“Copywritten so…don’t copy me.”
I know you’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. Mutant characters with the same damn powers.
I’m not talking about telepathy and telekinesis either. Those abilities, and their combinations, have been granted to so many characters, it’s not surprising when you see it because you know what to expect. Then there’s everyone else.
“How is this character’s energy blast different from such-and-such?“; “Why doesn’t he get as strong if they both absorb the same energy?“; “These two guys can copy powers, but what’s the difference?“. I’m going to answer some of these questions by juxtaposing sets of similarly-powered characters and then determine whose ability is most powerful to leave them the last man standing.
“Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)”
Ireland’s Banshee and Siryn (bottom right, top right; respectively) both have the ability to basically scream VERY loud, which comes with certain aspects. They both can fly at subsonic speeds using the sonic waves they produce from screaming as a thrust; they can modulate the frequency of the scream to shatter solid matter, hypnotize people or render them unconscious. Their powers also provide them with a superhuman vocal cords, hearing and an enhanced auditory system.
Pink-haired American Ruckus (immediate left), a Peter David creation, is a hypersonic mimic. He mentally senses any sound in his immediate vicinity and records it in his memory. He can then replicate the sound through his vocal cords, but a thousand times louder. He once used a small firecracker as fuel before recreating the sound during battle. His power can damage solid matter, a living person’s auditory system, and render people unconscious or make them collapse in pain. His body also compensates for his powers with a resistance to intense sound.
The feral Scotsman Kylun (center) can use his vocal cords replicate sound as exactly as he hears it. His power makes no change to the tone, pitch or volume. Presumably, like Ruckus, his power comes with a psionic detector that records sounds to allow precise reproduction later. Also, like the latter three, his body is most likely adapted to withstand loud decibels.
WHO WINS? Ruckus. Kylun must have a threshold for the loudness of a sound he can reproduce or his eardrums can withstand. If he hears Banshee scream at point-blank range, all he can do is imitate that same scream as he heard it. Banshee’s vocal cords also have limits, he once exhausted his power in battle and lost both it and the ability to speak for long while. Ruckus can take Banshee’s or Siryn’s or sonic scream and amplify it a thousand times right back at them with no harm to himself. In his first appearance, Ruckus robbed a convenient store, waited for the police to arrive just so he could use the store alarms and police sirens to feed his power, which he then used to kill the cops. He’s that sadistic, which is another reason for why he wins.
“Hold candles to solar panels.”
Each one of these mutants (an East Indian, a mixed-race Brazilian American and a Japanese) each have a solar component to their powers.
Thunderbird III (left) selectively converts his body into solar plasma. Turning his eyes, hands are feet into thermodynamic furnaces enables them to emit intense light and heat that allow flight propulsion, explosive energy projection (which can assume shapes and levels of solidity of his choosing) and an immunity to heat of his own or other sources.
Sunspot (center) absorbs solar energy into his body and converts it into physical power. When powered, his skin turns pitch black and solar energy resembling sunspots crackle around his body. When he uses his power, he gains superhuman strength (10 tons being the upper limit), energy force blasts comprised of dark solar energy, and utilizing his solar energy for flight. His skin’s black pigment is produced due to his absorption of all the colors of light (energies) in the visible spectrum, indicating that he is rapidly absorbing energy from across the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
Sunfire’s (right) power converts matter into energy. He ionizes matter (usually atmospheric gas) into a fiery plasma state. He then utilizes that heat for flight propulsion as well as releasing it as blasts of nuclear flame and intense heat. At maximum level, he can generate flames as hot as 1,000,000 Fahrenheit before temporarily exhausting his power. Sunfire can also create a psionic force field while using his flame powers. The field protects him from heat and radiation, from both outside sources and his own generation.
WHO WINS? Sunfire. Not only does he have more experience with his power than the others, but his power involves a matter/energy conversion process. While he’s never done so, he could ionize living organic matter to fuel his power. Thunderbird’s power converts him into solar plasma, as hot as the sun. If Shiro gets to him first, he can convert him into a different form of fiery plasma and bend him to his will, the same goes for Sunspot.
“Assault and BATTERY.”
These two future mutants turned X-Men we born with abilities that make them walking batteries. Bishop (right) absorbs all form of energy upon contact. The common use of his power is redirecting that energy as force blasts from his hands. He can also use it to boost his physical strength and stamina slightly, but below superhuman levels. He also seems to have an upper limit to the amount of energy and energy signatures he can absorb.
