A legendary island in the Atlantic Ocean which, according to Plato, was the site of a powerful kingdom more than 11,000 years ago before it sank to the bottom of the sea. In the Superman chronicles, Atlantis is described as a sunken city, kingdom, or continent nestled on or beneath the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, and is inconsistently portrayed either as the site of a thriving undersea civilization or as that of an extinct civilization whose inhabitants-- variously referred to as Atlanteans (WF No. 29, Jul/Aug '47: "The Books That Couldn't Be Bound!"; and others), Atlantides (S No. 139/1, Aug '60: "The New Life of Super-Merman!"; and others), and Atlantites (Act No. 285, Feb '62: "The World's Greatest Heroine!")-- have long since perished or fled (SB No. 13/1, May 1950: "The Boy From Mars").
Varying depictions of Atlantis in the Chronicles
In Superman No. 67/2, Atlantis is portrayed as the site of a thriving glass-domed subsea kingdom-- characterized by "fabulous streets" and "glittering towers"-- located beneath the floor of the Atlantic Ocean "forty fathoms below the [ocean] surface...." Populated largely by handsome, muscular men who make even Superman seem "ordinary," the undersea realm is ruled by the lovely Queen Paralea (Nov/Dec '50: "The City Under the Sea!").
Sunken Atlantis, as it is described in Action Comics No. 230, is apparently no longer inhabited. According to Superman, "Strange experiments, conducted centuries ago on Atlantis, imparted an incredible power to that land...the ability to give super-powers, exactly like mine, to anyone subjected to its radiance!" This phenomenon produces grave problems for Superman when an "underwater earthquake [forces] a fragment of the old island of Atlantis to rise from the sea bottom" ( see Bart Wellins) (Jul '57: "Superman Loses His Powers"). In Superman No. 122/1, Atlantis is described as the home of an extinct super-scientific race whose members were only six inches tall (Jul '58: "The Secret of the Space Souvenirs").
In Superman No. 129/3 (May '59: "The Girl in Superman's Past!"), however, and in more than a score of other texts (S No. 135/2, Feb '60: "Superman's Mermaid Sweetheart!"; and others), Atlantis is portrayed as the home of a "race of mermen and mermaids" (S No. 129/3, May '59: The Girl in Superman's Past!"-- collectively referred to as "mer-people" (S No. 156, Oct '62: "The Last Days of Superman!" pts. I-III---"Superman's Death Sentence!"; "The Super-Comrades of All Time!"; "Superman's Last Day of Life!")--who inhabit a thriving "sub-sea kingdom" (Act No. 300, May '63: "Superman Under the Red Sun!"; and others) nestled on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean (S No. 157/2, Nov. '62: "The Super-Genie of Metropolis!"; and others).
The Living People of Atlantis
The citizens of Atlantis include Lori Lemaris, her husband Ronal and younger sister Lenora Lemaris, and the merman Jerro, who "adores Supergirl (Act No. 285, Feb. '62: "The World's Greatest Heroine!").
According to Superman No. 129/3, the mer-people of Atlantis--who have the tails of fish and the heads and torsos of human beings--were ordinary humans in the days when ancient Atlantis existed on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. When Atlantean scientists discovered that their island was sinking into the sea, they erected a glass dome to keep out the ocean and enable their civilization to survive beneath the ocean surface. "Then, one day," Lori Lemaris once explained to Superman, "our scientists found a way to convert us into a race of mermen and mermaids--and so we truly became a new race under the sea!"(May '59: "The Girl in Superman's Past!"). A later text ascribes this miracle of biological conversion to Atlantean scientist Nar Lemaris, an ancestor of Lori Lemaris (S No. 154/2, Jul '62: "Krypton's First Superman!).
As soon as the biological transformation had been completed, the Atlanteans smashed the glass dome surrounding their city and began life anew as true sea dwellers. An Atlantean sea-person is physically capable of surviving out-of-water, but "...to remain in perfect health, [his] body must be immersed in salt water at least ten hours a day...!" Walking on land is, of course, impossible for a fish-tailed Atlantean, which is why Lori Lemaris has customarily employed a wheelchair during her brief sojourns in the surface world, concealing her mermaid tail beneath a blanket so as not to arouse undue attention (S No. 129/3, May '59: "The Girl in Superman's Past!"; see also S No. 135/2, Feb '60: "Superman's Mermaid Sweetheart!").
