Superman can do almost anything in a super way. He has super-speed, super-breath, super-seeing, super-hearing, and, in some extremes, even super-ventriloquism. A 2008 issue of the team-up series Superman/Batman showed that Superman even gets high in a super way.
That is, with kryptonite.
Each Monday, while the comics industry takes a bit of a break, we’re looking back at some of the stand out moments in comic history — or at least in weird comics history. Think of it as part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. If you missed last week, read this.
We decided to examine this specific moment today for no particular calendar reason at all.
Let’s talk about kryptonite
As previously mentioned, one of Superman/Batman’s earliest plot points involved a lot of kryptonite raining down all over the earth. Superman even had to go into self-imposed quarantine for a bit while the Justice League mounted a global cleanup operation. And still, there was enough kryptonite floating around that Hollywood movie studios were buying the real thing instead of crafting prop versions.
Eventually, frustrated with how much of a threat kryptonite presented to him, and therefore to the world, Superman makes it his mission to find and destroy every last piece of it on the planet. And even Batman started to get a little worried about how obsessively Superman was pursuing his goal. I mean, Batman.
And that brings us to Superman/Batman #46, in which Batman and Superman start going after some of the kryptonite “varietals” that have fallen to Earth, and discover a shard of crystal that’s been here longer than any of the others.
See, kryptonite doesn’t just come in green, and each color of kryptonite affects Superman completely differently. Green weakens him, but in some stories gold kryptonite can permanently removes his powers, and red kryptonite has completely unpredictable effects, like giving him a literal eye on the back of his head.
The new piece of kryptonite they’ve found is a brand new color, and it’s in a place that Batman and Superman would never visit otherwise.
The Oblivion Bar
The Oblivion Bar is the interdimensional bar where all the magic users in the DC Universe hang out together in a hero-villain truce. There, with a little help from the Phantom Stranger, they find an enchanted amulet made of silver kryptonite. Now, what you need to understand here is Superman’s biggest weakness is kryptonite. But his second biggest weakness is that magic works the same on him as it does anybody else.
So yeah, the magic kryptonite magically compels him to take off his protective suit and he totally touches it.
Magic kryptonite makes Superman super-high
OK, technically, magic kryptonite removes Superman’s sense of responsibility, which fits in with the issue’s theme of how Superman needs to take a break but feels like he can’t. But. But.
Sense-of-responsibility-less Superman has some ... specific characteristics. For one thing, he begins to hallucinate that the rest of the Justice League as off-brand Funko Pop versions of themselves.
Then he uses super-speed to run to the orbital Watchtower’s kitchen, where he uses super-speed to eat all of the cereal.
Then he becomes distracted when he smells someone making brownies in North Dakota. From space.
Then he beats all the high scores on every video game in the Watchtower, and starts jonesing for more of that good, good magic-K.
Eventually, Batman and Zatanna succeed in finding a way to reverse the effects of the magic-K by finding the enchanted amulet’s twin. In the process, Batman learns a valuable lesson about having respect for magic even though he doesn’t understand it — but who cares about that when the rest of the issue is about the Justice League having to babysit Superman’s super-baked ass?
Superman/Batman #46 has two very important codas, the first being the issue’s final scene, in which Superman and Batman share a moment on the observation deck of the Watchtower. Superman muses on how what was a chore for everyone else was an important moment of perspective for him.
Superman has realized the value of chilling out once in a while. “I can finally see why some people need an escape,” he tells Batman.
“Well...” he adds, “Of course, everyone except you, Bruce.”
AND THEN HE LEAVES BATMAN ALONE TO GAZE SADLY AT THE STARS AND CONTEMPLATE HIS JOYLESS LIFE.
This is the real final panel of the issue.
The second important coda is that this is not the last we saw of Superman’s Funko Pop Justice League (although they were created three years before the first Funkos, so I guess they would have been called chibi).
Grant Morrison picked up the idea of a tiny Justice League and populated an entire parallel earth with the concept, known (of course) as the Lil’ League. To go with Earth-42’s diminutive size, the Lil’ League also faces G-rated problems. Which is to say, there are no murders on Earth-42. And you might think that that would complicate Batman’s origin story, but it just makes it better.
See, when Earth-42 Batman was a kid, he saw his parents get pushed down by a bully. And he swore that when he grew up he would wage war on bullies and all their ilk, so that no one would ever get pushed down like his parents again.
Earth-42 Batman must be protected at all costs.