Skullfire, his X-Men 2099 counterpart, has more defined energy absorption powers. For a long while, he would automatically drain all energy in his surroundings and release the build-up as a highly explosive charge. Gaining control over his power allowed him to absorb energy at will from chosen sources, storing energy indefinitely instead of automatically releasing it, and adjusting the intensity of his blasts. He also learned how to mentally pinpoint hidden power sources and draw upon different energy signatures.
WHO WINS? Skullfire. While Bishop’s power automatically absorbs any energy he comes into contact with, it’s up to him on whether to store it, use it to give himself an increase in strength or fire off an energy blast. Skullfire became more of an actual energy manipulator as his power evolved. Warping Bishop’s energy would be child’s play once he drew upon it put it under his control.
“Tryna sound like Pete Nelson, but you can’t even copy right.”
Plain and simple, what these men do is copy. Though synonymous with “unoriginal”, they’re respective capabilities are not.
Synch (far right) has the power to manipulate his own mutagenic aura. A mutagenic aura is the radiant, but typically invisible energy signature produced as a by-product of those who possess the mutant gene. All mutants have it. Synch actively feels his and manifests it as a rainbow signature. Synchronizing it with that of any nearby mutant(s) allows him to copy their powers. He could also manifest duplicated powers through his aura by having it act on the same principle. If he synched with the Blob, he naturally wouldn’t want to become morbidly obese in addition to becoming immovable and impervious to harm. So he’d be able to have his aura act as an immovable object while becoming similarly impervious as the Blob. He can only retain copied powers for a certain period of getting far out of range from his source.
The Mimic (now officially not a mutant….again) sends out mental waves into his environment that scan living beings and relay this information back to him, enabling him to rearrange his genetic structure to copy a person’s intellectual and physical skills and (if any) superhuman powers. Put him around Tom Brady, he’ll be just as good a football player. Put him next to Stephen Hawking, his cognitive abilities will match. Put him around all five original X-Men, he’ll copy all of their powers and permanently keep them. The Mimic loses abilities once he gets outside of the 1-mile radius within which his power operates. Through long term exposure, combined with certain power enhancements, he has permanently retained the powers of the original X-Men.
Gideon (center) has the power to equalize himself against his opponents. Typically, this manifests as power-mimicry when he’s up against a biologically-superhuman opponent.. Like the Mimic, his power probably scans his opponents’ capabilities and allows him to replicate them. But his power also works with robots as well. When fighting battle droids in a training exercise, Gideon manifested their mechanical strength, computer-assisted reflexes, and metallic durability. It stands to reason that he could also mimic the capabilities of Tony Stark’s armors or even those of cyborgs.
WHO WINS? Gideon. He’s demonstrated an almost intuitive capacity for being more proficient with the abilities he assimilates. If he gets around Synch or the Mimic, he could take on their duplicated powers (even their own natural ability to copy) and mop the floor. Also, Gideon doesn’t need living beings (with genes and energy sources) for his power to draw from. Synch and the Mimic do, though. Plus, with Gideon being near-immortal, even any off-chance of the latter two doing Gideon any permanent damage is slim-to-none.
“You’re just a clone of them, have you no way to set a fire?”
At first glance, these guys all appear to be walking Xerox machines….of themselves. Timeshadow’s (left) power is that any location he can potentially reach within five seconds is immediately accessible to him. Because of the nature of his powers, he doesn’t have to actually physically move. His body can relocate itself to any position within his range, resembling line-of-sight teleportation or short bursts of super-speed. for either of these: his body will just “slide” in a blur of multiple images to his new location. Also, he can manifest multiple probable locations at once, creating “phase-forms”: Versions of himself from alternate probabilities where he moved in different directions. He can also make leave our timeframe completely and the re-appear five seconds later.
Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man (center), has the mutant ability to generate identical duplicates of himself upon impact. Each impact, regardless of the amount of accompanying kinetic energy creates only one duplicate of him. In a combination with a special suit and years of training, he’s gained full mastery over his power to the point where he doesn’t create dupes through accidental impacts. The amount of duplicates he can generate now appears to be unlimited. Each dupe is capable of independent thought, feeling and action (though they’re typically guided by whatever thoughts prompted Madrox-Prime to generate them) and also possess the same self-replication power. He’s mentally linked to all of his dupes and can re-absorb them at will via a deliberate thought command.
