Superman’s New PowerFebruary 13, 2015
The Last Son of Krypton has a new power! Geoff Johns and John Romita, Jr. have watched their recent issue of Superman #38 go into a second printing, such is the demand to witness this change in the Man of Steel.
It’s early days, however, and for the keen eyed there are some niggling issues that are being raised by this power, or, more accurately, its effects on Superman. Unless you’ve lived under a media rock lately, you’ll have heard of Superman acquiring a new power. Strength, speed, flying, and x-ray vision, are now joined with a ‘super-flare’. Not a very cool retro outfit, but a massive discharge or energy. Like a solar flare, and similar to his heat vision, Superman explodes outward with tremendous energy, much like an atomic blast.
Reception has been favourable: It is not a pointless power, it stems from something currently there, and makes logical sense in how it was presented. Having Batman give the details always helps break the news too.
Interestingly, and importantly, for future stories, is that this power is so intense, and expends so much energy, that it strips Superman of his other abilities for 24 hours.
Basically, Superman is a living solar battery. He is charged by the sun, and when he utilizes this new ability, he burns up all the solar energy in his cells in one blast. So it takes about a day for him to recharge, much like plugging in your phone after it dies, it’ll take a while to get back to 100%.
But there is the rub, and the issue that I’m going to be interested in seeing tackled. Superman is constantly absorbing energy, and not just at intervals. What would make more sense, especially by the logic presented for the power, is that his powers would return slowly and not dumped back at once.
It’s like your phone not working again until it hits 100%. So two hours afterwards, he might equal a top athlete. After six hours he would have absorbed enough energy to run as fast as a train again. By noon he should be strong enough to leap tall buildings, and after dinner he’ll be able to see through walls.
I find this to make more sense than the arbitrary idea that ‘you’re human for 24 hours’ and I would hope this is the formula followed by writers in future, otherwise I find it as forced and contrived as the previous superpower change from the 1990’s, and no one wants that.
Ultimately, this is an interesting evolution for the character, a power that both solidifies his place at the top of the most powerful list, and simultaneously pegs him back to his human side every once in a while. For too many years the character has been poorly handled, writers often unable to juggle the godlike aura around him, and this might be a step into new, and better stories.
What do you think about this new development? I’m always up for a debate!
This article was written for publication on The GCE by Paul Neary