Big Question ♯22

As I said last week, for this week’s big question I want to talk about bad or even useless superpowers. Now with all of the super-powered individuals running around in comics land, it’s inevitable that a few are going to have powers that are, at best, not very helpful for superheroics. So, what I want to know is, who do you think has the worst power set of any comics character (and I’m not counting non-powered characters here)?

Personally, I think the award should go to this guy.

Now, considering how many X-Men and their affiliates there are, it’s not surprising that they come up with some proper turkeys, but this guy takes the biscuit. And it’s not that his power is completely useless, in really life it would be amazingly useful, but for a superhero…..

For those of you who don’t know, this guy is called Cypher, he’s from the New Mutants and his power is he’s omnilingual. Basically he can speak any language, including alien and computer languages, as well as reading body language. So what we have here is a superhero whose ability is to understand the guy who’s trying to kill him, nice. Why is he not working for the United Nations, do you know how much they spend on translators. Any multinational organisation or company would love to have a omnilingual guy working for them, but he’s working for a team who already have a large number of team members from other countries who speak both their own language and English and are far less likely to get either in the way or seriously injured during a mission. Ok, since he’s been infected by the techno-organic virus he’s become much more useful, able to read peoples body language in such a way that he can predict their next move, but that doesn’t change the fact that he would be much more useful putting his language knowledge and computer skills to good use and make some sort of on the go translation device so holiday makers don’t have to get confused because they don’t speak the local language (as anyone who’s ever been to Japan will understand).

Anyway, over to you guys. Think you can beat Cypher?

18 Responses to Big Question ♯22

  1. Matthew Le Hunte

    Squirrel Girl or Skateman

  2. This may not count, since, to my knowledge, the “power” only appears in the Fallout setting, and thus is not a “superpower,” but certain ghouls in Fallout are so filled with radiation that they actually emit radioactive energy on their own. If I remember correctly, the ability is described as a good way to give your enemies radiation poisoning; however, there are two problems with that. First of all, it would take a long time for the enemies to be effected by the low dose of radiation you’re putting out, certainly too long to help you out in battle. Second of all, the ghoul is most likely going to spend most of his or her time around allies, not enemies; while this is fine if your only friends are other ghouls (ghouls, by the way, don’t suffer any negative effects from radiation, aside from being ghouls), if you have regular human friends, they’re going to get radiation poisoning from you.

    Basically, if you are a glowing ghoul, you have the power to give your friends cancer. In case the implication wasn’t clear, by the way, you can’t turn the power off.

  3. Prof. A.Q. Anthrax

    Matter-Eater Lad.
    Dopey name at least… Seeing as how food is matter to begin with.

  4. I think Strong Guy is useless. Yes, that’s his name, Strong Guy. Though super strength isn’t very useless, it is very redundant and I think they could have come up with a power a little more original, not to mention the name…

  5. Dazzler.

  6. What?!? Omnilingual is an amazing power. Being something of a polyglot and an amateur linguist myself, I agree that it is not a direct combat skill. However, with some elite training, a universal translator would retire James Bond as the world’s premier spy.

    While I can’t think of any “useless” powers off the top as I occupy this cubicle, Squirrel Girl and Dazzler aren’t as worthless as some people think. Not everyone has to be able to stand toe-to-toe with Darkseid or Galactus, ya know. ;p

  7. The Atomic Punk:
    What?!?Omnilingual is an amazing power.Being something of a polyglot and an amateur linguist myself, I agree that it is not a direct combat skill.However, with some elite training, auniversal translator would retire James Bond as the world’s premier spy.

    While I can’t think of any “useless” powers off the top as I occupy this cubicle, Squirrel Girl and Dazzler aren’t as worthless as some people think.Not everyone has to be able to stand toe-to-toe with Darkseid or Galactus, ya know. ;p

    I get your point, but in his situation (where even the aliens speak english) he’s not very useful to any team he’s gonna join.

    I’ve also just got to point out that Squirrel Girl may be “useless” but she’s still taken out Doctor Doom in direct combat in mainstream Marvel continuity, so she’s got some skill.

  8. I’m pretty sure there’s a member or two from the Morlocks that has a power more useless than Cipher, but no names come to mind. Maybe Flatman from the Great Lakes Avengers (IMO way more useless than Squirrel Girl). But, Doug Ramsey did not have a very good “superhero” type power, I will agree.