Canada’s very own Flashback manifests future versions of himself in the present. He pulls counterparts of himself from random split-second instances to even years in the future into the present. He can manifest them anywhere in his line of sight, also his future selves are mindless automatons so Flashback can imprint his own consciousness over theirs, with them acting as extensions of his will.
WINNER? Madrox. Madrox and Flashback’s dupes both vanish when the prime is rendered unconscious. Timeshadow only looks like he self-copies. However, Flashback and Timeshadow’s powers require line-of-sight to function. Madrox could have them all surrounded with his dupes and do a mob attack that swells both men’s eyes shut. Plus, c’mon…it’s Jamie Madrox.
“Makes us harder, better, faster, stronger!”
Sebastian Shaw and Guido Carosella (who goes by his never-used, facetious code name “Strong Guy”) both have superhuman strength gained by absorbing kinetic energy. But they’re practically yin and yang.
WINNER? Sebastian Shaw. Guido‘s power feeds kinetic energy directly into his muscles when he absorbs it, causing them to swell. Sebastian Shaw becomes stronger, but he shows no outwards signs of his strength increasing.
The first manifestation of power his left his upper body’s muscles bloated and disfigured permanently, leaving him with chronic physical pain. Conversely, he now maintains a regular superhuman strength level (upper limit of 50 tons) without absorbing kinetic energy. Guido has to release the kinetic energy with 90 seconds after absorbing it, otherwise he risks further bodily distortions. He’s also suffered a heart attack after absorbing excess kinetic energy.
Without absorption, Shaw has athlete strength-level. Unlike Guido, he can store kinetic energy indefinitely without any physical distress. He can still be knocked out or overloaded by excessive amounts of injury, but it won’t cause him any lasting physical harm.
“Good, good, good, good vibrations!”
What could a Mexican with an Anglo surname and a Greek immigrant have in common? They’re both skilled in generating vibrations.
Rictor (left) generates vibration in two ways. Through physical contact, even with the ground, he can radiate his vibes to simulate earthquakes or even shake, crumble and shatter solid materials. He later learned to direct his power outwards as a blast called “vibe-quakes”. Using his power like a gun, he could generate vibrations of different intensity over a distance for various effects. Avalanche (right) generates his vibes outwards, but uses them to generate continuous ripple effects on the ground beneath, allowing him to ride it like a wave. He can also generate his vibrations from a distance and doesn’t necessarily require physical contact.
WINNER? Rictor. His power comes with a psychic sensitivity to geological phenomena, allowing him to “feel” the earth’s seismic activity on a local scale. Unlike Rictor, Avalanche’s powers were not made to be used on organic matter. He once tried to use his vibratory waves on the Hulk, only to have them reflected back on him and shattering both of his arms in the process.
“When you float like a cannonball.”
The Kentucky coal-miner (Cannonball) and the Moroccan (Jetstream) have the same power: They bodily generate thermo-chemical energy and release it through their skin. That energy is accompanied by smoke, flame, heat and condensation. Releasing the energy downward propels them through the air and allows them to fly. So guess who’s the…
WINNER? Cannonball. They have the same power, but with three notable exceptions: 1.) Jetstream wasn’t immune to the energy he released and ended up damaging his legs so badly that he needed bionic replacements. 2.) Cannonball lacked maneuverability while in flight for several years. Jetstream’s bionics also included a guidance system the enhanced his ability to maneuver in flight. 3.) Cannonball’s energy not only propels him through the air, but also shields him from any physical harm while in-flight. That’s something Jetstream didn’t have. In addition, you have to also take into consideration all the different ways Cannonball mastered his abilities (force-fields and force blasts) in which Jetstream didn’t (on account of his being dead, but still).
“I gave myself a boost, Doctor.”
Fabian Cortez with the pimp cape and Michael “the Heroin addict” Nowlan are super-chargers for other people’s powers. Remember when I defined “mutagenic aura” in the power-mimic segment? Well, Cortez can actively feel his aura and feed it into another mutant’s aura as a hypercharge for their abilities. Cortez can also determine the extent to which he amplifies powers. Nowlan generates energies that temporarily boost the powers of other mutants. He could control the effect of his power as well, causing and increase or a complete shut down in powers. The effect of his power has like an addictive drug, possibly a side-effect of his own drug addiction.
