In the land of comic books, you’ll rarely come across a character with zero weaknesses. A hero’s or villain’s weakness can actually lead to incredibly fascinating stories; it’s totally okay for your favorite character to have a disadvantage. Without vulnerabilities, readers can easily become bored with a character. Take Superman for instance. Many casual fans are completely uninterested in the Man of Steel, if only because they think he can do anything and is only vulnerable to kryptonite. While that’s far from the truth, it speaks volumes to the importance in demonstrating that someone isn’t a god (nor should they be).
Yet for every Kryptonite there is an equally dumb weakness. There’s a multitude of characters with mind-numbing levels of power, but they be easily defeated by the simplest, dumbest and most droll of objects, materials, and ideas. Often enough, it’s easy to question what the heck early comic book writers were thinking when they delivered weaknesses to heroes, much in the way Santa Claus delivers presents. It doesn’t pay to be capable of altering the fabric of reality, but still get knocked out by a stray piece of wood or something equally stupid. Today at CBR we’re looking at 15 of the dumbest weaknesses in comic books.
15 PINK KRYPTONITE
Superman might not have many weaknesses, but the ones he does have are rather killer. His most famous weakness, and the most famous weakness in all of comics, is kryptonite. Radioactive rocks from his homeworld, the stuff is absolutely lethal to the Man of Steel. That’s just green kryptonite however. There are, in fact, plenty more colors of kryptonite, each of which cause dumb symptoms in Superman.
Take pink kryptonite for example, not only is it dumb, but it’s borderline offensive; the festively colored rock turns Superman gay. In Supergirl #79, Superman gets exposed to the ridiculous rock and suddenly starts complimenting Jimmy Olsen a little more than anyone involved was comfortable with, while also appreciating Jimmy on a window treatment. It was weird, arbitrary, and just dumb.
The Fantastic Four are Marvel’s First Family and are made up of some top-notch heroes. Each member has his or her skill or powerset they excel at, and Johnny Storm’s is the ability set himself on fire, becoming the Human Torch. The Human Torch comes with a wide range of abilities, including creating, absorbing and manipulating fire, and when he cuts loose, Johnny can unleash his nova flame. Rarely does the Human Torch go that hot, as he risks destroying the planet!
With so much power at his disposal, Marvel needed to come up with a suitable weakness and they did, with asbestos. Turns out, the Human Torch’s flame is rendered almost completely ineffective against asbestos. Villains like the horribly named Asbestos Man, and even the Asbestos Lady, have nearly defeated the Torch. Spider-Man also keeps asbestos webbing cartridges stocked up in case he has to fight his hotheaded friend.
13 THE COLOR YELLOW
Green Lantern’s Power Ring is limited only by the wearer’s imagination and willpower. Hal Jordan, one of the greatest Green Lanterns of all time, has both in spades, but that didn’t prevent him from being afflicted by a goofy weakness: the color yellow. Early Green Lantern canon demonstrated that a Green Lantern’s Power Ring was completely useless against anything that was yellow, including everything from table lamps to missiles, each of which have been thrown at Hal and each have nearly killed him.
If criminals are getting away in a yellow car, Green Lantern’s not going to be able to do much to stop them. Since this weakness was so dumb, Geoff Johns retconned it, revealing the real reason for the weakness was Parallax, who got trapped in the Lantern Corps’ Central Power Battery and tainted it, since he too was yellow, the color of fear.
Even though Aquaman is actually an incredibly powerful superhero, he’s been the butt of jokes for decades. While he’s remarkably durable, as he can survive the oceans’ greatest pressures, and he has night vision, super hearing, and the ability to go toe-to-toe with Superman for a couple minutes (let’s see how long you last against him), it his power to communicate with sea life that’s gotten him a bad rep.
Talking to fish is actually pretty useful, but his entire power set is reliant on him having regular access to water. Water heals him, it gives him access to his full power, and without it, he’ll dehydrate and shrivel up like a raisin. In the early days of Aquaman comics, he couldn’t leave the ocean for more than an hour at a time. It’s easy to see why people like making fun of him.
11 RUNNING TOO FAST
Running fast is what the Flash is known for. Constantly throwing around the title “The Fastest Man Alive”, it comes with the territory. The Flash’s power is godlike; there’s little he can’t do. That said, should he run too fast, bad things happen.
