Superman Doesn't have the "M" Gene?

I just finished reading DC Comics Presents #18 by Gerry (I killed Gwen Stacy) Conway and Dick Dillin/Frank Chiaramonte and the issue makes a rather interesting argument as to why Superman is vulnerable to magic. In the Bronze Age, of course, DC was interested in playing up the fact that magic could harm Superman in an attempt to respond to the criticisms that the Man of Steel's invulnerability hurt his relatability. Different writers have given different explanations for this vulnerability over the years, but Conway gives a rather unique on in this issue. DC Comics Presents #18 starts with Superman researching his vulnerability to magic. He discovers that magic does exist as an energy beyond ultra-violet in the invisible spectrum of radiation. Meanwhile, in upstate New York, Zatanna is about to perform her own sort of magical experiment. She starts by explaining her theory of magic's origins to her father, Zatara, a nd librarian Madame Van Jung. Zatanna claims that magic is performed by utilizing mystical energies from another dimension, and that the Homo Magus offshoot of humanity had the genetic ability to access these energies at will (for more info on the Homo Magi see Justice League of America #164). Since Zatanna's mother was Homo Magus, the young hero excels at using magic. However, the Homo Magi genes became diluted over years of intermingling with plain, old Homo Sapiens, so, as time went by, people started to need rituals and spells to access the same abilities that Homo Magi used to conjure at will. Zatara finds his daughter's explanation and can't help but add in at the end: "It even explains why Superman is vulnerable to magic! Not having been born on Earth, he has no Homo Magus genes whatsoever!" (Page 8).

I found this to be an interesting way of explaining Superman's issues with magic. It's a different way of approaching the issue and has a logic of its own. Of course this story was from 1980 and we've had a few continuity restarts in the DC Universe since then so it's probably no longer relevant. I thought it worth bringing up since the Trinity War crossover is approaching and is fueled by the magical avenues of DC Comics. It's likely that Superman will be confronted by his vulnerability to magic once again and we could possibly be treated to a new explanation as to why it can hurt him. I wonder what some of you think of Gerry Conway's explanation, if you have or like a different explanation, and what your favorite memory of Superman dealing with magic is. Paul Kupperberg found every opportunity to put the words "I hate magic" in Superman's mouth. If the Trinity War is as mystical as I think it will be, Superman is really going to hate this event.

32 Comments
32 Comments
Posted by Primmaster64

I always thought magic affects Superman just like everyone. But I have to ask, does magic affect a being like Galactus?

Posted by Jekylhyde14

@Primmaster64:

I honestly can't recall a story where Galactus has been threatened by magic, but, then again, I can't recall a story in which Galactus has been threatened by much. Arguably, the Power Cosmic is vague and powerful enough to be considered like magic. It would probably take a powerful magic with a vast amount of energy behind it to be even worth Galactus' time.

I'm with you, though. I've always been partial to explaining Superman's magic vulnerability by saying that he isn't weak to it so much as he's just not invulnerable to it like everyone else.

Posted by Primmaster64
@Jekylhyde14: Never huh?
 
 It also explains why beings like vampires and were wolfs can hurt him. Though, if Superman wanted to, he could punch their heads off easy.
Posted by cattlebattle
@Jekylhyde14: Dr Strange has effectively assaulted Galactus before
Posted by Jekylhyde14

@Primmaster64:

I vaguely remember something like Mephisto planning to mess with Galactus in one of the Infinity crossovers, but I'm not sure if that ever came to anything (or even if I'm completely making it up). Marvel tends to treat magic a lot differently than DC does. For instance, Mephisto is often described as a being from another dimension rather than being an actual demon. Or John Byrne retconned Scarlet Witch's magical abilities to be more about probability than mystical forces.It's made the whole distinction between what's "cosmic" and what's "magic" a bit vague.

Posted by Jekylhyde14

@cattlebattle:

Good to know! Do you remember when that happened and what issues?

I do remember Thanos was nervous about Dr. Strange during the Infinity Gauntlet and exiled him to the past in Dr. Strange #33. Should have figured that if he could threaten a Gauntlet wielding Thanos then he could trouble Galactus.

Posted by Primmaster64
@Jekylhyde14: Ugh Magic...
Posted by cattlebattle
@Jekylhyde14: I don't know the issues exactly but he has confronted him more than once and his magic did have an effect on him...its not like he just walked up and zapped him though, there was some sort of technical jargon and special spell used, because, like you suggest, they weren't sure magic would effect him
Posted by Jekylhyde14

@Primmaster64:

Lol, if you feel that way then you might hate what I'm about to add. I remembered that Mark Gruenwald (possibly the most anal-retentive man to ever work in comics) defined the terms of magic rather specifically in his Handbook to the Marvel Universe.

