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Author Topic: Superman's Super-Gadgets?  (Read 8835 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: September 15, 2005, 06:15:37 PM »

Superman isn't exactly Batman, but he has used many occasions various types of machinery and gizmos over the years. What are some you can remember?

In the issue "Hero Under Glass" (1980-something) by Cary Bates where Superman battled Chemo, he was able to disperse a cloud of pollution that had transformed Superman into a werewolf man by creating a giant vacuum cleaner that sucked in air, whose inflated tank was the size of a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Balloon.

Superman's cape not only was indestructible and had a pocket for holding Clark Kent's costume, but it also possessed a degree of Super-Elasticity. I recall a few Bates/Maggin stories where Superman tied his cape between two poles in order to catch a bank robbers' getaway car Plastic Man style, and in one story whose issue number I forget, it can actually stretch so far that he was able to use it to shield an ENTIRE SMALL TOWN from flood rains.

In one of the stories on this website, it was established that Supergirl had telepathy crystals on her belt, which when she tapped, would instantly tell her the time both on the outside and in Kandor.

Remember the expanding cellophane S-shield Superman used in SUPERMAN II? Classy use of a symbolic piece of imagery. Almost as good as Superwoman's S-Shield turning clear to fire a laser beam.

It's entirely logical that Superman has various other pieces of gadgetry just by the sake of plausibility.

For instance, Superman might have emergency compressed parachutes inside of his boot heels that automatically activate by sudden, sharp deceleration, for the simple reason that somebody as clever as Superman would have a contingency in case some enemy negated his ability to fly and his invulnerability, whether through gravity trap or some other means, he would survive if it happened while he was in the air.
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nightwing
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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2005, 06:43:14 PM »

Quote
For instance, Superman might have emergency compressed parachutes inside of his boot heels that automatically activate by sudden, sharp deceleration, for the simple reason that somebody as clever as Superman would have a contingency in case some enemy negated his ability to fly and his invulnerability, whether through gravity trap or some other means, he would survive if it happened while he was in the air.



Heh.  Thanks for the mental picture of Superman being gently lowered to the ground...upside down...by means of parachutes coming out of the bottoms of his boots.  :lol:

But then, there was a real story where he found that all his normally exposed flesh was incapable of taking in yellow sun radiation and so he was falling to Earth, powerless, much as you describe. So he took off his boots in free-fall and exposed his bare feet to the sunlight, which gave him enough power to land safely (well, he wrecked the Washington Monument I think, but he was unharmed personally).

The image of Superman crashing his bare feet into the monument is still with me...
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2005, 10:00:34 PM »

Quote from: "nightwing"
Heh.  Thanks for the mental picture of Superman being gently lowered to the ground...upside down...by means of parachutes coming out of the bottoms of his boots.  :lol:

But then, there was a real story where he found that all his normally exposed flesh was incapable of taking in yellow sun radiation and so he was falling to Earth, powerless, much as you describe. So he took off his boots in free-fall and exposed his bare feet to the sunlight, which gave him enough power to land safely (well, he wrecked the Washington Monument I think, but he was unharmed personally).

The image of Superman crashing his bare feet into the monument is still with me...


Here's another mental image to compliment that one:

Imagine some poor security guard schlub, working 12 hour shifts at minimum wage at our nation's capital. All of a sudden, his nose twitches.

"Hey - what smells like boot feet?"

KABOOOOOOOOM!

On a related note, the symbolic emmasculation of the Washington Monument has sent through me phantom pains - sort of like watching a soccer game.
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"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2005, 03:47:55 PM »

Didn't Superboy have a Legion Flight Ring stashed away in his belt buckle, or something like that?  Where'd it go?

One big problem with Superman the technowizard with technowizard friends is that there's just no good explanation of why he doesn't apply that knowhow toward personal protection.  The Kandorians could make great unobtrusive nano-technology to help their savior, if it didn't occur to Kal-El himself.  Heck, why not just have a few dozen Kandor scientists and engineers working in a Kandor-sized research facility inside Superman's belt buckle?   They'd be his "secret weapon", when they weren't busy on  reversing Brainiac's shrinking ray (with super-speed and intellect, no less).  Superman's Great Wall of China vision could be explained as Kandorians rebuilding the Great Wall and Superman using his supervision to inspect their work.  Smiley
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2005, 08:55:55 PM »

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
Didn't Superboy have a Legion Flight Ring stashed away in his belt buckle, or something like that?  Where'd it go?


