Main Reed Richards IS Useless Discussion

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08:55:08 AM Nov 5th 2014
edited by
i don't know if the Pokémon backpack example should be there, after all the backpack tecnology seems being used masively in the setting and being relatively new too
06:04:41 PM Jun 18th 2013
Possible Justification within the Marvel Universe

One of the big ways Reed Richards and other super geniuses are useless is that the Marvel Universe, as a whole, does not have a cure for AIDS or cancer or show other signs of civilian biotech being particularly advanced. I think that this may be partially justified.

While Marvel takes an easy approach of treating all its genius scientist characters as polymaths capable in any field, most of the biggest names seem to specialize in the physical sciences, particularly electronics, Reed Richards, Hank Pym, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Victor Von Doom, Thinker, and the Leader all are mostly shown to be really gifted in the physical sciences and then sometimes able to struggle their way through in the life sciences.

The most talented biological and medical science guys in the Marvel Universe are : Hank Mc Coy and Moira Mc Taggert (both mostly interested in the mutant genome and things like the Legacy virus), Kurt Connors (distracted by turning into a rampaging green lizard man), Michael Morbius (distracted by being a living vampire), the Power Broker (good enough at what he does, coming up with something like super-steroids to create super-wrestlers, but limited in scope and vision) and Arnim Zola.

It's not much wonder the Marvel Universe is only mostly about equal with our world in terms of medical science.
09:36:12 PM Sep 22nd 2012
I removed the entire Real Life section. There is no writer enforcing the status quo arbitrarily in real life.

    Real Life 
  • It's one thing to invent something. On the other hand, it's much harder to find sponsorship, do expensive safety tests, deal with any side effects, find a way to mass produce it, and be prepared for potential backlash if something completely outside your control goes wrong...
  • Carl Friedrich Gauss, called "the prince of mathematics", had a habit of coming up with brilliant mathematical proofs and not publishing them. Considering the numbers of things already named after Gauss, this may be just as well.
  • The sheer number of people who are not organ or tissue donors. This is mostly an issue in nations where the system for donation is opt in (where about 25% are donors) rather than opt out (where about 25% are not donors, while some opt out countries like Belgium or Austria only have 2% not being donors). Even if the DMV asks you if you want the pink dot on your license (as in California), most just automatically say no due to the way its asked and many others forget even being given the choice. Add to that that the family still gets final say and that most are too distraught at losing someone to be amenable to cutting them up.
    • In an effort to boost organ donation, countries such as Israel place preferential treatment on registered organ donors in receiving organ transplants.
    • Many doctors aren't organ donors and don't donate their bodies to science for the simple reason that they've seen how badly people who do donate their bodies and organs are treated, though the situation may have improved, and that's all that needs to be said about that.
  • Similar to the organ donor shortage is the shortage of blood donors. It seems far more people are claiming to be afraid of needles than there are people actually afraid of needles.
    • There are a fairly sizable number of people who are otherwise willing to donate blood but who are forbidden by the collection service due to their strict requirements that are in place to prevent contaminated blood being used in a transfusion. Even though blood is screened (albeit in large batches, not individually) before storage, ALL gay men have life-long bans on donating blood in most countries because men who have sex with men (2% of the population) account for 61% of new infections according to 2009 CDC reports.
      • Any place with blood donation obviously puts a very high priority over avoiding things such as HIV, to the point that a false-positive reading on HIV renders some people unable to donate. Remember, a false-positive's entire shtick is that who or whatever examined your blood made a mistake. Especially with large batches being tested for HIV the norm, that's a lot of useless blood for one missed case of HIV.
  • Pre-Colombian Americas had plenty of scientific innovations that were never used by the natives, such as taming the Buffalo, using the wheel for tasks other than as a toy (i.e. grinding grain, pottery), and the Incas never bothered to use their iron deposits to make tools.
    • The lack of domestic bison, at least, makes sense, even if the others don't. The American bison is the largest living land mammal native to North America, it's very powerful and aggressive towards humans. No culture native to North America appears to have had the technology necessary to build corrals that could hold them, meaning that keeping them long enough to domesticate them would have been impossible.
    • This issue has been discussed at length in Guns Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond. Basically the big five (horses, cattle, sheep, goats and pigs) are the only large animals capable of domestication (note 'domestication' is a step up from 'taming' which has been done with cheetahs and elephants).
  • A steam engine prototype was invented in the early Roman Empire, only to have other people dismiss it as a toy.
    • Largely because it was a toy. There's no way to scale the aeolipile (which, despite being steam-powered, is really nothing like a Watt steam-engine) up to any kind of a useful size.
    • On the other hand, Hero of Alexandria also invented a device that was the first pneumohydraulic piston (a piston head was moved by water displaced by expanding vapor). The problem is, that working steam engines require an adequately advanced metallurgy that was unavailable in ancient times.
    • Again see Guns Germs and Steel, printing was invented thousands of years ago, but many other components (like paper) were just not cost effective enough.
  • Look at the Guinea Worm infection, a tropical country disease that causes painful swelling and a worm to erupt out of your leg. The disease can be prevented by filtering water through a cloth and keeping infected people (with open sores on their legs) away from water. Despite the easiness of prevention, Guinea Worm continues to infect millions.
    • Hopefully to become an Averted Trope in the near future, as various agencies are making serious efforts to eradicate the pest, and the infection rate is falling at a good speed.
  • Aerospace technology in general. Despite space travel and supersonic flight being half a century old, virtually all examples thereof are solely controlled by governments and cost megabucks.
    • Artificial satellites improve everyday's life: telecommunication, weather forecast, GPS, ...
    • Several companies have started exploring the idea of "space tourism" but for the time being it's really just sending a (super rich) person briefly out of the atmosphere for a few minutes. A large part of the problem is the lack of anything worth getting once you're past satellites means combined with physical requirements and security concerns means that the costs are too high.
    • It actually takes a lot of time and money to certify equipment for use in military aircraft, and even more for civilian aircraft. Part of the certification is to prove that the equipment is sufficiently reliable based on how vital its operation is to continued safe flight. Thus, there are many aircraft with equipment that is not certified for general use, but only flown on an experimental basis.
    • The legal certification process would also apply to other inventions such as miracle drugs and medical treatments, automotive or robotic technology, or anything else that is regulated by most governments, which is practically everything these days.
  • Electric and hybrid cars may be an attempt to "replace" the petrol engine, but now petrol made from genetically engineered bugs is being created. However, this will be used in an attempt to solve the world petrol crisis, making this a deconstruction of why this trope can be bad.
    • It's also being used for diesel as well. So looks like electric and hybrid cars may not be needed in the near-future, with possible Zeerust implications...
    • There's pretty much no way that these technologies would be enough to sustain the world's need of oil should production start dropping (do you have any idea HOW much oil would be needed in a SHORT amount of time). Still, it's always nice to have stopgap solutions to make the transition process easier.
    • One energy policy analyst once said that switching from petroleum energy to solar power is like "being addicted to vodka and switching over to gin." Therefore, the analyst stated that instead of trying to develop some revolutionary new power source, the solution should focus more on less energy consumption and a diversity of energy sources.
  • China use to be the world's leader of scientific and technological development, with their many inventions including fish farming, the wheelbarrow, gunpowder, paper money, and even industrialized iron production. China at one point had established naval contact throughout Asia and Africa. However, the emperors eventually decided to close their country off from foreign contact and ideas. This led to China faltering scientifically, economically, and militarily.
    • Not only that but they had a very real chance of conquering much of the world and, in fact, had sent out a massive armada West towards India. Unfortunately, when a new emperor came to power, he ordered the armada back and then had the ships and all the records burned. Had he not done that, we could be speaking Chinese right now. China also had vague dealings with Rome, usually through independent merchants.
      • While China has been the world's most developed region during our history, it was only for a relatively short ammount of time. For most of our early history, the Middle East was ahead of China, then the mediterranean area became the world's most advanced region. During the middle ages, China was pretty much ahead, but it lost the position once more to the west a few centuries ago. So, while the entries above are technically correct, they really only take into account a small part of humanity's history. For many early inventions, the circumstances were simply better in the Middle East, which is why they were invented there first.
  • In the early 19th century, American physician John Gorrie developed an early model of air conditioning. However, successful lobbying by America's ice industry, and combined with the fact that early air conditioning did not control humidity, blocked the implementation of Gorrie's device.
  • Countless scientific/technological innovations were suppressed in various communist* governments with purges, suppression of free markets, and blatantly false science. Notorious examples include Lysenkoism (an agricultural "science" that rejected the basic premises of heredity) and probably the worse was the Khymer Rouge (who sought to abolish all modern technology in Cambodia).
  • supplies the following:
  • The book Super Freakonomics describes how in 17th or 18th century England, there was this one doctor who had a pair of metal forceps that could correctly orient a baby to come out the correct way from the mother's uterus (that is head first rather than feet first). The doctor kept the tools a family secret for centuries. Millions of lives lost, and huge amounts of pain could easily been prevented.
12:03:25 PM Apr 14th 2013
There may not be a writer for Real Life, but Real Life doesn't display tropes so much as tropes reflect Real Life. Therefore, a Real Life section is applicable since the trope can be observed, even if it can't be invoked.
02:57:13 PM Mar 19th 2012
Where do we put the aversions, then? There are aversions, and they need a place.
02:02:16 PM Mar 27th 2011
Can't anyone crop a panel that has Reed inventing something awesome, and give the picture a caption saying that it will never be useful again?
03:03:07 PM Feb 2nd 2011
I just performed a mass natterectomy, complete with removal of aversions and non-subversions. Apparently the sheer amount of crap I deleted was so big it broke the posting system, so here it is in long chunks.


