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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bizarre Super Powers

Everyone has flight.
Everyone has super-strength.
Telekinesis is boring,
and time travel is broken.

Screw that stuff. Those catch-all powers with their obvious uses just don't interest me. I prefer the really bizarre shit that, at first, doesn't seem useful at all; but then when you think about it you're like, "Oh, wow. That's actually pretty cool."

So do you want to know about a really weird super power?

I was watching an anime called Darker Than Black where virtually everyone had these off-beat abilities, but there was this one guy in particular... I forget his name, but he was the weirdest of them all. The guy was so weird that for no explainable reason he had these freaky, pointy elf ears, and nobody ever called him on it.

Dude. What's wrong with your ears?

Anyways, he had explosive blood.

It seems that whenever this dude's blood got outside of his veins (and off his skin), all it took was the snap of his fingers and anything the blood was touching just fucking evaporated in a very localized explosion.

Hey, dude. There's blood on your back!
BOOM! You be dead!

Granted, this is definitely a weird super-power, but the logic on how it works is kinda fuzzy. The blood can't be in his veins, that makes enough sense, but what about when it's dripping down his wrist? What if it gets on his sleeve? And if it's dripping everywhere then shouldn't there be holes all over the ground?


Forget explosive blood. What about explosive cameras?

There's this other anime called Speed Grapher where everyone in Tokyo dresses like they're going to a big S&M festival; and the main character, Saiga, has a super-power where anything he takes a picture of explodes.

I'm gonna take yo picture!

I don't know dick about cameras, but elements like focus and the size of the lens affect how the explosion works out. For instance, in a smoke-filled room it's harder for Saiga to focus the camera on a specific target, so he's at a disadvantage.

These aren't the tidy, little explosions the elf guy was making. Saiga's camera turns these suckers into hamburger.

Saiga is supposed to have gotten this power through a genetic abnormality, which makes absolutely no fucking sense. Granted, this is anime we're talking about, and sometimes their science fiction and fantasy gets in bed together and makes some really ugly babies.

There's an interesting conflict that comes out of this, because Saiga is a passionate photographer, and when he gets this power he basically loses the ability to pursue his life's calling. It's a serious trade-off.

Of course, this is anime, so for every well-conceived conflict, there's also a gimp who decapitates people.

One more super-power, and this one is awesome: Paper manipulation.

That's Yomiko Readman from Read or Die. She's both a bibliophile and a secret agent, and her super-power is manipulating paper, which probably doesn't sound awesome, but it's definitely awesome.

"Paper? Are you fucking kidding m-MRGFFGH!"

Need to stop a bullet? Use a coupon.
Need a sword? Pull the money out of your wallet.
Need a parachute? Use a book.

And paper is one of those resources that's abundant enough to be readily available almost anywhere, but rare enough that you actually have to consider where to look, which makes it more interesting than, say, manipulating the air.

That's the problem with powers like super-strength and flight: they're based off of resources that are always available with no drawbacks or weaknesses, so instead of complicating a situation or demanding some clever thinking from the power's user you just end up with the same solution to a problem every time.

And that's one of the reasons why people like Batman more than Superman.

Oh yeah. Here's another interesting power:
Nico Minoru from the comic Runaways, carries around something called the Staff of One.

It can cast pretty-much any spell she can think of with no limit whatsoever, but the catch is that she can only cast that spell once. If she ever tries to cast the same spell twice then the staff just does something completely random.

So after just a few issues Nico has already used up a lot of the more obvious spells, and as the comic proceeds she's forced to become more and more inventive with her spell-casting.

As far as limitations go on god-like abilities, the one-time-only thing has to be one of my favorites.

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