10 Comic Book Superpowers Way Worse Than Talking to Fish

<i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/Newsarama>Newsarama Staff</a></i> <p><b>Aquaman</b> has been the butt of a <i>lot</i> of jokes in his 70-year existence, mainly due to what some consider to be a pretty lame superpower: talking to fish. Sure, he's got plenty of other powers including super-strength (and he's not really "talking" to fish, anyway), but it's an impression that's become so prevalent, writer Geoff Johns is tackling it head-on in the new <b>Aquaman</b> series, debuting this week (<a href= http://www.newsarama.com/comics/geoff-johns-aquaman-110927.html>interview here</a>). <p>But no matter what you think of Aquaman or his chats with marine life, he's practically Superman compared to the folks on this list. In the often obscure and bizarre world of comic books, here are 10 characters with way weirder and seemingly much more useless abilities than talking to fish. There are even a couple of folks on this list whose powers are actually pretty cool, but would definitely suck to have. <p>Click "start here" in the upper-left corner for 10 comic book heroes with lame superpowers. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>

THE RED BEE

Though not technically superpowered, there is definitely something special about Rick Raleigh, who used a gun that shot bees at criminals. He usually kept the bees in his belt, and had a favorite named "Michael." That's... weird. And a bit inaccurate, as male bees don't sting. The sheer weirdness of the Bee has made his post-Golden-Age life somewhat poignant, as he has become something of a symbol for every badly gimmicked hero of the 1940s. <p>In <b>All-Star Squadron</b>, he died a heroic death fighting Baron Blitzkrieg, a superpowered Nazi whose armor made the whole bee-attack thing a wee bit ineffective. In James Robinson's <b>Starman</b>, he appeared at a dinner table with many other deceased Golden Age heroes, lamenting about how he tried so hard and never got an invite to a superhero team, before praising the Golden Age Starman for treating him as an equal. And in a humor story in <b>Bizarro Comics</b>, he tried for a new gimmick to get better PR. <p>His descendant showed up in the update of <b>Freedom Fighters</b>, but decided to retire from the superhero life. There've been plenty of goofy heroes throughout time, but few have strived so hard for dignity as the Red Bee. In his defense, he was still more dignified than the actual "Bee-Man" of the 1960s, who was dependent on Martian honey and eventually went to work for the "F-Bee-I." So he's got that going for him. (<i>Zack Smith</i>.)

3-D MAN

Long before James Cameron's <i>Avatar</i> made 3-D a must-have for Hollywood blockbustes, Marvel was apparently hip to the rising trend as their own 3-D Man debuted in 1977. Wearing a red-and-green ensemble that made him stick out like a sore thumb even at Christmas, 3-D Man possessed the strength, speed and stamina of three normal men not three superhumans or even those at peak health like Captain America, but three average joes like you or me. <p>Created by the prolific '70s comics writer Roy Thomas, 3-D Man was the merging of two brothers: Chuck and Hal Chandler. Chuck was a '50s-era test pilot that crossed the path of some Skrull invaders, and died due to a malfunctioning warp drive. His younger brother Hal found a pair of glasses Chuck wore during the explosion that actually contained a 2-D image of his brother on the glass lens, that could be activated to revive his dead brother in the duo-toned 3-D Man. This alternate identity could only come out for three hours at a time, which was good only for short spurts of action, but he did have the ability to see through Skrull disguises; something that came in useful years later during <i>Secret Invasion</i>. (<i>Chris Arrant</i>.)

GOLDSTAR

Goldstar was created to be the antithesis of DC's badass bastich Lobo in every way that Lobo was cool, Goldstar was lame. His power? Niceity. Yup, he had the ability to be nice, and to instill niceness in other people. (To be fair, that certainly does sound like the opposite of Lobo!) <p>Clean-cut hero Ernest Widdle even came from a planet named "Harmony," and was also part of a whole team of sickeningly upbeat heroes. Eventually, this Goldstar would give his life to save his arch-nemesis. Turns out being really nice doesn't prevent a Godwave from obliterating you. Who knew? (<i>Lucas Siegel</i>.)

BLACK BOLT

The concept of "blessing and a curse" is one seem a lot in superhero comic books. There are characters like X-Man, whose powers at one point were slowly killing him, and the whole cast of <i>Generation Hope</i>, which explores mutant powers as a "disease." And yes, there is that nagging issue on exactly how Superman could be able to be, um, intimate with a normal human woman that's been snickered at for years. <p>Black Bolt of the Inhumans is a prime example of this his voice can move mountains, but it happens every time he uses it. So he can't have a conversation without causing massive destruction, to say nothing of involuntary vocal eruptions if he, say, stubs a toe. <p>Though his superpower may be incredibly inconvenient, that hasn't stopped Black Bolt from being taken seriously by readers, creators or fellow comic book characters he was part of the "Illuminati" in Brian Michael Bendis's <i>Avengers</i> run, and recently showed up in <i>FF</i>. (<i>Albert Ching</i>.)

MR. MIDNIGHT

Despite his extremely cool name, Mr. Midnight had one of the more useless powers of the Golden Age. By shouting, "Stop, Time!" Neal Carruthers was able to... stop clocks. Not <i>time</i>, mind you, but clocks. Though this presumably wreaked merry hell with schedule-based crime plots, it likely proved ineffective against stuff like, well, guns. His calling card was a watch dial pointed at midnight; this, combined with Neal's personal wealth and tuxedo-based costume suggest that the whole crime-fighting thing was a bit of a lark. <p>The character is currently in the public domain, in case anyone wants him, though his name has long since been co-opted by numerous other characters and titles, including a Garth Brooks song. You know you're in trouble when Garth Brooks actually makes you seem <i>more</i> dignified. (<i>Zack Smith</i>.)

