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Superman the Man of Steel – Origin, Powers and Abilities

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Man of Steel refers to Kale-El of Krypton, known on earth as Superman, and by a very few people as Clark Kent. The greatest superhero of them all, we delve a bit into the Kryptonian’s origin and go through his prodigious list of lofty powers.

1. Where is Superman from, and how did he get to Earth?

supermans spaceshipSuperman the Man of Steel’s real name is Kal-El, and he hails from the fictional planet Krypton.

He was sent to Earth as a baby after his scientist father discovered that the planet was dying.

Jor-El (as his father was called) and Kal-El’s mother Lara decided to send their son to the planet Earth, where he would thrive under the golden sun and develop incredible powers and abilities.

They intended for Kal to be a gift to the planet for harboring him.

The impending death of Krypton was a highly-controversial subject when Jor-El brought it up to the council – much like Global Warming is controversial to the idiots on Earth.

The leaders of the planet Krypton did not believe him; as such, no plans were made to try to save the planet or relocate its citizens. Nonetheless, the scientist Jor-El knew his calculations were right, and made sure his only son had a chance at life.

In later years, comic book fans would learn that baby Kal-El wasn’t the only escapee from the doomed planet Krypton. Kryptonian criminals led by General Zod managed to reach the Earth, where they threatened its inhabitants.

A grown superman would put them down and send them to the Kryptonian equivalent of a life-sentence – imprisonment in the Phantom Zone.

phantom zone pinstorus

Kryptonian life sentence – Phantom Zone

2. What powers and abilities does Superman have?

superman fights green alienSuperman has an impressive allotment of super powers; all coming from his absorption of solar rays.

He has superhuman strength so magnificent in scope, that it is super even by the standards of other superheroes that are known for their strength.

Indeed; there doesn’t appear to be any immovable object where Clark is concerned; his strength is its own zenith, and serves as a measuring stick for nearly all other super-characters.

Superman the Man of Steel keeps his powers in check to avoid hurting bystanders in his battles with godlike monsters and immensely-strong super villains.

This means that we rarely see a task that he cannot accomplish, when brute strength alone is required.

In fact, when you consider his super-speed (more below), Kal-El’s strength is so great, that not even the Marvel Universe’s embodiment of physical strength, the Incredible Hulk, can hope to match him.

The Hulk is mega-strong, and he gets stronger as he gets angrier, so a Superman vs Hulk battle is always interesting.

Superman, of course, is also extremely strong. Additionally, he can increase this strength and power interminably because of his almost limitless superspeed. Superman’s powers and abilities are truly a marvel to behold.

man of steel

Superman’s Heat Vision

superman heat visionHe can fly, he can move extremely fast, and he has powerful heat vision that can melt anything. In fact, Clark’s heat vision has been described as not unlike a thermonuclear holocaust, sans the radiation.

When a megaton nuclear bomb goes off, there is an incendiary fireball in the center that is about the length of a football field, and that shines 2.5 times brighter than the noonday sun.

Although mostly covered by the mushroom cloud, it can still cause third-degree retinal burns if viewed without protective X-ray goggles out to 11-20 miles.

This is what emanates from superman’s eyes! It can also be focused to a cutting point that will vaporize any material, and used as a laser beam to cauterize wounds.

He can freeze lakes with his ice breath, and move mountains with his tornado breath. He has X-Ray vision that allows him to see through any object except lead.

He has both telescopic and microscopic vision, allowing him to see down to the atomic level and the distant reaches of outer space.

Superman also has super-hearing which allows him to hear cries for help from all over the world when he tunes in. Many of his lesser powers have changed over the years, but these are his main ones.

Lastly, he is virtually impervious to physical harm, and because of Superman’s powers and abilities, only the most powerful villains can truly hurt him – with just a handful able to possibly even kill him.

superman ice breath powerAdditionally, Kal-El has invulnerability as an actual, separate superpower – it is the consequence of a solar-fueled force-field that emanates from his cells.

This makes him especially resilient to both physical and energy-based attacks, even when compared to gods.

Superman the Man of Steel can really, really take devastating blows without giving any quarter whatsoever.

He once took the full brunt of a blow from Doomsday without budging an inch; this was the same super-monster that had just decimated the Justice League!

Indeed, he often does just take the hit, in order to demoralize super villains into perhaps giving up early and sparing civilians any damage. After all, with his blinding super-speed, Clark can presumably dodge almost any conceivable attack.

superman by jim lee

The greatest superhero of them all

Superman Powers and Abilities Analyzed

superman silhouette flying

God of the Sun

For an idea of the scope of superman’s powers and abilities, it’s best to think of each one as being on the scale of some natural element or other.

For example, his super-breath surpasses the worst hurricanes on Earth; when concentrated, he’s been able to simply blow away powerful villains and leave them disoriented. His ice-breath, when combined with his inhuman stamina and durability, could probably freeze a huge body of water.

Although freezing an entire ocean would seem to be a bit of a stretch, we shouldn’t put it past him given his superspeed and prodigious reserves of energy. Although he was aptly dubbed a “Super-man,” Kal-El the last son of Krypton has strength greater than the gods themselves.

supermans powers man of steel

Even in his reduced form from the ultra-god of the Silver Age, Superman has shown to be able to approach the light speed limit with considerable exertion (he used to be able to travel backwards in time at will!).

It isn’t quite clear whether he can still vibrate quickly enough to pass through solid barriers….

As for his heat vision, it is a definite kill-shot against most characters, super or otherwise. But, Superman the Man of Steel doesn’t really kill, so we never see it used in this way – although he has focused it to pinpoint accuracy and lobotomized invulnerable foes by burning the “bad part” of their brains away.

As powerful as it is, there is at least one discernible limit: Superman used his heat vision against Doomsday in the Death of Superman, and failed to penetrate his impossibly tough hide – although it blasted him off his feet.

The Greatest Gift Ever

superman birthright spaceship

3. Can Superman be killed?

superman fights doomsday

Superman faces his greatest challenge alone.

Superman can be killed – although it usually takes beings of tremendous power and durability (the latter is because of the damage that Kal-El himself can dish out) – or Frank Miller’s writing.

Without that, the only thing that is very effective against him is a substance called Kryptonite.

This glowing green radioactive rock is a piece of his long-dead home planet, and it needs to be placed in his vicinity to weaken him enough so that he can’t use his powers.

If the Kryptonite is placed in a lead box, it has no effect on him; but if it is released, then even a normal human being can hurt Clark.

If he is able to somehow get out of the effective range – it seems to be a few meters – then his full powers return.

Very few enemies have been able to imperil Superman the Man of Steel’s life with just their own natural attributes alone; the god-like ruler of the planet Apokolips (Darkseid) is one. However, Superman has defeated him more times than not.

The mighty Doomsday actually beat Superman into a Kryptonian coma in one of the best-selling comics of all time – “The Death of Superman.” Clark’s body was so badly damaged that it shut down to preserve itself, and gave the appearance of death to everyone.

When his mighty body had absorbed enough sunlight to heal once again, Clark would rise from stasis to restore human self-determination from the opportunists that had seized control of the Earth.

Powerful as ever, he continues that noble, unending battle today, as the only superhero on Earth truly capable of meeting threats of galactic proportions head-on. In short, Superman’s powers and abilities are Earth’s last hope – along with his tremendous capacity for self-sacrifice.

superman heat vision blast

 

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