Questioning Superman's Muscularity - 1968

So, what does Action Comics 362 - 1968 (top left) have in common with Superman 13 - 2012 (top right)?

Well, as far as story content, nothing. But if we take a deeper look at the "Metropolis Mailbag" from that fateful issue back in 1968 (3rd and 4th images), we will find the following letter to the editor:

Dear Editor:

"Bulging biceps! I'm an amateur weight-lifter, and I think Superman can use some more muscularity. Couldn't he make a machine to duplicate a red sun's light so he could work out under its rays, and, not being invulnerable, build up his body by weight-lifting? It's my theory that if he did this, he could increase his size, strength, and muscularity."

- Carl Joy, Silver Creek, N.Y.

With the following reply from the editor:

"(Straining sinews! You're the first person who ever suggested that our super-specimen of breath-taking brawn wasn't muscular enough! Besides, when a guy can push planets around, how much more strength does he need?-Ed.)"

Who was this curious lad, questioning Superman's muscularity?!

My Dad, at 14 Years Old!

I have added some supporting pages from Superman 13 (2012) so you can see a bit more about the situation that our "super-specimen" is in these days...

A quick couple of quotes from Superman 13, Page 1:

"If it were possible to put the Earth on a scale--

--the planet would weigh in at 5,972 sextillion metric tons.

You have been essentially bench-pressing that for five days, Superman."

- Shay Veritas

Who is Shay Veritas?

"A scientific genius and consultant/confidante to Superman. Dr. Veritas created 'The Block', a facility near the center of the Earth and the only place where Superman can physically train and actually see results."

What is "The Block"?

"A subterranean training facility run by Dr. Shay Veritas, where Superman can train physically."

(answers for the two questions above quoted from their respective CV wiki pages)

So, I ask you, when was the concept of "The Block" really invented? Who was the first to question Superman's muscularity?

My Dad, at 14 Years Old! :D

enJOY!

62 Comments
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Posted by TheAcidSkull

AWESOME!

Edited by Aiden Cross

Ha! That's great ;)

Posted by johnkmccubbin91

Brilliant, very interesting.

Edited by Betatesthighlander1

that was a pretty awesome story you had there

Posted by tomlikesfries

Ha, that's awesome!

Online
Posted by comicace3

Pretty kewl

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Posted by Raw_Material

Lol, this is great!

Posted by blkson

This is why I love comics. Cool story man!

Posted by sora_thekey

Love it!

Posted by Arkhamc1tizen

Pretty cool

Posted by TheManInTheShoe

Nicely done, way to research.

Posted by RustyRoy

Cool!

Edited by PowerHerc

Very cool.

Your Dad was a visionary!

Posted by blackadamFTW

This is actually a really cool story! Thanks for sharing! (:

Posted by thanosrules

:) Thanks everyone!

I just was blown away at how his 45 year old idea fit so well with the current story-line's "The Block" concept. It was a really wonderful coincidence.

Even more so, was the experience of actually happening upon the issue when he and I were going through all his old comics... to randomly find the comic, and then the actual letter -- was unbelievable.

Again, thanks to everyone for their kind words. It is an honor to share such a neat story here on ComicVine!

Posted by guttridgeb

That's awesome.

Posted by Moby

LOL. Great

Posted by PowerWoman

Oh..superman more and more stronger?

Posted by Press Oblivion

interesting!

Edited by etragedy

I've always thought muscles on Superman were kind of redundant.

He's an alien, his super strength comes from the yellow sun and weak gravity of Earth,

not

because he spends hours a day powerlifting in a gym. In fact, given that there are few things on earth to actually challenge his strength, his muscles would probably even atrophy.

Mark Buckingham's version of Miracleman was much more like I'd expect for Superman's body type to be.

But - muscles are traditional, and what we think of for Superman, so I'm O.K. with the way he's typically drawn, as long as they don't get too crazy with it.

Cool story about your dad, though.

Posted by WildeSloth

The apple don't fell far from the tree, give my regards to your dad.

Posted by Vitality

My character Vitality has superhuman strength and is not "bodybuilder-like" because his muscles are vastly more efficient.

I always hated when superman would be depicted as a bodybuilder...and let's not even get started on Batman being shown that way.

Posted by GunGunW

Cool!

Posted by Hawkguy

@vitality: wait, why not Batman? He does lift weights, exercise and obviously has an abundant amount of cardiovascular activity. He would have to get stronger to fight villains such as Bain as well. The only thing that doesn't make sense is the fact that he doesn't eat enough to be able to stay as big as he is.

That aside, I thought this was awesome!

Posted by thespideyguy

This is cool.

Edited by Vitality

@hawkguy said:

@vitality: wait, why not Batman? He does lift weights, exercise and obviously has an abundant amount of cardiovascular activity. He would have to get stronger to fight villains such as Bain as well. The only thing that doesn't make sense is the fact that he doesn't eat enough to be able to stay as big as he is.

That aside, I thought this was awesome!

For someone to truly be as in shape as Batman is said to be...they would have lean, ripcord-like muscles.

If Batman was real...and it was someone with a body-builder physique...they would get tired...very quickly...with all the oxygen that needs to go to the muscles.

Being a body-builder and being in top physical shape are two very different things.

Example: Just look at MMA athletes compared to WWE stars.

Batman would, and should, more closely resemble a MMA athlete...not a WWE star.

