Fortress of Solitude

From Academic Kids

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Superman187.JPG
The Silver Age Fortress of Solitude, from Superman #187 (June 1966). Art by Curt Swan and George Klein.

The Fortress of Solitude is the occasional headquarters of Superman in DC Comics. Its predecessor, Superman's "Secret Citadel", first appeared in Superman #17, where it was said to be built into a mountain on the outskirts of Metropolis. However, the formal introduction of the Fortress took place in the story "The Super-Key To Fort Superman," published in Action Comics #241 in 1958.

Traditionally, the Fortress of Solitude is located in the Arctic; more recent versions of the Fortress have placed it in other locations, including the Antarctic and the Andes mountains.

The general public in Superman's world is at best only vaguely aware of the existence of the Fortress, with its location kept secret from all but Superman's closest friends and allies (such as Batman and Lois Lane).

A trademark of the Fortress is that it contains a memorial statue of Jor-El and Lara, Superman's Kryptonian parents, holding a large globe of Krypton.

The name and original location of the Fortress were most likely inspired by Doc Savage's Fortress of Solitude.

Contents

Original version

The original Silver Age Fortress, first appearing in 1958, was located in the Arctic, and built into the side of a steep cliff. The Fortress was accessible through a large gold-colored door with a giant keyhole, which required an enormous key to open it. The arrow-shaped key was so large that only Superman (or another Kryptonian such as Supergirl) could lift it; when not in use, the key sat on a perch outside of the Fortress, where it appeared to be an aircraft path marker.

The Fortress contained an alien zoo, a giant steel diary (which Superman wrote in using his heat vision), a chess-playing robot, specialized exercise equipment, a laboratory, a computer, communications equipment, and rooms dedicated to all of his friends. As the stories continued, it was revealed that the Fortress was where Superman's robot duplicates were stored. It also contained the Phantom Zone projector, various pieces of alien technology he had acquired on visits to other worlds, and, much like the Batcave, trophies of his past adventures. Indeed, the Batcave and Batman himself made an appearance in the first Fortress story.

The Fortress also became the home of the bottle city of Kandor (until it was enlarged), and an apartment in the Fortress was set aside for Supergirl.

One noteworthy appearance of this version of the Fortress was in 1985's Superman Annual #11, in which it served as the site for a battle between Superman, Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman against the supervillain Mongul.

This version of the Fortress made its last appearance in the 1986 non-canonical (or "imaginary") story "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?," appearing in Action Comics #583 and Superman #423.

Modern version

In John Byrne's 1986 Man Of Steel miniseries, which rewrote various aspects of the Superman mythos, the Clark Kent persona was described as a "Fortress of Solitude", in that it allowed him to live as the ordinary person he saw himself as, and leave the world-famous superhero behind. This concept was often invoked in later stories, with one story even featuring Superman hiding his secret identity from a telepath behind a door identical to that of the pre-Crisis Fortress. By that time, however, a more physical Fortress had been introduced.

The new Fortress of Solitude, from  #217 ( ).  Art by .
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The new Fortress of Solitude, from Superman #217 (July 2005). Art by Ed Benes.

In Action Comics Annual #2 (1989), Superman, on a self-imposed exile to space, was entrusted with a Kryptonian artifact called the Eradicator, created by his ancestor Kem-L. Dedicated to preserving Krypton, this device built a new Fortress in the Antarctic as a precursor to recreating Krypton on Earth. Superman broke the Eradicator's control, but maintained the Fortress as a useful location for emergencies. It contained many artifacts from the post-Crisis version of Krypton, most notably a number of robot servitors (one of whom, Kelex, became a trusted confidant) and a battlesuit from the Third Age of Krypton.

This Fortress was cast into the Phantom Zone as a result of a battle between Superman, Lex Luthor and Dominus, a villain who played with Superman's mind and who was also trapped in the Zone. It did, however, serve as the template for the next Fortress, built into an extradimensional space accessed through a vast puzzle-globe. The now-mobile Fortress was relocated somewhere in the Andes.

During the "For Tomorrow" story arc in 2004-2005 Superman comics, Wonder Woman breached the Fortress in an attempt to confront Superman. The Fortress then self-destructed. Superman has since established a new Fortress in an ancient temple on a remote village in Peru.

The current Fortress is home to Krypto and his dog-sitter "Ned" (the last remaining Superman robot), and contains the current version of Kandor, a portal to the Phantom Zone, Kryptonian and alien artifacts, and holographic images of Jor-El and Lara. The caretaker of the Fortress is Kelex, a Kryptonian robot that is a descendant of the robot that served Jor-El.

Other media

The Fortress was also used in the mid-1990s television cartoon Superman: The Animated Series, where it was located underneath the Arctic ice; access was gained by diving into the Arctic water and emerging in an opening inside the Fortress. This version contained an alien zoo and some computer equipment, along with a Brainiac information sphere used by Superman for accessing information about Krypton.

Cultural references

The television program Saturday Night Live's Ambiguously Gay Duo have a secret "Fortress of Privacy", a clear parody of the Fortress of Solitude.

The Fortress of Solitude is a 2003 book by Jonathan Lethem.

External links

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