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Superman's Super-Powers

Super-Speed and Flight   |   Super-Strength   |   Invulnerability   |   X-Ray Vision   |   Super-Hearing   |   Super-Breath   |   Vocal Powers   |   Super-Intellect   |   Miscellaneous

See also Photonucleic Effect, The

The super-powers of the man of steel are legendary - the whole world marvels at his invulnerability, super-speed, super-strength, and other super-skills!


Derivation of the Super-Powers

Superman's super-powers are by and large, extraordinary magnifications of ordinary human abilities.  Just as an ordinary man can hurl a baseball, Superman can hurl an entire Planet.  Just as an ordinary man can see across the room, Superman can see across the universe.

Compared with the powers he possesses today, however, the powers employed by Superman in the early texts are modest indeed.  Action Comics # 1 (1938), the first comic book in which Superman appeared, claimed only that its hero could "leap 1/8th of a mile; hurdle a twenty-story building... raise tremendous weights... run faster than an express train... and that nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin!"

As the years passed, however, the chroniclers endowed the Man of Steel with ever more spectacular powers to enable him to meet ever more exacting challenges.  Today Superman can withstand the heat at the core of the sun, soar through the air at a speed thousands of times the speed of light, and extinguish a star with a puff of his breath as though it were merely a candle on a birthday cake.

Along with a steady expansion of Superman's powers has come a series of changing explanations of how he came to acquire those powers. Action Comics # 1, for example, contains this scientific explanation of his amazing strength:

    Kent had come from a Planet whose inhabitants' physical structure was millions of years advanced of our own.  Upon reaching maturity, the people of his race became gifted with titanic strength!

    Incredible?  No!  For even today on our world exist creatures with super-strength!

    The lowly ant can support weights hundreds of times its own.  The grasshopper leaps what to a man would be the space of several city blocks.

(see 1939 scientific explanation)

For approximately the first decade of Superman's career, the texts advanced the thesis that Superman's powers were merely those possessed by all the inhabitants of his native Planet.  These texts described the men and women of Krypton as a "super-race" who were gifted with X-ray vision and other powers and who were thousands of eons ahead of earthlings, both mentally and physically.

By the late 1940s, however, the texts had begun to describe the people of Krypton as more or less ordinary human beings and to attribute Superman's powers to the vast differences between the gravitational pull and atmospheric conditions of Krypton and those of the Planet Earth.  In the words of Superman #58,

    Everyone knows that Superman is a being from another Planet, unburdened by the vastly weaker gravity of Earth.  But not everyone understands how gravity affects strength!  If you were on a world smaller than ours, you could jump over high buildings, lift enormous weights... and thus duplicate some of the feats of the Man of Steel!

Subsequent texts continued to cite the importance of the gravitational difference between Earth and Krypton while laying increasingly greater stress on the significance of Krypton's unique atmosphere in accounting for the awesome powers a Kryptonian acquired once he was free of his native Planet.  "Obviously, Krypton is such an unusual Planet," Superman's father, Jor-El, once noted, "that when a native Kryptonian is elsewhere, free of Krypton's unique atmosphere and tremendous gravitational pull, he becomes a superman!" (Superman #113, May 1957)

Since, according to this theory, Superman owes the existence of his super-powers to the fact that he is no longer on the Planet Krypton, it follows that Superman has no super-powers wherever atmospheric and gravitational conditions prevail that are identical to those of his native Planet.  This can befall Superman whenever he journeys through the time barrier to Krypton at a time prior to its destruction or visits the bottle city of Kandor.

According to a revised theory of Superman's powers, first advanced in 1960, the Man of Steel derives his super-powers partly from the lesser gravity of Earth and partly from the unique ultra solar rays that penetrate Earth day and night.

"These rays," explains Superman to Supergirl in March 1960, "can only affect people who were born in other solar systems than Earth's!  And only yellow starts like Earth's sun emit those super-energy rays!  On Planets of non-yellow suns, we would not be super-powered, even under the low gravity!"

