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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 9:20am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Over on THE IMDb SHOW they ask Patton Oswalt what he thinks is "the most useless super power," and he picks Aquaman's ability to talk to fish. To underscore his choice he invokes the popular misconception that fish have memories that last only seconds.

He then says his first choice of a superpower to have would be Nightcrawler's teleportation. Apparently he doesn't like to fly, and thinks that is a power that would have one constantly worried that it was going to "cut out."

Not to dump on Mr. Oswalt, but this represents the kind of narrow, ennui-engorged thinking I see all too often in adult fans (and too many pros).

Let's take Aquaman. (I'll refer here only to the comics, not the f***ed up version of Namor in the movies.) He can, indeed, "talk to fish," and because they don't have micro-memory, this provides him with a fantastic network for communication and information gathering. Batman would give his cape for such a thing.

Nightcrawler, on the other hand, is incredibly limited. He can teleport only along his line of sight, unless he wants to risk materializing inside a wall, or a tree, or a passerby. (Presumably his BAMF on arrival serves to clear the area of dust and air molecules.) This might make for travel faster than walking, but it's not much good for really long distances. (Even without the "scientific" considerations Chris shoehorned in -- much to Len Wein's annoyance!)

Some of the most popular powers are "useless" on their own. Flight and super speed, as well as super strength, depend on a degree of invulnerability. Don't want friction burning off one's skin, or having one's bones shatter when lifting huge weights.

This is why superheroes are, or should be, all about FANTASY. The real world too often gets in the way of the FUN.

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 9:28am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

This is why superheroes are, or should be, all about FANTASY. The real world too often gets in the way of the FUN.

***

Absolutely.

I have heard so many similar things over time, not all pertaining to powers. Someone even tried to discuss the fuel bills/requirements of the THUNDERBIRDS craft...

As you show, the most popular powers are useless on their own. Flying is good, but if you aren't concentrating, and a private plane hits you, that could be much worse than being hit by a car. And goodness knows what super-speed might mean for your heart-rate long term.

So it is best to just enjoy the fun of it all. 

On the subject of Aquaman, I have heard some say that being able to swim to such depths would be boring. Really? Putting aside the dangers of sea snakes and sharks, I'd love such a power. It'd be nice to go for a swim across the English Channel. Or just have some peaceful "alone time" several hundred feet under. What's not to like?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 9:35am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

One writer up at DC used to say the power he'd want would be to always have the correct change.

I've often wished to be able to instantly read, write, speak and comprehend any intelligent language.

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Trevor Thompson
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 9:47am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

It's the same with movies. The amount of times characters have been thrown through glass windows, jumped off buildings and grabbed onto something without having their arms ripped off and jumped out of moving cars without a scratch but yet we still go and watch films and TV shows. They're there to entertain. If films / TV shows were realistic they'd last maybe a minute and be very very boring. 
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Phil Kreisel
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 10:05am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

The Legion of Super-Heroes (and the Substitute Legion) had some of the most useless super-heroes ever.  They often inserted the really useless ones into their tryouts...

Double-Header - a guy with two heads.  Yep, that would be pretty useless.

Stone Boy - could turn to stone (but couldn't move).
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Charles Valderrama
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 11:20am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

RE: Aquaman's powers.... many downplay his superhuman strength... he's also strong enough that his lungs work unaffected by the immense pressure/cold temperature of the ocean depths AND tough enough to withstand attacks from superhuman opponents.

As a kid who frequently vacationed at the beach and loved to swim, I wished I could be Aquaman more than any other heroes.

-C!
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 11:23am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Regarding Thunderbirds, i assumed the island and
vehicles were nuclear powered!
They had Brains after all.
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 11:35am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I've often wished to be able to instantly read, write, speak and comprehend any intelligent language.

*********

Did Chris base Doug Ramsey on you?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 11:43am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I've played with the notion of the "Gift of Tongues" since I was in high school, but I don't think I ever mentioned it to Chris!
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 12:02pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I'm pretty easy. I want Shamrock's power... unbelievable, incredible good luck. 

Super powers aren't practical, and never were... that's why they're fantasy and fiction. We MIGHT obtain such some day... a powered suit of armor is not inconceivable. Flexible armor far tougher than kevlar is possible too.

