What is the physically strongest & weakest Superman has ever been written?

From his beginning to present day what is the strongest and weakest that Superman with his standard complement of powers has even been written/portrayed? This “standard complement” assumes his powers are not being been enhanced or suppressed by an outside force during the story.

The weakest I can recall him being portrayed was in the Dark Knight where Batman is beating him up with missiles, acid, and street electricity.

The strongest is probably some 60’s comic I’ve forgotten where he’s going FTL speeds and pushing asteroids and moons around.

He’s the weakest when he’s in the wrong forum :stuck_out_tongue:

But seriously, in terms of static power level, I don’t know, but one could argue that he was weakest when he died.

You mean The Dark Knight Returns? Didn’t Batman have Green Arrow lob some kryptonite at him (thus violating the “powers are not being been enhanced or suppressed by an outside force during the story” proviso)?

I’m pretty sure that the weakest his general baseline power level has ever been was during the very early stories (he could jump long distances, not fly; he was just tough enough that “nothing less than a bursting shell” could wound him).

Also – why is this in The BBQ Pit? Worried that Supes will zorch you with his heat vision? :stuck_out_tongue:


Figure you posted this to the pit by accident.

I was a Marvel guy in the 60s/70s, so I’m not the person to answer authoritatively.

But anecdotally, I remember a story where a planet was being overrun by a super-kudzu type weed. Supe was able to cut the planet in half and dispose of the hemisphere that was covered with the killer vine.

I don’t remember what he replaced it with

This is a good example of why I was a Marvel guy in 60s and 70s.

What the… I wondered where that post went.

While we’re here… Fuck Superman!

Marvel fans enjoy kudzu?

Of course. Because like everything in the Marvel Universe except for Uncle Ben, kudzu won’t stay dead.

Barring Elseworlds and the times he’s been depowered by being on Krypton/in Kryptonian-type environments/under the influence of magic/Red K/simply completely exhausted…

Weakest is in the early Golden Age, where he was able to bend steel bars, withstand an exploding artillery shell, leap tall buildings, and outrun a train, and that was as impressive as he got,

Strongest is late Silver Age when he was casually juggling planets and suns.

Leaping five forums in a single bound! Up, up, and away!

Moved from The BBQ Pit to Cafe Society.

Tengu is right. Golden age, Siegel/ Schuster Superman was barely up to Spider-man levels… by the fifties he was playing pool with entire solar systems, to be toned down strongly by the seventies until mid- eighties, when the entire DC universe was relaunched.

Byrne and the Superman editors tried at first to have a less powerful character, as it made for more realistic stories (Supes could be defeated by a powerful enough bank-robbing robot, for example) but eventally the nostalgic writers who only wanted to write about the Superman they knew as kids took over and from the nineties till now he’s back to God-like levels.

Keep in mind that the reason why these things are able to affect him at all is because this was shortly after he was nearly reduced to ash by the Soviet Super Missile. At the beginning of their fight, Batman remarks that Superman isn’t anywhere near his full capacity.

In addition to the very early Superman comics, a weaker Superman is depicted in the Max Fleischer cartoons. He leaps rather than flies, lacks heat vision, and is much less strong than most other versions.

Likewise, the Superman from the 90’s Animated Series got knocked around a lot, and was easily injured by various weapons.

As others have mentioned, he was strongest in the Silver Age, when he could move planets and travel through time at will by flying faster than the speed of light. That kind of stuff probably reaches its peak with the cosmic stories by writers like Len Wein and Elliot S! Maggin. Off the top of my head, in “Must There Be a Superman?”, Superman creates a small planet by smushing together a bunch of asteroids in order to divert a large space spore. In DC Comics Presents, he flies so fast through space that he literally breaks through the fabric of the universe and has to be stopped by the Spectre.

Well, it’s just that my sense of what is possible will only stretch so far.

I can accept the Silver Surfer traveling interstellar distances on a surf board, serving as a scout for a giant human-shaped being who sucks the energy out of small rocky planets…

But the notion that someone can conquer kudzu? You have to draw the line somewhere.

My local comic book guy, who is something of a Superman expert (in the '80s he authored an authoritative book cataloging and cross-referencing Superman’s history up to that point, which actually got used as a reference book by DC writers) told me that at some point shortly before the first Crisis there was a story in which Superman actually blew out a star in the same manner one would blow out a candle. He said that was one of the things that made DC say, “Ya know, this is getting kind of silly.”

That would not be easy to do.

Never saw it myself, but I’m told he once destroyed a distant solar system by accident when he sneezed. Yes, just a little over the top . . .

Beyond having seen the movies, I am not up to date with this sort of thing, but this does recall fond memories from my childhood. Superman was my favorite after Batman, in the comics-for-ten-cents-apiece era.

I think the story possibilities are best if he has unlimited power, given his vulnerability to Kryptonite. This makes it necessary for the villains to be a little more creative in trying to defeat him than would be the case if they needed only build a gigantic enough robot or weapon.

That wasn’t the real problem with the idea, though. A less powerful Superman doesn’t result in more ‘realistic’ stories, it just means that the DC universe contains a Superman who isn’t very super. Back in 1938, Superman could have relatively modest powers and still appear ‘super,’ because he was mostly fighting gangsters and lynch mobs and such. He was the only superhero in town.

That same approach doesn’t work anymore, because Superman today is the iconic superpowered character in a universe full of similarly superpowered characters. He has to have godlike powers because some supervillains are actual gods, and he has to to be able to punch them out when necessary. It’s the nature of the character: Superman doesn’t just have powers, he has superpowers. If lots of others in the DC universe have superpowers, then he needs extraordinary superpowers. Otherwise there’s no good reason why Earth would need to rely on him in particular to save us from aliens or asteroids or the like. There’s a truckload of B-list heroes out there with impressive powers and abilities.

“I watch him kick around the missiles for a minute. If he was full strength, he’d be able to outrun them. I’ve had worse moments.”

At the beginning of the fight, it’s just weakened Superman vs. Batman with some kind of powered armor. Superman is holding back because he doesn’t want to kill Bruce. “Bruce, this is ridiculous. I’ve just broken three of your ribs.” Later in the fight, Green Arrow hits Superman with the kryptonite, and Bruce shows he can kill Superman, but then has his heart attack right on schedule.