While working on new ideas for The New Defenders series, I do a lot of research on both mainstream comic books/movies as well as some of the more obscure pieces of those parts of our popular culture.
It can be a pretty interesting research subject, especially when looking back at the history of some of our most famous superheroes. Superman’s gone through so many changes over the years. He started as someone who could just jump really well to becoming known as the man who could fly. He’s died, come back to life, changed his powers completely, and had to battle with a rainbow of colors of kryptonite, each of which can have completely different effects on him. . . well, some only have effects on bizarro versions of him, which is even weirder if you know anything about Bizarro Superman.
Wonder Woman, created by the inventor of the polygraph (magic lasso anyone?), would lose all of her powers if she was ever bound by man (yeah, not surprisingly, the creators had some interesting sexual preferences), could get 10 times as strong if she removed her bracelets, but that, of course, would cause her to go completely insane. . . yeah, the first female superhero was not exactly in line with the feminist movement in many ways.
But some of the most interesting pieces of the superhero culture are the lesser known heroes, and, more specifically, the powers that people come up with in order to attempt to make their characters unique.
One of my favorites is Rainbow Girl. Her “super-power” is that she wields the powers of the mysterious emotional spectrum. . . according to wikipedia (and everywhere else I’ve looked, which isn’t too many places because she was fairly short-lived) this resulted in unpredictable mood swings.
So. . . yeah, you know, like my wife when she’s pregnant 🙂
Seriously, one has to wonder what these folks are thinking when they come up with this stuff. She did supposedly have the ability to produce a pheromone that would would give her an irresistible personality, but, well. . . Power Girl’s uniform does that as well.
Looking into all of these different types of characters that have cropped up (and instantly disappeared) over the years reminded me of Meg from Family Guy, when they all received super powers, but her’s was that she could grow her nails long.
But the thing is, sometimes these things can work. I mean, look at Wolverine. A simple description of his powers may immediately cause one to think of Meg’s abilities, but he’s managed to continue to be one of Marvel’s most popular characters. Daredevil, a blind man who can see better than the rest of us (?) somehow manages to continue to exist, Aquaman, well, he’s Aquaman, right? It really has to do with implementation. I haven’t read any of the Rainbow Girl stories, but I am familiar with the stories she was involved in, and they were very similar, in idea, to the start of the movie Mystery Men, where the Legion of Superheroes were looking for new members, of which they allowed Matter-Eating Boy (or something like that) and Bouncing Boy into their ranks. . .
I’ve actually got one character I’m introducing in THE RISE OF THE FAT MOGUL, which would fall under this prospect of seemingly useless superpowers. . .
So, I should probably get back to that.
Anyways, have a good one!