The superhero universes that exist between the comic book pages are crammed full of costume-clad heroes and villains boasting all sorts of powers. Some of these characters — like Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, the Flash and Magneto — are iconic and memorable. Others… well, not so much. We are of course talking about the characters that belong to the comic book C-list: the category reserved forthose who are usually as lame as they are rarely seen. Whether these characters are dated, cliche or simply forgotten amongst the main rotation of Marvel and DC characters on offer, one thing is for certain: it is unlikely any of them will become household names anytime soon. Then again, look at Rocket Racoon!
In any case, amongst the Z-list are some hidden gems; characters with abilities so cool, they are worth remembering for their powers alone. With this in mind, CBR has scoured the c-list to bring you the best superpowers this rag-tag bunch of discarded super-people has to offer. These characters have all been specially hand-picked based on the usefulness, swagger, originality or raw power of their super-abilities. This selection of superheroes and supervillains may not be break-out stars anytime soon, but their powers are undeniably as dope as it gets.
Kicking off this list of comic book nobodies isHumberto Lopez — better known by his superhero name Reptil. Introduce in 2009’d Avengers Initiative: Featuring Reptil, Humberto was a young boy who could turn all or part of his body into a part of a dinosaur’s body. This means he can sport razor-sharp talons with a mere thought, or even turn his entire body into a velociraptor!
When he does choose to go full dino, Reptil is not a “clever girl” and is ruled by his primitive lizard brain. Although this isn’t the best for anything involving higher order thinking, it does render him immune to mind control! Since making his debut in 2009, Reptil has also featured in the Avengers Academy series and the Avengers Arena series.
Behold, the mutant with probably comics’ most disgusting name. The one-time X-Man known as Maggott — real name Japeth — gets his name from the two maggot-like organisms that grant him his bizarre powers. Born without a traditional digestive system capable of breaking down food for energy,Maggott relies on two sentient slugs to give him the nutrition his body craves.
The so-called maggots eat on their masters behalf before returning to his body and imbuing him with the energy they absorbed — disgusting, but effective. After being treated to a maggot meal, as well as nutrition, Japeth would also gain enhanced strength for a short duration of time. Put simply: after eating, Maggott was ready to dish out a beating!
Sure, the name Taskmaster might sound like a productivity app for your smart phone, but he’s actually a supervillain with a pretty cool power. This skull-faced brawler was capable of rapidly picking up the fighting style of anyone he faced in combat. That’s right, after seeing a few jabs, Taskmaster could become a skilled fighter in just about any martial art or combat discipline. Additionally, he also happened to be a master in a variety of weapons.
Taskmaster made his debut appearance in Avengers #185 back in 1980, and since then has made countless appearances in the Marvel Universe. Although he has had his time in the limelight — such as the two times he has starred in his own Taskmaster limited series — Taskmaster is as quickly forgotten right after each use. Not quickly forgotten, however, is his surprisingly powerful and very cool fight-style mimicking power.
He might look like Deadpool with a slightly different costume, but Fantomex is a very different mercenary with an array of very different powers. For starters, he possess multiple — that’s right, multiple — brains, allowing him to simultaneously process way more than your normal one-brained person. On the offensive side of things, Fantomex is able to cast illusions, or “midirections,” which warp reality in his opponents, allowing him to escape or attack.
In addition to his own powers, Fantomex’s nervous system is manifested in an external organism called E.V.A, who is basically a sentient spaceship and is able to fly, offer covering fire, transportation and advanced computing. The pair also share a telepathic link and Fantomex is able to see whatever E.VA sees. As a side effect of this connection, Fantomex also experiences any pain E.V.A experiences.
11. ANGAR THE SCREAMER
This next Z-lister likes things loud, real loud. That’s right, it is time to turn it up for Angar the Screamer, who you may remember after a brief appearance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This vest-wearing supervillain was capable of dishing out insanely loud sonic screams. Although Angar’s hyper-sonic shrieking is not a particularly notable ability in its own right — sonic screaming is a power also shared by DC’S Black Canary and fellow Marvel character Banshee — Angar’s ability featured a uniquely psychedelic twist.
As well as being excruciatingly loud, his screams would also cause hallucinations in everyone unfortunate enough to hear them. These hallucinations were usually bizarre and terrifying. Not groovy, man! Although he does boast a truly original sound-based power, with a clunky name like Angar the Screamer, this supervillain was always destined for the C-list (or even the Z-list).
Sure, he might have saved the Marvel Universe in the aptly titled Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe back in 2013, but this lucky superhero is unlikely to ever be a household name. As well as being a skilled and agile hand-to-hand fighter, Longshot has the power to alter probability in his favor. This allows him to pull off insane feats that would be just about impossible for anyone else. Talk about making your own luck!
Unfortunately, this superpower is not without its drawbacks. Whenever Longshot uses his power to alter his fortune, it can only be for right and pure motives. If he tries to use his probability changing powers for selfish-reasons or impure reasons, they have a nasty habit of backfiring in spectacular fashion!
First appearing in X-Men: Deadly Genesis #2 written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Trevor Hairsine, X-M an Armando Munoz is better known as Darwin. Darwin encapsulates his namesake’s theory of the survival of the fittest as he is able to survive in just about any environment. Gifted with the power of reactive-evolution, Darwin’s body can instantly adapt to survive any environmental hazard thrown his way.
When submerged in water, he develops gills; when exposed to fire he becomes fire-proof; when exposed to the cold-void of space, he stops breathing and his skin hardens up; you get the idea. Darwin’s power seemingly has no limits; however, he does have fairly limited control over it. Like the name suggests, reactive-evolution is exactly that — an unconscious reaction to environmental triggers.
First appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #212 back in 1981, Hyrdoman is easily the soggiest supervillain in Spidey’s rouges gallery. Indeed, this hero takes the idea that humans are made mostly of water to totally new… depths.
After being exposed to an experimental underwater generator, cargo ship crew member Morris Bench gained miraculous powers. As well as increasing his strength, exposure to the generator also allowed him to turn all or part of his body into water. This led Morris to become a supervillain and take the name Hydroman. Hydroman’s abilities extend beyond simply turning his physical form into water; he can also merge with other bodies of water to increase his size and strength. Plus he can also spray water with the strength of a fire hose, making him one formidable opponent.
Rictor is a superhero who sure knows how to shake-things up; and by things, we actually mean the earth’s crust! The not-so-cleverly-named Julio Richter possesses the awesome ability to emit seismic energy from his fingertips. This gives him the very powerful and oh-so dope ability to cause earthquakes and tremors. Rictor is like the earth ring from the cartoon Captain Planet, only, given human form!
Sure, he might not be alone in his earthquake causing ways — here’s looking at you Daisy Johnson — but Rictor’s ability earns him a place on this list for its sheer raw power. Although Rictor does appear in Logan, — portrayed by actor Jason Genao — he is never explicitly named and felt more like an easter egg for observant fans of the Marvel comic book universe.
6. COSMIC BOY
Like Superman, Cosmic Boy is a human-like alien who developed superpowers as a result of growing up on earth. Although he is actually a Braalian — a race of aliens from the planet Braal — Cosmic Boy was born on earth. All natives of Cosmic Boy’s metallic homeworld of Braal are able to control metal, but Cosmic Boy’s power is particularly powerful. Whether it be bullets or a giant asteroid, as long as it is made out of metal, Cosmic Boy is easily able to take control of it with his power.
Although he is not really known outside the world of comic books, Cosmic Boy — also known as Rokk Krin — is a staple of the DC Comics Universe. The character has been around for well over 50 years, first appearing in Adventure Comics issue 247.
Batman might claim to be one with the shadows, but he doesn’t have anything on this next superhero! Nightshade — real name Eve Eden — has a number of powerful shadow-based powers, one of which allows her to become a living two-dimensional shadow! This ability allows her to sneak around undetected and get the best angle on her enemies before closing in for a surprise attack. Eat your heart out Batman!
Much like Marvel superhero Nightcrawler, Nightshade can also use her powers to teleport. She does this by creating dimensional portals that she and her allies can use to step through, into the magical land of the nightshades. Nightshade really is the whole package: she is fast, deadly and her shadow based powers are visually stunning to behold. Power AND presence: a winning combination.
4. THE DEMON
Jason Blood’s power is unlike any other. He shares his body with the powerful demonic being known as Etrigan. Magically bonded to Etrigan by the wizard Merlin back in the middle ages, Jason became immortal as a result and can call on the demon to take over his body by reciting a poem. When he is in control, Etrigan has various abilities at his disposal including enhanced senses, sharp claws, increased endurance and durability, the ability to project fire and a masterful command of hell-based magic.
Although Etrigan does have considerable abilities, his presence in Jason’s life is not without its drawbacks. Given that Etrigan is a demon without any earthly sense of morality and violent tendencies, he and Jason are usually at odds with one another.
Like the name implies, Damage can cause… well, a lot of damage. Grant Emerson is a human dynamo, constantly generating energy that grants him increases to his strength, speed, agility and reflexes. The only problem is if Grant doesn’t use this energy, it builds up to dangerous levels and becomes explosive. This means he is often forced to discharge this energy in the form of contained, but devastating explosions. Long story short, Damage’s superpower is blowing stuff up!
Although Damage is not alone in his explosion-based abilities — Marvel’s Nitro and Boom Boom also have a talent for making things go kaboom — his ability to boost his physical attributes through the build up of explosive energy makes for a unique twist on the formula.
The only thing cooler than Shatterstar’s name — which is pretty flipping awesome — his his power. As well as superhuman physicality, increased cognition and an increased healing factor, this former X-Force member has another useful power: he can unleash powerful concussive blasts through his swords. Dope right? Unfortunately, Shatterstar doesn’t use this power too often, instead relying on his enhanced physique and fighting skills, as unleashing the blasts exhausts him and drains his stamina.
Shatterstar first appeared in New Mutants #100 back in 1991 and was created by writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Rob Liefeld. As his vintage would indicate, Shatterstar bears all the recognizable design hallmarks of that era, by which we of course mean shoulder pads, a pair of swords, utility pouches and a bulging chest!
1. GLADIATOR (KALLARK)
Coming in at the number one spot is a real confidence man: we are of course talking about Gladiator! We should clarify for the uninitiated that we mean the super-powerful alien Kallark, not Daredevil’s Melvin Potter. This mohawk-wearing badass is quite literally as powerful as he is confident, as Gladiator’s powers are derived from his self belief.
As long as his confidence is up, Gladiator possess Superman levels of strength, endurance and invulnerability, as well as the ability to fly. These god-like powers are granted to him as long as he truly believes that he can accomplish the task at hand. However, if Gladiator has even as much as a whiff of self doubt then his powers begin to drastically weaken and he becomes vulnerable. Who would have thought that believing in yourself could have such drastic effects! Well, other than our moms, we mean.
Which C-List characters do you think get a bad shake and actually have incredible abilities? Let us know in the comments!