Follow TV Tropes

Following

Story Breaker Power / Comic Books

Go To

    open/close all folders 

    DC 
  • Captain Atom, even in continuities where he's not a step or two away from Doctor Manhattan (who was originally Atom before the story was retooled), has a wide assortment of powers which should theoretically make him as strong as Superman or Martian Manhunter. He's only held back by the fact that sometimes he's not that bright and that if his Dilusteel skin is injured, he'll time jump in a massive explosion of quantum energy (and presumably take out a lot of property & lives in the ensuing explosion).
  • Firestorm can restructure molecular bonds. This grants him a wide variety of superpowers that make him an insanely powerful demigod. His primary weaknesses are that his powers are really hard to use even if you're a genius nuclear physicist and that Firestorm is a Fusion Dance of people who don't always like each other. He also has a Weaksauce Weakness of being unable to directly alter organic matter without debilitating side effects.
  • There's no reason The Flash shouldn't see the villain and have them tied up and in prison before they have a chance to react. Instead, he gets treated like a normal person with a few arbitrarily chosen speed based abilities, with one of the most baffling ones being the ability to vibrate through solid objects. Lampshaded a bit in the New 52 where Barry Allen is informed how fast he can process sensory input is the biggest bottleneck to his powers. At one point he gets shot due to overthinking, and reverts to just processing the superhuman speed environment on a somewhat instinctual level.
    • This was explored in Kingdom Come and DC One Million. In the former, he is made of pure speed and is able to see the narrator in Another Dimension, although he can no longer talk with anyone except Superman, because he's too fast (only Superman's superhuman senses can hear him), and he's so fast, he's constantly blurry, even when standing still. In the latter, a future Flash is the sole police force on the entire (heavily populated) planet Mercury, and The Spectre mentions that he is forever alone, unseen by most people in the city he guards "though all feel his presence".
    • In an interview, New Teen Titans scribe Marv Wolfman admitted he wrote Kid Flash out of the book for this very reason. He stated that logically, Kid Flash should be able to defeat a villain the moment he lays eyes on them, which made writing action scenes difficult.
  • Justice Society of America featured Jakeem Thunder, who had an all-powerful genie who could do anything he asked. The problem was that the genie often took wishes too literally, and so he was hamstrung... but even then, the writers had to come up with constant reasons for why Jakeem either wasn't around, or why he was taken out within seconds (Mordru and other villains would wisely take Jakeem out first). Johnny Thunder, the prototype for the character, had a similar predicament in that he was a nice guy who wanted to do good but was a bit of a dunderhead and lacked the wherewithall to get the most out of having an omnipotent being at his disposal. Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, would also suffer similar fates, being one of the few beings as powerful as Superman on Earth.
    • The JSA's classic lineup has historically had issues with this, as the gap between its weakest members (Badass Normal hand-to-hand fighters like Wildcat or the Atom, investigators like Sandman or Doctor Mid-Nite) and its strongest members (planet-smashers like Alan Scott or Doctor Fate, Reality Warpers like the Spectre or the Thunderbolt) is colossal, even by hero team standards. Consequently, most stories involving the original team tend to have its strongest members being curiously ineffective or Out of Focus, while most modern stories tend to give the team's weaker members or Legacy Characters a power boost.
  • Kingdom Come: Supergirl took no part in the metahuman war because she would join the Superman side together with Power Girl, which would mean the old-school heroes would count three full-powered Kryptonians among its forces and utterly curb-stomp any opposition. Hence, she joined the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th century prior to the events of the story.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes:
    • The Legion were given a device they called the Miracle Machine by a race of Neglectful Precursors. Its power? Nothing less than turning your thoughts into reality. It's usually relegated to their trophy room, because, apart from the problem of how power corrupts, the Miracle Machine doesn't have any safeties; turning a skyscraper into ice cream with a stray thought is a very mild example of what could go wrong. A later author wrote a plot specifically to remove the literal Deus ex Machina from the plot forever (and make Matter Eater Lad useful in the process).
      • At the end of Final Crisis, Superman managed to create one to reverse the space-time shenanigans from most of the story. It's mentioned as only having a single use (though a later story showed that it's mere existance afterwards was a warp in space-time as well, albeit in a more smaller area), and that it's so complex, Superman will never be able to create another one again due to the fact that its magnificence erased its blueprints from his memory.
