The comic book variation on Expospeak.
Comic books are, in general, a serial medium, and you can't rely on someone reading one issue to have read all the previous issues. Thus, there needs to be a way to inform the reader about the characters and the plot up to this point.
One common way to do this is to simply drop the relevant information into the character's speech bubbles. If done well, it'll feel natural and unforced; unfortunately, it's usually done as something along the lines of "Luckily My Powers Will Protect Me from the harmful radiations of the unshielded uranium that The Professor wanted me to pick up from these abandoned South American mines!"
This tends to be even more offputting than regular Expospeak, since the characters are speaking to no one in particular. A less-jarring variation is putting the exposition in thought bubbles, but that's surprisingly uncommon.
This began as a stylistic choice in the early age of comics in which every single panel was accompanied by a piece of narrative text. The primary advantage of this was that it allowed the authors to create faster stories without having to visually depict every single step of a process. At the time, it was not unusual for a single issue to have more than one complete story in a format which modern audiences would complain is too short. As comics evolved, it became more common for story arcs to be spread over the course of many issues. This allowed artists to draw the entire sequence of events rather than rely on narrative explanation.
The original audiences may have found this less jarring, because at the time it was very common for radio drama characters to narrate everything they saw (given the lack of a visual medium).
In modern times, this has largely been abandoned. Readers are expected to be familiar with the characters or use the internet to fill in their knowledge gaps. More recently, introductory text pages at the beginning of the issue have come into fashion. Also, fans can just look up whatever the character can do online these days, anyways. Even if it's someone really obscure like Stiltman. (But then, perhaps surprisingly, his name pretty much says it all. He was a pretty lame villain. You can read about him on the Internet.)
May overlap with Talking Is a Free Action, when the character shouldn't have enough real time before danger hits to discourse about their powers.
- Blood+: James taunts Saya about how her blood can't poison him if she can't pierce his armored skin.
- Spider-Man can't enter a fight without letting everyone there know he is using his Spider-Sense to anticipate and dodge their attacks. One would think he would would try to keep his most valuable and hidden ability a secret to at least his most ingenious enemies. But no, of course not. This makes Spider-man's thoughts particularly funny later in a Civil War-based issue where he becomes suspicious of Tony Stark for somehow knowing about his spider-sense, stating he had only told Aunt May and Mary Jane about it. Sure.
- Though everyone knowing about it has occasionally worked to Spider-Man's advantage. At one point, he interrogates a Mook, claiming that spider-sense makes him a Living Lie Detector. As he internally notes, that not how it works, but very few people actually know enough about it to understand he's bluffing.
- Venom seems to be friends with this trope, as whenever someone pulls out a gun and shoots him, he'll say something along the lines of "Ha! My other protects me from the bullets!" Similarly, every time another character takes advantage of one of his main weaknesses, he'll say, "No! My symbiotic other cannot stand fire/loud noises!" Although arguably, that creates a bit of fridge logic because the only time you don't hear the bang of a gun is when you're hit with it, but seeing as the symbiote protects him, it really shouldn't.
- In Supergirl (1972), setting aside Linda Danvers' need to inform readers that she is Supergirl, she is about to use her X-Ray Vision or how her powers work, in issue #2 she flies back to headquarters and explains that is her cousin's Fortress of Solitude, which only he and she can unlock with a special massive key.
- In the third page of Supergirl (1982) #1, Linda Danvers explains she is Supergirl -as is changing clothes and flying off- and she has Super Senses. One page later she comments she is using her freezing breath as she blows away and freezes a shower molten steel.
- Superman vs. Shazam!: As he is fighting (a fake) Captain Marvel, Superman ponders over Shazam!'s real identity and nature, as well as the origin of his powers, solely for the benefit of readers who have never picked a comic featuring Billy Batson.
- In The Supergirl from Krypton, Superman informs readers he survived his rocket crashing on Earth because of his Kryptonian invulnerability.
- Fantastic Four:
- Any old issue will include early scenes where the characters call each other "Brother-in-law" or the like. Nobody really talks like this, especially when they're in the middle of combat. However, the authors felt the need to explain each character's family relationships to new readers, which resulted in unrealistic and redundant dialogue. Even in the late 90s Chris Claremont's run, when the characters had been around for almost 40 years, would sporadically show Johnny addressing Reed as "brother-in-law", but that might just be Claremont being his usual verbose self.
- Mr. Fantastic finds himself trapped in a small room, slowly being filled with poisonous gas. "Luckily," he says aloud, "I can expand my lungs to hold my breath for an extended time!" He could have had more air in his lungs if he hadn't said that out loud, especially since a thought bubble would've worked just fine.
- In #17 he talks about how he can slip through the air holes in cement, and how he must quickly slip through.
- For several years, Cyclops managed to say "Only my ruby-quartz visor can contain my optic blasts," in literally every single issue of Uncanny X-Men.
- Which is surely rivaled by the vast number of times Psylocke referred to her psychic knife as "the focused totality of my psionic power".
- That kind of thing happened a lot in X-Men back in those days, although this one happened less often than a lot of fans like to believe. It is remembered so well because of its inherent clunkyness.
