» Comics / Reviews / Neil deGrasse Tyson Meets Superman

Neil deGrasse Tyson Meets Superman

The kickass celebrity scientist exists in the DCnU and helps the Man of Steel be sad about Krypton.

Action Comics #14

If you are in any way progressive or intellectual, you likely know the name of Neil deGrasse Tyson. One of the few scientists that's also managed to be a celebrity thanks to spirited and funny appearances on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, among other shows – not to mention being one of the most visible pro-science voices against the frustrating and inexplicable tide of anti-intelligence sentiment among the American right wing – his name has graced many a meme throughout social media. Now, thanks to Sholly Fisch and Chris Sprouse, Tyson can add one more achievement to his resume – helping Superman locate and see his home planet of Krypton, even though it's long dead.

Both of the stories in Action Comics #14 are focused on bringing that crazy Silver Age scientific genius to the New 52 version of Superman, whom we thought was going to be de-powered and more humanized with this relaunch. This is apparently not the case, since in Scott Lobdell's Superman, he bench pressed the Earth for five days, and in Grant Morrison's lead story here, he hears a call for help on Mars and busts out a dissertation on dimensional physics that allows him to defeat a horde of ravenous monster angels.  There is no way that is not a metaphor for science trumping religion with logic and evidence over faith and nuh-uhs.

The backup story belongs to Fisch, and the one-two punch of the Go Science team has the entire astrophysics community of Earth, the spokesperson for which is Dr. Tyson, banding together to help Superman out of gratitude for all the times he's saved Earth. What are they helping him do? Locate the last light of Krypton.

Since it takes 27 light years for the light of Krypton to reach Earth, and Kal-El arrived earlier thanks to a wormhole, Superman's super-brain helps process all the data fast enough that he can actually see the explosion of his home planet as that image finally reaches our world. A fun story which ends on a sad note.

The kicker is that, apparently, Dr. Tyson has actually located a solar system where Krypton could have existed, and thus, Krypton kinda-sorta has a real place on the star maps – specifically, near a red dwarf star in the constellation Corvus designated LHS 2520. "“As a native of Metropolis, I was delighted to help Superman, who has done so much for my city over all these years," Tyson actually said in real life.  "And it’s clear that if he weren’t a superhero he would have made quite an astrophysicist.”

That much is true. For those who were concerned about all the changes of the New 52, the Superman of the DC Universe is still very much the cosmically megapowered impossible-genius-but-apparently-not-as-smart-as-Batman-for-some-reason he always was.

The lead story may be a bit confusing, but Action Comics #14 is a neat pro-science issue that furthers the legend of Superman as well as that of Dr. Tyson.

8