    • Minor character Duplicate Boy can duplicate anyone else's superpowers. He's not in the Legion (he's a hero on some other planet), and a bit of a lunkhead besides.
    • The Legion itself in its original incarnation with a number of Kryptonian members at Silver Age Physical God power extremes including Superboy and Supergirl themselves, Mon-El, and Ultra Boy to a somewhat lesser degree note . Unsurprisingly they had to be written to be on a mission other than the one the issue was actually about a lot of the time for the other heroes to actually get a chance to do something or create some element of doubt. Member Star Boy was originally introduced as another Kryptonian-style powerhouse, but was nerfed after a bit so that his other powers ran out and he was left only with the ability to make things heavier.
    • And talking of the Legion, the Composite Superman has the powers of the entire Silver Age Legion put together. That includes three people with Superman's powers, plus a mess of Combo Platter Powers so long it took up a third of the cover of his first appearance. He's never lasted longer than a single issue, because even with an Hour of Power limitation, he'd be unbeatable by anything less than an abstract concept.
  • This is why the Martian Manhunter rarely gets used to his full potential, both in the comics and on Justice League. He has each of the various powers of Superman (although with lesser magnitude; how much less varies with writers), but also with Shapeshifting, Telepathy, Mind Manipulation, and phasing, amongst other powers. Okay, so he's vulnerable to fire, but he's been shown to get over that. With the above mentioned problems with Superman, they're even worse for J'onn, which might be one reason why they killed him off in Final Crisis. Lampshaded during Blackest Night: When Black Lantern J'onn is fighting Hal and Barry, he picks up the fire station they are in and throws it into another building, saying "I'm as powerful as Superman. Why does everyone forget that?" Indeed, by the end of the issue he's incapacitated them both.
  • The Lucifer comic contains large quantities of god- and god-like beings who qualify, chief of whom is the main character. As the will of God and the angel in charge of stellar fusion Lucifer is only matched by his brother Michael in sheer strength (and outmatched by his father, who has no interest in fighting anyone) and as a result the story spends most of its time de-powering him or putting him in situations where he can't simply incinerate whatever is in front of him with a thought because it won't solve his problem.
    • Speaking of God, his power is so unassailable and overwhelming that the only way the story can resolve His existence is by having him quit his position and leave his own creation halfway through. The rest of the story then becomes Lucifer, Michael and Elaine (with some help) desperately trying to hold Creation together before God's absence causes the whole thing to crumble.
  • Planetary:
    • Ambrose Chase had concentration-based Reality Warper powers that allowed him to alter physics at will in a small radius around himself. Barring taking him completely by surprise (like a particular villain did by battling him in a universe that ran on Horror Tropes and using a bullet of Applied Phlebotinum, hence the past tense), he was practically unkillable. It turns out it didn't take; Chase used his power to freeze his own injury and trap himself in a pocket dimension until the others could extract and rescue him.
    • The Big Bad, Randall Dowling. His power allows him to spread his own consciousness to minds around it, basically screwing around with any parts of their memories at will, making people into Manchurian Agents, or simply turning other humans near him into more of himself. Notably, he never even gets to use said power before the heroes drop him down a ravine, possibly because any conceivable combat scenario against him would involve the heroes having to fight enormous amounts of other people, provided they weren't already parts of him without being aware of it.
  • Preacher:
    • Jesse Custer, the eponymous preacher, has a Compelling Voice. Although the voice has some limitations (the victim must be able to literally hear and understand him), it still would allow Jesse to solve most of the problems he encounters rather easily. For this reason, the writer has him decide to avoid using it and occasionally even forget to use it so dramatic scenes can play out.
    • The Saint Of Killers is a seemingly invulnerable, unstoppable gunslinger with a pair of special, demonic revolvers for weapons that never inconveniently run out of ammo, always hit their targets, and always kill what they hit. His first act after gaining his signature weapons, forged by Satan? Kill Satan. Unlike other beings, he can neither be conveniently weakened, depowered, slowed down, nor damaged by anyone nor anything that stood in his way. In the end, he kills God Himself.