Because it is impossible to speak underwater, the "sea-people" of Atlantis have mastered the art of reading minds and of communicating telepathically (S No. 129/3, May '59: "The Girl in Superman's Past!"; and others). They can perform these feats over very long distances, thus enabling Lori Lemaris to read Superman's thoughts (S No. 135/2, Feb '60: "Superman's Mermaid Sweetheart!") or summon him by telepathy (S No. 146/2, Jul '61: "Superman's Greatest Feats!") even while she is in Atlantis and he is in Metropolis, a great distance away. It was by reading Clark Kent's mind that Lori first discovered that Clark Kent is Superman (S No. 129/3, May '59: "The Girl in Superman's Past!"), and, since all Atlanteans can perform this feat, it is possible that every Atlantean is privy to Superman's secret identity. Lori Lemaris also possesses the power to make sea creatures obey her telepathic commands (S No. 154/1, Jul '62: "The Underwater Pranks of Mr. Mxyzptlk!"; and others).
In addition to being the custodians of an "ancient wisdom" long lost to the people of the surface world (S No. 154/2, Jul '62: "Krypton's First Superman!), the mer-people of Atlantis are a race characterized by extraordinary scientific achievements: special "Earth monitors" enable them to observe events in the surface world (Act No. 312, May '64: "King Superman versus Clark Kent, Metallo"; and others), and an arsenal of super-scientific weaponry safeguards their civilization against attack (S. No. 158, Jan '63: "Superman in Kandor" pts. I-III-- "Invasion of the Mystery Super-Men!"; "The Dynamic Duo of Kandor!"; "The City of Super-People!"). According to Superman No. 154/2, a highly advanced "chemical plant reduces the amount of salt in the water so that the Atlantides--who once had bodies like surface-world people before Atlantide scientist Nar Lemaris transformed them into mermen and mermaids--can continue to survive in these oceanic depths!" (Jul '62: "Krypton's First Superman!).
At the undersea temple of Ilena, Lori Lemaris and the other Atlantean mermaids gather to worship "their mermaid goddess," whose shrine consists of a gigantic statue of a mermaid reclining atop a seashell and holding aloft, in her right hand, a torch whose crimson "flame" is composed of some sort of glowing mineral substance (S No. 154/2, Jul '62: "Krypton's First Superman!). Atlanteans marry as surface people do, but in the event a mermaid becomes a widow, she must make a brief pilgrimage to Heartbreak Rock- a craggy rock jutting above the surface of the ocean- a week following her husband's death to wish for renewed happiness (S No. 139/1, Aug '60: "The New Life of Super- Merman!").
Although one text clearly suggests the primacy of "the elders" in Atlantean life (S No. 135/2, Feb '60: "Superman's Mermaid Sweetheart!") and several portray Lori Lemaris as an ordinary Atlantean citizen (S. No. 129/3, May '59: "The Girl in Superman's Past!"; and others), a number of later texts refer to Atlantis as a "kingdom" and to Lori as its "queen" (S No. 156, Oct '62: "The Last Days of Superman!" pts. I-III---"Superman's Death Sentence!"; "The Super-Comrades of All Time!"; "Superman's Last Day of Life!")or "ruler" (S No. 154/1, Jul '62: "The Underwater Pranks of Mr. Mxyzptlk!"; Act No. 300, May '63: "Superman Under the Red Sun!").
In addition to making occasional visits there, Superman keeps track of events in Atlantis by means of the "Atlantis monitor" in his Fortress of Solitude. (Act No. 310, Mar '64: "Secret of Kryptonite Six!"). Once every hundred years, according to Superman No. 129/3, an Atlantean is chosen to visit the surface world "to learn of the surface people's progress" during the preceding century. It was while making one of these visits that Lori Lemaris attended Metropolis University during the period when Clark Kent was a senior there (S. No. 129/3, May '59: "The Girl in Superman's Past!").
