The police, Spider-Man, morals... seriously, it’s hard out there for a supervillain. Add in some laughably terrible superpowers, though, and there’s a bunch of bad guys that are better off staying in bed.
Of course, much like their underwhelmingly-superpowered hero counterparts, just because a villain doesn’t have the strength of Black Adam or the brains of the High Evolutionary, doesn’t mean they can’t be evil. After all, it doesn’t take superpowers to rob a bank or steal a car, or even sink a country into fascism. Anyone can be awful if they try hard enough.
For the purposes of this list, we are sticking to tried-and-true villains, bad dudes and dudettes who have been around for years, harassing do-gooders over and over again, even if they really should have been written out after their first appearance. We're also sticking strictly to superpowered metahumans this time, so no armored adversaries or outclassed archers here.
Let’s give these guys and gals some credit, though: every day these villains wake up, plan their evil deeds, then end up punched in the face and sobbing in a jail cell. Then they break out and do it all over again, knowing full well that they are at a terrible, terrible disadvantage. Criminals may be a cowardly and superstitious lot, but, man, are they persistent.
Here are the 15 Comic Book Villains With Totally Useless Powers, Ranked.
Over the years, there have been at least six Sportsmasters, for reasons unknown. For the purposes of this list, we're only going to talk about Victor Gover, the only Sportsmaster to possess actual meta-human abilities.
The second Sportsmaster overall, Victor, like all the rest, was a professional athlete who turned to crime using sports-related accessories – exploding hockey pucks, lacrosse snare nets, that kind of thing. Unlike the others, though, he possessed "photographic reflexes," an ill-defined power that would probably be great in a street brawl, but not so hot when your enemies are guys who can create green energy cages from their rings or punch you at the speed of sound.
DC Comics apparently felt the same way and retconned Sportsmaster's superpowers away during Zero Hour, though, against all better judgement, they kept the character. The name Sportsmaster has become something of a mantle since then, bouncing from villain to villain, despite the fact that he is very clearly a reject from the 1960s’ Batman show.
14 Rat King
Like a Squirrel Girl that no one ever learned to love, the Rat King is a mentally unstable homeless man with the ability to command rats.
As a staple of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' rogues gallery from their earliest Mirage comics, the Rat King dresses in rags and bandages and, depending on the incarnation, has the ability to telepathically control rats, can control rats via a flute, or is a primordial rat god.
In any event, having control over rats is a supremely limited superpower. Yes, it allows him to mind-control Master Splinter, but what happens if the Turtles show up without him? Moreover, the Rat King hangs out in New York City. Sure, there are more than a few rats there, but, honestly, no one in the city really cares about them. A crazed horde of rats is just a Tuesday there.
13 Clock King
A bank robber who really loves being on time, the Clock King debuted way back in 1947 and has managed to become a foe of both Green Arrow and Batman, as well as a recurring member of the Suicide Squad and, later, some kind of time spirit.
The Clock King we’re talking about here, though, is the one that led the Terror Titans against the Teen Titans. Appearing in only two storylines, this King could see just over four seconds into the future. Not the worst superpower that Joe Regular could have, admittedly, but not super helpful when you’re going up against Miss Martian. Or, specifically, Ravager, who could also see into the future.
Both times the teams of Titans tangled, the two precogs kind of just cancelled one another out, leaving the man in the clock glasses to fend for himself. Deathstroke’s daughter beat him so badly, that version of Clock King was never seen again.
12 Doctor Spectro
Doctor Spectro premiered as an antagonist for Captain Atom back in 1966, back when Captain Atom was still a part of Charlton Comics. When Charlton was absorbed by DC during Crisis on Infinite Earths, Spectro was retconned from a scientist-turned-evil into a conspiratorial government stooge, a fake supervillain created by the military to hide their experiments with Captain Atom. Eventually, he went rogue, showing up here and there, until he was killed during the 2006 Infinite Crisis.
Originally using a prism to control people’s emotions, Doctor Spectro was tossed into some experimental machinery, merging him with the prism’s powers. So now Doctor Spectro can run around making people feel sad, happy, or tired? Is that an emotion? In any event, he can’t actively control anyone’s minds or do anything actually useful.
Perhaps Spectro’s greatest power, though, is his horrendously terrible outfit. His rainbow-spangled tights are so bad that their awfulness has become a running joke in the Green Arrow books.
As an arch-nemesis to Jay Garrick’s version of the Flash, Fiddler was a thief who gained his powers from a snake charmer in India in the 1940s, back when that kind of origin was still tolerated. After building a violin from scraps, Fiddler took up fiddling and burgling in equal measure, creating musical vibrations that could shatter solid objects, create barriers, and hypnotize others into his sway.