      The Saint of Killers: [after taking a nuke to the face, unharmed] Not enough gun.
  • Morpheus, the title character of The Sandman, is more powerful than most gods and only cosmic level beings like Lucifer are a real threat to him. On the other hand, he is weighed down with the rules and duties of his office, which renders him more impotent than many of his own dream creations. He is only able to use his full power in directly protecting the Dreaming (which does not necessarily mean protecting himself), and only while in the heart of the Dreaming. In the end, The Furies — minor mythological creatures from Greek Mythology — kill him because the act of spilling family blood has rendered him a lawful quarry for their wrath. That, and he wanted to be punished for the act.
    • There's also the fact that half the story arcs in The Sandman focus on the trials and tribulations of puny mortals, with Morpheus (whose opinion of said puny mortals is usually as indifferent as Dr. Manhattan's) functioning as a mere Plot Device, if not an outright antagonist.
  • The Spectre. The wrath of God personified. Each major DC crossover event includes the obligatory scene explaining just why he can't help out this time... or he just gets mind-controlled by the bad guys. He did actually help out in Crisis on Infinite Earths (where, with a bit of magical assistance, he fought the Big Bad, who had already absorbed the title's Infinite Earths, to a standstill) and in Blackest Night (pity the Big Bad didn't have a soul). His problem with this has a lot to do with the fact that, while he's not the most powerful of The Powers That Be, he is the most intimate in how he operates - while most beings in his range are off governing spacetime or abstract concepts, he prefers to spend his time judging and punishing mundane criminals, which inevitably raises the question of why he has time to create Karmic Deaths for random murderers, but not to turn every supervillain on the planet inside out.
  • Superman. Not every writer can make his battles interesting, as he shrugs off pretty much anything not Kryptonite as easily as those idiot grunts whose bullets he probably doesn't even notice. Making something other than Kryptonite, Darkseid, or Doomsday challenge him without Nerfing Superman severely (see the early seasons of Justice League) is not a task just any writer can accomplish.
    • Superman's Story Breaker Power has diminished significantly in the past few decades not only by reining him in to more-manageable levels (like being ONLY able to lift an aircraft carrier with some effort, though his power has crept back up to planetary scale since then), but also due to severe Uniqueness Decay. Whereas Superman stood paramount among the DCU from the 1950s unto the 1980s, he's now actually just a Jack-of-All-Stats, who shares his position with several New Gods, Wonder Woman, every other Kryptonian including his cousin Supergirl and his clone, Icon, Daxamites, Lobo, Martian Manhunter, and is easily overpowered by Reality Warper characters utilizing magic like Doctor Fate, The Spectre (at full power), etc., or even just hyper-powerful villains like the Anti-Monitor. Basically, DC's answer to Superman's omnipotence was to not only nerf him, but also raise the bar for Story-Breaker Power in their universe up so high that even Superman can feel mundane.
    • It should be noted that during his heyday in the Golden and Silver Ages, few if any Superman stories hinged on his physical survival; even Kryptonite was generally used as a barrier instead of a full-on weapon. Instead, the plots were usually a battle of wits between him and the Villain of the Week, and once Superman actually found the villain and/or saved his squishy mortal friends from said villain's plot, the actual "battle" was barely an afterthought.
  • Brainiac, one of Superman's main enemies, has been a frequent offender.
    • Since 2000 (with Brainiac 13) or perhaps 2008 (when his Coluan cyborg self was established as his definitive form), he's been consistently portrayed as equaling or surpassing Superman in strength and durability, while towering above him in intellect. On top of Super Intelligence eclipsing even Luthor's and Super Strength and Nigh-Invulnerability surpassing Superman's, Brainiac possesses technopathy, an entire army of Flying Brick robots that can fight Kryptonians, a ship equipped with weapons powerful enough to kill Kryptonians and shields so powerful that said weapons have no effect on it, a shrink ray that can reduce entire planets and also depower whoever it hits, enormous Psychic Powers, a cloning machine he uses to duplicate or heal himself, the ability to take control of other beings, the ability to heal even after taking grievous wounds, and a ton of other powers and gadgets. It's pretty hard to write a scenario where he loses, so various editors usually get around it by having his arrival signify a Crisis Crossover or having him suddenly develop a previously never mentioned Weaksauce Weakness.
