Monday, April 23, 2012

What's the Best Superpower? part II: Environmental Considerations

When I wrote about having the best superpower, I established that, first and foremost, the superpower alone isn't going to determine victory in a fight.  It's going to depend on how you use it versus how your opponent uses his or her own abilities, what kind of environment you're fighting in, and oftentimes just how lucky you are. With so many variables in play, there really is no one perfect superpower suited to all situations.

I'd like to set some rules about the macro-environment in which you would answer this question.  G-Man establishes that you would be put in a comic book world and allowed one superpower--only one.  Fair enough on first glance, but before we go on, I'd like to set up a couple of other scenarios by changing around some of the terms of his premise.  For instance, consider:

  • The World: what if you were given superpowers in "this" world, or real life?  There are, of course, no other people in this world known to have the kinds of superpowers you find in comic books (at least, not conclusively proven).  This would change the entire way you thought about this question, as there are no other metahumans you may potentially have to fight, work with, or otherwise compete against.  You'd be the only person in this world with, say, flight, or invisibility or super-strength.  It doesn't mean you wouldn't have to have a high level of tactical cognition, however.  If you became a threat because of your powers, the government or some other entity would try to find people, ways, and methods to take away your power or use it against you.  You'd also have to deal with the possibility that the world would fear and hate you due to your remarkable difference from the rest of the world.  Sound familiar?
  • Superpower: what if we thought of powers a little more liberally--say, power sets as opposed to a single superpower?  I think this question bears consideration, as it seems a little constricting to say, "You can only have super-strength and nothing else.  You can punch through steel and lift cars and nothing else.  At. All."  Usually powers tend to come in a set.  For example, super-strength is usually far more than just that.  Where the strength comes from and how it manifests could have potentially far-reaching ramifications for a new young hero.  Take a look at the Hulk.  Yeah, he's super-strong, but is that all?  Absolutely not!  He's also nigh invulnerable, also from the gamma bomb incident!  I think it's generally fair to assume that invulnerability--a separate power for this and most other such purposes--is a possible ability that either comes with or can be developed within a super-strength power set.  Games such as City of Heroes and X-Men Legends/Marvel Ultimate Alliance often make allowances for developing such related-yet-different power groupings.
For the purpose of my answer to this question, I'm going to change up the terms slightly.  I agree with G-Man in that this question is most fairly answered by placing yourself in a comic book or fantasy world with other superpowered heroes and villains (though I do think the scenario I proposed is worth thinking about).  I do think, however, that my own inclination towards power sets will take precedence when I answer.

Next time around I'll explore several top contenders for ideal power sets before naming off the one I think would work best for me.  Until then, enjoy!

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