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Superman fans’ biggest question gets a definitive answer (from a surprising source)

Superman fans’ biggest question gets a definitive answer (from a surprising source)
Superman fans’ biggest question gets a definitive answer (from a surprising source)

Summary

  • After a big fight, Superman’s “villain” Livewire suggests that the Kryptonians are holding their breath in space.
  • Superman can hold his breath in space, but can also speak without a helmet.
  • Superman’s indestructibility allows him to survive in anaerobic environments.



Warning: Spoilers for Action Comics #1066DC has finally given an answer to the age-old fan question whether Superman can breathe in space. It is an iconic image: the Man of Steel floating outside the atmosphere, looking protectively over the globe. The idea emphasizes both his belonging to Earth and his origins outside of it. While it is common knowledge that Superman can fly safely into space without a helmet, the “villain” Livewire eventually reveals the truth: Superman holds his breath.

In Action Comics #1066 by Joshua Williamson, Rafa Sandoval and Miguel Mendonca. As the Superman family prepares to escape Brainiac’s ship, Livewire notices a problem. The spaceship they’re in, previously powered by the Brainiac Queen, isn’t holding together long enough to get everyone safely back to Earth.


Comic Panels: Superman hugs the Super Twins while Livewire asks a question about space.

Surrounded by supers, the quasi-repentant villain points out to the group that “some of us can’t hold our breath in space. None of the assembled Kryptonians and part-Kryptonians correct them – which means that yes, while they are in space, Superman and other Kryptonians simply hold their breath.

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Superman holds his breath in space (like other Kryptonians)

Panel from the story “Generations” by Daniel Warren Johnson in Superman: Red and Blue #5

Comic panel: Superman floating in front of the Earth.


The extent of Superman’s inhuman power has varied over the years. Some versions of Superman don’t need to eat, while others are voracious eaters. Superman’s “human needs” are often determined by the creative teams in place. One standard is his ability to fly into space without a suit or spaceship. Often, readers see him travel around the Earth by leaving the atmosphere and re-entering it on the other side of the planet. However, Superman’s abilities cannot create air where it doesn’t exist, and Space is an airless vacuum, even in the DC Universe.

It’s a touching thought: Superman carries a touch of the earth with him wherever he goes.


This would mean that Superman cannot speak in space – or only for the short time that the air in his lungs allows. But already in 1949, in Superman #57 by Edmond Hamilton, William Woolfolk and Wayne Boring, Superman is able to speak while outside the atmosphere. As Brainiac in 1958 in Otto Binder and Al Plastino’s Action Comics #242, Superman has a frustrated argument with Brainiac while throwing planetary chunks at his ship. It’s possible that since there are no air molecules to carry sound, Superman is vibrating his words directly into the eardrums of those listening.

Kryptonian indestructibility comes in many forms

Superman’s powers are constantly evolving

Superman fights against Czarnians in space, Action Comics No. 1064


While Superman sometimes wears armor in space, which includes a helmet, Livewire suggests that he doesn’t need a helmet to breathe. The classic image of Superman floating above the Earth proves he doesn’t need it. For decades, Superman has flown through space, walking and talking without air on nearly every planet he visits, showing that Superman can exist safely in anaerobic environments. The nobility of these iconic moments seems potentially tarnished by Livewire’s portrayal. Nevertheless, it is a touching thought: Superman carries a touch of earth with him wherever he goes.

Action Comics #1066 is now available from DC Comics.

ACTION COMICS #1066 (2024)

Action Comics 1066 Main Cover: Superman in the hands of the Brainiac Queen

  • Author: Joshua Williamson
  • Artists: Rafa Sandoval, Miguel Mendonca
  • Colorist: Alejandro Sánchez
  • Letterer: Dave Sharpe
  • Cover artist: Rafa Sandoval


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