    • In his first few appearances in the Silver Age, Brainiac lacked most of the powers that he'd later possess but was equipped with a force field belt that made him entirely immune to harm. Even Superman couldn't breach it, while the same belt came equipped with a death ray capable of killing Superman. The force field belt was quietly dropped from all subsequent incarnations.
  • This has been done right at least once, in Watchmen. Dr. Manhattan is a Physical God who wins the Vietnam War practically singlehandely and should easily dissect the problem in the comic and excise it... except The Chessmaster plays not against his powers but his post-empowering uncertainty to get him to leave the planet. He's also hamstrung by his inability to see time like we do- he knows precisely what powers he's going to use, when he's going to use them, what they're going to do. He doesn't choose to use them, he just watches himself using them. He even describes the tachyon interference with his future sight, in the climax, as "freeing", allowing him to truly act for the first time in forty years.
    • The real Story-Breaker Power in this case is the aforementioned Chessmaster. In theory, he's a Badass Normal, but in practice his preposterous planning ability makes him completely invincible.
  • Unless handled carefully, Wonder Woman's lasso's power to force any being to tell the truth will naturally kill any mystery from a story, since deception spoken by any person who faces this power is impossible.
  • Zatanna is one of the most powerful sorcerers in the DC Universe, and thus generally falls victim to some sort of Drama-Preserving Handicap at least once per story. She notoriously has a Weaksauce Weakness that leaves her powerless if she is gagged, which is usually exploited in team-ups just so that she can't solve the problem before the rest of the JLA get out of bed.
  • Green Lantern: The Green Lanterns have explicitly an Imagination Based Power that can mimic almost any other superpower. It is only limited by their imagination, willpower and the energy stored in their rings. Remove the last restriction and you have Ion. In one storyline a Daxamite obtained the powers of Ion resulting in a Physical God. This also include individuals like Jade and Alan Scott who have similar powers.

    Marvel 
  • Avengers Arena ran into this with some of the characters it featured; many of them, while normally not overpowering in their own books, were way too powerful for the current situation to progress without disabling, hindering, or even killing them to prevent the story being broken. For example Darkhawk is probably the most powerful hero kidnapped by Arcade, so much so that he could probably have cut the knot, blasted through Arcade's defenses, and broken Arcade's legs in an hour or so. Naturally he loses his armor (the source of his powers) in issue 3 to keep the whole thing from ending in 5 pages flat.
  • Monica Rambeau, the second Captain Marvel, spent a long time in Comic-Book Limbo for this very reason. She has a myriad of superpowers, including (but not limited to) flight, light-speed travel, and the ability to transform into a being of living energy. Naturally, she falls into Flash territory where she needs to be neutralized very quickly just to give the other Avengers something to do.
  • Doctor Strange. A long term editorial problem concerns just why Strange can't wave his hands and fix everything. Whenever the good doctor gets involved in any significant way in Marvel's other books, serious Nerfage occurs by necessity. For instance, after joining the cast of New Avengers, Strange ended up being Put on a Bus during Dark Reign, and when he finally returned, it was revealed that he'd been significantly weakened thanks to having lost his title of Sorcerer Supreme. He was only restored to full power at the very end of Brian Bendis' tenure on the Avengers books.
    • Modern creators have embraced the pitfalls inherent in Strange's power level. When a fully-powered Strange tried to magically retcon the destruction of Las Vegas caused in a previous crossover, he accidentally brought Mephisto (the Marvel Universe's Satan analogue) along and allowed him to establish a literal Hell-on-Earth beachhead. It took another crossover (Doctor Strange: Damnation) and the formation of a whole new super-team (the Mignight Sons) to fix Strange's mess.
  • Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four. A Reality Warper on a cosmic scale, he has been largely kept as a child for decades specifically because it has been demonstrated that his mature power levels would be so far off the scale that he would become virtually unusable as a character.
  • Freedom Ring, a young hero who had a ring made from the Cosmic Cube that allowed him to bend reality to his will within a 30-foot sphere of reach. He was even able to make a full recovery from a nearly-fatal blow from the Abomination just by willing it. He was Killed Off for Real just a few issues later, and so writers never got to abuse his powers outside his own book.
