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Author Topic: Superman's powers.  (Read 739 times)

Pat

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2021, 06:34:42 PM »
To really ground that, you'd need some kind of source for that energy.
COSMIC RAYS  8)

If you want, the cause of the planets destruction was an attempt to inbue it with somekind of super-science thing (maybe grant everybody superpowers). It failed and caused the explosion but its rays gave superpowers.
Yeah, that was more or less what I was thinking. The whole tampering with the core of the planet wouldn't be hard to wrap in, as well. And I'd definitely prefer a more science-y explanation than a Lovecraftian one, which is so overdone I think it's almost the default right now. The question is what power they were mucking with, and how it works into the rest to the DC universe. Though to be fair, it doesn't seem like the DC universe has even tried to reconcile all the difference space mythologies. How do the Krytonians relate to the Oans, for instance? For all practical purposes, they don't. They exist in parallel, and the Green Lantern Corps does their thing, and the New Gods do their thing, and Superman does his thing, and they only come together for big Justice League team ups, whose primary purpose seems to be to give the artists a chance to cram as many heroes and villains as possible on a single big splash page.

HappyDaze

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2021, 07:08:10 PM »
To really ground that, you'd need some kind of source for that energy.
COSMIC RAYS  8)

If you want, the cause of the planets destruction was an attempt to inbue it with somekind of super-science thing (maybe grant everybody superpowers). It failed and caused the explosion but its rays gave superpowers.
Yeah, that was more or less what I was thinking. The whole tampering with the core of the planet wouldn't be hard to wrap in, as well. And I'd definitely prefer a more science-y explanation than a Lovecraftian one, which is so overdone I think it's almost the default right now. The question is what power they were mucking with, and how it works into the rest to the DC universe. Though to be fair, it doesn't seem like the DC universe has even tried to reconcile all the difference space mythologies. How do the Krytonians relate to the Oans, for instance? For all practical purposes, they don't. They exist in parallel, and the Green Lantern Corps does their thing, and the New Gods do their thing, and Superman does his thing, and they only come together for big Justice League team ups, whose primary purpose seems to be to give the artists a chance to cram as many heroes and villains as possible on a single big splash page.
There was at least one Daxamite (Mon-El's species, powers are very similar to Kryptonians save their weakness is to lead rather than kryptonite) that had a GL power ring that protected him from lead. I can't help but think that this was some seriously munchkin shit from someone's superhero RPG, but no...it was a real comics character.

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2021, 08:02:00 PM »
Though to be fair, it doesn't seem like the DC universe has even tried to reconcile all the difference space mythologies.

Lovecraft just doesn't work in a Supers setting. If it can't be punched or bataranged, its largely boring. But funnily enough I have rarely seen superheroes triumph against 'demonic' threats in the same way they triumph against demigods or such. Upper level demons and devils are something you back into a portal, or cast a spell to banish them or something. You never 'take the fight to them' if you will.

But incongruity is what makes superhero settings kinda fun really! Like what I noticed about the best 'original' superhero settings is they add incongruity into their worlds by design! Its generally the really boring supers that have everything run off one power system.

As for what powers they where mucking with....Tapping into alternate dimensions? The Phantom zone is an example of them tampering with this sort of tech before. Thats also an explanation as to why beings in the phantom zone where also affected: as a dimensional rift it altered some beings in there as well.

Omega

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2021, 10:36:35 PM »
Has there ever been a version of Superman where his powers are explained as Kryptonian super-science tinkering with their own biology?

While it doesn't explicitly mention super-science, the original explanation of Superman's powers was that Kryptonian's physical structure was "a million years more advanced" than Earthlings. Pictures of Krypton in those days often shows them leaping around their own cities, as if Clark Kent was just an ordinary Kryptonian.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gary_dunaier/2777349330
I've seen that referenced in later stories, but they never really did anything with it. It was just an off-hand mention.

The original comics and well into much later had it that they were normal people on Krypton. The idea that they were all super powered on Krypton is stupid on multiple levels.
The idea in some versions that they were starfaring and could travel multiple galaxies and could go to places where they had godlike powers yet almost all choose to remain on Krypton is also stupid on multiple levels. Of course, in that version, they almost deserve to go extinct when Krypton explodes.

Not many versions. From all accounts they had not developed any space travel. That changed in the 80s and probably changed again in the 90s. But overall  they were confined to Krypton.