  • Than again, shadow clones aren't the most durable things out there, going poof in one hit.

  • The bigger the scope of the wish, the more dangerous it is to try to get it from a Literal Genie.
    • The Thunderbolt has sometimes been shown granting wishes literally, but he's friendly and isn't really a Literal Genie in the normal sense; he wouldn't grant a wish in a way that seriously hurts someone unless there really wasn't any other way to interpret it at all.
  • Furthermore, the benefits of the wish could come with a major cost. For example, wishing for a certain disease to be cured might create a "cure" that is deadlier than the disease itself. Wishing for a piece of barren land to become fertile could drain away the fertility from nearby land.
    • You could "cure" AIDS by killing everybody with HIV or AIDS at once.
    • It wouldn't need to even depend on treating such things as fertility and peace as if they were somehow zero-sum systems, in which peace in one place can't be had except by draining it out of another and causing an upswing in violence and/or crime. All it would need is an understanding of the price that would necessarily be paid. Peace and the elimination of crime could only be created worldwide by eliminating from humanity the same aggressive factors that also cause ambition and independent thought. Eliminating all diseases would result in eliminating all disease-causing fungi, bacteria, and parasites that consume the dead bodies of more complex life forms and break them down into materials plants can consume, destroying the food web literally from the bottom up. Probably the safest expression of unlimited wishes would, in fact, be in becoming a costumed superhero that serves humanity is a way that it encourages development of virtues and inhibition of vices.
  • One of the more glaring examples is when Jakeem Thunder hears about a massive apocalyptic super villain attack near the courthouse, and tells the genie to take him there yesterday (a figure of speech meaning quickly). When the Thunderbolt actually does take him to the courthouse one day in the past, he just yells at the genie and tells him to send them to the present. He does not even take a few seconds to call his team and warn them.
  • Remember, though, Johnny Thunder was, to put it politely, not very bright, and Jakeem is a young teenager. The amount of power truly available to them might never have occurred to them.
    • Case in point, Jakeem once had the Thunderbolt alter his report card so he wouldn't get in trouble. Apparently all he had it do was literally change what was written on the card, not alter his grades in the school computer, or change his teachers' records, or retroactively alter his performance on tests. It just changed some text. And it used pink ink, so his mom saw right through it.

  • This began with the classic "Must There Be A Superman?" written by Elliot S. Maggin in which the Oans basically told Superman that he was impeding human progress by doing everything for them.
Oan 1: Superman is troubled by an idea that never crossed his mind before, that Earth must move forward unaided by outsiders from another world.
Oan 2: Our job was merely to plant the seed. We must let time take its course.
  • This story was precedented by a Justice League America storyline where the League solves the pollution problems of an alien planet. Superman then tells the aliens that they can't expect outsiders to solve all their problems.
  • In Brian Azzarello's "For Tomorrow" storyline, one of Superman's friends who has cancer asks Superman if he can cure him. Superman says he's never tried to cure cancer and he won't. "If I did, then people would expect me to..." before Superman can finish his words, he is interrupted.
    • The plotline of "For Tomorrow" hinged on Superman's attempt to create a device that would transport Earth's population to a paradise world in the Phantom Zone in the event of a world-destroying event similar to the destruction of Krypton. The device accidentally caused over a million people(including Lois) to disappear into the Phantom Zone.
  • Averted completely in the classic for all the wrong reasons "Superman Red and Superman Blue", in which Superman is duplicated into two identical Supermen. Not only does this provide a handy solution to the Silver Age "Lois or Lana" Love Triangle, but the extra free time and the fact that two Supermen are working together allows them to solve all of humanity's problems, by among other things building a device that eliminates evil. The issue of free will is never brought up.
  • Explored in the series "Superman: For Tomorrow", where at one stage Superman intervenes in a nameless Third World country, in the throes of civil war. Using his super speed etc, he flies in and removes all the weapons etc from either sides armies. There's a Dramatic Pause as the people register their shock and realisation of this... and then pick up rocks and continue fighting. "Hate will find a way", seems to be the message.

