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5 Comic Book Characters That Are More Powerful Than You Think

Updated on July 24, 2015

When it comes to comic books, power levels and abilities seem to jump all over the place. Even if you don’t count the publisher-approved changes to characters, the fact that different scribes and editors tend to have different ideas ensure that no character will remain consistent throughout the years.

One thing that remains consistent, though, is that there will always be overpowered characters. It’s the entire selling point of many superheroes: they are so overpowered that writers start to have problems finding suitable opponents. And we’re not just talking about physical powers. Batman has no actual superpower, but his keen intellect and martial arts abilities means that there are only a handful of villains in his rogues gallery that will actually win against him. In fact, Batman is so overpowered that he frequently punches way above his weight – even beating villains that have godlike abilities, and no reader ever bats an eyelash.

On the other hand, there are characters who end up getting the short end of the stick. Characters who are actually much, much stronger (or generally more effective in combat) than what people have come to believe throughout the years. Here are 5 of the most commonly underrated heroes in terms of power:

#1. The Thing (Marvel)

There is no doubt that the comic books faithfully represent Thing as the powerhouse of the Fantastic Four. There are no stories where the Human Torch suddenly lifted more weight than the Thing or that Reed (who is actually stronger than a normal human) suddenly did work that requires brute strength. The point is simple: when it comes to strength, The Thing is the man. At least, within the context of the Fantastic Four.

What Makes Him More Powerful Than Expected?

The character’s strength is frequently underrated because he gets pitted against Marvel’s big solo heavyweights like Hulk or Thor, and the writers don’t waste time in making Thing lose, just to establish the danger that these guest characters pose to the entire group. E.g. Hulk defeated the strongest member of Fantastic Four, that means he’s a force to be reckoned with!

There’s also the issue of his skin. It gives people the impression that the Thing is made or rocks, and that automatically makes him weaker than he’s supposed to be because even guys like Captain America are capable of shattering rocks. The Hulk breaks rocks under his feet just by walking really hard. The Thing doesn’t stand a chance!

Except Thing isn’t really made out of rocks. His skin just looks like it (although some artists have drawn it as capable of being chipped.) The character’s durability is enough that he can actually match the Hulk blow for blow.

In the strength department, Fantastic Four #108’s letter page has an admission that the creators have always intended Thing to be roughly equal in power to the Hulk, and that the Hulk only gets an edge because he is physically larger, and his power increases the more frustrated he gets, whereas The Thing subconsciously holds back because he’s afraid of hurting people. So what happens he’s not? All you need to do is check FF #210, where Reed removed Grimm’s psychological restraints resulting in a Thing that can go toe to toe with the Hulk (with the downside being that he’s turned evil.)

#2 Aquaman (DC Comics)

Chalk it up to the Superfriends cartoon and the countless memes that it spawned, particularly the ones created by people who weren’t even born yet when the cartoon aired, Aquaman is frequently treated as a mere joke. Basically, he’s the guy whose superpower is breathing underwater and talking to fish, both nifty powers but not terribly useful in a land fight, especially since he’s always fighting alongside men and women who can punch mountains into gravel.

What Makes Him More Powerful Than Expected?

He lives under the sea. He survives and functions really well in an environment where the water pressure would crush even the a musclebound athlete like an overripe tomato. Imagine how strong and fast he is on land. There’s also the fact that he’s the king the seas and his authority isn’t just recognized by the sea creatures, but also the entire population of Atlantis. You know, people like him, who are very fast and strong on land.

Most members of the Justice League can be considered a one man army, but Aquaman is a one man army who has an actual army larger than any nation’s.

#3 Multiple Man (Marvel)

Jamie Madrox AKA Multiple Man has the power to create clones of himself, using kinetic energy that he has absorbed from the environment (anything from snapping his fingers to getting punched will give him enough kinetic energy to produce clones.) The copies are exact duplicates with independent thoughts and memories, and each one can get harmed or killed without affecting the original.

