It's funny what some people pay attention to. That panel with Superboy, is the first panel (after the splash page) in a story that has very little to do with that scene--except that a green comet crosses his path right after that panel, and in Kryptonian lore that's a sign of bad luck. I remember SUPERBEOY 140 and the stories in it very well, but I completely forgot that that panel was in the story and I probably gave it no attention at all when I was a kid. Which proves to me that some people read these comics in a completely different way than I did. Instead of taking in the important elements of the story, they comb through the comic trying to find something they can heap their outrage upon.
Actually the back-up story had a bigger impact on me. That was "Beware the Mad Dog of Steel!"--Krypto contracts a form of Kryptonian rabies and it looks like Superboy will have to kill his dog (choke). My heart was in my throat the whole time I read that story. Incredibly powerful stuff for a little boy to read.
Anyway getting back to the panel in question. This is in media res. We don't know what happened before it, and we cut away from that scene to events somewhere in Smallville. So what led to Supeboy pulling these planets across the heavens and what happened immediately after we don't know. The scene mainly exists to introduce the theme of bad luck that will be developed in the story.
We don't know what those chains are made of and what properties they have. We don't know what kind of planets these are and what mass they have (they seem to be inhabited--but the lifeforms on them could be microscopic). We don't know the special conditions of that quadrant of space. We don't know if Superboy's powers have been amplified by some super-science wizard. If critics are using this as proof of how god-like Superman was during the Silver Age, it's a very thin piece of evidence.
I tend to think that (Silver Age) Superman's greatest feat was "Superman's Greatest Feats" in SUPERMAN 146. This is the back-up story in that comic--the lead story is Superman's origin, "The Story of Superman's Life" (by Otto Binder and Al Plastino)." But in "Greatest Feats" (by Jerry Siegel and Plastino), Superman finds that he can change history--something he was never able to do before. So he time travels to significant periods in history and does all kinds of amazing things (saving Atlantis, bringing his parents with baby Kal-El to Earth, and many many other important events in history). Superman is at a loss to understand how he's capable of doing this--expecting somehow all his feats will turn out for nought--until he realizes that he's in an alternate universe where the laws of time are different, so that he is actually able to change events in time.
Other than that story--which has the greatest claim for being the story of "Superman's Greatest Feats" because that's the actual title of the story--I would suggest the Immortal Superman three-parter (by Bates/Swan/Roussos) in ACTION COMICS 385 - 387 has Superman's greatest feats (and this story probably influenced stories by Morrison, among others). In this story, Superman used a defective Legion time bubble to travel to the far future, because President Nixon has forbidden him to travel through time under his own power (as the U.S. government is doing some very secret experiments).
Superman has been summoned to help some people in the far distant future, so he uses the retired time bubble in his Fortress of Solitude, but when he arrives in the futue and exits the bubble, he realizes he has aged (presumably he has aged for the entire amount that he has travelled through time--but this must mean that Superman ages very slowly, because he looks about 70s years old, with grey hair and wrinkles). After doing what he came there for, he tries to travel back through time, but the Time Trapper stops him. So Superman can only go forward through time, not back.
Superman goes on an odyssey, stopping in different time periods to help out folks. And a grateful people gift him with all kinds of extra powers, so that there's virtually nothing that can kill him. He doesn't want this, but he's cursed with too much good fortune. He keeps travelling forward through time, doing more good deeds and having strange encounters. Until the Earth is now dead, from humans killing it with pollution. He carves the planet in half and remakes the Earth and brings new life to it. Essentially playing God.
And on Superman goes to the end of time. Wishing he could die, surviving every other life form in the universe. He throws himself forward at unbelievable speed, crashing through the time barrier, in an unconscious state. Until time loops back on itself and he's back at the beginning of time. His consciousness travels forward through time and he finds himself inside his body as a baby on Krypton. Superman witnesses his entire life until he is standing in the Fortress of Solitude a moment after he left for the future in the time bubble.
