The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue!

Occasionally, I like to break down some of my favorite Silver Age Superman stories that aren’t yet digitized for the community (you can find my other two posts on the subject here and here). I’ve had a post about “The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue” from Superman #162 (July, 1963) in my back pocket for a while. It feels relevant to pull the trigger on it now for a few reasons. First because of some changes that Jon Kent may currently be experiencing. Second because Mark Waid recently made the world this story takes place in part of the Multiverse in Dark Crisis: Big Bang #1. Finally, I promised @Vroom that I would read through the 90’s Superman Red and Blue story and analyze it. I haven’t quite finished that task yet, but when I started it I noticed similarities to this story that I wasn’t aware of before. As a result, I decided it may be best to analyze this first.

This story is also different than the first two I covered in a couple ways. I always note how these stories aren’t digitized, but, when it comes to “Clark Kent’s Incredible Delusion” and “The Sweetheart Superman Forgot,” I wouldn’t really expect them to be. I love both those stories but they’re really obscure tales that only complete maniacs like me see any value in. But this story- “The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue”- this story has been so influential and is so memorable that I would go so far as to say it deserves a “Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told” tag. This story really SHOULD be digitized.

Also, with the first two stories I broke down, I would generally point out how they are kind of silly on the surface but may have a bit more depth when you take the time to unpack them. That’s not really the case here. Everything appealing about “Superman-Red and Superman-Blue” is pretty evident from the story without needing to look too deep. The best I can say is that it’s a tale that engages with the question: What if there were two of me? You know, like when you have those days that are so jam-packed with important tasks that you just can’t seem to keep up with them all unless there were two of you? Or when you find yourself at a fork in the road of life and wish you could take both paths? That’s basically what this story is about. That’s more than enough intro, though. Let’s get to the plot:

To start, this is an “Imaginary Story” (and, yes Alan Moore, they are all imaginary stories) which was the Silver Age’s short-hand way of saying this story is not in continuity. The closest modern equivalent to the “Imaginary Stories” would probably be Marvel’s What If…? stories that presented a new world based off a specific question regarding how things would be different if just one thing were changed about the regular superhero world. Many of the “Imaginary Stories” actually ended up being some of the best stories from this era, though.

We begin with the unthinkable: Superman gets poor performance reviews! In Metropolis, Clark Kent gets passed over for a raise at The Daily Planet thanks to his duties as Superman diverting his attention. Immediately following that disgrace, Supergirl summons him to the Fortress of Solitude where Superman receives a dressing-down from the Kryptonian citizens of the bottle city of Kandor:

Super Performance Review

The Kandorians point out that Supes has failed to complete three vital tasks in his superhero career: 1) Restore Kandor to normal size. 2) Find Antidote to Green Kryptonite. 3) End all crime and evil on Earth. As a result, they give Superman an ultimatum: Solve these problems in six months or let one of the Kandorian citizens take his place and let them have a shot at being Superman. Kal admits that he really should’ve done a better job and accepts their terms. However, he realizes that he’s going to need a bit of extra juice if he is to resolve the three most difficult tasks of his Superman career, so he has a really, really bad idea about how to give him this edge:

So, yeah, Superman exposes himself to every known variant of Kryptonite radiation at once because he believes it will somehow increase his intelligence by 100%. Woof… Luckily, this experiment does not instantly kill him. However, it does have an unexpected effect as it splits Kal into two Supermen: Superman-Red and Superman-Blue. These Supermen are just as powerful as the original but are 100 times more intelligent. So… I guess the Kryptonite death-trap worked!

The two super-intelligent Supermen get to work on solving the three unsolvable problems and they start with restoring Kandor. First, they reverse-engineer Brainiac’s Enlarging Ray Gun. Then they essentially reverse-engineer the planet Krypton:

Recreating Krypton

They create a “Hyper-Magneton” core that attracts every piece of Kryptonite scattered throughout the universe while simultaneously reversing their radioactive properties (this is not how magnetism works). Since Kryptonite pieces were the radioactive remains of the planet Krypton, this basically recreates the planet. The Super twins then enlarge Kandor on the New Krypton and help them restore the planet to how it was. If you’re keeping score, Red and Blue just solved two of their three tasks in one, fell swoop: Restore Kandor and neutralize Kryptonite. The Kandorians also benevolently decide not to become a race of super-people and ask that the New Krypton be placed in orbit around a red sun.