WINNER? Fabian Cortez. Cortez can weaponize his power and has none of Nowlan’s addictive impediments. Cortez can use his power’s energy signature to constrict foes or even create shields. Cortez’s use of his power didn’t enhance his target’s abilities so much as overcharging those abilities to the point of pain or incapacitation. Used on Nowlan, he’d burn out faster than he would from smack.
“It can be said I have a magnetic personality.”
Magneto. Polaris. Polaris. Magneto. Father, daughter. Same power: To manipulate the force of magnetism. Polaris has a latent secondary mutation that was activated when her magnetic powers were absorbed from her. This power allows her to absorb negative emotional energy and convert it into increased size, strength, endurance, and invulnerability. Her power also re-released the negative energy back into her environment at an enhanced level, which caused others to act more violent, selfish, bloodthirsty, etc.
WINNER? Magneto. Why? Uh…because he’s always been shown as more powerful?
“Greater than the sum of its parts.”
These two sets of mutants have one thing in common despite their Cold War character themes: They’re a gestalt. The Chinese Communist Collective Man is comprised of a set of identical quintuplets. They’re all mentally linked and can teleport into each other’s presence. They can also merge into one being with five times the strength, speed, endurance, reaction time, durability, and regenerative powers of a single brother. They can also temporarily tap into the collective strength of the entire Chinese people, amplifying their strength to almost incalculable levels for a few moments of time.
Team America is an un-related quintet of stunt cyclists with a telepathic rapport with one another. Through this link, they’re a projecting gestalt using their combined strength to summon a being named the Marauder. The Marauder was an independent personality created as an extension of Team America’s collective subconscious. It had the combination of roughly five times the strength, agility, endurance and reflexes of a normal man, all of their cycling ability and other skills such as electronics, machinery, etc. The motorcycle that it rode on was created via the gestalt. The Marauder manifests through a human host, usually one decided on by the gestalt.
WINNER? Team America. Because to Hell with those Commie bastards! No, seriously…one aspect of the Collective Man’s power is that he can duplicate himself forty times over and grow to giant-size. Team America can project the Marauder onto the Collective Man in that form while CM’s psyche(s) lay dormant.
“And nature abhors a vacuum.”
Nightcrawler’s a devout Catholic who looks like a demon, and has extreme agility and can teleport. Siena Blaze is a lawless anarchist whose power creates holes in the Earth’s electromagnetic field every time she uses it. Every time she fires off an energy blast or teleports, it’s bad for mother Earth (or rather, that’s what the writers wanted us to believe).
WINNER? Siena Blaze. Her teleportation effect is deadly and she once used her power to scramble Nightcrawler’s power. Want more? Ok. When Nightcrawler teleports, he passes through the Brimstone Dimension and the atmosphere of that universe briefly touches with ours. This creates a burst of flame, a stench of brimstone, and a rushing of air that produces a “BAMF” noise. The rush of air comes from the man-sized vacuum of space he leaves behind, and the surrounding air flowing to fill that void. But, his power has to align with the planet’s E.M. once he re-appears, hence, how Siena can screw up his power.
Siena‘s power creates an electromagnetic void when she teleports. Because she’s a part of the planet’s E.M. field, once she teleports she takes a piece of the E.M. field with her, leaving a void. That void of electromagnetic energy is then forcibly filled by the surrounding energies, creating an extraordinarily violent implosion in her wake.
“Lightning… fire… the power of God or somethin’.“
Reality Altering is the power to manipulate and change time, space, matter, energies and forces according to one’s imagination. Some people get a mere taste, others get the full measure. Each of these mutants, from left to right, have a parent who’s a leading scientist: Reed Richards, Moira MacTaggert and Charles Xavier.
WINNER? Franklin Richards. The boy created life with his powers. Look at the Heroes Reborn universe. Plus he’s been consistently dubbed as the most powerful mutant for decades now. Proteus can alter reality, but was limited to line-of-sight and could only manipulate existing matter and forces. Legion’s power allows him to give himself any power he can think of and is capable of anything Franklin’s power allows him to conceive of, but there’s much about him that has not yet been explained.
All images appear courtesy of the Marvel Entertainment Group.
Sy L. Shackleford is a jack-of-all-trades columnist for Action A Go Go. A University of Connecticut graduate with a degree in both psychology and communication sciences, he is a walking encyclopedic repository for all things Marvel Comics, movies, hip-hop, et. al. You can follow him on Twitter @shack_house83.
The views and commentaries expressed on these pages are solely those of their authors and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by ActionAGoGo.com.