Science tells us that, for the most part, superpowers are completely impossible, which is probably why we love superhero stories. We love the concept of a human gaining fantastic and powerful abilities. What's even further beyond all scientific reasoning is when a hero has their powers changed, switched or completely rewritten. Heroes losing their powers or having them switched has gone on for decades in comics, usually as a means to spice things up for a series that has grown stale. For the most part, these changes are temporary, but some have stuck. Either way, these changes do usually end up making for an interesting shift in superhero stories.
Sometimes these changes are the result of a reboot, or sometimes a big event miniseries that only lasts four issues or so. Regardless, changing a character's powers definitely throws a monkey wrench into the superhero mix. Many times, these power-shifting stories can be fun, since it's interesting to see how a hero reacts to their new situation and abilities, struggling along the way. Throughout comics history, be it through cosmic forces, villainous shenanigans or low comic sales, these 15 heroes have had their powers shifted, changed or completely rearranged.
15 SPEEDBALL PAYS A PENANCE
First introduced in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22 in 1988, Robbie Baldwin was working in the Hamond Research Laboratory when an accident encased his body in an other-dimensional energy. The energy gave him a costume and control over kinetic energy, allowing him to bounce around at high speeds. Taking the superhero name Speedball, Robbie had a short-lived comic series and appeared in several team books before a big change came in Civil War.
Speedball was part of the New Warriors during the beginning of Civil War, surviving Nitro's explosions thanks to his powers. However, the explosions changed how his abilities worked. During his time as Penance, his powers were activated by pain and manifested in the form of explosive blasts. In order to use his powers, Robbie wears a new costume with 612 inward-facing spikes (one for each Stamford victim) and went by the name Penance. Well, that got dark fast.
14 GUY GARDNER: WARRIOR
A substitute Green Lantern, Guy was created by John Broome and Gil Kane, but had his personal dramatically changed by Steve Englehart and Joe Staton into a satirical take on the "red-blooded American" archetype. Not only has Guy had his personality changed in his comics career, he's also gone through quite a few power changes.
After losing his Green Lantern ring, Guy stole Sinestro's yellow power ring from his corpse and used it to challenge Superman and other heavy hitters to fights (he's not the brightest bulb). This was before its power began to fluctuate and eventually disappear before being destroyed. Borrowing an exo-suit from Blue Beatle, Gardner temporarily had super strength, but the suit was destroyed in battle. Later, Guy drank "warrior water," which activated his latent alien DNA, giving him Vuldarian shapeshifting abilities, which let him make weapons out of his body.
13 GALACTUS AND HIS MANY HERALDS
Did you know that Galactus, devourer of worlds, has recently become a Lifebringer? It's all happening in the current run of Ultimates. As interesting as that power change it, we're focusing on his many heralds. Always hungering for the life-energy of planets, Galactus must conserve his energy to sate his hunger. Enter the heralds, a much more efficient method of seeking out planets for Galactus to devour. Galactus has had many heralds in the past, most famously The Silver Surfer.
Other heralds include Firelord, Dazzler, Nova (Frankie Ray) and The Human Torch, all of whom were imbued with new abilities to better serve their master. The heralds are given energy from the power cosmic, which gives them super strength, stamina, durability, agility and reflexes, as well as different abilities unique to each herald. Further, each herald's access to the power cosmic allows them to tap into and manipulate different energies of the universe.
12 IRIS WEST II
Not to be confused with her great aunt after whom she is named, Iris West II is the daughter of Wally West and Linda Park. Originally appearing in Kingdom Come, a canonical version of her later appeared in Flash #225, when Linda gave birth to her and her twin brother, Jai. Because they were born as twins, their access to the Speed Force was split in two, changing how it manifests. Jai got muscle acceleration, resulting in temporary super strength, and Iris got accelerated molecule intangibility.
In Flash: Rebirth, Zoom attempts to disrupt the Speed Force, which causes its users to experience tremendous pain. In a heroic act, Iris offers to take her brother's half of their shared Speed Force connection so that he will no longer be in pain. With a complete connection to the Speed Force, Iris gained super speed, becoming the new Impulse.