  • In one issue Superman saves an elderly black woman from a mugging after she cries out for God to help her. She decides this is a sign that Superman is an angel and begins "praying" for his help all the time, despite his warnings that he is a busy dude and won't always be able to come help her. She continues to get more aggressive, actively SEEKING out dangerous situations in order to call Superman to come fix them. Eventually, she decides it's time for something REALLY big and leads her growing congregation to a local crackden/gang hideout, calling out the criminals inside. Of course, this time Superman is busy fighting some energy monster in Antarctica and though he can hear her calling him, he can't leave the fight to help her. In the end, her shooting galvanizes the neighborhood residents into getting themselves organized and pushing the dealers, etc off the streets. Maybe people really ARE better off without Superman to solve their problems?... Though again, Energy Monster.
  • Than again, modern versions of the Legion of Super-Heroes cite Superman as their inspiration, with the recent animated portrayals saying he showed that humans can work together with alien races. So in the grand scheme of things Superman could be, at least, a subversion.
  • Superman: Red Son gives Superman the job of Stalin's replacement. He comes to rescue us from famine and want, but takes our free will with it. Ironically Lex Luther leads a Utopia after defeating Superman.
  • Incidentally, reason number 3 above was the original justification for why Superman didn't get sent into Germany to deal with the Nazis personally. Sure he could've ended World War II overnight, but it'd be a bit depressing for readers to see Superman win the war in one night...only to wake up the next day to find the war still going on. DC came up with the Spear of Destiny excuse in the 70s as an in-universe justification.
  • Addressed by the movie Batman Begins, where Bruce's parents were doing just that, but failed because of the influence of the mob, leading Bruce to the conclusion that social and economic reform wouldn't be enough to break the stranglehold of organized crime.
  • Averted in the Elseworlds mini-series "JLA: Destiny" where Thomas Wayne, the sole family survivior, uses his riches and resources to organize a Justice League of Gotham. As a result, Gotham City is the safest city in America (and its implied that the GCPD is a decent police force). Furthermore, Thomas Wayne finances Jor-El's research into extraplanetary mining.
  • Explored briefly in one of the recent comic arcs: Bruce learns that Kord Industries, which he had been using to develop his equipment, was bought out by European investors who fired Bruce from the board of directors. Bruce explained to Alfred that while he has enough supplies for a while, it means that the equipment stored at Kord will either be released in the public sector, or kept in the hands of government agencies and whatever less-than-noble person who can get access. There's a good reason that Batman doesn't put his stuff out for sale.

  • Actually, Alan Moore didn't mean for "The Killing Joke" to occur in regular DC Universe, or at least he suggested that Barbara Gordon would regain her mobility. Nevertheless, he was overruled by the powers that be at DC Comics.
  • Booster Gold once went back in time on numerous occasions to prevent the Joker from crippling Barbara Gordon. Every time he failed because Barbara getting crippled was fixed in the timestream.
  • Why can't the numerous DC Universe cures be made available to the public?
  • There's also that some cures that have worked for other characters (Ravan, Gangbuster, etc.) won't work on her, as her spinal damage was more extensive than theirs. Some other possible cures, such as Green Lantern rings, have been retconned to be only temporary in effect.
  • The real reason for it is because it would be a slap to the face for the handicapped everywhere, implying "you can't save the world if your legs don't work." Plus she's been Oracle longer than she's been Batgirl; it would be like Dick going back to being Robin.
  • Some of the stories verged on the ridiculous. In JLA the Martian Manhunter remarks "The League is capable of building a watchtower on the moon, surely we could engineer a prosthesis for your legs" and Oracle declines on the grounds that she's "worked hard to treat what happened to me as an opportunity, not a handicap". Okay, fair enough. But she also says she misses her mobility "more than words can express" and that she "dream[s] of the medical breakthroughs that might someday restore it." So, what, a JLA-engineered prosthetic device doesn't count as a "medical breakthrough"?
    • One wonders how Barbra would react if she learns that some of those public servants she doesn't want to dishonor actually would accept the special treatment she's been turning down, or if the real reason she's been turning it down is a suppressed fear of Joker killing her so she'd "stay down this time".
    • As if someone like the Punisher or Wild Carde couldn't take care of the Joker.
    • I think she means "medical breakthroughs you don't need access to alien technology to get and access to Bruce Wayne's bank account to afford." In other words, when the typical injured veteran's health insurance covers it, she'll be next in line. (That's her claim, at least - plenty of people don't make use of available medical technology because they think it makes them look weak or because their self-image revolves around their condition; look at how many deaf people refuse to get hearing aids.)
  • Ultimately it sounds like Ms. Gordon, for all her amazing intellect, has bought fully into the Perfect Solution Fallacy in this case.

  • Robinson's series ended with Ted Knight having finished all the research necessary to use his cosmic energy powerplants for commercial applications just before he died, and leaving all his notes with his son Jack with instructions to license the patents. Predictably, every writer since in the DCU has completely forgotten this ever happened.
  • In another story, when Jack Knight time-travels to the 31st century, he learns from the future Starboy that Ted's cosmic power sources are what enabled mankind to colonize other planets.
  • Somewhat justified with the original Starman (Ted Knight) who helped the US government develop the Atom Bomb. After this, Ted spent a number of years in a mental institution and was understandably quite hesitant about sharing anymore of his knowledge with the public.

  • As in Justice League The New Frontier, in which Ray's technology is useful precisely because shrinking the Centre until it explodes is the only option left. Even if someone has to explain it to Dr. Will Magnus, who's apparently not smart enough to figure it out.
  • However, Arnold Cray (Atom II from Suicide Squad) and Jean Loring were later able to successfully shrink themselves with the Atom's technology
  • In the Power Of The Atom series Ray Palmer gained access to shrinking technology of a 6-inch tall alien race he lived among with, however he never bothered to make practical use of the technology.

  • Although, such a body most of been a big hindrance in embracing his lover Monsieur Mallah. You don't want to burn your lover while hugging him.

03:03:53 PM Feb 2nd 2011

  • Contrast to Lex, who sells such cures in a Reed manner (not that Reed would do that kind of thing, mind you).
  • But Reed still hasn't bothered to duplicate Dr. Doom's healing machine.

