Talkin’ Nerdy: Super Powers or Stupid Powers?
As Goldstar noted earlier in Six Ridiculous Super Powers, there are some superheroes whose powers, personas and skill sets are just lame and can never be considered cool no matter how artists, writers and directors try to dress them up. I’m looking at you, Battling Bantam.
While I don’t dispute that, there are some super powers which appear goofy on the surface, but could actually be useful, even formidable, despite their silly lamp shading. Today’s Talkin’ Nerdy will address and pay tribute to those silly but potentially effective super heroes and their unique power sets.
First up, Marvel’s Rocket Racer.
For those who don’t know, the Rocket Racer was Robert Farrell, a scientific prodigy who initially turned to a life of crime as the Rocket Racer. He developed a super-powered skateboard which is propelled at great speed by small rockets and cybernetically controlled by a crude walkman-like device. He wore a weapon-equipped costume, including rocket-powered gloves which give him the ability to hit an opponent with a “rocket-powered-punch.” After several defeats at the hands of Spider-Man and several brushes with the law, including a short jail sentence, Robert was later convinced to reform.
OK, yeah, this guy will probably never be an A-Lister; the name ‘Rocket Racer’ is a tad on the cornball side, and tooling around on a skateboard isn’t the sort of thing you’d expect an adult to make a career out of…
…But I don’t really think Rocket Racer’s abilities were all that lame. Think about it, the guy was a science prodigy and he could control and command his board remotely via a device of his own design. Tweak that a little and that could actually be pretty cool. It would be even better if RR’s ability were souped up a little, like another underrated (IMO) Marvel character, Taki Matsuya, aka Wiz Kid.
Wiz Kid was a mutant inventive genius whose power was technoforming: the ability to mentally rearrange objects made of glass, plastic and metal into powerful weapons, vehicles and devices, so while he was confined to wheelchair, Taki could transform his chair into cool stuff like a cyber-walker…
…And a hovering land-speeder.
Of course, that’s no substitute for the ability to walk, but it’s still a pretty darn cool power nonetheless.
Another such super power to consider is that of ‘Sweet Lou’ Dunbar, aka Gizmo Man of the infamous Super Globetrotters. As Gizmo Man, Sweet Lou’s super power was his enormous Afro, from which he could produce a vast array of gadgets for seemingly any occasion.
As with Rocket Racer, it’s all to easy to write this guy’s power off as ridiculous; after all, dude sports an Afro the size of a double-decker bus! But while the physical vessel of Gizmo’s ability is indeed out there, what he can actually do is impressive: the guy’s HAIR serves as a gateway to Hammerspace. He can produce nearly anything his team needs from it. When you think about, Gizmo Man’s super power is a lot like Honey Lemon’s from Big Hero 6.
Ah, no. In this case I’m referring to the comics’ version of Honey Lemon.
In the movie, Honey Lemon had a bag which contained colored balls of her own design, which, when fired, could explode into numerous effects, such as ice or foam, upon impact,
However, the comics’ Honey Lemon’s purse was basically the comics equivalent to Felix the Cat’s Magic Bag of Tricks.
Basically, she could produce anything she needed or wanted from said bag. When Honey needed a gun, she could pull one out of her purse. If she needed a motor scooter, reach in, pull out a motor scooter. If she needed several canteens of water for her teammates, there’d be as many canteens as she needed in there. You get the idea. So while I enjoyed the movie, I think Honey Lemon’s actual super power from the comics would have been better, and yes, I’ll say it: comics’ Honey Lemon was sexier.
I should also give Honorable Mention to Master Shake of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
It often seemed like Shake was the only Aqua Teen who didn’t possess a super power, though some fans have speculated that he did: Shake was often seen brandishing weapons such as guns, chainsaws, crossbows and baseball bats which he would produce from who-knows-where, so some have conjectured that Shake’s power is producing weapons from Hammerspace and that he was the team’s weapons expert.
Finally, we come to a one-and-done character: Sydney Wanamaker, aka Captain Mystery who appeared in a single episode of Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show entitled “The Mask of Mystery”.
In the episode, Sydney was a short, stout and nerdy computer-loving pal to Ronald Raymond, one half of Firestorm. This computer geek had accidentally hacked into the Justice League Computer. Using information he learned from the Justice League computer, he created an anti-gravity belt, and numerous gadgets (which on occasion would work) and became a superhero calling himself Captain Mystery.
However, he wasn’t very good at being a superhero, as he was such a big bumbler that he constantly made things worse and screwed up allowing villains to escape. After an ordeal with Lex Luthor, the Super Friends finally convince Sidney to hang up his cape for good, vowing to stick to his mousepad.
Now sure, it’s all too easy to write Sydney off as a dweeby loser, indeed the episode portrayed him as pathetically and hilariously out of his league, but I thought he had potential: again, the guy was a genius and he invented his own tech, including an anti-gravity belt. No tech company we know has made a working anti-gravity belt yet. Is that really so lame? I don’t think so.
I don’t write fan fiction ( I do write, but I prefer to use my own characters rather than other peoples’ characters), but if I did, I’d write a fanfic portraying Sydney as a cool, competent superhero. In fact, Jason did come up with such a story idea: Sometime after the events of “The Mask of Mystery”, the Super Friends formed a Junior League division whose roster included Robin, Firestorm, Aquagirl (from the Batman Beyond episode “The Call”) and the Wonder Twins. One of the new members was Sydney. After his initial run-in with the Super Friends, Sydney fully embraced his studies in high tech and in the process, he developed some miracle piece of software and made a fortune. The next thing you know, ol’ Syd’s a millionaire, and with his new found money and resources, he beefed up his tech and developed a fully functioning technosuit and gave himself a new super hero handle: Cyberstrike. He also created a wrist worn multipurpose mini-computer called the Cybertix…
..From which he could produce a set of colored semi-aware digital holographic shapes which could perform a variety of tasks at Sydney’s beckoned call.
So in a unique reversal, the Super Friends would end up begging Cyberstrike to join them.