If Superman's inconsistent power levels are that big of a deal, why doesn't DC simply make agreed upon limits to his abilities and send the list to whoever happens to be writing the comic? Over time, people would just accept that Supes can do this and do that and that'd be the end of it.
I wondered about that myself a while ago. Sometimes I think that this is rhetoric question…
It can theoretically restrict limits of storytelling quite a bit, after all, Superman as strong as plot needs him to be. Besides, Superman is a living solar battery, his power levels often fluctuates depending on his charge-level in a one run. Also, I don’t think that setting his strength to a certain limit will stop all that “overpowered” bullsh…t. There literally a couple of dozens of characters who as strong (if not stronger), with more versatile combination of powers or simply walking PIS – machines. And still somehow they don’t suffer to such extent from “overpowered and unrelatable” as Superman.
@sanohibiki: Thanks for the response. I think the limitations would be great exercise for good writers. Put Supes' powers in a box and come up with stories that are out of the box. What do you mean by one run? I completely agree, btw. There are plenty of characters stronger or with more powers than him, people just like to go against the last 75 years of Superman love.
..I think part of the problem is that Superman holds back a lot and doesn't like hurting people (or at least he didn't until the new 52)....so he can appear vulnerable in one scene and then really powerful in another when he lets rip. All the top tier characters, where Marvel or DC seem to suffer this big variation in power level. Not sure giving someone like Superman a defined limit would help...he's the one DC character who seems to always have that bit more in the tank.
Because DC and Marvel are racing each other. If Marvel bring their heroes up to a whole new level of epicness, that has a negative effect on the public's perception of DC's superheroes, that seem weak relative to Marvel's. So if Thor pummels a planet into bits and pieces, DC need to have Superman pull a feat every bit as splendid.
But they don't have to try to keep up. Just because so-and-so can punch a planet to dust doesn't mean Supes has to. Maybe if a good enough story called for him to summon enough power, but anything else is just stupid. DC should never worry about Superman. He's 75 years old and will forever be in pop culture.
What do you mean by one run?
Basically I meant that sometimes (thankfully not too often) one and the same author in different issues of one title depicts Superman with different power-levels.
I think the limitations would be great exercise for good writers.
Maybe. I think that real exercise for author is to write compelling story with massively powerful Superman and without using Kryptonite/red sunlight/magic :)
I don’t think that permanently giving a certain limit to Superman is a good idea. Concept of Kryptonians makes their limits vague. Put them under some other star, make it magical, introduce some radiation, create Kryptonite of different color, with age they become stronger (Kingdom Come) or weaker (Batman Beyond) – such ground is too ripe for storytelling to cut it off. Personally, I would have preferred through if authors on Superman’s titles stayed in touch and wrote him with more consistent power-levels.
@squalleon: I'm not saying that All-Star levels are never OK; I'm just saying that, in a series, inconsistency is a cop-out.
Usually inconsistency comes from different writers writing the same character. So I agree that in one writers run Superman should be consistently strong but when the next comes along, he has to change the status quo to his liking.
@squalleon: That's fine when they are separate; I do not care if Lobdell's can bench-the-Earth-for-5-days-straight.
I do care, however, when Supes benchpressing the Earth is now canon. So now, Supes has a huge jump in power. He goes from far-above-us to essentially-a-god.
It wouldn't be so bad if they both were separate, but they aren't. So now, we have contradictory canon.