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Posted by gmanfromheck (42484 posts) - - Show Bio

Not all superheroes rely on superpowers to establish themselves in the hero business. Of course we have characters like Batman and Hawkeye that don't have any powers. Sure Batman has his incredible mind and detective skills but that's something he trained himself for. Many heroes have powers or gadgets that enable them to wear a brightly colored costume and take on the villainy of the world.

Supervillains will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals. If anything, we've seen lately that they are willing to go further than they have before. For superheroes, fighting evil has become more deadly than ever before.

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For the heroes defined by their powers and use them to fight crime, what happens if they suddenly lose them? Over the years, the heroes should have picked up other abilities to aid in their fight but what happens if they become an ordinary human? Would they still have the possibility to stay in the superhero game and fight deadly villains that would kill them without a second thought?

As seen by a few examples, being a superhero doesn't mean you have to have superpowers. Let's take Wonder Woman, for example. She is the champion of the Amazons. She is capable of going toe to toe with the likes of Superman. Besides her magic lasso, tiara and bracelets, she has the sheer power to smash any foe that stands in her way. There was a time she gave it all up (because of her love for Steve Trever, who was being framed).

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Wonder Woman was summoned by her mother. The Amazons had to leave our dimension in order to rejuvenate their power (it was the 60s so just bear with me). Wonder Woman decided to stay behind, which meant performing the Amazon Rite of Renunciation and relinquishing all her mystic skills and garb. She was left with the powers of a mere mortal...until she met I Ching. He needed her help in defeating a common foe and offered to teach her the skills she would need. He offered to teach her...Karate.

Wonder Woman was adept under his instruction and mastered the art within a few short months. For several issues (from 1968's Wonder Woman #179 to 1973's #204). She proved that she was more than just her Amazonian powers and magical items. She continued to fight crime and evil using her body as a weapon.

Karate and Kung Fu is a common weapon for the hero without superhuman abilities. Powers are something they are usually given and rarely involve any upkeep or honing. For the characters that rely on hand to hand fighting skills, like Batman, even becoming a master doesn't excuse them from training.

Did Batman really need a new tech suit?
Did Batman really need a new tech suit?

After Batman recovered from getting his back broken by Bane, he pretty much had to retrain his body. He had a long road and despite recalling all the moves he had learned, he was going to have to train once again. Thus, Batman went to Lady Shiva to undergo an intensive round or training to become the fighting machine he once was.

After Batman died and returned, he also wore a special technologically advanced suit in order to check on the Bat-family in the guise of the Insider.

Wonder Woman and Batman weren't the only ones that were Kung Fu fighting. Recently, even Spider-Man has taken to learning some martial arts from Shang-Chi, Master of Karate. Spider-Man isn't exactly depowered but it turns out everyone in New York City is gaining spider-powers that rival his own. And after getting trounced by Spider-Woman, who has had had hand to hand combat training courtesy of SHIELD and HYDRA, Spider-Man decided that he also needed an edge to add to his fighting arsenal.

Captain America is another hero that relies on his hand to hand combat skills. In the mid 90s (in Captain America #438), the Super Soldier Serum in Captain America's body apparently gave out. Cap had lost the use of his muscles after years of use and pushing himself past his true limits. In order to prevent being completely paralyzed, Tony Stark implanted biochips into Cap's body and created an exoskeleton suit that could control his movement.

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The exoskeleton wasn't the answer to all of his problems. His heart was weak and could give out on him at any moment. Rather than sit back and wait for that possibility, Captain America ensured he would be out fighting until the bitter end.

There are plenty of other heroes that lost their powers. Take all the mutants that lost their abilities after M-Day. Many of them did simply give up but some such as Jubilee, Beak, Angel Salvadore and Chamber got power suits of their own and became part of the New Warriors. Losing their mutant abilities didn't mean they had to stop trying to save lives.

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There is also Hal Jordan. He may have picked up on some hand to hand fighting skills being in the Justice League along with Batman but he's always relied on his Green Lantern power ring and his strong will power. Not that he's been stripped of his ring and is no longer a Green Lantern, it's that strong will that tells us Hal is far from being out of the game. He most likely won't pick up a power suit or start mastering Karate, but he is sure to find a way to regain a power ring.

