12 of Superman’s Most Absurd Pre-Crisis Super Powers
Everyone knows the many standard powers of Superman; fly, super-strength, super-speed, super-breath, invulnerable, heat-vision, etc. Not everyone knows, though, that he didn’t always have many of these abilities. Not only that, Superman has several other super powers that are less used, but still kept in his back pocket for just the right moment when he can whip it out and dazzle everyone.
As the years went on, and writers kept getting more…”creative”…Supes powers were quickly growing and getting more out of control. These little known powers had stacked up over the years until finally DC had to say, “Dammit, that’s enough” and launched the massive Crisis on Infinite Earths event to just level the playing field.
Let’s take a look at some of the lesser known, and therefore more humorous, of Superman’s Pre-Crisis abilities . I’ll include panels of Superman using the ridiculous powers when I can. If you have trouble reading the text, click the images to make them bigger.
Super-Ventriloquism and other voice “powers” – Not only Super-V, he had a whole bag full of voice powers that writers tended to wield at their hip like gunslingers. Superman could throw his voice over great distances and also possessed super-voice-mimicry, which means he could make his voice sound like anyone else. That power must come in handy at parties when you are stuck talking to the guy who won’t leave you alone and keeps asking you to come check out his “sweet van” out in the parking lot. The one painted all white with no windows (aka RAPE van). If you were Supes, you could throw your voice across the room as someone else calling your name and you can get the hell out of there. Nicely done, Superman. Or, you could just punch a hole in the rapist’s face because you are, you know, SUPERMAN.
Super-Hypnosis – Apparently this is why no one recognizes Clark Kent is Superman. And it apparently works even when he isn’t concentrating on using it (I guess that’s what makes it super hypnosis?). However, I prefer to ignore this power and assume that everyone in Metropolis is just that dumb to notice they are the same person. Or they really just don’t care.
Super-Telepathic Will Control – In an early issue of Superman where he’s kidnapped by aliens, he whips out telepathic will control, which allows him to override someone’s mind and make their body do whatever Superman wants. If he can do this, then why would he ever need Super Hypnosis?
Super-Landscaping – Once again, you have to wonder if super-landscaping isn’t just a fancy name for “planting stuff at super speed”. Maybe I should try that, running around my yard as fast as I can throwing plants at the ground. Think it would work?
Super Muscular Control - Superman has such super control over his muscles that he can play Super-Dead by nearly stopping his heart. Plus, he can do the opposite and make it beat faster, and apparently LOUDER as the comic above shows. Why?
Playing Super-Tag – During the end of Superman II we are regaled with a whole slew of new, previously unseen Superman powers when he battles Zod and crew. Supes explains he used them as a kid to play tag. Things like disappearing and re-appearing as like 6 different Supermen, each with a different physical property; built of rocks, intangible, etc. Supes also has a clear film over his Super chest S that he can throw over super criminals that will envelope and confuse them for about 5 seconds. You know, the standard Superman stuff.
Super-Kisses – Superman’s kisses cause amnesia. It’s unclear whether he can consciously control this power. This particular power wasn’t just used in the comics, the Christopher Reeve movies actually used it to let Lois learn (and again, unlearn) Clark’s secret identity. I’d like to use it on myself to forget the horrible, horrible mistake of allowing Superman and Lois to “make sweet love down by the fire” in Superman II.
Super-civil engineering – This particular entry is technically post-Crisis, but I have to mention it because it’s so absurd. According to Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (one of the most fascinatingly horrible movies I’ve ever seen) Superman can shoot a beam out of his eyes that can rebuild things like The Great Wall of China. A beam. Out of his eyes. That can rebuild walls. Awesome. That movie also showed us that a human (Murial Hemingway) can be flown by a super being up into space and not only survive, they’ll fall back towards Earth when they are let go instead of floating off and spontaneously combusting in the vacuum. F**K YOU, science!
Now that I’ve talked about what Superman was like before DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, later this week I’ll look at what happened to Superman after the Crisis in my 25th anniversary review of John Byrne’s Man of Steel.
To learn more about the Crisis on Infinite Earths event, check out my article on Strange Kid’s Club.