I know he could jump before he could fly, and that he was super strong, super fast and invulnerable. How did the rest of his powers come along re vision powers, super breath, super hearing, super hypnosis, not needing oxygen in outer space etc.? Did they evolve or were they just added in as needed?
Well, “invulnerable” is a but much; the guy was bulletproof, but it was established in the first issue that a mundane artillery shell could break the skin.
Mostly, Supes would just say, “I’ll use my super-<fill in the blank power to fix this problem!” and then he’d use some ability he’d never had before - and, likely, would never have again.
Added as needed – and sometimes dropped immediately afterwards, like his super disguise power (th ability to remold his face) and super telepathy. Readers back then didn’t give a damn about continuity, so the writers didn’t bother being consistent.
A lot of crazy-ass powers were added in the Silver Age and quietly dropped after Crisis. I can’t think of anything on the level of “super ventriloquism” that was added (or used) after 1986.
I really miss super-knitting.
Wow, that’s super-stupid.
I think the vision powers were always/nearly always there, or at least were going way way back. Ditto the “freeze breath” thing.
Then there was the power to walk through walls, which he had in the tv series and,afaik, no where else.
Sort of. Before heat vision and x-ray vision were separate powers he’d use the ‘heat’ from his x-ray vision to melt stuff.
I said “walk” through walls, like a ghost, not smash through walls.
Early on, Superman’s powers were always gained and lost depending on what the story required, continuity be damned.
Why doesn’t he use his Super teleportation or that big plastic S anymore?
I know the radio shows added a lot to the Superman stories (kryptonite for example) but I don’t know if any powers specifically first showed up there.
I think the weirdest “used once then forgotten about” power from the comics was when it was revealed that he used super-hypnosis to make everyone think Clark Kent was some fat schlub, and that’s why no one noticed how much Clark and Superman looked the same. It’s like, why bother with the glasses if you’re gonna do that? Just super-hypnotize some glasses on. Hell, just super-hypnotize on Clark’s suit and wear your costume all the time. Hell, go around nekkid and just super-hypnotize on your costume, too.
I think you’re thinking much harder about the old comics than they ever did.
As others have noted, Supes has done the walking through walls thing in the comics. My fanwank has always been that the Silver Age version, at least, could duplicate most of Flash’s feats (Barry being only a hair faster in those days) but didn’t bother, partly because he had more powers in his wheelhouse and partly because the vibration feats were a lot harder because of his greater density.
Super-hypnosis wasn’t a one-off power; I can recall other Silver & Bronze Age stories in which it was used. It was used sparingly, though, because the writers, in a rare display of sense, realized that it was a step too far on the road to omnipotence.
[humorless & clueless pedant]
Seeing how both those only happened in the Fortress, I’m happy to say they were both applications of Kryptonian tech rather than super-powers. Though his whole plan was needlessly complicated in Superman II. All he needed to do was conceal himself in a shielded room and activate the super-power-draining thingie as soon as all three villains were inside.
[/humorless & clueless pedant]
I remember a Superman story from the mid 60’s. It wasn’t a comic, but was sort of a short novel format with few pictures. At the end of the story he caught the criminal, and then snapped his fingers and levitated a camera lens (part of the story) into his hand. I wasn’t more than 10 but even then I thought that was strange.
Here we go! These are wonderful!
The superpowers that time forgot.
Ah, but you’re forgetting the whole point of that story: his super-hypnosis isn’t strong enough to make him look all that different as Clark. Our hero can’t project the idea that his alter ego has a different build and sparser hair unless he beams the stuff through something that magnifies the effect.
Since he loves to subtly focus his heat vision on stuff without melting his glasses, he made the lenses from that nigh-indestructible clear dome of his Kryptonian rocket ship; without realizing it, he’d also been focusing his “I Don’t Look Like Superman” hypno-beam through 'em ever since.
Which means the oft-derided glasses are still the key to making the whole thing work!
The silly thing about the walk through walls story was that Superman didn’t need to do it; he defeated the villain through a trick.
The TV show also had an episode where Superman was able to split into two Superman, each with half his strength.
My favorite part of the Morrison “All Star” series is where super intellect, God of Progress Luthor won’t see Clark Kent as Superman despite all these “in your face clues” pointing that way.