With regard to the trope's namesake, in recent years Marvel have attempted to justify Reed Richards by making it a matter of cost: Reed invents machines and solutions too costly to recreate. Mr. Fantastic is only smart enough to build a flying car, but not quite smart enough (or too busy) to make it run on anything less complicated than comet gas or the pain of damned souls or whatever. Another frequent justification is that Reed could invent some of this stuff, but his mind works at such an advanced level that no one else would fully understand the equations and formulas he comes up with (or even comprehend them at all), so it would be near-impossible — or even dangerous — for anyone else to duplicate it anyway (which in turn raises questions of why intermediate technology couldn't be developed). Finally, with respect to the example given in the header: Cancer is a generic category of diseases, not one disease with a single cause. There are a stupefying array of different types of cancer, with an even more stupefying number of separate causes. Even if a genius like Reed Richards spent every waking hour of the rest of his life trying to do so, he couldn't possibly cure them all.
  • Lampshaded directly in volume 3 of the Incredible Hulk, when Banner was diagnosed with ALS. Reed was one of the people Banner contacted, and Reed flat-out said that while he could travel through time, etc, etc, he could not cure ALS. Fortunately for Banner, it turned out the Leader could. At the end of the issue where he was cured, Banner broke the Fourth Wall to explicitly state the cure was fictional, followed by a plea for donations to help find a cure.
  • The Ultimate Reed Richards is even smarter, and consequently more useless. When he fights the Ultimate Sub-Mariner, he's invented a helmet that turns his every thought into concrete reality (yet still manages to lose!). Surely, even a scrap of such a device's technology could be put to immeasurable practical use.
    • The implicit rationale for this specific story is provided when Reed has to draw a massive amount of power from the city grid to power his holograms.
    • The rationale/Hand Wave behind this is that everything he does is financed by the army, and most of his discoveries are consequently classified or reserved solely for their use, and he's mostly only allowed to work on projects that they request (or his own pet projects like holographic baby versions of Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America). Tony Stark, on the other hand, apparently invented the mp3, and is presumably funding lots of research on cancer, since he has an inoperable brain tumor.
    • In the Ultimate Marvel Team-Up series (most of which has been rendered discontinuity), it was stated that Reed Richards was responsible for numerous real-life inventions, one of them being the joystick.
  • In a recent plotline, Doom travels back in time to stop Reed from changing the world. The future-Four follow him, and Doom is forced to admit that the future is a paradise, and the only reason he wants to stop Reed is so that he can do it. Reed sends him to a alternate universe where all the heroes are dead, leaving future-Doom as the only superpowered being.
  • Hand Waved somewhat during the Mark Waid run on Fantastic Four, when one issue revealed that Reed does indeed make money from some of his patents... by taking money from other corporations to delay releasing advanced products that would revolutionize whole industries overnight and likely destroy the world economy by putting millions out of work. For instance, he takes money from Sony not to release a portable super-computer he has developed, which would presumably pose a significant risk to Sony's current market share and operational procedures (and those of other computer manufacturers as well). He presumably does this with other advanced technologies, but it is not specified which ones; a later issue mentions him selling a hypersonic cure for acne to Revlon. The technology's there, but Reed's use of it is about as judicious as a tight-rope walker.
  • Reed also sells some of his technology to prisons to help confine superhuman prisoners.
  • Also explored in 4 #1 where the Fantastic Four goes bankrupt. The Thing looks for a job as a construction worker. One construction foreman turns Thing down saying that the Thing's super-strength would do the work of too many workers. Thus, the foreman would have to lay off a good deal of the workforce if the Thing was hired.
  • Lately, as part of his rationalization of supporting the Registration side during Civil War, we learn that Reed has developed psychohistory, the future-predicting science from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. He may not be releasing his amazing technologies because he is actively guiding the future of humanity, and his inventions might end up killing us all.
    • However, the reliability of Reed's version of Psychohistory is dubious when one notes that he seemingly failed to predict the Skrull invasion or that the Initiative would eventually fall under the control of super-villains resulting in massive collateral damage in both cases.
    • It doesn't have to be an "all or nothing process" as there are numerous "low-tech" (by Reed Richards standards) that Reed could easily patent without harming anyone (i.e. liquid band-aids).
  • There was also the time where he helped his ex-girlfriend build an alternate, utopian planet. He ended up giving it to the people of a dystopian future who had come back in time to kill him to prevent him from causing said future in the first place. Trillions of dollars, gone.
  • A possible bit of Fridge Brilliance at play. The technology the average person uses in early Fantastic Four comics is clearly from the sixties. The technology from current issues is, obviously, current. But in-universe, all the Fantastic Four’s adventures have taken place in the last ten years. As a result, the Marvel Universe advances at about four times the speed our world does. Maybe Reed isn’t so useless… Course this doesn’t explain the year they think it is or the pop-culture references, Daddy-oh.
    • A good example is when the Fantastic Four debuted in 1961, they were trying to be the first humans to publicly land on the moon. In 1969, when humans landed on the moon in real life, only two years had passed in the Marvel Universe since the Fantastic Four's debut. Readers could say that Reed Richards helped the Marvel Universe NASA land on the moon 6 years earlier than the real world (1963).

    • Doom uses it for his nation only, when he takes over the world he tends to use all his tech to fix the world's problems.

    • .... If Dr. Doom has a ray gun that totally cures burn-victims, why doesn't he just use it to fix his face?
      • Because Dr. Doom considered himself "too beautiful for humanity"
      • More seriously, the ray gun has to be used within a certain period of time of the injury, and Doom didn't invent it until years after his face was fried.
      • Dr. Doom has had plenty of other opportunities to fix his face, such as the time when he possessed the Silver Surfer's power.
      • Ah, but on a more psychological level, Doom needs his disfigurement as a symbol for his hatred (and jealousy) of Richards, which drives his ambition, which in turn drives his genius.
      • He did fix it, when he stole the power of the Beyonder. This tips off the heroes that for all of Doom's newfound "I am beyond my humanity and villainy" talk, it wasn't really true; if he was, he wouldn't have cared about his face. When the Beyonder takes his power back, his face reverts to normal.

    • The supposed rationale suggested as to why Marvel 616 Reed Richards has not imitated his Big Town counterpart is that people would not accept change so sudden. However, that doesn't explain why Reed could be more careful in the rate in which he released his inventions. Be glad that Thomas Edison didn't let this barrier hinder him.
      • Contrary to popular belief, Edison was a total dick who barely did anything besides stealing.
  • A Running Gag in the 80s John Byrne run was that various characters would ask Reed why he hasn't cured cancer/created a super cleanser/perfected cold fusion/etc. His usual response was "What makes you think I haven't tried," followed by a short burst of technobabble explaining why he hadn't succeeded.
    • There is technology higher than the real world's available in the Marvel Universe- everything from ray guns to cybernetics to jet packs and more; it's just too expensive for the average person. This is the very reason for the existence of companies such as Tony "Iron Man" Stark's, which provides wealthy organizations like SHIELD with their equipment. Sometimes it even filters down to less rich people, for example if stolen. Of course, why the process for making it all cheaper hasn't been invented is a good question.
      • A process for making all this super-tech was apparently achieved in the Fantastic Four: Bigtown mini-series.
      • One possible reason why a lot of this hasn't been made cheaper and more widely available is possibly the same reason that, in Real Life, not everyone has their own private jet or personal X-ray machine; some things, even after all the technological advancements in these various fields over the years, simply remain pretty damn expensive for most people.
    • Richards' second, less prominent archenemy, the Wizard, has variously claimed he could "reverse global warming if I felt like it" and that he discovered how to achieve perpetual motion long ago, but he still operates as one of the Hood's goons. Hell, before that the best he could manage was "successful businessman" and "Internet celebrity".
      • Granted, in the Fall of The Hulks he has shown that he isn't as useless as part of the Intelligencia.
        • Could somebody please explain how the Wizard has been useful as a member of the Intelligenicia.
          • He's useful to the villains; he's still useless to the general public. However, the Intelligenicia's overall goal is to not be useless. They want to take over the world and start solving all of its problems, using their combined genius, and the knowledge from people such as Bruce Banner, Dr. Doom, and Reed Richards. That's right, their nefarious plot is to make Reed Richards useful.

    • Given that Captain Marvel's nega-bands fought held his cancer at bay for years, one wonders if the superheroes tried to adapt such technology for human medical applications.
      • Of course, such application would take years of clinical testing.
    • In a What If based on this story, Mar-Vell got his cure. And it created a contagious form of cancer that nearly wiped out humanity. And the Kree, and the Skrulls, ending their war.