  • Planet Eater extraordinaire Galactus, subject to Strong as They Need to Be, is often this, typically serving as Always a Bigger Fish when he's not a villain.
  • Ghost Rider started out only being physically difficult to injure thanks to being a flaming skeleton along with low-level superhuman strength and a couple of other minor abilities. Over the years, the Ghost Riders have gotten steadily more powerful; they reform instantly from any physical damage, are impossible to KO, have unlimited physical strength, can create and produce as much hellfire as they want as much as they want as strong as they want, have the penance stare as an autowin, have motor cycles that move as fast as they can will them that can scale 180 degree surfaces, several other abilities, and can only be harmed by weapons created from the Christian heaven or other high-level magic. So of course magic or weapons to imprison them, separate them from their hosts or even kill their hosts become common with several of their powers given a slew of weaknesses to keep them from easily ending stories. All-New Ghost Rider provides another solution: have a Ghost Rider whose powers come from a different source.
  • The Mighty Thor:
    • Loki is only a Squishy Wizard compared to Thor . Although sometimes Depending on the Writer, Loki is generally far stronger than average even by Asgardian standards (where the average adult is nearly as strong as Spider-Man), so in addition to vast magical power (he is only listed as surpassed by Odin and perhaps Karnilla, another Thor character, so his exact magical abilites are unknown in comparison to someone like Doctor Strange or the Scarlet Witch), Loki is also super strong, super durable, experienced in combat, a genius (though this aspect is limited by his Inferiority Superiority Complex, Unfavorite-ness, and need to defeat Thor no matter what), and is so much of Consummate Liar that he has tricked Mephisto (aka the devil), Norman Osborn, Doctor Doom, Odin, and the heroes of Earth several times over. At least some of these traits need nerfing to keep the story alive. He was later depowered after dying and being resurrected in the body of a child in order to keep his Journey into Mystery and Young Avengers story engaging, however he was later aged back up which should have restored most if not all of his previous magical abilities. This trope is subsequently Lampshaded in the first issue of his solo series Loki: Agent of Asgard, where he is a good(ish) guy with a series of captions showing he's consciously making a better story, because as an Asgardian god, he is a creature of story (and also intentionally taking the hard route to avoid temptation to fall back into his old evil ways).
      "Now, I know what you're thinking: WHY am I falling to my death while a man who makes terrible life decisions shoots an arrow at my face? eh? Why don't I just MAGIC everything better? Tell the universe a nice BIG story? "Then Loki wiggled his fingers and everything was fine. Also his mission was complete and he had a pony and balloons and a cosmic cube. The end." It's not a very GOOD story, is it?"
      • The same series also has an evil older Loki from the future with even more power and the benefit of foreknowledge running around. What stops him from breaking the story? Temporal Mutability.
    • Thor's father Odin is virtually omnipotent to the point where heavy hitters who can easily destroy planets are ants next to him, and he's shown to have power to annihilate entire galaxies. For the most part, stories need some kind of plot device like the Odinsleep to keep him out.
      • The Silver Age took the Odinsleep exemption and instantly drove it into "bad joke" territory; throughout the 60s and into the 70s, Odin putting his head down for a restorative nap was practically guaranteed to bring on a "destroy Asgard"-level threat.
    • Surtur is one of the few villains Odin is allowed to fight against. One of his first attacks was destroying a galaxy, and it was done to re-forge his magic sword.
  • In The New Universe, there was the Star Brand, a mysterious power that can do anything, can regenerate from virtually nothing and has the potential to do bad things when mishandled. When the power was brought over along with the rest of that universe's Earth into the Marvel-616 universe, the Living Tribunal erected an impenetrable barrier because a power like that would upset the cosmic balance irreversibly. When the Star Brand made its official first appearance during Jonathan Hickman's Avengers run, that power was toned down considerably.
  • His name is The Sentry. He may be the Angel of Death (it's implied he was the one who caused the Plagues of Egypt). He was used by Norman Osborn on the Dark Avengers team because he has Story Breaker Power. After an intense, multi-issue battle with the Hand in Japan in New Avengers, Spider-Man points out that the fight would've been over in five seconds had the Sentry been there to help. Severe mental illnesses kept him from doing too much until his death.