Superpowers for superheroes makes it a lot easier for them to fight the supervillains of the world. There are some heroes that do not have superhuman abilities and rely on other methods to give them an edge over the bad guys. For those that suddenly lose their superpowers, if their heart is it, the loss of powers doesn't mean the end of their careers. For them to continue being superheroes, they just need to find a way to adapt to their loss. The need for heroes is too great as the villains are becoming more and more deadlier each day. Today's heroes should prepare for the eventuality they lose their powers. Unless they are willing to accept defeat, their job won't be done until they have rid world of evil.

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#1 Posted by LP (683 posts) - - Show Bio

Of course they can be, as long as they want to when they're needed.

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#2 Edited by Cervantes (655 posts) - - Show Bio

Batman proves wit and will, and peak conditioning, are enough to make a difference and create a legend. But few superheroes could really cut it without their powers. (Green Lanterns, I'm looking at YOU...)

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#3 Posted by SevanGrim (2191 posts) - - Show Bio

some more than others.

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#4 Posted by Noctis (1415 posts) - - Show Bio

Sure they can, just look at Spider-Girl

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#5 Posted by fifichiapet (20 posts) - - Show Bio

Only if it suits the writer.

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#6 Posted by dewboy01 (2362 posts) - - Show Bio

If they can fight with instincts like Batman.

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#7 Posted by DrKellogg (75 posts) - - Show Bio

Tony Stark also lost his armor and was trained in hand to hand combat by Steve Rodgers. Think this was retolded in Cival war, when the two face off with out armor and shield

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#8 Posted by labarith (730 posts) - - Show Bio

X-men have several good, depowered, characters. RIctor was a hero, even though he was emo and suicidal.

And, of course, the Punisher is a hero with no powers.

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#9 Posted by Eyz (3187 posts) - - Show Bio

They can go on, only, well, harder!

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#10 Posted by jerfro23 (98 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes Jubliee was fighting crime with new worriors after she loss her powers
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#11 Posted by jogra (6 posts) - - Show Bio

The best example I can come up with is Christian Walker from Powers. He lost hisi powers but keeps up the good fight as a detective. He doesnt fight supervillains of course but what the hell?

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#12 Posted by Kairan1979 (21392 posts) - - Show Bio

This theme was explored in comic books a lot of times. For example, JLA : Act of God (bad example because the writers made it a shrine to Batman and told us that Superman and Wonder Woman are nothing without their powers). Or one of the What Ifs, when Scarlet Witch said "NO MORE POWERS" instead of "No more mutants".

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#13 Posted by Chaos Burn (1898 posts) - - Show Bio

Please tell me Captain America doesn't still have chips helping his movements in his body, thats lame

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#14 Posted by Nerx (15351 posts) - - Show Bio

Ironman has no powers besides his tech implants and the suit, hal jordan has no powers but he has his tech (they can take alternatives)

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#15 Posted by someone042 (37 posts) - - Show Bio

dani and jubilee

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#16 Posted by Txman210 (40 posts) - - Show Bio

As long as you believe you can do it then anything is possible

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#17 Posted by Telcalipoca (997 posts) - - Show Bio

through technology or mastery of some fighting forms they could continue on but i suspect most would fail at the fighting path.Getting high tech may not be hard many heroes know people with labs or could call in favors from labs they saved for a super suit of sorts, mastering an art and pushing the body to peak human condition and above is something else.Batman(and its members),iron fist, etc they all spent decades to get to the point where they are at, inorder to even be at robin level or asssin league master level it would take years of training with gifted people maybe months (i suspect most of the super community are not).And if they do manage to become decent fighters in a short time unless they are skill enough to take down a swat team by themeselves they will last very little in the hero game.I suspect WW managed to do well without her powers because of her amazon training,she was among their fiercest fighters putting her at a possible master level fighter with some training in mans martial arts she became even better.

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#18 Posted by Paracelsus (2189 posts) - - Show Bio

I dunno- at some level, the hero remains a hero even if he(or she) loses their powers or tries to otherwise retire( what DO retired heroes do anyway-they can't write their memoirs without blowing their cover- assuming they have secret identities) just as Iron Man. Spider Man, Captain America have all tried to do but have failed- being a "superhero/heroine" is not just some nine-to-five job, it's more a calling, a vocation if you will(if you wish to use religious terminology).


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#19 Posted by KainScion (2991 posts) - - Show Bio

no mentin of storm? back in mohawk era. she was pretty damn good too. she beat logan in sparring.

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#20 Posted by xerox_kitty (17342 posts) - - Show Bio

Do the New Warriors count?  Although they were ex X-Students, they were using old tech to give them super abilities anyway.
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#21 Posted by spaceboy (205 posts) - - Show Bio

@Chaos Burn said:

Please tell me Captain America doesn't still have chips helping his movements in his body, thats lame

Nope. He "died" and got a blood transfusion that revived him.