    • Back when a good writer (Christopher Priest) was on the book, Wakanda only became super-advanced after Ulysses Klaw attacked Wakanda, killing hundreds, including King T'Chaka. The actual advancing was done by sending children to study in Europe and the U.S. and taking what they learned back home (kinda like what Japan and China did). It didn't hurt that the new King, young T'Challa (aka The Black Panther), was a genius up there with Reed Richard and Dr. Doom, and had a key role in making the country a technological marvel. This was later retconned to say that Wakanda had always been thousands of years more advanced than every other country, ever since the ice ages, and T'Challa actually hasn't invented anything, he just inherited lots of cool toys. Presumably someone thought it was a good idea to retcon away the title character's greatest accomplishment, modernizing a country into a world power, in order to have him inherit a utopia instead.
      • Averted with the House Of M version of the Black Panther, who turned a united Sub-Saharan Africa into one of the world's leading economic powerhouses.
        • But the other House Of M superheroes had to be worse than useless and undo the House of M reality, thus reverting Sub-Saharan Africa to a starving basketcase once again.
        • But those same superheroes undid Apocalypse conquering and enslaving the inhabitants of North Africa.
          • House of M was just as screwed up as regular Marvel Earth. Things were good under Storm, but the rest of the world had normal human persecuted by mutants, Apocalypse enslaving North Africa, and generally the same problems the regular MU has.

03:04:31 PM Feb 2nd 2011

  • Incorrect. Thor was removed from existence after the Ragnarok cycle destroyed Asgard for the umpteenth time. There was a storyline that showed the downside of Thor trying to solve everyone's problems, but this was subjected to an Author's Saving Throw involving time travel.

  • In the early Ditko-era comics Spidey actually did try to sell his webbing formula to an adhesive company. They didn't buy it because his webbing only lasts for an hour before dissolving, making it virtually useless as an adhesive much less as a building material. Also, Spider-Man knew that he could modify the webbing to better suit their purpose, but it would cost him a lot of money he didn't have.
    • Really? They couldn't see any potential profits in a super strong, super tough and super light adhesive that safely disappears on its own after an hour? Or they at least couldn't even consider buying the original formula and having the R&D department try to make a longer lasting version? For that matter, what's stopping Peter from getting a grant?
  • Indeed, Peter's efforts to profit from his scientific creations were frequently thwarted by his desire to keep his Secret Identity. Once, he did find a buyer for his web formula but the deal fell through when they asked who to make the check out to and Peter realized he couldn't cash a check made out to Spider-Man. And even ignoring the negative opinion the general public has of Spider-Man thanks to The Daily Bugle and J. Jonah Jameson's editorials, no respectable company would hand Spider-Man a suitcase full of money as payment for his web formula nor would the government allow him to anonymously apply for the patents required to profit off of his creation.
    • If he'd only been a lawyer or banker, he'd know how; Write a cheque out to anyone he knows (say JJJ) and cash it at the bank (That is, ask for cash out.) Even better, have it in Tony Stark's name, and then it's completely understandable why a super rich man would pay one of his friends with a cheque for a business deal which Spidey can convert to cash; after all, that's one of the main points of cheques!
      • Two words (and a definition): Bearer Bonds (A financial device for major financial transactions where anyone who's holding one can cash it out. To jog your memory... Millions of dollars worth were what the bad guys were really after in the first Die Hard movie.)
  • One issue of Marvel Team-Up with Spider-Man and Wonder Man involved a businessman who wanted to get a sample of Spider-Man's web formula in order to make better bullet-proof vests. The businessman hires the Mauler to steal some of Spider-Man's web formula but fails.
    • That same issue revealed that Wonder Man uses his super-endurance powers to test out bullet-proof vests for the same company.
    • Of course, that offers no reason why Peter Parker couldn't have done it himself, without even mentioning Spiderman. Even if you argue that it would have been suspicious that he'd developed it on his own, since he had access to university chemical research facilities, it's difficult to believe he couldn't have "discovered" it there.
    • Furthermore, when Peter Parker worked for Tony Stark, there was no reason why it wouldn't be hard to believe that Parker "discovered" it there.
      • Stark's competitors finds out, they try to find the man who "discovered" it. And Parker gets into the wonderful world that is corporate warfare.
      • What Peter should do is say that he scraped up some of Spider-Man's webbing left behind after a fight, and got it to the university lab and reverse-engineered it before it dissolved. Since Spider-Man has never patented it (and is obviously never going to show up with a lawyer to dispute the patent), he could then patent it himself, even though he obviously didn't invent it. Hell, J. Jonah Jameson would lend Peter the money to pay the patent attorney if he thought he was helping Peter rip off Spider-Man.
        • US patent law is quite clear that only the inventor can patent something. That said, Peter could write up his web-brewing formula, say that he'd figured it out from reverse-engineering a sample of Spidey's webbing, and patent the chemical process in his own name (as you say, Spidey isn't going to protest that he came up with the same method first).
        • Aren't we overcomplicating things here? Can't Peter claim that he invented the webbing formula and then gave it to Spider-Man to use in crime fighting? It will even be truth From a Certain Point of View. After all he's a science prodigy, it wouldn't be too implausible.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man has been a bit more liberal with his scientific knowledge than his Earth-616 counterpart. He shared his DNA with Dr. Curt Connors who wanted to understand the self-replicating behavior of the strands. However, this led to the creation of Carnage, which killed Gwen Stacey, making Parker a lot more hesitant to share his powers with scientists.
    • The movie also kind of invokes this - Spiderman's web slinging skills is linked to his DNA.

  • However, in one issue of the original Silver Surfer series (1968) NASA did try to get Surfer to help them with their space technology. Whether or not Surfer helped them was not explained.

  • When the Hulk's friend Jim Wilson was in his last bout with AIDS, Jim asked the Hulk for a blood transfusion. The Hulk refused, saying that he didn't want to risk turning Jim into a rampaging monster.

  • However, despite what the original version of this entry claimed, that did show Magneto providing some assistance, as well as showing various super-heroes engaged in rescue work. It's a controversial story on a number of levels ...
    • Still, the heroes and villains were only using a tiny fraction of their powers to clean up the wreckage.
  • Screw the cleanup, a dozen or so heroes, several of which live and/or operate in New York and easily have the power to stop the plane, fail to do anything. Even assuming they somehow all missed the first WTC crash, there was almost a full half-hour between that and the second. Did they all just sit around with their thumbs up their bums?
    • A half an hour where, at the time, nobody was really sure what, exactly, was going on. Almost a decade later, with the aftermath in our minds, it's hard to remember how utterly preposterous the idea that someone would try and do something like that seemed before it had actually happened. Not too long ago on the anniversary a cable news station was showing the original minute-to-minute news footage from the day of, and up until the 2nd plane hit, the entire coverage was basically "A tragic accident, a plane has hit the north tower of the World Trade Center".
    • The problem is, at least some of those superheroes (consider how many superhero teams live in NYC) should have shown up at the WTC after the first plane, to help do disaster relief, move wreckage, put out the fire, etc. And so they'd have been right there when the second plane made its approach. And heroes in the MU deal with much worse events frequently, such as any given appearance of Galactacus.
  • Examples of Reed Richards being useful or trying to be useful.

    • On the other hand, that story was So Bad, It's Horrible. An electrical transformer vaporizing Wolverine, really?
    • This very idea was fulfilled in another alternate universe "Last Avengers Story". The government used superheroes to capture supervillains and then executed them. After that most heroes retired and their replacement had stagnated without strong enemies until Kang killed them.

    • Similar to the inconsistency of the first Marvel 2099 line where a common crime was organ theft. However, at least one issue mentioned that cloned organ transplantations were available to the public, thus rendering organ theft redundant.

