In the world of comic books, sometimes having superpowers just isn’t enough. At times like these, superheroes and villains alike have to turn to superweapons to get the job done.
For this reason, both the DC and Marvel comic book universes are littered with devastatingly powerful tools of destruction. Forget bat-gadgets and neat swords, these are the heavy hitters when it comes to weapons in comics.
Interestingly, many of these superweapons are rarely (if ever) used to their true capacity. Sure, these crazy-powerful pieces of hardware have been responsible for saving the day or wreaking untold havoc cross the multiverses, but those pulling the trigger could have achieved so much more if they’d really let loose properly.
With that in mind, here’s a round-up of the 15 Comic Book Superweapons Never Used To Their Full Potential.
15 The Lasso of Truth
Admittedly, Wonder Woman does get a lot of mileage out of the Lasso of Truth’s main function as a lie detector, using it to coerce valuable information or confessions out of baddies as required. It’s also not like she doesn’t occasionally use it to wrangle burly customers, like Amazo, when the need arises.
Here’s the thing: the Lasso of Truth is virtually indestructible – it’s been used to successfully hog-tie Superman, no less! – and, more importantly, it can extend to an infinite length. So why is it that, more often than not, the Amazon Princess ends up slugging it out in close quarters with her enemies, when she could have them neatly wrapped up and neutralized from distance? It seems like someone needs to take Diana back to Amazon bootcamp to re-learn how to use this thing!
14 The Mega-Rod
With a word like “mega” in its title, you’d expect the Mega-Rod to be a pretty powerful bit of business, and Big Barda’s weapon of choice is certainly that! Able to fire deadly energy blasts, as well as increase gravitational forces and teleport the user (and any nearby friends or foes), this sturdy Apokoliptian stick is a force to be reckoned with.
Thus it’s all the more disappointing when Barda invariably chooses to avail herself of the Mega-Rod’s least impressive feature – it’s nigh-unbreakability – to wield it as a simple club! True, as a warrior trained from birth, the former Fury relishes the thrill of going to toe-to-toe with her enemies, but we're pretty sure her New Gods teammates would much prefer it if she used the Mega-Rod’s more sophisticated powers to shut down threats before they reach bludgeoning range.
13 Joker Venom Gas
Don’t get us wrong: of all the Joker’s “wonderful toys”, his deadly Joker Venom Gas has almost certainly racked up the biggest body count of all. However, while the Joker has unleashed the Gas – which induces uncontrollable, fatal fits of laughter in its rictus-grinned victims – on hundreds of unsuspecting Gotham City denizens, his fixation on his home town (and its long-eared protector) means that he’s never really used his most potent weapon to its full effect.
Without wanting to sound like an advocate for interstate mass homicide (honest!), if the Joker could only get past his obsession with Batman and widen his sights to incorporate the world outside of Gotham, he could really do some damage!
Thor’s hammer, the mighty Mjolnir, can only be lifted by someone who meets the criteria for worthiness stipulated by Thor’s father, Odin. Exactly what factors make the Odinson and others like him worthy is somewhat ambiguous, however one thing’s for certain: creativity sure as heck ain’t one of them.
Mjolnir can can make it rain (literally), create force fields, harness electromagnetism, manipulate molecules, emit a variety of different force blasts, warp time, shatter illusions, absorb energy, and track people and magical objects. So, of course, Thor’s typical solution to any problem is to either try to smash it or electrocute it with lightning.
Granted, it’s an approach that’s gotten him pretty far – and he does occasionally remember to utilize the hammer’s lesser used capabilities – but the Avengers (and the world!) would be a lot better off if Mjolnir’s full power was tapped into more often.
11 The Staff Of One
Sorceress Nico Minoru has gotten a lot of mileage out of the Staff of One – but c’mon: this thing has essentially limitless power to rewrite time and space, so it’s fair to say it’s never really been used to its full potential.