There are multiple instances where the Flash has run so fast he travels through time, landing him in all sorts of trouble. There are also moments, as seen in events like "Crisis on Infinite Earths", that the Flash ran so fast to save the entire Multiverse that he disintegrated. In relation to practical physics, running too fast can have dire consequences. In The Flash #21. Barry Allen is chasing after Kid Flash, and the latter starts soaring into the air, after having reached escape velocity. Kid Flash ran so fast he lost any friction resistance; there was nothing to keep him on the ground.
10 LOW SELF-ESTEEM
Self-esteem is a pretty important part in anybody’s day-to-day life, but none more so than the character Gladiator, Gladiator is the leader of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard and is one of Marvel’s physically strongest characters. Gladiator’s might is impressive and the number of awe-inspiring feats Gladiator has committed is too long to list, but a few of them are flying across galaxies in seconds, destroying whole planets with a single punch, and even going for a dive in suns and coming out unscathed.
With all manner of sensory powers too, Gladiator’s is all but invincible. Or he would be, except for his one, crippling weakness: his self-esteem. If he loses confidence in himself or his abilities, his power will dramatically decrease, leaving him remarkably powerless and vulnerable to the punches from aging nuns.
Green Lanterns of any era just can’t seem to catch a break. Even though the typical Green Lantern wields enough power to crack a planet in half, they’re unfortunately burdened with incredibly dumb weaknesses. Case in point, Alan Scott, the Green Lantern from the Golden Age of comics. Unlike Hal Jordan and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps, Alan’s ring wasn’t connected to the central battery over on Oa; his ring’s power came from the mystical Starheart. Just like Hal and the rest, Alan boasted ridiculous power and was virtually unstoppable by conventional standards.
Alas, his one weakness is super easy to find, so any regular thug could beat him up. All it took to bring Scott to his knees was a wooden log to the face. Turns out, his big weakness was wood; any wood would do. And so his enemies started chucking logs of wood at him…
8 NATURAL UNPROCESSED MATERIAL
To keep things simple, Power Girl is Superman’s cousin from another universe. Supplied with all of Superman’s powers, an extra bonus was that she wasn’t weakened by exposure to kryptonite. It had no effect on her whatsoever since she’s from a different universe. That said, Power Girl unfortunately got one dumb weakness instead: vulnerability to all raw, unprocessed materials. No, it doesn’t make sense, but yes, that’s just how it is. Deal with it.
This particular weakness came to light in Peter David’s Supergirl #16 when Power Girl ends up getting impaled by a tree branch. Making matters worse, like we said earlier, it’s not just tree branches she has to worry about, but everything from sand and dirt, to stones and wood. The whole world is her weakness! The woman can withstand a nuke, but can be defeated by a five-year old with a rock. Think on that.
7 BEING BOUND BY A MAN
While the origin for this particular weakness is fuzzy, it’s not only a dumb weakness, but a frighteningly fetish-driven one too. Numerous writers have portrayed this weakness differently; it comes down to tying Wonder Woman up and her losing her powers as a byproduct. Even if it’s only her bracelets that are tied together, it’s enough. The uneasy part is that this only applies when a man does the tying.
If a male opponent overpowers Wonder Woman long enough to chain her bracelets together, she’s helpless. This has led to some Silver Age shenanigans on the level of your average sitcom, like when Steve Trevor tied her hands to get her to marry him. So despite being one of the strongest beings on Earth, Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston, made darn sure people understood his belief that women should be always answerable to men.
6 THOR'S 60-SECOND RULE
Thor Odinson, the God of Thunder, is one of Marvel’s mightiest heroes. Thor’s strength is on the same plane of Superman. Additionally, he’s practically invulnerable to most attacks, can harness the elements, use the earth as a weapon, and even destroy planets. Thor’s also armed with his magical hammer Mjoinir, which can pretty much do whatever he needs.