But to what end? Anything that most super powers can do can already be done by machines. Except in specialized circumstances (e.g., super strength would be mighty nice if having to try to get through a cave in, or get a heavy weight off someone.)

Perhaps it might be a bit more practical to hone skills and extranormal-but-human abilities to achieve a Batman or Captain America like level. But again... even if we found a safe steroid to make an army of Captain Americas, how would it not be abused to make an army of Hydra warriors?

As for useless powers... I'm thinking that having wings wouldn't be too handy at all.
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 12:15pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

In the real world, Aquaman's powers would probably be the most amazing.

Super-strength would be great, but would it really be useful?  (People would just ask you to help them move all the time.)

Flight would be wonderful...until the air force shoots you out of the sky or you become world-famous (because it's hard to hide when everyone can see you) and have to deal with endless requests for a trip.

But Aquaman powers?  You could spend the next 50 years of your life exploring a brand new "universe"--with the bonus abilities of being stronger than any weightlifter, limited invulnerability to the elements (with a hide thick enough to survive bullets, probably), never having to worry about drowning or freezing, visiting any beach in any country without going through customs, and even telepathy.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 12:25pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Eric, your post inspires me. I don't care, I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna swim the English Channel soon. Non-stop. Bring it on! 
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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 12:33pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Flight would be wonderful...

Would it? How high? How fast? Zipping over to the grocery store, flight would be quite handy. But going to Paris for lunch would be more of a problem. That's where the need for invulnerability kicks in. Flying anywhere in the world would require speeds many times faster than Concorde. And you'd need to be able to breathe, too!!

Invisibility would probably be handy, also.

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 12:38pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I think folk, myself included, would underestimate conditions if we could fly. Jeez, as a kid, I climbed trees that were often too high (and got admonished). As an adult with flight? I could imagine myself stupidly flying too high or too fast. 

Birds fly into aircraft. Bats fly into wind turbines. And they (I think) have "internal navigation systems". We don't. I could imagine it could get quite messy.

And humans can be selfish. Someone smoking in the air would no doubt just drop his cigarette or cigar without thinking where it would land!
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Charles Valderrama
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 1:20pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Some days, I wouldn't mind being a telepath like Charles Xavier, or a healing factor (retractable claws optional!) like Wolverine.

-C!
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Ted Downum
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 1:28pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I might go for the healing factor too, Charles.

Despite being terrified by The Incredible Shrinking Man as a child, I've also thought that the Atom's shrinking powers might be fun to have...though, with my luck, I'd get stepped on, five minutes after shrinking to 25 millimeters tall. Or eaten by a bird, maybe.


Edited by Ted Downum on 06 April 2018 at 1:28pm
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John Popa
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 1:55pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

I've always wanted Bullseye's power - perfect aim.
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David Miller
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 1:55pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

The worst power ever was on that tv show HEROE, where some poor miserable bastard in Africa was gifted with the ability to see visions of the past and future specifically involving... the portly telepathy character played by Greg Grunberg. LAME.

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Steven Myers
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 2:14pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

I don't know if there is a worst power. Even the ability to talk to Squirrels  has been used rather creatively well. I've heard invisibility mentioned as being weak, but I think it would be quite awesome, if not easy to abuse.

I polled a class years ago about what super power they wished to have, and every one said flying. Each wrote their answer, so it wasn't that they were copying either. Flight would take away that fear of falling, and fear of heights...hopefully. 
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Matthew Wilkie
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 2:59pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Time travel would be my power of choice.

As for worst power, given that HEROES been mentioned, the ability to draw comic books that tell the future would not be top of my list....
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Robert Shepherd
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 3:16pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

I want the power to fix stupid people....;-)

But if I were to pick just one "real" power,  a super brain, like in the movie Limitless.

Worse power ever? Any power that mutates the body would suck.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 3:34pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Time travel presents the same basic problems as teleportation.
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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 4:30pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I polled a class years ago about what super power they wished to have, and
every one said flying.

---

All you have to do is throw yourself at the ground and miss.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 4:36pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

42 points to Wallace.
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 06 April 2018 at 4:39pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

I want the power to fix stupid people....;-)

++++++++++++++++

Also known a Ron Whiteism. :)

That villain from the Obnoxio the Clown one-shot, Eye-Scream, probably had the worst power ever: the ability to turn into ice cream. Unless there's one that turns into manure that I don't know about. Nor want to!
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