    • Similar to how the Marvel and DC Universe have handled the history of European-Native American conflicts. For example there was this one runaway band of Incas who gained access to Deviant technology (centuries ahead of the Conquistadors) and there was a Native American Specter who went around killing malicious white settlers during the American Civil War. Yet this seemed to have no impact on Native Americans resisting white conquest.

03:06:20 PM Feb 2nd 2011


  • Averted in Shin Mazinger. Kouji's grandpa, a scientist, has a huge number of patents and uses the money to fund even more research. He's also made major breakthroughs in robotics and renewable energy.
    • Similarly, Professor Saotome in Getter Robo was planning on using the Getter machines for space exploration before the defense of the planet took a forefront.
  • Averted in Baccano!!, where some of the remaining alchemists use their pseudoscientific knowledge for mundane, semi-commercial (although rarely legal) purposes. For example, the Runorata mafia has an one on their payroll for the purposes of synthesizing new drugs for release on the black market.
  • Another aversion in GunslingerGirl, where one of the government's justifications for all the experiments, brainwashing, cybernetics, and other unpleasantness to which the main characters are subjected is advancing medical science. But it should be noted that "We're saving lives by advancing medicine" is a rationalization after the fact; this is a government agency that believes "Terrorists are evil, so it's okay to turn little girls into short-lived cyborgs to kill them in very nasty ways".

  • The DCU stories set during World War Two explained why the superheroes didn't just Blitzkrieg into Berlin and end the war: Adolf Hitler had acquired the Spear of Destiny, which he could use to control any superpowered being that entered the boundaries of the Reich. (The same was true of Imperial Japan and the Holy Grail). Later, Hitler's belief in the Spear's power was discussed in an episode of Justice League Unlimited.
  • The Justice Society was unable to stop the attack on Pearl Harbor because they had be transported to another dimension by an Axis sorcerer during the attack.
    • However, no convincing reason has been given as to why the Justice Society was unable and/or unwilling to stop the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe.
    • In the comics that were published during the early days of World War II, it was not uncommon to see superheroes intervening in, if not outright stopping, conflicts that involved thinly veiled Nazi proxies. The story where Superman brings Hitler and Mussolini to justice is the most famous example of this trend. This changed when United States actually entered the conflict - many non-powered and low-powered heroes continued to fight the Nazis on the front lines, while the more powerful superheroes focused their efforts on fighting Nazi schemes at home. As stated above, the real reason for this was the writers didn't want to trivialize the war by having their imaginary heroes solve it in days, while thousands of real troops were dying. When the tide of war turned in the Allies' favor, the writers became more open to having more powerful heroes participate in battles, but even then, the heroes weren't allowed to completely defeat the Axis forces - The Real Heroes would see to that.

  • Examples of where the DC Universe has avoided this trope and then, usually reversed it:
    • From 2000 to 2004, Metropolis was upgraded to Brainiac technology.
    • Lex Luthor was President of the United States from 2001 to 2005.
    • San Diego was submerged underwater, only to return to the surface in 52: World War III.
    • Montevideo, Uruguay was obliterated in a nuclear attack during the DC: One Million mini-series. The ruins were then turned into a world heritage site.
    • The current Dr. Mid-Nite is able one of the three people in the world who can perform the world's most complicated surgical procedure (forgot the name), with 100% accuracy. He also lends his skills into providing free medical care for the poor.
      • According to this it's called a "pancreaticoduodenectomy" or the Whipple procedure.

  • Subverted with Anthro the Cave Boy whose exploits led humanity out of the caves and to establish civilization.

  • The Elite, a team of super-powered anti-heroes, were tying of Superman going easy on the bad guys. The Elite sought to eliminate both supervillain and regular human crime (sans Superman's morality) until they were defeated in combat by Superman.

  • Superman did achieve a utopiaSuperman: Red Son... A communist utopia at that.

  • And on the non-canon side, the premise of Steve Engelhart's Fantastic Four: Big Town is basically "What If Reed Richards wasn't useless?"

  • Averted in the comic Invincible Iron Man v4 05, where Tony Stark buys a company that sells soft drinks solely because they have vending machines everywhere in Africa and he wants to use them to sell Retrovirals and later the AIDS vaccine.
    • In both the comic books and movie, Tony Stark has tried to convert Stark International from a defense manufacturer to a biomedical company. However, he usually gets thwarted by SHIELD or his board of directors.
    • In Iron Man 237, it was revealed that Tony Stark originally developed prototype outer space colonies. However, AIM infected the colonies with biological weaponry. Cleanup of the colonies was deemed cost-prohibitive.
    • And now, in Invincible Iron man #25, Tony is planning to sell his repulsor tech to people as a means of clean, green energy. How long do people really think THIS will last?

  • Averted by The Leader, of all people. He even invented a machine that can revive the dead.
    • The Hulkless Bruce Banner has also shown he's far from useless. Among other things, he's produced an Old Power taser, personal and extendable forcefields, and a teleporter reverse-engineered from the Leader's tech (with a pocket variant allowing Bruce to take things from his lab by reaching into his bag).
    • The Hulk's future malevolent version, the Maestro, was far from useless. Living in a nuclear wasteland, the Maestro constructed a wall that shielded his city from nuclear radiation and he also helped boost soil fertility in farmland outside his city. Although, these tasks were mainly done to breed women for his harem.

  • May possibly be averted in Iron Man. In the one issue, Tony Stark is attempting to build a new business from the ground up, by making the power cells for his armor available to the public. No doubt the ramifications of this plan will be explored in future issues.
    • With Tony's luck, odds are 99 to 1 that its gonna go hideously pear-shaped. Still, you have to give the man credit, he does try.

  • Subverted in Marvel's Dark Reign: The List #1: Hawkeye asks the other Avengers "if you could go back in time and kill Hitler, wouldn't you?", to which Bucky Barnes/Captain America answers: "I did."
  • Averted in "What If The Fantastic Four Had No Superpowers?" where the cosmic ray storm does not sabotage Reed Richards space exploration. As a result, Earth became an interstellar civilization.

  • Marvel Comics's New Universe, published in the late 1980s, was possibly one of the first aversions, including such things as military use of supers and the complete and utter (accidental) destruction of Pittsburgh by a "hero" who was trying to get rid of his own powers. Interestingly, though, it started out as "The World Outside Your Window", trying to be more like the real world than the established universes.
  • This trope was completely averted in the graphic novel Watchmen, where superheroes have been changing history for 24 years before the story starts. The plot revolves around the big changes (like America winning the Vietnam War, and Nixon halfway through his fifth term as President in 1986, electric cars), but there are literally hundreds of smaller and more subtle ones (prevalence of pirate comics), some of them only found hidden in the background of a single panel.
    • The small changes already start from the moment the Minutemen are formed in 1939; one of the more obvious early examples is how the Comics Code never existed in the Watchmen universe thanks to the government siding with the comics industry during the moral panic of the mid-fifties, which was a result of the government promoting superheroes at the time. In all, Watchmen has taken averting this trope so far that it had already become true Alternate History even before Doctor Manhattan started changing the world.