Aquaman, the costumed super-hero who is the product of a union between a lighthouse keeper and a young Atlantean woman, has, over the years, occasionally resided in Atlantis and even served as its ruler. The inhabitants of Aquaman's Atlantis, however, are completely humanoid in appearance, and the evidence of the chronicles, taken as a whole, strongly suggests that the Atlantis where Aquaman has lived and ruled is a different place entirely, or else a separate region or city of the same undersea continent.
Appearances of Atlantis in the Chronicles
In July-August 1947 Superman journeys to sunken Atlantis in order to obtain "an insoluble synthetic invented by the Atlanteans" for use as bookbinding material by Barney Vellum (WF No. 29: "The Books That Couldn't Be Bound!).
In November-December 1950 Superman has an adventure in the Atlantean realm of Queen Paralea (S No. 67/2: "The City Under the Sea!").
In July 1957, after an "underwater earthquake [has] forced a fragment of the old island of Atlantis to rise from the sea bottom," Superman finds himself confronted with a dual dilemma: exposure to the Atlantis fragment has temporarily endowed unscrupulous seaman Bart Wellins with super-powers, and, in addition, has temporarily multiplied Superman's own powers " a thousandfold," to the point where Superman cannot even control them (Act No. 230: "Superman loses his powers").
By November 1957 Clark Kent's eyeglasses have become contaminated by a bizarre somnabulism-inducing radiation emitted by a relic recovered from sunken Atlantis, with the result that, for a time, Superman becomes a sleepwalker while in his Clark Kent identity and, as Superman, suffers complete amnesia concerning the thoughts and actions of his alter ego Clark Kent (S No. 117/1: â€œClark Kent, Man of Mysteryâ€).
In July 1958 Superman journeys to the ruins of sunken Atlantis to obtain a â€œflying-saucer shipâ€ made of pure gold, one of a series of so-called â€œspace trophiesâ€ which the Man of Steel gathers for inclusion in a time capsule which the Metropolis Museum plans to bury in the ground as a gift for the people of the fiftieth century A.D. (S No. 122/1: â€œThe Secret of the Space Souvenirsâ€).
In May 1959 Clark Kent recalls his senior year at Metropolis University and his first meeting with the Atlantean mermaid Lori Lemaris (S. No. 129/3, May '59: "The Girl in Superman's Past!").
In February 1960 Superman has a loving reunion with Lori Lemaris and visits the Atlantis inhabited by Lori and her fellow mer-people for the first time in the chronicles (S No. 135/2, Feb '60: "Superman's Mermaid Sweetheart!").
In July 1960, over the objections of her husband Ronal, Lori Lemaris sets in motion an elaborate and somewhat foolish scheme designed to trick Superman into proposing marriage to Lois Lane. (S No. 138/3: â€œThe Mermaid from Atlantis!â€) (See Lori Lemaris.)
In August 1960, Superman sets in motion an elaborate charade designed to make Lois Lane believe that he has decided to marry Lori Lemaris and live in Atlantis so that Lois will feel free to accept the proposal of marriage made to her by Brett Rand (S No. 139/1: â€œThe New Life of Super-Merman!â€).
In July 1961, in response to an urgent telepathic summons from Lori Lemaris, Superman races to Atlantis to rescue the sunken kingdom from being destroyed by â€œa new super-atomic, underwater depth-bombâ€ being tested in the area by the U.S. Navy (S No. 146/2: â€œSuperman's Greatest Featsâ€).
In October 1961 Lori Lemaris indicates that she and her fellow Atlanteans intend to use a hoard of gold from a sunken Spanish treasure ship to fashion solid gold statues of Jor-El and Lara as a surprise gift for Superman in gratitude for his past efforts in aiding Atlantis' mer-people (S No. 148/3: â€œSuperman Owes a Billion Dollars!â€).
In February 1962, when Superman proudly announces Supergirl's existence to the world, the citizens of Atlantis commemorate the occasion by unveiling a gigantic undersea statue of a mermaid Supergirl (Act No. 285, Feb '62: "The World's Greatest Heroine!").
In July 1962, during a period when Superman is periodically seized by an overpowering compulsion to commit evil acts, the Man of Steel demolishes the shrine of Atlantis' mermaid-goddess and is on the verge of annihilating the mer-people by destroying the vital chemical plant that regulates the amount of salt in their undersea environment when Supergirl, summoned to Atlantis by a desperate telepathic call from Lori Lemaris, arrives on the scene to repair the chemical plant and prevent Superman from wreaking further destruction (S No. 154/2: â€œKrypton's First Superman!â€). (See Mag-En.)
In October 1962, when Superman is believed to be dying of an incurable malady, Lori Lemaris and the mer-people of Atlantis join forces with Krypto the Superdog, Supergirl, and the Superman Emergency Squad to carry out one of the gigantic super-tasks that Superman hopes to fulfill as his final legacy to humanity , viz., the injection of a colossal sea monster- which has been growing to ever more titanic size due to the stimulation of undersea radioactivity- with a special â€œshrinking formulaâ€ so that it will not one day become so terrifyingly gargantuan that it menaces the safety of the Earth (S No. 156, Oct '62: "The Last Days of Superman!" pts. I-III---"Superman's Death Sentence!"; "The Super-Comrades of All Time!"; "Superman's Last Day of Life!").
In November 1962 Lori Lemaris and her fellow Atlanteans help Superman locate and recover a space capsule that has recently fallen into the Atlantic. The recovery of the lost space capsule is one of the stunts that Superman performs while posing as the genie of Aladdin's magic lamp as part of his scheme to apprehend a notorious â€œinternational spyâ€ (S No. 157/2: â€œThe Super-Genie of Metropolis!â€) (See Professor Von Schulz.)
In December 1962, during a period when Superman is suffering occasional bouts of mental instability inflicted on him by members of the Superman Revenge Squad, the Man of Steel maliciously gives the Moon a super-powered shove which, in addition to causing massive tidal waves on Earth, produces devastating tides on the ocean floor and wreaks disaster in the undersea realm of Atlantis. Once the insane episode is past, however, Superman restores the moon to its proper location in space and repairs the damage to Atlantis caused by the temporary dislocation (Act No. 295 â€œSuperman Goes Wild!â€).
In November 1963, when Clark Kent has lost consciousness and almost drowned after an encounter with red kryptonite has temporarily robbed him of his super-powers, it is the Atlanteans who revive him with â€œa new form of artificial respirationâ€ after Aquaman has found him and brought him to Atlantis (S No. 165/2: â€œThe Sweetheart Superman Forgot!â€). (See Sally Selwynn.)
In March 1964 the mer-people of Atlantis are menaced by a â€œdeadly spotted plagueâ€ which threatens to decimate their entire population , but the plague victims are ultimately cured by means of a rare â€œspore antidoteâ€ native to Krypton's Scarlet Jungle (Act No. 310: â€œSecret of Kryptonite Six!â€). (See Jax-Ur.)
In the spring of 1964, after exposure to red kryptonite has temporarily transformed Superman into two completely different people, a super-powered Superman and a non-super Clark Kent (Act No. 311, Apr '64: â€œSuperman, King of Earth!â€), and Kent has been mortally wounded by a policeman's bullet, it is â€œthe skilled surgeons of Atlantisâ€ who perform the â€œdelicate operationâ€ necessary to save Kent's life (Act No. 312, May '64: â€œKing Superman versus Clark Kent, Metalloâ€). (/TGSB)
Millions of years ago, the Earth was colonized and fought for by a renegade band of Kryptonians and the ancestors of Atlantis, as Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes later discovered. (Adv No. 333, Jun '65: "The Civil War of the Legion").
In January 1979, it was clarified in the chronicles that there are two primary sections of Atlantis. One is the city of Tritonis where a race of Mer-folk including Lori Lemaris, her husband Ronal and Jerro live. Aquaman comes from a different Atlantean city, Poseidonis (DCCP No. 5: "The War of the Undersea Cities").
A 1985 chronicle of Superman's early career suggests that Clark Kent may have met Lori Lemaris a few months earlier than previously thought, while still calling himself Superboy. Clark's roommate Billy Cramer insists that Clark talk to him about his relationship troubles with Lori - not suspecting the root of the problem is, of course, that Lori is a mermaid who can not stay on the surface-world. (SSY No. 3, Apr 1985: "Terminus")