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Adam Schulman
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Joined: 22 July 2017
Posts: 832
Posted: 14 April 2018 at 10:28am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Most of the time I don't have a problem suspending disbelief when reading superhero comics. It goes along with the territory. Even when some characters find a way to bend the laws of physics I can sometimes just go with it. How can Hank Pym or Ray Palmer get around the square-cube law? They just found a way. Forget about how, just enjoy.

Sometimes I admit I have trouble. Take Iceman. He's a mutant with "ice powers"? Cool. He can create ice out of nothing, regardless of how much (or little) moisture there is in the air?

I'm afraid with Bobby Drake I just have to "get off the bus." I'm old, I guess.

(Sadly, even with Spider-Man I'm kind of "old." I can believe Peter Parker is a genius who can create web-fluid. But...he can create web-fluid out of materials so ordinary that all he needs is a modest Daily Bugle salary to put it together? I still love old Spidey stories written by Stan Lee, Roger Stern, a few others, but I have to deliberately not think about that part.)
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John Byrne

Imaginary X-Man

Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 14 April 2018 at 11:18am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Sometimes I admit I have trouble. Take Iceman. He's a mutant with "ice powers"? Cool. He can create ice out of nothing, regardless of how much (or little) moisture there is in the air?

Actually, no. If there is not enough moisture in the air, Bobby runs a risk of serious dehydration.

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Peter Martin
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Posted: 14 April 2018 at 12:18pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I would struggle to think of any power that is useless.

I think most powers are useful, and would almost always come under the bracket of 'better than nothing'.

Only rarely do you have something like Rogue's power of absorbing talents, where it's an actual hindrance (because it precludes any kind of normal physical contact). Even in such a case, there would be a multitude of scenarios in which it could prove useful, so that the term useless seems an unhelpful misdescription.

There are plenty of powers that in combat might be less useful, but it says more about the imagination of the writer/reader if these powers seem useless just because of a lack of utility in a dust-up.

As JB posted earlier in this thread, the ability to instantly understand and speak any language would be a brilliant ability to have (one I'd love to have!), but it takes some thought as a writer to weave such an ability into tales that are often about X fighting Y.   
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Drew Spence
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Posted: 14 April 2018 at 12:22pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

but it takes some thought as a writer to weave such an ability into tales that are often about X fighting Y.  

That power would go to the bad guy and he would translate for the different aliens/races/cultures and start massive planetary wars.

His name is The Evil Interpreter!
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John Byrne

Imaginary X-Man

Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 14 April 2018 at 12:33pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

"...the poor Babel Fish, by breaking down all barriers of communication between all races, has caused more and bloodier wars..."
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Michael Hogan
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Posted: 14 April 2018 at 1:30pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Like you, JB, I have always thought the ability to comprehend any language would be supremely useful. Over the years, giving it more thought in a comicbook sense, I extrapolated it to be the ability to decode anything, as foreign languages are almost like code.

Edited by Michael Hogan on 16 April 2018 at 7:42am
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 15 April 2018 at 11:39am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Peter M. - I could think of a dozen powers off the top of my head that are pretty useless, but they'd be extremely silly (e.g., the power to project darkness... but only during a solar eclipse.)

You mentioned the situation of "in combat", and you're right. There are a lot of heroes whose powers wouldn't be very useful in a battle situation.

But there are more situations in comics than combat. Espionage, intelligence, reconnaissance, support, first aid, crowd control, communications, etc.

And even situational battles could change effectiveness. If the Justice League is battling Amazo in Denver, Aquaman might not be so useful. If the Avengers are fighting the Skrulls in a zero-gravity environment, Hawkeye could be somewhat limited (thanks to equal and opposite reactions.)

You're right; it depends on how clever the writer is to make the heroes effective. Hell, if there a confrontation on Krypton or in Kandor, Superman might not be as big a contributor as Wonder Woman.
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John Byrne

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Posted: 15 April 2018 at 1:04pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

...foreign languages are almost like code...

A popular misconception. Foreign languages, except those with the same roots, can be utterly impenetrable. Remember, for instance, that it was the accidental discovery of the Rosetta Stone that opened Egyptian hieroglyphics to us, after literally centuries of fruitless study.

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Adam Schulman
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Joined: 22 July 2017
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Posted: 15 April 2018 at 6:14pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Actually, no. If there is not enough moisture in the air, Bobby runs a risk of serious dehydration.

