Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Lame Powers Query:

I have an odd appreciation for superheroes with incredibly stupid and/or useless powers. I mean seriously, the lamer, the better. Like poor Jubilee's sparklers? I mean, sure, there's useful applications for it. But on a team with guy who can heal from pretty much atoms, lady who can control weather and the like, that's pretty lame.

Or heck. Beast. You have: walking cannon, telekinetic girl, winged guy, iced guy, and...guy with really big feet?

I mean, okay, Angel's powers were pretty fucking lame too, but at least he got something ornamental out of the deal.

But still, I can't help but like that sort of thing. What's your favorite lame power?


  • At January 18, 2008 2:48 AM, Blogger Flidget Jerome said…

    I'm terribly fond of Sam Wilson's non-power, the whole talks-to-birds thing. Especially because he uses it as a non-power, it's just a vaguely useful trick he can do and maybe he can whip it out at parties if the host has a parrot.

  • At January 18, 2008 3:48 AM, Blogger Brian Smith said…

    I gotta go with Matter-Eater Lad and the ability to eat anything. (The one I know best, though, is the post-Zero Hour one, who also had acid spit. While that made him more effective offensively, it also ruined any chance he had to make out with Triad or Spark or Violet or any other non-Daxamite, non-Captain-Marvel-powered Legionnaire.)

  • At January 18, 2008 4:26 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    Beast's powers are actually enhanced strength, enhanced agility, prehensile feet and giant thinky brain...

    But yeah winged flight always seems kind of like the hero is just getting shafted...

    Then again, a friend once rolled up a MSH rpg character with ONE power. Water-breathing. No enhanced swimming, no talking to fishies, none of the physical or sensory enhancements that make Aquaman so bad-ass. JUST water-breathing. And it was linked to a magic amuelet. Can you just picture the situation where THAT piece of Super-Hero jewelry is handed down to the next generation...

    "Here you go son. The Mystic Snorkle of Sitting Underwater!"

    "Um. What else does it do dad?"

    "Do? Its a magic snorkle! You can breathe underwater! For as long as you want. Or until your skin gets all pruney."

    "Er...ok. Thanks. I guess."

    *son walks away muttering to self*

    "Maybe the Defenders will take me. I mean they let in Angel AND Nighthawk."

  • At January 18, 2008 4:29 AM, Blogger tavella said…

    Hey, I'd *love* an amulet that let me breath underwater. Granted, I wouldn't be using it for superheroing, I'd be using it for scubaing.

  • At January 18, 2008 5:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As someone who loves Jubilee, Doug Ramsey, AND Matter-Eater Lad, I can understand the 'lame powers' love. At the end of the day, it's not their powers that made them compelling - it's their personalities. Unfortunately, you can't use your personality in a mindless fight scene.

    (I think they also established that Jubilee was actually way stronger than she looked but tempered herself out of fear, or something.)

  • At January 18, 2008 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Doug Ramsey! Not that it isn't a very useful power, but when you're a translator surrounded by superpowered people, it sure seems lame.

  • At January 18, 2008 7:42 AM, Blogger running42k said…

    If there is a blackout, Jubilee is the one you want around.

  • At January 18, 2008 10:03 AM, Blogger IslandLiberal said…

    One of the dumbest things Lobdell ever did was take away Angel's metal wings; they gave him genuine offensive capabilities.

  • At January 18, 2008 12:09 PM, Blogger Sea-of-Green said…

    Ah, but there's the CLASSIC lame superpower a 'la SUPERFRIENDS:

    Jayna can turn into any animal she wants! Nifty!

    Zan can turn into ... water.


    Anyone need a drink? How 'bout a popsicle?

    (Ewwww, nix that last -- it brings up too many questionable images. :-P)

  • At January 18, 2008 1:33 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    My favorite non-power has to be Gypsy from the old Detroit Justice League. I'm not exactly sure WHAT she did, other than run around in bare feet and hoop earrings. But gosh, she was just so decorative doing it.

    As far as I can tell, Vibe's power seemed to be breakdancing. I'll have to ask Scipio.

    ALL the Detroit JLA was pretty lame, when it comes right down to it.

  • At January 18, 2008 2:22 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At January 18, 2008 2:30 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    My sister's rationale when I talk about characters with bad powers is "hey it's more than you have now" xD

    Being able to fly and that's ALL is a pretty crappy power in relation to the rest of the superhero verse tho xD

    Oh, and does Ma-ti and the power of Heart from Captain Planet count? XD Cuz I still remember how they had to specifically make episodes with rly convoluted plots just to have him star and prove how useful he is.

