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Who knew there was a separate Wikia for Red Kryptonite? From http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Kryptonite

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Red Kryptonite


Red Kryptonite was once Green Kryptonite that passed through a mysterious red-hued cloud en route to Earth. Red Kryptonite inflicts random effects on Kryptonians, typically creating an initial "tingling effect" in those affected. No two chunks of Red Kryptonite have the same effect. Red Kryptonite effects typically last for 24-48 hours (though sometimes as long as 72), after which the Kryptonian in question is always immune to that specific chunk of Red Kryptonite. Superman has suffered the following effects upon exposure to various pieces of Red Kryptonite:

  • Transformed into a dragon
  • Became evil
  • Transformed into a non-powered giant
  • Transformed into a dwarf
  • Transformed into an ant-headed humanoid
  • Transformed into a lunatic
  • Rendered amnesiac
  • Rendered temporarily blind to anything colored green
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Loss of power
  • Gained telepathy
  • Lost his invulnerability along the left side of his body
  • Generated an evil doppelganger (also used in the movie Superman III)
  • Unable to speak or write anything but Kryptonese
  • Growth of extra limbs
  • Loss of balance and manual dexterity
  • Mental transference
  • Rapid aging
  • Personality alteration

    So, why the sudden interest in Red K? The recent Supergirl TV episode,"Falling" of course, in which the Maid of Might is exposed to some, which does a personality alteration on her, making her aggressive. It got me to thinking about the old trope and I realized that while it was an easy crutch for the writers, it was usually an interesting one. I sort of miss Kryptonite.

    As fans of Superman know, it was actually rolled out in the radio serials and was eventually done away with in a story I have yet to read called ďKryptonite Nevermore!Ē Apparently all the stuff gets turned to iron. One day Iíll pick up a copy of Superman #233 [January, 1970].

    Meanwhile, back in our beloved Silver Age, Kryptonite in several colors is still a problem for the Man of Steel and as luck would have it, I own a battered copy of Superman #227 [Sage #68], the Special All-Kryptonite Issue, chock-full of reprints of classic tales of the element from Supermanís home world of Krypton that gives him such fits.

    ďThe Invasion of the Super-Ants!Ē was originally published in Action Comics #296 from January of 1963. Cover art was by Curt Swan with George Klein inks and the story was scripted by Edmond Hamilton with art by my friend the late, great Al Plastino. Editing was accomplished by Mort Weisinger.

    Things begin at the municipal zoo of Metropolis where Clark Kent and Lois Lane are on assignment to check out a new ant colony exhibit. Lois has no use for insects, but Clark explains just how fascinating ants can be, showing her their engineering ability, social structure, communication techniques and great strength. Clark even suggests that if they could somehow become man-sized, they could take over the world.

    Elsewhere, a couple is mountain climbing not far from Metropolis when an accident leaves them stranded without a rope. Soon, to their incredulity, like something out of the old motion picture, ďThem!Ē giant red ants appear and form a bridge to rescue them, even beckoning for them to come across.

    A little later, the ants are spreading and getting into a little bit of everything, from tearing up railroad tracks to making off with railcars, building materials and other objects. As word gets back to Metropolis, the call goes out to Superman, but when our hero tries to go into action he gets that funny feeling and realizes Green Kryptonite is in the vicinity, so he defers to the Army, who has also been deployed to deal with this bizarre menace.

    The Colonel in charge of the task force points out a tank coated with black lead that Superman can operate in order to get closer to the threat. They communicate by field radio so that the Metropolis Marvel can navigate, but once he gets close to the mutant ants, the tank is destroyed and Superman beats a hasty retreat from the Kryptonite infested area.

    The task force takes things from there, ordering up an air strike of bombs and poison gas which accomplish nothing. Superman uses his super breath to send the gas cloud into space while the ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrahÖ Sorry. They continue their raid on materials in Metropolis itself and include a particular prize when they raid the Daily Planet and take Lois Lane away to enthrone her as Queen.

    Superman has been monitoring the situation and when he determines his fellow reporter isnít in any danger he decides to take a radical course of action. The Man of Tomorrow deliberately flies into a space cloud of Red Kryptonite, first seen in Superboy #101 [Sage #18].

    Since we are privy to Supermanís thoughts we learn that this particular batch of Red K responds to the thoughts of those exposed to it, so he is manipulating its effects. Additionally, our hero will be immune to Green K for a period of time and finally, in a unique twist, it can affect Kryptonians more than once. Thatís a lot of caveats for the stuff, but whatever serves the story, eh?

    So, Superman crashes, literally, the party and we see that he now has an ant-like head and promptly uses it to his advantage, communicating with the giant ants via their respective antennae. As it turns out, these creatures have arrived on Earth via space ship from another world, where their humans indulged in weapons of mass destruction and successfully destroyed one another, leaving the insects to inherit their world. Naturally the radioactive fallout had an effect and they gradually increased in size and intelligence until they became not only survivors but the dominant species.

    They took it upon themselves to use their intelligence and technology to travel through space, warning those on other worlds of the folly of using similar weapons. When they reached Earth, however, their ship had a malfunction, causing a crash and hence their raids on various materials to aid them in making necessary repairs. Furthermore, they were unable to communicate with the local natives, so they struck upon the plan of capturing Lois in hopes that Superman would think to act in a way to communicate, which of course he did.

    The final loose end of why the Green Kryptonite becomes apparent when they take off and their rocket boosters emit a green cloud. They use liquid Green Kryptonite for rocket fuel!

    In the final panel, Superman is carrying their message of peace and restraint to a huge assembly of world leaders ending this story and public service announcement.

    Itís hard to beat a classic Superman story, even when itís one as fantastic as this one. Itís not often we find our heroes dealing with giant ants outside of a pure science fiction tale, but somehow the creative team made it work and it always warms my heart to see Al Plastino artwork. Iíll rate this one a 6 on the 10-point scale.

    A Leo Dorfman/Jim Mooney Supergirl adventure wraps up this issue.

    The Silver Age is what weíre all about here, although we do dip our toes into other eras when the muse or circumstances strike. We hope youíll continue to enjoy spending a little of your valuable time with us and, as always, we solicit your responses regarding impressions, requests and comments of all kinds. Just drop a line to that well-known e-mail address: professor_the@hotmail.com.

    Be sure to join us on the 15th for a new review and until thenÖ

    Long live the Silver Age!

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