderline case. Chunks of Red K and Gold K get fused together in space and then the red-gold hybrid crashes to Earth. Superman gets close enough for this unique red-gold fusion to wipe out his memory for awhile, but it has no effect on his powers. Eventually he makes a complete recovery from the amnesia as well; in other words, he lucked out.

1965. Superman #179. “The Menace of Gold Kryptonite.” Written by Otto Binder.

Jay-Ree and Joenne, two young Kryptonians in the Bottled City of Kandor (already engaged to each other as we meet them), manage to send a chunk of Gold K into the Phantom Zone, apparently on the theory that it will depower any dangerous Kryptonian criminals in there (and it will also be safely far away from Superman; I gather they are young idealists who don’t want anything bad to happen to him). Somewhere along the line, they manage to get exposed to the chunk themselves; thus they lose their own Kryptonian powers.

Note: Obviously, the part about depowering the various criminals in the Phantom Zone in one fell swoop just didn’t work out. (But I admit it was worth a try!)

1967. The Flash #175. “The Race to the End of the Universe.” Written by E. Nelson Bridwell.

J’onn J’onnz, The Martian Manhunter, shapechanges to make himself a Superman duplicate in order to escape a fire trap. I am told that in the old days, there was a long period in which the writers working with the character generally followed the theory that fire was not an awful problem for Martians when they weren’t in their natural Martian shapes — in fact, J’onn could imitate the distinctive powers of other living creatures when he duplicated their shapes! It turns out that the bad guys who set up the fire trap in the first place also have a piece of Gold K which they keep handy for emergencies (such as if Superman found their hideout, I suppose), and so J’onn is exposed to it while in his ersatz Superman form. The upshot of this, as stated in dialogue, is that J’onn will never be able to duplicate the appearance-and-powers package deal of Superman again. (One source tells me that apparently J’onn knew he could still duplicate the superficial appearance of Kal-El if he really wanted to, but he’d have none of the powers (due to the lingering effects of the Gold K), so why bother?)

1968. Action Comics #367. “The Evil of Alpha and Beta.” Written by Cary Bates.

A bomb will soon go off if Supergirl is detected using her powers. The bomb will allegedly kill everyone at Stanhope College (they’re all trapped inside a big force field with the bomb, I’m told — I haven’t read this story). Supergirl deliberately exposes herself to a piece of Gold K as part of a plan to prevent that massacre from happening.

Note: In the following issue, it will turn out that a couple of time-traveling cops from the 37th Century had done something sneaky to prevent Supergirl from actually being affected by the Gold K — although she didn’t realize this at the time she made her “sacrifice” — and so her status quo as a super-powered Kryptonian will continue. But within the context of this issue, she definitely opened up a lead box and let the Gold K get close enough to affect her — as far as she or the reader knew at the time!

1970. Adventure Comics #400. “Return of the Black Flame.” Written by Mike Sekowsky.

This story has an atypical portrayal of Gold K. Black Flame, apparently a trifle peeved over the way she got permanently depowered in her first appearance, manages to trap Supergirl somewhere with Gold K in the vicinity, stated to be gradually leeching away her powers. After Supergirl gets loose, her partially-faded powers soon come back. Frankly, it sounds to me as if the writer was none too clear on the rules of Gold K — or, to put it another way, maybe the Black Flame had taken an ordinary piece of Green K and painted it Gold for the psychological warfare value to make Supergirl feel extra-scared when she started feeling weaker and weaker? (Best I can do to rationalize what was apparently a poorly researched story.)

1979. Action Comics #500. “The Life Story of Superman.” Written by Marty Pasko.

Lex Luthor creates a clone of Superman, carefully adjusting the clone’s memories to make him think of Lex Luthor as a trustworthy but tragically misunderstood humanitarian, and the clone and the original fight. The real Superman finally manages to remove the clone’s super-powers by exposing him to a chunk of Gold K. The story ends on that note. (Two years later, in Action Comics #524, we saw Superman brainwash the clone — and arrange for plastic surgery for him — so the poor guy could end up replacing a missing-in-a-plane-crash journalist named Dan Reed and living out a normal life.)