Since Multiple Man is just a normal human (albeit a very athletic one) outside of his multiplying powers, he is usually seen as not very useful during the big fights. After all, guys like Thor can probably thunder-and-lightning the crap out of every single clone with one fell swoop, and Wolverine can as easily slice his way through them. However, people tend to overlook the fact that the usefulness of powers doesn’t always rely on physical combat.

What Makes Him More Powerful Than Expected?

Jamie can reabsorb his clones, and when he does, he gains all of their knowledge, skill, and memories. The utility of this is similar to parallel processing – if you think Batman is so damn good because he spent a decade or so studying various martial arts, learning how to be a scientist, and tactician, imagine how good Jamie is if he can delegate those things to different clones and just reabsorbs them later. He can turn into Batman faster, and get this: once he reabsorbs his clones and gains enough knowledge and skill to be Batman, he can then create a thousand clones of himself. Now he can sit at home comfortably while an entire batallion of Batmen cleans up the streets for him.

#4 Superman (DC Comics)

Superman seems like a strange addition to this list. Everybody thinks he’s too overpowered and his different iterations sometimes come up with all sorts of new powers. He’s super-duper strong, super durable, equally as fast, can fly, and shoot lasers out of his eyes. In fact, his two main weaknesses – kryptonite and magic – don’t always do the job and he has since come up with contingency measures against them (although writers do forget sometimes, intentionally so in order to produce a halfway logical story.)

What Makes Him More Powerful Than Expected?

The amusing thing is that people are still underestimating Superman’s abilities because they’re so focused on his offensive and defensive capabilities that they miss out on the utilitarian aspects. He’s also highly intelligent, with some writers explaining it as a result of his brain being faster and more efficient tan humans. Most people just take it to mean as being very intelligent, which is fine because he certainly is capable of building all sorts of alien technology over at his fortress, but it’s so much more than that.

One only needs to look at the Red Son story (which is an Elsewords story, but still explains his abilities well), where his ability to move really fast and a brain that can keep up with the pace allowed him to outmaneuver an army of Green Lanterns, simply because he can function way, way faster than they can think (and their powers require thought.) Superman’s powers allow him to function in a way that makes the entire world move in slow motion, giving him ample time to attack or react to incoming attacks.

#5 Magneto (Marvel)

Magneto has received a lot of attention lately, thanks to the Fox movies. Yet despite Sir Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender’s terrific portrayals, people still tend to think that his powers are limited to controlling metals. The main confusion seems to stem from the fact that people are under the impression that his main mutant power is being a human magnet, which means his powers tend to revolve around controlling paramagnetic material and confusing the members of Insane Clown Posse.

What Makes Him More Powerful Than Expected?

Magneto is not a human magnet. He’s a mutant who has complete control over electromagnetism. You know, one of those things that get lumped in with gravitation, weak nuclear reaction, and strong nuclear reaction – those things that they like to refer to as the four fundamental forces of nature.

Newer comic book scribes seem to have wisened up to the true extent of Magneto’s powers, as they have shown him do some clever things with his powers. Do you remember the plastic or glass cage that’s frequently touted as an ideal prison for him? They are made of atoms, which in turn are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons that are being held together by magnetic fields. One would assume that Magneto could exert some sort of control over these diamagnetic items simply by manipulating the magnetic fields holding them together. Or he could do what he did to an icicle in X-Men vol. 2 #87, which is break it apart by manipulating the magnetic fields that hold its atoms together.

You want to know what else is made up of atoms? You. If Magneto wanted, he can split you apart at the atomic level without even lifting a finger.

That’s just the tip of things he can do with electromagnetism, he can also use it to levitate anything he wants, create magnetic forcefields, reinforce his own body, create illusions, generate heat, generate electricity, meddle with your thoughts, and be self-sustaining.

Honorable Mention: Electro (Marvel)

Electro has always been portrayed in the comics as a doofus that Spider-man can easily round up on any given day, twice on Sunday. But the Ultimate version and the one in Amazing Spider-Man 2 proves that he’s not just a walking powerbank. Basically, if Electro really knew how to use his powers, he would have powers similar to Magneto’s

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