11 JUBILEE THE VAMPIRE
We don't care what you say, we think Jubilee's powers are cool. The yellow-trenchcoat-clad X-Woman has the ability to shoot energy plasmoids from her hands. These plasmoids are like globs of liquid energy that Jubilee can control the brightness, movement, intensity and shape of. Some tend to write her powers off, since her energy blasts just look like fireworks, but these "fireworks" have the potential to BE AS STRONG AS A NUCLEAR FUSION BOMB.
Unfortunately, Jubilee lost these powers after the events of M-Day and, after a brief period of using advanced technology to replace her abilities, Jubilee gained a new kind of power. When Xarus, son of Dracula, captured Jubilee to use as bait for the other X-Men, he turned her into a vampire by biting her. As a Vampire, Jubliee has super strength, speed and the ability to turn into vapor.
10 HAL JORDAN BECOMES PARALLAX
After the destruction of Coast City and the harrowing events that followed, Hal Jordan was stripped of his Green Lantern status and went mad. This was thanks to an ancient cosmic fear entity that infected Hal and made him commit horrendous acts under the name Parallax. Originally Hal just went mad on his own, but his acts were later retconned after the hero was brought back to life and reinstated as Green Lantern of Earth.
During his time as Parallax, Hal's powers were a lot different. As most know, a green power ring gives chosen guardians the ability to create green energy constructs from their willpower. While possessed by Parallax, in addition to the abilities of a green power ring, Hal gained the ability to manipulate time and space, superhuman strength and god-like durability.
As most fans know, Rogue is a mutant with the power to absorb the memories, abilities, personality and powers of others through touch. The X-Men member originally appeared as a villain thanks to the manipulations of Mystique. Fearing she may never live a normal life due to her touch-activated powers, Anna Marie turned to the Brotherhood of Evil in search of solace, before eventually siding with the X-Men.
During her short time with the Brotherhood, Rogue used her powers a bit to absorb Ms. Marvel's as part of a plan to free other Brotherhood members. Mystique sends Rogue to attack Carol Danvers as she is returning home. Rogue does so, touching the superhero to absorb her powers of flight and super strength. These powers would remain with Rogue for quite some time, coming and going with various story arcs.
8 DRAX'S REBIRTH
Though we don't know much about Drax's MCU origins, his comics counterpart is a lot more complex. Originally, Drax was a human named Arthur Douglas. While he and his family were driving through the Mojave Dessert, Thanos' ship arrived on Earth. Not wanting witnesses at his arrival, Thanos killed Arthur and his family. However, Thanos' father, Mentor, saved Arthur's soul as a means of combating Thanos' evil reign.
Dubbing him Drax the Destroyer and building him a new body from the earth, Mentor gave Arthur super strength, super speed, flight, use of cosmic energy, telepathy and superhuman stamina and durability. Drax was eventually killed in battle, but would later be resurrected when Thanos was also brought back from death. When he was resurrected, Mentor gave him a new body with super strength (much stronger than before), durability, senses and an accelerated healing factor.
Wisdom of Solomon, strength of Hercules, stamina of Atlas, power of Zeus, courage of Achilles and speed of Mercury. Together the initials form SHAZAM, the magic word, that when uttered by Billy Batson, turns him into Captain Marvel, a superhero powered by magic. As Captain Marvel, now simply Shazam after legal disputes with Marvel, Billy has super strength, speed, durability, flight and the power to control magic lightning (which is how he transforms).
However, after the events of Darkseid War, the acronym changed a bit. It still reads SHAZAM, but the gods and powers were changed. After losing connection to the wizard Shazam, Billy's powers were bequeathed from gods of both DC and real-world mythology. Shazam now has the strength of S'ivaa (DC), the fire of H'ronmeer (DC), compassion of Anapel (mythology), source manipulation of Zonuz (DC), the boldness of Ate (Mythology) and the lightning of Mamaragan (mythology).
Warren Worthington went through a bit of a rough period in his life while serving as a member of X-Factor. After the team's name was dragged through the mud, Warren was revealed to be financially supporting X-Factor financially, causing a public relations nightmare. Following this, Warren's wings were crippled by Harpoon during the Mutant Massacre. After becoming infected, the wings were amputated and Warren's private jet was later sabotaged, exploding in the sky.
