Given Superman's great power and few vulnerabilities, it seems that he cannot be defeated without considerable preparation or effort.

But - in any official comics - has Superman ever been defeated immediately and easily by a new foe? If so, when and by whom?

  • Anyone and their mother who finds kryptonite...
    – user16696
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 16:58
  • 1
    @cde: or magic.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 16:58
  • 2
    comicvine.com/forums/battles-7/who-has-beaten-superman-700079 Most of these were more protracted battles, of course. I assume you want something where he was casually slapped down?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 17:18
  • Does infant Kal-El count? Think Flashpoint...
    – Politank-Z
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 20:00
  • Hercules puts Superman to sleep for 100 years with a magic flute to win Lois Lane's hand in marriage in an old issue of Action Comics, circa 1960.
    – Daft
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 21:12

3 Answers 3


There are hundreds of examples over 75 years where Superman/Superboy, despite their amazing power levels are easily defeated, sometimes by foes with far less power. In fact, it is a common trope that Superman meets an enemy, gets beaten by the enemy, because he is fighting at a fraction of his true power level to protect them from him, and then learns from the beatdown and comes back to win.

  • Darkseid is inconsistently shown handing Superman his a** on more than one occasion. From Pre-52, before the reboot. Darkseid gives Superman two punches and makes him bleed and ending the fight.

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  • Superman commonly takes a severe beating from technological foes like Lex Luthor, Metallo, Brainiac or Amazo, whose powers included advanced alien technology and/or the use of Kryptonite or red sun radiation. Amazo, show below, has the effective powers of the entire Justice League at its disposal. Alone in this battle, Superman is quickly defeated.

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  • He will almost always take a brutal beatdown from other Kryptonians who do not have his mental blocks to causing harm to others. You can see this in the early battles with his cousin Kara when she first arrives on Earth.

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  • This was well done in the comic saga and movie of "Superman vs the Elite." Manchester Black, using his powerful telekinetic abilities, gave Superman the equivalent of a stroke by collapsing blood vessels in Superman's brain. This immobilized Superman and allowed Coldcast to use his full powers on the Man of Steel in a highly effective, one-two punch.

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  • Even in the Pre-Crisis Universe, Superman wasn't completely invulnerable particularly when he was confronting alien beings such as these minions of Apokalips, who seconds after attacking had Superman on the ropes. Only the cosmic power of the Infinity Man dispatches these incredible foes.

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Pre-Crisis Superboy gets into a conflict with Ultra Boy and in a matter of seconds, using his Ultra-strength and Superboy indestructible cape, Ultra Boy puts the smackdown on Superboy. This is a case of a character weaker than Superboy beating him. Ultra Boy has the same kinds of powers as Superboy, but each is amplified and greater than Superboy's, but with an inability to use more than one power fully at a time.

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  • 1
    The Kara or kryptonian one is out of place. Those are rarely one hit fights.
    – user16696
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 0:17
  • Awesome answer. The Amazo and Manchester Black examples stand out for me. Superman usually has great stickability but those two subdue him with their first attack. Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 13:15

In the last page of DC Comics Presents #6 a single weaponer of Qward easily defeats Superman and he must be saved by the Red Tornado in #7 (In #7 he tries to escape but is easily defeated again - but not quite as easily as in #6 )



I am sure that is not the only time he has been defeated quickly, but it was the first that came to mind. (Yes, I'm that old)

  • Great! I wonder if we could have an image of a Qwardian bashing Superman... Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 13:05

It happens regularly to establish new characters but Superman generally wins the rematch later in the story. He was most recently beaten by the Atomic Skull and Major Disaster (Superman Wonder Woman 13) and Magog (Superman Wonder Woman 16).

Two villains he was unable to defeat were David Graves (Justice League 10-12) and Helspont in Superman Annual 1.

One of Superman's most famous defeats came at the hands of Atlas in Superman 679 (Post Crisis era).

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