Next, we take a pause from the vital tasks as the Supermen receive a request from their mermaid, ex-girlfriend Lori Lemaris. Lori has heard about how Red and Blue have helped the Kandorians and wants them to do something similar for the Atlanteans. Tired of being considered freaks on Earth, the Atlanteans request that the Supermen make them a planet of their own. Red and Blue then remember the memorial planet they built for Krypton some years earlier. At which point, I paused and said, “Wait, you already HAD an exact replica of Krypton and still spent all that time creating ANOTHER for the Kandorians???” But, Superman’s wasted time is the Atlanteans’ gain as Red and Blue use their heat vision alongside Supergirl and Krypto’s to melt the polar ice caps of replica Krypton to flood the planet for the Atlanteans. They then use magnetic meteors to create a tunnel of water (you know, water is a notoriously magnetic substance) that incredibly extends between Earth and the flooded planet so the Atlanteans can just swim through space to their new home. Scientific liberties aside, it’s a pretty cool visual:

Atlantean Exodus

Honestly, I’m not too sure how I feel about this part of the story as the Atlanteans are essentially self-segregating rather than confronting the people of Earth about their own prejudice. However, I think this portion of the story came about because the writers suddenly remembered that there was already a Krypton replica planet and now needed to do something with it, and feels more like Superman doing a solid for his ex rather than actual real-world commentary. So… its probably fine. Also, no word in this story about how Aquaman feels about all this, but, presumably, he is now the king of an entire planet without pollution or nuclear subs. So… I’m sure Arthur is fine.

After creating a New Atlantis, Red and Blue turn their attention to the final task of eradicating all crime and evil on Earth which is… a pretty big ask. In my opinion, tackling this would involve asking everyone on Earth to take a big look inward and realize that we are all one in this existence and that there’s actually no reason to fear or harm one another as we all set aside our selfish needs and desires to create a true community of human beings. Apparently, though, the real answer is to create an Anti-Evil Hypno-Ray and use satellites to project it across the entire globe which is what Red and Blue actually do… So… what do I know? The Anti-Evil Ray works perfectly, of course, and cures petty criminals of their lesser impulses as well as all of Superman’s most notorious villains including Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro:

It has the most profound effect on Lex Luthor, though, as Superman’s former arch-nemesis decides to use his scientific brilliance for the benefit of mankind. Luthor creates a miracle antibiotic that can cure all disease and maladies on Earth (this is not how antibiotics work) including blindness and… most importantly… male pattern baldness!

Luthor Cures MPB

Give that man a ■■■■■■■ medal!!! The reformed Luthor with a full, healthy head of hair is immediately pardoned for his crimes and is finally able to reunite with his sister, Lena Thorul, whom he avoided throughout the Silver Age to protect her from his lifestyle.

Having solved their three most vital tasks, the Supermen finally get the chance to focus on what they want out of life. They decide to settle down and get married and, luckily, there are two women who are just perfect for them: Lois Lane and Lana Lang! Initially, they struggle to decide who should marry who, but Red reveals that he’s more into Lois while Blue admits that Lana is the woman for him so… that non-issue gets solved! The Supermen decide to have a double-wedding and, since we’re telling a happily ever after here, Lucy Lane also relents to marry Jimmy Olsen since her older sister is finally tying the knot so it becomes a triple wedding!

We end the story with Superman-Red and Lois moving to New Krypton to live as a normal man and wife couple while Superman-Blue and Lana stay on Earth. Despite retaining his super powers, Blue retires as Superman to dedicate his life to science while his Superman robots deal with any emergencies. Both Super-couples have a pair of children each (I wonder which one is Jon), and they all live happily ever after.