Luckily, Warren was saved. Unluckily, it was by the ancient mutant tyrant Apocalypse. Apocalypse promised to restore Warren's wings if he agreed to serve as the head of his horsemen. Warren agreed and Apocalypse subjected him to horrific experiments that resulted in blue skin and metal wings. Warren's new wings let him fly faster and could shoot poison-tipped metal feathers as projectiles.
5 CAROL DANVERS BECOMES BINARY
Carol Danvers has gone through a few different identities in her long superhero career. Originally appearing as an air force officer and friend of the original Captain Marvel, Carol later gained some of Captain Marvel's abilities through a device known as the "Psyche-Magnetron." She takes the name "Ms. Marvel" and begins her long superhero career. As Ms. Marvel, Carol had super strength, superhuman stamina, increased durability and flight.
While in space with the X-Men, Carol was captured by the Brood, an alien race that experimented on Ms. Marvel resulting in new abilities. Carol then developed the power to generate the energy of star, resulting in the ability to manipulate gravity, heat and the electromagnetic spectrum. She also gained the ability to travel at light speed and survive in space. However, Carol's tie to these powers were eventually severed, though she does retain it in some small form.
4 THE PHOENIX FIVE
The Phoenix Five — which is, surprisingly, not a band name — was a short-lived team of mutants who had been transformed by the cosmic entity known as The Phoenix, the very same energy that has possessed Jean Grey time and time again. After the Phoenix Force was split by Iron Man, the remaining pieces possessed Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Collosus and Magik. Together, these mutants aimed to create a utopia for the world, acting as its new leaders and outlawing war.
Augmenting and adding to their original powers, the Phoenix force turned the five into vessels of its powers. The Phoenix Force is an extinction-level threat and gives its wielders powers of immense potential by drawing energy from the life force of the universe. Some of these abilities include concussive blasts, cosmic fire, time manipulation, and matter transmutation.
3 WONDER WOMAN, THE GOD OF WAR
When DC rebooted in 2011, Wonder Woman's powers and origin changed a bit. Instead of being sculpted from clay by her mother, it was revealed that Diana was the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus. These new god-like powers were kept in check by her signature magical bracelets. The New 52 Wonder Woman has great strength, speed, durability and flight. She can also create blue energy constructs of any weapons she wishes.
Later in the New 52 continuity, Diana defeats Ares and takes his place as the god of war. As the new god of war, Wonder Woman has the ability to telepathically command and communicate with any soldier in the world, allowing her to control armies at will. She also has the ability to immobilize enemies with a warrior roar and has the potential to raise armies of the dead.
2 CAPTAIN SPIDER-VERSE
Captain Universe is the name of an extra-dimensional force that gives a host immense cosmic power. Otherwise known as the Uni-Power, the force seeks a host in times of darkness and chaos, changing the individual into Captain Universe. The Uni-Power has had many hosts over time, each for only a short period. One of those hosts was our very own friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
We all know Spidey's regular powers, he can do whatever a spider can. These powers paled in comparison, however, when Peter was chosen as a host of the Uni-Power. During the "Acts of Vengeance" arc, Spider-Man is possessed by the cosmic force and turned into Captain Universe. In this form, Peter is even stronger, has uni-vision (X-ray, telescopic and microscopic vision), can fly and possesses telekinesis.
1 1 SUPES, 2 SUPES, RED SUPES, BLUE SUPES
Superhero comics are pretty weird, folks, and one of the weirdest short-lived stories in comics was when Superman turned into Superman Blue. A now infamous story, the first "Blue Superman" first originated in a golden-age story, but was made more famous by a different version appearing in a 1998 comic series, in which he was dubbed by fans as "Electric Blue Superman."
After being stricken by a mysterious force, Superman's powers are changed drastically. Instead of absorbing solar radiation to fuel his strength, speed, invulnerability, flight, heat vision and super senses, Superman has become some sort of living energy. In this new form, he is intangible rather than invulnerable, and can project and manipulate various kinds of energy, forcing him to wear a containment suit to stop his living energy body from "leaking." These new powers didn't last long, however, and Supes soon returned back to normal.
Which superhero power change threw you through the biggest loop? Let us know in the comments!