Good question! Didn't all Legion members also have Telepathic Earplugs and transparent life support suits that automatically kick in on contact with vacuum? (which explains scenes of Legionnaires comfortably surviving in space). My understanding is that transsuits activated on contact with vacuum or hostile atmospheres, however, SUDDEN atmospheric changes (like say, for example, a gas attack) did not activate the transuits; this accounts for why, for instance, the Legion could be affected by Mantis Morlo's hallucinogenic gas and the Fear Gas used as a weapon in Tharok/Dark Man's citadel.

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
One big problem with Superman the technowizard with technowizard friends is that there's just no good explanation of why he doesn't apply that knowhow toward personal protection.  


Englehart, during his wonderful run on GREEN LANTERN (and later, when the book's name changed, GREEN LANTERN CORPS) established the idea that Lantern's Power Ring is programmed to automatically defend the wearer reflexively.

Superman had protective devices, as I recall, the first being his invulnerable cape; notice, for example, that when battling King Kosmos, whose future weapons can harm Superman, he extends his cape out over himself like a shield. Another was a lead suit he kept in the Fortress of Solitude that allowed him to examine and study Kryptonite.

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
The Kandorians could make great unobtrusive nano-technology to help their savior, if it didn't occur to Kal-El himself.  


I can't see the 1950s, Flash Gordon style Krypton making use of a technology like nanotech. Nanotechnology (as well as certain other types of technology - for instance, bionics) are very un-pulp in aesthetic. One can never imagine John Carter, the heroes from LENSMAN, or Buck Rogers using a transistor device; even though they're in future societies that almost assuredly must have invented something more useful (though having much less flavor) than the vacuum tube.

(Yeah, I do get what you're trying to say, though.) Cheesy

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
Heck, why not just have a few dozen Kandor scientists and engineers working in a Kandor-sized research facility inside Superman's belt buckle?   They'd be his "secret weapon", when they weren't busy on  reversing Brainiac's shrinking ray (with super-speed and intellect, no less).  


This is a pretty trippy idea; Superman having tiny people stashed inside his belt buckle. Inside his buckle there would probably be all sorts of luxiurious accomodations for visiting Kandorians. The Superman Rescue Squad with their callow, hero worshipping ways, would probably do anything for Superman.

The Kandorians might be the explanation for how various pieces of Super-Equipment pop into being; perhaps they gratefully spend their free time (and being tiny and living in a bottle, I'm sure they've got a lot) building helpful devices for him.  If a gadget suddenly shows up in Superman's care (like for instance, Superman's Super-Newsroom) it may be the case that the Kandorians built it for him.

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
Superman's Great Wall of China vision could be explained as Kandorians rebuilding the Great Wall and Superman using his supervision to inspect their work.


Hmmm, that's one interesting explanation for how that really goofy feat was pulled off. You've got to admire those little guys in the Superman Emergency Squad; they do all the grunt work (like rebuilding the entire Great Wall of China) without so much as a single complaint.

Here's another one:

"Movie" Superman was shown to have all sorts of powers that Superman in the comics has not demonstrated; for example, the ability to move objects with telekinetic force by pointing, hologram projection, and so on. Perhaps "Movie" Superman has a greater command of time as well?

After all, it was stated by Superman's father how vital it is he not interfere with human history. Why would this be so emphasized would make more sense if he sported some sort of time control power. This may also explain how Superman was able to travel back in time - he was using a time travel ability instead of doing what it looked like he was doing, make the earth spin the other way (!). It just looks like the earth spins the other way, because he was using his time careening power to project himself to a point where the earth was at a different point in its axial rotation. Perhaps movie Superman also has something not unlike the Tom Peyer Hourman, a power like "Time-Vision" that can reverse the flow of time?

(Incidentally, that was a great series I'd love to see on Trade Paperback.)
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2005, 04:18:44 PM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
Superman had protective devices, as I recall, the first being his invulnerable cape; notice, for example, that when battling King Kosmos, whose future weapons can harm Superman, he extends his cape out over himself like a shield. Another was a lead suit he kept in the Fortress of Solitude that allowed him to examine and study Kryptonite.