And that’s “The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue!” End of day, it’s a fairy tale that gives what could be considered the happiest possible ending to all the plot threads from Silver Age Superman stories. In essence, it’s sort of a fan service to long time Superman fans which lets them have their cake and eat it too. For instance, the Lois vs. Lana issue was a long-standing debate between fans about who Superman’s real love interest was. This story settles it by creating two Supermen and saying it’s both. It even takes time to give happy resolutions to most of the support characters. It’s a silly story that takes incredible liberties with science, but… it’s just a happy ending for Superman. It’s not much more complicated than that.

The story ends asking you which couple is happiest: Red and Lois on New Krypton or Blue and Lana on Earth? Honestly, both seem like perfectly wonderful lives, but… if pressed… I always think having super powers is better than not having super powers, so I’ll pick Superman-Blue and Lana on Earth. Who would you choose?

Also, Superman had a fourth, unrevealed task on his to-do list that started with: 4) Guard Against… Just for fun, use your predictive text feature to tell me what Superman was supposed to guard against. Try to keep it PG, though. Otherwise, thanks for reading this novel! I’ll follow it up with my reactions to the 90’s red and blue saga for @Vroom once I finish re-reading those issues.


superman red and superman blue is before the bronze age, altho I have seen it many times in superman reprints and trade collections. I remember it is just an imaginary story.


According to the DC Wiki, it was reprinted in the DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #18 and The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told TPB.


Great breakdown! I am going to add this one to my list of things to read.


Thank you! It’s a classic!


This is one of those stories I have always heard about, but never have read. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun!


I looked at comics org and during the bronze age, it was reprinted in:
100 page super spectacular dc 18 (july 1973)
best of dc 19 (dec 1981).
Later reprints were:
greatest superman stories ever told (1988, 1989).
dc’s greatest imaginary stories (2005)
showcase presents superman 4 (2008)


Thanks! That gives everyone a full list of options regarding where to find it.

Yeah! I’ll say it again: This one really should be digitized because of how influential it’s been on later stories.


I’ve read thousands of Superman comics. This one is not only near the top, it may very well be #1.


It definitely makes my top 10!


Despite not having read the source material, I love this post, the story it tells, and the subtle digs it takes in various spots (magnetic water :joy:). It just sounds like a good time. Complete feel good escapism, great visuals, happy ending, zero pretentiousness, zero taking itself too seriously, and 200% Superman! I never thought of what a happy ending for Supes would be, and having it be a happy ending for multiple worlds is kind of compelling to be honest, though I’m not sure if that’s a statement they were trying to make.

There’s obvious moral/philosophical questions to be asked about using a hypno ray on an entire planet, even if it’s “anti-evil” (more questions there) but… I will refrain from asking them :slightly_smiling_face:


Post crisis, they split superman into blue and red for a few months. There was a blue strange visitor. For Rebirth, Lana Lang was a red superwoman. Currently, Jon Kent seems to be a blue superman.


Thank you! Sometimes I poke fun because I love :laughing:

I mean, I think the main gist of this story is just that it’s a kind of fairy tale ending for Superman and friends. If I were going to unpack what is so appealing about that, I’d probably go into how Superman works well when he’s portrayed as a kind of American mythological figure. In a lot of ways he is to America what Heracles was to the Greeks or Thor was to the Vikings. We poured what we felt were the ideal qualities of a hero into Superman and had his actions reflect our values. If we then take the time period, the 1960’s, into consideration when there was still a fair amount of optimism in the country and how we were making technological advances and how we had ambitions to send men to the moon and explore space… Well, then I feel like I have the context for why this story resonates. It’s an American myth where our greatest hero saves the world with science and shares that prosperity with the universe. It channels the way the country sort of hoped things would go for the future. So even if a lot of people probably wouldn’t think of it that way, I’d wager that’s what creates some of the good vibes that reading this story produces. But all that may be a bit much and it’s probably just because it’s a nice story with a happy ending.

Well, Mark Millar asked them in Superman: Red Son. Millar really knows his stuff when it comes to Superman, so I’m pretty sure he was channeling a bit of this along with the old Soviet re-education programs when he had the Soviet Superman put the mind control devices into the heads of his old adversaries. This is not the only time in Silver Age Superman that a hypno-ray or something like it is used or suggested as a solution for crime and evil. Doc Savage, often thought of as an inspiration for Superman, also had his own re-education camp of sorts where criminals would essentially be brainwashed into reforming.

