Comic books and the media based on them have given us memorable stories and iconic characters. They have always been a lot of fun to experience, and part of that fun is each character’s unique powers and abilities. From Superman’s flight and strength, to the Flash’s speed, to Storm’s ability to control the weather, we’ve all wished we could have these powers. These abilities also add a lot to the stories they’re in, like Billy Batson learning what it’s like to grow up by shouting Shazam! or Peter Parker learning that with great power comes great responsibility after getting his spider powers.
However, there have been rather questionable superpowers created by comic book writers over the years. Some are totally useless and even detrimental to their goal of either stopping crime or causing it. Here are just some of the most hilariously useless superpowers in comic book history.
Longneck was a very short-lived member of the X-Men with the ability to (you guessed it) extend his neck. In the same series where characters can shapeshift, shoot beams from their eyes, and read minds, this kid could make his neck up to six feet long. Does it help that he could wrap it around people to throw them? Maybe it does a little. However, he quickly dies after his first appearance… by breaking his neck.
The Wonder Twins
Zan and Jayna, more popularly known as the Wonder Twins, were members of the Super Friends back in the 1970s. Jayna had the ability to transform into any animal, which is pretty handy. Zan, however, could turn into water. What better way to fight an evil-doer than to make their shoes wet? On top of the very situational power to turn into a body of water, neither of the twins could use their superpowers unless they were able to touch their rings together and shout “Wonder Twin powers, activate!” If the villains were able to keep them out of arms’ reach from each other, they were extra useless.
In the 1960s, DC Comics came up with a super team known as the Legion of Substitute Heroes, which was made up of heroes who were rejected from the futuristic team of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Because they were rejected from another superhero group, there are some real stinkers among them.
One of the most useless characters on the team, and ever, is Rainbow Girl, who wields the powers of the emotional spectrum. She can tap into various colors to change her emotions based on the Lantern Corps; red for anger, blue for hope, and green for willpower. She couldn’t control her powers, resulting in superpowered mood swings that didn’t really affect her abilities other than how she felt in a given moment. Watch out, she’s mad… and red!
Another member of the Legion of Substitute Heroes, Color Kid has the ability to change the color of any object at will. He can’t change the size or any other physical property of these objects that would actually be helpful whatsoever. Sure, it can be helpful with camouflaging something or someone, but outside of hiding or sneaking, it doesn’t do much to stop villains other than making them mad about their attire’s color scheme being off.
Dazzler is probably one of the most mocked members of the X-Men. She’s a disco dancer and singer who can convert sound into light. Sure, the ability to manipulate sound waves and to produce light in creative ways has the potential to be powerful, but she’s basically a musical flashlight. Blinding her foes can prove helpful, but something like that can’t be useful all the time.
A member of the Great Lakes Avengers, Doorman is probably one of the most pointless heroes Marvel has ever created. While characters like Shadowcat have the ability to phase through objects, Doorman was able to assist other characters with moving through walls. Other heroes could use him to travel to a room adjacent to the one they are already in by stepping through him like an actual door.
He couldn’t teleport them anywhere else or even use his power to get into the room himself. He could just be used as a door, which is especially pointless when most other heroes have other means to sneak or break into a nearby room on their own. Plus, stepping through him must feel pretty weird.
Armless Tiger Man
His name says it all. He’s part tiger, part man, and all armless. He has sharp tiger-like teeth and is great on his feet, but those can only do so much for him if he can’t catch or hold his prey to bite. He also worked for the Nazis, which is odd considering he can’t hold a firearm like the rest of their soldiers could. Characters like Sabertooth make Armless Tiger Man even more pointless considering they have his strengths without sharing his weakness. The folks at Marvel certainly made a strange choice with this one.
Snowflame only made a couple of appearances in the pages of DC Comics back in the late 80s, and perhaps it was a couple of appearances too many. Snowflame has superhuman strength, super speed, and pyrokinesis, which all sound like fantastic superpowers. However, Snowflame only gains these abilities temporarily after he snorts cocaine. If he runs out, he’s powerless. If he overdoses, he dies.
He was created during a time when the cocaine epidemic was at its peak, so creating a character to showcase the dangers of the drug makes sense. However, this was a laughable way to do it. Plus, his powers depend so much on him being high that he’s useless fighting superheroes. Either he runs out and is screwed, or he can’t think straight while using those powers.
The ability to give your foe asbestos poisoning would be pretty strong for a villain. Too bad that’s not what Asbestos Lady did. She made herself fire-resistant by wearing a suit constructed of asbestos. This Marvel villain was created in the 1940s, which was before the dangers of asbestos were known. It was simply known as a chemical to fireproof textiles, so her suit made much more sense at the time. That being said, this isn’t a character or ability that aged well whatsoever. It turns out she was wearing a suit that was poisoning her the entire time. In 2006, Marvel even featured the character’s death, which was caused by her asbestos suit.
Toad is typically shown to be one of Magneto’s lackeys. While facing off against the X-Men, you’d think that Magneto would want someone a bit more useful on his team. Toad’s powers are essentially what you’d expect. He has a long, sticky tongue and can jump really high. He’s also really slimy and probably smells horrible. He can actually be a pretty fun character in the comics and other media, but he is just a frog person. Jumping high is pointless when battling any of the several X-Men members who can fly. His sticky tongue isn’t much against a team of incredibly powerful mutants. He’s more gross than he is useful.
This is another character who’s name explains exactly what he is capable of. DC Comics’ Arm-Fall-Off Boy can detach his arms from their sockets and use them as melee weapons. It’s no surprise he only had one actual appearance in the comics decades ago. By using his power, he loses all use of the arm he detaches. Plus, anything else would make a better blunt object. A character with a baseball bat is automatically better than he is.
With countless comic book characters out there, there are bound to be misses. What are some of the other terrible superpowers that you’ve seen in comics?