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Superman: The Most Powerful and Worthless Forms of Kryptonite

Sticks and stones won't break his bones, but a rainbow of radioactive rocks will bring Superman to his knees. Check out the best and worst types of Kryptonite.

Like Mary Shelley nearly a century before them, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created an intimidating being in 1938. Yes, the Man of Steel celebrates his 80th anniversary this summer, and Superman has become a mainstay in pop culture, but when Kal-El first graced the pages of Action Comics No. 1 the Kryptonian possessed no discernible weakness.

Superman’s invulnerability was finally challenged when the radioactive substance of Kryptonite was introduced in The Adventures of Superman radio show (1940-1951). The Kryptonian’s Achilles’ heel debuted during the 1943 storyline “The Meteor from Krypton,” so Superman voice actor Clayton Collyer could take a vacation.

Kryptonite appeared in comic books for the first time in Superman No. 61 (1949), but as Red K with Green Kryptonite’s properties. In Adventure Comics No. 171 (1950), Purple Kryptonite plagued young Superboy, but again exhibited the effects of Green K.

Over the years, a myriad of colors and varieties of Kryptonite have challenged Superman and his fellow Kryptonians. Like the Purple-Spotted K which tormented Krypto, some Kryptonite types were utterly ridiculous, and other forms of Kryptonite were incredibly formidable.

With that in mind, here are the Most Powerful and Worthless Forms of Kryptonite.


Synthetic Kryptonite might not have been the most useful incarnation of the radioactive meteor rock when it came to combating Superman, but it had some wildly adverse effects on the Man of Steel. A popular example appears in the pages of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (1986). Green Arrow uses a synthetic Kryptonite on Superman which allows an aging Batman to combat the Last Son of Krypton.

The most absurd example of synthetic Kryptonite undoubtedly occurs when Ross “The Boss” Webster (Robert Vaughn) employs his criminal computer hacker Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) to acquire Kryptonite in order to kill Kal-El in Superman III (1983). Unfortunately, one element is deemed unknown during the creation of the artificial K, so Gorman substitutes tar for the missing ingredient.

The result is known as Tar Kryptonite which makes Superman lose his inhibitions much like Red K does to Clark (Tom Welling) in Smallville.


Red Kryptonite is the original radioactive "meteor of might" as red was the first color selected for the deadly weapon used against Superman. However, the shade was soon changed to green.

True Red K, as it came to distinguish itself from Green K, is akin to a virus infecting Kryptonians in a variety of bizarre ways. It can sometimes take two to three days for its ghastly effects to take hold.

No two samples of Red Kryptonite affect Superman in the same way.

In the era prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986), Superman found himself at the mercy of Red K’s erratic influence which transformed the Man of Steel into a dragon, split him in half, turned him into a humanoid with an ant’s head and made him a dangerous lunatic... among other things.

Exposure to Red K in the television show Smallville (2001-2011) had a far different effect as it stripped young Clark Kent of all his inhibitions. In such cases, Clark became a rebellious bad boy without any compunction when it came to weighing good and bad decisions.


Unless you’re chosen by the Guardians themselves to wield a power ring, Green Lanterns’ Kryptonite is of no use to anyone. Nonetheless, members of the GL Corps can use their rings to produce constructs imitating Green K radioactive levels in order to battle Kryptonians.

The first drawback is, of course, the color yellow. Kryptonite constructs or not, they will not work against Superman, Zod, or the countless others if the hue of yellow is used to disrupt Green Lanterns' energies. Second, this artificial form of K is often inferior to the real thing, and it lacks the radioactive potency true Kryptonite possesses.

On the cover of DC Comics Presents No. 26 (1980) Green Lantern aka Hal Jordan creates a large mass of Green Kryptonite to seemingly kill Superman. Later, Kyle Rayner also had the unfortunate task of creating the GL K to thwart a delusional Man of Steel.


Magic was already a formidable means of combating Kryptonians, but the advent of magical Kryptonite raised the deadly stakes for Superman and others from his home world. Indeed, there have been some ingenious uses of Magic K on the Man of Steel in the comic books.

In Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen No. 42 (1960), James finds a lamp in the Arabian desert. A genie emerges from the relic, and the being trades places with Olsen. When the Man of Steel gets involved, the genie wishes for Jimmy to transform himself into living Kryptonite to kill Superman.

During the Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite storyline in 1990, Mr. Mxyzptlk is up to his old tricks when he bestows a magical crimson version of Red K on Lex Luthor. Luthor uses the rock to rob Superman of all his super powers!


One would think the genocide of the inhabitants of Argo City would make Anti-K a powerful entry on our list, but this version of Kryptonite does not affect Superman. Introduced in Action Comics No. 252 (1959), along with the first appearance of Supergirl, Anti-Kryptonite wiped out the citizens of Krypton’s lost city of Argo.