So… how should we feel about that? On one hand, I think this came up so much in the older stories because it was seen as an alternative to killing your enemies. The old method of pulp heroes and superheroes of dealing with criminals would often be just straight up killing them. From that frame of reference, the whole Hypno-Ray option doesn’t seem so bad. I think it was a genuine attempt by writers to push redemption and reformation over punishment or… death.

That being said, from a modern frame of reference, it’s not necessarily read that way. Nowadays, most people wouldn’t see brainwashing as a legitimate way of reforming someone and, of course, there are the political implications which Millar explored in Red Son. Many would even say death is preferable to essentially being mind controlled. So… there’s that.

To me, I think it was just their way of pushing the idea of reforming over punishing. They just were either ignorant of or willfully not considering the actual implications of what they were writing. However, I can see how a lot of mileage can be gained from stories that do seriously consider those implications.


I like your analysis, but I think your last point is probably where it’s at.

Some 60 years later it doesn’t seem like a whole lot has changed there with mass mind washing being the reason Superman got his secret identity back, albeit through Lex’s doing, not Supes’. Apologies for swaying away from your original topic. I just couldn’t help but think of that. Will probably be the elephant in the room for me for a while :slightly_smiling_face:.


You did not care for that moment :laughing:

I don’t think it sways from the original topic at all. It’s right there in the story! Nothing wrong with pointing it out and discussing it.

Essentially, though, I do think we’re talking about two different moments albeit with a similar plot device. In “Red and Blue” it’s genuinely and un-critically being served up as an answer for all crime and evil. With the secret identity mind wipe, it was being used as a plot device to quickly achieve something that would have been narratively difficult to achieve even had they taken their time with it. And, as you pointed out, it was carried out by the villain and not the hero. So, I get why it bothers you. It bothers me. And I don’t think they’re really going to go back and address it which is obnoxious. However, I do think it was just a clunky moment of storytelling used to achieve something that was always going to be pretty clunky rather than something they intended to explore for the moral/philosophical implications.


It’s not that I didn’t care for it. I’m actually fine with the moment itself and with the identity (un)reveal. It’s the heroes reaction to it that still isn’t sitting right with me. It would bother me less if all it did was restore the secret identity, but no, they had to go and make its discovery fatal. Sooo… no hero morally outraged here? Nope… we’re just gonna roll with it because secret identities good. Forget morality; no one concerned that people can actually die if one slip-up occurs? There was this really cool moment in Action 1006:

What happens to that little boy if this took place under current conditions?

This is not my “they aged up Jon Kent” moment, since I genuinely like what all the current Superman writers are doing. It bugs me, but I’m forgiving :slightly_smiling_face:


Yup! This story is very influential on later Superman stories. Superman Reborn used concepts from this to fuse the Post-Crisis Superman with the New 52 Superman. The New Krypton story arc also involved the bottle city of Kandor being enlarged and its inhabitants populating a new planet. The Superman comics of 1999 and Multiversity: The Just used the Superman robots as an emergency response team similar to how Superman Blue employed them at the end of this story. Morrison included this fun moment towards the end of Action Comics (Vol. 2) #18:

Am I Still Hallucinating

And an early Morrison pitch for Superman & The Authority involved Supes splitting into red and blue versions of himself with politically opposed personalities. That pitch was eventually discarded. But… yeah… “The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue” has been influential to many Superman stories in the modern era. That’s one of the reasons why it’s one of the best.


In the 31st century legion mythology, they usually depict a planet of kryptonians usually called Rokyn (new kandor or new krypton). Pre Crisis, the bottle city of kandor people moved to another planet and were seen in Krypton Chronicles mini. In current continuity, General Zod seems to be recreating New Krypton using some people from Kandor.


Rokyn and the Pre-Crisis destination of the re-enlarged Kandor are one in the same!

Bendis heavily alluded to a future New Krypton in his run, but I haven’t seen much mention of it since he left. Maybe more will come of it in Action Comics with the Phaelosian refugees.


There are now sort of 2 new kryptons, so maybe they will merge what General Zod is doing with the phaelosians.
Plenty of fear of AI so I am sure we will get more stories about superman robots.