This theory is further refined in Superman # 146, in which Superman's muscular powers - super-strength, super-breath, super-speed, and the power of flight - are attributed to Earth's light gravity, while his super-senses and mental powers - X-ray vision and other optical powers, super-hearing, and various intellectual powers - are attributed to the ultra solar rays of Earth's yellow sun.

In the logic of this latest refinement, all Kryptonian objects acquire indestructibility in the yellow-sun environment of Earth, and all native Kryptonians - such as Supergirl or Krypto the Superdog - acquire super-powers identical to Superman's.  However, the indestructibility of these objects and the super-powers of the various Kryptonian survivors remain proportional to what they would have been had they remained in their native Kryptonian environment.

Because Superman is now said the derive his powers, in part, from the ultra solar rays of Earth's yellow sun, he has no powers on any Planet revolving about a red sun, such as the Planet Lexor.

The mighty super-powers that Superman employs today are the products of a gradual evolution spanning decades of texts.  Following is an inventory of Superman's super-powers, along with the history and evolution of each super-power.


Super-Speed and the Power of Flight

"From the west, over the city, streaked a familiar red-and-blue figure, grim, determined, dwarfed by the adversary that threatened to deal the city a crushing blow."   (Miracle Monday 4)
In the early years of his super-heroic career, Superman was not endowed with the power of flight.  Although he possessed superhuman speed, he moved from place to place by running or by executing gigantic leaps.  Month by month, however, Superman's running speed increased, along with the length of his leaps and the complexity of the aerial maneuvers he was able to perform once he had left the ground.  The transition from leaping to actual flying was extraordinarily gradual and was punctuated with a great deal of inconsistency.  Not until May 1943 is Superman explicitly referred to as a "being who can fly like a bird" and not until later that same year can it be said, without qualification, that Superman actually possesses the power of flight.

By 1945, Superman is able to fly from Metropolis to Burma in the wink of an eye.  "Light travels 186,000 miles a second, but has nothing on Superman," notes the text, "who finds himself hovering over the jungles of Burma in the wink of an eye!"

In November 1946, Superman demonstrates the ability to stand invisibly on one spot by oscillating his body so fast that the human eye cannot see him.  During this same period, Superman protects bystanders at a navy yard from the effects of a devastating explosion by spinning around the blast area at super-speed.  With the speed of light, Superman makes a wall of his revolving body, through which the expanding gases of the explosive cannot penetrate.  Then, funneling upward, Superman directs the blast toward the sky.

In August 1947, Superman successfully photographs a series of past events by flying into outer space faster than the speed of light and overtaking the light waves leaving Earth which contain the images of the events he wants to record on film.

Later in 1947, Superman single-handedly constructs an entire underground city in a matter of seconds.  (Superman #48)  During this same period, Superman uses his command of super-speed to travel through the time barrier into the past.

Virtually all texts agree that to penetrate the time barrier, Superman must move at a speed exceeding that of light.


Super-Strength

There have been many strong men in the world, but none with the amazing power of Superman, whose rippling steel muscles can blast boulders to dust and move mountains.

Like Superman's other powers, his strength has been continually magnified over the years.

In June 1938, Superman, described as a man of titanic strength with the ability to raise tremendous weights, lifts an automobile over his head with one hand, shakes its hoodlum occupants out on the the ground, then smashes the car to bits against the base of a cliff.

In Spring 1940, when Metropolis is ravaged by a man-made earthquake, Superman supports tottering buildings while terrified occupants dash to safety.

In 1941, Superman swims through a raging flood using only one hand, while holding a mansion aloft with the other hand.  To divert the floodwaters, Superman digs a huge, mile-long ditch with his bare hands in a matter of moments.

In 1942, Superman seizes a set of brass knuckles and crushes the cowardly instrument in his palm as easily as though the metal were putty; he smashes his way through the side of a mountain; and, while clinging to the side of a moving train, Superman performs an amazing stunt - he opens a Pullman window!  By September of the same year, his strength has grown to the point where he can wrench apart a pair of twin mountain peaks with his bare hands.

