Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

I'm back! And reading! And maybe even blogging! No promises!

Monday, August 06, 2007

An Odd Thought...

I think it could be funny to make a team of superheroes with the lamest powers that come to mind and try to actually make them useful.

For example, take a character that's sole ability is to change the color of their hair (head and body of course). That's an incredibly stupid power, isn't it? I mean, suddenly becoming a redhead is probably not going to do much against Superman.

But it'd be awesomely useful for a secret agent or a minor villain or something. Especially if the character is a male with facial hair. Because you could totally do the crime as a blond, run for it, duck for cover, change your hair/beard color to brown or black and walk out nonchalantly. Sure you'd end up with a whole:

"Um. Sir. Did you happen to see a blond guy wearing the exact same outfit as you?"

"...same as me? Really? How weird! No, I haven't! Maybe they went the other way!"

Okay, it's probably funnier in my head than on paper. But still an entire team of people like this could be hilarious. Like...the "human jukebox". Someone who can open their mouth and reproduce exactly any song they've ever heard, singers and instruments. Now imagine the sheer potential of having that character open their mouth and very very faintly start to play the most annoying song imaginable. Not even loud enough to hear completely, just to have it dancing on the edge of audio range.

The psychological warfare possibilities are endless!

Or the telepath who could only project a single overwhelming one-word thought into someone's brain and watch their brains fill in necessary connections. "TINKLE" for example. Suddenly the person's running for a rest room. Or "HAM." (A guard protecting something valuable: "I suddenly have this unstoppable craving for Ham! I must get some!" Then at the convenience store, in the sandwich department: "Wait a second. I'm Jewish!".) The best part is that the same one word prompt could have completely different reactions in every single person! "DUCK" --> "I'm hungry, I haven't had roast duck in ages!" "DUCK"--> "Ack incoming!" *ducks* "DUCK"--> "Oh, I love birds!"

Though, I'm not sure what it says about me that the majority of "useful applications" I can think of are either criminal or just really mean.

It still amuses me way more than it should though.

19 Comments:

  • At August 06, 2007 10:25 AM, Anonymous BradyDale said…

    You're sort of in the vein I've been kicking around for a long time. I'd like to see more "superhero" stories that weren't about fighting monsters. Think about it... if there were a bunch of people with superpowers in the world, they would not all go out to fight crime.

    Some would use their powers for commercial gain. Telepaths would become gamblers and salesmen and businessmen. Super strong characters would make movies, work high end construction jobs at insane rates or launch their own shipping companies.

    The stories I think we really need are heroic stories about people who'd go out to do other kinds of good... people who'd go to Africa to use their power to help people build schools. Healers who'd just go out and heal.

    Imagine how great it would have been if Kilowog would have just run around American cities helping burnt out neighborhoods come back to life?

     
  • At August 06, 2007 10:59 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Magnificent. Really really annoying of course, but magnificent. The human jukebox one is particulalry dastardly.

    The worst one that I could think of, was the power to activate the "walk" sign at traffic lights...so everyone has to wait longer. Drives people CRAZY!

     
  • At August 06, 2007 11:51 AM, Blogger Elayne said…

    This has been done a number of times, from Legion of Substitute Heroes (DC) to GLI (Marvel). It's always a fun idea. Turns out most every character is someone's favorite, and most writers believe there are no bad characters, just badly-written ones.

     
  • At August 06, 2007 11:51 AM, Anonymous Mark Engblom said…

    Check out the movie "Mystery Men". It uses the exact same premise you suggest.

     
  • At August 06, 2007 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Bradydale, Astro city once had a story which made clear not every super powered individual fights or commits crime. Had a telekinetic who worked on a soap's special effects. Also, in Invincible, Atom Eve does disaster relief in Africa.

    Figure the gambling industry would add safeguards with enough people.

     
  • At August 06, 2007 2:07 PM, Blogger RAB said…

    For years I've been haunted by the idea of a lowlife whose one trick was to make passersby suddenly think "Where's my wallet?" so that they would feel around for it, revealing its location for easy pickpocketing, or take it out to reassure themselves it hadn't vanished, thereby making a mugging that much easier. Never did think of a good use for that idea...

     
  • At August 06, 2007 2:18 PM, Anonymous Scott said…

    The first thing I thought of when I read this was Lou Martin's fellow "superheroes" in "Major Bummer."

