Friday, February 8, 2008

Top 5 List: The Top 5 Superpowers, and Why They'd Suck to Have

So who out there wants to be a superhero? If you said yes you're either a little boy or a creepy old man. In either case I will accept further inquiries in the form of naked photos.

As I wait for my inbox to fill up I thought I'd pass the time by shitting all over your hopes. Here's the five best superpowers you can hope for and why they would actually suck.

5. Super Strength
Now who hasn't wanted to have super strength? Wether you're a little kid getting shoved off the swingset by a bully or a grown man and some beefcake muscle man is walking off with your lady, your plight is the same: you lose because they're stronger than you. Wouldn't it be nice to walk up to them, say a catchy one-liner, and knock them through a wall?

Turns out, no, it wouldn't. Have you ever noticed how super strength is the go to power for superheroes? They all have it, even Aquaman is stronger than a body builder. There's a reason for that. It turns out the normal human's body is incredibly frail. A strong enough punch in the right place from even a normal human can rupture internal organs, break bones, and generally leave you fucked up or dead. No one's going to cheer when that amazing story of schoolyard justice ends with an eight year old's internal organs sprayed across the sandbox.

Just to drive the point home, have you ever held a fabergé egg, or something else tiny and incredibly fragile? You know how you have to be super careful all the time not to break it and you end up just giving it back because the pressure is too much? Well, now that you're super strong every single thing in the world is like that. Your friends, your car, your thousand dollar computer. You will never be able to have anything nice ever again. Why do you think the Hulk was so pissed all the time?

4. Super Speed
Never enough hours in the day? Do you have only five minutes to drive all the thirty miles to work and if you're late you WILL be fired? Fear no more! Just run there with your super speed! Get authentic italian pasta from an authentic italian restaurant in authentic Italy and still get back home to the States to sleep in your own comfy bed.

Yeah, except you couldn't actually, you know, DO any of that stuff. Have you ever opened the window on the highway at 70 miles per hour? Did the wind sting your eyes? Imagine now that you're going twice that. Ouch. To get the 30 miles to the office in five minutes you'd have to be going at least 360 miles per hour. That's half the speed of sound. The wind friction alone would rip the skin off your body.

Okay, but that's assuming normal human physiology, right? If you have super speed maybe you also evolved super wind resistance ignoring. Let's talk about collisions then. You bump your head at average walking speed of about six miles per hour and it hurts like Hell. At even 30 miles per hour that once gentle bump takes off the top half of your skull and most of your brain too. At super speed every object around you becomes deadly and if you couldn't see that open cabinet door coming at you at a snail's pace, how are you going to see it coming at the speed of a bullet?

3. Flight
Who hasn't been stuck in a crowd or in traffic and wished they could just take off and soar over everyone else? Who hasn't longed for the freedom of zipping through the sky like a bird? Flight is a dream of many.

It would also be highly limited. You'd have to stick close to the ground for one thing, or the changes in air pressure would likely kill you. Assuming a flight speed equal to your land speed, it also wouldn't be terribly liberating either. And if you have flight and super speed you face the same dilemmas as super speed, namely collisions and wind resistance. Starting to not look so amazing, isn't it?

2. Invisibility
Everyone wants invisibility. You could turn invisible and watch chicks undress or, less creepily, you could help your buddy cheat at card games. You could sneak into bank vaults, shoplift without fear of retribution, or you could be more altruistic and sneak up on criminals and dispatch them without them knowing about it. Invisibility is powerful.

It's also not very useful. As movies like Hollow Man and Predator 2 pointed out, there are many ways around invisibility. There's still non-visible spectrums like ultra-violet and methods such as infrared (body heat) and sonar. Or, if you don't have that technology handy, you can go low tech and just dump a bucket of paint on the guy. Once you start your crime spree it won't take long for the police to find a way of seeing you and take you down.

But what about stopping criminals? What if there was a hostage situation and you could sneak in and knock the baddies out while they couldn't see you? Sounds good until you realize that hostage-taking criminals are likely already on edge and will not hesitate to start shooting at every sound -or worse, at hostages- when something they can't see starts knocking them in the head.