There are two main issues behind this. The first issue relates to the Staff’s one major weakness: it cannot be used to cast the exact same spell twice, so even if used at close to its max capacity, replicating those results is technically impossible. Of course, the easy fix here is to get just a teensy bit creative and work out how to re-word the same outrageously supercharged spell in order to get the same outcome twice.
The second, more difficult issue is that the Staff draws its power from Nico, who in turn channels her own mystic energy from her painful memories and feelings of guilt – as these both represent something that most of us tend to actively avoid tapping into, its understandable why the Staff doesn’t always quite have the fuel it needs to do its best work. But on the day it finally does? Look out, Marvel Universe.
10 Weather Wizard’s Wand
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the raw fury of Mother Nature is all but unbeatable when the old gal gets going – so why is it that Weather Wizard’s Wand always seems like such a joke? After all, using the Wand, the Weather Wizard is capable of screwing around with weather patterns to such an extent that he can assault the Flash with any kind of meteorological disaster imaginable, from a blizzard through to a tornado. Heck, he could hit him with both, then toss in a lightning storm for good measure!
Yet time and again, the Scarlet Speedster has managed to run rings around the Wizard due to his simplistic use of the Weather Wand, which suggests it's not the tool, but the user, that’s not worth taking seriously.
9 Black Bolt’s Voice
Okay, this one is a bit of a cheat – Black Bolt’s voice is technically a superpower, not a superweapon. But the way the Inhuman king and all his subjects talk about their liege’s voice – which at full pitch can generate shockwaves capable of destroying whole planets!- it may as well be considered an orally-fired WMD.
Of course, Black Bolt has exercised his vocal chords more than a few times over the years, and to devastating effect. But considering how often the Inhumans’ circumstances end up taking a turn for the worse (they once won – and then lost – control of the Kree Empire), it seems like Black Bolt’s voice needs to be used in a smarter, more decisive fashion than it has been to date, in order to bring the Inhuman’s enemies to their knees.
8 The Tactigon
Supposedly the ultimate weapon, the Tactigon is capable of devising and executing the perfect response to any threat when bonded with a human host, Armory. In keeping with a recurring theme weaving through this list, it’s that last part – the human element – that keeps letting the Tactigon down, with its less than ultimate bearer failing to fully capitalize on its practically unbeatable nature.
While the true measure of superweapon’s potential isn’t necessarily that it always wins ina fight, when we’re discussing hardware created to do just that, the fact that Armory doesn’t have a flawless win-loss record makes a pretty compelling argument that the Tactigon has a lot more to offer than what we’ve seen so far!
7 The Phantom Zone Projector
The Phantom Zone Projector does exactly what it says on the tin: it transports anyone caught in its rays into the ethereal Phantom Zone, where they cannot interact with the material world. The product of Kryptonian science, the Zone is usually (but not always) portrayed as a fairly humane form of imprisonment – which makes Superman’s reticence to use it on top-tier threats all the more mind-boggling!
Yes, there is something to be said for adhering to the procedures of both Earthbound and intergalactic justice systems, but seriously: how many times does Mongul, Darkseid, or any other cosmic tyrant need to invade Earth before the Man of Steel starts handing out one-way tickets to limbo? And why stop there?
As the Lego Batman Movie clearly illustrated, this bad boy could be used to imprison all the DC heroes’ rogues galleries! Frankly, until the DC Universe is supervillain free, the Phantom Zone Projector will remain criminally underused.
6 The Anti-Life Equation
An unconventional weapon – it’s essentially a math formula on steroids – the Anti-Life Equation grants the one who deploys it total control over anyone who hears or sees it in full. Darkseid has managed to use the equation to briefly conquer the Earth at least twice, however that’s really not as impressive as it sounds.
First of all, the Equation is never broadcast in such a way that no one on Earth can avoid contact with it – which seems like something that someone with the technology of Apokolips at his craggy fingertips ought to be able to manage – allowing a superhero resistance force to form and take back the planet.
Secondly, we’re only talking about dominating one world. If he'd released the Anti-Life Equation effectively on a grander scale, Darkseid should really have taken over entire galaxies by now! So the next time the Anti-Life equation is used to enslave 99% of the Earth’s population, remember: it really could be a lot, lot worse.
