Moving furniture, dieting, commuting…all the other day to day indignities we have to face because, well, what can you do? We have to deal with the immutable forces of nature which dictate certain rules of behavior on problem-solving, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Argue all you want, wish all you want, but it's 9:02 AM and your boss is on your ass for every one of the 120 seconds you now owe.
It would be great to bend reality around us; use superpowers to give the boss back his measly two minutes, then take extra time to flip his wig over, or write “JERK” on all his checks, and be able to move on with your day. It’s a fantasy any true nerd has explored more than once, and it’s a completely valid waste of company time if your boss just happens to be a balding dick. But that’s just where it starts if you’re a superhero looking to smooth some of the inevitable bumps and bruises of life. Once silly things like gravity and E=MC² no longer matter, because being a full-time couch potato can be facilitated with a minimal amount of effort, which is…kind of the point. Here are twelve times superheroes have been caught using their powers to be lazy slackers.
12 Big Bertha
Big Bertha is a mutant who manipulates and controls her mass and body fat levels. This is among the best-intended characters in comics, with overarching themes of body acceptance and self-worth, but it’s a questionable message to send. Why bother with diet and exercise when you can chomp down Big Macs and play video games all day, then move the fat around (or puke it out) and make yourself hot? That's not a superpower, that's an eating disorder.
In West Coast Avengers #03, Ashley Crawford veers into some pretty sketchy territory as she tiptoes past the active photo shoot she’s supposed to be on, then into a nearby bathroom where she vomits away the hundreds of extra pounds she amasses to fight crime to become Ashley Crawford, the most beautiful Wisconsin-based model. This eyebrow arching character has actually been redeemed when she chose to let go of unrealistic body expectations by going into the world of plus size modeling, but that doesn't quite erase her less-than-inspiring past.
Supes has had to work hard at his craft sometimes, despite possessing a multitude of powers like x-ray vision, super strength, and the ability to change outfits really really fast. With that kind of power at your disposal, throwing your voice is kind of lazy unless you throw it into a puppet that then proceeds to kill people (like a certain Batman villain).
Still, in addition to everything else he can do, with his super-ventriloquism, Clark Kent was able to get himself out of several sticky situations. Thankfully, writer John Byrne put a stop to this gimmicky superpower in his late '80s character reboot Man of Steel, and for the most part, Superman’s ventriloquism hasn’t been seen since. But when it was used, it was the definition of superpowers being employed to provide lazy solutions to common superhero problems. In Action Comics v1 #276, Superman uses his super ventriloquism to coordinate with Supergirl and help him scam bad guys who had gotten hold of his secret identity.
10 The Flash
Being the Flash invariably makes living life very easy once the supervillains, cosmic threats to the world, and strained relationships are removed from the equation. If the non-superpowered wake up at 8:53 AM, we’re late. If Barry Allen does it, he can get breakfast, do eight hours of work, and be back on the couch by 8:59.
Being the Flash also means being an absolute multitasking wizard. In Flash v4 #30, Barry Allen is trying his best to convince his therapist that he is ready to resume active duty on the Central City police force. While he answers the doctor’s questions, he’s also simultaneously racing around Central City, helping to rebuild his hometown in the aftermath of an attack that leveled it and killed thousands. When the Scarlet Speedster is tapped into the Speed Force, working hard, playing hard and getting a good night’s sleep is all pretty much the same. But believe it or not, Barry Allen is absolutely notorious for being late.
9 Tony Chu
The highly underrated Chew comics feature a world in which the bird flu has led to a Food and Drug Administration-driven ban on consuming chicken as well as all other bird meats. The star of the show, Tony Chu, is a cibopath, which means he can collect information by physically consuming things (and people) and then interpreting the psychic impressions he gets from what he eats. The only things Tony can eat and not be barraged by psychic images are beets...so Tony eats a lot of beets.