  9. Prof. A.Q. Anthrax

    hawk007:
    I think Strong Guy is useless. Yes, that’s his name, Strong Guy. Though super strength isn’t very useless, it is very redundant and I think they could have come up with a power a little more original, not to mention the name…

    You try coming up with something impressive on Friday afternoon at 4:50.

  10. Arm Fall Off Boy. Need i say more?

    Though he is a joke character, so the point is to be useless.

  11. Calvary_Red:
    Arm Fall Off Boy. Need i say more?

    Though he is a joke character, so the point is to be useless.

    Oh come on, that’s cheating. That’s like picking the Inferior 5. Maybe I should have added a serious characters only rule.

  12. Hey I found some characters in The Marvel and DC encyclopedias I have that are pretty lame looking or have lame powers. I think they have to be taken seriously if they made it to the book even if they are hilariously stupid. More so in Marvel it seemed even though I love them.

  13. William Peterson

    Okay, are you talking useless characters, or useless powers? Martian Manhunter is far from useless, but, in the early days of the character, he was wont to pull out powers like his “Martian See around Corners” vision, which I think is a pretty useless power. While Arm Fall Off Lad was a joke character, so was Infectious Lass, whose power WAS useful, if not without a few PR problems. Matter Eater Lad could eat ANY kind of Matter, including Inertron… Silly, but not useless! Color Boy, on the other hand, was pretty marginal. And, of course, Stone Boy could transform into solid stone… He was completely immobile when he did so, so the character was less useful than the power seems to indicate…
    And, let us not discuss “Prez”… ;)

  14. Martian Manhunter is far from useless, but, in the early days of the character, he was wont to pull out powers like his “Martian See around Corners” vision, which I think is a pretty useless power.

    Seeing around corners is “useless?” Oh my strawberry tarts. If you are a sniper or an assassin… yes, that’s a clean shot.

    Which actually brings me that DC is over-powered and over-the-top…. that for a later Big Question.

  15. JR19759: Oh come on, that’s cheating. That’s like picking the Inferior 5. Maybe I should have added a serious characters only rule.

    I’d agree with that. Though i also have to ask if we should we also count out powers that were meant to suck. My first thought was a kid in Ultimate X-Men who discovered he had the mutant power to disintegrate all life in a one-mile radius, immediately killing his family, friends, and about 300 other people. The only person who could help him was Wolverine, and all he could do was talk to the kid, then well…snikt
    But again, that’s a power deliberately chosen to be a curse.

    As for seriously bad super powers, The Wonder Twins come to mind, the Brother mostly turned into things like water, and a lot of people see him as a joke for it, but his sister on the other hand turned into animals, which seems like a cool power, but if you have to fight Darkseid, a tiger (or even a T-Rex) is not really going to help. Even a normal thug with a gun is still dangerous. But again, this is the show that made Aquaman look bad, so i could be underestimating the Twins.

  16. In custom character creation, I’ve always been fascinated at how sometimes those ‘useless’ powers can be useful. I remember hearing about a guy picking a down side to the ability to conjure up to a pound of whatever substance. He picked that he HAD to conjure 30 cc of mashed potatoes every so often.

    According to him, he fouled death rays, clogged guns, ruined getaway cars and pursuers, temporarily blinded enemies, and occasionally had a quick snack. If a power is truly useless, then the writer screwed up. :lol:

  17. Herr D:
    In custom character creation, I’ve always been fascinated at how sometimes those ‘useless’ powers can be useful. I remember hearing about a guy picking a down side to the ability to conjure up to a pound of whatever substance. He picked that he HAD to conjure 30 cc of mashed potatoes every so often.

    According to him, he fouled death rays, clogged guns, ruined getaway cars and pursuers, temporarily blinded enemies, and occasionally had a quick snack. If a power is truly useless, then the writer screwed up.

    That reminds me of a friend’s stories of a certain character he roleplayed one time. The character’s power was that he could materialize peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches at will within a certain distance. Sounds useless, of course, but the ONLY limiting factor was distance, not sight… so he could instantly kill someone by materializing a sandwich in their brain.