|Gary Frank/DC Comics|
Superman reaches no. 700
of his self-titled series this week, and this issue begins the epic, blockbuster story line that sends Superman ... walking across the country
You might think super-cross-country-strolling is the lamest power the Man of Steel has ever exhibited, but you'd be wrong. Superman has a long, illustrious history of showcasing some weak skills, slapping a "super" in front of it, and trying to pass it off as a spectacular power that only a visitor from another planet could possess.
Thanks to years of reading comic books, I have a mental record of the stupidest powers I've ever seen Superman use. Here's my list of his five lamest.
This superpower holds a special place in my heart because it was part of the first comic (Superman #330) I read as a kid where I actually stopped for a moment and said to myself, "Gee, I don't think hypnotism works like that. Why are there no swirly hypno-circles coming out of his eyes?" At age five, I thought super-hypnotism was a punk way to validate a punk disguise. Of course, I also wondered why Superman subconsciously wanted everyone to think he looked like Paul Harvey.
|Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte/DC Comics|
|Curt Swan and George Klein/DC Comics|
You'd think a power like super-ventriloquism
would be such a bizarre ability that writers would only think of using it once, maybe twice. And if you think that, that's why you never wrote a Superman comic in the Silver Age, because super-ventriloquism was that era's heat vision. Need to distract Lois Lane to keep your secret identity? Super-ventriloquism. Need to communicate with your dog, Krypto (like in these panels from Superman #165
)? Use super-ventriloquism. Want to upstage Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy
? You got it, super-ventriloquism. Like super-hypnotism, super-ventriloquism was a power that even as a kid I couldn't buy. Largely because I spent hours practicing non-super-ventriloquism, and I couldn't throw my voice across the room, let alone call my dog.
3. Super-amnesia kiss
I thought twice about adding this power because my exposure to it is from the Superman II movie and not the comics (where it has made an appearance). I blame this superpower for giving me an unrealistic idea of what adult kissing was supposed to entail. No woman I have ever kissed became light-headed and amnesiac afterward (although some of them have said they wished they could forget the experience), and because of that, I continually feel inadequate as a man. Damn you, Superman!
4. Shooting a midget Superman from his palms
I have Grant Morrison to thank for introducing me to this amazing short story that appeared in Superman #125. A freak accident gives the Man of Steel the ability to shoot a midget Superman from his palm who helps him in his adventures. Naturally, Superman becomes jealous of the lil' guy--wouldn't you be jealous if some hand-living midget was stealing all your thunder?--until Mini-Supes sacrifices his life to save the Regular-Size Supes. As ludicrous a concept as it is, you have to admire a writer who has the moxie to actually turn in a story like this.
|Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye/DC Comics|
Speaking of Grant Morrison, he might be one of the most imaginative comic writers of all time, but that doesn't mean he's immune to a few creative missteps. In his cosmic event series Final Crisis, Morrison had Superman defeat they dying god Darkseid by carrying a tune. Yes, there is a poetic resonance to stopping the bad guy with a song. But there's also something that screams, "Look at me! I'm an Internet meme waiting to happen!"
|Doug Mahnke/DC Comics|
BONUS: Impregnate-Batman power
Granted, this is a fan-created piece of art, so I don't know if Superman got Batman pregnant or if Batman artificially inseminated himself. Given the loving look Superman has, I'm guessing he figured out a way to use his heat vision to surgically carve out a womb inside Batman and super-charge his testicles with yellow sun radiation so that they would produce super-sperm that could interact with Batman's sperm in order to create the very first totally male-conceived human-Kryptonian hybrid. So why is that on the lame-powers list? Well, I would hope that Superman and Batman would be more socially conscious and consider becoming adoptive parents.
Other comics to check out this week
- Air #22 This unusual series will be ending with #24, but it's still worth checking out. If you like this series by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker, check out the collected editions, and be thankful Vertigo took a chance on it.
- Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #3 Hey, Grant Morrison pops up again, and this time he's sending Bruce Wayne through time in order to get him to the present. If you like your Batman urban and gritty, this might not be your cup of tea. But if you want to see Bruce Wayne dress up as a bat pirate, pick this up.
- Garth Ennis' Battlefields: Motherland (1 of 3) #7 Although he's widely know for his work on Preacher, Ennis really shines when he's writing war stories. This issue begins the sequel to his acclaimed The Night Witches, which looked at female Soviet fighter pilots in World War II.