It's tempting to think that this chronal loop cancels out the events of the future so they never happened. But I would argue they must have happened, since the time bubble in the Fortress of Solitude is now gone. Therefore both versions of Superman exist--the one in the present, living his life--and the Immortal Superman in the far future doing fantastic feats.
To me, his greatest feat of not necessarily power, but of worthiness came in the Sword of Superman. The fact that he was able to catch the sword, and that it could elevate him to literal godhood-oneness with everything, infinite power, and a place by the creator (and maybe being the creator's successor), and for him to throw it away, to not want it, says a lot about Superman and how he sees his place in the Universe. Even at his normal power level, heck, even at his Post-Crisis power level, he could control the world if he so wished. But he doesn't because he respects the rights of others too much to do so.
Stuff like this sticks with me much more than the moving planets stuff, but it's the moving planets stuff that makes us understand that how humble Kal really is
Doomed Planet. Desperate Scientists. Last Hope. Kindly Couple.
resisting the temptation of the flesh so frequently.
Comics were happier before the Internet turned writing superhero stories into fruitless attempts to impress/entertain a small group of ppl who appear to hate comics and their creators.
I very much have assumed that it was just a tossaway feat, some anonymous miracle that Superboy just did and lets move on...I recently bought Superboy 140 and it is too funny that it's really a story about some kind of scam.
Haven't read it yet but it looks like Superboy vs. a bunch of hoods.
I love those Action comics from 385-387... The covers are so great I barely open them. Wow the connections to the return of bruce wayne! When all is said and done, I missed the crazy huge sci fi of Superman after post crisis. Superman seemed more a brawler than a super scientist, and these type of stories became to fanciful.
The new books have been a treat for me as an old school fan.
... The Master Of Puppets has spoken.
Goodbye León (november 16th, 1993 - june 12th, 2009). You were, are and always will be the best friend I ever had. I will always love you and never forget you. And please, please forgive me.
Thank you for teaching me about love, patience and caring. Rest in Peace, my friend. I hope that wherever it is you are now, you can run and play as much as you want.
Pull List; seems to be too long to fit in my sig...
I'm going to go with rebuilding the Sun from the inside.
But beating up the active avatar of an overly negative writer & influence of the very story he's in (Mandrakk) and taking his ink (Bleed), carving his assurance of victory into history (To Be Continued ...) and then basically writing Lois's life-force back into existence? Not small.
"Everything hs changed. ‘Dark’ entertainment now looks like hysterical, adolescent, ‘Zibarro’ crap." - Morrison, 2008.
As crazy as all his pre crisis feats are..it's hard to beat lifting up half of infinity. Which would still be..infinity.
Of course sneezing away a star system probably deserves an honorable mention.
I get that Sups is one of the most popular comic characters so I could see a random person without much comic knowledge feeling that way..but I've also seen people with similar feelings who flat out know there are plenty of characters just as broken as Supes.
Personally I enjoy high power levels and it's my view that being able to write good stories even for absurdly powerful characters is what separates the truly talented writers from the modestly talented ones. All-Star Superman alone proves you can have a great story with a high power level.
Last edited by Surtur; 12-20-2012 at 09:50 AM.
A woman can move a lot faster with her skirt up than a man can with his pants down.
We tend to portray the world in a way that is more understandable to us than what modern physics tells us is actually true. So this was the case in the Silver Age. Writers and artists were simply using tropes that had been established in other comics and other media. And everybody was fine with that. Maybe if you were a student at a college, doing your science degree, you understood that these comics did not work according to the prevalent Einsteinian theories--but you probably weren't reading these comics for your research paper on particle physics--you were probably reading them as an escape into pure fantasy.
In the last ten years DC writers have demonstrated just as much ignorance about current theories on the nature of the universe and the science that supports these theories. Since these comics are more strident in claiming to be important and realistic--you would think they would be judged more harshly than the comics from the Silver Age which weren't so full of themselves and never made a claim to be anything other than fun.
Know what image from Superman III saved it for me? This:
A woman can move a lot faster with her skirt up than a man can with his pants down.