There are many versions of Kryptonite in DC comics, most of which have some sort of effect – good or bad – on Superman, non-Kryptonian humanoids, and other beings. However, one of the rarest versions – and among the most dangerous for the Man of Steel – is Gold Kryptonite. So, what does Gold Kryptonite do to Superman to make it that dangerous?
Gold Kryptonite has the ability to permanently strip a Kryptonian of their powers, essentially making Superman just a regular man. In some instances, the effects were also irreversible. Gold Kryptonite is dangerous for Supes and Kryptonians but does not affect others.
There are several versions of Gold K that appeared in comics throughout the years. However, the effects are simply too strong and too irreversible, so the writers used it in comics very rarely, despite the fact that it has been around since 1962. Let’s dive deep into the history of Gold Kryptonite, its effects, and alternative versions from other media.
What is Gold Kryptonite?
Just like almost every other non-artificial type of Kryptonite, Gold Kryptonite originated on Superman’s destroyed planet, Krypton. The shards of the planet were scattered around the universe, and they aren’t really easy to find. Gold Kryptonite might be the rarest type of the stone in existence.
It first appeared in Adventure Comics #299 in August 1962, although it was an imaginary tale revolving around Superboy. He stumbled across a meteor he thought was beautiful but was dumbfounded since he had never encountered a golden meteor before. Little did he know, it was actually Gold Kryptonite and could’ve had dire consequences for Superboy.
Theory suggests that you can get Gold Kryptonite by exposing Green or Red K to a large amount of atomic, nuclear radiation. It turns the Kryptonite into Gold K and gives it a deadly new effect. It still doesn’t affect humans or other non-Kryptonian beings whatsoever, but what it does to Superman? Well, it might be even worse than Green Kryptonite.
What does Gold Kryptonite do to Superman?
As I’ve already mentioned, Gold Kryptonite might be the most dangerous type of K-stone for Superman, Superboy, and other Kryptonians. Gold K permanently (and often irreversibly) strips Superman of his powers. That means, if Superman is exposed to Gold Kryptonite for just a while, he can lose the Super and become just a man – forever.
The silver lining is that the effective radiation of Gold Kryptonite is quite small. Depending on the size of the rock, it varies from a few inches to a few feet. Also, the effects don’t take place instantly. It takes some time for the powers to disappear, and it usually takes a longer exposure for the effects to be permanent.
It’s unclear how Gold Kryptonite works exactly, but it’s theorized that it destroyed a Kryptonian’s ability to absorb the yellow sun radiation in their cells, essentially making them a regular human.
Due to the permanent effects of Gold Kryptonite, writers soon realized it’s too powerful of a plot device that can essentially destroy several decades’ worth of stories in DC comics. So, they either chose not to use it or changed its effects. Let’s see how Gold K “evolved” over the years and in different media.
Alternative versions of Gold Kryptonite
Pre-Crisis Gold Kryptonite
As I’ve mentioned, the first time Gold Kryptonite appeared was back in 1962, in an imaginary story about Superboy traveling through space and stumbling upon a “golden meteor,” not even knowing it was Gold Kryptonite. The story was imaginary – but Gold Kryptonite wasn’t.
Later, in World’s Finest #159, we learn that Gold K has an effective range of only two feet and has the power to strip Kryptonians of their powers permanently.
As I’ve mentioned, it was never explicitly stated how it works, but it definitely changes something in their DNA or genome because we’ve seen Kryptonians who were stripped of their powers with Gold K have kids, and the kids didn’t have powers, too.
In Superman #157, we learn that the effects can also erase a Kryptonian’s memory. An antidote was once introduced that negated the effects of Gold K, giving Kryptonians their powers back, but the effects of the antidote were temporary.
Post-Crisis Gold Kryptonite
In the Post-Crisis comics, Gold Kryptonite had similar effects but could only affect those who came from the same reality and the same universe. In Action Comics #591, Krypto wanted to sacrifice himself to save Superman by lunging at Gold K, but it didn’t affect his powers because the stone came from a Pocket Universe.
Then there was a new version of specialized Gold K in Action Comics #822-823 that had entirely different effects. Instead of stripping Supes of his powers immediately, it caused him to age at an accelerated rate and lost his powers one by one the longer he was exposed.
In Action Comics Annual #11, Lex Luthor developed an artificial Gold Kryptonite stone that had a limited range of only a few yards but stripped superman of his powers immediately. However, the effects were only temporary and disappeared shortly after the exposure ended.
Smallville Gold Kryptonite
In the TV series Smallville, Gold Kryptonite was extremely rare and had very similar effects to its comic book counterpart. Darkseid tried using it as a weapon against Clark Kent by forging his wedding ring out of Gold Kryptonite instead of regular gold. It’s unclear how long it would take, but it would eventually strip Clark of his powers completely.
It was stopped before he put it on his finger though, so Darkseid’s plan fell through. That being said, we’ve seen Clark Luthor have a huge scare on his arm from Gold Kryptonite exposure, but he still had his powers, saying it would take a bit longer for the power loss to be permanent. So, wouldn’t Clark notice the ring giving him a scare and instantly take it off? We’ll never know.
Anyway, we know that this version of Gold Kryptonite does damage a Kryptonian’s cells, preventing the processing of yellow sunlight – meaning losing power.
Super Friends Gold Kryptonite
In Super Friends episode Darkseid’s Golden Trap, there’s only one piece of Gold K in the entire universe, and Darkseid steals it. He wants to use it on Supes, but Batman tricks him, disguising himself as Superman and having Firestorm destroy the rock.
Finally, I HAVE to mention Orange Kryptonite here, although it’s technically not Gold Kryptonite. This version of K-stone affected only animals – in a way that gives them Kryptonian superpowers. It only existed in Krypto the Superdog’s universe, but it gave a ton of animals superpowers – including a whole bunch of menacing kitties. I loved every second of it!
Can the effects of Gold Kryptonite be reversed?
Pre-Crisis, there was no way to reverse the effects of Gold Kryptonite- they were permanent, and you could do nothing. Then, a temporary cure was found that only lasted for a short while before the powers disappeared again.
However, in later Post-Crisis comics, writers abandoned the notion of “permanent” power loss from Gold K. Even if that was the case, the notion suggests that when a Kryptonian touches Gold Kryptonite, it strips them of their powers, essentially making them a regular human.
Well then, all that Superman had to do was to find some Platinum Kryptonite (I know, it’s almost impossible to find, but it’s not completely impossible), touch it, and his powers would be restored.
As for the good old ‘lead negates Kryptonite effects,’ I’m not sure if it would work on Gold Kryptonite. Like, if Superman was in a lead suit, could he touch Gold K? It was never explicitly stated, but it works with almost every other type of Kryptonite – including Red and Green K, from which Gold K is derived from – so I’m guessing it could work on Gold Kryptonite as well.