     
  • At August 06, 2007 4:07 PM, Blogger Jason said…

    Yeah, this is totally the Legion of Substitute Heroes. If you can catch the episode of the LSH cartoon that features them, I'd highly recommend it as it is hilarious.

     
  • At August 06, 2007 4:30 PM, Blogger Will Staples said…

    I think that was also the idea behind DC's Hero Hotline in the late '80s, especially the Night Shift. Zeep the Living Sponge, Marie the Psychic Turtle, Chlorino...

     
  • At August 06, 2007 5:30 PM, Anonymous "Starman" Matt Morrison said…

    It's been done before.

    How much?

    Put it this way - even I, who can count the number of fan fics I've written on two hands, wrote a Kyle Rayner/Jack Knight team-up fan-fiction around the concept of a tech-based bad-guy who attempted to hold Opal City hostage with his power to turn traffic lights red.

    The logic being that if you asked for a small enough sum of money as ransom, compared to the ammount of commerce the city lost because of gridlock - the city might just pay the million dollars to be rid of you.

    I also just wanted to do a story where Kyle and Jack hung out after their brief conversation about art in GL #81

     
  • At August 06, 2007 10:30 PM, Anonymous bostonpenguincat said…

    I think there was a Doom Patrol story (grant morrison, I think) who had a villian that had every superpower than no one has ever thought of. I guess these powers, no how small/strange could be used.

     
  • At August 07, 2007 1:50 AM, Anonymous heckblazer said…

    The only word I can think of is "Dogwelder":

    http://www.page8productions.com/maki/uploaded_images/dogwelder-intro-717397.jpg

     
  • At August 07, 2007 3:51 AM, Blogger Steve Flanagan said…

    It's the Brotherhood of Substitute DaDa!

     
  • At August 07, 2007 11:30 AM, Anonymous Rich said…

    You've been reading those trashy Xanth novels again, haven't you? All about the one-trick pony powers in that series, some useful, some not...wasn't there one guy who could change the color of his urine?

    Anyway, for "realistic" powered individuals (ie not all super-altruists), take a look at the Aberrant roleplaying game from White Wolf. For heroes with useless, idiotic powers, try the aptly-named Stupor Powers RPG from Wingnut Games.

    I suppose changing your hair color might be useful against a Green Lantern, especially poor addled Silver-Age Hal. "By the Guardians! That red-haired villain has become blonde! My power ring is useless against his hair now!"

     
  • At August 07, 2007 7:01 PM, Blogger JYD said…

    I'd previously thought of Jazzman who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of all jazz, funk and bebop riffs and fought crime primarily using the pentatonic scale.

    As for other superheroes with entirely useless powers how about someone who can communicate with fish?

    I can't believe no-one has gone there already...

     
  • At August 08, 2007 3:58 AM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    I love ideas like this! :D Kinda like Mystery Men >.>

    But I esp like how the powers aren't TOTALLY useless, and you figure out ways they could be useful :D

     
  • At August 08, 2007 1:20 PM, Anonymous BradyDale said…

    Dave Letterman did a top ten list of useless powers once. My favorite was "really bendy thumb."

    I don't think the Leg sub heroes is quite what she's talking about, though. They had noticeable powers, they just weren't *quite* good enough for the real Legion. There powers didn't totally suck.

    And Polar Boy eventually became the Legion's top dog!

     
  • At August 09, 2007 2:31 AM, Anonymous Dan Coyle said…

    A favorite exchange from The Savage Dragon:

    "Wood-Boy, huh? I bet you can change into a living tree-- and KICK ASS!"

    "No, I can use my powers to change one kind of wood- into any OTHER kind of wood."

     
  • At August 12, 2007 10:09 AM, Anonymous Peter Singer said…

    "Superhero League of Hoboken" is a computer game from the mid-90's with this premise. You play The Crimson Tape, leader of a superhero league (in Hoboken, of course) fighting various weird supervillains in a post-apocalyptic landscape.

    All the heroes you can recruit have weird and/or stupid superpowers: Mademoiselle Pepperoni can see inside pizza boxes; RoboMop can clean almost any mess; Tropical Oil Man can increase a foe's cholesterol, etc. And The Crimson Tape's superpower is that he can create organizational charts...

    It's an awesome game btw.

    /Peter

     

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home