After a recent conversation about comic book collecting during childhood, I started thinking about some of the sillier comic book heroes I had encountered in my massive comic book readings. I haven’t kept up with them, and I understand that some of the heroes have been updated to make them a little cooler. I’m focusing on heroes with powers that just seem like they would have very little superhero utility in real life. Not that they wouldn’t come in useful in other endeavors. I think these were the heroes that editors had to throw into story lines to meet a deadline. Mind you, these are not intentionally satirical heroes – or at least not marketed as such.
1. Bouncing Boy.
His power is to will himself into the shape of a ball and bounce. He is a member of the Legion of Superheroes, which is filled with characters with dorky powers. He is the first of two to make this list.
2. Matter-Eater Lad
Also in the Legion of Superheroes. He can eat anything. His jaws and digestive system can handle it. Later, they gave him a little bit of offensive capability – he has corrosive saliva and can spit a hole through a steel wall. Gross, but it comes in handy all the time. No really!
3. The Red Bee
This hero had no powers. He was just smart and tough. What’s lame is his animal sidekick. Most hero animal sidekicks are pretty cool – like a super-powered dog, a winged horse, a saber tooth tiger, or plasma blob thing from another planet that changes shape – or maybe even just a cool regular animal like a falcon or a wolf. The Red Bee’s animal sidekick? A bee. He keeps it in a box in his belt until called upon. Or he kept it. He was actually killed during World War II by a Nazi super villain named “Baron Blitzkrieg.”
4. The Horn Blower
I understand that they’ve improved on his powers, but back in the 1970s, the first African American superhero of record, the Horn Blower, was given a very lame power. He had “Gabriel’s Horn.” When he blew it, he got sort of whatever he needed to get out of a jam, except that he still had to work for it. Or something like that. And he hit people with the horn. That probably hurt.
She was a musical performer who could convert sound into light. And if it was loud enough, she could convert it to lasers which she shot from her finger tips, which is pretty useful for a superheroine I suppose.
He was a junior member of the X-men who could instantaneously translate any language – even languages from off planet cultures. Again, this would be very useful in real life. But the writers had to contrive stories to make it useful for superheroing.
7. Doll Man
This guy could shrink, but unlike heroes like the Atom and Ant Man, who could shrink to small enough sizes to get into places other heroes couldn’t go, it just doesn’t seem like much of a power to shrink to about a foot tall even if you’re retaining your full human strength. The Atom could shrink so small that he could dial a phone and travel to the destination of his call by riding the electric flow. That’s pretty small!
Takes a pill which gives him super strength for an hour. No more. And he can only take one a day, or something. How many stupid and predictable plot lines can you get from this? Oh, the suspense – can he save her in less than an hour? Is he still the stuff of heroes once his power runs out? He was introduced in the 1940s and he’s still around. In all the stories I read as a kid, nothing ever went easy and quick. What would be the point? The most interesting aspect about the character is that he always wears a shroud which makes him look like an old time executioner.
She looks like a squirrel, with buck teeth and all which can bite through wood and stuff. She’s agile like a squirrel. And she talks to squirrels. Not telepathically like Aquaman talks to fish. She knows squirrel language.
10. Arm Fall Off Boy
He could pull his arms off and use them as clubs. What else can I say about him?