Is the Man of Steel truly immortal? Comic book fans have been debating this question since the character first appeared, but is there an easy answer?
Is Superman immortal? While the answer may vary in other media, all signs point to him being unkillable in the DC Comics Universe. The issue of Superman’s mortality has been debated by comics fans since the character first appeared in 1938. Many aspects of Superman, such as his invulnerability unique physiology have been used as fans as proof that Superman is indeed immortal. Yet what have the comics themselves said about the matter?
Before diving into specific examples, it might be helpful to look at what about Superman might make him immortal. Under a yellow sun, like that of Earth’s, Superman’s cells act as mini-solar energy collectors; once charged, he can tap into his fantastic suite of powers, including invulnerability. This invulnerability allows him to withstand everything from bullets to bombs without a scratch. Since readers never really see Superman get sick either, it stands to reason this invulnerability also allows him to never fall ill. When all of this is taken together, Superman could be immortal – as long as he stays under a yellow sun.
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The comics back this up. During the DC 1,000,000 crossover event in 1998, Superman was alive and well in the 853rd century. After traveling the cosmos for thousands of years, Superman returned with vast knowledge of the universe and its existence. He then lived inside of Earth’s sun, which, in theory, would keep him powered forever. Even further into the future, a story in Action Comics 1,000, written by Tom King, showed Superman at the end of time, having outlived all of his friends, family and even the Earth itself. Both of these stories appeared in regular DC Universe titles, so they can be assumed to be canon.
It is worth noting that this sort of immortality comes with a huge caveat – Superman must stay under a yellow sun to maintain it. While his cells could in theory maintain the charge even after leaving the yellow sun’s influence, it would only last so long. And on the other hand, his immortality comes with another catch – namely the fact that he is highly vulnerable to both Kryptonite and magic.
Is Superman truly immortal? If the main DC Universe comics are to be believed, then yes he is – but with two big and important conceits: continual exposure to a yellow sun, and no Kryptonite or magic. Knowing this, it may seem Superman is technically not immortal, since there are things that can actually kill him, or rob him of his invulnerability, though actually doing so would definitely be easer said than done.
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