1982. Legion of Super-Heroes #293. “Within the Darkness.” Part 4 of the Great Darkness Saga. Written by Paul Levitz.

A very powerful minion of Darkseid turns out to be an evil clone of Kal-El. The clone is depowered when Element Lad turns the air around him into Gold K.

1983. DC Comics Presents #55. “The Parasite’s Power Ploys.” Written by Bob Rozakis.

The Parasite has been siphoning off Superman’s powers. Air Wave II (“Hal Jordan,” the juvenile cousin of the Green Lantern of the same name) uses a chunk of Gold K to remove those powers from the Parasite. Been a long time since I last read that story, but I think Air Wave explicitly asked Superman at the end if the “permanent” effect of Gold K exposure would mean the Parasite could never again absorb any of Superman’s powers, and Superman said (roughly paraphrased from memory): “I wouldn’t count on it.” Nonetheless, Gold K has just been “successfully” (if not permanently) used to remove powers from a certain person, so the event belongs on this list.

1983. Supergirl #12. “Guess Who’s About To Die.” Written by Paul Kupperberg.

Facing six doll-sized (but full-powered) clones of herself, Kara Zor-El uses a piece of Gold K to depower all of them. (Several issues later they will magically merge into a single life-sizeclone of the original, but still powerless, and Supergirl will offer to help the clone find a new, normal life for herself.)

1987. Action Comics #591. “Past Imperfect.” Written by John Byrne.

The super-powered dog Krypto (of a Pocket Universe) wants to help his master, Superboy (also of the Pocket Universe), in a slugfest against Superman (of the main Post-COIE timeline). Krypto heads for where a chunk of Gold K is kept for emergencies, knowing it will depower him if he tries to handle it, but hoping to use it against this weirdo “Superman” character regardless. Krypto is promptly depowered. A bit later, Pa Kent (also of the Pocket Universe) exposes Superman to the Gold K as part of a medley of several types of Kryptonite . . . with no effect whatsoever! It appears that the Kryptonite of the Post-COIE DCU and the Kryptonite of the Pocket Universe emanate completely different types of radiation.

1988. Superman #22. “The Price.” Written by John Byrne.

Wrapping up another story arc set in the same “pocket universe” mentioned immediately above, the Post-COIE Superman uses a piece of the Pocket Universe’s Gold K to depower three Phantom Zone criminals who have already murdered the entire human population of the Planet Earth of this Pocket Universe. He then pronounces a death sentence on them and exposes them to Green K until they’re dead.

Note: One of those criminals was the pocket universe’s version of “General Zod.” I am told that in the Post-Infinite Crisis DCU, the official word from Superman’s editors is that any and all previous “Zod” characters have now been Officially Erased from Superman’s Modern Continuity in order to clear the decks for yet another version of Zod! That would logically include the erasure of this controversial story, Gold K and all!

33 Comments

I always wondered just how anyone knew what Gold Kryptonite would do. It’s like the old “anyone who sees it dies” monster. Well, how do you know? Who told you?

Brian – out of curiosity, why exclude the Elseworlds/Imaginary Stories Gold K usages? Outside of “Whatever happens…” and Byrne’s Generations, is it really used all that much even there?

This isn’t a criticism, it’s a perfectly reasonable choice; back in the nineties I was compiling a list of every time a hero died in the DCU, and I believe I had similar criteria. I’m just curious as to your reasoning behind it – mine was a combination of the out of continuity ones just not *really* counting, and that if someone does an out of continuity story, they usually kill someone off, increasing the size of the list (IMO) pointlessly. (Although I think I went back on that later – alas, the list is probably consigned to the hard drive of an old 486 which may or may not still be in my parents’ basement, collecting dust)

Wow. There should almost be some kind of support organization for de-powered Kryptonians who have been “assimilated” (voluntarily or otherwise) into human society, eh? It’s too bad Spider-Man never thought of that one: “Hey, I know; I’ll just brainwash this clone of mine and have plastic surgery performed on him. That should be a good, humanitarian way of resolving things!” :)

that first supergirl story with Black Flame also appeared in the daring and the different DC specil 3, the all girl issue. i’m not sure which comic the story was published in first, though.