Posted by Hawkguy

@vitality: And again, why is it not possible? I know plenty of bodybuilders and have watched plenty of documentaries about bodybuilding. If they train enough, they can run for extended periods of time, and some are even as flexible as gymnasts. Why can't he be built like a WWE star? You think they don't have tremendous cardiovascular strain in the ring? Look at John Cena, Batista, Triple H, The Rock, they're huge yet maintain a ripped physique by sweating buckets during their fights (shows).

Bottom line is, you can be big and have a solid endurance if you train, which again, is all Batman really does.

Edited by SylentEcho

Hey, I've got that issue and even read that letter once long back.

Posted by PowerWoman

the woman have some muscle and strength!

Posted by GeekOfKrypton

Good Article! I guess we all know that Superman's powers namely his strength do not come from his biceps but the rays of a yellow sun. So any Kryptonian, even one that is 90 years old if under the yellow sun would be able to do the same things Kal-El can. So size for a Kryptonian does not matter as longs as they are under the yellow sun.

Edited by Chibio

@hawkguy said:

@vitality: And again, why is it not possible? I know plenty of bodybuilders and have watched plenty of documentaries about bodybuilding. If they train enough, they can run for extended periods of time, and some are even as flexible as gymnasts. Why can't he be built like a WWE star? You think they don't have tremendous cardiovascular strain in the ring? Look at John Cena, Batista, Triple H, The Rock, they're huge yet maintain a ripped physique by sweating buckets during their fights (shows).

Bottom line is, you can be big and have a solid endurance if you train, which again, is all Batman really does.

Because having a lot of muscles in your body wears you out quickly.

I've been lifting weights for 5 years now and I'm a pretty damn muscular guy. Stairs are my kryptonite by now and so is overall cardio, because my muscles require more oxygen than it was the case before.

The way Batman is built nowdays.. he shouldn't be able to do the things he does. Of course, it's a comic where they can make a 10 year old defeat a bunch of grown up men who are wielding AK 47s and so on, but realisticly speaking Batman should look nothing like a bodybuilder, but more so like the average MMA fighter (Dos Santos, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Rashad Evans). They all have strenght and muscle, but it's your typical muscles that come through training. Having Batmans physique comes through a lot of steroids, heavy, heavy, heavy weights, proper nutrition and a lot of rest. And Batman is someone who rarely ever sleeps.

Just doesn't make any sense.

Edit: Oh and to the article: I always thought that Supermans strenght comes through his mental powers, which were hinted out, when he was lifting large objects, which did not collide under their own weight, which should actually happen. But since they don't everyone believes that characters like Superman, Captain Marvel, Sentry, Gladiator, Silver Surfer and so on either hold them together by telekinetic powers, matter manipulation, reality warping or what ever.

Posted by Hawkguy

@chibio: We can't go and compare Batman to ourselves, in comics, he's considered "peak human", which means he has top genetics and probably does use something to aid himself, he has to.

I've seen massive guys at the gym pumping out HIIT sets and long lengths of time on ellipticals and treadmills.

But you're right, at the end of the day its still a comic, and any sort of exaggeration is done for the "wow" factor.

Posted by HereComesTheBoom_Headshot

And now all you dad needs to do is copyright that idea with that letter of proof, and The Block shall be his. And when he passes, you become the heir. I kid, I kid. Neat story, by the way.

Posted by ChadVader

I think we can assume that Superman is an above average athlete compared to other Kryptonians because of his musculature. However, even without the Block, Superman is constantly fighting super strong bad guys and rescuing people from natural disasters. He is very active. This helps him stay in shape.

Posted by tobyxtremegamer

OMG

Edited by red_titan

Krypton's gravity is super strong, why space travel for them was difficult. (excluding Clark's ship because it was small and fast enough to fight the gravity of Krypton) So, assuming this is still true then the entire Kryptonian race should be adapted to the gravity of their home world. So it has very little to do with muscle mass.

Posted by Durakken

The muscles we see on characters today isn't realistic which was the idea behind your Dad saying that Superman should be more muscular.

There are 2 types of body builders, People who focus on strength and those who focus on accentuating muscles. While admittedly the latter is decently strong they are not in the same league as those who work on strength. People who work on strength are more bulky, heavy, and fat looking, more like Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin from Spiderman or as a real life example Mark Henry a wrestler who was world's strongest man at one time.

As for the block, the suggestion was to use a red sun simulation to lower Superman's power level and allow him to build up muscle and train under normal conditions causing him to be that much stronger when repowered by the yellow sun. This however isn't what's happening in the block. Shay is using the Earth's core and some physics to provide fully power Superman with something to workout on, not so much to work out, but to measure his strength. The idea however to depower superman to train him to make him stronger is an interesting idea however though whether it would work or not and whether it'd make a difference or not is up to how you think his powers operate.

Edited by Terrific_T

That is flippin' awesome!! Does your dad still read comics? :)

Edited by redhood21

thats crazy! so he's responsible for the "he-man effect" where heroes got huge as time when on

Posted by thanosrules

@terrific_t: : Thanks. Nah, he doesn't read comics any more...though, he did try out Walking Dead for a while. He is still a big fan of Sci-Fi and Comic Book movies though. :)

Edited by Cozmicaztaway

Cool, I was thinking about this a few weeks back. I mean, if Supes didn't work out and had to fight another Kryptonian that did, who'd have the strength edge? But now we know

Edited by MajesticSuperMiracleHyperionTheTitanGladiator

i hate public forums and am no longer here.

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