I posed this on the JLA-JSA thread, and am giving it its own post here at the Captain's suggestion:

"I can see a reading of the "Luma Lynai" scene from another direction.  Remember, Supergirl is the one who's messing about in Superman's love life a little before he utters the fateful words.  Maybe the writer-- Binder, I think-- was implying that Supergirl was "shipping" (as they call it now) her cousin through an intermediary.  If so, then Superman's words might be a way of diplomatically letting her down.

Not that there aren't lots of other weird incest-y motifs in the Superman Family.  Can we talk about the wedding of Jimmy and Lois?  Well, maybe on another thread."

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Cousins marrying used to be no big deal, and maybe it's not in Kryptonian society.  And who knows, the problem of genetic defects (minimal even among humans) might not be a problem at all for the more robust Kryptonian DNA.

I beg to differ.

In our part of the country, it was WELL KNOWN that cousins could not/should not marry.

In other parts of the more isolated and rural communities, perhaps it was ignored, but it is and was AGAINST THE LAW,

due to the problem of inbreeding!

The science doesn't support your opinion.  (And it's not illegal in most countries in the world, and wasn't in the USA until after the Civil War, and in many states still isn't.)  Try this for a start:

http://discovermagazine.com/2003/aug/featkiss#.UiT59z_O65I

But, as I said, we're talking about aliens - Kryptonian DNA might be different.  Plus, aren't they supposed to be the last of their kind?  (My knowledge of Superman is pretty outdated, I mostly know the older stuff, pre-Byrne, when other Kryptonians did turn up from time to time, but Superman was still called the Last Son of Krypton.)  If there were only two humans left, even if they were cousins they might bone just to preserve the species.

Kirk G said:

I beg to differ.

In our part of the country, it was WELL KNOWN that cousins could not/should not marry.

In other parts of the more isolated and rural communities, perhaps it was ignored, but it is and was AGAINST THE LAW,

due to the problem of inbreeding!

Mr. King is absolutely correct.

 

The notion that in-breeding carries a high risk of genetic defect is one of those wide-spread misconceptions that the vast majority of people have bought into.  In fact, the risk of genetic defect from in-breeding is not statistically more significant than it is for conventionally acceptable procreation.

 

 

At the time Supergirl first arrived on Earth, Kandor hadn't shown up yet, and I'm pretty sure there hadn't been any female Phantom Zone villains introduced yet, so the only real shot they had at keeping the Kryptonian race alive would have been either Supergirl & Superman, or Supergirl and some Phantom Zoner.  Not the best options.

Dave Elyea said:

At the time Supergirl first arrived on Earth, Kandor hadn't shown up yet . . . .

Actually, Kandor was introduced into the Superman mythos before Supergirl (the Kara Zor-El version).

Kandor's first appearance was in "The Super-Duel in Space", from Action Comics # 242 (Jul., 1958), almost a year before Supergirl's debut in Action Comics # 252 (May, 1959).

 

 

CharlieKweskill said:

As recent as Victorian times,  marrying cousins was a perfectly acceptable way to preserve and concentrate family capital.  Case in point, Charles Darwin married a first cousin.  In rural areas of the US, marrying cousins was usually a geographical necessity due to the sparse populations and the distances between settlements.  It's only after many generations of the practice that recessive, harmful effects may start to appear, as in the royal bloodlines of Europe and isolated regions of Appalachia.

I tend to concur. It's been at least thirty-five years since I did any research on the subject, but as I recall, the principal genetic circumstance created by in-breeding was that it reïnforced any genetic dispositions already present in the bloodline.  If, for example, the members of a particular bloodline were inherently prone to large noses or six fingers on each hand or hæmophilia, then the progeny resulting from two members of that bloodline would have a greater chance of inheriting the same trait.

 

As you pointed out, it takes several generations of in-breeding for this to become deleterious.  And that's if, in fact, the inherited trait is, in fact, detimental.  By the same token, a bloodline which is genetically prone to good health or longevity or an enhanced physical condition would also find those traits more likely to be passed on as a result of in-breeding.

 

 

This is an interesting article. As it points out, recessive genes with negative properties are the problem. You could have a recessive gene for "Defect A" and marry somebody else with that same recessive gene who was unrelated and lived 3,000 miles away, and offspring MAY develop full-blown "Defect A" instead of just carrying the gene. If you make a baby with a sibling or first cousin the odds are greater that you have the same recessive genes. As I understand it, you could still produce a child that just carries the recessive gene.

