WARNING: The following article contains minor spoilers for Lois Lane #10, by Greg Rucka, Mike Perkins, Andy Troy and Simon Bowland and Justice League #44 by Robert Venditti, Xermanico, Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Tom Napolitano, available now.
By almost any measure, Superman is the greatest hero in the DC Universe. The Man of Steel is endowed with an assortment of abilities that make him nearly unstoppable, and he has the heart of a hero that can inspire billions.
Despite all of those powers, Superman still suffers from a few glaring weaknesses. Famously, Superman is weak to Kryptonite, pieces of his long-dead home planet. In any of its various shades, kryptonite is a very rare substance obtainable only by those with substantial resources such as Lex Luthor or Superman’s colleague Batman.
Unfortunately, Superman also has a weakness to something far more common than Kryptonite: magic. And even though Superman’s weakness to magic isn’t as famous as his vulnerability to kryptonite, it’s far more dangerous, considering how prevalent magic is in the DC Universe. And now, two new Superman adventures reinforce just how dangerous magic is to the Man of Steel.
Superman’s aversion to magic has been well documented over the years in various DC comics. It’s so severe that he even jokes about it in Lois Lane #10 the issue is referenced in an almost joking manner. When Superman discovers that Lois Lane has been caught up in the crosshairs of a mystical assassin, he flies in for a house call. While he’s usually her protector, Superman tells her that Batman told him that the potential assailant was a magic-user. He relays that Batman was pleased to tell him that he would be of no use in a case that involves magic and that he would reluctantly be sitting this mission out.
The issue came up again in a much more serious context in this week’s Justice League #44.
Superman and the other members of the Justice League are called upon to deal with a number of magical, mythological creatures that have suddenly appeared. Batman is able to determine that the creatures are targeting Wonder Woman, and the Amazon bravely leads the creatures into a chasm that will send them back to Tartarus. Once the creatures are dealt with, the League is besieged by the same mystical force that caused the creatures to escape captivity and attack Wonder Woman.
Superman sees what is happening and observes as Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman are seemingly possessed by the aggressive magical force. Still, he is able to do nothing as he too is taken by the force, ultimately revealed to be a being of great mystical might, the Spectre, and the issue ends with the Man of Steel ready to attack his bickering teammates.
While Superman is a tremendous force for good and one of the most powerful heroes in the DC Universe, he has a glass chin when it comes to dealing with magic. Sometimes, the weakness is dealt with in a dismissive fashion as seen in Lois Lane, while at other times the weakness comes as a huge detriment, such as what occurred in Justice League. With the vast number of magic-using characters currently operating in the pages of the DC Universe, Superman’s aversion to this increasingly common force may prove to the Last Son of Krypton and anyone who relies on his might.
While kryptonite is Superman's most famous weakness, Lois Lane and Justice League just proved that it's not his most dangerous vulnerability.