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If I recall correctly, doesn’t Bobby Drake have actual control over molecular vibrations, and that’s how he’s able to decrease the temperature of water [as well as anything else]?

The guy’s an omega level mutant, if those words mean anything to anyone [they may not]. He’s basically invincible when he turns his body into water/ice, and could basically, as you said, mess up anyone he wanted to if he had the discipline and self-control.

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magnuskn said on July 20th, 2013 at 7:31 am

Kitty hasn’t been treated as a cute teenager for a decade at least. And Magneto is one of the X-Men now (although on Cyclops “renegade” team, but still, one of the good guys now). Please update your expectations a bit, Marvel has been quite good at creating new storylines which are not “status quo” in the last decade. Even if individually they often misfire, like Civil War and so on.

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tenken347 said on July 20th, 2013 at 8:51 am

In the Marvel Universe, Sue Storm is probably the single most powerful creature on this pathetic mudball.

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Kitty actually did phase something into Magneto during one of their fights; a two-foot long icicle. Magneto then used the electrons inside the icicle to give her a powerful electric shock.

This proves two things: that Kitty isn’t quite as bad-ass as one might expect, and that Alan Davis has no interest in such eldritch fields as physionomy, magnetism, or really any kind of science in general.

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In all fairness, the one prerequisite to writing Magneto is that you think ‘magnetism’ is some kind of thaumaturgy.

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Storm has been shown to have some limits — a couple of times trying to control really bad storms has laid her out. So she probably couldn’t instantly annihilate anything much larger than a city block, or maybe an aircraft character.

Oh, and another one: Wolverine once pointed out to Jubilee that she could potentially set off her fireworks inside someone’s skull, killing them without leaving a mark. She didn’t do it, of course (except once, to a Sentinel, and that was able to survive having its brain blown up), but still — if she’d been mentored by a ruthless assassin-type, instead of the X-Men…

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socraticsilence said on July 20th, 2013 at 12:49 pm

honestly, given that magnetism (or more properly) actually is one of the fundamental forces (along with gravitation, strong and weak nuclear, etc) we’re probably likely some enterprising writer hasn’t taken this to make Magneto warp space-time.

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Liesmith said on July 20th, 2013 at 2:28 pm

In terms of planet-destroying power, I think Wolverine is the most powerful. First off, he has claws, and can totally scratch things. If he scratched the Earth’s core, he could cause a resonance cascade.

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Storm commented once that the difference between her and Thor is that he tells the weather what to do, she has to ask. So she’s not in the same league.

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This list is kind of silly because there’s a whole bunch of superheroes that ought to be able to easily kill anyone weaker than, say, the Thing, in a single blow:

Cyclops, Jean Grey, Colossus, Polaris, Havok, Sunfire, Magma, Gambit, Namor, Thor, Iron Man, Vision, Wonder Man, Carol Danvers, Monica Rambeau, Thing, She Hulk, Firestar, etc.

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The physicist Richard Feynman once refused to explain how magnets work, saying, If I were to explain magnets by comparing them to, say, rubber bands, you would rightly ask, “Well, how do rubber bands work?” and I would eventually have to say, well, they’re basically magnets. Every phenomenon you have any direct experience of besides gravity is basically caused by magnets.

So the first rule of writing for Magneto is to ignore the fact that his powers are the same as Molecule Man (without the “organic” mental blocks).

In fact, pretty much any superpower that involves “controlling” something (water, earth, plants, machines, weather, etc.) is probably best understood as Molecule Man with idiosyncratic mental blocks.

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UnlikelyLass said on July 20th, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Kitty’s powers were used exactly as you describe here in the 80′s era X-Men/Micronauts limited series. Unbeknownst to the rest of the X-Men, her phasing through Baron Karza’s armor early in the series caused them to switch bodies.

Karza in Kitty’s body proceeded to phase various goons into walls and floors with abandon, racking up quite a body count.

Hyper-pedantically yours,
UnlikelyLass

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Storm once used hurricane force winds to chuck Colossus at a Sentinel

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… wait, Sue Richards is the ultimate knife missile?

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I’m remembering a story from the ’90s, some other readers may be able to quote the issue number, but the X-Men were dealing with a bomb that Arcade had put in that big Ferris wheel in London. Part of the solution they ended up coming up with was Storm creating a Jovian (as in Jupiter) pressure system around the car the bomb was in, crushing it like a beer can. I think maybe Bishop was there?

At the time, it took everything she had (like it does every time she has to use her powers for something dramatic), but still.

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Wolfthomas said on July 20th, 2013 at 10:18 pm

I think there was a re-occurring joke in Exiles that no Sue Storm in the multiverse could shut up about the time she beat the Hulk. I liked that.

I liked Exiles, why can’t we have nice things?

