Comics Reviews

Why Superman’s Worst Kryptonite Is Red and Why It’s So Dangerous


Jon Kent’s Superman just got his first dose of Red Kryptonite and he’s about to learn why it’s the most dangerous – and the most deadly.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Superman: Son of Kal-El #4, on sale now from DC Comics.

With Clark Kent finally gone, now leading the Authority to create a better tomorrow, Jonathan Kent is finally Earth’s one and only Superman – and he’s immediately been thrown into the deep end. Shortly after his father leaves his family’s farm in Smallville is destroyed, and it’s up to Jon to get justice for his family. Unfortunately, his new adversary Henry Bendix is cunningly clever – and that puts the new Superman in a vulnerable position.

Enlisting the help of Jay and his friends at the Truth, Jon Kent learns more about Gamorra’s leader. So much so, that he feels confident enough to confront the villainous leader in Superman: Son of Kal-El #4 by Tom Taylor, Daniele Di Nicuolo, Gabe Eltaeb, Hi-Fi, and Dave Sharpe. Though the new Superman keeps his questions brief and leaves without causing an international incident, the fact he came at all doesn’t sit right with Bendix. Taking advantage of the young hero’s good-hearted nature, he deploys a particularly dangerous trap.


RELATED: Superman: Who Is Jay Nakamura, Jon Kent’s New Boyfriend?

As he’s about to leave Gamorra, Jon recognizes a voice calling out for help – it’s the same fire-based metahuman he saved in the first issue of the series. As he comes to his rescue, he feels things start to heat up. However, it isn’t from the victim’s flames, it’s from a series of lasers blasting Superman from all directions. Though he flies out and escapes, it soon becomes clear the damage is done and that those weren’t any ordinary lasers.

The burning sensation stops once he’s up in the air, but Jon can see what it did to him. Not only that, he starts feeling it too. Suddenly, all of his powers are supercharged. His heat vision bursts out of control and he can hear everyone in need, unable to block them out anymore. There’s only one thing capable of causing a Kryptonian’s power to overcharge and spiral dangerously out of control like that – Red Kryptonite.

Although many portrayals of this variant of Kryptonite have had it turn Kryptonians into evil or more morally loose versions of themselves (for example, Superman III and Smallville), in the comics it is far more unpredictable. Whilst other Kryptonite colors have pretty consistent effects, every piece of Red Kryptonite has a different effect. During the JLA story “Tower of Babel”  by Mark Waid and Howard Porter, Red Kryptonite caused Superman’s skin to turn transparent and led to his natural ability to absorb sunlight becoming exceedingly painful for him. Similar to what’s going on with Jon here though, it led to the Man of Steel becoming overcharged with energy that he needed to release.

RELATED: Superman and Flash Just Built the Perfect Hall of Justice

Tom King and Bilquis Evely’s Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow series recently showed another way Red Kryptonite fits into the modern DC Universe. When Kara was powerless on a spaceship under attack by a dragon, she took a pill of Red Kryptonite to temporarily give her powers. In that case, Supergirl didn’t just suggest it overcharges Kryptonians but causes their dreams to become true – making the effects infinitely more unpredictable still. In that case, it took the form of her fiery Earth Angel abilities from the 90s.

Whilst it was useful for a depowered Supergirl then, the unpredictability of it and its ability to supercharge Kryptonians makes Red Kryptonite one of the most dangerous variants of the poisonous substance. Gold Kryptonite may be able to strip Superman of his powers forever, but that’s better than going out of control and causing untold damage. If Jon hadn’t flown as far away from civilization as possible, it’s very likely his excess power could have had deadly consequences. Seeing how the Man of Steel would always lay down his life before letting anyone die because of him, that makes Red Kryptonite one of the worst he could ever be exposed to.

KEEP READING: ‘The American Way’ Wasn’t Originally Part of Superman’s Never-Ending Battle

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