There was one tiny catch, though: Fiddler needed an instrument to channel that musical magic. A tiny, fragile instrument, and once the Flash smashed that fiddle, it was game over, man, game over. At least until Fiddler got a new violin, which he always did, because, somehow, Fiddler was a Golden Age mainstay.
Not content to let a terrible superpower go to waste, Fiddler was reimagined as the Thrasher during the extreme-to-the-max ‘90s. As a heavy metal guitarist with the same powers – and weaknesses – Thrasher was embarrassed into obscurity by Hawkman after a single appearance.
10 Tattooed Man
Like a lot of the villains on this list, there’s more than one Tattooed Man out there in the comic book world. Apparently many writers like to think that they’re the ones who can “fix” a terrible character. Sadly, there’s no fixing Marvel’s version of the Tattooed Man.
The Tattooed Man could pull secrets from his victims’ minds, but only if he was touching them. The ink from his tattoos would then rearrange itself into a picture of those secrets. Which was... bad? For some reason, he also hired goons to hold down his victims, which had to absolutely ruin his overhead.
Apparently he once blackmailed Colossus’ father, which Colossus remembered when they crossed paths years later. This time, though, the giant metal man wasn’t a young flesh-and-blood boy, and the X-Men put a stop to the Tattooed Man once and, hopefully, for all.
9 Ruby Thursday
Once upon a time, scientist Thursday Rubinstein grafted a spherical computer made of malleable plastic to her head, then turned into a supervillain. Joining the Headman, a team of villains with-- no joke-- weird heads, she was an adversary of the Defenders during the 1970s, and has continued to pop up here and there for the past forty years.
The organic circuitry of her head allows Ruby Thursday to create tentacles and clubs, and fire projectiles and energy blasts. Bonus: if her head is removed from her body, Ruby can still control her body. Apparently, this happens a lot.
For example, in the I ♥ Marvel Valentine’s Day one-shot, Bullseye was hired by someone to kill Ruby Thursday for some reason. He attempted to do so by throwing the Rolling Stones album Flashpoint (which contains her namesake song “Ruby Tuesday”) into her chest. In the ensuing chaos, her boyfriend, The Answer, removed Ruby’s head, in the hopes of attaching it to some other body. H-hooray?
8 White Rabbit
Not to be confused with Marvel’s only slightly less ridiculous White Rabbit, DC’s version is a disturbing male power fantasy about a woman in bunny underwear who likes to be chased. Seriously, that’s her entire deal. She likes to torment Batman by running away from him.
The bored daughter of a diplomat and a Bollywood actress, Jaina Hudson has the ability to split into a second version of herself. This version, White Rabbit, is a white-haired Caucasian with the superpowers of running in high heels and, apparently, not owning pants. Supposedly she also can’t be caught, but since her first appearance was during an Arkham Asylum breakout, and her second involved her being thrown into Blackgate, that’s clearly wrong.
Anyway, despite fighting side-by-side with Bane during the Arkham War storyline, White Rabbit has yet to be seen again, most likely forever – DC has actually erased her entry from their website.
7 Dummy, Danny the Dummy, and the Ventriloquist
Dummy was an archenemy of the Golden Age Vigilante, at one point even killing Vig’s racist sidekick Stuff the Chinatown Kid. Dummy’s whole deal was that he was an actual ventriloquist’s dummy that came to life, like Pinocchio, but even more evil.
Danny the Dummy, meanwhile, was just a guy who looked like a dummy, but had the ability to make dummies that looked like people, which he used to trick the Gotham PD and make them look like (metaphorical) dummies.
This brings us to, arguably, the most famous dummy-themed supervillain: the Ventriloquist. The first, Arnold Wesker, was meek and quiet, unless he was puppeting Scarface, in which case he became a cold-blooded crime lord. Over the years, it was hinted that Scarface might actually be possessed by an old mobster, or even alive, but Wesker was killed before we could get any closure.
The second Ventriloquist, Peyton Riley, was basically just a female Wesker, right down to the possibly sentient doll and the unceremonious death. The third Ventriloquist, Shauna Belzer, though, appears to be a metahuman with the ability to bring inanimate things to life... maybe. Only time will tell if DC is able to figure this Ventriloquist out.
6 The Kangaroo
Frank Oliver studied kangaroos in his native Australia, living, eating and traveling with the kangaroos, until he developed a leaping ability that rivaled their own. So Frank decided to become ... a boxer? Unsurprisingly, this didn’t work and, after jump-kicking an opponent in the face, Frank was chased out of Australia.
Fleeing to America, Frank was held at customs for not having a passport. Deciding that he was being oppressed by the world, Frank fled again, embraced a life of crime, and became the Kangaroo. Spider-Man managed to stop him almost immediately.
