Analysis: Shock and Awe

  • When shooting lightning, it tends to be treated as a sort of beam you can aim and shoot anywhere. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense — lightning is a really big static charge, like you get all the time when you're wearing sweaters. Static electricity will leap from something with high potential to something with low potential; the only way to aim it should be to modify the potential of both yourself and the target, in which case, it would be impossible to dodge. All this is almost always ignored as something that is both instantaneous and unavoidable risks becoming overpowered. Sometimes their power is called "thunder," which is a misnomer (thunder is the sound lightning makes) though it is cool-sounding.
    • However, if the emphasis is on controlling the plasma rather than the actual electric current, then it's justified.
    • Which isn't necessarily a huge problem. In Real Life, shooting a UV beam through the air will ionize it, providing the needed plasma channel for the electricity to flow through. This is called an electrolaser. In fiction, a character with electricity-generating powers could have this as a Required Secondary Power, or wear a suitable UV laser.
  • Very few media which use lightning powers actually address the serious issue which comes hand in hand with the power; that is, damage to oneself. Even assuming that the user is immune to electricity (which is often shown to be true) the heat, light and sound produced by the lightning blast exiting their hands/chest/eyes would cause huge damage. It could be assumed that immunity to bursts of light, heat and sound are secondary powers, but those seem to be very inconsistent, as the character who shoots lightning never boasts about their resistance to heat etc. Obviously not an issue if the user is beyond a certain power threshold, but for your average human with added lightning these would all be serious issues.