In 1943, when Superman acts to avert the collapse of a massive undersea cavern, his mighty shoulders bear the weight of thousands of tons of rock and the terrific pressure of the ocean above it.  (Action Comics #62, "There'll Always Be a Superman!")  He also hits a baseball so hard that it circles the world.

In 1946, Superman uses his super-strength to mend a gaping hole in the hull of a sunken freighter, welding the torn steel plates into place by rubbing them with his hands until they're white hot.  Later texts refer to this process as the application of "super-friction."

1947 brings us the first time that Superman transforms a lump of coal into a glittering diamond.  In the words of the text, "Incalculable tons of pressure exerted by the Man of Steel's mighty fist duplicate the work of eons to fuse the opaque coal carbons into the translucent perfection of a glittering diamond!" (Action Comics #115)

In 1948 he uses the super-pressure of his thumbnail to cut sheet metal.

By 1949 he has single-handedly created a sun for the Planet Uuz by crashing together its two uninhabited moons and then fueling the resultant atomic blaze with drifting meteors.

In November 1953, when a great dark star that's rushing through the solar system begins causing the Earth to spin faster on its axis, Superman finds himself confronted by the greatest challenge of his career, that of devising a means of slowing down the Earth.  After fashioning a gigantic metal drill from ore-bearing rock, Superman drills through the Earth to the red-hot rocks inside Earth's crust and then, using his own body as a high-speed chisel, gouges a canal from the sea to the hole he has drilled in the Earth.  When the seawater rushing through Superman's man-made canal washes over the red-hot rocks at the Earth's core, the result is a continuous blast of steam that makes a great jet-blast, pushing against the rotating Earth to slow it down.  When it's back to normal, Superman closes off the canal.

But by 1957, Superman is able to hurl an uninhabited Planet through space (Superman #110) and in 1958 can produce a small earthquake with a super-clap of his hands.

In March 1965 Superman seizes a spacecraft manned by members of the Superman Revenge Squad and hurls it into a far distant galaxy light-years away from Earth.


Invulnerability

Of all the awesome capabilities of Superman, one of the most important is his invulnerability.  Fire can't burn him, knives can't cut him, bullets can't hurt him.  In fact, there's nothing known to man that can harm even a hair of Superman's head.

In June 1938, a bullet ricochets off Superman's tough skin and a knife blade shatters when it strikes his body.  Nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin.  Subsequent texts describe Superman as possessing a skin impenetrable to even steel and as being impervious to bullets because of an unbelievably tough skin.  A text dated January 1945 notes that "Unlike ordinary people, the Man of Steel can do without food if necessary," but a later text contradicts this, noting that Superman could indeed "starve to death."

In September 1945, Superman holds open an earthquake fissure with his bare hands until Lois Lane has had a chance to climb to safety.  "The most powerful muscles on Earth," notes the text, "withstand the tremendous pressure of thousands of tons of rock!"   "If the fissure had closed on me," remarks Superman, "the only damage would have been to the rock!"

In 1946, Superman flies onto an atomic-bomb test site and withstands the successive impact of two atomic bombs.  He also withstands the intense heat of the Earth's molten core.  (Superman #43)

In 1950, Superman swims underwater thousands of fathoms deep, down to the ocean bed itself, and suffers no ill effects from the crushing water pressure.  He withstands the heat at the rim of the sun, estimated at a few billion degrees.

By 1951, Superman can withstand the heat at the core of the sun. (Action Comics #161)  By this date, Superman's Herculean body has become immune to all ills and it's impossible for him to get sick.  Superman is not immune, however, to certain extraterrestrial illnesses, such as the mysterious space virus that temporarily transforms his X-ray vision into "deep-freeze" vision in November, 1957, and Virus X, native to the Planet Krypton.