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Really, I consider this list more, “Five examples of how many comic books could be improved if their writers ever applied actual science to how superpowers work.”

Not to say that you’re wrong.

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SIlverHammerMan said on July 21st, 2013 at 12:43 am

In kind of a similar vein, I always enjoyed it in older Marvel comics that whenever Spider-Man crossed over with other superheroes he would always prove to be a pretty big threat in a fight. Given that he so regularly gets the stuffing beaten out of him it’s always nice when they remind you that a dude with super strength, agility, and a spider-sense, whose been fight dudes who want to kill him since his teens without any sort of support system, would have to be pretty badass.

Of course nowadays it’s not quite as “special” but still, I enjoy that element to the character.

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Tim O'Neil said on July 21st, 2013 at 1:20 am

One of the best moments from the original Secret Wars came early on, when the X-Men were still on the outs with the Avengers group, and Spidey basically tore through the entire team in just a couple pages. And they were left sitting there scratching their heads because none of them knew that Spidey was that good at fighting. (Of course, that was the mid-80s when the X-Men were still routinely portrayed as underdogs.)

One of the themes of Tom DeFalco’s FANTASTIC FOUR run was that Sue was not only the most powerful member of the team, but that the only restrictions on her power were in her mind. She actually single-handedly wounded a Celestial in FF #400, to give you an idea.

The current storyline in ASTONISHING X-MEN has Bobby losing his shit because of a part of an Apocalypse seed stuck in his body (long story) – he almost destroys all life on Earth by freezing everything, then starts running around as a gang of twenty-story tall ice giants who can toss around Thor.

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Power Pack would make a fine assassin squad. Alex sends your ass into space, Julie removes your head with a baseball bat (or at her speeds, a coin), Jack at 6″ tall weighing 80 pounds is denser than steel so he just drops on your head and goes through your skull. And Katie Power disintegrates you — and gets more powerful by doing so.

They could take out the DoFP Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in about 30 seconds.

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Pennyforth said on July 21st, 2013 at 7:43 am

KrisWV, you make my think of a friend of mine (and Marvel Super Heroes GM) who has long conjectured theories about what Alex as PowerPax could have been doing with all the powers working in concert. My favorite was the disintegrating cloud theory–the energy power disintegrates by touch, and the mass power disperses the body into a molecular cloud, so PowerPax could simply envelop an object to break it down and absorb the released energy.

(Oh, and just a clarification for the idiot writers who have actually had a chance to work on published Power Pack material, and somehow decided that the mass power turns the user into a cloud of water vapor–NO. You fail at both science and comic book science.)

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I always thought the badass designation was more about psychological capability than physical. The true badass is the person who can calmly choose to accept the pain of fighting and the pain of inflicting pain. And by the pain of inflicting pain, I mean this: Basic human empathy makes it painful for most people to seriously hurt another person at close quarters unless overwhelmed by rage or fear – and “overwhelmed” is generally antithetical to “badass”. If a character doesn’t have enough empathy or morality to make hurting others a real (if readily paid) cost, the character ceases to be someone we can empathize with as a hero. Hence the reason most badasses are also tortured souls.

It’s in the title. “Merciless Killing Machines.” None of these characters could become killing machines unless they had the psychological characteristic of mercilessness. And in a different universe, psychology is the only reason one could avoid laughing at the question of whether Batman could beat Superman in a fight without Kryptonite immediately present.

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I’m reminded of the “Belgariad” series by David Eddings in which one of the characters (Relg) has the power to “phase” through solid rock, in pretty much the same manner as Kitty Pryde. At one point he forces pushes someone into a solid rock wall while phasing them and…lets go. Instant dead bad guy.

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Michael Weiss said on July 21st, 2013 at 12:03 pm

So the first rule of writing for Magneto is to ignore the fact that his powers are the same as Molecule Man (without the “organic” mental blocks).

Fucking Magneto, how does he work?

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kingderella said on July 21st, 2013 at 12:28 pm

magik (or any teleporter, really) should be included in this list.

also, as a flip-side, here are some characters who have crap powers, but keep being a-list (or at least b-list) for mostly nostalgic reasons*:

cyclops: yeah, his beam is supposed to be super-powerful… but lets get real, he cant do anything that a raygun couldnt do.

angel: everybody knows how crap he is, which is why they come up with weird stuff like “metal wings”

beast: yeah, hes smart, but thats not his power.

captain america: hes a bit stronger than you!

spider-man: kinda strong and good at gymnastics? ive seen better.

iron man: how is he more powerful than any one sentinel? which the x-folks keep wasting by the score?

hawkeye: he has a bow!

daredevil: he can see! kind of!

(*or because theyre great characters, independently of their powers.)

