Gaining superpowers by having accidentally-mutated DNA is like gaining control of a combine harvester by grabbing a random part: It might work, but you'll probably end up looking like the Hellraiser sneezed. Which is why, for every Cyclops whining about how he can literally kill things as soon as he looks at them, there are eight genetic disasters sitting around Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters putting quotation marks around the word "gifted."
Cypher leaps into action.
Imagine charging into a fight against people with powers such as unkillability, lightning bolts and earthquakes, and you've got ancient Greek. Such is the plight of Cypher, who is like the cruel punch line to the riddle, "Which of Zeus's powers would be the shittiest?" He can translate any language, but this power is "innate," meaning he can't understand or explain how -- so basically he's the Rain Man of the foreign language department, minus the gambling ability. In the comics, he functioned as a reverse Universal Translator. While the other mutants couldn't speak other languages, all the aliens and foreigners have always spoken perfect English until he turned up, and the writers needed to justify his existence.
Realizing they'd accidentally added "linguist" instead of "lasers," the writers behind Cypher started torturing the English language in ways even Cypher couldn't have justified to make him useful. He became a hacker because of programming languages, a master martial artist through body language and could even spot a building's structural weaknesses because architecture
New Mutants #8
A relationship which accidentally invented Yaoi several years too early.
He was so useless that "feeling useless" became his character's story arc, which was even more annoying to read than cursive Cyrillic, and his lame powers made him do both while Wolverine was off-panel kicking ass.
It would actually have been less embarrassing if those were 80s shoulder pads.
Power: Biomechanical twin-maggot digestive system.
Maggott was a disaster of late 90s X-tremitude. His stomach was two biomech slugs which could eat anything and give him superstrength, but he was really conflicted about it and had unnecessary letters in his name. He was basically the lovechild of Matter Eater Lad and Spawn.
The worst superhero parents since Mr. and Mrs. Aquaman.
His powers turned him blue and caused him constant pain, because very-easy-to-draw graphical differences and complaining are the
Sorry, Maggott -- as you can see, we're well stocked with hero material.
Power: Six feet of extra-stretchy skin.
Reed Richards is a conflicted superhero because he's really smart but his power is really stupid. That is the only conflict Skin can resolve (by removing the smart part). His power is that he has six feet of extra-flappy skin he can control. If you noticed that skin should be measured in square feet because you'd need to measure its surface area, then well done on being smarter than the people paid to create new X-Men. He had the same powers as an ex-fat person, but without the dedication and self control required to earn it.
Uncanny X-Men #318
He also whined, but so did every X-Man with an X in their group name. Note how even his backpack has unnecessarily scrotal dangly flaps.
Skin isn't a combat organ. It's so weak against damage we invented armor. Hell, it's so weak against nothing at all we invented clothes. When your mutant power makes you more vulnerable to Indian rug burns, you really shouldn't be calling attention to yourself. Advice Skin didn't take. He was eventually crucified on the lawn of the X-Mansion, the wrong name was written on his gravestone and then he was dug up and cremated. That's writing someone out of continuity with extreme prejudice.
Excalibur #46 via Wikipedia
Power(s): Sound recording, catness.
Kylun could mimic any sound, directly causing an outbreak of voice-activated locks in terrorist forces worldwide. He also had magic swords which could not harm the pure of heart and looked like a lion, because Excalibur's creators were all seven-years old and Lion-O doesn't have lawyers. (Excalibur was the British X-Team, as you can tell by the way they having an extra letter in front of the "X" despite it being pronounced the same.) They were
He became increasingly feral as time went on just for something to do, despite that being the exact opposite of what happens when you hang around with people all the time. His one glorious moment came when a squad of "Warpies" assumed his sound-mimicking powers were no threat because they'd never seen
A more painful attempt to look cool than drinking liquid nitrogen.
Uncanny X-Men #392
Power: Invisible skin.
Wraith was so unlikable that his very first appearance triggered a street full of innocent civilians to start beating him to death. Pro tip: If your mutant power causes attacks but can't do anything about them, you suck. He was literally recruited to the X-Men from the fetal position, after losing a fight he started with unarmed humans so badly that he nearly died from it. Wraith is how the X-Men dodge taxes by proving that they're a charity. He undoes the idea of
Uncanny X-Men #393
The power of looking like really shitty tattoos.
He can transfer his transparent epidermisery to other people, making him the only mutant so terrible that his own body is trying to offload the X-gene. He wasn't the only Marvel character called Wraith, so that's two ways he proves comic writers aren't very good at new ideas. But he was unequivocally the worse of the bunch. John Wraith had an extended lifespan, military training and could teleport. Spider-Man's Wraith was an ex-policeman psionic Punisher. Zak-Del Wraith is immortal and has a gun that can be any gun and destroy other guns. Hector Rendoza, the X-Men's Wraith, can temporarily hide embarrassing tattoos.