As for the source of the powers. Originally it was the earths yellow sun that granted powers and being in the presence of red suns depowered them. Ive got some of the older comics where superboy finds this out the hard way and has to struggle to get away.

Could though totally see them trying to colonize only planets orbiting red stars.

Though one interesting twist over the years has been that humans gained super powers when on Krypton.

Pat

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2021, 01:39:00 AM »
Though to be fair, it doesn't seem like the DC universe has even tried to reconcile all the difference space mythologies.

Lovecraft just doesn't work in a Supers setting. If it can't be punched or bataranged, its largely boring. But funnily enough I have rarely seen superheroes triumph against 'demonic' threats in the same way they triumph against demigods or such. Upper level demons and devils are something you back into a portal, or cast a spell to banish them or something. You never 'take the fight to them' if you will.

But incongruity is what makes superhero settings kinda fun really! Like what I noticed about the best 'original' superhero settings is they add incongruity into their worlds by design! Its generally the really boring supers that have everything run off one power system.

As for what powers they where mucking with....Tapping into alternate dimensions? The Phantom zone is an example of them tampering with this sort of tech before. Thats also an explanation as to why beings in the phantom zone where also affected: as a dimensional rift it altered some beings in there as well.
Lovecraft works fine in supers, and you described how: You description of how demons are handled is also how Lovecraftians threats are typically presented as well. The heroes can punch them all they want (and they usually do, because it's an excuse for grand apocalyptic fights with massive property destruction where the heroes can really unleash their full powers), but the only real way to win is to drive them away, usually to another dimension.

Wild Talents had a supers classification scheme (contributed by Kenneth Hite), called the "Axes of Design", each of which was associated with a different color. Blue is Hite's term for what you're describing -- how many different and not necessarily compatible super power sources or origins there are. A very blue setting is one with numerous pantheon of gods, magic, alien races, mutations, sapient robots, and a zillion other things like that. An un-blue setting (I forget how he refers to the opposite end of the spectrum) would be one where all powers can be traced to a single origin, like trying to explain all super powers as manifestations of psychic powers, or alien blood. I don't have a strong opinion about which is better, I just think they're different tastes. It can be fun to have a supers setting where everything is justified in terms of a single origin point, and it can be fun to have a kitchen setting where everything is allowed and conflicting things exist in uneasy juxtaposition. Neither is superior.

The Phantom Zone would be an obvious power source, but it would have to be a new twist on how. After all, the PZ is usually presented as a relatively old technology, one that's so stable that it's reliable enough to be trusted with holding the most dangerous of prisoners securely. Some new development, that the Krytopians are using to power something -- though again, we're running into a difficulty, because the Krypton is typically presented as a greatly diminished empire, one that gave up their expansive holdings across space to return home. So why would they need a new and massive energy source? That makes a lot more sense for a growing empire.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2021, 01:44:21 AM by Pat »

Pat

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2021, 01:53:42 AM »
Has there ever been a version of Superman where his powers are explained as Kryptonian super-science tinkering with their own biology?

While it doesn't explicitly mention super-science, the original explanation of Superman's powers was that Kryptonian's physical structure was "a million years more advanced" than Earthlings. Pictures of Krypton in those days often shows them leaping around their own cities, as if Clark Kent was just an ordinary Kryptonian.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gary_dunaier/2777349330
I've seen that referenced in later stories, but they never really did anything with it. It was just an off-hand mention.

The original comics and well into much later had it that they were normal people on Krypton. The idea that they were all super powered on Krypton is stupid on multiple levels.
The idea in some versions that they were starfaring and could travel multiple galaxies and could go to places where they had godlike powers yet almost all choose to remain on Krypton is also stupid on multiple levels. Of course, in that version, they almost deserve to go extinct when Krypton explodes.

Not many versions. From all accounts they had not developed any space travel. That changed in the 80s and probably changed again in the 90s. But overall  they were confined to Krypton.

As for the source of the powers. Originally it was the earths yellow sun that granted powers and being in the presence of red suns depowered them. Ive got some of the older comics where superboy finds this out the hard way and has to struggle to get away.

Could though totally see them trying to colonize only planets orbiting red stars.

