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Comic Book / The Amazing Story of Superman Red and Superman Blue

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Superman: We're identical except for our costumes! To avoid confusion, I'll call myself Superman-Blue.
Superman: And I'll be Superman-Red! Two heads are better than one! We'll use our super-brains to solve all our problems!
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The Amazing Story of Superman Red and Superman Blue -also known as Superman Red and Blue- is a Superman story published in Superman (Volume 1) #162 (July 1963). Initially an Imaginary Story, it was eventually rebranded as an alternate tale set in Earth-162. The story was written by Leo Dorfman and illustrated by Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger.

Superman is informed that the Kandorians are disappointed at his inability to live up to any of his promises after so many years: he has been incapable of eradicating crime, finding a cure for Kryptonite, un-shrinking Kandor… hence, they are proposing a deal: if he is unable to fulfil his oaths within six months, he will swap places with one Kandorian.

Feeling ashamed, Superman agrees to their request. Then he decides to test an intelligence-increasing device called the "brain evolution machine", reasoning that a bigger brain will let him figure out a solution. Since the machine is an untested prototype, Supergirl wants to test it first, but Superman insists that he cannot allow her to risk her life for him.

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The brain evolution machine successfully increases Superman's mental power one hundred times, but it has an unexpected effect: Superman is split into two twins, each one hundred times smarter than the original Superman.

Despite its out-of-main-continuity status, Superman Red and Blue became a pretty influential story in the Superman mythos, being repeatedly reimagined -most famously in the late 90's- and referenced through the decades.


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Tropes:

  • Alliterative Name: Both Supermen are nicknamed "the Titanic Twins".
  • Babies Ever After: At the end of the story, Superman Red and Lois Lane have twins. Likewise, Superman Blue and Lana Lang have two children together.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Superman decides the best way to eradicate crime is building a giant brainwashing machine. Supergirl then releases the Phantom Zone inmates so they can also be brainwashed into becoming good people.
  • But Now I Must Go: After eradicating crime across the world and restoring Krypton, Superman Red, Lois and Supergirl move to New Krypton. Superman Blue stays on Earth, but he retires.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Superman Blue gets married to his childhood crush Lana Lang.
  • Complexity Addiction: Red and Blue decide they should finally reveal their identities to Lois and Lana and get married. In order to decide who will propose who, they wield two giant steel "L"s, fly to the Himalayas and stand on a mountaintop, waiting for one storm approaching and one lightning bolt striking one giant letter. It is only after their method fails that Blue mentions he is still in love with Lana and Red admits he has fallen for Lois.
  • Evil Twin: Invoked. Both Supermen bring up one previous instance where Superman got split into a good twin and a bad one, but they clarify that neither of them is evil.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: Nearly every decade since 1963, someone writes a "Superman is split into two twins" story: Two for the Death of One (1983), Superman Red/Blue (1997), Superman Reborn (2017) …
  • Genesis Effect: The two Supermen manage to build a new Krypton for the enlarged Kandorians to inhabit.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Although Superman Red has moved on to Lois, Superman Blue is still in love with his red-haired childhood crush Lana Lang and gets married to her.
  • High-School Sweethearts: Lana had been pinning for Clark since he was Superboy, and she ends up married to him.
  • Kryptonite Is Everywhere: Inverted. Red and Blue find a way to find, gather and neutralize all Kryptonite in the galaxy.
  • Literal Split Personality: Superman gets split into two beings: Superman Blue, who feels more comfortable among Earth people and keeps pining for Lana, and Superman Red, who longs for Krypton and has fallen for Lois.
  • Marry Them All: Variant. Superman is split into red and blue versions of himself, allowing one of them to marry Lois and the other to marry Lana.
  • More Expendable Than You: Kara tries to convince her cousin to let her take his place, since the world cannot afford to lose its greatest hero, but Superman argues he cannot allow her to risk herself for him.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: A central theme. After being shamed for having failed at having a real impact on Earth and Kandor's people, Superman tries to live up to his promises. Both Supermen use advanced technology to eradicate crime and restore Krypton. Then Superman Blue declares he will devote his life to the advancement of science while his Superman Robots take care of natural disasters.
  • The Reveal Prompts Romance: Red and Blue decide they should finally be honest with the women they love, so they reveal their secret identity to Lois Lane and Lana Lang, respectively— shortly after, they hold a triple wedding together with Jimmy Olsen and Lucy Lane.
  • Retired Badass: Superman Blue announces his retirement from superheroics and becomes a scientist.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Superman Red and Blue's sons look exactly like young Clark Kents. Lois and Lana's daughters are the spitting image of their respective mothers.
  • Undying Loyalty: Lois notices Superman Red is not happy living on Earth, despite his protesting otherwise. So, she declares one day they are moving to New Krypton, no questions asked. Clark is so shocked he wonders what he has done to deserve that kind of love.
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: Supergirl wants to be the first person to try the "brain-evolution machine" in case that something goes wrong, but Superman insists that he must be the one who will take the risk. So Superman tries the machine, and it indeed increases his intelligence... but it also has the unexpected and surprising effect of splitting him into two twin Supermen.
  • Weddings for Everyone: Superman Red and Lois, Superman Blue and Lana, and Jimmy Olsen and Lucy Lane hold a triple wedding.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Downplayed when the Kandorians chide Superman for being unable to live up to his role.


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