"Super" useful by what definition
I've been reading some comic parodies on scans_daily, and also been reading some comments/criticism of various comics posted there. I think everyone is aware that one of the downsides of serial comics is that it's so hard for anything to be written that actually affects the Status Quo (TM).
The thought did pop into my mind, though, that of all the highly popular comic heroes - that is, the ones with movies and their own TV series - there's only one that has a track record for doing work other than beating up various nemeses/villains. That's Superman, who is known for also helping around at various natural disasters, especially in the TV series and in ficdom. I seriously can't think of any other major superhero who can say the same.
Is it because they're not design to be helpful in that way? Well, I guess Batman can't really offer much to help out in person for an earthquake; Bruce Wayne's money would probably do more there. Iron Man? Probably in the same boat, I guess. X-Men? Too busy with their persecution complexes, despite the no-brainer positive publicity they stand to gain for their cause if they'd helped out with, say, Katrina. Spider-man? Daredevil? Ok, I guess transportation is a problem there.
So, anyway, here's a thought experiment. What kind of superpowers would be (the most) useful? Useful, defined by a world that didn't have revolving door asylums letting out masses of kooky supervillains. Let's see...
Superstrength - I wouldn't have thought this would be one of the most useful of things by itself, since it doesn't seem like you can do more than unload larger blocks of debris or something. However, if coupled with...
Flight - Definitely a 'force multiplier' of usefulness. Gets you over obstacles to reach the scene faster, gives you the flexibility to move things where normal physics/machinery/people can't, makes you wonder if Sept. 11 would've been able to gone down the same way... yeah.
Telekinesis - Probably more useful than superstrength, given you don't have to rely on your hands trying to unload debris. With TK, you can shield the victim under the rubble and then just heave up with your mind. Depending on the strength of the TK, might also be able to move masses of survivors to safety by air.
Telepathy - While it's doubtful that any telepathic information can be used in court due to the 5th amendment, it is useful to get intel on bad things that will happen 'soon'. I wonder, would it be useful for scanning for survivors in a first responder to a disaster area? It does have the caveat that the survivors have to be somewhat conscious to be picked up.
Teleportation - Well, the obvious usage is for transporting in supplies and personnel, while transporting out anyone that needs immediate hospital attention. I think this one is a no brainer.
Super-speed - Honestly not sure this is really useful in a *post-disaster* setting; but it is definitely useful for evacuating people from a danger area before it happens or even during/in the early stages.
Weather control - Another no-brainer, for weather-related disasters like Katrina, where even if the hero can't completely neutralize the disaster, any alleviation of the severity would still be useful.
Size-control - While at first glance, this seems to be poor cousin of superstrength, it occurs to me that if the size-changing can be conferred onto others, this might have its uses. Maybe, say, increasing the sizes of the sandbags/etc. during Katrina to prevent the levee from being overrun? Decreasing the size of rubble to free survivors? Hell, you could save a lot of property damage by shrinking buildings (comic physics!) and then carrying it off on a flyer/truck/etc until the disaster is over.
Energy blasts - Er, um, maybe for taking out road blocks that's in the way of the relief forces/supply chain?
Enhanced Senses - Well, if it's enhanced enough to hear heartbeats though rubble, it's probably a better method for finding trapped/buried survivors than telepathy.
Anything I'm missing? Some inspired/out-of-box usage of any of these superpowers that hasn't occurred to me? Or maybe some other well known super-powers that I'm missing here?