One more:

1968. Superman #204. “The Case of the Lethal Letters!” Written by Cary Bates.

A Phantom Zone prisoner named Bal-Gra escapes the Zone and goes on a rampage in Metropolis. Lois Lane tosses a small piece of Gold K at him, wiping out his powers. He is then sent back to the Phantom Zone. Lois mentions that they keep the Gold K in a lead vault at the Daily Planet for just such an emergency.

The amnesiac depowered Kryptonian Quex-Ul from Superman #157 returned more than twenty years later as a major character in Steve Gerber’s Phantom Zone miniseries…and I had no clue until reading this just now that he was actually a Silver Age character and not invented by Gerber! Oy, how embarassing.

> 1968. Superman #204.
>”The Case of the Lethal Letters!”
> Written by Cary Bates.
> A Phantom Zone prisoner named Bal-Gra escapes
>the Zone and goes on a rampage in Metropolis.
>Lois Lane tosses a small piece of Gold K at him,
>wiping out his powers. He is then sent back to
>the Phantom Zone. Lois mentions that they keep
>the Gold K in a lead vault at the Daily Planet for
>just such an emergency.

I remember that — isn’t this the immortal story that
introduced “Q-energy” the deadly NEW bane of Superman that has plagued him ever since? ;->

–Mike

You know…

Just the other day I was thinking: “boy, Cary Bates doesn’t get the recognition he deserves for his work throughout the 60′s, 70′s, 80′s & 90′s.”

And then along comes a list like this! Good work, Cronin!

I must have been so tired… I thought I read Cary Bates’ name more than once. Anyways, in order to make it up, I give you “World’s Finest Comics No. 159″. It’s the one where we find out that Golden K has a two feet range!

Enjoy. And if some of you are out there hunting; I recomend the Superboy series.

i OWN that superman #22 with the now-erased zod murder!

The Mutt — yeah, I think that was much the same train of thought I had last summer. I remembered a couple of Pre-Crisis stories that showed Gold K working (one on Superman’s clone, and one on the Parasite), but I was pretty sure Gold K had been around for a long time before that, and I wondered just how Superman and his friends first learned what the heck it was good for. That was why I started asking for help, so I could find out just how often Gold K had actually changed someone’s life.

Mark Cook — Brian Cronin doesn’t write the things that he posts under the heading of “Lorendiac’s Lists.” I write them. He posts them here for me. I don’t know much about how CSBG is organized, but I’m reasonably certain that I don’t have the authority to post a brand new item on it all by myself. Brian was the one who originally suggested CSBG could host some of my attempts to organize the odd things associated with one comics-related subject or another, so when I have something done that falls into the “Lists” category, I email it to him and he takes it from there.

As to why I only wanted to list cases of people “in continuity” getting depowered by Gold K, I think it was “tradition” as much as anything else. When I did a Timeline of crucial moments in various Batman/Catwoman romances, I generally stuck to things that had “really happened” in the old Earth-2 continuity, the old Earth-1 continuity, or the Modern Continuity. Likewise, over the last few years I’ve done 4 drafts of an “X-Men Fatality Timeline,” and I stick to cases where people who have been X-Men in the 616 timeline of the “main continuity” of the Marvel Universe got themselves killed (and if they came back from the dead, I mention that too). If I tried to mention every case from an old issue of “What If?” or from an alternate timeline visited by the Exiles or whatever, the list would have been even more outrageously long than it already was! I’ve got to draw the line somewhere, and maybe I figured (when I first started doing such timelines) that it would make sense to confine myself to cases that had “really counted” at the time they first happened, and that other characters ought to remember vividly (unless things get rebooted, as happened to Superman after COIE, granted).

Yeah, Larry, I added a sentence at the beginning with a link to the archive of your lists, so folks will know for sure that it is written by you. :)

But I think in the future, I’ll have it say “By Lorendiac (here’s an archive of his past lists.” I think that sounds better.

Matt K — I largely ignored the Clone Saga of the Spider-titles in the mid-90s (although I did buy the issue in which Peter and his long-lost clone came face to face for the first time in 19 years or so), mainly because I figured it was doomed to crash and burn, especially if the rumors were true that the original game plan was to have “Ben Reilly” turn out to be the long-lost “original Spidey” after all!