Anti-K was only lethal to Kryptonians without the super powers granted by the yellow sun of Earth.

During the story The Supergirl from Krypton!, Kara reveals to Superman Argo City was severed from Krypton’s destruction in a bubble of compressed air.

As a teenager, Kara watched in horror as an Anti-Kryptonite shower penetrated the protective bubble, wiping out the survivors of Krypton. Her father Zor-El – remaining on Argo City – sacrificed himself to put Kara on a space ship and send her to Earth to join her cousin Kal-El.


Black Kryptonite first appeared during the Season 4 premiere Crusade (2004) of the WB's immensely popular Smallville. Dr. Bridgette Crosby (Margot Kidder) arrives on the scene in lieu of Dr. Swann (Christopher Reeve) to deliver a chunk of Black K to Martha Kent (Annette O’Toole).

Martha uses the Black Kryptonite on Clark to split his human (good) side from his Kryptonian (evil) nature.

Thanks to its popularity on the show, Black K made its initial appearance in the pages of DC Comics with issue No. 2 of Supergirl (2005).

In Supergirl No. 3, Lex Luthor uses Black K on Kal-El’s cousin, splitting her into a good and evil version of herself. Kara’s Dark Supergirl is clad in a black, red and silver costume. Luthor eventually admits he gained possession of the Black Kryptonite from Darkseid himself.


In the comic books, Silver Kryptonite began as a publicity stunt by Superman’s overzealous buddy Jimmy Olsen. Appearing in the pages of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen No. 70 (1963), James concocts the existence of Silver K to celebrate the Man of Steel’s 25th/Silver Anniversary of adopting Metropolis as his home. Even Element Lad of the LEGION of Superheroes makes a cameo from the 30th century.

A more meaningful version of Silver K shows up during season 5 of Smallville in the episode titled Splinter (2005). Brainiac aka Milton Fine (James Marsters) creates the Silver K which Clark (Tom Welling) pricks his finger on.

Infected by the splinter, Clark slowly grows more and more paranoid the longer he is exposed to the Silver Kryptonite. As intriguing of a story as it was, it's hardly helpful to have a paranoiac Kryptonian running around half-cocked.


Created from the remains of Krypton’s majestic Jewel Mountains, Jewel Kryptonite first appeared in the pages of Action Comics No. 310 (1964). In the story, Jax-Ur tricks the Man of Steel into returning to Krypton of the past to obtain Jewel K.

Jewel Kryptonite is a powerful weapon for the evil Kryptonians imprisoned in the Phantom Zone.

Jewel K enabled Superman’s deadliest enemies like Jax-Ur, Zod and Faora to affect outside worlds, with only their thoughts, while still trapped in the Zone.

A Gemstone variation of Jewel K appeared in the Smallville season 9 episode titled “Persuasion” (2010). Once Clark was exposed to the radioactive substance his every word was obeyed by his friends, most notably Lois Lane (Erica Durance). Lane sadly became quite domesticated to please Clark’s every whim which strongly contradicted with her career ambitions.


Why is hardly anyone talking about the Hybrid Kryptonite Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) created in Superman Returns (2006)? Probably because it’s about as useful as a microwave pizza without a microwave.

In the film, Lex gains possession of the Fortress of Solitude crystals from which cities, continents and vehicles can be grown with exposure to water.

Lex has the ultimate technology, but he allows his obsession with killing Superman (Brandon Routh) to cloud his better judgement. Luthor makes the mistake of combining a crystal with Green Kryptonite which creates the altogether useless Hybrid K.

Yes, it weakens Kal-El, but consider the sheer amount of radiation Superman was exposed to on Lex Luthor’s Kryptonite continent.

That much Kryptonite should have taken out the Man of Steel. However, not only did Clark survive Luthor and his men’s attacks, but Superman was able to lift the entire Kryptonite-infected landmass off world!


Blue Kryptonite originally didn't have any discernable effects on the Man of Steel or his fellow Kryptonians, but its radiation was deadly to Superman’s backwards rival Bizarro. First appearing in Superman No. 140 (1960), the radioactive Blue rock began as mere chunk of Green Kryptonite.

In desperate need of a weapon to combat Bizarro and his army of Anti-Kryptonians, Superman uses a lead-armored suit to protect himself as he collects a Green K boulder from an asteroid. With the help of Professor Potter’s duplicator ray, which created Bizarro, the Green Kryptonite was altered into Blue, aka Bizarro Kryptonite.

In the television show Smallville, Blue K first appeared in the season 7 episode titled "Blue" (2007), and Blue Kryptonite stripped Kryptonians of their superpowers on the show.