03:07:42 PM Feb 2nd 2011

  • Another subversion in yet another out-of-mainstream examination of the comic book hero: in the Squadron Supreme miniseries, resident genius Tom Thumb devises and sells effective personal force shields, "rehabilitation" (read "brainwashing") devices, limited-lethality stunning weapons and various other amazing devices as part of the "Utopia Project" wherein he and his fellow Supremes try to rescue a post-apocalyptic Earth and create an ideal society. He was unable to find a cure for the cancer that was killing him, however, so instead he developed a form of suspended animation through which the terminally ill could be kept indefinitely until a cure is found. In the end, the Squadron realizes that all of these devices could prove horrifying in the wrong hands - the infrastructure created with them can only do good as long as good people are in charge, and they have no way of knowing that the coming generations will use them wisely.
    • Not only could the technology fall into the wrong hands, some of the Squadron members actually did abuse the technology, as when Golden Archer used the behavior modification machine to make his girlfriend fall madly in love with him.
    • However, the Squadron Supreme's efforts did lead to some very beneficial results, such as rebooting the US economy, after they wrecked while serving as mind-controlled minions for the Overmind, and creating job-placement programs for criminals reformed with the behavior-modification machine (which the Squadron could probably create a decent job-placement agency in absence of the behavior modification machine).
  • Yet another aversion, the comic Invincible has a character, Atom Eve, who was initially a part of a teenager superhero team, but later realize that it would be better to use her matter transmutation power in a more practical way, such as helping the people suffering from famine in Africa by turning their drought-ridden land into fertile fields.
  • Also averted in the Wild Cards Shared Universe novels, where the existence of Xenovirus Takis-A victims (especially the grotesquely deformed "jokers" - superpowered "aces" actually have less of an impact) radically alters the course of history in a variety of ways (but not quite to the point of being unrecognizable). On the other hand, the work of "Mechanic" type supers generally can't be duplicated by others, and are sometimes "dummy devices" powered by their creators.
  • Homage Comics' "Ultra" had the Cowgirl using her powers to build canals in Africa. On the other hand, the "fighting bad guys" aspect was less effective, as the heroes had to follow agency protocols.
  • Averted in the comic The Boys, where the government employs a group specifically to keep the "capes" in line. Of course, Garth Ennis is a bloody-minded bastard and the supers get up to all kinds of mischief anyway.
    • The Boys is a weird one, as it turns out that superheroes really are useless. When The Seven try to avert the comics' version of 9/11, they fuck it up catastrophically. The message, of course, being that the military and other trained rescue organizations are the real heroes.
  • Completely Averted in Miracleman by Alan Moore and then Neil Gaiman: After defeating the big bad, the super heroes do take over the world and make it a Utopia.

  • Subverted in Rising Stars. After a considerable amount of fighting, the people with superpowers (Specials) ask themselves what their powers are for, and use them to change the world for the better: end drug trade, defeat organized crime, destroy nuclear weapons and so on. One Special, whose power is super-intelligence, indeed creates the cure for cancer, among many other things.
  • Subverted in, of all places, in the Hellraiser comic Pinhead vs. Marshal Law: Law in Hell, where a bunch of Captain Ersatz superheroes wind up inside Pinhead's memories of World War One. Their attempts to help fail spectacularly, with things like the guy in power armor sinking in the mud and the guy with eye beams choking on poison gas, while the hero made of rock who can shrug off bullets gets blown apart by much heavier artillery.
    Pinhead: Those idiots! What do they think they can achieve in a real war.

  • Completely averted in the America's Best Comics line, where the superheroes share their advances with the public. One of the numerous applications is widespread application of hover cars.

  • In the Supreme Power universe, back when Hyperion worked for the US government, he used his powers to diffuse the North Korean nuclear arms crisis of the 1990's.


  • Subverted in the Ultimate Marvel Universe:
    • In the first Ultimates maxi-series, it was revealed that NASA was developed from Skrull technology left over from World War II.
    • Captain Marvel used his scientific knowledge to help develop NASA's Asis engine, which theoretically makes possible for humans to engage in interstellar transportation within a human lifespan).
    • Hand-waved in Mark Millar's Ultimate X-Men, it was stated that Beast was researching cheaper cures for developing world diseases. This statement was all too conveniently ignored in all future issues.
  • Before Professor X and Magneto founded the X-Men, they offered their mutants to help government/industry solve numerous problems (i.e. the energy crisis, ending world hunger etc.). Government/industry declines the offer, not wanting to upset the status quo.
  • In Ultimate Fantastic Four, the Thing traveled back in time to prevent Ultimate Reed Richards' teleportation experiment (which created the Ultimate Fantastic Four) from being sabotaged. As a result, Reed succeeds in making Earth an interstellar civilization. However, Earth eventually gets decimated by the Skrulls, leading Ben Grimm to go back in time again to make sure that the teleportation experiment was sabotaged.
  • Averted with the Ultimate Vision, who has transformed numerous hunting-gathering/subsistence farming alien civilizations into technological powerhouses powerful enough to snuff out suns. She did this to help them defeat Gah-Lak-Tus, only to see the civilizations perish.
    • Her efforts to turn Earth into a major technological experiment failed (although Earth did defeat Gah-lak-tus). Her efforts to help humanity led to the creation of the Ultimate Universe Modok along with SHIELD conducting dangerous experiments with the Gah-lak-tus technology.


