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CSBG Archive

When We First Met – The Fortress of Solitude and the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak

This is a series spotlighting the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic book lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “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. Here is an archive of all the first appearances features so far! Check ‘em out!

Today, we look at the first appearance of Superman’s Fortress of Soltitude, the first time Sue Storm used an invisible force field and the first mention of the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak!

Enjoy!

First Fortress of Solitude

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…

“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!” The rest of the story in Action Comics #241 is quite good (if strange), so I’ll likely spotlight it in a future I Love Ya But You’re Strange.

It is worth noting that the Superman books just outright lifted the idea of an arctic Fortress of Solitude from Doc Savage.
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First Mention of Cyttorak

Reader Adam F. thought it was worthwhile to point out that Cyttorak (the deity that gives Juggernaut his powers) actually was first mentioned in Strange Tales #124 in 1964…

nearly a year before X-Men #12 shows us how Cain Marko became the Juggernaut…

That’s some mighty fine inter-connected continuity there, Stan Lee (who wrote both comics. The Doctor Strange story was drawn by Steve Ditko and George Roussos, while the X-Men story was Jack Kirby layouts then finished pencils by Alex Toth and inked by Vince Colletta).
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First time the Invisible Girl used a force field

Reader Joe M. wanted to see the first time Sue used a force field. It happened in 1964′s Fantastic Four #22, the same issue that saw the first appearance of “It’s Clobbering Time”! Written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby and George Roussos


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Feel free to send in ideas for other debuts that you’re curious about! Send your ideas to bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

44 Comments

Frank Colletta?

This is out of curiousity, but how does Professor X immediately recognize the Temple of Cyttorak? I realize that he’s well-educated, but still….

…and considering that the invisible wall is invisible, how can Reed say Ben managed to dent it…?

@thok…the mystery of Xavier’s knowledge of the Temple of Cyttorak is a mighty Marvel retcon waiting to be told. The dramatic tale involves a young Xavier sending a group of grade schoolers to their doom at the hands of the temple guardians….proving yet again that Professor Xavier is in fact a jerk.

I believe X-Men #12 is also the first time we learn that Professor Xavier’s first name is Charles.

That sequence from Action #241 is a hoot. Expository dialogue is one thing, but expository inner monologues? Wow.

The art on Superman 17 is amazing! We need more info on John Sikela.

Hm… Jason’s comment about Xavier’s first name made me wonder when was the first time we learned Cyclops’ first name was “Scott”, not “Slim” ….

– There’s a retro/flashback Supreme story by Alan Moore and Rick Veitch that specifically redoes Action Comics #241; its last line of dialogue essentially calls out certain characters’ behavior in the original story.

— Some retellings of the Juggernaut’s origin, including the Eighth Day crossover of the late 1990s, have suggested that the Temple mystically “calls” to others mentally. Xavier picks it up that way in at least one version I’ve seen.

… so… many… questions…

Since the door to the Fortress is undoubtedly heavier than the key, how does the key provide any added security? Anyone who’s able to move the door would also be able to lift the key.

If Reed’s measurement tools are actually radioactive enough to affect his teammates’ powers, shouldn’t his teammates respond by saying “I thought we’d learned our lesson about playing with inadequately shielded radioactivity; no more tests for us!”

Where is the back of one’s tummy?

Who are all of those non-Luthor villains mentioned in Superman’s expository monologue in the first Fortress, and how long until Grant Morrison tells stories about them?

The whole “shrine to my triumphs” thing already seems creepier for Superman than for Batman, whose trophies always seem to be in part “constant reminders to myself of the horrors of the world” rather than “testimonials to myself that crime doesn’t pay,” but how much of a narcissist does Superman have to be to put up, in a room that only he goes into, that poster calling himself “amazing”?

Matty Macomber

March 17, 2012 at 8:40 am

@Thok – A few ways that Xavier could know about the Temple.
- He IS educated and may have read about it in Earth-616′s version of the Power of Myth
- He is a telepath and could have picked it up from the locals (Silver Age Prof X was not quite as ethical as his current counterpart and his younger self even less so).
- Cyttorak has claimed that it was Xavier he was really wanting to recruit, not Cain Marko, so Xavier was likely already hearing the Temple’s psychic/mystic call

After all these years, that Kirby/Toth/Coletta team is still one of the oddest art combos ever.

Perhaps, when Xavier first developed his powers, he thought they were mystical in nature and he studied magic and legends before turning to genetics. After all, many mystics claim the ability to read and influence minds.

I know that the Archer was a one-off villain from the 1940s, a big-game hunter named Quigley who ran a “pay me or I’ll kill you” racket using ordinary arrows. He turned up again in a story in a 1970s issue of Superman Family to fight the Earth-2/Golden Age Superman again. Pretty much all the others are plain non-powered, noncostumed guys from the early 40s.

