Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: Looking at Superman’s Strangest Powers

June 3, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Superman New Powers

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last week we discussed The Best Feel-Good Comic Book Reads. Here’s what some of you had to say:

rf: “Savage Dragon always makes me smile I am rereading it now and it is better than I remember. Just don’t get attached to any of the characters”

Richard H1S: “My favorite “feel good” series for the last decade plus has been “52”.

52 is such an interesting and self contained story coming off the heels of infinite crisis. It completely failed in its planned idea, which was to tell how things got to “One year later”. It was extremely successful though in telling a fun and engaging story that got me invested in characters I never really gave second thoughts previously like Ralph Dibney and Will Magnus and the metal men.

It’s just plain fun in a lot of places and a great story that I wish had been picked up a little more past that.”

Jeremy Thomas: “My feel-good series has always been Runaways, Vol. 1. It’s just all-around fantastic.

Beyond that: Age of Apocalypse, though in sections because that is a LOT to read. Also, Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman run and Locke & Key.”

Dexter Plisskin: “The annual team-ups with The Justice Society of America in the pages of Justice League of America were always eagerly-anticipated, super-hero fun!”

poopsadaisy: “Superior Foes of Spider-Man is an excellent choice. Probably my favorite book of the past decade. Silvermane’s robot head was especially fun :)”

William Jansen: “For pure feel-good the French/French-speaking tradition is hard to beat. Asterix, Tintin, Spirou, Lucky Luke, Benoît Brisefer, Gaston etc. Valhalla from Denmark has a speical place in my heart as well. It is the stuff I grew up on and for feel good, I’d much prefer the world turned up to 11 instead of the world turned up to a gazillion like in the American tradition (which I adore for other reasons).”

Lariooooot~: “Moebius was in another class, I miss that guy.

As an old school Jerry Cornelius fan, my go to Fraction is Casanova.”

Ken Wood: “If I’m just recommend books that make me happy, I’d go with New X-Men Childhood’s End. It’s part three of the New X-Men graphic novels and it’s just absolutely amazing. I loved reading all of those books and this was the peak. Love those characters, want to read more of them.

For art, my favorite is Jae Lee. I just love his style. I first learned about him reading Hellshock, many moons ago, but I actually just picked up the graphic novel for Inhumans and I can’t wait to get into it.

For lighter, more humorous stuff, the only thing I can think of is Tank Girl. I haven’t read it in a while but I just remember it being so bizarre and wonderful.

For pure fun, anything Green Lantern. I just read Rebirth and Green Lantern Corps Recharge. So much fun to see the whole Corps restarting and all the new characters in training. Green Lantern has always been one of my favorites and I can’t wait to dig in more to that universe.

Also, pretty much anything Spiderman.”

Thank you to everyone who commented!

This week we discuss…

Superman’s Strangest Powers

Like most, I was hearing about how Henry Cavill was going to return as Superman and was happy to hear it. I wanted him to get a proper chance to do the character justice and make his own stamp at it as I feel he’s had to deal with poor scripts and execution.

Then I saw the source of the news and lost all hope. But that’s neither here nor there…which is a weird expression when you think about it. 

In the spirit of fun I wanted to brush the dust off an old column and talk about some of the stranger powers the Man of Steel has shown over the years. 

Superman is the ultimate superhero. From the planet Krypton and named Kal-El, he was rocketed as a baby to Earth moments before the planet’s destruction. Found and adopted by the Kents, he started to display a number of superpowers. Flight, super-strength, near-invulnerability, X-Ray vision and super senses helped him become a hero and protector of Earth.

Over the years, writers have added and taken away his abilities. Not too long ago, Superman received a new power called the “Super Flare,” which caused him to radiate a blast of solar energy from his body. Unfortunately, using this powers leaves him in a weakened state.

In Action Comics #49, Superman throws himself on a pile of Kryptonite hoping to rejuvenate his powers. It seems to work. With a twist..His eyes were now green due to the overload of Kryptonite in his system and now he can see radio waves and various signal frequencies.

Not the most exciting thing on paper.

Every so often we hear how Superman’s popularity is waning and that writers have a hard time writing such an all-powerful character. They are always looking for new angles and switching up his status quo.

It is true, Superman’s powers have run the gauntlet from cool to downright weird. I mean, super-breath? Super-ventriloquism?

The Silver Age was perhaps the strangest time of all for the Last Son of Krypton. In Action Comics #38 from 1941, writer Gardner Fox gave Superman the ability to hypnotize a psychologist named Harold Morton.

Yes. Super-hypnotism.

Then we have the infamous Superman Red and Superman Blue storyline from 1998, that was based on an earlier story. I wasn’t a big fan of this era and it came off as forced. The appeal of what makes Superman works was lost but it was better than the super-metabolism powers he showcased in Action Comics #454.

With all the changes to Superman’s continuity, I’m not sure if John Byrne’s 1980s Superman ability of self-telekinesis still factors in to how he’s able to fly. Yes, it was explained that an invisible field envelops him, allowing him to fly with his mind. It also plays into his near invulnerability.

Since Superman’s creation, he’s adapted to the times but the core of his being (truth, justice, and the American way) have stayed the same. His moral standard stands as a sign of hope to his fellow superheroes and the readers. While it might be “uncool” at times, his unwavering devotion to doing the right thing is what makes him stand apart and above. That’s why he and Batman work so well together.

Personally, I’ve always wished they would find a way to properly de-power Superman permanently and see how he adjusts to that. I’m not talking about making him mortal, just take it down a few notches to make things interesting. 

What about you?

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!

article topics :

Comics 411, Superman, Steve Gustafson