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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Starting out you have to have a smart guy.  Sometimes it is a smart guy who is aware of a specific menace that is unknown to the rest of the world-- Nils Caulder, Professor X.  Sometimes its just a guy who is smart-- Reed Richards, for example, or Brainiac 5.  Sometimes the smart guy has some sort of telepathy, but if not chances are you'll pick up a telepath or a telekinetic or someone like that somewhere along the way.  You'll be needing a strong guy. Ben Grimm, The Hulk, you know the type.  The cliche is that that the strong guy is not as smart as the smart guy, but this isn't always true: the She-Hulk is plenty smart, and although he's no Batman Superman had solid SATs. You can have more than one smart guy, but when that happens the second smart guy is usually actually really smart at tactical stuff, and as a rule the Alpha smart guy is prevented from engaging in field operations for some reason.

I don't know why, but having a stretchy guy is frequently important. Reed Richards, Elasti-Girl (Rita Farr or Helen Parr), the Elongated Man, Plastic Man. It's good to have someone with some sort of energy manipulation power.  Maybe magnetism, like Cosmic Boy or Havock; maybe straight flame, like Johnny Storm; maybe electricity. It is traditional for energy manipulation to be something that is accomplished with the hands, but shooting out of the eyes is also acceptable, as is just turning into the energy form, like the Torch, or Negative Man.

It used to be that an underwater guy was important, but that is no longer as fashionable.  A guy who has a bow and arrows-- especially arrows that have bombs, or do other tricky things-- is a very good thing to have.  The arrows guy should have a hot girlfriend who is a martial arts expert. Somebody with magical powers is also handy, and although there are exceptions, as a rule this is also going to be a woman-- Zatanna Zatara, Wanda Maximoff. We'd go with Zatanna on this one: fishnets trump wimples. Speaking of Wanda, you are also going to want a fast guy, and a guy who is a robot. Guys that shrink, or shrink and control bugs are no longer in vogue. People who can control the weather, and people who can turn into animals are common, but not really necessary. Invisibility, although a common enough superpower, isn't the sort of thing that everybody seems to feel the need to add to the team.  The Legion of Super Heroes usually has an invisible person, and that is one of J'onn J'onzz 's powers, but the X-Men, the Defenders, the Doom Patrol, the Avengers, the Teen Titans, the DNAgents and lots of others get along fine without.

What am I leaving out?

| Comments:
Gigantism. Although you could lump them in with the shrinkers as Size Matters. There are also more generic shape-shifters than were-whatevers, so I'd say that's the broad category, too. Does Colossus count as a robot-guy? And does Kitty Pride count under invisibility?
 
The giant guys are usually a variation on the strong guy, no? There are people who can walk through walls-- Phantom Girl is another, and I think J'onn J'onzz can too-- but I'm not so sure that they are as fundamental as other types.

The X-Men are a bit of an exception to the general rule because membership is based on being a mutant, rather than just having an unusual power. If there is a robot guy at 1407 Graymalkin Lane I'd say it's probably Warlock. Colossus is more of a shape-shifter/strong guy.
 

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