Superhero, crimefighter, or some burke in lycra…
The ever wise and relevant Rob piped up on Facebook the other day with the age old question, prompted by the statement: “Captain America is the weakest of the super heroes”. The more astute of you will notice that that doesn’t present a question at all, and you’d be right. The posing of the question was implicit following my immediate and convincing rebuttal of Rob’s statement.
The elusive question, of course, is “Who is the weakest of the super heroes?”.
The answer, unquestionably, is The Green Lantern. I didn’t come up with this answer alone, either. It was reached following an intense and heavy period of research and rhetoric in the Seniors’ common room at Glenunga International High School in 1994 (before the abolition of the common room, due to Mr Knight’s accusations that all that was ever done down there was goofing off and playing cards).
The fundamental issue, as far as I remember debating it, was one of access to whatever makes that superhero a superhero. There was also a distinction between Superhero and Crimefighter – mainly in that to qualify as a Superhero one needed to have powers above and beyond the reach of mortal humans, whereas a Crimefighter would engage in the same line of work but relying on physical training, ingenuity, devices, etc. rather than on unusual abilities. Clearly, under this nomenclature system, Superman is a Superhero, and Batman is a Crimefighter.
To wit, here’s a list of some of the commonly postulated “weakest super heroes”, and my rebuttals (at this point I’m only considering “proper” superheroes, and not clear pisstakes like Mr Furious or Captain Vulnerable-To-Strontium-90):
- Captain America: He’s got to be in a similar situation to Batman, surely? Whilst not possessing any super powers his strength, endurance and other physical traits have been pushed to the pinnacles of acheivable bounds by use of “experimental serum”, or as Asterix would put it, magic potion. He’s got funky armour and a super-strong boomerang shield thing – so lay off the guy, alright?
- Aquaman: The Internet seems to have it in for Aquaman, citing that most global-peril scenarios take place on land. But in terms of specialist application, he *can* breathe underwater and talk to sea creatures. With 3/4 of the Earth’s surface covered in the stuff, having an Access All Areas pass to that would be a handy thing.
- The Incredible Hulk: I never understood why he was regarded as a superhero, because as far as I can tell all he does is turn big, green & strong, and then punch all buggery out of everything, irrespective of whether it’s good, bad or ugly. That’s not a superhero, that’s just a big green strong dude.
- The Human Torch (Fantastic Four): Some people claim that the ability to burst into flames at will is not particularly helpful, however along with this The Human Torch is resistant to heat and flame too. Additionally, the hot air generated by his heating effect can be channelled to allow him to fly. Pretty super, I reckon.
- The Green Lantern: This is just a normal dude who has a power ring. The ring bestows upon the wearer the ability to do frigging amazing things, however if the ring flies off (such as if the wearer loses a few pounds and his fingers get skinny, or he leaves it behind on the windowsill after doing some dishes) he’s got bugger all. The ring needs to be recharged from a lantern, in the manner of a solar charging apparatus I guess – so that’s clearly a big limitation as well. Finally, the ring’s power can’t be used on anything coloured yellow. As the ring gets passed on from bearer to bearer (hence the succession of Green Lanterns – all useless), it’s unclear what impact colour blindness might play in the efficacy of any given Green Lantern. Given that 1% of all males are red-green colour blind, and all of the Green Lanterns have been male, it stands to reason that this could at some point be, or have been, problematic. OK so most superheroes have weaknesses, but it’s a question of supply: Kryptonite is bloody hard to find (excluding from the meteor which struck Earth around Addis Abbaba), whereas bananas are plentiful.
Actually, this blog post works better with a degree of participation – can anyone think of a superhero more useless that The Green Lantern?