This is from his entry on Baron Mordo (Dr. Strange's constant mystical nemesis): "Mordo's magic, like that of most magicians, is derived from three major sources: personal powers of the soul/mind/body (mesmerism, astral projection, thought-casting, etc.), powers gained by tapping this universe's ambient magical energy and employing it for specific effects (teleportation, illusion-casting, energy projection), and finally, powers gained through the tapping of extra-dimensional energy by invoking entities or objects of power dwelling in mystical dimensions, tangential to our own."

That last magical energy source is identical to the explanation for magic Zatanna gives in DC Comics Presents #18, so maybe Marvel doesn't treat magic that differently after all. Though, that doesn't help clear up much. I think we're in for a headache come Trinity War, Primmaster.

Posted by Primmaster64
@Jekylhyde14: There's also that theory that magic is advance science.
Edited by Jekylhyde14

@cattlebattle:

Thanks, that supports a lot of what I supposed the relationship to be between Galactus and magic to be. I'll have to keep an eye out for that story.

Posted by cattlebattle
@Jekylhyde14 said:

@cattlebattle:

Thanks, that supports a lot of what I supposed the relationship to be between Galactus and magic to be. I'll have to keep an eye out for that story.

Just google Dr Strange vs Galactus, then look through images, there is bound to be something
Posted by Dernman
@Primmaster64 said:
@Jekylhyde14: There's also that theory that magic is advance science.
Never liked that theory. Always felt it took something away.
Posted by Jekylhyde14

@Primmaster64 said:

@Jekylhyde14: There's also that theory that magic is advance science.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke.

This is also the theory that Marvel Studios used to help cynical, modern audiences through the concepts of Thor and Asgard. I like it in the way that it's a rational explanation for magic. Though, I'd agree with Dernman that it kind of makes the whole thing a bit less romantic.

Posted by Primmaster64
@Jekylhyde14: I thought Thor was an alien in Marvel.Or at least in the movies...
Posted by Jekylhyde14

@Primmaster64 said:

@Jekylhyde14: I thought Thor was an alien in Marvel.Or at least in the movies...

Yeah, that's exactly what I mean. I think the official stance on Thor in both the Marvel comics and movies is that he is the same Thor that the vikings considered the god of Thunder, but in reality he's just a very, powerful alien from the advanced alien civilization of Asgard. Though, I might be wrong about the comics...

This embodies the theory of magic just being advanced science.

Posted by Primmaster64
@Jekylhyde14: There's also a theory that all of those gods(Aztek, Vikings,Egiptian,ect) where aliens.
Posted by cattlebattle
@Dernman said:
@Primmaster64 said:
@Jekylhyde14: There's also that theory that magic is advance science.
Never liked that theory. Always felt it took something away.
agreed, makes no sense in a lot of ways, technology is usually something mad made...if you showed an Ipod to an old civilization they would think its magic....sure, but its still a technical device  you have their, so in the Thor movie, it could be explained that his armor and hammer was magical/science
 
It can't really justify when people shoot mystic bolts out of their hands from out of the blue
Posted by Primmaster64
@cattlebattle said:
@Dernman said:
@Primmaster64 said:
@Jekylhyde14: There's also that theory that magic is advance science.
Never liked that theory. Always felt it took something away.
agreed, makes no sense in a lot of ways, technology is usually something mad made...if you showed an Ipod to an old civilization they would think its magic....sure, but its still a technical device  you have their, so in the Thor movie, it could be explained that his armor and hammer was magical/science It can't really justify when people shoot mystic bolts out of their hands from out of the blue
Or lasers out of they're eyes.
Posted by cattlebattle
@Primmaster64 said:
@cattlebattle said:
@Dernman said:
@Primmaster64 said:
@Jekylhyde14: There's also that theory that magic is advance science.
Never liked that theory. Always felt it took something away.
agreed, makes no sense in a lot of ways, technology is usually something mad made...if you showed an Ipod to an old civilization they would think its magic....sure, but its still a technical device  you have their, so in the Thor movie, it could be explained that his armor and hammer was magical/science It can't really justify when people shoot mystic bolts out of their hands from out of the blue
Or lasers out of they're eyes.
there is never any good explanation for that
Edited by Jekylhyde14

@cattlebattle:

A quote from Superman in DC Comics Presents #18:

"Everything...about my super-powers follows a definite physical law. Earth's yellow sun provides me with most of my powers, because of the effect of it(s) solar radiation on my Kryptonian bio-chemistry. And Earth's lower gravity accounts for the rest of my super-abilities..."

