Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Kryptonite Works

Types of Kryptonite

In addition, red, white, blue and gold varieties of kryptonite, created through various means, appeared in the comic books until 1985. Click on the tabs below to see how each of these types were created and how they affected life forms.

This content is not compatible on this device.

By the 1970s, Kryptonite was everywhere -- common criminals had pieces stashed away as protection from Superman. In "Superman" #233, an experiment gone wrong transformed all of the Green Kryptonite on Earth into iron. "Superman" #255 eliminated it from the rest of the universe. But soon, the radioactive mineral was back.

The year 1985 marked a turning point for Superman, Kryptonite and the entire D.C. Comics universe, which had become a multiverse full of alternate worlds. A miniseries called "Crisis on Infinite Earths" made major changes to the comic books' reality. The miniseries is an example of retroactive continuity, or retcon. Retcon is an attempt to clean up years of comic book history and get rid of unnecessary characters, plot holes or, in this case, whole universes. These changes are retroactive -- the post-Crisis universe is not simply the way the D.C. Comics world works now; it's the way it has always worked.

In the post-Crisis reality, fewer versions of kryptonite exist, and the substance is relatively rare. Click the tabs below to see what kinds of kryptonite exist in the post-Crisis universe.

This content is not compatible on this device.

In addition to "Crisis on Infinite Earths," another recent retcon attempt is a miniseries called "Infinite Crisis," but it did not substantially affect the use or presence of kryptonite.

Check out the links on the next page to learn more about Superman, kryptonite, radioactivity and related topics.