Consider this my meta-analysis of strange superpowers. After reading a number of posts purporting to list the weirdest, strangest, most esoteric superpowers, I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the weirdest among the actual, non-satirical superheroes.
Although I think it’s probably true that it’s easy to run out of ideas when you are creating comic book characters, I don’t think that can explain the most bizarre of the bizarre among superpowers. I actually think the writers and artists have fun coming up with weird powers, and some of them also serve as artifacts of social criticism.
From ScreenRant’s list of seven weird powers, the following stand out: Sweating and/or vomiting acid (yes, I know… this is a pair of heroes in Marvel’s X-Force), and a villain named Ruby Thursday who can shape shift only her head (organic matter of such has been replaced with “an organic computer made of malleable plastic”). Bonus: Ruby can make her head explode.
Entertainment website CBR.com lists the weirdest powers in anime and the most interesting of those deal with things growing from bodies, including Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo’s nasal whip. He can literally whip people with his incredibly long nose hairs (!). Meanwhile, another anime character, a chef, can slice things with his nose hairs — I guess that lethal nose hair is a thing. Moreover, a character in My Hero Academia has grape-like growths on his head, which he rips off and throws at people.
Comics Alliance, another reliable comics site, posted their list of “most bizarre” superpowers and mentioned characters like the “cibopath” detective Tony Chu, working off “psychic impressions from the food he eats.” Then there’s Silver Age Superman — that is, Supes in the 1950s when the comic books had to compete with George Reeves’ TV Superman. Silver age artists and writers took interesting turns, including giving him the power to project a foot-high version of himself, emanating from his hands. The miniature projection has all of Superman’s powers. As far as I know, this only happened in one story; and, given how wacky it is, I doubt it had any continuity value. Nor can we forget Swarm, a very evil villain entirely made of bees. This is not only a creepy kind of weirdness, but a somewhat poetic one. We tend to valorize the collective consciousness of a society of bees. Why not make a story, and a character, out of that collective identity? Perhaps a reiteration of Swarm as fighting those forces who are hastening colony collapse is presently in order.
Superman, by the way, has a bunch of other really esoteric powers that are hardly ever used. Blogger Chris Arrant made a list of little-known Superman powers last year that included telekinesis, shapeshifting, and super-ventriloquism.
But my vote for weirdest superpower goes to X-Force’s Gin Genie, who first appeared in 2001. Gin Genie grows more powerful as she consumes more alcohol. In other words, she’s the authentic iteration of what many heavy drinkers mistakenly believe about themselves. The power is the generation of seismic waves. Richard Milner devotes a whole piece to Gin Genie at Grunge, where he points out that “it’s basically always in her best interests to be an ornery drunk while strapping some brown jugs of whiskey to her belt as she slurrily slides into combat,” and he laments that, like many of her X-Force teammates, Gin Genie died in a helicopter gunfight against terrorists. A fittingly dissonant end to such a tragically premised hero.