    I want the ability to talk to aminals tho and have cute aminal friends! It's just not that cool compared to Earth, Wind, Water and Fire. :o Tho in one episode it was shown that without Ma-ti, Captain Planet would form without a consience and be all ebil or something. He needs Kwami and Ma-ti to have form and a soul. Once he was just formed with those 2 and was a regular guy who had to save the other 3 planeteers :o

    I watch that show too much >_>

    I'm sure there were a few transformers that seemed to get the short end of the vehicle stick too xD

  • At January 18, 2008 2:33 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    If you think Angel's power is lame, imagine him if he were only six inches tall.

    You get Blue Jay.

  • At January 18, 2008 2:36 PM, Blogger Siskoid said…

    Big fan of stupid powers, which is why I like the Substitute Legion so much.

    Taking the cake is Ambush Bug's "reality check" power. He knows he's in a comic. That's really cool to me. I wish I knew I was in a comic. Sigh.

  • At January 18, 2008 2:43 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    OMG Blue Jay!!!!

    I forgot all about him Notintheface! xDDD

  • At January 18, 2008 5:41 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Yeah, and so did the artists during the Giffen League Era at times. Half the time Bart Sears drew him, he was represented by tick mark with a wavy line going through it. And at least Angel can use his wings to generate strong winds.

    And Zan's power wasn't lame, but just misused on the show. Supposedly, the SF comic had him turn into things like tidal waves and ice giants and even Jack Frost.

    But the ultimate lame power has to go to Arm Fall-Off Boy. He has the power to detach one of his arms and hit people with it like a club.

  • At January 18, 2008 6:39 PM, Blogger Seth T. Hahne said…

    How 'bout Chance from the old New Mutants-esque miniseries, Fallen Angels. Her power was to enhance or inhibit the powers of other mutants around her. And if I recall, she didn't have control over it.

    So not only could she not do anything by herself, it was anyone's guess whether she'd help or hinder a given situation.

    Skids was pretty lame too. The power to not be touched by anything.

  • At January 18, 2008 7:55 PM, Blogger Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said…

    I love the lame power characters. In my much younger days, I wrote and drew a Subs comics.

    And Blue Jay? Love, love, love him. Since he has the strength of a full-sized man, he'd actually be very dangerous if you look at the physics of it. Putting all the force of a punch into a very small area would be deadly. It's the opposite of boxing gloves, which spread the force over a larger area. (And if you're going to make fun of Blue Jay, what does that say about Doll Man, who didn't even have the wings?)

    Another favorite of mine is Triton of the Inhumans. He's got the whole underwater powers thing, which aren't great to start with, but he lived in the Himalayas and on the Moon. Yeah. That's pathetic.

  • At January 18, 2008 9:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Superhero parody shows did these types of characters really well.

    Earthworm Jim had Turns His Eyelids Inside-out Boy, "A" Shadow (who was very good at shadow puppets) and Zantor, Master of the Flying Toupee.

    The Tick also had some good ones, like Four-Legged Man.

  • At January 18, 2008 9:55 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Starboy's "I make things heavier" power. Sure, they dressed it up as general "gravity manipulation" but in the beginning it was exquisite.

  • At January 18, 2008 11:30 PM, Blogger K. D. Bryan said…

    Hmmmmmm. That's a tough one. I'll leave Squirrel Girl alone because the hilarity of her comes from the fact she kicks everybody's ass with just her squirrel powers.

    I think I have to say my favorite lame power is totally reactive empathy, ala Deanna Troi (who I love).

    "The people firing on us are angry!"

    "Yes, thank you Counselor Troi."

    But really, empathy only seems useless until you're dealing with pathological liars or crazy people. Or if you're having an awkward first date, maybe. Then you'd be all "Man, I wish I had some freakin' empathy right now!"

    SallyP, Gypsy is actually pretty useful. She could go Predator on people's butts with psychic stealth powers that made her fade into the background. Or something. Ok, honestly, I just know she was in Birds of Prey for all of five minutes doing that. Of course, I always wonder if her clacky bracelets and tingly earrings totally invalidate her invisibility powers. :P

    . . . OMG. Wikipedia actually says barefoot waterskiing was one of Gypsy's special skills. That's . . . wow.

  • At January 19, 2008 1:18 AM, Blogger Will Staples said…

    Totally agree with Ami's assessment of Ma-ti. It would be awesome to have the Power of Heart. The power... to move you...

    Failing that, the power to kill a yak from 200 yards away with mind bullets would be peachy.

    On a more serious note, invisibility. If they were in an espionage comic instead of standard super-hero fare, Invisible Woman and Phantom Lady would be the most useful heroes ever.