***

I'll try to clarify.

I don't get how Bobby can create ice without water being present. If he was wearing a suit that shoots water -- like Pyro of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants wears a suit that shoots fire -- and he then turned the water into ice and did all the things he does with it in the comics, that would make it easier to suspend disbelief. 

But even if it's summer and there's not a cloud in the sky, Bobby can make ice "out of nothing." At least in every X-Men story that he's in that I can remember. 

(To be honest, I always found Iceman to be the least interesting X-Man -- his personality was, ironically, too much like Johnny Storm's.)
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John Byrne

Imaginary X-Man

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Posted: 15 April 2018 at 6:22pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I'll try to clarify.

If there is not enough water "around", Bobby draws it from his own body. Which can be extremely dangerous.

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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 15 April 2018 at 6:30pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Ahhh. I didn't remember that. Yeah, that's very, very dangerous. Thank you. 
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Michael Hogan
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Posted: 16 April 2018 at 7:44am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

...foreign languages are almost like code...


A popular misconception. Foreign languages, except those with the same roots, can be utterly impenetrable. Remember, for instance, that it was the accidental discovery of the Rosetta Stone that opened Egyptian hieroglyphics to us, after literally centuries of fruitless study.
__________________________

Very true, sir. I was thinking that, superficially, if you don't know a foreign language it is as unintelligible as code. Besides, that would be a cool comic book power.
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Jean-Francois Joutel
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Joined: 06 November 2008
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Posted: 16 April 2018 at 8:18am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Foreign languages, except those with the same roots, can be utterly impenetrable.

------------------------------------------------------------ ---------------------------

True. It reminds me also of how the American Navajo code was the only unbreakable code in WW2. That was because it wasn't a cypher, but based on a language spoken by a very small community of native Americans.
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John Popa
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Joined: 20 March 2008
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Posted: 16 April 2018 at 10:32am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I do think there's a sense (which I'm guilty of as well) of thinking a power is more 'useful' based on how much it helps in a fight. Phantom Girl's a good example - being intangible has all sorts of uses when one needs to get inside someplace that's otherwise impenetrable. But if it's just a brawl, no, she's probably not as useful. But that's where writers get to be creative!
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Peter Martin
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Joined: 17 March 2008
Location: Canada
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Posted: 16 April 2018 at 12:25pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Peter M. - I could think of a dozen powers off the top of my head that are pretty useless, but they'd be extremely silly (e.g., the power to project darkness... but only during a solar eclipse.)
-------------------------------------
Eric, perhaps I should have clarified that I meant any power that has appeared in a comic, as opposed to inventing a useless power for the purpose of being useless.

The context of Patton's 'most useless super-power' was assigning that label to an extant superhero and it was within that context that I was commenting.


Edited by Peter Martin on 16 April 2018 at 12:25pm
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Eric Sofer
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Joined: 31 January 2014
Location: United States
Posts: 2615
Posted: 16 April 2018 at 4:41pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Peter - Got you. Yeah, I'm thinking now of super powers and heroes already around... and what I come up with is powers that are still kinda silly - I'm thinking Invisible Boy, the Inferior Five, the Legion of Substitute Heroes, maybe a couple others. And - as you noted - they're still better than nothing. It remains with the writer to MAKE the situation and character interesting.

Oh, and I couldn't agree with you more about Rogue. She seems to me to be the girl mutant hostage. If, in the comics, she didn't have Ms. Marvel's powers, she would be entirely useless with respect to her powers. I mean, the only useful aspect I could think of is stealing the power of someone who's unconscious... and that sounds kinda hazardous.
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William Costello
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Joined: 30 August 2012
Location: United States
Posts: 385
Posted: 16 April 2018 at 7:10pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Kate Leth and Brittney Williams created a mutant character for their recent Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat reboot. His name is Federigo Ravina and he had the power to control bedbugs. Ultimately, he uses the power to help residents in Patsy's neighborhood get rid of their bedbugs.

Because of powers like Ravina's, I don't spend too much time actually thinking about whether the powers are "useless." After all, CW Legends of Tomorrow ended its season 3 with a giant BEEBO toy smushing the Season 3 villain, Mallus (and TV critics loved it!!) For example:  https://uk.news.yahoo.com/legends-tomorrow-season-3-episode- 031739349.html
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