Why can't Superman see through lead?

I just don’t understand. I wouldn’t think that led is THAT dense. Is there something special about it. So great that Superman himself can’t even see through it?

It’s often called X-ray vision, right? Lead blocks x-rays. That may be all there is to it.

Lead gives him trouble by blocking the x-rays/whatever the energy source really is since X-Rays Don’t Work That Way.

Had you checked the child forums and turned off you’re Houses of The Wholly CD off before asking this thought provoking query about Pb and comic book characters - you would have known led is more dense then you’re average comic book reader’s head.

As a sidenote, two members of the LSH has similar vision powers to Superman’s, but didn’t have the lead problem (Mon-El/Valor, Supergirl and Laurel Gand had the exact same problem) - Ultra Boy’s penetra-vision isn’t blocked by anything, and IIRC, when Star Boy (Pre-ZH version) had Kryptonian-style powers, it was copper that blocked his.

Surbey, I’ve changed the title of the thread so that it provides a little better guidance for those just glancing along thread titles. And you said “can” when I think you meant “can’t.” :slight_smile:

I think all of Ultra Boy’s powers were better than Superboy’s. When he was invulnerable, he didn’t have an achilles heel like kryptonite and magic, for example. The trade off was that he only could use one power at a time.

As for Superman, it’s because X-Rays can’t see through lead. Since then, they’ve backed off the claim that Superman’s X-Ray vision literally uses x-rays, but they still can’t see through lead because that’s how it’s always worked.

How was it that Supes’ X-rays produced heat back in the '50s, before he developed Heat Vision? X-rays per se don’t produce heat, or else that damn chest plate wouldn’t be so cold.

as a fan noted in a letter waaaayyyy back in the 1960s, Superman can’t see through lead because it’s dense and blocks x-rays. (By the way, should you think tyhis just childish stuff, somebody once entitled a lecture at MIT about X-Ray astronomy “Looking Through Superman’s Eyes”) Therefore his sight ought to be blockled by a number of other dense substancesd that als block x-rays, which he, of course, listed. But lead is the only really common one.

The trick with x-ray vision, it seems to me, is having a good filter system that lets you elect the wavelength range you want to look at. Otherwise you’d be seeing Lois’ bones and marrow all the time.

He did have a bizarrely non-specific weakness v ‘radiation’, however. They never specified what kind, but by all indications, it fell somewhere between Kryptonite and lead in rarity. (Poor Daxamites…lead radiation(!!!) does 'em…)

The last two versions of the character seem to have skipped that, though.

The rest of his Kryptonian-style power suite has always been about even with Kryptonians or Daxamites, though, far as I can see. He’s about as fast, or as strong as Supes or Mon, as resiliant when none of the weaknesses are present, can see no further unless a lead shield is in the way, requiring penetra-vision (actually, I think Mon’s telescopic vision might actually trump Jo’s…I remember a lot fewer times when Jo’s been called on for that, but that might just be because he needs other powers more often…)…Hard to compare flight, since they have the flight rings…I don’t think Jo could time-travel under his own power pre-ZH…always used a time bubble that I can remember…

In that context wouldn’t Duplicate Boy’s powers be the baddest of all?

Can Supes see through uranium or any other heavy metal?

Yes, he could see through anything except lead. Not only that, he could focus his vision to stop anywhere he wanted!

The only reason for this is that all super-powered heroes had to have some sort of limitation or else thinking up plausible plots became just too difficult. That’s why the Golden Age Green Lantern’s ring was powerless against wood, and the Silver Age GL’s powerless against yellow.

Of course, the villains in those days were seldom if ever cosmic-powered universe-building unstoppable forces of nature. They were just people. If you thought about it for even a second, every comic would end in a single panel unless some arbitrary obstacles - like the unspoken need to use your super powers in a different way every issue - were thrown in the way.

So. Lead stops x-rays. Scientific-sounding words. Hand-waving. Plot extender!

That was a very nice and concise summary of the whole issue.

Don’t look for reason; don’t look for explanations.

Reminds me of somethng I read in the Q&A section which was in some DC comics back in the late 50’s. Someone questioned how Superman at first could just leap extroadinary distances due to his Kryptonian muscles on the lighter-gravity Earth, vs how he could now FLY and where the frig did that come from? Their answer as to how Superman can now fly? “Because he just DOES.”

Beginning of the end for me and my comic books. Even at age 7, I hated having my (admittedly limited) intelligence insulted.

Why the hostility, Johnny?

It also poses the question "How can super man catch bullets, but he always seems to dodge a gun when a bad guy throws it at him "

As I remember the George Reeves Superman, he didn’t catch bullets but instead let them bounce off his chest. I assumed the reason he did that but ducked when a gun was thrown was because he had crappy eye-hand coordination and couldn’t catch anything.