DC Universe Classics Superman Red and Superman Blue

Pictured below are two Superman figures from Wave 2 of the popular DC Universe Classics line from Mattel: Superman Red and Superman Blue.

Superman Red and Superman Blue first appeared in an “imaginary story” published in Superman #162. In that tale, Superman decides to increase his intelligence to better accomplish his life goals and invents a Kryptonite-powered machine in order to do it. The machine works, but as a side effect of the treatment, Superman is split into two beings: Superman Red and Superman Blue. The two Supermen go on to solve most of the world’s problems by inventing a ray that cures evil, and enlarging Kandor and building a New Krypton for the Kandorians. In the story, the two Supermen also solve the Lois Lane/Lana Lang/Superman love triangle, with Superman Blue marrying Lana and Superman Red marrying Lois and moving to New Krypton, sacrificing his powers.

These two figures are based on the later version of Superman Red and Superman Blue which appeared during the tail end of the 1990. In that version, Superman was transformed into “Electric Blue” Superman, a super-being with electrical based powers. This transformation took place a few years after the runaway success of the Death of Superman storyline, which captured a lot of media attention and drove some of the biggest sales of Superman comics. By 1998, sales were back down again, so the cynic in me thinks the “Electric Blue” stories were an attempt to recapture media attention to drive sales again. Ultimately, “Electric Blue” Superman was a failure along the lines of New Coke, so a few months later, in the last “Electric Blue” Superman story, Cyborg Superman traps “Electric Blue” Superman, splitting him into two beings: one more cerebral and thoughtful (Superman Blue) and one more rash and prone to action (Superman Red). After a battle, the two are inexplicably merged back into Superman with his regular red, blue, and yellow costume and normal powers.

Though they haven’t really appeared in comics since the 1990s, Superman Blue and Superman Red make sense from a practical toy-making perspective, because a company can use the same tooling and just change the paint application to create two different characters. Superman Blue and Superman Red also appeared as variants in the Justice League Unlimited line, though those two wore the 1960s costume versions.

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