  • Spider-Verse has a Spidey that was still fused to the Enigma Force, still allowing him to be Captain Universe. Consequently, he should be able to end the saga by going over and flash-frying Morlun and his kin. When our Spidey asks him why he just doesn't do that, that Spidey says that he can't, as the Enigma Force can only stay at that universe. On the plus side, though, that means Morlun and the others can't waltz in without risking getting flash-fried by Cosmic Spidey... only they did, and promptly murdered him.
    • This single-universe loophole has been deployed a lot in 21st-century Marvel comics to limit story-breaking widgets. When Jonathan Hickman started throwing around multiple Infinity Gauntlets in his Fantastic Four run, this was a major constraint on them: They were only empowered in their home universes, limiting their usefulness on the multiversal scale Hickman's FF operated on.
  • Nightshade (Eve Eden) often gets regulated to cameos in her appearances in other character's books because she'd otherwise solve the problem in the issue in seconds. Her Shadow Walker combo powers of teleportation, dimensional travel, intangibility, shadow manipulation, shadow homunculi creation, flight and super strength in combination with her study of magic have led more than one villain to mind control her in order to try to kill Superman and they generally only fail because she's fairly good at fighting off mind control and possession. She is also technically ruler of the Nightshade Lands which means the dimension would be warped to her will if she spent enough time in it.
  • When Thanos acquired The Infinity Gauntlet with all six Infinity Gems he gained absolute control over past, present and future, bent reality to his will, could exist in any location and to move any object, could steal and control souls of both living and dead, had the most powerful Telepathy in the Universe and gained access to every source of power that ever existed or will exist. There was nothing that could defeat him, neither Marvel's greatest superheroes, Death, Mephisto or all-powerful cosmic gods, including The Eternity, who is the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Universe itself. The main reason Thanos ultimately lost in the end was because the Gauntlet made him too powerful meaning he could not be with his beloved Death since he was so far above her. The Heart of the Universe from Marvel Universe: The End is basically the same thing only on a multiversal scale, enabling him to defeat every single being in the Marvel Universe, culminating in thwarting the second biggest one of them all, The Living Tribunal (who was more powerful than the complete Infinity Gauntlet). After defeating the Living Tribunal however, he realises THE biggest one of them all, The One Above All, is still infinitely more powerful than him, and TOAA has completely out-gambitted Thanos into recreating the entire Multiverse, but with a few flaws removed.
  • X-Men:
    • Professor Charles Xavier is the most powerful psychic in the world. By rights, any problems the X-Men face should be dealt with at the speed of thought. As a result, most of the major plotlines the team faces start with either a Deus Exit Machina or a lecture on Mind over Manners. There's also a vast array of anti-telepathy technology that will pop up whenever the plot demands it; at one point a high-schooler built an anti-telepathy helmet using plans he downloaded off the internet, then beat up Xavier with a baseball bat. It wasn't one of the Professor's finer moments. In fact, Professor X is so prone to having his telepathy instantly shut down that his status as "World's Most Powerful Telepath" is something of an Informed Attribute.
    • One of the reasons Phoenix hasn't been revived is because her canonically godlike abilities and strong friendships with her team would easily end the 'Wolverine vs. Cyclops civil war' that the writers seem intent on following. It's stated, in-universe, that the only reason they're fighting is because she's no longer there to mediate between them! Indeed, only a few years after both Cyclops and Wolverine were Killed Off for Real a storyline focusing on the resurrection of Jean Grey popped up — after the character being dead for almost 15 years.
    • Scarlet Witch's reality bending powers are considered way over the top. Once she remade the universe into the House of M and depowered 90% of the mutant population, so they had to nerf her down to the point she can't handle the Phoenix Force during Avengers vs. X-Men. This is somewhat justified, as her powers originally weren't nearly so story-breaking, and were only made so in the 2000s as a blatant excuse to transform her from a character into a Plot Device.
