I have been reading The Authority trades in my spare time.
Reading The Authority opens my eyes a lot to what could really be happening in comics, which is, pretty much, anything you can imagine. It’s actually poorly written, but it does stretch the bounds of the imagination. They have a Superhero called Apollo who is, essentially, Superman.
He shoots beams from his eyes, can lift buildings, fly in space and swim in lava. He is one of the least powerful member of the team. The villains they face are like nothing the DC universe has ever seen. A man so powerful he can snuff out the sun or stop time forever. There is a hero who can command entire cities to attack whoever he wants, including entire armies, by sucking them inside building walls or bludgeoning them with bricks and mortar.
Imagine New York City attacking an invading force of 10,000 soldiers.
There is an alien being that needs to be defeated that is essential God, as in, it created the Earth and has returned. It is so large it blocks out the sun from millions of miles away. Its arteries are so huge you can fly a fifty mile wide ship through them.
It makes me laugh realizing what is possible (anything) in comics, yet DC feels the need to make Superman less powerful every now and then so people will think he can be beaten. Which I find laughable not just because he’s been beaten several times, but his villains can control entire armies of robots, or are smarter than Einstein or as strong and invulnerable as he is. Not to mention he has vulnerable friends and people he has to protect while fighting these villains. His friends can be used as pawns or threats.
If you feel Superman needs to be de-powered, read the Authority and look at heroes fighting God and a villain who can snuff out the sun. If you think Superman needs to be less powerful, you’re a bad editor, a bad writer, or someone with no imagination.
While I wanted to end with that little conclusion, I have to also mention a scene from The Authority that buttresses my point. Apollo and the entire Authority take on a group that is clearly supposed to be The Avengers and they get their ass kicked. Apollo almost dies from “Thor’s” lightning plus morningstar beating.
Here’s the thing – If you want a Superhero beaten, you, as the writer, can have him be beaten.
It’s as simple as that.
In what I consider bad writing, Apollo recovers, charges up in sunlight for five hours and then takes on the entire team and decimates them.
It makes no sense, but the writer can do whatever he wants.
While not highly recommended, I would pick up the Mark Milar written trades to see just how far you can go if you feel like it.