Though, exactly what physical law accounts for different solar rays giving a man super powers has never actually been explained. I've always found the whole "Superman hates magic since his powers are completely scientific and rational" angle a bit funny. There's nothing rational about any of this, lol!

Posted by Primmaster64
@Jekylhyde14 said:

@cattlebattle:

A quote from Superman in DC Comics Presents #18:

"Everything...about my super-powers follows a definite physical law. Earth's yellow sun provides me with most of my powers, because of the effect of it(s) solar radiation on my Kryptonian bio-chemistry. And Earth's lower gravity accounts for the rest of my super-abilities..."

Though, exactly what physical law accounts for different solar rays giving a man super powers has never actually been explained. I've always found the whole "Superman hates magic since his powers are completely scientific and rational" a bit funny. There's nothing rational about any of this, lol!

...COMICS EVERYONE!
Posted by cattlebattle
@Jekylhyde14: I always love the X-Men nonsense, don't get me wrong..I love the X-men but their claim to getting their powers is evolution?? Humans do evolve all the time in amazing ways but I could not figure out any reason why you would evolve force blasts out of your eyes
Posted by Jekylhyde14

@Primmaster64: LOL! Yup...

@cattlebattle said:

@Jekylhyde14: I always love the X-Men nonsense, don't get me wrong..I love the X-men but their claim to getting their powers is evolution?? Humans do evolve all the time in amazing ways but I could not figure out any reason why you would evolve force blasts out of your eyes

That's another reason why I was intrigued by the DC Comics Presents #18 explanation of magic. The Homo Magi passing magical abilities on through genetics is a lot like mutants and the "X" gene in Marvel. Writers seem to like the idea of rationalizing super or magical abilities through genetics. It's like they'll lean on any scientific theory in hopes that it makes the ideas realistic enough to be digested by mature audiences.

Posted by Primmaster64
@Jekylhyde14: You realize you have too much time in you're hands when you are deflowering a comicbook...LOL. Overthinking might cause you fanboyism.
Posted by cattlebattle
@Jekylhyde14 said:


That's another reason why I was intrigued by the DC Comics Presents #18 explanation of magic. The Homo Magi passing magical abilities on through genetics is a lot like mutants and the "X" gene in Marvel. Writers seem to like the idea of rationalizing super or magical abilities through genetics. It's like they'll lean on any scientific theory in hopes that it makes the ideas realistic enough to be digested by mature audiences.

well magic is sometimes described as manipulation of mystical forces......so it could be described as a inherent physical ability
Posted by Jekylhyde14

@Primmaster64 said:

@Jekylhyde14: You realize you have too much time in you're hands when you are deflowering a comicbook...LOL. Overthinking might cause you fanboyism.

Lol, I'm in my late twenties and over-think....well...damn near everything. If my fanboyism hasn't died yet then I'm not sure what it'll take to kill it. I actually like the fact that comic books stray so far from reality and really enjoy all the different ways they try to rationalize them anyway. It's a unique charm of the superhero genre and is very funny.

Posted by Primmaster64
@Jekylhyde14: Too bad they are trying to make comics....''relatable''
Posted by Jekylhyde14

@Primmaster64 said:

@Jekylhyde14: Too bad they are trying to make comics....''relatable''

Yeah... It's really just a case of the industry focusing on the wrong things. If someone is going to complain about a story because it wasn't "realistic" enough, there's usually no amount of scientific stretching or pandering that's going to satisfy them. Some people will just keep complaining about "realism" while reading literature that's generally considered "escapism." Comic companies should stop worrying about those readers and concentrate on just telling solid, thoughtful stories. If you tell a good, intelligent story then most readers aren't going to care if you break a law of physics or two. One of the most beautiful flaws of fiction, in general, is that it can never perfectly simulate reality. Why bother killing yourself over trying?

Posted by Primmaster64
@Jekylhyde14: I don't read comics to find a world where realistic things happen. If I wanted that I'd watch the news channel. I go to read sci-Fi or Fantasy things....But I do have 1 rule..You die, you stay dead.
Posted by Jekylhyde14

@Primmaster64 said:

@Jekylhyde14: I don't read comics to find a world where realistic things happen. If I wanted that I'd watch the news channel. I go to read sci-Fi or Fantasy things....But I do have 1 rule..You die, you stay dead.

Lol, man, I'm sorry... That's the rule they break the most.

Posted by Primmaster64
@Jekylhyde14: Ugh...I know.