A Call to Arms: Our Favorite Arm-Enhanced Heroes and Villains
This week marks the hardcover release of DC’s controversial “Justice League: Cry for Justice” story, which unfortunately resulted in Roy Harper having his arm cut off by the villain Prometheus, not to mention the death of his daughter Lian. “Cry for Justice” has been followed by the still-in-process “Rise of Arsenal” mini-series, in which Roy deals with the fallout of his recent trauma. Part of Roy’s “recovery” involves the addition of a cybernetic arm that’s been causing him quite a bit of discomfort.
With all of the discussion that’s been swirling around both of these series, we saw this as an opportunity to honor Roy Harper’s entry into the cybernetic family by exploring some of the best artificially-armed characters in comics!
I’ve developed a rating system for each of the situations discussed below that I’m calling “The Three H’s”: Hardcore, Hapless and Hilarious.
Back in the 1990’s, Aquaman’s series took on a more grim and gritty tone as he grew out his hair, stopped shaving and had his left hand eaten off by a school of hungry piranha. Not to be deterred by the situation, Aquaman shoved a harpoon into the wound as a makeshift replacement. Later on, the harpoon would be replaced by a “magic water hand” until Aquaman turned into a weird squid-faced man and died. Having been resurrected by the events of Brightest Day, he’s currently spending his time talking to dead fish and kinda freaking out about it.
Rating: While getting the “piranha manicure” puts Aquaman into the hapless school, I think we can all agree that it was pretty damn hardcore when he treated his wound with a harpoon instead of going to the doctor.
The grown-up badass future warrior child of Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor, Nathan Summers’s metal arm comes from the techno-organic virus that Apocalypse infected him with as a child. Cable has been able to store various little gadgets inside his arm over the years, the most recent of which was a device that enabled him and mutant messiah Hope to jump through time while running from Bishop (who also happened to have a metal arm with a nuclear bomb and a time-sliding device in it).
Rating: His arm is a time machine. HARDCORE.
Arm Fall off Boy:
The product of what I can only imagine is an attempt to bring the Silver Age into the Modern Age, Arm Fall Off Boy debuted in 1989 as a rejected candidate for the Legion of Superheroes. What are his powers? He can remove his limbs and beat people with them, leading me to wonder why he didn’t call himself Arm and/or Leg Fall Off Boy.
Rating: Everything about this guy is completely hilarious, though I will admit that clubbing a guy with your own arm is quite the hardcore act.
Sadly, this isn’t the pilot from the Airplane movies, but instead a prime example of the excesses of comics during the 1990’s. A member of such teams as Cyberforce and Strykeforce, Major Morgan Stryker was a soldier who was augmented by the Cyberdata corporation after being injured on the battlefield. For reasons that will probably never make sense to anyone, Cyberforce was kind enough to provide Stryker with three right arms, enabling him to hold more guns and doubling his deodorant expenses.
Rating: When I was 12, Stryker was definition of hardcore. About 20 years later, I giggle at the thought of a guy with three right arms trying to sleep comfortably, firmly placing him into the hilarious category.
While his brother Simon grew up to be Wonder Man, Eric Williams took a different path, becoming…well, he became one of the sillier-looking villains in comics. His right hand was replaced with a powerful weaponized scythe, enabling him to become a real beast in the fields when it came time to harvest the crops.
Rating:…I’m sorry, what’s that joke about the pirate with jock itch? That’s the only thing I can ever think about when I look at this guy.
Thanks to Chris Sims, there seems to be an unofficial rule at Comics Alliance stipulating that KGBeast is mentioned as often as humanly possible, and it makes perfect sense for him to be on this list. An assassin with the mastery of every weapon ever known, KGBeast chopped off his own hand after getting tied up during a fight with Batman, replacing it with a gun. He’s particularly notable as the only character on this list directly responsible for his limb own removal (not counting Arm Fall Off Boy).
Rating: While KGBest is clearly among the most hardcore of the DCU, he takes a close second on this list to…
The protagonist of Johnny Ryan’s horrifically awesome “Prison Pit”, Cannibal F$#kface is dropped onto a planet and engages in a series of grotesquely violent physical altercations until he loses his arm when someone pops a zit at him. This is probably the most normal thing that happens in the whole book. Later on a sluglike creature called a Slorge attaches itself to his stump and supercharges his body (as pictured above). Then Cannibal and his new arm get…intimate with each other.
Rating: This is quite simply the most hardcore thing I’ve ever seen in my life on at least three different levels
Honorable Mention: Risk
A member of the mid-90’s “alien abduction” Teen Titans, Cody Driscoll is a most unfortunate victim of what I like to call “Johnsian Dismemberment”. First he had his right arm torn off by Superboy-Prime during Infinite Crisis, leading him to grow a sweet mustache and join Deathstroke’s villainous Titans East. Risk then makes the mistake of going after Superboy-Prime again during the Sinestro Corps War, who proceeded to tear off his left arm. He hasn’t been heard from since, but he presumably continues to reject cybernetic enhancement out of some misguided sense of pride.
Rating: First time? Hapless. Second time? Pretty hilarious.