Sure, who hasn't wished for superpowers? Super-speed, super-flight, super-strength-these are the cool powers, the ones with which all comic book superheroes seem to do so well for themselves. But there are a few lesser-known powers found in the funny pages that nobody wants to be saddled with. Any practical use they have would be countered by the sheer embarrassment and/or inconvenience of having them.
"Oh, come on," you're probably thinking. "What's wrong with telepathy?" And sure, it sounds like it'd be a useful power. You can keep tabs on what that back-stabbing co-worker of yours is up to, instantly know what your boss thinks about you and actually figure out what your girlfriend means when you ask "What's wrong?" and you get one of those meaning-laden "Oh... nothing..." replies.
Then again, like most people, you're probably sort of a prick. Do you really want to know what other people think of you? Sometimes the only way you can get through the day dealing with other people is being able to convince yourself they're not five seconds from gut-punching your dumb ass.
Telepathy means you'll never have that comforting illusion ever again. Try hearing, "He really put on some weight," "Nice hair, douchebag, did Supercuts have a coupon day?" and "Has this guy ever heard of deodorant?" before breakfast, and the phrase "Ignorance is bliss" will start making a lot of sense all of a sudden.
Life is rough for smart kids in school. There's nothing super-heroic about getting your underwear yanked up your ass by meatheads because you can read without moving your lips. Having said that, in any high school, there's always that one smug, self-satisfied smart kid who likes rubbing their big brain in the other kids' faces.
Remember how much everyone hated that kid? Okay, now add "super-intelligence" to your list of powers, where suddenly you can argue foreign policy with Nobel Laureates while doing long division in your head and scribbling a cure for leukemia on a notepad. You're gonna turn into an insufferable jerk faster than you can say, "Well, I suppose that's a simplified way of looking at it."
Lex Luthor may be a genius, but nobody's inviting his smug ass to their house parties.
First, it's mechanical, so it's going to break down eventually. You'd better be handy with tools, because a call to the American Automobile Association ain't gonna do much good when your ion field rocket boots won't ignite and you're stranded at some supervillain's island volcano base.
Second, yes, it looks cool, but it weighs a ton and you've got to keep it somewhere. No matter how much room you make in your garage, it's not going to accommodate a Voltron-size robot suit. You're going to need an empty field and a large tarp, or maybe an abandoned airplane hanger. Ever notice how anyone who dresses up like a robot in comics is a billionaire?
Third, having a power that essentially requires strapping on or climbing into 10,000 pounds of nuclear ordinance doesn't exactly lend itself to leaping into immediate action. "What's this?! Doctor Deadly is attacking the orphanage! This looks like a case for the Incredible Metal Warrior! I'll be be back in a flash!" [pause] "...or, actually... with traffic on the expressway... let's say 40 minutes..." [pause] "I'll be back in an hour and a half to stop him!"
As cool as it'd be to have any super-power"ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¦ well, nobody's getting laid with super-breath. We don't care how many orphanages you save using it, it just sounds stupid.
"What's your power?"
"I blow things!"
" Pfff! No, seriously, what's your power?"
If wasn't bad enough, it also makes you look like a dumbass while you're using it. Even Superman doesn't look cool all hunched over, cheeks puffed out, pushing air through pursed lips to knock out an arch-nemesis or blow out a raging fire. We're not denying that it's useful. It's just not terribly dignified. Plus, if you plan on using this power on a regular basis, you'd best have some breath mints on your person.
There was a 1960s comic book character by the name of Captain Marvel (one of the half-dozen or so who've used the same name). This is the version you've never heard of: a short-lived character who, upon shouting his magic word "SPLIT!" could make his body divide up into pieces that operated independently:
Yeah. Like that. It's as appalling as it looks, and thus would have the potentially useful effect of making your enemies violently wretch as they see you use your power. On the other hand, it'll most likely sicken the people you're trying to protect as well.
Like "super-breath," this just looks damned silly. Let's take the Atom, probably the most famous of all the shrinking superfellas. He can shrink to subatomic size, shoot along transmissions over phone lines, ride on top of birds... all pretty neat things to do, right? But at the end of the day, you're still a wee little man running around the ankles of friends and foes alike, and let's face it, you're just not going to look cool and get the ladies by being six inches tall. Well, unless you're willing to "go spelunking," but even then, we don't want to hear about it, pervert.
DC Comics has, for decades, published comics featuring a group of characters called the Legion of Superheroes. Taking place 1,000 years in the future, the team is comprised of teenaged crime fighters from all over the galaxy. One of the rules of membership is that your special power can't duplicate another team member's power-presumably it's the superhero equivalent of showing up at a party wearing the same dress or something.
Forgetting for a second how incredibly stupid this rule is-why turn down a team full of super-strong, super-fast badasses just so you can hire the guy who can make his feet expand? In real-world comic publishing terms, it made for a wide variety of unusual (and increasingly ridiculous) superheroes. The most unlikely on the list? That would be Matter-Eater Lad, the dude whose superpower was that he could eat... well, anything. Trees, metal bars, radioactive materials, laser beams from ray guns and anything else you put in front of his mouth and weren't afraid of losing. Yes, as everyone else flew into action, punching away or shooting energy beams from their hands or whatever, Matter-Eater Lad would fight intergalactic super-crime by having a snack. We can only hope his digestive system was very, very efficient, since Matter-Elimination Lad's leavings could be unpleasant at best, hazardous at worst.
More trouble than it's worth, frankly. For one, you're gonna screw up all your credit cards.
Two, you better have some good control over it, otherwise whenever you use it on, say, a mugger to grab his knife, you're going to get every car bumper, filling, necklace, manhole, lamppost, etc. speeding directly at your not-invulnerable face. Plus, you'll probably end up screwing up everyone else's credit cards, too, so we hope you love lawsuits.
Yeah, we know, everyone makes fun of Aquaman, despite having some pretty cool powers-breathing underwater, talking to fish-but still, it's fucking Aquaman. Poor bastard just doesn't get a break. If you can help it, don't be him.
So, ultimately, there are only four good superpowers: flight, strength, speed and invisibility. Aside from getting the FAA on your back, always having people ask you to help them move, getting speeding tickets and the risk of arrest for being a voyeur, those powers have absolutely no drawbacks whatsoever.