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#22 Posted by TheGoddamBatman (57 posts) - - Show Bio

What about that story arc in Superman and Batman in which Batman gained Superman's powers and Superman became more or less a normal human. Batman went on a crime fighting rampage until the Justice League made him give up his powers but while he was de-powered Superman had trouble living a normal life.

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#23 Posted by ltbrd (729 posts) - - Show Bio

This idea has definitely changed alot over the years because I can remember Silver Age stories where Superman lost his powers and could still take on his normal villains through the use of a gadget and simply outsmarting them. But today Superman loses his powers and yet becomes a weak nothing. This makes absolutely no sense. While he doesn't have the martial arts training Batman does, Superman is still jacked (during the Up, Up and Away arc Lois couldn't believe Clark got beat-up by Lex and his goons because of the shape he was in, implying he had been working out after being de-powered in Infinite Crisis) and should be able to hold his own. Plus you can't tell me he doesn't have greater fighting skills than most writers give him. For example its hit or miss whether a writer will let Superman know pressure points and basic martial arts (typically in the Aikido or Karate area) like in World of New Krypton or in the Superman:Doomsday animated movie where during the fight with Doomsday we see a Superman doing flips, rolls, and throwing Doomsday with arm locks. 
I'm focusing on Superman only because, as others have stated, when Superman loses his powers the writers make Batman seem like a god among mortals (which they do even when Superman has powers so I don't know why we all bother to point out specific times) but I think the better debate would be to ask........can a superhero that loses his powers take on the same villains as before. In most cases the answer is no and this shouldn't be a surprise. No way can Superman take on Bizarro, Grundy, a New God, or any of his other immensly powerful foes without his abilities. In the same manner Hal Jordan can't go flying through space without a power ring and fight intergalatic pirates. Batman doesn't have this problem, all of his rouges are basically human (with the exception of guys like Freeze and Bane) with a gimmick, not someone who could pick up a house and drop it on you.  
Oh and I would like to point out that throughout the last Green Lantern and Justice League run prior to DCnU it was shown multiple times that Hal Jordan is a better than average hand-to-hand fighter as he took on Killiwog without his ring as well as giving us flashbacks on the fact that he and Oliver Queen used to box and other hand-to-hand training all the time.
Same with a guy like Spiderman. He could fight Venom and all of those guys without his powers. Think back to the Maximum Carnage arc and how Iron Fist and other street level fighters got their asses handed to them by Spidey's rogues. They were completely outmatched. So why is it a surprise that Spiderman would be too. 
While a hero losing their powers is a good gimmick now and then, one think I hope to see different on the DC side now that the DCnU has started up is that the more powerful heroes like Superman are written as having better hand-to-hand skills than they were before. It makes sense for Superman to seek out Batman and Wonder Woman for better hand-to-hand training and while I don't think he should ever be the master Batman is seeing him do more than throw hooks would be nice. On that note actually showing Wonder Woman to have better martial arts skills (even if she doesn't have a defined discipline) would be nice considering her extensive warrior background.
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#24 Posted by GothamRed (2616 posts) - - Show Bio

well of course they CAN be, but that all depends on how how much actual skill and training went into their original efforts to decide whether or not they SHOULD be.

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#25 Posted by stafax (11 posts) - - Show Bio

That picture of Hal Jordan looks hideous and amateur. The artist got the proportions extremely wrong. The nose is too huge and the eyes are above the ears, eyes are supposed to be lined up with the center of the ears. I'm no artistic genius, but that's like the basics of drawing of human face.

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#26 Posted by The Stegman (36893 posts) - - Show Bio

of course they can, a hero isn't about having superpowers, it's about doing as much as you can to help as many as you can

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#27 Posted by Namor1987 (2096 posts) - - Show Bio

Stupid question it's like asking if a wrestler can still contribute to wrestling even though they can't wrestle. Yes look at Danielle Moonstar, Black Panther, & Julie Powers all hold their in combat & rehabing other in their situtation. Moon Knight was recently de-powered he's a beast even though he's pyschotic probably more than DP. Yes they can IMHO they're better than some powered supers because when you're depowered it make you go back to the basics & thats when you see the real creativity of the heroes &/or villians. Moonstar got real creative in her fights so yes they can hold their own & contribute.

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#28 Posted by TDK_1997 (17485 posts) - - Show Bio

@LP said:

Of course they can be, as long as they want to when they're needed.