In February 1954, Superman withstands the explosion of a hydrogen bomb, although it does leave him with a slight headache.  (Superman #87)

A text dated April 1960 observes that the rifle-like non-super-ray weapon employed by the Bizarros of the Planet Htrae could permanently rob Superman of his super-powers.  Another text for this period strongly implies that Superman is invulnerable to the aging process and therefore immortal (Superman #136, April 1960), but Superman #181 contradicts this, noting that "Though Superman is the mightiest man on Earth, even he cannot live forever!" (November, 1965, "The Superman of 2965!")

A text dated April 1965 notes that Superman is invulnerable to drowning, and can remain underwater as long as he wishes.

Because Superman is invulnerable, he cannot blush and because his skin is never affected by the sun, he is impervious to sunburn.

Superman's hair is indestructible and can neither be cut nor can it grow in Earth's atmosphere.  (Superman #132, October 1959)

Any attempt to cut Superman's hair by ordinary means results only in the shattering of whatever scissors are being used, but Superman can cut his own hair when absolutely necessary by subjecting it to the concentrated power of his own X-ray vision.  In a red-sun environment, however, where Superman has no super-powers, his hair loses its indestructibility and begins to grow.  If Superman undertakes a mission to a red-sun Planet, it is best for him to shave and trim his hair before returning to the yellow-sun environment of Earth, where his hair will once again become indestructible.

Similarly, Superman's fingernails and toenails, which are indestructible and do not grow in the earthly environment, do grow and are destructible on Planets revolving about a red sun.


X-Ray Vision and the Other Optical Powers

With telescopic vision, he has spanned the solar system - his microscopic vision has seen the tiniest dust particle - while his X-ray vision has pierced every substance except lead.

Today's Superman possesses a wide range of optical super-powers, including X-ray vision, which enables him to see through all substances except lead; telescopic vision, which enables him to focus on objects millions of miles away; super-vision, a combination of X-ray vision and telescopic vision, which enables him to perform such optical feats as peering through the wall of a house thousands of miles away; microscopic vision, which enables him to examine the tiniest atomic particles; heat vision, which enables him to apply intense heat to any substance except lead; infrared vision, which enables him to see objects lying outside the visible spectrum at its red end; radar vision, a term denoting infrared vision used at low power, which enables him to see in pitch darkness; and photographic vision, which enables him to perform such feats as memorizing whole books at a single glance.

In Superman's earliest adventures, however, he exhibited no special optical powers, and the vision abilities he employs today are the products of a gradual evolution spanning many years of texts. Tracing the evolution of these abilities is difficult, for the terminology used to describe them is often haphazard and confusing.  "Telescopic X-ray vision," for example, used as a general term in many early texts to denote Superman's ability both to see through objects and to see objects from far away, later comes to refer to the use of both of these visions simultaneously.

"Super-vision," however, both with and without the hyphen, has been employed at various times in the chronicles as a synonym for telescopic vision; as a means of describing Superman's ability to perform some complex optical feat, such as tracing television broadcast signals to their source; and as a term denoting a combination of X-ray vision and telescopic vision, the meaning it has today.

Similarly, Superman used his X-ray vision to analyze the chemical composition of substances, to melt solid objects, and to see in pitch darkness long before the more specialized terms microscopic vision, heat vision, and radar vision ever appeared in the chronicles.

Some terms, such as "super-sensory sight," "super-sensory-vision," and "supernormal vision" are used in the texts without ever being defined precisely.


Super-Hearing

Today Superman's super-hearing - ordinary human hearing multiplied countless thousands of times - enables Superman to detect the footfall of an ant 1,000 miles away or trace the source of sound waves across millions of miles of interstellar space.

In his very earliest adventures, however, Superman exhibited no special aural powers, and the super-hearing he employs today is the product of a gradual evolution spanning many years of texts.  The term "super-hearing" first appears in the chronicles in Fall 1939.  Nevertheless, during the first two decades of Superman's career, the texts also employ such other descriptive terms as "super-acute hearing," "super-sensitive hearing," "hyper-keen hearing," and "super-keen hearing."