The substance subsequently killed Bizarro Clark because he couldn’t handle the power his body absorbed from the overwhelming Blue radiation.


If only Seymour (Rick Moranis) had a chunk of White Kryptonite to use against Audrey II (Levi Stubbs) in Little Shop of Horrors (1986). Yes, White K is incredibly deadly, but only when it comes to exterminating plant life.

That’s right, folks. Do you have a Begonia that’s out of control? Well, just grab a chunk of White K!

White Kryptonite first appeared in Action Comics No. 278 (1961). Perry White finds an alien plant and decides to eat a piece of fruit growing on it. As a result, a creature known as Xasnu takes control of the Daily Planet’s editor.

Fortunately, Supergirl uses a piece of White Kryptonite to destroy the spores of the alien plant inside Mr. White. Superman manages to defeat the remains of Xasnu, and Perry remembers nothing of the ordeal. The story brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, "watch what you eat."


Gold K can be argued as perhaps the most dangerous of all Kryptonites because of its irreversible, permanent effects on Kryptonians.

Exposure to Gold Kryptonite may not destroy Superman, but it will strip away his superpowers forever!

The Gold substance first appeared in the pages of Adventure Comics #299 (1962). Clearly, Gold K wasn’t used a whole lot in the early days because writers and editors feared the repercussions of using Gold K on any of their superpowered franchise players including Superman, Supergirl and Superboy.

Smallville made use of Gold Kryptonite as one of Darkseid's weapons. After corrupting Oliver (Justin Hartley), Darkseid’s minions crafted a wedding ring of Gold K to be used against Clark on his and Lois' wedding day.

Fortunately, Chloe (Allison Mack) notices the glowing jewelry and stops Lois from taking away Clark Kent’s super powers forever. Although, would it have really mattered since the show was nearing its end?


Also known as Kryptisium, Kryptonite-X was a one-shot miracle used to restore the Man of Steel’s super powers following the infamous Death of Superman (1992-1993) storyline. After being killed by the monster Doomsday, Superman was revived during the Reign of the Supermen (1993). However, he didn’t have his Kryptonian abilities.

While battling Cyborg Superman, the Eradicator took a blast of Kryptonite meant for Kal-El who was clad in his famous black suit. The Kryptonite energy passed through the brave Eradicator, but still hit Clark.

The combination of the Kryptonite and the Eradicator’s energies forged Kryptisium which restored Superman’s powers!

Clark then easily defeated the Cyborg Superman, and and Kal-El returned as the world’s savior. Emil Hamilton termed the substance Kryptonite-X in The Adventures of Superman No. 511 (1994).


Even though it began as Red K, Green Kryptonite is the original radioactive substance. Green K is the sure way to destroy a Kryptonian, but Superman has managed to elude such a permanent fate so far. But it doesn’t keep the baddies from trying.

Green Kryptonite first appeared in comic books with an emerald sheen in the pages of Action Comics No. 161 (1951). Exposure to Green K will weaken Kal-El and cause him extreme pain.

During this time of vulnerability, Superman is either completely or partially stripped of his powers depending on the medium (comics, movies, TV).

However, despite its effects, Green Kryptonite does not destroy Kryptonians instantaneously. It takes a bit of time which seems to be the Deus ex machina that saves Superman’s hide almost every single time.

Lex Luthor needs to set aside a few days with his iPad to sit in a Green Kryptonite room with Kal-El until the Man of Steel expires. If Luthor wants to rule the world, and destroy Superman, he needs to fully commit to the undertaking. Make the time, if you want to beat him, Luthor!


This is quite possibly the all-time "what were you thinking, comic book writers" moment.

Supergirl No. 79 (2003) serves as the origin point for one of the most controversial flavors of Kryptonite, as Pink K is introduced to the DC Comics' universe. It has been 15 years, but the inception of Pink Kryptonite still baffles, bewilders and even entertains readers to this day.

The casual comics fan might be thinking, “What are the side effects of Pink K?”

That is an excellent question.

Answer: it transforms Superman from a heterosexual to a homosexual.

The most famous scene of Supergirl No. 79 follows Superman's exposure to Pink K, and it is played off as a bit of comic relief. In those comic book panels, the Man of Steel is suddenly attracted to his pal, Jimmy Olsen! Clark also can't help and take notice of how attractive Jimmy is in his famous bowties.

In the Justice League Action (2017) animated shorts airing on the DC Kids’ YouTube channel, Pink K is created by altering the Kryptonite heart of Metallo. The effects of Pink Kryptonite in this case causes Superman to change genders, and Clark becomes the Woman of Steel.

And how do you follow that up? Yeah, you don't.


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