  • The whole Wildstorm Universe is basically an exception to this trope.
  • In Wildcats 3.0, the leader of the eponymous superhero team sought to use the advanced extra-terrestrial technology that belonged to his creators to change the world. The limitless batteries alone caused quite a stir.
  • Deconstructed in Planetary. The world is run by a secret cabal headed by a thinly veiled version of the Fantastic Four, and the Reed analog purposely keeps their discoveries and inventions from the world (and purposefully seek and confiscate/cover up the technology, magic and similar of others) for personal gain and to keep humanity weak in preparation for a highly advanced alien race to take it over. Planetary itself was founded because this really pissed certain other beings, like the Fourth Man, off, and is dedicated to excavating as much weirdness, lost technology and similar as possible with the aim of sharing it with humanity.
  • Examined by Warren Ellis in the "Change or Die" storyline of Stormwatch, in which The Changers(a team of Captain Ersatz superhumans) attempt to radically change the world with their trademark abilities; Superman The High shares his ideas on society developed over several decades with his super-brain, Doctor Strange The Doctor Breaks the Masquerade by teaching everyone magic, Iron Man The Engineer creates an oasis of Nanomachines in Nevada capable of producing food, energy, medicine, and nearly anything else people would need without limit, Deadman The Eidolon proves to the world that death is Cessation of Existence(meaning they should put more effort into living better lives  *), Zatanna(?) Wish forcibly declassifies government secrets such as cancer cures, Jet Packs, Alien Abductions, etc. Of course, The Government Stormwatch's Big Bad Boss, Henry Bendix, sends assassins to kill them all, and hits the place with a chemical weapon to destroy the nanotech - because he wants to change the world his way, and that hippie crap's going to get in the way. And members of both sides try to make sure Jenny Sparks never hears a word about this, because she might either join the Changers or talk her old friend The High down. The Aesop: Reed Richards is Useless because he doesn't want to be executed, and because not even his friends agree on exactly what changing the world means.
  • Warren Ellis and his successors examined the trope further with Stormwatch's successor, The Authority, which was Jenny Sparks' attempt to fill the shoes of both a disbanded Stormwatch and The High's group. At the end of the first story arc, after defeating a teleporting clone army of Flying Bricks from the island of Gamora, team leader Jenny Sparks states that the Authority is going to present Gamora's captured tissue replication and teleportation devices to UN inspectors. She hopes this will pressure the inspectors to make the technology available to the public after 5-10 years of testing. Later, Mark Millar's "The Nativity" arc explicitly asks the question "Why do super-people never go after the real bastards?" The Authority, like the Stormwatch superhumans, did devote their time to solving the problems of humanity; The Engineer in particular. She developed a cure for a certain strain of leukemia and spent her spare time developing renewable energy. Jack Hawksmoor led his endorsements to companies who promised to pay their workers a decent wage. The Authority are also pretty thorough about addressing the crimes perpetrated by humans rather than superhumans... such as totalitarian regimes. However, this backfires: they are accused of presenting "unfair competition" for medical and industrial companies, and blamed for mass redundancies. Moreover, after the "Coup D'Etat" storyline The Authority become the unelected government of the USA. In the process, the Authority unintentionally causes mass civilian casualties in fighting the armed resistance. Furthermore, the Authority unsuccessfully tries to legalize hemp production and require all auto engines to run on bio-diesel by the end of the year. Amidst these failures, the Authority steps down as unelected rulers of the United States.
    • The Authority also once told Earth that not only would they not fix a space-time continuum rupture caused by the G7 governments (created in an attempt by the G7 governments to usurp the Authority) but they would also stop any other superheroes from intervening. In the end, regular humanity ended up saving the day.
    • In the Authority: Revolution maxi-series, the Palestinian successor to the Doctor used his powers to inspire an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. He also causes the Democrats and Republicans to agree on "something obvious"
    • Subverted with Jenny Sparks, whose presence was a huge influence on the development of the 20th century (as were her predecessors on previous centuries). The Doctor (of the Authority), says that Einstein, Picassco, and other notable figures all combined together do not come close to the influence that Jenny Sparks had.
  • Century child Gaia Rothstein of the 21st century was said to have the power to reverse global warming or make famine history, had such attempts subverted by the apocalyptic destruction of World's End. As a result, Gaia sought refuge by bonding herself with the planet Earth.
  • In their downtime, The Authority likes to go to alternate universes and kill their Hitlers.
  • Amidst the apocalyptic destruction of World's End, Mr. Majestic has used his superpowers and alien science to convert Hawaii into a place with functional infrastructure and no crime. Furthermore, the plant-manipulative post-human known as Tumbleweed uses his power to provide free fruit to the starving residents of Nevada.
  • Prior to World's End, teleportation to any part of the world was available to the public.

11:50:37 AM Jun 14th 2012
I quote Vampire Buddha on Marvel's 2099 universe: "Similar to the inconsistency of the first Marvel 2099 line where a common crime was organ theft. However, at least one issue mentioned that cloned organ transplantations were available to the public, thus rendering organ theft redundant."

You did read all the other 2099 issues, right? The 2099 universe was a place where class disparity was enormous. You were either rich and privileged, middle class and barely scraping by however you could or poor and living on the streets. Sure, there are cloned organ transplants. How much do those co$t, though? Could the middle class or the poor afford them? If not, organ stealing it is, then.
03:59:16 AM Apr 25th 2010
edited by VampireBuddha
Removed this enormous pile of natter from the Harry Potter section.

  • Wizards seem to be extremely outnumbered by the muggles. Assuming that Harry's class size was average — meaning about 5 boys and 5 girls in each year per House — there aren't even 300 students at Hogwarts. While it has been implied that there may be other wizarding schools in the UK — Hagrid calling it the best implies there are some that aren't the best, after all, and Harry had his name on the list from birth, meaning some don't have their name on the list. Logic says they have to go someplace — they probably aren't the size of Hogwarts as they were never mentioned. In 2007, the UK had over 60 million residents; if you take Hogwarts stats, then you have about 40 wizards at each consecutive age (40 15-year-olds, 40 16-year-olds, etc). Even if you assume these numbers stand for all ages (considering it is the wizarding world, I'll even guess high and use a spectrum from birth to 150-years-old), there would still only be 6,000 wizards in the UK. That's one in every 10,000 people. Also take into account that the wizarding community was most likely shrinking as is implied by the scarcity of pure-blood and the two harsh wizarding wars. So, if they outed themselves, they would be so vastly outnumbered that being overpowered couldn't be too difficult. It's merely self-preservation that keeps them from announcing their "gifts" — the same way that any sane individual wouldn't walk into a room full of strangers waving around a winning lotto ticket; it's just asking for trouble.
    • Word of God states that there are actually around 1000 students at Hogwarts, and it was never stated that there were 5 boys and 5 girls per year per House.
  • The reverse is also true — wizards are apparently completely mystified by such things as escalators, telephones and computers, despite having their very own (magical) version of radio and the odd impossible purple triple-decker bus. And not one of them, not even the two major characters that were born/raised in the Muggle world, ever considered non-magical solutions to their problems, such as:
    • Firearms. Word of God has said that one of the reasons why wizards keep Muggles in the dark is because in a fight, a Muggle with a firearm would win.
    • Then there's the idea of working around the curses with modern technology, such as using a defibrillator on anyone who gets hit with a death curse. Or using the old lemon-juice technique to send secret, non-magical hidden messages.
  • The wizarding world has access to a potion that can regrow bones. Muggle medicine would be infinitely grateful for that alone, and, judging by the novels, most potions are concocted from naturally-occurring components. Despite that, although certain potions are dangerous, or could become dangerous in the wrong hands, wizard ethics are just as fragile as a regular Muggle's, so keeping the knowledge to themselves is unbelievably selfish and negligent.
    • Word of God says that magic potions will, at one point during their preparation, invariably require magic. Simply giving Muggles the recipe to useful potions would not work; it'd have to be full-blown export of the stuff, which would mean exposure.
    • It's interesting to note that the Masquerade began in the 1600s when the wizarding world split from the muggle world and went into hiding. The fact that the wizards only have familiarity with 17th century technology seems to justify this, until you realize that weapons such as longbows (12th century) and muskets/hand cannons (14th century) were around long before that time. Either of these weapons could easily take out a wizard from outside the range of their spells, but that's beside the point; just imagine how effective Magitek versions could have been in the Potterverse.
      • It should be noted, though, that the former weapon depends on seeing your enemy coming and the latter depends on knowing it. Talk to the Fist becomes Talk To The Wand when someone has to spend five minutes getting ready to kill you, or when you have the drop on them.
  • Wizards also have their own diseases, their own weapons, etc., and they can't fix their own problems any faster or more efficiently than the Muggles, or at least so is implied. They might be able to regrow bones, but they also have Dragon Pox. Although who's to say that Muggle medicine can't come up with a Dragon Pox vaccine? The two together should still be stronger than the two separate.
  • And now you get the picture why the HP JBM page is so very freakin' long.
    • Also fluff indicates an "Anti-technology field" which causes newer electronics to utterly haywire, so making a computer mixed with muggle tech will cause the machine to fritz quickly.
12:14:35 PM May 11th 2010
Throwing the baby out with the bathwater? There were points there mentioned as examples of the trope in the Harry Potter universe, not inter-troper natter.
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