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Author Topic: Did Superman invent laser-eye surgery?  (Read 7574 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: January 21, 2007, 07:38:51 AM »

One thing I really enjoy about Superman in the Bronze and Silver Ages is, not only was it breathtaking to see there was really nothing he couldn't do, but also the idea that everything to Superboy was just a problem that had a solution. All anything required to get solved was a combination of limitless power, intelligence, and American pluck.

You can't tell Superman "it can't be done." Because he'll respond, "Oh yeah? Give me a three-panel montage sequence and we'll SEE about THAT!"

i direct your attention to SUPERBOY #184 (1972) by Leo Dorfman.

In this story, a group of "witches" using advanced technology try to convince Superboy that each superfeat causes him to take a step closer and closer to death thanks to an evil mirror. A "gypsy woman" pretends to "die" and then with her dying breath curses that every superfeat brings him closer to death.

The story isn't a very good one. For one thing, the techno-witches' master plan of a mirror driving Superboy mad is as wonky as it is horrific. Superboy's super-mind is made of pretty stern stuff; he shouldn't go crazy because of some weird Twilight Zone mirror. Also...it would not be possible to fake your death around Superboy because his super-hearing could detect whether your heart is beating or not. And finally, shouldn't his X-Ray and Spectrum Vision detect any electronics in a mirror? And plus, the way Superboy detects the presence of the witches is because "the feedback of super-energy REVERSED the circuits, turning the photon mirror into a SCANNER!" (huh?)

But what's interesting is, when the witch Lucia tries to "save" Superboy because he's too "handsome and intelligent," she is blinded in the attempt (and Bob Brown uses the old comics shorthand of having her eyes turn white to represent it). Not to worry, though, Superboy to the rescue!

Superboy drops the girl off at an eye surgeon who is "doing advanced research on repairing optical injuries!"

The doctor tells the Boy of Steel that "to repair the damaged retinas, I'll need a laser beam with microscopic controls! But no such device has been invented!"

Superboy's response? "Give me 24 hours, and I'll have the answer for you, Doctor!"

"The next day, Superboy creates a landmark in surgical history..."

The doctor says: "Terrific, Superboy! By combining your microscopic and heat vision powers, you invented a light beam scalpel that can repair Lucia's blindness!"

And the picture of the actual unit is similar to the fiberoptic tubes and pins that are actually USED for laser-eye surgery!

In case you're wondering, the operation is a complete success, of course. This was the kind of story where good people don't have bad things happen to them.

So...Superman invented laser-eye surgery? WOW.  Shocked  Shocked  Shocked

A few other oddities in this particular issue:

The tail end of the book was pretty awesome. "By all the powers of our master, Satan, we'll exterminate Superboy someday!"

When the Senior Citizens Club enters the paddleboat, Lana Lang says, with excitement,  "Look Clark, the Senior Citizens Club of Smallville is aboard, too!" This was a very subtle piece of characterization here; most teenagers are uncomfortable with seniors. Lana, though...she strikes you as the kind of bubbly type that does volunteer work at the Seniors Center and spends her time teaching retarded kids to play baseball.

Also, for a guy that's not Lana's boyfriend, who is too much of a spaz to be a serious romantic prospect...Lana and Clark seem to go out an awful lot. If I saw a guy and a girl on a riverboat together, I'd assume they were dating. Maybe their relationship is in that weird, confusing netherlimbo where even the people involved in the relationship aren't sure if it was a date or just friends going out. The kind that afterward, you get an unclear, noncommittal email from the other person saying "I had a good time. Let's hang out next week."
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2007, 09:18:37 AM »

It sounds like he did invent the apparatus, at least on Earth-1.  Science fiction had dealt with it before then, I think.  As had Earth Prime scientists.

I would say Lana and Clark did date.  But they were also friends (practically best friends) and neighbours, as well as schoolmates.  They took trips together as well, along with Lana's dad, Prof. Lang.

Lois and Jimmy may have a monopoly on the adult Superman's time, but Lana has known him the longest and they have the most shared history.  I exclude Pete Ross since he really didn't know Clark as an adult.
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jamespup
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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2007, 04:19:33 PM »

The scientists and doctors who made it practical are the ones who invented it.

Does having the idea count?  I'm reminded of the AliG line, where he says that when Play Station One came out, he said....what would be great, would be this, but better.....therefore claiming to have invented PlayStation Two
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2007, 08:02:18 PM »

The doctor says: "Terrific, Superboy! By combining your microscopic and heat vision powers, you invented a light beam scalpel that can repair Lucia's blindness!"

And the picture of the actual unit is similar to the fiberoptic tubes and pins that are actually USED for laser-eye surgery!
Of course, the modern reader doesn't think of heat vision as anything but "laser beams', even though the actual effect started out as artistic for the reader, not so much visible to the other characters. 

In the later 70s/early 80s, Superman uses heat vision in conjuction with just a couple of diamonds he whipped up to cure blindness from some guy in the woods he encountered in recovering from an encounter with Braniac.  Then,  heat vision being visible for the first time (against Parasite, because he was using it with such intensity) came shortly afterwards.
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« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2007, 09:08:24 PM »

Superman is a fictional character; he doesn't do anything. "He" is just lines on paper.

The writer who wrote that story may have predicted laser-eye surgery.
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2007, 05:26:52 AM »

Your question is frivolous, but you may have something of a point.....

SF writers have often predicted advances in technology. Arthur C. Clarke directly inspired the creation of the communications satellite, but did he "invent" it?
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2007, 08:28:10 AM »

Superman is a fictional character; he doesn't do anything. "He" is just lines on paper.

You're right.  I guess we should lock all these threads --why speculate about a fictional character and his achievements?  They're not real and we shouldn't waste our time talking about stupid "lines" created by writers and artists.

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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2007, 12:46:17 AM »

Superman is a fictional character; he doesn't do anything. "He" is just lines on paper.

You're right.  I guess we should lock all these threads --why speculate about a fictional character and his achievements?  They're not real and we shouldn't waste our time talking about stupid "lines" created by writers and artists.




I was just poking fun at Julian, since the title of the thread made me laugh.
so relax... and those lines are not stupid, they are brilliant and genius! That is why we are here.
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