10 Heroically Terrible Superpowers Writers Should Feel Embarrassed They Invented

Some can fly, some can web-swing, others can exclusively receive CB radio transmissions through their new skulls....hey, hold on a sec.

Armfalloffboy Doorman, with the power to stand against any wall and let people pass through him into the next room! Dogwelder, who welds dogs to people! Danny The Street, the transvestite sentient street who can teleport (how can a street be a transvestite? Ask Grant Morrison!), there have been a lot of goofy superpowers in the storied history of underwear pervert comics - and apparently a lot of their owners have names beginning with D, for D-list? - but usually they're created with the intention of being totally stupid. At least, I hope that was the intention of whoever came up with Dogwelder. Superhero comics have not always been so post-modern and clever, though. There was a time before the second British invasion when, presumably, editors were downing Scotch and throwing darts at a board festooned with random words/sliced up pages of original art and forming new superheroes out of the results (I've yet to read Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, but I imagine the bullpen to look something like that). Some of the characters they came up with have improbably become stalwarts of their respective series; some have become running jokes; some barely seemed like superheroes at all and more like unfortunate individuals embarrassing, gruesome and redundant afflictions/party tricks. And whoever came up with them should hang their heads in shame.

10. Arm-Fall-Off-Boy

Okay, so maybe this one was intended as a joke. He's stuck around, though, unlike most joke characters, plus the story he was introduced in was set in an era where DC were trying all sorts of bat-crap crazy stuff (just look at the sort of things Superman got up to). The poster boy for terrible superpowers, Arm-Fall-Off-Boy first appeared as a prospective member of the Legion of Superheroes. Unbelievably, his totally useful superpower - being able to detach his limbs and use them as melee weapons, in case the name didn't give it away - didn't help him make the cut. It's possible those "ribbed for her pleasure" gloves didn't help, either. That didn't stop him though! Although his appearances grew more and more tongue-in-cheek. After the Zero Hour reboot (you know the New 52? Zero Hour was like that, only less memorable/relevant/important) he turned up at another Legion try-out under the more subtle (but less fun) name of Splitter, and actually made it to the final stages of the audition process before he fell apart in front of the judges. Literally. Like, all his limbs fell off. That's not the only time he's been betrayed by his own superpower, either: in an issue of the TV spin-off series Legion of Superheroes in the 31st Century, he actually manages to save the Legion from the dastardly Starfinger, who has a similarly literal name but a much more impressive power set. Arm-Fall-Off Boy's reward? Trying out Phantom Girl's flight ring! Unfortunately, after placing the ring on his finger, his arm detaches and flies off with it. Not only a useless superpower but also one he can't control. That's pretty embarrassing. Expect to see him in the next season of Arrow.
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Tom Baker is the Comics Editor at WhatCulture! He's heard all the Doctor Who jokes, but not many about Randall and Hopkirk. He also blogs at http://communibearsilostate.wordpress.com/