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Author Topic: Superman's strength reduced by a third? I don't think so...  (Read 14434 times)
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Captain Kal
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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2005, 06:25:14 PM »

Another story referencing the separateness of Superman's powers -- both from each other and from his own person -- was "The Secret of the Eighth Superman".  A Barnum-fictional-version learns the secret of animating puppets as independent pseudo-lifeforms.  His father linked his puppets to his own life force so they died when he died.  The less-scrupulous son decided to link seven puppets with Superman's super-powers: super-breath, super-strength, super-speed, flight, super-hearing, super-vision, and invulnerability (not in that order).  As Superman exerted a power with a puppet present, he lost that power to that puppet.  He used his last power, flight, to track them to the circus showman.  The showman's goal was to steal all Kal's powers, transfer them to himself, then use them to become the greatest showman on Earth. (Interestingly, all the puppets could fly even before stealing a power, not just the flight puppet.)

Superman won and regained his powers when he disguised himself as Farnum.  He was able to trick the puppets into beaming his powers back into his body by using the one power Farnum ignored: super-ventriloquism.  Said power let him emulate Farnum's voice perfectly.  So, Farnum messed-up by missing that eighth power, hence the title of the story.  It must also be noted that super-coordination was also referenced in that tale but he needed his speed and strength to control it.

On a related note, Ultra Boy, a Superboy/Superman derivative, had powers that could only be used one-at-a-time.
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Captain Kal

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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2005, 06:38:49 PM »

Not to diss on Ultraboy, but I kind of liked it when he had the mongo vision alone, proclaiming one power at a time seemed a bit forced...and what good is super strength if you shatter every bone in your body using it because you don't have invulnerability?
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Captain Kal
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« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2005, 09:44:24 PM »

It must be noted, Aldous, that what Superman learned in the Sandman Saga had more to do with the dangers of his power being misused as opposed to him being specifically unworthy to wield it.

When he was at full power at the start of the storyline, he was fully in control and had no moral or judgement lapses.

The time he did foul-up at full power was due to brain damage incurred while he was an ordinary mortal that was made permanent with the return of his invulnerability.  A non-brain-damaged Superman would not have been a danger and that was abundantly proven in that very storyline.

I guess the lesson was if he were ever not in perfect mental and moral health, the brain-damaged actions might be an indication of what he'd be capable of (e.g. ruining an entire water system to fix a single leaky faucet).
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Captain Kal

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Captain Kal
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« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2005, 04:03:48 PM »

I remember reading in an old lettercol back then about what the depowering really meant.

The editor, probably Julius Schwartz, replied that Superman could still juggle planets but he needed to exert more effort to do so.  He pretty much could do anything he used to do but needed more effort.  The one area where he was seriously different was with his super-speed.  Pre-Sandman, he could just keep up with the Flash.  Post-Sandman, he couldn't do so anymore so the Flash was far and away the Fastest Man Alive.

Of course, the depowering didn't last and subsequent Pre Crisis races proved they were still pretty even for speed.

I just wish I could remember what issue I read that lettercol in.  My copy from decades past is certainly in some landfill rotting somewhere. Sad

EDIT:  Oh yeah!  The relevant lettercols were scanned earlier on this very thread.  Much thanks for that! Smiley
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Captain Kal

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Aldous
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« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2005, 06:48:09 PM »

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
It must be noted, Aldous, that what Superman learned in the Sandman Saga had more to do with the dangers of his power being misused as opposed to him being specifically unworthy to wield it.


I agree, Captain... There is no question that Superman is the only man worthy of having so much power -- and it is this quality that makes him Superman, more so than the powers themselves.

But...

Quote
When he was at full power at the start of the storyline, he was fully in control and had no moral or judgement lapses.

The time he did foul-up at full power was due to brain damage incurred while he was an ordinary mortal that was made permanent with the return of his invulnerability. A non-brain-damaged Superman would not have been a danger and that was abundantly proven in that very storyline.

I guess the lesson was if he were ever not in perfect mental and moral health, the brain-damaged actions might be an indication of what he'd be capable of (e.g. ruining an entire water system to fix a single leaky faucet).


I think there is more to it than this (as I more or less said in my previous post).

In the first part of the Saga, there is a fantastic quote from Superman: "I've never felt so confident... knowing that there's absolutely nothing that can harm me! Morgan Edge was wrong! Power isn't corrupting... It's freeing me -- to do unlimited good!"

Actually, that is probably my favourite Superman quote ever.

In the last part of the Saga, Superman is saying: "No! I've seen the dangers [of] having too much power... I am human -- I can make mistakes! I don't want -- or need -- more..."

The crisis with the brain damage is clearly past, and most unlikely to be repeated. I don't think Superman has this specific crisis in the back of his mind when he is talking to Ching at the end. He has had a complete change of attitude from his earlier "arrogance" (if it can be called that).

It is not so much that Superman is unworthy of having so much power (he is not), but that he now believes he is unworthy. Big difference.
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Gary
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« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2005, 07:02:59 PM »

I always thought that the quote at the end was in reference to the final battle against his duplicate, in which they unwittingly destroyed the Earth.

This battle, of course, never happened -- Supes was just hypnotised by Ching into thinking it had, and he surely wouldn't have been so careless in a real fight. But it made the point, which I think was that brain damage or no, we all make mistakes.
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Aldous
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« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2005, 05:03:59 PM »

Quote from: "Gary"
and he surely wouldn't have been so careless in a real fight


Are you sure about that, Gary? For Superman, it was real. Perception is everything...

Although Ching gave them a vision of what could happen, it was driven by their own decisions, surely -- otherwise Superman wouldn't have been competely shocked to find out it hadn't happened. He believed he was in a real fight.

Maybe the jury is out on that. :|
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Gary
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« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2005, 05:56:53 PM »

I'd say the jury is out and won't be back in. Smiley True, Superman believed it was real, but whether his actions were driven by his own ideas or by Ching's suggestions is an open question. Though it seems like a bit of a no-brainer to me. I mean, Superman accidentally destroying the world? The proof of that particular pudding is in the eating. He's faced opponents at his own level of physical power before and still always managed to be reasonably careful about collateral damage.
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