5 Kryptonite Anything
Even non-comics fans know that Kryptonite is Superman’s greatest weakness, with the radiation from these chunks of his homeworld virtually guaranteed to result in the Man of Steel’s agonizing death as soon as a piece is waved under his nose.
Yet in no canonical story has a Kryptonite weapon managed to put the Last Son of Krypton six feet under. Kryptonite bullets, Lex Luthor’s Kryptonite ring, even Metallo’s great big Kryptonite heart – all of these and more have come into contact with Superman, and each and every time, he’s walked away from the encounter. More often than not, the reason for this is simple: whichever villain ends up using these green rocks of death gets too cocky at the thought of having Superman on the ropes, giving the big guy the chance to make an escape or be rescued. The lesson here? When it comes to Kryptonite, kill first and gloat later.
4 The Soul Gem
Adam Warlock is a moral guy – so moral, in fact, that he actually refuses to use his most impressive weapon, the Soul Gem, to full effect. See, in addition to being able to drain its targets’ abilities and powers, the Gem – one of the six nigh-omnipotent Infinity Gems (or “Infinity Stones”, if you’re an MCU fan) – can also dominate and even trap their souls.
That isn't even the upper limits of the Gem’s power: when completely unleashed, it’s capable of controlling all life in the universe. Taking all this into consideration, Warlock clearly uses only a fraction of the Soul Gem’s potential, and that’s probably for the best, given what a slippery slope that kind of power would undoubtedly present…
3 The Ultimate Nullifier
As much a deus ex machina as a superweapon, the Ultimate Nullifier is most famously known for being the one weapon that planet-chomping cosmic force that Galactus fears, which has earned it the reputation of being the premiere destructive gizmo in the Marvel Universe.
However, the Nullifier’s creds haven’t been put to the test, as it is rarely activated. This is with good cause, since the wrong level of mental focus (or, conversely, the right level) could theoretically lead it to obliterate the entire timeline, and everything that exists within it. That’s a fairly… drastic outcome, so all in all, it’s rather fortunate that Ultimate Nullifier is traditionally put to use as a foolproof deterrent rather than as an actual implement of war.
2 The Cosmic Cube
Kinda like a genie’s magic lamp (only stripped of any of the rules associated with that trinket), the Cosmic Cube can make its bearer’s wishes into reality. Want to re-shape the entire universe in your image? The Cube has got you covered.
Yet for all its limitless potential, the Cosmic Cube has never made any real lasting impact. As far as the inhabitants of the Marvel Universe are concerned, it might as well not even exist. Thanos, Red Skull, Korvac, and plenty of other heavy hitters have totally fumbled their play when wielding the Cube, almost always as a result of being outfoxed by Marvel’s severely outgunned heroes.
The Cube may have altered several timelines and kept whole teams of heroes at bay, but at the end of the day, its effects have always been reversed, and only lasting change will signal that it has been truly allowed to work its mojo.
1 The Power Ring
The Power Ring – symbol of the Green Lantern Corps – is widely touted as the most powerful weapon in the DC Universe. Fuelled by the formidable willpower of the Corps member who wears it, the Power Ring can manifest anything imaginable.
Why is it typically used to make basic, hard light construct? Because why conjure up something as awesome as a blackhole when you can make a giant, glowing green boxing glove instead? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this partially comes down to a lack of creativity on the part of those rocking this mega-bling – even artist-by-day Kyle Rayner rarely pushes the envelope with his ring-slinging – resulting in less than stellar end results.
The other main stumbling block appears to be the finite amount of will powering the infinite resources of the Power Ring. Even a hotshot pilot like Hal Jordan or a bad-ass ex-Marine like John Stewart – who each possess near-superhuman levels of determination – can only offer up so much resolve, which suggests that we may never see what the Power Ring is genuinely capable of, which is a real shame!
Are there any overpowered weapons that are seriously underused? Let us know in the comments!