Super-Flare: How Does Superman’s New Power Compare To All Of Superman’s Other New Powers?
I think we can all agree that if there's one problem with Superman, it's that he doesn't have enough powers. Now, at long last, this glaring oversight is about to be remedied.
In this week's Superman #38, Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson and Laura Martin are adding another weapon to the Man of Steel's arsenal for the never-ending battle against the forces of evil, and on top of that, a new costume to go along with it. As for just what that new power is, all we really have is a name provided by an infographic sent over by DC Comics: Super Flare. The good news is that art chosen for the infographic gives us a look at what this new power might involve, but the bad news is that the infographic is woefully incomplete.
As you can see, the graphic lists most of Superman's major powers, but it leaves out plenty of the others that, while obscure, definitely have their place in history, especially when we're introducing a new power that pretty much appears to be "cosplaying as Apollo from The Authority." But that's an ouroboros for another time
What matters now is providing you with all the information you need, starting with what might be the biggest oversight on the list: Super-Breath, a pretty enduring power that was introduced in Action Comics #15, which gave him the power to propel other people into flight, draw them backwards to prevent an escape by inhaling, or, in one case in 1954, literally extinguishing a star in the vacuum of space with one mighty burst of his super-lungs.
In a related power, 1961 saw Superman unleash a mighty Super-Sneeze that destroyed "an entire distant solar system," so eat it, Dark Phoenix.
Masterful control over his breathing also gave Superman the power of Super-Ventriloquism starting in 1950, although he displayed a mastery of regular ventriloquism as early as 1940's Superman #13. According to Michael Fleisher's Original Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes v.3, "ventriloquism" was defined pretty loosely back in the '50s, encompassing everything from throwing his voice and mimicking other people to collapsing several buildings in a city by singing at a particularly intense pitch. While Super-Ventriloquism was largely abandoned in the modern age, it should be noted that that's pretty much how Final Crisis ended, and that was in 2008.
As for other powers, we've got Super-Digestion that allows him to "consume every scrap of food in the kitchen, and yell for more" (1959), Super-Coordination for signing autographs (1965), and, perhaps most amazingly, what Fleisher refers to as "feats of lovemaking of which an ordinary man would be quite incapable" (1963).
Perhaps the greatest new power of all was, of course Superman's NEW Power (1958), possibly the single Silver Ageiest story of all time, where Superman briefly gained the ability to shoot a miniature version of himself out of his hand, but then got jealous of the attention it was getting and tried to murder it, only for the tiny foot-tall super-homunculus to sacrifice its own life (?) in order to save Superman's life:
And of course, what list of Superman's ever-changing power set would be complete without mentioning his brief tenure as a being of pure energy, allowing for Intangibility, Manipulation of Magnetic Fields, Light-Speed Travel, The Ability To Read A CD-ROM by Looking At It, and, perhaps most importantly, Not Having A Mullet Anymore (1997):
This, of course, later evolved even further into an ability to split into two people via Super-Bilocation, a power shared by St. Anthony of Padua, although I'm not sure if he ever split into St. Anthony-Red and St. Anthony-Blue.
Even Geoff Johns himself has given Superman new powers before Super Flare, most notably in 2007, when he and Eric Powell granted him the power of Superman Vision, a mean shot from his eyes that could give ordinary human beings the powers of Superman:
That is, no joke, my favorite thing Geoff Johns has ever written.
As for how Super Flare will stack up to the rest of Superman's new powers, I think we can safely assume that it probably won't be as amazing as having a tiny little Superman that shoots out of his hand or eye-beams the color of his costume that give you his powers, but given Johns and Romita's prominence, it's also pretty likely that they'll stick around longer than the year of Electric Blues.
Either way, I think we can all agree that we're hoping for a return of Super-Lovemaking. It's what this world of ours deserves.