While adding or removing characters' superpowers can be controversial (especially if it's just New Powers as the Plot Demands
), the actual mechanics
don't need a lot of explanation for the fans to accept it. The logic wonk
occurs when, rather than go "up" or "down"
with how his power works, the direction goes "cantaloupe", and the character gains an entirely new set of superpowers.
This practice isn't used as much nowadays, because, while changing powers along with a reimagining of a character's personality is artistically nice, it doesn't make sense for a character with an internally-logical origin
. Since many characters are largely defined by their powers, it smacks of an inability to be really creative, especially if the reimagining is to make a character Darker and Edgier
. If this falls flat (as it often does), the results linger in the Dork Age
This concept is often lampshaded
in the free-rein areas of Elseworlds and What Ifs
, where the re-power is actually just a creative writer elaborating on a vague and mundane power to its extreme logical end, showing how characters could become very
See also Re-Ditto
. Compare with Got the Call on Speed Dial
, Discard and Draw
, and Skill Point Reset
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Anime and Manga
- The obviously human Guy Gardner, an artifact-user Super Hero in the Green Lantern Corps, suffered from this, when he was revealed to have an alien heritage with Voluntary Shapeshifting powers, mainly to give him the ability to use BFGs.
- This eventually went both ways, with Guy having his alien DNA rewritten so that he lost the shapeshifting powers. At the same time, the brain damage that kept him from using the Green Lantern ring was cured, so he went back to being another Green Lantern.
- Speedball, a happy-go-lucky character who once had the power to bounce around invulnerably, turned into "Penance", an angsty, masochistic energy blaster who needs to torture himself to get his powers to work.
- This also seems to be going the other way, as "Penance" has started using his Speedball powers again, and it's suggested that the whole thing was a psychological block he placed on himself after the Stamford incident.
- It eventually stops being an example, as he returns to being Speedball with both powers.
- Rogue of the X-Men a while back lost the powers she had derived from Ms. Marvel for so long in favor of Sunfire's flame-based powers, although that set has since also taken a back seat as her primary writers have just gotten around it by writing her with much better control of her Power Copying ability.
- Superman was temporarily reimagined in the 1990s as an energy being made of living lightning.
- This is actually a shoutout to a much older, non-canon alternate universe story from the Silver Age, in which he was accidentally split into two versions of himself, one of which developed electrical powers and became superman blue.
- Amazing Man (not to be confused with 'Mazing Man) of Roy Thomas's All-Star Squadron in The DCU was introduced with the power to transform into whatever substances he touched; later these were changed to magnetic abilities. His grandson later appeared with his original powers, which were cooler anyway.
- An example of the 'logical extension of existing powers' variation done in a canon storyline: during John Byrne's tenure on the Fantastic Four, he took the existing powers of the teammates and sent them in directions no one else had considered. This was especially true of Sue Richards, who had been a basic Distressed Damsel for most of the previous twenty years, able to turn invisible and project force fields and little else; in his hands, she became a genuine Action Girl, using her force fields to create platforms on while she could ride, balls she could roll at opponents, battering rams, and (in one notable moment while being psychologically manipulated) spikes and crushing restraints. While less dramatic, the other team members also began using their powers more creatively, at least as long as Byrne was writing the book.
- Emma Frost of the X-Men, a traditional telepath, developed the ability to transform into "living diamond". While she's in her diamond form, she is naturally incredibly hard to kill (at one point, she was shattered, but came back to life when Phoenix found every piece of her and telekinetically fused her back together), and loses her telepathic powers until she switches back.
- Many Marvel Mutant characters have gotten what was called in-universe a "Secondary Mutation", and pretty much all of them qualify.
- For a time, Spider-Man was upgraded in The Other storyline with Wolverine-like stingers on his wrists. Yes, stingers. Lampshaded, as Peter notes Spiders don't have stingers! Another character tries to Hand Wave this by saying one day spiders might evolve stingers!
- Granted, they were supposed to be stand ins for the venomous fangs spiders DO have. Why were they on his wrists? Well, if you address THAT, then you have to ask why he has spinnerets on his arms, instead of the location spiders NORMALLY reserve for those organs...
- Technically, spider chelicerae are transformed limbs, and some spider species have been confirmed to have silk producing apparatus on their feet, but even so it is indeed stretching it.
- How do I shit web?