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John 2.0 said on July 21st, 2013 at 1:02 pm

@Kingderella: saying Spiderman is ‘kinda strong and good at gymnastics’ is a gross understatement. His power level seems to fluctuate between lifting 10-20 tons. But the important thing is that he has an entire suite of powers that should make him the best fighter in the Marvel U.

It’s not only the super strength (which also seems to allow his muscles to act as structural supports when he balances on a fingertip), he has superhuman flexibility. He has precognitive reflexes. His ‘sticking to stuff’ power means he always has leverage to strike (or, say, yank your head clean off).

His biggest concern in any altercation should be NOT killing his opponent.

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Nobody Jones said on July 21st, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I understand what you’re getting at with this article, but I have to wonder whether this kind of thinking is all that healthy for the medium. This is one of the worst kinds of fandom discussions, but theorycrafting about grotesque ways for otherwise decent characters to murder people only makes it worse. You’re basically trying to dismiss an argument (“Wolverine is the baddest ass that ever assed”) by participating in it(“Nuh uh, Kitty Pryde could totally phase a log through his head if she wanted so shut up, nerd”), and hypothesizing about invisible razor wire probably doesn’t help the level of discourse. I mean, despite what you said, it seems like you really do want to see a comic where Sue Storm explodes Doctor Doom’s eyeballs. Otherwise why would you spent almost the entire article discussing stuff like that?

I don’t really mean to be so harsh. You’re a good writer and your last point was absolutely worth making. It’s just that I worry that when comic writers think like this, we end up with a universe where everyone is a murder machine rather than one that’s any fun. I could be way off base here, of course.

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@Nobody Jones: It was intended as a satire of the mentality, but if it didn’t work for you, it didn’t work. No need to feel bad about saying so.

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I always found it amusing that Sue was portrayed as the weakest member of the F4 in the Silver Age but – in the 20+ years that I’ve been reading comics – she’s unquestionably been one of the most powerful heroes on Earth.

I second the honorable mention for Spider-Man. He’s faster than everyone that isn’t a full-on speedster. He’s stronger than everyone that isn’t a full-on brick. He’s smarter than that isn’t a full-on genius. He’s better at aerial combat than most fliers. He knows about enemy attacks a split second before they’re launched. And he’s standing on the ceiling above you. Boo!

Seriously, I’m actually surprised that Marvel doesn’t play with just how terrifying Spider-Man’s powers are seeing as Otto and Kaine aren’t nearly as restrained as Peter was. Heck, old-school Kaine WAS that guy; sure his power set was tweaked a little (slightly slower, a lot stronger, had actual premonitions) but he was still a guy who used his clinging ability to rip off faces.

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Tim O'Neil said on July 21st, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I’ve always wondered why so many people said they didn’t understand how Kaine did what he did to people’s faces – I seem to remember letters pages where fans asked point-blank how it was done. It made perfect sense to me – what would happen if Spider-Man used his powers on human flesh? He’s probably burn off a fistful of you with the combination of strength and friction, is what.

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I have to disagree with Nobody Jones: you ought to do another one of these for DC.

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I remember a comc some years back where the Invisible Woman destroyed a Doombot by extending a force field through the open part of its facemask, then expanded it until it crushed everything inside and burst the armor to flinders.

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on July 22nd, 2013 at 8:14 am

This is something I liked about the old What If? comics… a lot of stories were variations on “if these characters just let loose on each other one day, they’d all wind up dead”.

There was one where Dracula is running around turning people, and vampire Juggernaut kills Dr Strange in 2 seconds by running full speed into his spine. (Granted that was VAMPIRE Juggernaut.)

Another one was a five-page bonus story… “what if Peter Parker missed the bus?” or something, and by the end of those five pages Hulk is dead, Thor is dead, the FF are never to be, Tony Stark is a puddle of goo and basically the Marvel Universe is reduced to Matt Murdock tackling disability discrimination cases.

But yeah, that comic was a fun testing ground for exploring the lethal side of pretty much every Marvel character.

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Planetary’s version of the Fantastic Four – known as just the Four – recognises that their Invisible Woman analogue is the most dangrous member of that quartet:

http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Kim_Suskind_%28Wildstorm_Universe%29

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Wafflebot said on July 23rd, 2013 at 12:16 am

Storm, in the X-books, does badass things without even trying. Best recent example-blocking a high-level optic blast (from a mind-controlled Cyclops) with a massive bolt of lightning. She’s also taken advantage of the principles of windshear to bully Emma Frost (hurricane winds plus steel rod=shattered diamond form), as well as the aforementioned Jovian hurricane field. She’s only the zappy-zap/hail slinging long-range fighter in cosmiccossovers.

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Heksefatter said on July 23rd, 2013 at 9:40 am

I can’t help of thinking of Cracked’s lists. Anyways, the power levels and arguments for them have added up, so who cares?

