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Will Superman’s Powers Ever Let Him Die in DC’s Universe?

Can Superman ever really die in DC’s Universe? Obviously, Superman has died before, such as in the iconic Death of Superman storyline. However, even that story ultimately ends with Superman back in the land of the living thanks to a Kryptonian healing matrix. Add in the snaggles of decades-old continuity and the answer becomes far more complicated and nuanced.

Kryptonite is Superman’s oldest and most well-known weakness. Interestingly enough, Superman’s exposure to kryptonite has only been fatal a few times. Prime Earth Superman perishes in The New 52 storyline The Final Days of Superman, while Lex Luthor uses a Kryptonite spear to do in the Man of Steel in the tie-in to the DC Universe Online Legends video game. Aside from a couple of other instances – mostly in the Silver Age – Kryptonite is rarely that dangerous to Superman, except to conveniently weaken him whenever the plot calls for it. In fact, the alternate future of Kingdom Come, Lex Luthor even remarks that kryptonite has lost its punch, with Superman developing immunity to it due to his sun-based power (more on this later). While it seems unlikely that the writers will ever make Superman completely immune to his most famous weakness, it does explain why the glowing green rock just isn’t very effective.

Magic remains one of Superman’s more lesser-known weakness. Just how vulnerable Superman is to magic largely depends on the writer. In Kingdom Come, Superman accidentally cuts himself on Wonder Woman’s sword and finds himself on the receiving end of a brainwashed Shazam’s lightning bolts. In fact, in the semi-sequel The Kingdom, a magically-enhanced Gog kills Superman several times over. Superman was also killed by none other than He-Man in the Masters of the Universe vs. DC Universe, stabbed with the mind-controlled hero’s sword (thankfully, he got better). Magic remains one of Superman’s more interesting (if inconsistent) weaknesses.

Superman’s biggest weakness is hard-written into the source of his powers – the yellow sun. Superman’s power and livelihood depend solely on the well-being of the sun. Anything which threatens the sun is capable of threatening Superman, including beings such as the Sun-Eater. On the other end of the spectrum, in All-Star Superman, the Man of Steel’s body is overloaded with solar radiation. With the sun starting to die, Superman is forced to sacrifice his life on Earth with Lois in order to maintain the sun from within. Superman’s fate remains tied to the source of his power.

Ultimately, Superman’s longevity is determined by the intention of the editors and writers at DC Comics. As one of the most venerable and iconic brands in all of comics, it seems unlikely that Superman will kick the bucket permanently, even as 5G heralds in an uncertain new chapter for both the OG Superman and his son and heir apparent Jon Kent. Still, combine Superman’s iconic nature as perhaps the most recognizable superhero in the world with his own alien origins, and it’s easy to see how Superman can cheat, if not outright conquer, death whenever necessary for the Man of Steel to soar again.

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