Legion Of Super-Heroes bylaws state that all members must have an inherent super-power of their own, without mechanical assistance or enhancement.  In the Silver Age, this seemed to be arbitrary, but the 1990s reboot of the team revealed that this law was created when Kid Quantum’s power-belt shorted out in combat, leading to his gruesome death.  As a kid, I was 100% behind this rule, thanks to the Legion and the mutants of The X-Men, but as I age, it’s become clear that technology has its advantages.  Iron Man, for instance, has been able to constantly upgrade his suits and technology to the point where today’s digital nanotech Tony Stark bears little resemblance to the tank-like “transistor-powered” brawler of ’63.  Super-character origins seem to be shifting towards the techy side more and more (with a particularly noticeable imbalance of the ‘Natural or Technological’ split in the nanobot-mad 1990s) leading to today’s Lamarckian query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) will say once again that I wholeheartedly prefer Spider-Man’s web-shooters as mechanical devices, rather than the uncomfortably gooshy organic webs of the Sam Raimi era, asking: Which do you feel is superior: Natural or Technological Super-powers?



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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. It isn’t that simple for me and depends on various factors for each specific character. There is something special to each type, and while Spidey’s web-shooters or Iron Man’s armor are interesting and formidable, they are no better or worse than Superman’s natural abilities developed under a yellow sun or Hellboy’s demon physiology in and of themselves. It depends on the character, theme, setting, how they use their tech/abilities, and so on and so forth.

    So I guess I’m in the middle, not really preferring one over the other in general.

  2. Asking which i feel is superior is interesting phrasing.
    Spider-Man (Organic) vs Spider-Man (Shooters) i would choose Shooters hands down, the fact he creates them makes him a better developed character having merged science with his abilities… but he has BOTH types of powers so i don’t think that answers the question.
    But are you asking who wins in a fight? That is dependent on good writing, and i can see either winning because one had something the other did not or vice versa (no Yellow Sun atm vs Gun jams). So i don’t think that answers the question.
    But if you are asking “Which Reason They Are a Superhero” i strongly prefer “natural” abilities. I love X-Men style origin stories where a character suddenly learns they can do something others can’t and how they deal with it vs finding a blue beetle artifact to shove on your back. I prefer the Mage casting spells over the Warrior using sword and board. So does that answer the question? Maybe.
    Mostly i prefer good writing and good characters: like Captain American, but is he tech since it was science that gave him powers? i love a good Batman story, but would prefer to be Superman :)
    If i was a natural ability Jedi and can make you believe these are not the droids you’re looking for, OF COURSE i’d still use the Techy mechanical Lightsaber as my chosen weapon as well!

  3. This is a tricky one. I don’t have a preference of which I like but which is superior? I’d go with natural, because technology always seems to be more prone to malfunction and its harder to get stripped from your powers when they don’t rely on any gadget to work.

  4. Generally speaking, natural powers, which are easier to control, harder for a foe to co-opt, and less likely to fail. That said, I wouldn’t turn down really good tech…
    It’s also interesting to note that while the Legion barred powers BASED on tech, there’s plenty of technology assistance. Most members rely on flight rings and transuits, and while Brainy’s smarts made him a member, he wouldn’t be much in the field without his forceshield belt.

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