Formerly a Philadelphia PD vice cop, Tony now uses his talent to give him a verifiable edge in his work as a FDA detective. While Chu is a stickler for rules and protocol, his unique abilities allow him to obtain info about serial killers, murder victims, and black market chicken dealers. It’s a power that cracks cases and turns stomachs, including his own. In Chew #8, Tony solves the murder of a local troublemaker by biting the hooligan’s murderer, and later tasting the killer’s blood.
It's all even sillier than it sounds, and while the comic has been a recipient of multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards, Tony Chu isn't exactly the sort of hero that'll inspire readers to get up and change the world.
Not only is Iceman always the most popular guy at the kegger, but with his power to affect the temperatures of any water vapor in his immediate area, he also just doesn’t need to work that hard to get through the day-to-day trivialities of life. Unlike normal human commuters, Iceman can make sprawling ice slides to take him anywhere he wants to go instead of dealing with rush hour traffic, and his energy bill is probably a non-existent figure that would only annoy us common folk.
In X-Men v1 #145, Bobby Drake finishes a late night term paper for his studies at college, and then quietly uses his power to frost down his last beer, which is, along with being a pretty handy shortcut, most likely a gross violation of UCLA regulations. His power level is actually that of an Omega Level mutant (in some iterations, anyway), but Bobby’s inherently underachieving status has inhibited his progress for many years.
7 The Thing
Ben Grimm’s cosmic ray-derived super strength can make it much easier to get through otherwise mundane chores in record time and with very little effort. In Fantastic Four v1 #184, The Thing has been left alone to clean up the damage inflicted when a Reed Richards doppelganger known as Brute, a murderous android, and the maniacal Mad Thinker lay siege to the Baxter Building -- home and headquarters to the Fantastic Four. The furious battle rages for some time and leaves much of the building’s interior in twisted and broken shambles.
Not so surprisingly, no one tries, or is even interested in, helping poor Ben Grimm clean up the gigantic jumble of destroyed equipment, so using his incredible strength, Blue-Eyed Benjy manhandles the hundreds of pounds of scrap metal. He gathers it up and stuffs it under the floor itself like so many dust bunnies, then pounds the lumpy mess practically flat.
We get it, Ben, you're crazy strong. But there had to be a better way to clean that mess up.
6 Marvel Girl/Phoenix
Possessing one of the most powerful minds in all of Marvel Comics, Jean Grey’s ability to move anything with her mind makes telekinesis a perfectly suited superpower for couch potato behavior. While practical applications for her powers include reading minds, eating suns, and killing millions as they scream in terror, Jean’s powers make housework a breeze as well!
In X-Men #57, a comic that could only have been published in the sixties, Jean uses her telekinetic abilities to lift an easy chair twice her size out of the way, then follows it up by using her talent to move dirt and dust out of the house where it belongs. It fully stands to reason that she would have some unresolved aggression issues after such nonsense, hence the trying to kill her friends and taking on galactic empires and what not. Over the years, Jean has been able to use her power to take any number of shortcuts, from changing outfits to picking locks.
5 Molecule Man
The pre-Secret-Wars-retconned Owen Reese, aka the Molecule Man, was probably the most powerful being in existence in the Earth-616 continuity, and across a wide spectrum of universes. His ability to control the molecules of literally everything made him a god, but mental blocks, ingrained feelings of inferiority and a crushing lack of self-confidence diminished Owen’s powers and allowed the Fantastic Four to beat him time and time again.
After the events of 1989’s Secret Wars and the tearing away of his self-imposed limits, Owen Reese came away with the realization that he could do just about anything his mind could come up with. Power like that also makes it easy to find simple solutions to unconventional problems, like a random fire caused by your volcanic girlfriend. In Secret Wars II #1, Owen extends his kitchen water faucets so that they reach the living room and easily douse the fire.
