For anyone who’s ever felt overwhelmed by the X-Men: you’re not alone. They have the most constantly-shifting roster in comics, with literally hundreds of characters having appeared as a member at one point or another. Each new issue can introduce a new mutant or two; with this glut of potential X-Men, some of the mutants have started to seem like the creators were grasping at straws for powers. Bad mutations have been around forever, but they went mainstream in a big way. When Grant Morrison took over the main X-Men book with his New X-Men run in the early ’00s, one of his big moves was to introduce a lot of mutants who looked terrifying or had mutations that were not, strictly speaking, useful.
This perception widened the scope of the X-Men, and made it clear that not every person with a mutation had to be able to use their mutation as an easy superpower. Not every mutant has the ability to teleport and read minds; some heroes have to make do with having bird bones and a beak, but not the ability to fly. Some of those pointless X-Men have powers so legendarily useless, we decided to make a list of 16 of our favorites. Check them out!
16. EMMA FROST
Well known as the ice queen of the Marvel Universe, Emma Frost has been around for a long time. Since her original appearance as the White Queen of the Hellfire Club, she’s featured a strong telepathic ability, but during Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, he gave her a new power: to turn her body into organic diamond. It’s a little bit on the nose — Emma Frost has always had a “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” sort of grown-up rich kid vibe, and this only played into it.
And in this case, as compared with mutants like Angel and Pixie, she had a perfectly suitable power to start out with, and they decided she needed more to differentiate her. They tried to pass it off as a “secondary mutation,” like when Beast started to become more cat-like and less of an ape-like beast, but at least his were related powers.
One of the influx of X-Men from the UK during Chris Claremont’s tenure on the books, Banshee’s namesake speaks to his connection to his homeland. The banshee is an Irish folktale, a wailing woman much like La Llorona — the banshee’s cry was said to foretell the death of a family member. Banshee’s powers are wide-ranging, including flight (which is somehow connected to the ribbons on his suit), and psionic fields, but his signature power was his sonic scream.
The only real edge the sonic scream ever seemed to give him was his immunity to the powers of his nemesis, Black Tom Cassidy, but it must have given the rest of the X-Men some serious migraines. Banshee has since died and been resurrected with a Death Seed as one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen, and he lives a half-life, the rest of the team unsure if he will ever be cured.
At some point, the mutations on the roster in X-Men comics become an exercise in body horror, and no mutant is a better introduction to that part of the cast than Maggott (with two T’s). A South African named Japheth, Maggott was a man with blue skin whose digestive system was comprised of two lung-sized techno-organic maggots. The maggots lived in his abdomen, and they could venture far away from Maggott while connected telepathically to him; this also enabled them to “read” the past of any object they consumed, whether sentient or not.
It’s unclear how a mutation made several of his actual organs into machines, but if we’re going to let Colossus get away with it, we’ll have to forgive Maggott — but we will not be forgiving him for naming the maggots. Even worse that it’s a bad joke: Eany and Meany.
13. LONGSHOT & DOMINO
Longshot and Domino don’t really interact terribly often in the comics, but they’re grouped together here because they have essentially the same powers. Longshot’s is explicitly stated to be the manipulation of “probability fields,” but Domino’s is generally just good old fashioned good luck. These are undoubted good powers to have, but ultimately it raises two questions: does having “good luck” mean that things go in your favor one hundred percent of the time, and does that mean that luck is something that’s strictly genetic?
Because if the answer to the first question is “No,” then this particular mutant power is especially useless; if the answer to question two is “Yes,” then that really expands the definition of “genetic mutation” to its absolute breaking point.
This one is pretty self-explanatory — this student at the Jean Grey School is a regular teenager who is literally covered with human eyeballs. His body is about 40-60% eyeballs, depending on who’s drawing him, which not only looks like something out of a Guillermo del Toro movie, but must make him incredibly ineffectual in the field.
The implication is that he would also have eyes on the soles of his feet that he was walking on at all times, eyes in far too many places. There’s no way Eye-Boy isn’t constantly walking around with a migraine, or with at least two-thirds of his eyes out of commission (getting dust in them, or getting walked on, or being covered with clothes). Sure, he can see in 360 degrees, but at what cost?
Created in the early ’00s for Chris Claremont and Salvador Larocca’s X-Treme X-Men, Davis Cameron is a half-mutant/half-Shi’ar Australian surfer who didn’t know he was a mutant until he met the X-Men and they told him he and his sister both had latent mutant powers. Davis’ powers manifested and he learned he could teleport, but in order to increase his accuracy, he needed to focus his powers through the lens of his surfboard.
Slipstream wasn’t kept around particularly long, but apparently he stuck around long enough to be confirmed as de-powered during M-Day. Perhaps one day he will rediscover the magic of the surf, but until then he remains a teleporting mutant who has to carry a bulky surfboard around with him if he wants to end up where he intends to. Tough break, Cameron.
Pixie is another one whose power set is relatively strong, but they start out as just direct lifts from fairy tales. She has dark, fairy-like eyes, giant insect wings, and the ability to spread “pixie dust,” which causes people to have hallucinations. She also gained a limited amount of magical ability through her interactions with Magik, including a teleportation spell that at least make her tactically important.
But her native mutations are just strange — which gene has to be modified to make a person’s eyes completely black, to make them grow wings instead of regular shoulders, and to give them what we have to assume are pheromones that she can keep outside her body to act like pixie dust? Pixie becomes another case of a mutant whose powers just weren’t cool enough, so they had to augment them with other, more awesome things (like Pixie’s “Souldagger”).
