Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Like Socks for Christmas

Superpowers are, by and large, looked upon as a blessing by those that pick them up whether they use them for good or ill, unless they're a member of the X-Men or are Spider-Man. In that case, they're given to making speeches to no one in particular about how their ability to chuck a small car or fly is their "blessing... and [their] curse."

The thing is, some folks get utterly shafted when they get their powers. Some people are turned into glowing green skeletons with phosphorus skin or Negative Men. But who got did fate bend over a couch and violate the hardest?

Who found supersocks under the Christmas tree?

FUJI: In the WildStorm Universe, there were only a couple ways to get powers. One was through genetic tampering, like those damn Gen13 kids, one was through alien involvement, like the WildCATs or Jack Hawksmoor, and the last and vaguest was the "randomized comet effect," which was the best way to use mutation I've ever seen that couldn't possibly end in a lawsuit from Marvel. Toshiro Misawa, a young sumo wrestler (if you're Japanese and in a comic book, you're either some kind of businessman/mobster, a ninja/ samurai, a sumo or Usagi Yojimbo), was reduced to a mass of incandescent gas by the random comet effect and was placed inside a giant suit of armor to contain both himself and his deadly radiation. It's pretty much the weirdest excuse to get a giant robot on a team ever, especially given that his teammate Hellstrike was also a cloud of gas, but he got a person-shaped forcefield capable of growing a mustache and a penis.

Anyway, Fuji, while ridiculously strong, also had a funny tendency to have his suit suffer life-threatening breaches while in combat (John Cumberland spit through him once, putting him over as my personal favorite Superman ripoff ever). Of course, he had the upside of having an orgasm every five minutes thanks to vibration and Mad Ellis Science, so he had that going for him. Which is nice.

CHAMBER: He blew a hole in his chest and face the first time he used his powers, so it looks like a good chunk of his upper body is on fire at all times. Also, since he's British, he's almost always forced to use utterly ridiculous English slang. That's an extra strike, which is why he's on the list instead of his teammate Penance (female Wolverine ripoff number 5, with the added benefit of never talking. She's actually getting a pass because she was named by Gateway, one of my inexplicable favorite characters).

DR PHOSPHORUS/THE CORROSIVE MAN/BLIGHT/FALLOUT/THE VERSION OF NEGATIVE MAN JOHN BYRNE DRAWS: I can't think of much worse than finding out that you have superpowers and then finding out that you don't have skin in the traditional sense anymore. Wouldn't that suck? Add in the fact that these guys are all* radioactive and you realize that Karma was giving these poor bastards the finger.

*Corrosive Man might not be. I tend to confuse him and Phosphorus.

BEAK: Nine times out of ten, if you're a mutant in the Marvel Universe, it just means you're both attractive and able to shoot energy out of your hands. Usually, the worst you'll get is skin discoloration, or something, but even then, you're a blue guy who can create forcefields with his mind or levitate islands, so it's a wash. It's like being born with the most beneficial case of Downs Syndrome ever. Barnell Bohusk, though, ended up being the ugliest fucking thing ever, with useless little wing-arms and a bird head. Poor guy.

BLOODFIRE: Years ago, Wizard ran a feature on Lightning Comics, at the time a fairly promising new publisher that was about to launch three or four books. Their keystone was a book called Bloodfire, which was intended as a tonic for the egregious lack of substance in mid-nineties books. Everything I'm about to say stems from that article, which I last read in 1994 or '95, so if I'm wrong about any of this nonsense... I honestly don't care. A quick glance at eBay reveals that full runs of the book go for about a dollar, and that's a dollar more than I'm willing to part with in the name of background research on this subject. You'll see why.

Given that a cursory glance at a comic rack circa '95 looked like a list of Swedish metal bands what with all the bloods and deaths and wolves, a name like "Bloodfire" doesn't really stand out until you realize that it was literal. This guy's blood caught fire when exposed to oxygen.

Now, I'm sure one or two of you are thinking "but blood... it ferries oxygen throughout the body. Why aren't his arteries aflame within him?" Good question. See, if I'm remembering this correctly, and I might not be, the whole concept is based on really wonky science. Remember the "lack of substance" mentioned above? Yeah, Bloodfire's creators figured the best way to bring meaning back to comics was to give their headline character HIV.

Seems the government was trying to manufacture a supersolider, as they are wont to do, but the stuff they were using to grant superpowers to enlisted men (no doubt men accused of crimes they did not commit, as the whole "volunteering for high-risk military missions" angle was passe about five pages after Steve Rogers got vita-ray'd, while the A-Team origin never ever gets old) was getting wiped out of their systems by their own natural immunity.

So they injected a guy with HIV in an effort to knock his immune system down a peg in order to get the superpower-granting McGuffin into him, which wouldn't work for any number of reasons. His powers would keep the HIV in check so as to prevent it from becoming AIDS and also make his blood flammable.

Makes you pine for the nineties, huh?

TAPEWORM: Aw, I can't make fun of him. Tapeworm is awesome. Look at him:

Aw, he's just so lovable.


Ragnell said...

I think this list is your best one yet.

But why no one from the Legion of Superheroes?

Adam said...

Um...and where are the Wonder Twins? Does their infinite comedy give them a "get out of jail free" card?

The Swamp Thing also got kind of hosed, unless being a walking bog that thinks it's a man is a good thing.

My last suggestion is Billy Bob Thornton.

Jon said...

Turning into an animal is kind of sweet. Turning into water sucks, but turning into an ice ladder is pretty awesome. Plus, aside from pointy ears, they look like normal people. And they have a monkey wearing a cape. A pet like Gleek could make me forget all my problems. He's like a three-legged dog: No matter how bad you feel, at least you aren't as fundamentally broken as Gleek.

Swamp Thing falls into a category I was thinking about getting into today: Guys made of something other than people materials. Like the Heap, or Tar Pit. Sucks for them, but at least they aren't setting off Geiger counters or lighting their pants on fire.

As for the Legion of Super-Heroes, my working knowledge of them is based on guest appearances and Who's Who entries. While I'm confident enough to sling arrows at Bloodfire from my high horse of No One Could Possibly Take Offense, Legion fans strike me as a terrifying lot.

Ragnell said...

I can understand that. I mean, I've heard such things about them! *Leans in conspiratorily* Did you know they actually read the current series?

Scary, huh?

Jon said...

Did you know they actually read the current series?

Hah hah, that's what I hear.

Every time I've thought about getting into the Legion, I remember that it gets rebooted every few minutes. I'll probably read the Great Darkness Saga, since the trade's sitting in my local comic shop waiting for a day when I give in to my impulses.