In January 1939, Superman is described as having "sensitive ears," which enable him to hear things ordinary human beings cannot.

In November 1940, Superman's super-sensitive ears enable him to pick up radio waves so that he can listen in on a radio news broadcast without a radio.  In 1942, his super-sensitive hearing enables him to trace radio waves to their source.

In June 1946, Superman's hyper-keen hearing enables him to trace a telephone call across the phone wires to its source.

By 1950, Superman's super-hearing enables him to hear the low humming sound of a machine 1,500 miles away.  In 1953, he exhibits the ability to focus his super-hearing so precisely that, while flying high over Metropolis, he can eavesdrop on a conversation taking place in one specific apartment.

In January 1960, Superman's super-hearing enables him to trace sound waves to their ultimate source: a space ship millions of miles from Earth (Action Comics #260) and by December of the same year, Superman can hear Big Ben chiming the hour in London while he is in the Sahara Desert.


Super-Breath and Related Powers

Like Superman's other super-powers, his super-breath and related powers have undergone continual expansion and magnification.

A text dated August 1939 notes that Superman can hold his breath for hours underwater.

In January 1940, he blows out a flaming torch with a powerful puff of his breath.

A text dated March 1941 notes that Superman's lungs can withstand any air pressure, no matter how great, and a later text observes that Superman can swim thousands of fathoms deep, down to the ocean bed itself, without suffering any ill effects.

In June 1941 Superman extinguishes a raging fire with a terrific gust of breath and in 1947 he extinguishes a bonfire by inhaling the flames.

In November 1947, when the Toyman attempts to make good his escape astride a rocket-powered hobbyhorse, Superman draws him back to earth with a deep inhalation of breath.

In March 1949, after having been locked inside a skyrocket by Lex Luthor, Superman uses his super-breath in place of rocket fuel to launch the skyrocket into the stratosphere.  "And with super-breath," notes the text, "the Man of Steel lifts the projectile into the sky!" Superman performs a similar feat in July 1960, climbing into the exhaust apparatus of a jet aircraft disabled in midair and using his superbreath as jet propulsion to guide it to a safe landing.

In September 1949, Superman extinguishes a chemical fire by inhaling all the air around it.  "The deadly flames are no menace to Superman," notes the text, "who smothers them by momentarily drawing all the air in the room into his own mighty lungs!"

In July 1953, Superman notes that he can stay underwater almost indefinitely.

In July 1954, Superman paints a house by using his super-breath to blow paint out of a paint bucket onto the house.  "Super-breath comes in handy in many ways," muses Superman, "but this is the first time I've used it as a paint sprayer!"

In August 1954, far out in space, Superman extinguishes a star with a blast of his super-breath. (Superman #91)

In July 1959, Superman halts a massive tidal wave by freezing it into a solid iceberg with a blast of his super-breath.

In March 1960, Jimmy Olsen remarks that Superman can live for years underwater.

In October 1960, after engraving an inscription with his fingernail into the frame of a mirror, Superman blows on the inscription with this super-breath in order to imbue it with an antique appearance. "The force of my super-breath will create an artificial aging effect," observes Superman, "so the writing will appear centuries-old!" (Action Comics #269)

In February 1961, after Mr. Mxyzptlk has loosed a cloud of magic sneezing powder on Metropolis, Superman finds himself forced to give vent to a super-sneeze that literally destroys an entire distant solar system.

In April 1963, Superman disarms a gang of bank robbers by using his super-cold breath to freeze the air around their guns into clocks of ice.  "Puffing my super-cold breath at them," muses Superman, "I've condensed the moisture in the air around their guns into ice!  Now that their numb fingers can't pull triggers, innocent bystanders won't get hurt!"

A text dated April 1965 notes that Superman is invulnerable to drowning and can remain under-water as long as he wishes.