- In a What If storyline, Spider-Man's spider-sense has expanded into full blown clairvoyance, detecting threats before the cause of the threat can even think about it. This coupled with his new found non reluctance to kill makes him very dangerous. It is even stated that his powers are still growing, "sometimes, now, he just knows things".
- In the Wild Cards series, John Fortune loses his healing powers after his body is purged of the wild card virus. In the latest book, John enters into a symbiotic relationship with Sekhmet of the Living Gods, and gains the ability to... change into a fire-breathing lioness. Yup, that's quite a change.
- The Sleeper gets a new set of powers every time he wakes up. Thanks to terror at what he might end up as, he only sleeps every few weeks, with the aid of amphetamines (which tend to turn him into something terrible anyway, albeit more predictably).
- All of the former mutants who lost their powers on M-Day and joined the latest iteration of the New Warriors got one of these. Jubilee, who originally had the power to produce explosive balls of light, gained super strength through advanced technology. Chamber, whose psionic powers kept him alive, ended up gaining sonic manipulation. And so on and so forth.
- Chamber got a double dose of this trope. Prior to joining the New Warriors he received a blood transfusion from his ancestor Apocalypse. The blood of Apocalypse fixed the damage to his body that his original powers caused. It also had the side effect of making him look like Apocalypse too. And possibly giving him latent Omega-level mutant power. This hasn't really been addressed since it was mentioned though.
- Jubilee became a vampire and has now gained superstrength and other vampire powers.
- An example of the second kind appears in Kingdom Come in the form of the godlike Flash, who is so fast that he pulls the narrator into the story.
- Needs clarification. The "narrator" is a character who lives in the setting, he's just hanging out on the ethereal plane with the Spectre watching the story when the Flash (who at this point is locked into Super Speed and thus is constantly on the threshold between dimensions) is able to see him and pull him back to the material plane.
- A popular fan idea was "What if Batman became a Green Lantern?", because for some reason giving the Goddamn Batman, who already has Plot Armor like crazy, a weapon based on intelligence, creativity, and willpower is such a good idea. This was actually done in an Elseworld as an alternative to his choosing to become a tech- and detective-focused hero, and Geoff Johns answered the question in the canon DCU with "he couldn't handle it" (but did hint he'd be an excellent member of the Sinestro Corps) because a Green Lantern has to deal with his worst fears daily, and Batman has never managed to get past his—that's why he's Batman.
- This was lampshaded in an episode of The Batman where he and Green Lantern teamed up to fight Sinestro.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold did this too. Although the more lighthearted version of Batman only got green armor that was fueled by Batsy's Willpower, it was still a hell of a combo.
- Parallax called Batman "A Disciple of Fear" during the Green Lantern: Rebirth series. Later, the Sinestro Corps (or at least a yellow power ring) tried to recruit Batman. And failed.
- The Elseworld Bats has a Green Lantern Ring in addition to rather than an alternative everything Batman had. Bruce had gone through all the training and made all the preparations he had made before first becoming Batman, but the bat that crashed through his window in the "Batman: Year One" miniseries was scared off by Abin Sur's ship crash landing just outside Wayne Manor.
- Also featured in All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, where Batman wants to steal the ring. "Think of what I could do with that power."
- Some fanboys have also wanted to see Superman with a ring because it's just that much more power. Clark did try out a ring during his year being powerless, but he was powerless in the first place because he wasn't ready to return to his superhero career so, while he could use the ring just fine, it didn't create a costume.
- He took Guy Gardner's ring in an Armageddon 2001 alternate future, but then he gave it back to Hal Jordan because he already had too much power, and absolute power corrupts.
- At one point Hal Jordan gave Batman his ring temporary after they got buddy-buddy fighting the second Tattooed Man, and Batman outright admitted that he couldn't ignore his fears because they were what drove him.
- Alan Moore gave us Sodam Yat, a Daxamite Green Lantern, back in 1986, who possessed all of Superman's powers, and all of Green Lantern's as well. Granted he only appeared in a single panel, but he was a major figure in Moore's proposed Twilight Of The Superheroes mini-series.
- Marvel's Power Pack, a team of four children and then teenage heroes with four different superpowers, have swapped them all around, at least twice. The eldest, Alex, even used to swipe his siblings' powers for jaunts with the New Warriors. Check out The Other Wiki for who's had what.
- Lightning Lass, in the Legion of Super-Heroes, changed to Light Lass with antigravity powers. To enforce Cast Speciation. And changed back.