Though one interesting twist over the years has been that humans gained super powers when on Krypton.
That's not what I remember from the Silver Age Superman stories I read, mostly from the 1970s. IIRC, they were wondrous technological utopias, and implied all kinds of travel. Though it does sound right that the idea of Krypton as a collapsed empire dates to the 1980s or thereabouts; it definitely sounds like an attempt to justify how the wonders of Krypton can fit into the wider universe, and that's much more a Bronze Age than a Silver Age thing. It would be interesting to see a lengthy article that really breaks down how Krypton evolved over time. I have a Roy Thomas collection of his early stories somewhere, I might have to dig it out at some point and see how the earliest Superman stories treated Krypton.

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2021, 01:54:09 AM »
Lovecraft works fine in supers, and you described how
Fair enough. Id actually go a step further: I have seen heroes actually fully vanquish (as in utterly defeat) Lovecraftian horrors more then demonic horrors. Though the overlap is there, but because 'lovecraftian horrors' lack a face or much personality, and their heralds are also on the boring side, they get defeated forever due to a lack of interest.

But a demonic villian can tempt heroes, be charismatic, or sassy. As a result they are more recurring, and they can be more 'tempter-y' that go all out when its impressive (and then are shoved back into the portal or their summoning stones are smashed or whatever).

Quote
It can be fun to have a supers setting where everything is justified in terms of a single origin point, and it can be fun to have a kitchen setting where everything is allowed and conflicting things exist in uneasy juxtaposition. Neither is superior.

I prefer 'high blue' as you put it, because it makes things more unpredictable and allows for more exotic locals and plots.

Quote
The Phantom Zone would be an obvious power source, but it would have to be a new twist on how. After all, the PZ is usually presented as a relatively old technology, one that's so stable that it's reliable enough to be trusted with holding the most dangerous of prisoners securely.

Maybe they overused it. Jor-El is like 'The rift is becoming unstable! It can't handle this much power drain!'
'Nonsense! The Phantom zone has been used for over 350 years! I can't believe a scientist of your calibur is afraid of such mundane equipment!'

Pat

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2021, 02:05:50 AM »
Maybe they overused it. Jor-El is like 'The rift is becoming unstable! It can't handle this much power drain!'
'Nonsense! The Phantom zone has been used for over 350 years! I can't believe a scientist of your calibur is afraid of such mundane equipment!'
That fits with the ecological disaster/draining Krypton's core theme that's been popular for at least a handful of decades. Though that would require some rewriting of the past of Krypton and their retreat to their home world, because it makes more sense that the energy of the Phantom Zone is what allowed their empire in the first place, and their retreat was because it was being depleted or becoming dangerous. And that conflicts with the idea that Jorel-El learned something new and tried to warn the world, only be dismissed as a Krypton Little saying the sky is falling. They would have had to know, so it would either become something they'd forgotten because they became so fat and happy and inward looking, or something the leaders knew about but were trying to suppress to protect the public. And the latter raises the question why they weren't working on an evacuation plan, or just didn't return to Krypton in the first place.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2021, 02:18:05 AM by Pat »

Pat

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #23 on: October 18, 2021, 02:24:46 AM »
Lovecraft works fine in supers, and you described how
Fair enough. Id actually go a step further: I have seen heroes actually fully vanquish (as in utterly defeat) Lovecraftian horrors more then demonic horrors. Though the overlap is there, but because 'lovecraftian horrors' lack a face or much personality, and their heralds are also on the boring side, they get defeated forever due to a lack of interest.

But a demonic villian can tempt heroes, be charismatic, or sassy. As a result they are more recurring, and they can be more 'tempter-y' that go all out when its impressive (and then are shoved back into the portal or their summoning stones are smashed or whatever).
I'd agree that a charismatic demon would make a better recurrent character, especially one that's somewhat ambiguous. But I don't think Lovecraftian is inherently boring, just overdone. It's just the themes are different. Lovecraftian enemies are inherently not open to negotiation. They're the alien, in the unbargainable or even the unknowable senses. They're the external threat, the thing from beyond seeping into our reality, or the real reality we deny, which could erase us without a second glance. They're not about corruption or temptation, but about smallness of humanity and how little we know.

So they work well as a background threat, ever-present. They might be ultimately unstoppable; all the heroes can do is stamp them down next time they crop up. It's less about having a recurrent interaction and banter, and more about stamping out small fires as they flare before they become all-encompassing conflagrations. It's eternal vigilance, rather than a on-going but difficult relationship.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2021, 02:28:34 AM by Pat »

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2021, 02:36:29 AM »
And the latter raises the question why they weren't working on an evacuation plan, or just didn't return to Krypton in the first place.

OK....Lore integration:

Brainiac is responsible for giving a rising Kryptonian empire (largely peaceful-plenty of empty planets to colonize) the technology. Its main use is for interplanatary transportation. Its prisoner function is only its second use really.

Why? Because its more efficient. By integrating himself into every part of society, he gets all its information very quickly. By giving them the flawed phantom zone tech, it allows him to allow minions to do legwork for him and allow him to blow up more planets in a shorter period of time while gathering more data. Maybe it was an experiment one time, and he found it lacking (their data was sucky), so he doesn't repeat it.

Jor-El is a doubter of this idea, and discovers the flaws in the phantom rift technology. Only a few planets in the Krypton empire are spared as they broke away from the central culture and destroyed their rifts before braniac returned to reap what he had sown.

But I don't think Lovecraftian is inherently boring, just overdone.

I largely agree there. Im just saying why they tend to be defeated more then demons in comics. Id just say their themes work less in stories where characters actively explore and connect with (friendly) interstellar empires you know?

And personally I don't find them all that interesting as they function as just more natural disasters with tentacles. After we found out that our universe is as hostile as Lovecraft imagined (just with less tentacles and more stellar explosions), allot of the fear factor wore off.

A sadist is more scary then just a blind efficient quick killer you know? Something overwhelming making you suffer and your powerless to stop it sounds more scary in comparison to just dying quickly.

Pat

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2021, 02:48:31 AM »
I largely agree there. Im just saying why they tend to be defeated more then demons in comics. Id just say their themes work less in stories where characters actively explore and connect with (friendly) interstellar empires you know?

And personally I don't find them all that interesting as they function as just more natural disasters with tentacles. After we found out that our universe is as hostile as Lovecraft imagined (just with less tentacles and more stellar explosions), allot of the fear factor wore off.

A sadist is more scary then just a blind efficient quick killer you know? Something overwhelming making you suffer and your powerless to stop it sounds more scary in comparison to just dying quickly.
I don't think they're less scary, just a different type of fear. One is personal and visceral, the other is existential. Earth as a fragile marble from orbit, Earth as a blue dot from Voyager just inside the orbit of Uranus, "you are here" signs on the Milky Way. The tentacles just bring it home that we don't matter even to other sapient beings. We're not even a speck on their boots.

Have you read Roadside Picnic? It's not at all Lovecraftian, but it's the same basic concept.

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2021, 03:14:56 AM »
Have you read Roadside Picnic? It's not at all Lovecraftian, but it's the same basic concept.
Well I would just say its not lovecraftian at all (well for the most part). It emphasises different things.
I feel like the 'big boogy tentacle monster goes OOGA BOOGA' is both the least interesting and least scary aspect of the ideas presented.

I feel the existentialism of Lovecraft gets greatly oversold and its other themes (knowledge, isolation, mystery, discovery) downplayed. I think he presented the idea of there ever being a mythos as a stupid joke and people just rolled with it.

Pat

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Re: Superman's powers.
« Reply #27 on: October 18, 2021, 12:10:56 PM »
Have you read Roadside Picnic? It's not at all Lovecraftian, but it's the same basic concept.
Well I would just say its not lovecraftian at all (well for the most part). It emphasises different things.
I feel like the 'big boogy tentacle monster goes OOGA BOOGA' is both the least interesting and least scary aspect of the ideas presented.

I feel the existentialism of Lovecraft gets greatly oversold and its other themes (knowledge, isolation, mystery, discovery) downplayed. I think he presented the idea of there ever being a mythos as a stupid joke and people just rolled with it.
You're right that Lovecraft deals with a lot of other themes, but I do think the existential dread is a big part of his writing. Mystery, isolation, and discovery are just the human reactions to the unknown and unknowable, after all. And while you're emphasizing the importance of the Mythos to Lovecraft's existentialism, I don't see it that way. In my eyes, the existentialism comes less from the gibbering gods from beyond, and more from the science fiction elements in Lovecraft's stories. We see highly advanced races like the mi-go, the great race of Yith, or the elder things, and how far beyond humanity they are, and then learn they're the smallest of small players in the universe. It emphasizes the insignificance of humanity in a way that the dancing gods at the start of Dreamquest of the Unknown Kadath do not.

The tentacles are the least important part, but they're useful, particularly in visual media, as a way to evoke all the other things we associate with Lovecraft. Even if it's not a particularly accurate representation