Superman's "Fortress of Solitude" Questions

The famous comic book character was said to have a personal retreat, somewhere near the North Pole. I would guess this would be Greenland. The way to it was pointed by a huge arrow-like structure on the ground-it was disguised as a airline marker. Anyway, how often was the place used? Besides having a museum, I belive it also held some kryptonite. anyway, was the place ever broken into?

I’m not a huge Superman reader, so maybe I’m missing something … but why would Superman need a big arrow pointing to his hideout? Presumably he knows where the place is, and if there’s personal stuff and/or kryptonite there, he doesn’t want anyone else to know how to find it.

Yes, several times, according to wikipedia.

I’m intrigued by the ‘airline marker’ disguise. This really shows how long the Superman franchise has been going. How many airline markers of this kind are in use nowadays, do you suppose?

He used it as a key, incidentally

The arrow pointing to the Fortress of Solitude is his key.

I recall the “marker” being a giant key to the Fortress, disguised by its resemblance to an airline marker and requiring super strength to pick up and use.

Funny how he turns it before the teeth are in the lock. Why not build a door so heavy only he can move it? And since when do we have airline markers on the ground? What is it pointing to?

As often as necessary.

He used it quite a bit in the 1960s. He kept his trophies there, along with dangerous alien echnology. He used to bring Lois and Jimmy and Perry White there a lot, and even had public tours on occasion.

Of course, that Dangerous Alien Technology often got activated, causing no end of problems. Like the ST:NG Holodeck, it was really more trouble than it was worth. But, like the ST:NG Holodeck, it allowed them to create new stories, which is the real point.

Like many things about Superman, the Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic was ripped off from Doc Savage*, who had it first (that was even that name he used). George Pal even opened his movie Doc Savage: Man of Bronze with a visit to Doc’s Fortress of Solitude. Doc’s Fortress didn’t have a giant door that had to be opened by a key disguised as an airplane route marker. That Superman was just a show-off.

*Doc Savage was The Man of Bronze. Superman had to go one better, so he was The Man of Steel.

Doc Savage had his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic, so Superman had his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic.

The magazine ads for Doc Savage were headlined, in huge letters, “Superman

Since the 1920s -

That’s awesome! Thanks!

The bottle city of Kandor, a Kryptonian city shrunken and stolen by Brainiac has been prominent in Superman mythology since it and the character were introduced in July 1958, Action 242. That accounts for probably a thousand visits all to itself.

If you’re wondering if that’s where the word Brainiac comes from, yes and no. The BRAINIAC was a computer kit put out in 1957. It was advertised in Astounding Science Fiction so it was likely that the writer, Otto Binder, an old-time SF writer, saw it. DC says not, but it gets every other fact wrong here, in a February 1964 letters page. That issue, Superman 167, is historic because they retconned Brainiac to being a computer.

And yes, the Fortress of Solitude has been invaded many times by everybody. The first invasion is still the best. Superman goes there and finds evidence of an invader. Things are missing or moved. Mysterious letters appear. No sign of a break-in. (This was before every person on earth could teleport.) Who did it? Batman. He was giving Superman a nice puzzle to solve as a birthday present. He hid as the Batman statue in the Batman room. How did he get in? He hollowed out a space in the super-sized key!

I knew immediately that “Brainiac” was compounded of “Brain” plus the “-iac” ending of computers like ENIAC and UNIVAC*.

But it took me YEARS before I realized that it was also “Brain” plus “Maniac”. The Mexican film El Baron del Teror was retitled “The Brainiac” for distribution in the US, and HE had nothing to do with computers, so what the heck?

It finally hit me. And then I realized that this might have influenced Binder’s choice of the name. (I’ll bet any money the Brainiac Enterprises people didn’t have that connection in m ind).

*ENIAC was Electronic Numerator Integrator And Computer

UNIVAC was UNIversal Automatic Computer
There was also BINAC, the BINary Automatic Computer and EDVAC, the Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer.

Yes, the giant arrow was the key, but the dumb thing was, the key hole was big enough for a person to crawl through.

I seem to recall that it was sealed by some sort of selective force field.

In All-Star Superman in 2005, Superman scrapped the giant key in favor of a normal-sized key made of neutron star matter, so heavy that only he could lift it. He never explained where he carried it, though.

Are we talking about Superman’s big ice-thingy here? :dubious:

And for those who asked just what he had in there…

And the Geniac, or genius slash iac, which was the first version of the Brainiac before Edmund Berkeley split off from Oliver Garfield.

Brain+maniac is obviously a possible interpretation. But I bet it’s after the fact. Once the word brainiac is out there, then others can play on the meaning of the word. The logic of “word”+iac was so powerful and so prevalent at the time that it’s hard to imagine Binder or Berkeley going to secondary interpretations.

It looks like he just leaves it right there in front of the door (there’s an impression of it in the ground). It’s not like anyone’s going to run off with it.

I just found more on the Brainiac story, given as Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #79. Apparently, Berkeley contacted DC about trademark violation. DC’s response was to acknowledge the computer and give fans information about how to buy it. Making Brainiac into a computer ties in.

That doesn’t mean that Otto Binder didn’t notice the ads for Brainiac in science fiction magazines and consciously or unconsciously appropriate the word. I’m sure it was helpful for DC to proclaim it as pure coincidence. Maybe it was. For anybody naming a computer, or “electronic brain,” brain+iac was begging to be chosen.

Binder wasn’t naming a computer, but Brainiac was an alien with advanced super-science - so almost the same thing. Coincidence? Maybe. Even Superman would have a problem lifting the weight of my doubts.

The Oxford Dictionary gives the following, Cal:

Which would be support if that was actually the origin of the term, which it isn’t.

I haven’t found anything that cites Binder himself on the subject. Without that, it’s all guessing.