However, his hammer’s power was a Catch-22. Early Thor comics introduced the rule that if Thor lost contact with his hammer for over 60 seconds, he’d turn back into Donald Blake, his mortal alter-ego. This made Thor a target for crafty villains like Loki who’d try and separate Thor from his weapon. Since Thor enjoyed throwing his hammer, the idea was to keep him occupied for over than a minute and create an obstacle to prevent Mjolnir returning. Thankfully, the limitation was removed in 1984, but it’ll always be a dumb weakness.
As it turns out, prayer isn’t just for calling out for help, but it can be used as an offensive weapon too. While there aren’t many things in the landscape of DC Comics that can hurt Darkseid, the evil New God, prayer is one of his few weaknesses. During "Our Worlds At War", the alien tyrant Imperiex is trying to destroy the universe. At one point Brainiac 13 drains Apokolips of its power. Desperately, Darkseid turns to Wonder Woman for help. The Amazons pray to Darkseid, giving the New God brand-new power, letting them counter the threat.
As Darkseid prepares to leave, it’s clear he intends to get up to no good again. Not an idiot, Wonder Woman tells him that when Raven linked them during prayer, Darkseid was “infected” by Wonder Woman’s soul; forcing him to curb his destructive behavior and deal with the concepts of love and compassion.
4 SAYING YOUR NAME
DC’s Captain Marvel receives his powers from shouting his name and getting struck by a bolt of magical lightning. Captain Marvel Jr. on the other hand can’t say his own name. If he does, the young superhero will immediately lose all his powers in the middle of whatever he’s doing and revert back to regular Freddy Freeman.
The poor lad can’t even introduce himself properly for fear of losing his powers at a critical moment. Since not being able to say your name is super dumb, Captain Marvel Jr. started referring to himself as CM3…which was decidedly more ridiculous. There’s also the villain Mister Mxyzptlk and he too suffers from speaking one’s name. He can’t say his name backwards or he’ll get sent back to his own dimension. This has generated a never-ending series of comedic hijinks; it’s always up to Superman to make the imp say his name backwards.
Malekith is a cackling madman of a Dark Elf who relishes in the delight of others’ suffering. The entire Dark Elf species are a bunch of jerks, using their power to spread carnage throughout the Nine Realms. They are all superhumanly strong and durable and have extra magic powers, using Dark Faerie magic to nefarious ends, which gives Thor a bunch of trouble. However, they become as harmless as a newborn kitten when exposed to iron.
You can sprinkle them with iron dust, or just stab them with a regular old sword, but iron is the kryptonite of the Dark Elves. It made for an amusing story arc when Malekith tried taking on Iron Man, only to have the Golden Avenger return to the Dark Elf’s home, stocked and loaded with a whole iron armament. Fighting someone with your weakness in their name, is a pretty dumb move.
2 THE DESIRE TO LOSE
Thanos is one of the strongest and most feared villains in the Marvel Universe. Just the mere mention of his name is enough to send civilizations cowering into a frenzy of fear. One of the few beings to successfully wield the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos wiped out half the sentient life in the universe, killed the Avengers, and then moved on to defeat non-corporeal cosmic beings like Eternity. The fact that Thanos was able to be defeated is kind of crazy, but the weakness that continually allows for his defeats is crazier and dumber still.
According to those who’ve beaten the Mad Titan, Thanos has a subconscious desire to lose. What this actually means is deep down, Thanos doesn’t believe he deserves to win. So there you have it, a guy with matter manipulation, super strength, time travel, and immortality gets taken down because he’s insecure about his own success. Dumb.
If there’s one thing people love it’s cute, adorable animals. Apparently, even folks in comic books feel strongly on the matter. Bruce Banner, otherwise known as the Incredible Hulk, realized that no matter how many heroic actions his counterpart performs, Bruce needed a way to soothe the beast so he could transform back. For years, Banner struggled to come up with a solution, until he eventually came up with his greatest plan yet: puppies.
Because who doesn’t love puppies? In Indestructible Hulk Special #1, Banner and S.H.I.E.L.D. devised the puppy bomb to sooth the Hulk after he’s finished smashing. Banner knows the Hulk better than anyone, but even he was pleasantly surprised to discover puppies have the power to stop the Hulk in his tracks. It’s not the most conventional of weaknesses, and while it might be smart on some level, it’s also kind of dumb.
Which of these weaknesses is the dumbest to you? Let us know in the comments!