However, from what I’ve heard about it, I gather that the retcon that brought the clone back was done in a fashion which was particularly insulting to Peter Parker. We were asked to believe that when he tried to “cremate” his clone by dumping the dead body down a smokestack back in the mid-70s, he somehow totally failed to notice that the clone was just unconscious instead of dead. Heck, not even maimed! My attitude since then has been: “If I were a Marvel superhero who simply got knocked out cold in a big slugfest, Spidey is the last person I would ever want to do triage on me when he was trying to judge whether or not there was any point in getting me some professional medical care, as opposed to just burying or cremating me as soon as possible!”

comixkid2099 — Last August someone called the first appearance of Black Flame to my attention. A few days ago, when I was finally compiling and double-checking information from other people’s suggestions, I double-checked on the accuracy of the Black Flame stuff (her first appearance and her next one as well, when she tried to turn the tables by using Gold K against Kara) by going to:

http://darkmark6.tripod.com/sgirlind.htm

DarkMark, the compiler of many indexes about the appearances of various Earth-1 characters from the good old days, agrees that Black Flame first met Supergirl (and lost her powers) in “Action Comics #304.” I took his word for it. I imagine the all-girl “DC Special” issue you mention probably did some reprinting of select stories that would fit the theme.

J. Kevin Carrier — thanks for calling another Silver Age Use of Gold K to my attention! I checked, and DarkMark’s summary of that issue doesn’t specifically mention poor old Bal-Gra. But I kept looking and found another website where someone examines that story in detail, thereby convincing me you had the details right (including the issue number — I’d hate to get that wrong). Apparently it was all revealed in a quick flashback as a woman (Lorraine Lewis) who was something of a frustrated Superman stalker was ranting and raving about how close she had come to saving the day when Bal-Gra was trying to cause trouble . . . if only that interfering Lois Lane hussy hadn’t beaten her to the punch with the timely use of a piece of Gold K.

And as Mike Blake ironically alluded to, I don’t think I’d ever even heard of Q-Energy before! I doubt it’s been used in any subsequent Superman story, Pre- or Post-COIE! (I guess Stalker Lorraine’s secrets died with her?)

I agree with the first responder.
I read or heard of a storyline where aliens–many light years away– are auctioning gold k to the highest bidder.

Who told any non-kryptonian what Gold K could or would do to a super-kryptonian?
How does anyone even KNOW it’s Gold Kryptonite?

It’s not like Superman blogs this stuff……..or does he?

Alan

Alan – I think you may be thinking of an episode of the old Super Friends cartoon series, guest starring Darkseid.

Oh, right. I have that episode on DVD. That’s where I saw it.

Okay, but still ….I find a gold rock. How do I know it’s Gold Kryptonite?

An alien many light years away find a radioactive gold stone.
What tells anyone (not kryptonian) that this is Gold Kryptonite?

It appears to be the rarest color also.(?)
I am sure many heard about Green K somehow but who made public Gold K and it’s effects?

Personally, when I read silver age stories I thought all the various Kryptonite colors were an annoying
plot device. I especially hated Red K.

Sorry Lorendiac; I did not realize. I somehow did not make the connection in my head. Thank you for the insight!

I find Kryptonite interesting.There are many different forms of Kryptonite Green is the most common and Gold is the rarest.Red really interests me because of it’s bizarre side-effects which only happen once.

Alan — I figured all the high-tech starfaring civilizations had sensors that could detect the distinctive radiation of kryptonite emisions. Then if you get close enough, you can visually confirm that it’s a glowing green rock, a glowing red rock, or whatever.

As to when word first leaked out to the general public whether on Earth, or across entire galaxies) about Gold K specifically depowering Kryptonians, I have no idea. Since I haven’t read any of the early Gold K stories from the Silver Age, for one thing, so I really don’t know just how much media coverage the substance got, the first few times it was put to the test!

The phrase “whether on Earth, or across entire galaxies” should have been entirely within parentheses. I missed one of them. I hope this makes that second paragraph a trifle more comprehensible.