Luckily for Frank, though, Spider-Man had a lot of enemies, and one of them was a mad scientist. Jonas Harrow augmented Frank Oliver’s natural jumping abilities, giving the Kangaroo superhuman strength in his legs. This proved too much for Spider-Man, but, thankfully, the Kangaroo was incredibly stupid, and reduced himself to a pile of ash after trying to steal a radioactive isotope.
Somehow, Frank Oliver’s brief and utter failure to accomplish anything inspired another Kangaroo, Brian Hibbs. Arming himself with kangaroo-themed armor, then a disfiguring mutation, and then the armor again, Brian has similarly failed to be a good criminal, but he’s not dead, so that’s something.
5 Tomax and Xamot
Growing bored and unhappy with the world of corporate finance, twin brothers Tomax and Xamot found international terrorism far more to their liking and joined up with Cobra. Acting as the legitimate “face” of Cobra’s corporate shell companies, the twins are in charge of supplying the terrorist organization’s funding, as well as heading up the elite Crimson Guard.
Mirror images of one another, the only distinguishable difference between Tomax and Xamot is a scar on Xamot's right cheek. The twins share an empathic connection commonly known as "Corsican Syndrome" (after Alexandre Dumas’ The Corsican Brothers novella), in which identical twins are psychically and physically bonded.
The end result is that, while Tomax and Xamot can communicate almost telepathically, they can also feel each other’s pain. As such, if someone from G.I. Joe were to, say, break one of their legs, or give one of them really bad heartburn or something, that would effectively take both of them out.
4 The Slug
If you combined the Blob and Kingpin and then stripped the result of any redeeming features, you’d end up with the Slug.
As a Miami-based drug lord, the Slug’s claim to fame is that he’s just super fat. Like, obese to the point of immobility – the Slug can’t stand up under his own power and needs a high-tech personal hovercraft to get around.
He also needs to eat constantly, during every last one of his waking moments. In the plus column, his vast stores of fat allow him to float effortlessly in water and asphyxiate his victims. Additionally, he has limited immunity to poisons, presumably because it would be cost-prohibitive to amass a high enough dosage for his weight.
You may be asking: is that really a superpower? Well, yes. The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Update '89 goes so far as to claim that the Slug is technically a mutant, because “it is difficult to imagine how a normal person could achieve such tremendous mass and still remain alive.”
Hubert Carpenter was a regular ol’ cab driver until his eccentric uncle experimented on him and endowed Hubert with the proportionate speed, strength, and agility of a walrus, as well as a layer of blubber, allowing him to stay warm in winter and granting him some degree of durability.
Taking the name Walrus, Hubert eschewed robbery, world-domination, and all of the more traditional avenues of villainy, contenting himself with mindless property damage and calling himself a "mass-destructionist."
Despite not being an actual threat or even very competent, Walrus has somehow stuck around for over thirty years, fighting, at various times, the Defenders, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Deadpool, and Gwenpool.
No word yet on whether or not Walrus was the inspiration behind Kevin Smith’s Tusk, but the similarities are clearly there.
Bellybomb is an alien from Dimension X, a vaguely humanoid creature with one eye and a mouth on his stomach. As an ally of Shredder and Krang in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, Bellybomb has also shown up as an underling of Lord Dregg in Nickelodeon’s 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles CGI-fest.
The cartoon version, Vrax Belebome, is portrayed as a shady intergalactic information dealer, while the comic book version is more of a generic alien psychopath with death sentences on several systems. However, there is one thing that both versions have in common: weaponized bad breath.
You read that right-- in both incarnations, Bellybomb is capable of knocking people out by burping in their faces. While it wasn’t touched on in either appearance, presumably an antacid or a breath mint, or some slightly better manners, would cripple the alien’s superpowers. Although, really, the Turtles live in a sewer, so they’re probably immune already.
1 Egg Fu
First appearing in 1965, Egg-Fu was a “Yellow Peril” stereotype; a Chinese Communist agent, complete with yellow shell, exaggerated Asian facial features, a Fu Manchu mustache, and dialogue written in a crazily offensive accent.
Aside from being terrible and an egg, Egg-Fu was also as big as a house and was capable of using his mustache as a rope, because Wonder Woman still needed to be tied up all the time back then. She was able to defeat him handily every time, because, again, he was a giant egg.
For reasons better left unearthed, Egg Fu survived Crisis on Infinite Earths and has since been reimagined as a slightly less offensive agent of Apokolips, or as a sentient computer program, or as an ancient demon. In all cases, he’s still a giant egg.
More recently, Egg Fu reformed and joined up with Harley Quinn during the DC Rebirth event, which actually makes a lot of sense somehow.
Can you think of any other comic book villains with incredibly useless powers? Tell us about them in the comments!