- Another classic example, from X-Men vol. 1 #1:
Magneto: You haven't defeated me yet! I can still escape you, flying by means of magnetic repulsion!
- Another character who seemed compelled to remind the reader of her powers every other issue is Rogue, who would constantly have an internal dialogue about how "Ah cain't touch another human bein', or mah powers'll absorb their thoughts and abilities." Though one thing that wasn't explained nearly as often, was the reason why she had the much more useful power of being a Flying Bricknote .
- New Mutants used to do this all the time, constantly reminding readers what the kids' powers were. Sunspot: "Careful Bobby, you're strong, not invulnerable!"; Cannonball: "Good thing ah'm invulnerable when ah'm blasting."; Magik griping about Limbo; etc.
- From an X-Men comic circa the Operation Zero Tolerance saga: "What's happening? Mutant power to randomly deflect any other mutant power thrown at me isn't working!" — said by Random while being blasted into a puddle. Who the hell talks like this when they're being blasted into a puddle?
- Used during a Paul Jenkins remake of the original X-Men story. Unlike other examples it was not ridiculous, as it was a mix of this trope and To the Pain. Magneto was explaining how he was using his magnetic powers to torture and kill a trio of teens who brutally murdered a young mutant girl to the teens as he was killing them.
- Lampshade Hanging in Young Justice, when Wonder Girl makes fun of Superboy's tendency to explain that he's using tactile telekinesis. Kon-El (and by extension, the writers who want to make him distinct from Superman) protests that he has a very unusual power and it's not always clear to onlookers how it actually works. Everyone on YJ made fun of that. At least once every issue, Superboy will explicitly state that he's doing something with his tactile telekinesis, and at least once every issue, Impulse will Lampshade the fact that at least once every issue, Superboy will explicitly state that he's doing something with his tactile telekinesis. It started in the very first issue:
Robin: Superboy, you think you can manage to...?
Superboy: Pull it out? Not a problem. All I have to do is touch it and my tactile telekinesis can—
Impulse: Man, will you stop blabbering about your stupid power?! You act like you're filling in someone who's just met you!
- Star Wars: Legacy 28, introducing new readers to the Legacy series and the Vector Cross Through at once, was probably the most egregious example of this in Star Wars comics, when almost all characters engaged in this kind of exposition.
- Brittney from Gold Digger tended to have a hard time with this, especially in earlier comics when it was just getting off the ground. Her super-speed, her inability to avoid telegraphing her blows, the fact that only "Magic, another were-creature, or silver" can hurt her. Oh, she does it a LOT. Gets better once continuity and the reader-ship is better established.
- When Sonic the Comic included stories about other Sega games, the magician Xavier in the Eternal Champions adaptation was prone to declaring, "Your barbaric weapons are no match for the power... of magick!" or something similar. Unfortunately, his magic never actually seemed to work very well. However his staff was sufficient enough to turn brains to jelly.
- Doctor Strange tended to lapse into this for magical battles. ("I cast the Fangs of Farallah!" "Ah, but Mordo, your spell cannot withstand the Winds of Watoomb. And now I shall confuse you with the Images of Ikkon!") Modern writers have tried various ways to get around this, such as putting the spell name in different text at the bottom of the panel.
- The Metal Men were kinda-sorta an "educational" superhero team, with its members being robots constructed of the metals that give them their names. Naturally, their personalities and powers are informed by the properties of those metals. In their earliest appearances, they never passed up a chance to talk about those properties out loud. For instance, in Metal Men #2, a fallen power line is repaired by Lead, who notes that he's a non-conductor and can safely handle exposed electrical wiring. This facet was lampshaded during DC's 52 event. While Will Magnus was repairing Mercury, he became prone to constantly and excitedly asking, "Did I ever tell you I was the only metal that is liquid at room temperature?"
- Justice League: Cry for Justice has several silly examples combined with a good bit of Purple Prose thrown in as well. During the battle between Prometheus and the Justice League, he explains to Supergirl that he is about to shoot her with a magic bullet that will wound her despite her Flying Brick status.
- Mandy lampshades and ridicules this in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy story "Future Tense" (Cartoon Network Block Party, issue #36) as Grim seeks advice from Nostradamus as to his fate. When Nostradamus' sage turns out to be too enigmatic, Grim says that luckily he can figure out what he's saying with his Scythe.
Mandy: (to us) Oh, that's not too convenient, is it? Doesn't this comic have any standards?
- The cheesy-yet-strangely-fascinating English dub of the Japanese sci-fi film Prince of Space has many examples of the eponymous Prince conspicuously not being harmed by evil alien laserbeams, and smugly declaring "Your weapons are useless against me!". Though it does seem kind of necessary considering they keep shooting at him every single time. Prince of Space was not immune to weapons in the original Japanese script, which also explains why he keeps dodging them. To quote the riffers, "But they scare the crap out of me anyway".
Servo: Empirical data suggests the accuracy of my earlier contention that your weapons against me are without merit! Ha ha!
