New Superhero Ideas
BYT at large | Dec 11, 2012 | 1:30PM |

Andrew Heaton lives in New York and makes pithy observations. Other insights can be found at, or you can follow him on Twitter at @MightyHeaton

I use standard conversation openers regularly, and one of them is “What kind of super power would you like to have?” You can see how people think with questions like that, which makes it more interesting and helpful than “What do you do?”

Nearly everybody says “Flight” or “Reading minds.” After those two the most popular option is “invisibility,” because the world is full of perverts.

To compensate for standard answers, I usually disqualify the three above, so that people have to think fresh. The result is fascinating. Here are some ideas I’ve heard, which would probably make good Marvel superheros, or at least impress the next genie you encounter.

My so-called friend Mr. Young has settled on “ultimate charisma.” He explains it as overwhelming likability paired with supreme persuasion. A person who could convince anyone to do anything, at any time.

Charismo would make a good villain or a good superhero. Ideally he’d be both, drifting back and forth without the forces of justice nor evil ever really cognizant of it, just the reader. Superheros and villains would like him too much to realize his ploys, and would heartily agree with whatever explanation he proffered up about why he compelled Citibank to hand over its majority stock to him, or convincing the entire country of Sweden to go nude for a week when he visited.

Arbo-Transparency Man

My “friend” Royce once suggested “the ability to see through wood.” I didn’t have to disqualify flight or telepathy, either. That was his answer straight out of the gate. When questioned about it, he explained that he felt close enough to superhuman presently that if given additional powers it would be unfair to whoever he used them on. So he picked a very specific niche in which to operate.

Presumably Arboreal Transparency Man would be a bounty hunter of some kind, as every comic book would conclude with him tracking down criminals in a forest, swamp or jungle.

Poppa Time”

Time travel would be interesting, but my personal favorite is the ability to stop and start time at will. There would never be a time when you couldn’t nap, look up a witty comeback quote, read an entire Wikipedia article, or simply disappear without explanation. This isn’t so much a superhero as a personal fantasy; having all the time in the world at my disposal, for whatever I want.

The singular downside to Poppa Time would be that time keeps moving for him while it’s paused for others. So if he naps four hours a day every day for a year, he ages sixty days more than everyone else. For every twelve years we live, Poppa Time would accrue an additional two. If he did other things, like stop time for an hour here and there to draw Sharpie mustaches on everybody at the mall, or put top hats on top of all the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, he would age that much as well. (Note: he could also use his powers to stop burglaries in progress, or write “I know what you did in the eighties” on napkins and slip them into various politicians’ pockets.)

Presumably Poppa Time would abuse his powers like Percocet, and age rapidly compared to everyone else. But then, when he got really old, he could slow down time for himself and watch the world streak by, until it appeared that society had gotten around to inventing anti-aging pills.


What’s your superpower?