VENOM

Remember what we said about comic books and powers that actually do more harm than good? How about Venom, the super-popular Spider-Man character that's been at times both an ally and a nemesis to the wallcrawler. <p>The Venom sybmiote gives the host plenty of abilities generating organic web-fluid, super-strength and versatile camouflage skills. Of course, it also eventually controls the guy behind the suit (currently Flash Thompson), amplifies the host's worst qualities (which in <i>Spider-Man 3</i> translated to menacing dancing) and, as seen in Eddie Brock's case, gives the wearer terminal cancer. It's the reason why in the current <i>Venom</i> ongoing series written by Rick Remender, Flash's time in the symbiote is strictly monitored by the government. <p>But still, sharp teeth, green spit and the ability to magically change your clothes, that's worth taking at least a couple of risks. (<i>Albert Ching</i>.)

WONDER TWINS

The Wonder Twins are our only duo on this list, but they can't stand to be apart even for a Newsarama countdown. Introduced in the late '70s cartoon series <b>Super Friends</b>, dark-haired twins Zan and Jayna were an intriguing addition to the Justice League, even without counting their monkey sidekick Gleek. <p>Hailing from the alien world of Exxor, the Wonder Twins possessed powers that can only be activated by touching each other. Zan has the ability to become water, whether it's in liquid, gas or solid (ice) form. Jayna got the better out of the deal however, with the power to transform into any animal, real or mythological. These transforming twins also shared a telepathic link that, while not the level of Professor X at Marvel, could be used to communicate briefly with each other. <p>The <b>Super Friends</b> television show (and accompanying comic) played up their powers in a campy nature, with the duo changing Wonder Twin powers activate! before linking together to initiate their powers. Janya often transformed into a bird, while Zan transformed into water and jumped into a curiously nearby bucket for him to be picked up and carried by his sister. <p>Remembered (and often derided) for their powers, they've become part of American pop culture as referenced in everything from <i>Family Guy</i> and <i>Scrubs</i> to <i>NCIS</i>. (<i>Chris Arrant</i>.)

MUTANTS (PLENTY OF THEM)

The X-Men franchise has introduced plenty of unique superpowers to the comic book world, but let's look at just a few: <p>Maggott. This late '90s X-Man's "power" boiled down to two giant slugs that served as his digestive system, which worked their way in and out of his system, popping out to eat through things when needed. When back inside, they would transfer power to Maggott quite possibly the ickiest superpower of all time. It's this unique nature that's gained Maggott a cult following, at least to the extent where at least one fan will ask when he's coming back at every convention's X-Men panel. <p>Tar Baby. The Morlocks are all about wacky powers, but this curiously named fellow might be the "winner" of the bunch: his skin created tar, which allowed him to, as one might expect, stick to things. So, sort of like Spider-Man, except way messier and with a much more problematic alias. <p>Cypher. One of the most beloved <i>New Mutants</i>, we're not knocking Doug Ramsey as a character, but rather his superpower to translate any language he comes into contact with, sort of making him a mutant version of C-3PO. That actually is kind of an awesome power, but it has little to no value in a combat situation, which is why it's not totally surprising that he died in battle back in "The Fall of the Mutants." (He's better now, though.) <p>Marrow. Another Morlock, Marrow is similar to Maggott in that her mutant power involves bodily waste. She grows excess bones that pop out of her skin, which she then uses as, duh, weapons. Marrow's always pretty angry in most of her appearances, but if you had to deal with all of that on a daily basis, wouldn't you be? (<i>Albert Ching</i>.)

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES/LEGION OF SUBSTITUTE-HEROES

If ever there was a super-hero series made up of characters with bad super-powers, it's the Legion of Super-Heroes. Not only do a surprisingly high number of characters on the team themselves have super-powers that verge on the useless ? Dream Girl can see the future... when she's asleep, while Bouncing Boy can turn into a ball and bounce really high and Matter-Eater Lad can <i>eat anything</i>, and so on but there's a secondary team of "substitute" heroes whose powers are even more useless. <p>What futuristic supervillains would be scared by Chlorophyll Kid, who can make plants grow super-fast? Apart from Green Lantern, who would seriously be challenged by Color Kid, who can change the color of objects? And let's not forget Stone Boy, who can turn to stone... but can't actually move once he's in stone mode. With so many pointless superpowers on display, it's no wonder that it takes a Legion to keep the 31st Century safe. (<i>Graeme McMillan</i>.)

GREAT LAKES AVENGERS

Originally introduced in the '80s in the pages of <i>West Coast Avengers</i> this goofy group rose to newfound prominence in 2005 with a <i>GLA</i> miniseries written by current <i>Amazing Spider-Man</i> scribe Dan Slott. Based in Milwaukee, the GLA came together when a hero named Mr. Immortal realized his power to "not be killed" wasn't really helping him fight crime. He took out a classified ad looking for heroes to complete a superhero team, and what he got was the A-List of lame Marvel superpowers. <p>The ad's respondents included several heroes with meaningless powers like Flatman, who can make himself... well... flat; Big Bertha, a supermodel who can become fat at will; and a hilarious character named Leatherboy, a fetishist who thought he was responding to a personal ad. But the team also included Squirrel Girl, who has been shown to have a lot more power behind her buck teeth and tail. (Check her out as the <i>New Avengers</i> nanny for evidnce.) And even though they usually screw up their assignments, they seem to always come out somewhat on top, despite the not-so-super powers. (<i>Vaneta Rogers</i>.)

10 Comic Book Superpowers Way Worse Than Talking to Fish

Date: 27 September 2011 Time: 08:59 PM ET