Vocal and Ventriloquistic Powers

Like Superman's other super-powers, his vocal and ventriloquistic powers have been continually magnified and expanded in the course of his career.

In 1941, Superman employs ordinary ventriloquism to distract the attention of criminals holding Lois Lane.

In March 1942, Superman exhibits the ability to mimic voices when he expertly disguises his voice so that it sounds exactly like a gang-leader's. In September of the same year, in order to warn the people of Metropolis of a Nazi invasion, Superman shouts a warning in such dynamic tones his voice carries for miles.

In May 1943 Superman summons police to an underworld hideout by broadcasting his voice with the aid of his super-powers so that it materializes in police radio sets.

In 1947 Superman shatters a thousand-ton block of ice into tiny fragments with a mighty shout.

In January 1950, Superman ventriloquizes over a considerable distance in order to make a painted image of himself appear to talk and in order to make his voice materialize from a police-car radio.  This technique, which later becomes known as "super-ventriloquism," enables Superman to project his voice over immense distances and yet have his voice heard only by those whom he is directly addressing.

In July 1950, one of Superman's super-yells is monitored at over 1,000,000 decibles. (Superman #65)  One later text notes that "Superman's tremendous shout echoes like a thousand thunderstorms in the sky," while another observes that his "super-voice resounds like 1,000 loudspeakers," enabling everyone within a five-mile radius to hear it.

In August 1950, while standing with Lois Lane in an office at the Daily Planet, Superman uses ventriloquism to make Clark Kent's voice come over the telephone so that Lois will believe that Kent and Superman are two different men.

In September 1955, Superman shatters a diamond into powder by using his super-voice to produce extraordinarily high-pitched musical notes.

In July 1961, Superman converses with Supergirl over an immense distance by means of super-ventriloquism, a voice throwing technique that enables them to converse over long distances without being overheard by anyone in between.

In July 1962, Superman summons Krypto the Superdog by means of super-ventriloquism, but in November 1963 he speaks of summoning Krypto via supersonic ventriloquism, a technique that enables him to throw his voice at such a high pitch that only Krypto's super-canine hearing could possibly hear it.


Superman #14, 1942

Mental and Intellectual Powers

Along with his other super-powers, Superman also possesses a super-intellect and other superhuman mental powers. 

In Spring 1940 Clark Kent exhibits the ability to temporarily halt the beating of his heart.  In several occasions in subsequent years, Superman employs this unique ability in order to enable him to feign death.  Superman #21 alludes to Superman's having temporarily halted the beating of his heart and put himself into a state of suspended animation, and World's Finest Comics #54 cites Superman's ability to control his heart action in order to simulate the signs of death.  Control of one's heartbeat would seem to involve mental control of one's physical functions, but in his only clear description of this feat, Superman describes it as one of "super-muscular control."  "To make you think I had 'died,'" he remarks to a group of captured criminals in January 1958, "I used super-muscular control to stop my heart from beating - just as I'm doing now to make it beat faster and louder, listen!"

In Summer 1940, Superman is described as possessing a photographic memory.

In January 1941 Superman cures Lois Lane of her amnesia by means of hypnosis and a month later, as Clark Kent, he hypnotizes her into forgetting the super-feats he is about to perform so that he can rescue her from a burning cabin in his role as Clark Kent without betraying his dual identity.

In January 1942, Superman is able to converse fluently with a mermaid despite the fact that her tongue is completely foreign to him because his advanced intellect instantly comprehends her strange language. (Superman #14)

In July 1943, Superman is described as having a "super-brain," but later texts refer to Superman as having a "super-intellect."

In January 1945, Superman visits the public library and reads through a mountain of books and articles about himself in only five minutes, and in November 1945, he is described as reading a 500-page book in ten seconds flat.

In September 1947, Superman is described as having a super-instinct that alerts him to the fact that someone is watching him.

In July 1948, Superman demonstrates the ability to solve complex mathematical equations with the speed and accuracy of a giant computing machine.