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#29 Posted by Shipwreck (119 posts) - - Show Bio

See Storm. 'Nough said.

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#30 Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus (6958 posts) - - Show Bio

Excellent article! A little while back I wrote a piece about a storyline in which Maxine Hunkel temporarily lost her powers and had to cope with the aftermath. I think some of the most meaningful stories in comics revolve around when they lose their powers. Whether it is M-Day, or Fighting Chance or Spider Island, heroes at one time or another have to cope with the fact that maybe they have relied on their metahuman/superhuman/mutant abilities for too long and have lost the art of how they truly defeated their foes: with heart and determination and will. In truth I see a comparison here between superheroes needing to fight without superheroes to Rocky Balboa in the third Rocky movie, when Apollo Creed told him he had to regain that fighting edge, what he termed the "eye of the tiger." And superheroes aplenty have had to do that. Bruce after Knightfall like you mentioned. Peter Parker currently in light of New York being inundated with spider-powered individuals. These heroes will rediscover the edge that made them great and they'll have that grim determination that once made their superpowers secondary. Can they still be superheroes without their powers? Of course they can!

Oh and while we are ont his subject, this was one of my favorite episodes of a superhero losing his super-abilities...

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#31 Posted by ohanaman (13 posts) - - Show Bio

Let's not forget POWERS? A whole series on what if a supe lost his power.

...and Guy Gardner, how many times did he lose his powers over the years.

Granted the solution of a Powersuit to make up for it is highly overused. (Gardner, Cap, Booster, heck even Thor had his "magical armour" just to name a few)

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#32 Posted by The_Warlord (1831 posts) - - Show Bio

Wild Tiger

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#33 Posted by zombietag (1688 posts) - - Show Bio

what issue is that picture of hal jordan from?

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#34 Posted by Larkin1388 (1826 posts) - - Show Bio

The Green Hornet has not powers, But he has Kato and Tech. I dont think you need powers to be a hero. You could train in several martial arts and be a street-leveler.

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#35 Posted by Outside_85 (17075 posts) - - Show Bio

Having or not having powers doesnt matter, as long as you have the heart and will to do the right thing.

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#36 Posted by ReVamp (23015 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes, though they can always go the Kid Devil route. All the fans love that route.

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#37 Posted by xanthiss (181 posts) - - Show Bio

Haha, cap's armor is almost as dumb looking as his Avengers Movie costume. :oD

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#38 Posted by xanthiss (181 posts) - - Show Bio

@Chaos Burn said:

Please tell me Captain America doesn't still have chips helping his movements in his body, thats lame

LOL it really is lame. I love how Iron Man just tosses out suits of armor to his friends.

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#39 Posted by GraveSp (335 posts) - - Show Bio

@ReVamp said:

Yes, though they can always go the Kid Devil route. All the fans love that route.

Die horribly?

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#40 Posted by ReVamp (23015 posts) - - Show Bio

@GraveSp said:

@ReVamp said:

Yes, though they can always go the Kid Devil route. All the fans love that route.

Die horribly?

Touché. Die in a horrible Storyline that makes no sense and should be thrown out of reality.

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#41 Posted by illmatic06 (61 posts) - - Show Bio

Johnny Nitpick- Shang Chi is the master of Kung Fu not Karate.
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#42 Posted by Baddamdog (2836 posts) - - Show Bio


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#43 Posted by Gawdzilla (426 posts) - - Show Bio

Don't forget Dani Moonstar

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#44 Posted by neomech (22 posts) - - Show Bio

I have to agree with @Noctis....seems you don't have to look much farther than Spider-Girl to have your answer :)

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#45 Posted by leokearon (1970 posts) - - Show Bio

Nice article, even without great power they still have great responsibility

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#46 Posted by zombietag (1688 posts) - - Show Bio

what issue is that picture of hal jordan from?!

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#47 Posted by revbucky (321 posts) - - Show Bio

A true superhero will always be a superhero. He or she will find a way to overcome adversity regardless of special powers.

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#48 Posted by haydenclaireheroes (11366 posts) - - Show Bio

i think they can. It just takes a time to get use to not having powers and the hero would have to have a lot more training.

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#49 Posted by ndholite (25 posts) - - Show Bio

I think have no super power make them special...

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#50 Posted by Link1987 (4 posts) - - Show Bio

Dani Moonstar has been leading the New Mutants pretty efficiently and she has no powers. Shes a pretty big powerhouse on the team without them too lol.