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Aug 04

How Old Is Superman?

The Brown Wedge3 comments • 6,972 views

How Old Is Superman? One of the seemingly undefined aspect of the Superman mythos is that of his ageing. Those who fall on the side of his omnipotence in everything (the superhearing, superbreath, superhair bunch) probably think as a preternatural godhead he will live forever. Look, he has been banging around in the comics for seventy odd years, he hasn’t aged yet. Fine, but nor has Lois, or perennially annoying Jimmy Olsen. That’s what happens in comics.

The flipside is that Superman, like his Krypton forebears ages the same as us. This brings us stories of future Superman with those old greying temples (a fashion trend I bet Reed Richards wishes he had lost). Invents unstable molecules but not Just For Men). The spectre of ageing brings in tremendous story potential, as shown in Miller’s The Dark Knight Return, though not so much for Superman. When Supes stops being super, its bye-bye to his USP.

So to the current comics, which is it? They are of course hedging their bets. Which is not to say that Superman is not ridiculously old already. Only a few years ago Joe Kelly wrote a story where he and Wonder Woman got trapped in a magical realm fighting baddies for 1000 years – but it was magical you see so that might explain his ageing (he also, like a sap, or like someone without sap, didn’t get off with her once even though he believed he would never get back and Lois would be dead. Loser.)

So that makes him 1035-ish? Well, depends on your viewpoint on years spent dead. In the recent Obsidian Age storyline in JLA – designed to bring back Aquaman from the dead – all of the JLA died. Apparently it is less clunky if you resurrect six characters at once rather than just the one. Well the plan was that he dies 3000 years in the past and the bad guy would “accidentally” ressurect them all in the present, and thus get the proper smack-down they deserve. Do years dead count as ageing. Tricky. His body was seen to have decomposed too, but probably no brain activity. Who wrote this story – Joe Kelly of course.

So anyway, Superman is according to DC comics either 35, 1035 or 4035. Ish. Once you get into the thousands it all comes down to significant figures. And we still don’t know if he ages normally. But think of poor old Lois – she is seeing a considerable older man.

Comments

  1. 1
    Peter on 4 Sep 2006 #

    Aging is brought about by the wearing down of tissue in the body. Since Superman heals incredibly fast (there are several accounts of this) Superman is ageless. Of course, there’s always a comic book way around any science. Heck, there are comic book ways around death itself, so there’s probably a way around aging. If a writer wants to age the Man of Steel, he can probably say that the nuclei (sp?) in his cells can only stand so much charging. His cells are basically solar panels that channel the sun’s energy into his powers. Perhaps a part of those cells can only take so much.

    As for the Superman from Earth two, you’ll notice that he was just as buffed, just as strong, just as fast as his Earth one counterpart. No one knows this (because I’m just now making this up) but the gray hair and the wrinkles were cosmetically done to give him the appearance of aging alongside his bride, Lois Lane-Clark. Remember, Lois was not always the supporting and nuturing person she is today. She was once pretty self-centered and Clark’s not beyond lying to the people he loves in order to protect them or make them feel better.

  2. 2
    Martin Skidmore on 8 Apr 2008 #

    I have read a DC editor saying that he is permanently 29. If you are looking at other eras, the DC One Million series, set a million months from Superman’s first appearance, he was still alive, but there have been near-future stories showing him as an old man in a few decades. There may have been a future story from decades ago that was set in what is now the past!

  3. 3
    conley LaVere on 9 Jan 2011 #

    So it’s not real and the story line is what you make it!Love the multi story lines and the imagery of Superman is timeless, if everyone who is not a fan would just let the story tells do his or her jobs then he will just be!

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