There isn’t much to this one. Longneck was what we can only assume was a joke mutant, created by Grant Morrison and Phil Jimenez during their time on New X-Men. His entire powerset is pretty easy to explain: William Hanover had a neck that was slightly longer than usual, so he became an X-Man named Longneck. If mutations hit around the same time as the onset of puberty, does that mean that Longneck had a normal sized neck until he was 13 and now he has a neck that’s a foot long?
Or was he born with an abnormally long neck that just never stopped growing? The world may never have an answer to the enigma that is Longneck — alongside many of Morrison’s New X-Men, he was de-powered by the Scarlet Witch on M-Day, so he presumably has a Normalneck now.
Dazzler is one of the more fascinating X-Men — using her powers to convert sound into light, she was able to hide in plain sight as a singer. She’s gone on to a career as an X-Man and an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., but her powers remain relatively unchanged. There’s nothing wrong with Dazzler’s powers, and they sometimes come in incredibly handy; they just don’t seem like they have a lot of versatility.
Her lack of variety in her powers has led to writers throwing a lot of stuff at the wall in terms of her character development, and seeing what sticks. Recently, she had been active in the comics, but it was revealed that she had actually been Mystique posing as Dazzler for months; all along, it seemed like the reason she didn’t use her powers was because she was an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but it wasn’t just because they were boring after all.
Douglas Ramsey was one of the early New Mutants, and formed a close bond with his teammate, Warlock. This was partially because of Ramsey’s mutation, which made him omnilingual — that doesn’t mean that he was born able to hear and speak every language like a native speaker, it essentially meant that he was the best codebreaker on the planet.
He could subconsciously (as opposed to consciously, with effort) translate any language he encountered within minutes, no matter how strange or alien. He was killed by Anti-Mator, and when he was resurrected, he perceived everything in the world as language; he saw electrical and computer signals as language, and was able to interpret his enemies’ combat styles as languages. Everything became metalanguage to him, which is objectively super cool, but not particularly helpful in most situations.
One of the coolest members of the New Mutants, Warlock is an alien from Kvch — as an alien, he can shapeshift into almost anything, he can turn anything organic into something techno-organic, and he can drain the life energy from anything living. But none of those are his mutation — those are all just things that he can do naturally as an alien. His mutation is that he can feel feelings.
That’s right — this dude’s mutation is that he has emotions, which often times are confusing to him and cause wild misunderstandings with the rest of his teammates. They actively get in his way during combat, and they really only help him become less of an obvious alien around humanity. That makes them pretty much the definition of useless from a combat point of view, but essential from a social point of view. Take your pick.
Another body horror X-Man, Beak (or Barnell Bohusk — totally a real name) had the appearance of a birdman who was more bird than man; he had an actual beak, large eyes on the side of his head, and feathery forearms that ended in talons. He looked like the baby from Eraserhead, but he was one of the very best people at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning; Angel, another new recruit, saw past his exterior and married him.
He was de-powered during M-Day, leading him to revert to a typical appearance, and reverting his children to a typical appearance as well. However, he also currently possesses a powered suit that grants him flight, armor, superhuman strength, and energy blasts. So essentially he got way better powers from the suit than he ever got from his actual mutation.
There’s a character in the Marvel Universe who turns into a living embodiment of sand, controlled by his own will and direction. No, no, you’re thinking of the Sandman, one of Spider-Man’s colorful rogues gallery; we’re talking about Dust, an Afghani mutant whose power is to turn her body into a living sandstorm. To start with, Dust really pulled the short straw on codenames — it seems like she just got named after the first thing that came to mind, instead of something metaphorically relevant.
Her powers can be put to good use in a fight, as she can apparently flay the skin and flesh off of a person’s bones with her dust storm powers, but that seems like an awfully roundabout way of getting the job done.
Possibly the most horrifying of all the mutations on this list, Irina Clayton, aka Choir, is yet another addition from Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run, where he must have been really focused on adding X-Men with mutations that just made them physically off-putting. She has mouths all around her neck, allowing her to project her voice in a full 360 degrees.
On paper, she sounds like one of the Cenobites from Hellraiser, except she doesn’t have power over sensuality and pleasures of the flesh – that would be much more interesting. She literally just has extra mouths. Can they eat? Can they drink? These questions may never be answered — she was, along with many other X-Men created during this time period, de-powered during M-Day, returning her neck to a normal appearance and her tally of mouths back down to the usual.
It doesn’t matter how many self-aware jokes Brian Michael Bendis makes about Fabio Medina’s mutant power set, it doesn’t change the fact that all he can do is generate giant gold bouncy balls from nothing that make a “ploink” noise when they hit something. That’s it, that’s the whole thing — he creates a bunch of balls that are kind of in the way, but not an actual hindrance.
His mutant power is to create an annoying obstacle for someone, and then make that obstacle disappear after a short amount of time. Even now that he’s appearing in the Miles Morales Spider-Man book, you just can’t make people care about Goldballs. It’s only a matter of time before he goes the way of Angel and Pixie, with more and more added powers and gadgets to make him interesting.
Angel gets a lot of hate for being kind of a lame mutant — and that’s not going to stop us from piling on. When Angel was introduced, he was literally just a human man with bird wings, and writers have been spending the last 50-plus years trying to explain that. Angel’s powers are essentially that of a bird, in terms of achievable altitude, resistance to cold, and metabolism; they have since been augmented several times, each time trying to make him more interesting.
There was the time he became Archangel due to Celestial technology, which allowed him to regenerate his wings at will as either metal or feathered; and there was when they decided to give him healing blood (he’s an angel, get it?); or maybe when they introduced the original Angel again, and had him level up his powers in the Black Vortex almost immediately. He’s still just boring.
Which of these mutant powers is the worst? Let us know in the comments!
- Ad Free Browsing
- Over 10,000 Videos!
- All in 1 Access
- Join For Free!