1. Stopping Time
Oh my God. This is the ultimate super power. Stopping time. It trumps every other power. You're super strong? So what. I can stop time and cut your head off. You're super fast and can run from New York to Boston in a minute? I can stop time, walk liesurely to Boston, and then start time back and it hasn't even been a heartbeat. You can turn invisible and go inside a hot chick's shower? I can stop time, strip her nude, fuck her, put her clothes back on, and start time back and the only thing to tell her anything even happened is a sudden feeling of being incredibly unclean. It even serves every day uses: get an extra hour of sleep, play vide games without having to worry about your parents stopping you to make you do chores. When you can stop time YOU WIN.

Stopping time is also the worst possible ability to have, because of all the horrible science problems it brings up. For example: what effect would this have on temperature? For those that flunked chemistry, temperature is caused by the movement of molecules against one another. When time stops movement stops, and the universe freezes. You stop time and suddenly you and everyone else dies as temperatures plunge to absolute zero. Conversely, what if you don't stop time, you just make yourself infinitely fast? Well, much like lowering the motion of things around you would freeze them, raising your own speed would cause you to burn hotter than a neutron star and vaporize, likely taking the rest of the planet with you when your mini-supernova ignites the atmosphere.

Temperature issues aside, what about the other problems infinite velocity causes? If you thought super speed caused problems with collisions, imagine how further compounded they are when you're moving faster than the speed of light. If you take a step your leg hits the ground at infinity miles per hour and explodes. You try to open a door and you destroy half your house and yourself with it. Simply moving your arm slowly would cause so much wind resistance it would tear the flesh from your bones. You'd have to remain perfectly motionless or die a gruesome death.

Even if your could somehow get past those problems, what about aging? You would age normally while time was frozen, but the rest of the world would stand still. Even if we assume a very limited usage of your powers of only one hour per day you'll still end up aging an extra 15 days for every eyar that passes normally. A more realistic yet still limited schedule of, say, six horus per day will add one day of aging for every four that pass normally. Assuming your powers appeared at age 15 and you kept up that schedule for the rest of your life you'd reach 72 (the average male lifespan in the United States) after about 49 years, cutting your lifespan by 8 whole years. And that's assuming you limit your use of your powers. With unlimited freedom and no objective way to even tell how long you've been using your powers, how long would you use them? Twelve hours a day? More? Would you use them days at a time? Months? Years? Sure, it would seem to you that you've led a full life, when you die from old age after only 15 years have passed, but think of everything you'll miss out on when you're gone. Stopping time has stopped looking so good, hasn't it?


Katana-chan. said...

Have to agree on what you say, but that is all on the higher ends of all the super powers, some people just wish to have increased things, like bing stronger than they look, say comparison to a full grown man at the age of 15.

One ability I always thought would be interesting, is somewhat of the time factor, but rather than slowing it down, or you speeding up, you would have a heightened sense. An example of it being lets say you drop a knife of the table, your eyes grow, you look at it and watch it in near slow motion, but your helpless to do anything about it. sometimes you manage to jolt your foot to the side. With this ability you have control, you can see it as if it was moving in slow motion, and move accordantly, nothing would change, you would just have heightened reflexes. Essentially seeing in slow-mo, and being able to react.

Aori_Radidjiu said...

You forgot to mention that super speed would mean you'd prolly get a bunch of bugs flying into your face while you're running. >_>

Anonymous said...

wow, youreally have a lot of time on your hands. What exactly is the point of this, you just wrote stuff about how bad superpowers can be and probably just waisted your time coz not many people read it. And the reason actually read this is coz i thought it was so pathetic it was funny. The other reason i went on this sight is because i actually use my spare time wisely and was researching superpowers for a friend of mine who is creating a comic, and guess what. Its going to be published by Marvel so its not a waste of time. Please, if you are going to diss something, do it better next time and dont ramble on about chemistry because the people that read this are probably not going to even care if theirskin gets ripped off if thyey have superspeed coz they are too busy thinking how awsome it would be.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you say...we all know that super powers only work in comic books, and in the real would cause death to any normal human. However I think if a power could actually work in the really would have to be wolverine's, I’m not talking about the metal claws (although they are cool) I’m talking about his ability to revive almost instantly, and to never age, basically having immortality.
now the biggest draw backs from this is that you will live forever, while no one else can, and those you love around you will die, and people will probe do experiments on you trying to take the power. However having a life time of learning is something we experience in old age when it’s not very helpful, you can have a number of life times, and be the wises person ever, and not loom a day of 30. Also you can save the day, bad guys have some hostages you just walk in with no fear take them out and save the day.
You would be a world hero and everyone will want to talk to you about the past. That’s why I think it’s the best power.