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Top Five Red Kryptonite Transformations!

Top Five Month continues (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far) with a look at the top five transformations Superman underwent via Red Kryptonite!


5. Half the Powers!

I love this one because Superman doesn’t dare tell Lois that only half of his body is super-powered WHY, exactly?

Or maybe she does know and Chuck Austen was right and Lois is just a bitch.

4. Superman’s a monster!

This one is pretty cool, but it is also a pretty standard transformation.

3. Super-ant

THIS transformation, however, is much less standard!!

2. Super mood ring!

Talk about a trippy cover!!

1. Superdickery

A red kryptonite concept so good that it got a rare TWO-ISSUE arc!!!


Red kryptonite pitting Clark Kent against Superman is actually a pretty common effect, I bet because it is an AWEsome effect!

That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!


Superman’s Pope hat is just this side of supercool

(also kind of cool that “The Monster From Krypton” has blue hair…you’d think that might be a giveaway)

Clark is a Metallo now :(

The Mad Monkey

July 20, 2008 at 4:03 am

I’m sure there’s a joke somewhere in “The Rainbow Faces Of Superman”…
Perhaps, Superdickery.com will have something, someday…

The part that strikes me is that all those stories take place between Action #290 and #317. That’s at least six issues in two years devoted to red Kryptonite stories (excluding ones I don’t know about). Were the fans clamoring that much for red K stories, or were the writers just out of ideas?

I don’t think the “mute monster” Red-K transformation was THAT common. Still, the Ant-Man one takes the cake!

My favorite Red K story was one where Superman lost his powers BUT gained mind-reading instead, and conveniently enough (hey, it’s a Silver Age story!) ends up stuck in a deserted island with Lois. Favorite scene: Lois kisses Superman, and his reaction is “I can no longer hear her thoughts!” Nice priorities, Supes! ;)

I like that Red K story from the 80s where it makes him switch bodies with Ambush Bug.

It’s stuff like this that makes me love the Silver Age so much.

The ant one’s my favorite, but you’ve got to love Clark Kent, Metallo vs. Super-Pope.

It was probably popular demand. I’ve been reading through the Jimmy Olsen comics for the past year now, and the letters pages always seem to be complimentary about humor/transformation stories. Probably because attempts at more down-to-earth stories tended to turn out boring given the format restrictions…

Say, since we’re talking about red K stories, can anyone help me out. For 40 years or more I’ve had the distinct memory of what may be the first Superman comic I ever read. If I’m remembering it correctly It took place mostly in the fortress and involved on of the Phantom Zoners (probably Jax-Ur) being exposed to Red K and turning into various snake based creatures (a giant serpent, a Medusa, etc.). Did this comic really exist? Does anyone know what issue? Was I just a really demented kid? (like all Red Kryptonite stories, this one was really creepy)

The Mad Monkey

July 20, 2008 at 4:21 pm

On the “Super-Ant” cover, I just love how Lois and Perry are leaning out the window like they’re making a guest cameo on Adam West’s Batman show…lol. :D

Random Stranger

July 20, 2008 at 5:47 pm

I remember loving the Red-K stories as a child and I think it was the fact that they were format breakers even if they had a format of their own. Something happens so Superman goes off character and then the rest of the story was dealing with that. It gave them a bit more free reign in story telling than they usually had.

What, no lion head?

No love for switching bodies with Ambush Bug?

Random Stranger

July 20, 2008 at 9:07 pm

“What, no lion head?”

The lion head was due to Circe who was a Kryptonian witch, not Red-K.

Wasn’t there a Red Kryptonite story wherein Superman got amnesia, convinced himself he was Aquaman, and then settled down and got married to a nice girl out in the country?

Picked up the DC Direct Showcase Superman a month ago so I’ve currently got Ant Head Superman on my shelf. Was the one where he lost his powers but could create a mini superman a red K story or was that down to something else?

I suppose it was a way to do a What If?/Elseworlds/Imaginary Story back before that format was firmly established.

Matthew Johnson

July 21, 2008 at 6:57 am

My personal favourite was the one where he loses his memory and becomes a baseball player under the name of “Bud Mack” (because the first person he sees calls him “Bud” and the next one “Mac.”

My favorite Red K transformation is one that occurred only in the fevered imagination of Ambush Bug.

See, the Bug met Supergirl once, and apparently had never heard of Kal-El’s less famous cousin before. Thus, the logical conclusion: this super girl was obviously Superman suffering a Red Kryptonite transformation!

I have memories of Superman fighting on a planet of invincible gorillas, immune to his powers. it might not be Red K, but SOMETHING affects him so that—Poof! He now has Red Hair. And just like Green Lanterns and yellow, red hair is apaprently the supergorilla laiens’ weaknesses. Was that not Red K? Does anyone else remember this? Can I read Grant Morrison pay tribute to it anytime soon?

I’d have given an honorable mention to the post-revamp storyline “Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite”(sic) where Lex depowered Superman with a piece of ‘Red K'(actually a red rock that served as a conduit for Mxyzptlk’s powers). A fairly entertaining story, most notable for being the arc where Clark and Lois got engaged.

Keep in mind that there were usually more than one story per issue back then and they also reprinted stuff. Despite only being a little over 2 years worth of books, there were probably over 100 distinct Superman stories in that time. They had to fill them with something and Red Kryptonite might seem redundant, but its effects could take the story anywhere.

“I suppose it was a way to do a What If?/Elseworlds/Imaginary Story back before that format was firmly established.”

Nope, “imaginary stories” were well established at the time. Red-K was in a class all it’s own.

While there were three stories per book, if Jimmy Olsen is anything to judge by, they never felt bad about recycling old story premises and doing them only slightly differently. Using Red K to make different insane things happen every time was probably pretty welcome if, say, the other two stories in the book were boilerplate plots.

[…] Subsequent years found him functioning as the patriarchal head of a metaphorical Superfamily and a transformative avatar of identity fluidity in the 1950s and ’60s, and a successful Super-Yuppie in the 1980s. And that’s just in the […]

[…] it back they go with one of the goofy spinoff versions, like Red Kryptonite, which has a different, completely random effect on Superman every time. Now that would be fun to […]

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