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DC’s Future Superman Redefines the Original’s Iconic Powers

The Superman of the 853rd Century has far more powers than Clark Kent and represents just how far the character could go in the future.


From super-strength to flight to X-ray vision, Superman‘s power set has steadily expanded over time, but his far-future descendant has him beat with his 10 Super-Senses. This Superman’s powers aren’t only a callback to Silver Age stories but are also emblematic of Superman’s true potential as a character. What Superman can look like and what he can do is defined only by the limits of a writer or artist’s imagination.


DC One Million is a crossover from 1998 that imagines what the heroes of the DC Universe would look like in the 853rd century, theoretically when DC would publish its one millionth comic. With threats to the future being created in the present, the heroes of the 853rd century call on the present-day JLA to help save both time periods. The story is primarily focused on the Justice Legion Alpha, the analog to the current Justice League of America, which includes its own version of Superman, Kal Kent, who reveals Clark Kent is the model from which every Superman from the near future to the 853rd century has taken inspiration. Early on in the story, the differences between Kal and Clark are made very apparent.

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In Grant Morrison and Val Semeiks’ DC One Million #1, it’s revealed that Kal has a much more expansive power set than the contemporary Superman, and one that harkens back to some lesser-known classic powers. Kal reveals to Clark that he has 10 entirely new senses, which were passed on to him after the 67th century’s Superman married Gzntplzk, the Queen of the Fifth Dimension. Fifth dimensional beings, most famously Mister Mxyzptlk, have often been Superman foes, so Morrison’s incorporation of them into Superman’s family shows how things have radically changed throughout the centuries.


Superman Has Always Had Near-Unlimited Power

Superman One Million powers

The one specific new power that readers are shown, Kal’s “Super-ESP,” harkens back to the Silver Age Superman’s use of hypnosis. The Silver Age, which refers to comics from the mid-1950s to 1970, was famous for expanding Superman’s powers in wacky new directions. Superman would develop new powers to serve whatever plot was happening. Morrison has commented in the past that Superman’s greatest power is that he can literally do anything and save anyone. Throughout their time writing various incarnations of the character, Morrison has been consistently interested in pushing Superman’s abilities to new heights, including literally powering the sun in both One Million and in their and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman. A return of some Silver Age goofiness fits perfectly into Morrison’s conception of the character. Superman is Earth’s greatest hero, so why shouldn’t he have whatever power is needed to save the day?

Retroactively, this expansion of Superman’s powers also works as a meta-commentary on writing the character. In Batman Vol. 1 #680 by Morrison and Tony Daniel, it’s revealed that the Fifth Dimension is in fact imagination. Where do Superman’s new powers come from? From the realm of the imagination. Superman’s powers are only set in stone if writers have no ideas for giving him new powers or new applications of his existing powers. The Superman of the 853rd century is what the character looks like with no limits on imagination. He’s Superman’s true potential realized.

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