    • On the villainous side of things, there's Exodus, one of the few psychics on Earth who can hold his own against Professor X, in addition to wielding telekinesis at such an advanced level that it practically makes him a Reality Warper. He's also immortal, a teleporter, can bring people back from the dead and... yeah, perhaps it's sinking in now why he's one of the more infrequently used X-villains. His initial affiliation was with Magneto, who was very quickly incapacitated by way of a psychic lobotomy because, duh, if the X-Men ever had to contend with the two of them at once they'd be annihilated.
    • Nate Grey the X-Man is one of the few mutants alive who can boast power levels surpassing both Exodus and Xavier, and has been compared at his full power to not just Phoenix but Dark Phoenix. Essentially Cable without the crippling T-O virus that constantly keeps that character's powers in check, Nate might boast the comic book world record for the most instances of being De Powered, with most of them occurring over the course of his 1995-2001 title (where the writers clearly struggled to find ways to write stories for such a powerful character without resorting to the depowering gimmick). He was killed off for several years, then brought back in Dark X-Men, imprisoned for a little while, and finally brought back as part of the New Mutants, albeit at power levels far below his usual standard, but apparently even that wasn't enough to make writers feel comfortable with him as he was promptly shuttled off to Comic-Book Limbo not long after. He came back again in Uncanny X-Men (2018) after 6 years in Comic-Book Limbo, where his only intermittent appearances were in flashbacks, with his powers back and then some... as a villain, specifically, the Big Bad of the X-Men Disassembled arc, albeit while genuinely trying to do the right thing.
    • Darwin has the power of spontaneous mutations that allow him to adapt to any immediate threat, effectively giving him Complete Immortality. The only downsides are that his mutations are primarily defensive (meaning he can't necessarily use them to win fights,) and he has no real control over how his body adapts (one famous moment in World War Hulk has him square up against the Hulk...only to spontaneously teleport three states away.)
Advertisement:

    Other 
  • Disney comics:
    • Super Goof, that is, Goofy with Superman's powers. There's a reason he's rarely used in serious stories, even with him being saddled by two Drama Preserving Handicaps (namely, his powers coming from special peanuts that have a time limit, and being Goofy). Ultraheroes is one of the few times he appears in a serious story, and in his first battle in the second chapter he quickly inflicts a Curb-Stomp Battle to the mightiest of the villains. He's quickly saddled with another Drama-Preserving Handicap by Gus wolfing down his peanuts to keep him out of the way until the final showdown, when there's finally someone who can fight him.
    • Paperinik New Adventures has Xadhoom, who is a Physical Goddess who can hear radio signals, travel faster than light, can produce any form of energy with enough power to blow up planets, and, being an Energy Being, is effectively invulnerable and immortal (hitting her with enough kinetic or gravitational energy will knock her out, but it takes a lot of kinetic or gravitational energy and she'll recover quick enough). And that's her being Willfully Weak (as using her true power would mean a loss of self-control and death by Phlebotinum Overload): with her true power she could easily wipe out the universe with a gesture and then remake it. To hamper her, the writers tended to put her into situations where she couldn't go even halfway to her self-imposed limits (as she's sensible to collateral damage, thus she won't use so much energy to kill innocents) and made her enemies Gadgeteer Geniuses who are smart enough they have found two different working methods to contain or kill her (maybe three, but the third one relied on tricking her into wearing the helmet containing the device and she saw through it so we don't see if it could have worked).
    • Also from Paperinik New Adventures we have Moldrock, a Physical God who is flat-out stated to be the mightiest enemy Paperinik has ever faced or will ever face. In his first appearance Paperinik can fight him due him being severely weakened while inside the dimension he was imprisoned in, but in his second appearance he had broken out and had the time to partially recharge his powers, and no matter what, Paperinik can't even scratch him. In his third appearance he's had even more time to recharge him powers, and is so strong to single-handedly conquer planet Corona with ease, so powerful that Paperinik successfully knocking him out is treated with shock by everyone, Paperinik included (he had intended to use a one-time power up to stun him long enough for the rest of the group to escape).
  • In Irredeemable it turns out the Plutonian has absolute-level manipulation of reality. The people who know have (reasonably) decided that the knowledge of the full extent of power must at all costs be kept from them so to stop Go Mad from the Revelation.
Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback