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Can Superman lacerate himself? If so, could he die from massive blood loss?

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I don't know if he can die from blood loss (my gut says he can), but he's received cuts in the comics –  phantom42 Mar 8 at 21:36
    
@phantom42 that's also my hunch. There was kryptonite involved in the death that frame depicts, correct? Have you seen him cut when kryptoninte hadn't weakened him? –  Hal Mar 8 at 21:51
    
@Hal - Your wish is my command. –  Richard Mar 8 at 21:51
    
A better question would be as to why he needs blood in the first place since he obviously doesn't need to breathe anything from what I remember of him hanging out or talking on the moon. So can throw Krebs Cycle out the window or need for red blood cells, which all points to superman being a moulage - having blood only to make him seem human that he has no use for. –  NickNo Mar 9 at 14:59
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@NickNo Totally agree, that is a better question. That was the gist of Susan's answer. –  Hal Mar 10 at 0:20

3 Answers 3

up vote 22 down vote accepted

As to whether he can lacerate himself, the answer is a resounding yes;

Superman Cuts himself

As to whether blood loss will kill him, again we can see that Superman and his doctor both believe that to be the case.

Super Transfusion

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Shite. I didn't expect a definite answer. Nice work =) –  Hal Mar 8 at 21:54
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Course these are also doctors that are really impressed Superman's blood works with everyone. When they should be really impressed that an alien has AB blood... (cough cough) :) –  joshbirk Mar 8 at 22:04
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@Hal - Definitive is what we do here. –  Richard Mar 8 at 22:11
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...really impressed Superman's blood works with everyone Anyone heard of O neg? –  TecBrat Mar 9 at 21:10
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@TecBrat - You may be unaware that in 1940, there was only the most tentative understanding of the scientific concept of positive/negative antigens in blood. It wasn't until 1946 that the first true exchange transfusion took place. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… –  Richard Mar 9 at 21:55

Well, it is a little hard to guess because

Technically, he has never died. Doomsday has come the closest to killing him - however he just entered a hibernation period to rest.

To put it another (less spoilerific) way...

However, there seems to always be two ways to defeat Superman:

  1. Kryptonite
  2. Severe physical trauma. Really, really severe physical trauma.

The problem with killing Superman isn't that his body operates generally so utterly different from that of a human. If you could shoot a bullet through his brain, he would probably experience brain death and die. If you lacerate his skin enough to cause blood loss to the point of no return, he would probably die. And by probably, I mean almost certainly until some out-of-universe writer put in some in-universe explanation as to why he did not die.

However in order to get that done, you would have to get around his near-invulnerability and incredible regenerative properties.

So my real answer is:

Yes, but good luck getting there

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So #2 would kill him, if #2 were possible? –  Hal Mar 8 at 21:59
    
Basically. And it is possible ... just really, really, really hard. So if you could weaken him enough with #1, you might stand a decent chance of #2. Or you can just put so much power into #2. The outcome of the spoiler might have been different his opponent had more time to apply said physical trauma. –  joshbirk Mar 8 at 22:01
    
Hasn't he died in like a dozen episodes? Pretty much whenever DC feel that sales are flagging they have a "death of Superman" series...; tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheGreatComicsCrashOf1996 –  Richard Mar 8 at 22:08
    
To be coy about it, he has died as many times as Batman. –  joshbirk Mar 8 at 22:13
    
Actually, to be technical - and I think I'm counting correctly here ... they have had the same number of funerals. –  joshbirk Mar 8 at 22:14

My gut reaction would be to say, yes, Superman would die from massive blood loss. But I'm not sure that's right.

People die of blood loss for two reasons: 1) lack of oxygen to the brain. Breathing (inhalation of oxygen + other gasses) causes red blood cells in the lung to pick up oxygen which gets distributed to the body. With severe blood loss, people experience anoxia -> brain death/death. 2) Cardiovascular collapse. With decreased bloodflow, oxygen carrying capacity is reduced to all vital organs, blood pressure falls, not enough oxygenated blood feeds the heart, and a fatal arrhythmia sets in -> no blood flow to the brain -> decreased oxygen -> brain death.

Having said that, Superman is different from us. First, he does not seem to need oxygen to survive. If he can fly through space for extended periods (as I seem to recall him doing many years ago) and not suffer from oxygen deprivation, he doesn't need blood for the same reasons we do; it must serve some different function in him. Certainly the gasses in his blood (if there are an) don't obey the laws of physics: there is no expansion of gasses in his bloodstream in space, the ultimate "bends".

So, for these reasons, I can't say what would happen to Superman from massive blood loss since oxygen carrying does not be an essential function of his blood, nor does nutrition or elimination of wastes seem to be vital for him.

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I like your reasoning. –  Hal Mar 9 at 12:21

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