Good heavens, so there WAS some continuity in those Golden Age Superman tales. I never knew!

“Hm… Jason’s comment about Xavier’s first name made me wonder when was the first time we learned Cyclops’ first name was “Scott”, not “Slim” ….”

Not to steal Brian’s thunder, but that’s in X-Men #3 (which reads like the issue where Stan Lee realized, “Oh, right, I probably need to give these people some characterization”).

You should note that the Fortress of Solitude of course derives from Doc Savage. I find it rather startling that they should so bluntly use that phrase. Somebody having an utility belt? Fine, construction workers, phoneline workers, etc. have utility belts. I know of few people who have Fortresses of Solitude.

Anyway, a suggestion: you covered the phone booth change as an urban legend column, but has anyone ever covered the first use of the Iron Man briefcase? Or, for that matter, the first time someone changed in a car or limousine?

Couple of other suggestions:

Captain America’s van (many people would name its first appearance as Captain American I#318. However, it actually may have debuted in the Reb Brown TV films)-I would mention his motorcycle, but the 1940′s tales had far too many uses of a motorcycle

The Punisher’s Battle Van: do this, but note that it clearly derives from Mack Bolan’s battle van. Gerry Conway admitted that Mack Bolan served as the template for the Punisher (with a little bit of the Shadow) . (The Vigilante, Foolkiller, Scourge, and Vigilante also have battle vans).

Superman’s little quips while exercising are adorable.

You should note that the Fortress of Solitude of course derives from Doc Savage.

Yeah, I meant to do just that. It slipped my mind. Thanks for the reminder! I added it in.

So, did Superman ever consider what would happen if some poor pilot ever relied on his “luminous arrow marker to guide planes over this lonely region”, only to find it missing because Superman was in the Fortress at the time? Or even see it moving over the ice?

But more entertaining is the Batman room. Superman has built all those crimefighting tools for Batman, but keeps them locked in a room instead of giving them to Batman immediately. That’s kind of like “I’ve discovered the cure for cancer! Now I’ll seal it in this vault, only to be released upon my death!”

And thinking about it, doesn’t Superman’s will have a few flaws? First, if Superman dies, how will people know to go to the Fortress of Solitude to get what he left them? With all its secrecy, surely he didn’t leave a map around. Second, if the Fortress is designed so that only Superman can enter it, because the rock is impenetrable and the key is too heavy to lift, then how are people like Lois supposed to get inside to get the stuff that he has left them? (Okay, the answers to both are probably “Superman robot”.)

How did Batman get a giant penny and a life-size dinosaur model down into a cave with only narrow stairwell and narrow tunnel road entrances? Where did Superman find an island of solid land in the Arctic Ocean? When did he move the whole fortress thing to Anrarctica? Why does Supersede sculpt wax figures of everyone he knows? Talk about creepy! Why have a giant key shaped like a giant arrow that points straight at the giant door that’s the entrance to your supposedly “secret” hidden fortress? Best not to even ask, I suppose.

One more, why do extradimensional godlike beings litter Earth with various and sundry power-granting objects that are left just lying around for any Nazi or criminal ne’er-do-well to find and use for nefarious purposes?

Daniel O' Dreams

March 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm

It certainly seems like Reed can see her “invisible” force fields, he notices it’s there the second she first creates one, he knows she’s making it thicker somehow, then he knows when Ben dents it. If I were going for No-Prize I’d say there were particles in the air, either smoke from Torch’s prank or the fire extinguisher that stop at the edges of her force field. Of course that’s total B.S. ;-)

In other news: Mars has a forest of Grinch Hands? Creepy.

always thought the cyttorak that gave Juggernaut his powers were also the same cyttorak of the bands doctor strange uses . and also interesting to find out sue was able to project a force field strong enough for ben to pound right away with out it cracking her first time .

In other news: Mars has a forest of Grinch Hands? Creepy.

Right? What the hell was up with THAT?

While Batman and Robin broke into the Fortress by using a cable on the VTOL-capable Batplane lift the key, it seems to me somebody once got by simply climbing through the keyhole. Which makes the whole thing ludicrous.

Was there ever a case involving the Joker and a giant penny, or is this because they forgot about the Penny Plunderer?

As pointed out many times, not only do Doc and Supes share having a Fortress of Solitude, but it’s worth noting one is the Man of Bronze and the other the Man of Steel. And one is Clark Savage (Jr.), the other Clark Kent. They also both have sidekick female cousins, Pat Savage and Supergirl.

Reed, knowing he was working with Sue on her powers, was wearing special contact lenses that made her fields visible.