Imagine a special school where Kryptonians who have lost their powers forever due to exposure to gold kryptonite are taught how to adjust.

In Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #85, we learned that Gold K weighs about three times as much as ordinary gold. I also vaguely recall an editorial response in some late-1960s lettercolumn stating that Gold K makes a very faint crackling noise. Rice Krisptonite, anyone?

I’d never heard of either of those factoids. I wonder why on earth they thought the crackling noise was desirable?

(And no offense meant, but I’d need to see some confirmation from another source before I took it for granted that you had those details exactly right, and incorporated that information into a future post. My own memory certainly is far from perfect!)

No offense taken! Here’s the panel scanned from JO #85:
http://i27.tinypic.com/t5r9fq.jpg

And here’s the lettercol excerpt from JO #96:
http://i26.tinypic.com/14do64z.jpg

And regarding that first panel… has Jimmy been dipping into Rex Tyler’s Miraclo stash? Where’d he get the muscle to lift a globe that size, that’s three times as heavy as solid gold?

One more note: I’m about 98% certain that the “crackles and pops” thing mentioned in the JO #96 lettercol was never used in an actual story, so it’s up to you whether you want to consider it canon.

And re: 1965… “When Superman Lost His Memory” was in Superman #178, not #179. The details of “The Menace of Gold Kryptonite” from #179 (my very first issue of Superman!) are a tiny bit off. A stray radioactive beam transmuted a chunk of Red K in the Fortress (which had already affected Superman, causing him to read and write only in Kryptonese) into Gold K. Jay-Ree and Joenne (named, BTW, after Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, though Siegel’s wife was really named Joanne) were chosen to leave Kandor and project the chunk of rock into the Phantom Zone before Superman could return and be exposed to it. While doing so, they accidentally freed the Metal-Eater from it’s cage, and it bit off their lead suits, exposing them to the Gold K.

In the last panel, Superman uses his Zone viewer to show them that the Phantom Zone criminals are now terrified that if they ever find a way to escape, the Gold K may be released with them, and strip them of their powers. So this was a side benefit of the Kandorians’ plan, not the main intent.

I guess I should add that the villains were safe as long as they remained in the Zone. There have been many, many stories (a topic for another list, perhaps?) demonstrating that Kryptonite only affects Kryptonians with super-powers, which the villains lack while in the Zone.

Regarding Gold K as being heavier than regular gold: There was a panel, (perhaps in the same issue of Jimmy Olsen, #85?) where Jimmy learns that a large boulder of gold had crumpled the blade of a bulldozer due to its greater weight and density.

Mr L — did you mean “a large boulder of Gold K” damaged the bulldozer?

Yes he did. The story was “Sergeant Olsen — Toughest Man in the Marines,” a backup story in JO #93.

World’s Finest #175 features Gold K and is in continuity, although it doesn’t actually effect anyone (much like #159, mentioned above). The Superman Revenge Squard attempted to use a hidden nugget against Superman, but Batman and Robin found out about it in time.

Q-Energy was mentioned in early DCP issues, IIRC. Specifically, those where the Qwardian weaponers fight Superman, guest-starring Green Lantern and Red Tornado.

Jay-Ree and Joenne’s scheme in Superman #179 was doomed from the start, since (pre-Crisis) it was well established that normally Kryptonite of any type would only work on super-powered Kryptonians, and it was also established that Phantom Zone inmates had no powers (unless and until released under a yellow sun). (The Kryptonite under Argo City was stated to be an unusual type which only affected non-powered Kryptonians. When the Argonians, after Krypton’s destruction, moved their city to a yellow-sun system, the religious fanatic Jer-Em used his new super-powers to fly beneath the city and forcibly return it to its original orbit, and was not harmed by the Kryptonite–though he died when the city was once more under a red sun.)

There was some issue about whether the tiny couple could ever return to Kandor, no only because its physical conditions might now harm them but because their depowered condition might be heritable, so that their offspring would weaken the Kandorian genome. DC has handled this issue inconsistently over the years.

Were Gold K three times heavier than plain gold, that’d make it something like SIX TIMES HEAVIER THAN LEAD. A regular mortal would strain to hold up just a fist-sized lump of it.

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