One of these Wraiths is not (cool) like the others.
X-Men animated series via Wikipedia
Because the world needed someone even weaker than Dazzler! At least Dazzler had roller-skates, which is like being the Flash compared to Jubilee -- who put all the rest of her skill points into "annoying speech patterns" and "desperation." Despite a range of powers that extend to "bright lights that can hurt a bit," Jubilee has been in every group and series with an "X" in the title except XXXtube (give it time). That's the same power set as a decent torch. She talks like she was bitten by a radioactive mall written by old white men. In history's worst misfire of the Wayne process for turning your kids into superheroes, Jubilee's parents were killed in front of her. But instead of fighting crime, she decided to live in a mall and hassle security guards.
She discovered that her plasmoid fireworks could actually hurt people a bit, just like real fireworks. Unfortunately, she has chosen to live in the one place in the world where "colored blasts of light" are more frequent than raindrops. They've tried for years to make her kick ass, equipping her with everything from graviton gloves through Pym Particles to antigravity plates. They even -- no shit -- turned her into a vampire, going so far as to transfuse her with Wolverine's blood. They even got rid of her stupid original powers, but it's a lost cause: If traumatic orphanization doesn't make you kick ass at fighting crime,
Skintight leather and trying to bang Wolverine. And in one panel, Marvel had exhausted its list of ways to make female characters interesting.
Her main function is now as a living museum of the superheroic fashion mistakes.
Note how the X-gene can ridiculously amplify race as well as strength and speed.
We think the fashion disaster is to distract from the genetic disaster.
New X-Men #125
Power: Birdlike (in all the wrong ways).
Beak was intended to show how mutation could look hideous, which wasn't a great idea for a good guy in a visual medium. He had all the powers that you would leave off the list if you were designing a human-bird hybrid: lighter bones made him fragile, a beak made him hideous, feathers meant his most powerful mutant attack was "tickling" and his wings made him barely able to glide. And that's in a universe where other mutants can fly anytime the writers forget they can't. They called him "Beak" because, of all the words that flash to mind when you see him, it's the only one that's not audible retching.
Even the X-Men stuck him in a "Special Class" -- and "Special" means exactly the same in Mutant as it does in public school. His brightest idea was attacking Magneto with a metal baseball bat. Magneto contemptuously threw him up in the air which, granted is sort of a poor strategic decision when you're fighting a bird-guy. Beak sucked so hard he
New X-Men #149
With powers like these, I could lose a fight to a seagull!
And that's still not the most terrible thing he's ever done. No, that was getting his insectoid girlfriend pregnant. And by "pregnant" we mean "they covered a room in horrorpods."
New X-Men #141
This is where the good guys arrive and torch the place, right?
Beak and Angel Salvadore proved every anti-mutant hate group right in under a week. It took her five days to spawn a swarm of horrors that looked like The Fly was painted by Renaissance Artists. As irresponsible as their copulation was to begin with, the blame here has to rest mostly with Professor Xavier, the super-mutant genius who put all the physically deformed mutants into the same special class without even once thinking about contraception. Since his school's entire existence is due to genetic misfires, that's a pretty big oversight. We know Xavier doesn't get much action below the waist, but surely he doesn't think X-babies are delivered by an irradiated stork? He's a telepath in a building full of teenagers, for god's sake.
New X-Men #120
Power(s): Look at that goddamn picture. Also multi-ventriloquism.
Choir was able to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes faster than normal. Presumably to make sure someone killed her before cancer, she fought crime with multi-ventriloquism. The closest she ever came to kicking ass came when she was mind-controlled into attacking the X-Men along with the rest of the students -- and even then, her main combat advantage was Wolverine and Beast going, "Shit, she's too weak to risk punching even lightly."
New X-Men #126
Even she looks bored to be here, and she's about to land on a naked Wolverine like a triple-remora.
The most amazing feat she's ever managed was not turning up in any horrible Rule 34 pictures while gathering images for this article, but unfortunately this is now Schrodinger's Porn: The act of publicly observing that there are no guarantees someone will create some.
Luke McKinney also tumbles, hates plankers, and has a website. He has also over-analyzed The 7 Most Hilariously Mismatched Superhero Battles and found The 8 Shittiest Transformer Disguises.
For more superhero flaws, check out The 9 Stupidest Superhero Secret Identities and 9 Superhero Powers That Would Be More Trouble Than They're Worth.
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