- Skyhawk, superhero in Boston, in the Whateley Universe. He comes across as a big dork all the time, so this is just one of his annoying traits.
- Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild regularly employs a real-life version of this trope; he pauses at some point in the episode just to explain to the viewers how particularly dangerous a certain course of action would be, often with a story about someone who was killed trying that exact same thing. Then he does precisely that, followed by his crew. To date, he is not dead. Of course, it helps that Bear is ex-SAS and is well-trained for all kinds of crazy shit like that.
- Heroes averts this quite well most of the time, where it's frequently left ambiguous what a character's exact abilities are.
- We still don't know the full extent of what Sylar is ( or was, since Word of God states he lost all powers but his telekinesis and his "intuitive aptitude" after the infection in season 2) capable of; it wasn't revealed until more than halfway through season 1 that Peter could mimic others' powers when he wasn't in proximity to them, etc.
- On the other hand, Knox is the living embodiment of this trope. What powers him up again? Oh yeah, fear. Wait, what was it? He seems to be over it by episode 9, but good grief. He could simply be trying to intimidate his enemies in order to become stronger, but the Peter example was just a result of him learning how to shot web.
- Let's not forget Meredith in Season 3. It's a good thing that almost every single one of her appearances is heralded by her holding out a tongue of flame in her hand, because otherwise we wouldn't remember her pyrokinesis.
- In Stargate SG-1, it's Teal'c saying "Luckily, my symbiote will protect me," usually from radiation or just general physical harm. Being an incubator for a Puppeteer Parasite has its advantages.
- In X-Men Legends II, villains are constantly using this to explain their powers and weaknesses to the heroes, to the point that it's clear the writers believed that Players Are Morons:
Living Monolith: You cannot hurt me so long as I am in the sunlight! (which, once you've started blocking the mirrors, leads to...) No! Don't do that! I neeeeed the sunlight!
- StarCraft II instructions as provided by Zeratul in Wings of Liberty: "This chasm is vast. It is fortunate that I can phase through the shadows to the other side."
- Satori Komeji of Touhou fame will not shut up about her mind-reading powers. Deconstructed, as this is implied to be part of the reason she's incredibly unpopular with other youkai and humans.
- The 1990s X-Men cartoon, while free of the first two, gave its portrayal of Storm a very off-putting habit of giving the weather verbal commands, which usually ended up sounding like a mix between "Luckily My Powers Will Protect Me" and a mystic incantation. Storm's verbal commands were lampshaded during the '90s Spider-Man animated series in the first X-Men crossover episode. Upon witnessing Storm's dramatic "Power of lightning, strike again!", Spidey jokingly raised his hand and declared, "Power of webshooters, get... really sticky!" Heck, they were lampshaded in the first episode. Rogue's first lines in the series are telling Storm to ease up on it. Storm also has the odd habit of trying to attack Magneto with lightning in every fight, at which point Magneto will shout something like "Fool! Have you forgotten that electricity and magnetism are related?"
- After acquiring the ability, Tony Stark in Iron Man: Armored Adventures is incredibly fond of explaining what Extremis is and what it does whenever he uses it, which is about once every episode, usually by giving a play-by-play exposition about him accessing the bad guy's computer system. It gets to the point where "it's called Extremis!" becomes a kind of Catchphrase.
- Batfink: his two catchphrases were; "my supersonic sonar radar will help me" and "your bullets cannot harm me, my wings are like a shield of steel". It's almost always subverted, in that his wings are exactly like a shield of steel, and most of the thing aimed at Batfink are entirely capable of bypassing steel shields one way or another (say, by being capable of cutting through steel). The villain typically points this out just after Batfink has delivered the line. They lampshaded it in "Hugo's Hoke", when Hugo Agogo's Hate Plague prompts The Capable Karate to sarcastically ask "Why don't you get some new dialogue?"
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
- A bit ironic use of this trope, because isn't Batman not supposed to have powers?
Batman: Don't bother with mind control, Grodd. I'm blocking it with a technique I learned in Tibet!
- "Luckily this rare ability I was able to do because I spent my summer in a foreign country on a trip that I paid for likely in small bills as a way to grieve for my parents will protect me!" doesn't flow as well, though.
- Batman is referring to a mental exercise. Same way he has prevented Martian Manhunter from reading his mind in several media. It's a very effective technique, it goes something like this: Na-na-na-na-na-na-na, BATMAN! Or "Frere Jacques".
This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend.
- A bit ironic use of this trope, because isn't Batman not supposed to have powers?
- The Super Friends had everyone narrate what they were doing. For example, when Lex Luthor blasts Superman with a "molecular disintegrator" and it fails, Superman goes, "Nice try, Luthor. My Heat Vision will disintegrate your disintegrator!"
- Danger Mouse applies this against Baron Greenback's robot cat ("Cat-astrophe!"). The cat has been programmed with DM's brainwave files so he can anticipate whatever DM does. In the Mark 3 car, DM says out loud he is using Himalayan yoga to blank out his mind, but the robot cat fails to anticipate it. It weakens with no input into its brain and hits the car's ejector seat.