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Brian T. said on July 24th, 2013 at 1:08 am

I’m trying to not fly into level nine nerd rage at the idea that Batman could ever beat Superman without kryptonite.

Almost twenty years later, I am still incredibly annoyed by how writers like Grant Morrison, Jeph Loeb and Mark Waid used a bunch of really dumb stuff to try to convince everyone that Batman could kill any superhero any time he wants.

That horrible Mark Waid comic with the Superman analogue who went around killing everybody should give people some idea of how a Batman/Superman fight should really go down. Yeah, “Dark Knight Returns” was cool, but Superman was clearly holding back during that fight and Batman had some kryptonite. None of Batman’s fancy weapons actually did much to Superman.

DC has a ton of characters who could easily kill Batman if Grant Morrison and Wizard hadn’t conditioned a lot of fans to think of Batman as an unstoppable force of nature who is really cool when he does things like spying on other superheroes and coming up with fancy ways to torture Aquaman.

Superman, just for example, could easily fry Batman with heat vision any time he felt like it. Heck, Green Arrow could defeat Batman if he was having a good day. Anyone who has ever watched Mythbusters should understand how a close range explosion could ruin Batman’s day even if he was wearing special armor at the time.

I liked Batman a lot more before Crisis on Infinite Earths when he wasn’t the best martial artist around, he wasn’t some kind of Reed Richards-level mad scientist and he didn’t spend his spare time thinking about how to kill the Martian Manhunter.

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Spartakos said on July 24th, 2013 at 11:53 am

Planetary’s version of the Fantastic Four – known as just the Four – recognises that their Invisible Woman analogue is the most dangrous member of that quartet.

Damn, I was going to mention that.
Interestingly enough, Elijah Snow also has the Iceman-analogue powers, and he has demonstrated their lethal potential (in freezing people solid) several times.

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American Hawkman said on July 24th, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Thor also doesn’t have to worry about screwing with the butterfly effect with his powers. Storm has godlike control over the weather, but if she makes it rain somewhere, or calls in a snowstorm in July, she’s screwing up the weather someplace else, as Claremont showed a time or two. Thor calls down the weather without screwing up anything of the sort, because his power doesn’t have to mess with the physics of anything via magic.

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Scavenger said on July 25th, 2013 at 11:21 am

In a recent A+X with Kitty and Spider-Woman, she uses a trick where she phases her hand into an AIM soldiers head and snaps, inducing instant concussion….and she has a fire breathing dragon as a pet.

*************

re: Spider-man…thing with him..and referring to Peter, he’s really going to be one of the most experienced heroes around. He was one of the first of the modern heroes of the MU post F4 debut, and has been a hero constantly since he was teenager.

Meanwhile, Captain America always seems a little over rated to me in that area…it’s not like he was active all those years between WW2 and now. And i’m not sure being a great WW2 era fighter means jack in relation to todays fighters. (THAT’s something Deadliest Warrior should have studied!)

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Brian T. said on July 27th, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Captain America was trained in boxing, wrestling, gymnastics and judo originally. This would make him sort of like a UFC fighter and would have given him huge advantages back during World War II. In the present, where there are a lot of people in Marvel comics with some kind of martial arts training? Not so much.

However, they have gone out of their way many times to explain that Captain America is one of the best martial artists around. Through sparring sessions with other Avengers, countless fights against supervillains and just figuring out stuff on his own, he somehow taught himself to be basically the Remo Williams of the Marvel universe.

Most of the time, I’m okay with that. Writers sometimes had him do totally ridiculous things like taking on thirty supervillains (several of whom were stronger than him) at once and winning or somehow defeating Hercules with grappling techniques (or that time he used a judo flip on the Hulk and it worked). But most of the time, I’m able to just take it as a given that Captain America is the best fighter in the area.

You do have a point, Scavenger. Back during World War II, a lot of superheroes got by through a combination of gymnastics and boxing. Which only makes sense to me when I consider that they would be fighting guys who picked up everything they knew from getting into fist fights over stupid stuff in high school, or maybe some training at a boxing gym. You might occasionally run into somebody who wrestled in high school, but the options were more limited back then.

IIRC correctly, a lot of martial arts instructors from China and Japan refused to teach white people until, like, the 1960s. So, it wasn’t like Captain America would be running into kung fu masters on a regular basis back in the day.

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bonzobenz said on August 22nd, 2013 at 1:37 pm

this is a fairly interesting topic….but to sum up what a soldier friend of mine once said, the mind behind the weapon is more dangerous than the weapon itself. i guess here it would say that it doesn’t matter if a hero’s powers were super duper omega level. the willingness to end another individual’s life does not come easily to untrained people.

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