Superman was born in Action Comics #1, in the year 1938, totally changing the superhero game when he arrived on the scene with his spandex and perfectly-chiseled jaw. Since 1938, there is practically no ability this super-alien being has not had. Speed? Check. Invulnerability? Check. Flight? Yeah, let’s throw it in. But there are many other Superman abilities this hero possesses, and they range from weird to even weirder.
When he was first introduced into the comic book world in the 1930s, Superman really didn’t have very many super powers. He had super strength, of course, and his amazing super speed. Even back then, he could leap tall buildings in a single bound. Other than that, Superman really couldn’t do very much. But over the years, Superman got many more abilities. From the 1940s to the 1980s, Superman’s powers began to expand. This is due to the intensity of Earth’s yellow sun, as hardcore comic book fans know, and the weak gravity of the planet. Some of his amazing powers were given and taken away over the years.
Even comic book fans and Superman aficionados don’t know about all these weird, lesser-known Superman abilities that have appeared in the comics over the last seven decades.
10. Microscopic Vision
Everyone knows that Superman has X-ray vision and laser eyes, but it’s not as well-known that he’s also got microscopic and telescopic vision. He can see across great distances, even across space, and get a close-up look at anything he wants to see a little bit more closely.
Superman can actually see things at an atomic level. That is, of course, unless it’s lead. He can also see infrared and ultraviolet light. That means there’s practically nothing Superman can’t see or examine very closely using only his eyes if he wants, and that includes peering into space to take a gander at what’s happening up there.
Taking all that into account, it really doesn’t make much sense that he can’t see through lead, too.
9. Super Hearing
Superman can hear sounds on multiple wavelengths, including sounds that most humans can’t possibly hear. Superman detects sounds that usually only dogs can hear, and he can do so across great distances. That means if Lois calls for help in Metropolis and he’s visiting his family in Smallville, Superman should still be able to hear her. He can hear sounds even in the atmosphere, and hone in on a single voice when he wants to.
Superman’s hearing is so super-sensitive, he can tune an instrument using it alone. Many of Superman’s super senses are a direct result of his superior muscle control. He can control all of his muscles to use his senses any way he wants.
8. Super Breath
Even Superman’s breath is super. He could use it to freeze objects, and in some comics he can blow hard enough to create an actual hurricane or even change the Earth’s orbit. The frozen breath seems to be at odds with the laser eyes, but what the heck.
In addition to his massive-capacity and freeze-on-demand lung power, Superman can survive with no air at all when the situation calls for it. Superman can hold his breath for as long as necessary. This allows him to go underwater or into deep space without any sort of breathing equipment other than his super lungs. Maybe that’s because Superman can store up plenty of breathable oxygen in his lungs, but that’s just one theory.
7. Super Smarts
The man who is invulnerable to bullets is also a genius. His exposure to the yellow sun boosted his intelligence greatly. In fact, Superman is probably the smartest person on the planet – when he’s on the planet, anyway. So take that, Stephen Hawking.
Superman has an eidetic memory, which means he can absorb information very quickly and remember almost everything he learns. His amazing mind also allows Superman to master languages quickly as well, so he can talk to anyone (even mermaids, in one issue). Superman can even speed read just as fast as the Flash can.
His mental abilities are pretty much a given, considering all his other abilities. Superman has to have a super mind in order to control his super hearing and supervision. Otherwise, he’d be getting distracted by space noises and looking at atoms all day long.
If the whole superhero saving-the-day thing doesn’t work out for Superman, Clark Kent could always take his act on the road. Superman has amazing powers of ventriloquism. At least, the powers are as amazing as ventriloquism ever gets. He’s got the ability to throw his voice even across distances. This allows Superman to throw his voice into another room when desired. Superman uses this ability to maintain the fiction that Clark Kent is a totally different person altogether, though sometimes he also uses it to trick the bad guys.
Powers of ventriloquism give the Man of Steel a related power. The super ventriloquism is part of Superman’s inherently super vocal cords, which he can use to impersonate any human voice. In other words, he could easily be a cast member on SNL if he wasn’t so busy saving Lois Lane all the time.
When the Daily Planet goes the way of all the other newspapers, Clark Kent has nothing to fear. He can use Superman’s abilities to make a healthy living in Las Vegas as a magician. That’s because Superman can hypnotize anyone. This power has been demonstrated in more than one comic, yet rarely seems to come up when Superman’s in a real knock-down drag-out (or, when he’s in a major motion picture).
Thanks to his hypnotic abilities, Superman can wipe away memories or make people obey him, which kind of makes you wonder why he ever bothers deflecting bullets in the first place. He could always use his amazing mental powers to keep criminals from pulling the trigger at all. Superman has used the power, in the past, to kiss women into forgetting all about him — which really seems counter-productive.
4. Super Endurance
Superman doesn’t actually need to eat, drink water or even take a nap every now and then. The radiation coming off the Earth’s yellow sun will keep him alive indefinitely, even without all the basic necessities that regular people need. Superman can absorb the energy off the sun and use that energy to power himself, sort of the way plants do it but in a cooler, more superhero-y way. This is why Superman’s powers increased while he was a teenager, and over the years as the comics continued (at least, that’s the story they’re going with).
Like a plant, Superman becomes weaker without the light of the sun. If he’s involved in a terrible battle and can’t convert enough of the sun’s energy fast enough, Superman will become weakened and begin to lose some of his super powers.
Some of Superman’s super powers appeared only once or twice and then never again. At one point, Superman had amazing telepathic abilities. He could read minds, sense thoughts and influence human will in a truly Jedi-like fashion. The Man of Steel didn’t even have to be close to thoughts in order to sense them across, apparently, any distance at all.
How finely-honed are his telepathic abilities? In one comic, he could tell who was calling him on the phone long before the days of Caller ID…which suggests that Superman may have also had the power to predict the technological advancements of the future. Combine the super hearing with the telepathy, and he can function as his own cell phone.
2. Super Weaving
During the 1980s, there was pretty much nothing that Superman couldn’t do. He used his super mathematic skills and other super abilities all the time. In one comic, he even had the power of super-weaving – and yes, that’s what he actually called it.
Superman used his amazing weaving ability to create a loom between two trees. He then got down to business creating a “modern wedding gown.” And really, what bride wouldn’t want to wear a gown woven by an alien in the forest whose biggest contribution to fashion is an uncomfortable blue spandex onesie that’s so tight he actually never takes it off? Vera Wang, step aside.
1. Super Flare
Superman’s Super Flare ability only recently appeared in 2015’s Superman #38, though actually using it greatly weakened him over the next few issues. In this historic unveiling of a new ability, he used his power to radiate solar energy from his body in a powerful blast of awesomeness.
But, the ability isn’t totally new. Because Superman can absorb the power of Earth’s yellow sun, the Super Flare is really a natural extension of his radiation-damaged body. The radiation sickness commonly pours out of his eyeballs all the time, but the Super Flare burst of power is a new addition to his pantheon of tricks.