In July 1950, Superman's super-intellect enables him to solve, in seconds, a complicated mathematical problem that the Metropolis Science Foundation's mighty electronic brain takes ten minutes to solve.

In July 1951, Clark Kent memorizes a 400-page book in a matter of seconds, and in September of the same year, Superman comments that, for the sake of convenience, he has memorized the entire Metropolis phone book.

In November 1953, Superman is described as having a "super-memory."

In March 1954, Superman's super-intelligence enables him to solve a complex equation that involves dealing with mathematical ideas unknown to ordinary men.

In March 1955, Superman memorizes all the existing books on eye surgery preparatory to performing a complicated eye operation.

In April 1955, Superman is described as having used his photographic memory to memorize all the files of the Daily Planet.

In May 1956, Superman is described as being able to recall every action of his life with his "super-human memory."  Subsequent texts refer to Superman's "power of total memory" or "total-recall memory," noting that it enables the Man of Steel to remember everything he ever said or did.

In January 1958, Superman is able to match up a suspect's fingerprints with those on file in Washington, D.C., as the result of having used his super-memory to memorize the entire fingerprint file of the F.B.I.

In June 1958, while relaxing at his Fortress of Solitude, Superman defeats a great robot he has built in a game of super-chess, despite the fact that the robot - which possesses a super-electronic brain - can think and play with the speed of lightning and plans a million moves at once.

In November 1960 Superman is described as having mastered Kryptonese, the language of Krypton, through his memory's power of total recall.

A text dated August 1963 notes that Superman possesses the super-intellect of a score of the world's most brilliant minds put together.


Miscellaneous Powers

In addition to the super-powers enumerated in the foregoing subsections, Superman has displayed other unique abilities that are not readily classifiable.

Several texts describe Superman as possessing super-senses which, among other things, enable him to sense the presence of an electrical discharge or the close proximity of Lori Lemaris.

Superman's supersensitive nostrils enable him to detect the faint odor of nitroglycerine in a cache of dynamite or to stand atop a Metropolis skyscraper and pinpoint Lois Lane's exact location by her perfume.

According to one text, Superman possesses a super-sensitive nerve structure, rendering him extraordinarily sensitive to the effects of cosmic disturbances.  Another text notes that Superman's fingers are super-sensitive, enabling him to distinguish between types of metal ores by their touch even when he cannot see them.

Superman's super-coordination enables him to sign two autographs simultaneously, one with each hand, and a transfusion of his alien blood has the power to make a critically ill person well again within a matter of moments. (Superman #6, 1940)

Superman #133 asserts that Superman could consume virtually endless quantities of food, and Action Comics #306 suggests that Superman can perform feats of lovemaking of which an ordinary man would be quite incapable:  forced into the position of having to kiss Lois Lane beneath the mistletoe at a Daily Planet Christmas party in 1963, Clark Kent mischievously decides to shock the daylights out of Lois by giving her a super-kiss, in the manner of Superman, instead of the mild-mannered kiss she would be likely to expect from Clark Kent.  Indeed, when Kent finally releases Lois from his embrace after giving her a super-soulful kiss, Lois is glassy-eyed and on the verge of swooning.

"Holy Toledo, Clark," exclaims someone at the party, " - where'd you learn to kiss like that?"

"Yes," stammers Lois, plainly impressed, "for a while I thought you were - er - someone else!  Where'd you pick up this technique?"

"Maybe it's sort of a hidden talent!" replies Kent.  "After all, you don't know everything about me!"  And then Kent thinks:  "True indeed! Lois would pass out if she knew it was Superman, my other identity, who kissed her!"

One super-power that has long since been discarded by the chroniclers is Superman's ability, displayed on a number of occasions in the 1940s, to radically alter his facial characteristics and even his size through what was described as "superb muscular control" of his "plastic features."


Text on this page taken from The Great Superman Book © 1978 by Michael L. Fleisher.
Superman TM & © DC Comics

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