Warning! Spoilers for Superman and the Authority #4!
Superman brings back the long-lost white kryptonite and its lethal abilities to DC Comics in order to confront one of his oldest foes. While some of shards of Kal-El’s homeworld are toxic or lethal, white kryptonite hasn’t been seen since Superman Family #189 in 1978. This particular kryptonite makes a comeback in Superman and the Authority #4 during Superman’s struggle with the Ultra-Humanite, reminding readers of its lethality to all plant life regardless of the planet, time, or universe.
Superman and the Authority #4
In Grant Morrison and Mike Janin’s Comics, the future, elder Superman has his hands full as his newly assembled Authority faces a collection of superhumans known as the Authority. Superman awakens on the surgical table in the Bottle City of Kandor after being knocked unconscious by the latest form of the Ultra-Humanite. Despite his diminished strength, He prevents the villain from switching their brains and demonstrates that he is even prepared for his current existence in Solomon Grundy’s body. The Ultra-Humanite is blasted by a device wielded by Lois Lane, Superman’s sidekick and wife, who introduces him to White Kryptonite, a lethal space defoliant.
Superman’s History and Mythology
Grant Morrison has previously demonstrated a fondness for Superman’s history and mythology, and this trend continues in this book, which is riddled with clever Easter eggs and references to classic Superman stories. He faces an unstoppable, seemingly immortal zombie in his battle with this villain, who was his first superhuman foe. Superman, however, had ample time to set up a trap in which one of his teammates used a weapon that was actually green kryptonite to this foe, considering Grundy’s connection to plants.
Lois had reportedly spent time in Kandor conducting the study, allowing her to not only become Earth’s authority on Kryptonians, but also to understand about white kryptonite, what it does, and how to bring it back into the DC universe.
With the Ultra-Humanite debilitated, Superman can intervene and behead him, allowing Grundy to recover normally while examining the villain’s brain for clues as to how this may have happened. While this sets up Superman’s next showdown with Brainiac, the return of white kryptonite was both a clever tribute to Superman’s past and a reminder that kryptonite isn’t just a threat to him; it can also be a menace to others.