Along with the flying supermen and the magic-wielding superwomen that populate comics, there are supposedly a few regular Joes, who represent the indomitable strength of the non-powered person.
After reading just a few comics, though, it's clear that these people usually do have superpowers of their own — their powers just manifest themselves in different ways. Here are 10 supposedly non-powered heroes, and their secret superpowers.
10. Nick Fury: AKA The Immortal
Most of the time, when characters fight in World War II, something happens to them to allow them to stick around. They get frozen in ice, sucked into another dimension, captured by an enemy with magical powers, or some combination of the three. Fury, in most continuities, didn't. He's just around, and still in his mid-sixties, having fought in WWII. And this history is going strong. It's likely that he'll outlast anyone reading his comics, and do it as a Second World War veteran with an eye-patch. (Edit: It is true that in some continuities he has "The Infinity Formula" that keeps him young. What's funny about this is in the more realistic continuities he doesn't have the formula, or no mention is made of it, which makes the more realistic continuities less realistic in terms of timeline.)
9. Booster Gold: AKA The Technicality
Most of the real-people heroes make do with grappling hooks, guns, arrows, and the occasional supercomputer. Booster Gold, on the other hand, takes full advantage of the saying, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Booster was a security guard from the future who figured he'd rather be a star in the past. Technically, he's a regular guy. In reality he time-travels, flies, has super-weapons, and has a little robot that tells him any information he needs to know, including things about the future. He's insanely high-powered, he just doesn't see his technology as powers any more than we see text messages as telepathy.
8. Rorschach: AKA The Messiah
If you were in the company of a group of insanely over-powered individuals who had just done a morally dubious thing, would you quietly agree that it was for the best and then go back to civilization with them before trying to rat them out? Then you're not Rorschach. When his friends wipe out New York, he decides to announce that he won't stand for that and tries to hike through Antarctica in a trench coat to get back to America and tell them what went down. In doing that, he deliberately martyrs himself when the more highly-powered heroes kill him. That's not a power, though. That's just stubbornness. When it implies, at the end of Watchmen, that he 'rises up' again through his teachings and may conquer those who killed him via the heart and conscience of everyday people, he becomes a messiah figure, albeit one that kills people a lot.
7. The Punisher: AKA Tooth-Grow-Back Man
The Punisher is an ex-marine who, after his family is killed in a mob hit gone wrong, goes out every night and Death Wishes the criminal population of New York. He's described as a force of nature, and the most terrifying character of the Marvel Universe, but he is always human. Or is he? Cuts heal, bones knit, and even the most egregious injury can be survived, but there are some things that do leave marks. In Garth Ennis' rightly-admired series, The Punisher is shown getting his teeth knocked out again and again and again. Sometimes, by the end of a fight, he has only one or two left in his mouth. The Punisher never goes to a doctor, let alone the dentist. Yet in the next book he's got a mouth full of teeth again. Clearly, this guy has a power he's not admitting to.
6. Tintin: AKA The All-Powerful
Tintin, while supposedly a mortal boy, has the power to transform the world around him. Bad guys are obvious, good guys are uncomplicated, women are comfortingly nonsexual, and dogs never stick their nose in anyone's crotch. Tintin has the power to transform the world just by being in it.
5. Night Thrasher: AKA The Clone Army
If Batman were a bit younger, used a skateboard, and was a Marvel property, he would be Night Thrasher. Dwayne Taylor was a man who ran the Taylor Foundation by day and fought crime at night as a way of avenging his murdered guardians. Then he was killed. Not to worry! Donyell Taylor, his surprise younger brother who looked just like him and was just as good as he was stepped up and filled in. If something were to happen to Donyell, there is no doubt that a brother named David or Danny could probably be found. The Clone Army will rule the streets forever.
4. Lady Shiva: AKA The Human Barometer
Lady Shiva is repeatedly established as the best martial artists in the DC Universe — and yet, there is no issue in which she appears, that she doesn't get beaten up in. Shiva isn't so much a character as a symbol of when things Get Real. If anyone beats her, they must be a Force to be Reckoned With, and since no author wants to write a story about a mediocre character, everyone beats her.
3. Jonah Hex: AKA Resurrector
This guy was not only killed, but stuffed and kept as a gruesome object of amusement for over a hundred years. And he still came back. He also traveled to the future and back to the past. Basically, the guy can't die.
2. Oracle: AKA Computers-Are-Magic Woman
Although the current status of Oracle in the New 52 is shaky, she once was a god-in-a-box of the DC Universe. Want a battle fought in virtual reality with real-life consequences? Oracle does it! Want surveillance footage of a supposedly unreachable supervillain? Oracle has it! Want a flash mob of thousands to charge a secured area within a space of 15 minutes? Oracle can do it! Any information, any machine, any time, in any location. Oracle can do it all. I kind of miss her.
1. Batman: AKA The Moneymaker
This is more like a meta-power. Batman is probably the biggest money-making comic book character ever created, and fr decades DC has been shaking him everywhere. He works for ultraviolent action movies and kids cartoons and team books and team-up books and crossovers with The Predator. This power comes with a whole suite of lesser powers. He can come back from death. He can stand at the end of the universe. He can resist fear drugs, magic fear powers, and just plain fear itself. He can operate on a dozen different teams at once. He admirably resists the passage of time - having raised three kids from pre-adolescence to adulthood without getting any older himself. And of course he can never really die.
There's a definite reward for being lucrative.
Top Image: Batman Year One
Second Image: Punisher Long Cold Dark
Third Image: Batman Incorporated #8