    Matter-Eater Lad, Bouncing Boy, and the entire Legion of Substitute Heroes are all pretty awesome. Just imagine Chlorophyll Kid tossing an acorn over a wall and turning it into an oak tree to take out some mooks. That would be pretty awesome.

  • At January 19, 2008 4:14 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    Man, Bouncing Boy's power was being UTTERLY PIMP. He married a hot woman who turned into THREE HOT WOMEN. Bouncing Boy, straight men everywhere salute you!

    And lamest power? Look up a one-appearance guy for Marvel called...the Osprey, I think. His power?

    He had non-working wings and a stupid costume. And then he had the balls to try out for the Wizard's Frightful Four...

  • At January 19, 2008 9:34 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Wow! Barefoot Waterskiing is the bestest power...EVER! I'll have to take Gypsy off of the list then.

    Wouldn't you want to read a comic where Lex Luthor was defeated by barefoot waterskiing? I know I would.

  • At January 19, 2008 3:45 PM, Blogger Tom Foss said…

    I'm a big fan of Matter-Eater Lad. I'd really like to see the Legion end up meeting the Syndicate of Super-Villains from the Anti-Matter universe, just because I want to see Anti-Matter-Eater Lad.

    And he can eat Wildfire, or something. It'd be awesome.

    There was a girl in "Major Bummer" whose power was flight...except she didn't get the ancillary powers, like, um...thrust. She just kind of floated, pushed around by air currents and the like. I don't know if they ever made it clear whether or not she could even land. That's a lame power.

    And if Star Boy's power is lame, then Light Lass's is even moreso. "I can make things less heavy, which is all but useless in a fight situation."

  • At January 19, 2008 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'll probably catch some flak for this, but I've always thought that Hourman was pretty lame. I mean, here's a guy on a team with people like The Flash, Green Lantern and Dr. Fate, whose sole ability is to take a pill to get halfway decent superpowers, but only for an hour. And then, to make it worse, he seems to go out of his to make sure that absolutely everyone everywhere knows this.

    Plus he calls it his "hour of power," which, I mean, c'mon now.

  • At January 19, 2008 4:42 PM, Blogger K. D. Bryan said…

    Sallyp, I'll take that and raise you one better - I want to see a comic book where Lex Luthor gets defeated by Barefoot Waterskiing in the course of a Beach Blanket Bingo-style plot. Preferably with a 50's style dance-off at some point and/or a surfing contest.

  • At January 19, 2008 7:37 PM, Blogger Siskoid said…

    Dane: The Fallen Angels have a number of gomers, including super-intelligent lobsters (well, super-intelligent for crustaceans anyway).

  • At January 19, 2008 7:51 PM, Blogger Erich said…

    Not really lame, but a power that's only useful in certain situations: shape-changing (that is, the disguise-type changing of Mystique or Chameleon, as opposed to the "I can be anything" transformations of Plastic Man, Morph, or Becky from The Order). It's a great power for espionage and infiltration...but once you're actually IN a fight, you better hope your opponent takes their eyes off you long enough to get away.

  • At January 19, 2008 7:58 PM, Blogger Erich said…

    I just remembered a Golden Age hero I read about in Jeff Rovin's Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes. Unfortunately, I can't remember his name, but his power was that, by saying "Stop, time!", he could stop...clocks. He didn't freeze time, he just made clocks stop running. I guess he fought crime by making crooks miss their appointments.

  • At January 20, 2008 12:40 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    K.D., THAT would be an awesome book. We'll have to add Vibe for the dancing part, and have Hal Jordan and Pieface for the surfing.

  • At January 20, 2008 8:10 PM, Blogger Your Obedient Serpent said…

    Zan's problem was bad writing. I've played a Zan clone in Mutants & Masterminds, and those powers are scary bad awesome if you knew how to use them.

    "Shape of... an ice catapult!"
    "Shape of... a waterspout!"
    "Shape of... a STEAM EXPLOSION!"

  • At January 20, 2008 8:17 PM, Blogger Your Obedient Serpent said…

    Ami's comment reminded me of:

    Let's give a nod for Serafin, of the Forever People. Big Bear had the ability to channel "free-floating atoms", which translated as Super Strength But Cooler; Beautiful Dreamer could project mental illusions and do other psychic tricks; Mark Moonrider had a "megaton touch"; Vykin the Black had magnetic abilities.


    He had a hat band full of "Cosmic Cartridges" that did clever tricks, most of which could be done better by a Mother Box.

    Which, of course, they already had.

  • At January 23, 2008 12:01 PM, Blogger Seth T. Hahne said…

    Omigosh, I totally forgot about the lobsters. That was the BEST series ever.

  • At January 26, 2008 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What, no love for the Inferior Five?


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