4 Peter Parker
Spending part of one’s life being the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man can be exhausting. When leading a team of the strongest Avengers alive against several dozen cybernetic octopi intent on destroying New York City, being Spider-Man can actually be deadly. But all of that pales in significance (on a personal level, anyway) to trying to find an apartment in Manhattan. So you can hardly blame the genius Peter Parker -- who, after having no luck finding an apartment or a roommate, suddenly finds himself gainfully employed with a big, fat starting paycheck burning a hole in his pocket -- for not wanting to blow his newfound wealth.
So rather than shell out those hard earned dollars on a hotel for the night, he uses his webbing to put himself up for the night. The applause and adoration of Earth Mightiest Heroes can be nice, indeed, but nothing beats a hammock, fresh air, and the scientific manual for Parker’s new job, as seen in Amazing Spider-Man v1 #648. It was a neat solution to homelessness, to be sure.
3 Santa Claus
In the Marvel Holiday Special 1991, the X-Men are attacked in a shopping mall near Manhattan's 34th Street. The X-Men have come seeking a powerful Omega Level mutant that has manifested, but instead find the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The battle rages on, with the damage from their fight threatening thousands of Christmas Eve shoppers, and it seems tragedy is just moments away when the Brotherhood simply vanishes. In their place lie butter cookies shaped like the four villains they'd just warred against.
With the crisis averted, Banshee asks the nearby department store Santa if he’s seen a powerful mutant. With a twinkle in his eye, Mr. Claus merrily mentions how improper it would be for a mutant to choose sides on Christmas. In truth, Kris Kringle is an Omega Level mutant with the power to warp and re-establish all time, space, and matter; plus, he only works one night a year. Nice work if you can get it.
2 Doctor Manhattan
Jolly old Saint Nick isn't the omnipotent being on the list. Doctor Manhattan, formerly known as John Osterman, is about as powerful as comic book characters come, as he only needs to think of something (literally anything) to make it a reality. Rumor has it that a person can shirk a lot of responsibilities that way.
Doctor Manhattan finds a unique way to save time in Watchmen v1 #3, when he duplicates himself to better facilitate making love to his newest flame, Laurie Juspeczyk, the second Silk Spectre. Laurie is enjoying their intimate time together until she realizes she’s being touched by more than two blue hands. Finding two Jon Ostermans in her bed, she understandably freaks out. When she finds a third Doctor Manhattan performing scientific experiments in another room while simultaneously having really weird sex with her, she flies into a fury.
It’s hard to blame her, as this is definitely one of the more disturbing sex scenes ever depicted in a comic, but it’s also a decidedly lazy way to get down. Doctor Manhattan's growing disconnect with humanity was never more clear than in this scene.
Jennifer Walters, the Sensational She-Hulk, has been a Marvel Comics mainstay since her debut in 1980. Over the years, her character has developed into an ambassador of female empowerment and a solid team player that can be counted on to deliver strength, intelligence, and humor. Early on in her career, the character was delivered into the hands of John Byrne for revamping, and the rest is history.
Jen takes her show on the road in 1989’s Sensational She-Hulk, where she cuts repeatedly to the chase by unrepentantly shattering the fourth wall whenever she sees fit. In Sensational She-Hulk v1 #4, Jen is pressed for time, after having had her domestic help abruptly walk out on her. She’s due to miss her appointment with her new employer, and being late just won’t do. Using latitude not usually afforded to comic book characters, she looks straight ahead, and asks the writer/artist John Byrne for a lift across town. Later, she threatens to climb out of the panel and deal with him personally, only to be stopped and reminded that the book has been published and there are readers on the other side of the page now.
Engaging and funny, this tactic pre-dates Deadpool’s use of it by several decades, but it is inherently lazy of her to break character just to get some help from the writer. By comparison, more recent takes on She-Hulk have made Walters more of a do-it-yourself kind of gal.
With comics and comic characters becoming more complex every day, kitschy moments like the ones above become harder and harder to find. What are some lazy superhero moments you’ve come across? Jump in those comments, speak up, and tell us all about it!