Yeah, but that armor was so clunky as to rarely be seen.  He also had a Supermobile with those cool hands, but you didn't see too much of that either.  It probably wouldn't take a strong "force" field to repolarize red sun rays and green K into something more agreeable.  At least wear a Mother Box, for pete's sake!

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
This is a pretty trippy idea; Superman having tiny people stashed inside his belt buckle. Inside his buckle there would probably be all sorts of luxiurious accomodations for visiting Kandorians. The Superman Rescue Squad with their callow, hero worshipping ways, would probably do anything for Superman.

Of course, it all gets silly when you ask yourself why the Kandorians still live in a bottle since Supes rescued them from Brainiac.  I think there was a what-if type story that suggested that they couldn't farm, so they had to stay in the bottle, or something nonsensical like that.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2005, 11:35:57 PM »

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
Yeah, but that armor was so clunky as to rarely be seen.  He also had a Supermobile with those cool hands, but you didn't see too much of that either.  It probably wouldn't take a strong "force" field to repolarize red sun rays and green K into something more agreeable.  At least wear a Mother Box, for pete's sake!


Good point, now that I think about it.

I can recall some occasions where Superman has used yellow sun lamps. However, I can't think of any occasion where he used it for an extended period. This may be an explanation for why Superman doesn't build a Yellow Sun Suit or something like that; artificial yellow sunlight may, in the long term, be harmful to him. If it is how he gets his powers, perhaps artificial yellow sunlight is sort of like drinking "sour milk:" easy on the lips but nasty for the mouth.

Here's a thought: if Superman's powers are derived from Earth's sun, why would the Fortress of Solitude be in the Arctic, where sunlight has to travel the furthest and is most at an angle? Perhaps the "ice" that surrounds the Fortress traps sunlight more fully, like a greenhouse, sort of like the buildings in WARLORD OF MARS.

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
Of course, it all gets silly when you ask yourself why the Kandorians still live in a bottle since Supes rescued them from Brainiac.  I think there was a what-if type story that suggested that they couldn't farm, so they had to stay in the bottle, or something nonsensical like that.


That is a good question: why be tiny and in a bottle when you can just be tiny and have godlike powers?

Here's one possible solution:

This question by its nature makes the mistake of assuming Kryptonian and human psychology is interchangeable. Kryptonians place extensive priority on living ordinary lives with creature comforts, which makes sense in the context of a Utopian, supertechnological civilization; if everything is perfect at home, why leave? There's some roast Thought Beast in the oven and a giant ape fight on the holovision. This different Kryptonian mentality may explain why a setback like the Wegethor explosion was so destructive to their space program: the idea of going out and exploring space is a very human idea. Maybe Kryptonians are cosmic homebodies, in essence, "Super-Hobbits." Adventures make them late for dinner!

Jor-El was an exception, but the comics make it quite clear that Jor-El is an extraordinary, atypical individual by the standards of his culture.

In "Superman Red/Superman Blue," when Superman mentions that if the Kandorians were to exist in Earth's Solar System and they have incredible powers...it would mean they would never be able to go back to living their normal lives. The people of Kandor seemed honestly terrified at this suggestion. They quickly voted to return their home to their native galaxy under a red sun.

It also should be noted that Supergirl, who was raised Kryptonian until her teenage years, in that same story wanted nothing more than to be an ordinary girl again - and this is a consistent aspect of her characterization, unlike Superman. Several Maggin stories showed Supergirl simultaneously loving and loathing her "specialness."

This creature-comfort loving aspect of Krypton may explain why Brainiac is such a reviled criminal for in effect, saving Kandor from doom: they disrupted their lives in a catastrophic way, and Kryptonians value "business as usual."
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"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
       - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
DoctorZero
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« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2005, 02:49:34 AM »

I think they kind of let Superman have a gadget if the situation warrented it.  Especially if it was one in which his powers failed or were of no use to him.
I always thought the Kandor thing made sense.  Their city was shielded from a hostile environment.  Any would they were on would be gigantic to them, so existing in the bottle was the next best thing to being "normal".  Even on a yellow sun world they would have to contend with "gigantic" creatures.
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