Question about Superman and his powers...

The sun is his source of power. Kryptonite is his anti-power, right? So how come his powers can be taken away instantly when Kryptonite is introduced, but not when sunlight is taken away? I see him fighting indoors and in the dark all the time. But how can this be so? I mean, if he isn’t constantly supplied with sunlight, how can he be flying in the night sky or breaking through the earth’s core?

He’s basically a solar battery in that he stores and retains energy. If you kept him away from the sun for a long enough period of time then yes, he would eventually weaken.

Superman’s cells are like tiny little solar batteries. They can store a certain amount of energy, so he can use his powers for a while until the charge runs out. Green Kryptonite radiation prevents him from using his powers but doesn’t drain the solar charge already stored in his body. When the Kryptonite is removed from his presence his powers return.

Similarly, red solar radiation displaces the stored yellow solar radiation in Superman’s cells and either weakens him considerably or removes all his powers, depending on the strength and duration of the red-sunlight exposure. Unlike kryptonite, red sun exposure does not kill Superman or jeopardizes his health – it just makes him “normal Kryptonian” strong, without superhuman powers, like flight, super-strength or invulnerability. (Many writers stupidly choose to interpret Superman as being weak as a kitten when exposed to red solar rays, though.)

Exposure to either redlight sun or kryptonite may necessitate some recovery time with full sunlight before Superman is back to full strength again.

I don’t think it’s COMPLETELY stupid. If I were going to fanwank it, I’d say that he gets so weak and dizzy when he’s exposed to red solar rays because he’s suddenly experiencing hypoglycemia. He doesn’t need to eat when he has powers, remember? Moreover, I think it’s on record tht he doesn’t get hungry when he’s powered up (he mentioned this to Hal Jordan around the time of the Legends miniseries in the late 80, and Jordan wasn’t sure whether that was an advantage or not), so he probably only eats for taste. It wouldn’t surprise me if the only time he ever eats food is when visiting his folks at dinnertime, and then only from habit (I can’t imagine Lois cooking on a regular basis). When he’s powered up that doesn’t matter–but when he suddenly loses his powers, he feels like I do when my blood sugar is in the 50s.

So what is “normal Kryptonian” strong relative to “normal Earthman” strength?

It varies a little, depending on era, but from the 60s, on, it’s pretty much been even. A Kryptonian under a red sun, or under the effects of Gold Kryptonite (which removes their powers permanently) is identical in every noticable way to a human.

Since this seems to be more or less the place for it, I seem to recall an Elseworlds or something that showed a future Superman (a good hundred years or more in the future, I think) actually living in the sun. Was this an actual story, or did I just make it up one day?

Okay, I can buy THAT explanation.

Sounds like the resolution Grand Morrison’s DC One Million “Big Idea” crossover event back when he was writing JLA.

That was DC 1,000,000, which is not an Elseworld. It was, at the time it was written (1999), in canon. The future of the DCU has changed rather radically, since (and that’s just through the 30th century, DC 1,000,000 took place in the 853rd! (and the 20th…)), so it’s become one more time travel paradox.

It varies A LOT. In the very early stories, all Kryptonians were just like Superman, even on Krypton. Of course, Superman couldn’t fly back then (he jumped) and was not completely invulnerable (a bursting shell could break his skin).

You forgot to say “We all hail the master fanwanker!”

I’ll even add to my fanwank: the effect happened to him repeatedly in the pre-Crisis days because, since the Earth-1 Superman had powers from the second he landed on Terra, and probably never got exposed to red-sun radiation until at least his mid-teens, if not later, he had no idea what being hungry (much less hypoglycemic) felt like and never put the two together. His default state was super-powered, and because all his powerless episodes were so brief, it never occurred to him that something else was going on when he was deprived of that yellow-sun magic.

So if Superman were to fly away from the sun, which planet would he get to before his powers ran out. . .Jupiter? Neptune?

Back to Krypton:

  • what was life like on Big K before it got blowed up?
  • What were the powers/lack thereof of its denizens?
  • was Kryptonite created in the explosion of the planet, or was it always there, keeping the Kryptonians down?
  • Did Zod destroy the planet, or was it a natural phenomenon?

Pre-Crisis he used to star-hop all the time. In those days, the sun was less the source of his powers than the catalyst; that is, a moment’s exposure to yellow sun radiation made Kryptonians super, and they stayed that way indefinitely unless they were exposed to red sun radiation. Consequently he could make interstellar hops at will as long as he avoided red suns; presumably he knew the range at which the red sun radiation was dominant, and charted his course to avoid such systems.

Post-Crisis, he’s flown as far as from Earth to Pluto (during Our World’s at War under his own power without any particular difficulty. I’ve always assumed that, before making such a major trip, he flies close to the sun–say to the orbit of Mercury or thereabouts–and soaks for a while to build his reserves. He’s probably stronger in space anyway, since there’s no atmosphere to block any solar radiation.

Constant incestuous orgies. Why, Jor-El, Superman’s biological father, had NINE MOTHERS.

Mostly sensory. Jor-El could hear the grass growing all the way in Midgard.
Wait–I’m talking about Asgard. Never mind.

So, can the comics Sup do things like fly around the Earth faster than light and reverse time? If that’s the case, his powers are essentially infinite. If he’s soaking up solar rays for juice to gain this ability, and he can loose it over time by simply moving away from the Sun, he must be an eclipse when he’s sunbathing, and he must radiate like a motherfuck even sitting around in the shade. To lose the kind of power needed for supraluminal flight and return to human strength in a finite period of time ought to put him the the ballpark of a man-sized quasar or something.

Okay, I may need to go look that up the next time I’m at the comic-book store… Thanks, Tengu and Askia. :slight_smile:

It all depends on when you are asking. Things are always being retconned and changed.

As far as the 60s-70s Superman was concerned:

  1. Basic Gernsbeckian ideal society. Wise council runs it, but they’re not wise enough to believe Jor-El’s warnings.
  2. No powers on Krypton. They came from two sources: super strength, flying were due to the lesser gravity on Earth. Invulnerability, various visions due to the yellow sun rays.
  3. Kryptonite created in the explosion. (A chunk of the planet – Argo City – remained intact and turned to kryptonite, but Zor-El had a bunch of lead foil, so they were protected – until meteors wrecked it and he had to send his daughter Supergirl to Earth to follow her cousin.)
  4. Natural phenomenon.

Going all the way back to the 40s, all kryptonians had super powers. Same council, but still not wise enough to listen to Jor-L’s warnings (as his name was spelled back then).