Of course it was the original continuity nerd, good old Rascally Roy Thomas, who felt the need to point out that this was the same Cyttorak when he brought the Juggernaut back in X-Men #32 & 33 (guest-starring Dr. Strange). Even in his early work, Roy was always riffing off existing continuity: the very next issue of X-Men had the FF’s Mole Man fighting minor Hulk baddie Tyrannus because they both happened to have subterranean domains.

I assume there’s some horrific story behind those green hands sticking out of the ground on Mars that J’onn is still haunted by to this day.

Mike, Superman had safeguards preventing anyone from entering through the keyhole.

In Action #300, when Superman’s in the distant future (1,000,000 AD) and loses his powers due to the sun turning red, he climbs in the Fortress keyhole himself, with a thought balloon that says “As I thought! The booby traps I had installed inside this lock to guard against intruders don’t work… over the centuries, they’ve become de-activated!” The defenses were probably mentioned before that, but that was the one I remembered.

“The whole “shrine to my triumphs” thing already seems creepier for Superman than for Batman, whose trophies always seem to be in part “constant reminders to myself of the horrors of the world” rather than “testimonials to myself that crime doesn’t pay,” but how much of a narcissist does Superman have to be to put up, in a room that only he goes into, that poster calling himself “amazing”?”

I really wish someone would take the Silver Age Superman and instead of ignoring or justifying stuff like that do a sincere take on it.

“Yes, yes I do have trophies to my magesty. I really am that great.”

After all a double orphan who lost his planet and then had to helpless watch his adoptive parents die knowing all his powers could not save them might just have some self-esteem issues.

Wouldn’t the giant penny be more likely to do with Two-Face? Coins and all.

David, it was definitely Joe Coyne, the Penny Plunderer, who used the giant penny against Batman and Robin in World’s Finest#30. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_Plunderer

But that article does mention a later story I’ve not read where Two-Face gets involved.

And thanks, Allen, for the info on the keyhole story.

Those long scenes of Superman having long conversations in his head, with himself, talking about his friends and what people will think of him when he’s dead, in a hidden arctic fortress… all seem very lonely. “Thank goodness I’ve ensured that even after my death, no one will really know my true self.”

I’m pretty sure Brian already covered the giant coin in a previous edition of this series.

Just thought of a suggestion for a future installment (not sure if it’s been covered before though): when was the first time a character (either Peter or, in a flashback, Uncle Ben) spoke the “great power, great responsibility” line? In “Amazing Fantasy” #15, it’s only used in the narration.

@Ethan Shuster

To be fair, he points out that the Clark Kent room isn’t to hide his secret identity past his death, but rather a safety precaution in case someone *does* manage to get inside before he dies.

I’m pretty sure “This oughta be a popular sport in China” is racist, but I can’t quite figure out why or how.

I just like how Reed assumes that it was due to HIS device that Sue was able to make the force field.

I’m pretty sure “This oughta be a popular sport in China” is racist, but I can’t quite figure out why or how.

I’m just going to be charitable and assume it’s a reference to impressive Chinese gymnasts at the Olympics or something like that. There’s also a great tradition of Chinese acrobatics, but I dunno how well known that would have been in the US in the ’40s.

I actually think the “popular sport in China” comment comes from the fact that he’s upside down. This stems from the popular notion that China is directly on the other side of the globe. This is what countless cartoons have taught me, anyway.

“I’m pretty sure “This oughta be a popular sport in China” is racist, but I can’t quite figure out why or how.”

Yeah it’s a reference to him doing it upside down, no racism there.

The Doctor Strange issue doesn’t show the real point of the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, but that’s probably because Stan/Steve may not have defined it in their own heads, yet. But, as Chad alludes to, the Bands are the most unbreakable magical objects in the universe(s), though I’m pretty sure there were once broken – there’s an exception to every rule. By absorbing unbreakable magical energy, Cain becomes unbreakable himself. And, since Cain can move that force forward, he essentially becomes the ultimate combination of irresistable force and immovable object. Which is why the Juggernaut is one of the comics’ all time great ideas.

buttler:
“Roy was always riffing off existing continuity.”

And, for my money, that makes for some of the best plot lines because they contain organic logic, i.e… verisimilitude.

mdk:
“One more, why do extradimensional godlike beings litter Earth with various and sundry power-granting objects that are left just lying around for any Nazi or criminal ne’er-do-well to find and use for nefarious purposes?”

Because they can. :)

Maybe Xavier knew about the temple because it’s a local legend. So he figured it was unlikely that it was the Temple of the Vishanti.
I don’t remember if the Bands were ever broken, but the Hulk once pounded on them to the point Stephen had to drop the spell (in Hulk, right after Jarella’s death).

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