Of course, you would have to have the gene for "Defect A" in the first place. As the article points out, families lucky enough not to carry such genes can intermarry for generations without a problem.

Also, I don't think we can assume that Kryptonian DNA is free of genetic defects. If it's too different, then all those superkids from Lois or someone else would not be possible.

Jim King said:

The science doesn't support your opinion.  (And it's not illegal in most countries in the world, and wasn't in the USA until after the Civil War, and in many states still isn't.)  Try this for a start:

http://discovermagazine.com/2003/aug/featkiss#.UiT59z_O65I

But, as I said, we're talking about aliens - Kryptonian DNA might be different.

Jim King said:

Cousins marrying used to be no big deal, and maybe it's not in Kryptonian society.  And who knows, the problem of genetic defects (minimal even among humans) might not be a problem at all for the more robust Kryptonian DNA.

Whether or not marriage between cousins causes a problem with Kryptonian DNA, it wasn't allowed.  Earlier in the Luma Lynai story, Superman told Supergirl "We can't marry because we're cousins!  Though cousins can marry in certain countries here on Earth... we're both from the planet Krypton, where the marriage of cousins was unlawful!". 

(Strange that he found it necessary to remind her that they were both Kryptonian!)

Well, that settles it I guess!  Still, I guess Superman's never heard the phrase "When in Rome..."  And he must've been fine with the idea of there being no more Kryptonians, but as Richard pointed out human and Kryptonian DNA must be pretty close or there couldn't be any offspring between Superman and Lois - maybe a human/Kryptonian hybrid is close enough for him (but might be sterile for all we know, unless there's a story where Superman has grandkids).
Peter Wrexham said:

Whether or not marriage between cousins causes a problem with Kryptonian DNA, it wasn't allowed.  Earlier in the Luma Lynai story, Superman told Supergirl "We can't marry because we're cousins!  Though cousins can marry in certain countries here on Earth... we're both from the planet Krypton, where the marriage of cousins was unlawful!". 

(Strange that he found it necessary to remind her that they were both Kryptonian!)

Jim King said:

Well, that settles it I guess!  Still, I guess Superman's never heard the phrase "When in Rome..."  And he must've been fine with the idea of there being no more Kryptonians

There is another way to preserve the species, as discussed by Larry Niven in his article "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex".  Since Kryptonian sperm are presumably super-powerful, he suggests exposing them to gold kryptonite so that they don't destroy everything in the neighbourhood.  Then Superman uses a tiny pair of tweezers and his microscopic vision to select a single sperm and fertilise the ovum (taken from a human donor designated "LL"). 

Once it is fertilised, Superman needs a superhuman host for the developing fetus, or it is likely to kill its host the first time it kicks (or uses its heat vision!).  Fortunately, there are (Niven claims) plenty of places in a man's abdomen where the fetus could be implanted and grow to term.  So Superman himself could act as the host "mother".

As Niven concludes:

"The mind boggles at the image of a pregnant Superman cruising the skies of Metropolis. Batman would refuse to be seen with him; strange new jokes would circulate the prisons... and the race of Krypton would be safe at last."

I hadn't realized that--if Kandor was already in place, why didn't Superman send Kara there, instead of that crappy orphanage, where her lack of knowledge of Earthly norms presented a constant threat to her secret?  For that matter, why would they have bothered to create something as goofy as Argo City (originally, an "island" in space that just happened to be surrounded by an air bubble that lasted for decades, before the traditional dome was added to it)?  Kara Zor-El could just as easily have been Superman's cousin from Kandor (there didn't seem to a shortage of them there), who contracted some rare disease, and could only survive by being sent to the outer world, where she'd be invulnerable.  For that matter, why didn't Supergirl try fixing Superman up with some nice Kandorian woman instead of Luma Lynai in the first place--considering how many lookalikes Kal-El had in the bottled city, there must have been several Kara copies as well (not that I recall seeing too many).

Commander Benson said:

Dave Elyea said:

At the time Supergirl first arrived on Earth, Kandor hadn't shown up yet . . . .

Actually, Kandor was introduced into the Superman mythos before Supergirl (the Kara Zor-El version).

Kandor's first appearance was in "The Super-Duel in Space", from Action Comics # 242 (Jul., 1958), almost a year before Supergirl's debut in Action Comics # 252 (May, 1959).

 

 

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