- Kinetix also changes her powers (and appearance to go with them). In her case, seeking power was her M.O.
- Jokers Last Laugh featured a character called Multi-Man whose power was: upon death, come back to life with an entirely random second power. The Joker kills him over fifty times to get him to have the right power to kick off a prison breakout. And then a couple of good guys off him another dozen times to get him to roulette up a power to animate dead guys so they can have Mr. Mind use the corpse's powers to break them out of the Negative Space Wedgie they're stuck in. He totally calls them on it, which makes the whole thing a lot more palatable.
- DC's Resurrection Man has this as his power, combined with Death Is Cheap. Whenever he dies he resurrects immediately, and each time, he gets one other superpower for that life. By the time of the DC One Million miniseries, he has invented a device to kill him instantly and painlessly, so he can switch between powers whenever he wants.
- Mutator of The New Universe gets new powers every twelve hours.
- The Blue Beetle has gone from magic artifact powered hero (Dan Garrett) to a smart as Batman Gadgeteer Genius (Ted Kord does not get the respect he deserves) to the current alien armor wearing Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes. That's three different power sets and three different characters for one Legacy Hero.
- Just a reminder, all three Beetles used the same "magical-alien-scarab" thing. Dan could somewhat use it. Ted couldn't get it to do anything (hence the gadgets). Jaime somehow 'unlocked' its full potential: the scarab is an alien intelligence that basically wants to kill everything.
- Eddie Brock became Anti-Venom after contact with the supervillain Mister Negative caused the remnants of the Venom symbiote still in Brock's system to combine with his white blood cells. As Anti-Venom he retains some of his old Venom abilities but also gained the power to remove foreign elements and contaminants in people. Including the radiation in Spider-Man's body that empowers him. Fortunately Brock still sincerely wants to be a hero and so tries his best to avoid doing this to Spidey.
- Both Blue Devil and his (not)sidekick Kid Devil went from using super powered suits (in Blue Devil's case, having the suit magically fused to him) to being transformed into real devils. In Kid Devil's case, when he became a real devil, he gained fire powers and later portal creation.
- Due to some complicated circumstances, Polaris once had the power of siphoning super-strength from emotions. She also had disease powers when she was a Horseman of Apocalypse, Pestilence.
- Ms. Marvel may be the queen of this trope. She lost her original powers to Rogue of the X-Men, then gained energy-based powers for a while and now has a completely new set of powers which are mostly the same as her original set.
Live Action TV
- Peter went from the uber powerful empathic mimicry (able to use the powers of anyone he'd met freely) to ability replication (gains abilities by touching somebody and can only have one at once); Mohinder went from undefined insect powers to simple super strength.
- Phoebe was initially shown, in a vision, to have future powers of levitation and throwing electricity (sometimes called "electrokinesis"). She developed the levitation power but gained the power of Empathy instead of the electricity power. In the later seasons this is most likely due to budget concerns but Leo just stated "the future changes" as an explanation for any changes made throughout the show.
- This is called "having a radiation accident" in Champions. It is suggested that if a player is dissatisfied with their character somehow, or bored with it, or even perhaps they just want to try something new, that the Game Master allow them to completely rewrite it after roleplaying a suitably bizarre reason for the change.
- Cosmic Encounter has several cards and effects that can completely change your alien power, such as the Sorcerer and Reincarnator wild flares (the latter of which does it for everyone.)
- In World of Darkness it is possible to be transformed from one type of supernatural creature to another (e.g. mage to vampire). If this happens, you lose access to your previous powers and have to learn the powers of your new "species".
- This is quite limited in the "character respecification" feature in City of Heroes. While you can reselect your character's powers and change which auxiliary pools you chose from, you cannot change your primary and secondary pools or your archetype. That means no changing from swinging a sword to growing spines out of your body, or changing from a Tank into a Blaster and such.
- However, these limits still mean you can suddenly gain (for example) Super-Speed after having been a Teleporter all along.
- Some players do go the whole way though by making a second character with an almost identical name but a completely different set of powers.
- Champions Online has the Retcon feature, either by using the in-game money (Resources) or buying a Retcon token from the cash shop. The token resets your whole character, allowing you to pick all your powers/super stats/talents/advantages from the start. And because your appearance can be fully changed, and even your name changed with an appropriate token, this allows you to completely re-imagine your character, sans gender.