This Wednesday, Grant Morrison's first issue of Action Comics hits the stands. This series focuses on Superman's brash early days before his powers hit their peak. According to Morrison, this is "a Superman who can be hurt, who can be messed up, who can bleed." In other words, no amnesia-inducing kisses for this guy.
But Superman's not the only hero to have his powers diminished. In fact, losing your powers — or getting your abilities downgraded — is a rite of passage for almost every superhero. Here are some big names who have fought crime at half-capacity.
Wonder Woman, mistress of kung fu
For a period in the 1970s, Wonder Woman lost her mythical crime-stopping abilities and took up a new persona as mod fashionista Diana Prince. Under the tutelage of martial arts master I Ching, Wonder Woman judo-tossed Lois Lane for Superman's affections. Indeed, the 1974 Wonder Woman TV movie drew its inspiration from this incarnation of the heroine.
Wolverine's poisonous skeleton
Wolverine has a host of well-known personal problems — i.e. anger management issues, a Napoleon complex, most of his girlfriends die horrible deaths — but it's frequently glossed over that without his healing factor, the adamantium metal bonded to his skeleton will poison him.
This happened in 2000, when the High Evolutionary's "devolution wave" caused Wolverine to briefly become an average joe with very heavy bones. It's unclear how Bullseye — who had an adamantium skeleton but no healing factor — didn't succumb to his bones' toxicity.
The Thing is replaced by Luke Cage
For several issues in the 1970s, Ben "The Thing" Grimm momentarily transformed into a human and was replaced by jive-talking disco lunatic Luke Cage.
Ben worked around his newfound fleshiness and donned a mechanical suit that looked exactly like his old rocky body. For normal people, this would be an experience akin to wearing a body suit of your own dead skin cells.
A powerless Storm whups Cyclops' ass
In the 1980s, a depowering ray robbed Storm of her weather powers. Still, that didn't stop her from besting Cyclops in a duel and winning leadership of the X-Men. Like Samson, she gained her strength from her killer haircut.
Green Lantern goes road-tripping
When Green Lantern and Green Arrow famously teamed up to battle the injustices of 1970s America, the Green Lantern's ring-slinging prowess diminished the longer he stayed on Earth. This power loss allowed common gangsters to get the drop on Earth's top space cop.
Spider-Man loses his wrist boogers
Sam Raimi's Spider-Man film trilogy saw the hero using biological web shooters hidden in his wrist. Soon after, comic books followed suit. In the 2005 story arc The Other, the hero evolved the ability to shoot organic webs out of his wrist. The hero subsequently lost this power after selling his marriage to a demon (but that's a long story in of itself).
The Justice League splits in two
In Mark Waid's rad Justice League of America tale "Divided We Fall," certain JLA members — Superman, Batman, Plastic Man, Martian Manhunter, Flash, and Green Lantern — become physically split from their secret identities. Wonder Woman and Aquaman weren't affected, as they had no alter egos at that time.
And to make matters even crazier, these new superheroes were unmanageable without their milquetoast human personalities. For example, Superman becomes a militant Kryptonian, Green Lantern turned into a thoughtless mecha, and Bruce Wayne was an untrained fop. The only bad-ass alter ego was Plastic Man, who reverted to his criminal persona of Eel O'Brian.
Blob gets wrinkly after M-Day
Back in 2006, almost every single Marvel mutant lost his or her powers when the reality-warping Scarlet Witch went off the deep end and decreed "No More Mutants." Most of the main X-Men cast came out of this unscathed, but some B-listers (and a handful of A-listers like Professor Xavier and Magneto) lost their fantastic abilities.
Characters like the villain Blob — whose mutant power was to be indestructibly obese — became a big pile of skin. Former X-Man Chamber — who could fire bio-blasts out of his torso — was comically left with a big crater in his chest.
Like almost every other mutants depowered after M-Day, Chamber quickly regained his powers due to handwavium-fueled exposition. Blob's still walking around with new svelte figure, living the life of a weight-loss guru