This week, the first volume of “Chew,” the current indie darling from writer John Layman and artist Rob Guillory, comes out in trade paperback, and we can’t recommend it highly enough!
If you haven’t read it, the story follows the adventures of an FDA inspector called Tony Chu, who, as a “cibopath,” gets psychic impressions from the food he eats, which has led him to be the World’s Greatest Cannibal Detective. This is a brilliant high concept and a truly unique super-power, but is it really the most bizarre power comics have ever seen? We’re not sure.
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That’s why we’ve recruited ComicsAlliance writer and Amateur Bizarre Superpowerologist Chris Sims to bring us a list of the most bizarre super-powers we’ve ever seen!
Superman’s New Power
You’d think that Superman
would have enough super-powers to be getting on with, but back in the Silver Age, he had even more
. But none of them, not Super-Ventriloquism, not Super-Hypnosis, not even the strange Amnesia Kiss that he gives to Lois Lane in “Superman II” (which we’re fond of calling “Kryptonian Roofies”) compares to the new power he developed in 1958’s “Superman” #125.
Despite the cover, Superman’s New Power is not to shoot rainbows out of his hands. Instead, radiation from a crashed spaceship saps his normal powers and gives him the ability to shoot a foot-high version of himself out of his hands that has all of his powers. Naturally, Superman quickly becomes jealous of his miniature doppelganger and plots to kill it, but gets his powers back when Li’l Supes sacrifices himself to save Metropolis.
We’ve read a lot of bizarre comics, but even cannibal detectives can’t top that one for weirdness.
Fatman, the Human Flying Saucer
Created in 1967 by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck, who had previously collaborated on Captain Marvel
(the guy who says “Shazam!”), Fatman
was billed as the first super-hero with not two, but three
secret identities: Gourmet socialite Van Crawford Jr., rotund crime-fighter Fatman, and, as seen above, The Human Flying Saucer. The strangest thing about this setup is that Fatman has his own set of super-powers (increased strength and toughness from being so fat, which is a stretch even for comics) even before
he was taught how to turn into a flying saucer by aliens.
Okay, that last part was probably the strangest thing.
In either case, “Fatman” is pure fun, and highly reminiscent of Herbie Popnecker, another character with strange, lollipop-based powers, but it only lasted for three giant-sized issues before vanishing, and sadly remains uncollected.
The Brown Bomber’s “C.P.T.”
Speaking of forgotten characters, the Brown Bomber
, introduced during Dwayne McDuffie’s recent run on “Justice League,” was actually a riff on the Black Bomber, a character that DC was planning on publishing back in the ’70s before writer Tony Isabella convinced them not to by creating Black Lightning
His powers are simple enough: He turns into a super-strong, Afro-sporting Blaxploitation hero for an hour whenever he yells “Black Power!” What makes it so strange, though — and the reason Isabella was dead set against DC publishing the original version — was that in his civilian identity, the Black Bomber was an extremely racist white man.
ADAM-X THE X-TREME’s Shocking Limits
Originally intended to be the Third Summers Brother, ADAM-X THE X-TREME
(whose name doesn’t technically need
to be capitalized, but is way more fun that way) has the power to electrify your blood, but only if you’re already bleeding. This, we assume, is what accounts for the act that he not only has spiked knuckles, a spiked belt, and spiked shoulderpads but also spikes just randomly strapped to his arms in the picture above.
As for the backwards baseball cap and the “X-Braids,” we have no explanation whatsoever.
Maggott’s, er, Maggots
We could probably fill an entire article with lame X-Men, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Maggot
t, whose mutant power was that his digestive system existed in the form of two giant maggots
that would eat things and then crawl back into his body to give him super-powers. The problems with this should be obvious.
We’re not saying every superhero needs to be designed with media tie-ins in mind (in fact, that’s a pretty poor way to do things), but when there’s no way in hell that you’re ever going to get on a lunchbox without causing a wave of schoolyard nausea, you might want to reconsider.
The Anarchist’s Explosive Sweat
Okay, okay, we said we’d lay off the mutants, but Peter Miligan and MIke Allred’s “X-Force”
is a special case. In stories that were designed to skewer the stories going on in the main X-Titles, Milligan and Allred introduced a handful of characters with strange powers, including El Guapo
, who rode a sentient skateboard, Henrietta Hunter
, who was originally intended to be a resurrected Princess Diana before Editorial quashed it, and Doop
, whose powers are even weirder than his appearance. The explosive sweat of Tike Alicar, The Anarchist
, though, is just weird enough to work.
Gunfire — He IS a Weapon!
Ah, the ’90s. Gunfire
here was a product of 1993’s “Bloodlines” crossover, in which a whole slew of new characters were created through the plot device of an alien invasion. One of the only characters to get his own (albeit short-lived) series, Gunfire had the ability to agitate the molecules of any object, effectively turning everything into a gun.
This is the most ’90s super-power ever.
So what makes this so weird? Well, as seen in “Hitman” #1,000,000 (Hitman being the only one of the “Bloodlines” characters to actually succeed), turning anything into a gun has its disadvantages as well, leading to dialogue like “Aaah–! Pain–so bad! If I can just reach — medipak- AAAHH!! Aaah, no, I turned the medipak into a gun!” and the immortal “Ooh my God, I turned my ass into a hand grenade!”
Arm Fall Off Boy’s Detachable Arms
Most of the characters with bizarre superpowers came by them courtesy of writers with honest intentions, but not Arm Fall Off Boy, who serves as a parody both the Legion of Super-Heroes (whose ranks include characters with strange super-powers like Matter-Eater Lad) and one of the oldest running gags in the series, “tryouts” involving characters that are even worse. The fact that some of the rejects have even banded together to form the Legion of Substitute Heroes — including the likes of Stone Boy, who can turn into a living statue, which is basically an invulnerable coma — means that parodies have to go well over the top.
Thus, AFOB, who does exactly what it says in the name. He fights the crime of the 30th century…. with the power of arms that fall off. Pure genius.
The Quiz: Every Super-Power You Have’t Thought Of
We’ve mentioned the Quiz
before on ComicsAlliance in our round-up of the Doom Patrol’s strangest moments
, and for good reason: She has, and we’re quoting, “every super-power you haven’t thought of.” She’s like Silver Age Superman taken to the extreme; if a writer could get out of a plot corner with Super-Hypnosis, imagine how easy it’d be to get around obstacles with anything the other characters haven’t said out loud!
Swarm, as blogger Kevin Church
once put it, is A Nazi Made of Bees
Further explanation should be unnecessary.
Given what we’ve already said about “Hitman” above, it should come as no surprise that when writer Garth Ennis
created a low-rent super-hero team, he ended up with some of the strangest characters we’ve ever heard of. From what we can tell, the only one who actually has any super-power is Friendly Fire
, who has the unfortunate knack of blasting his own teammates, but it’s worth noting the rest of the group, including:
- Defenestrator, who throws people out of windows, and even carries a window with him in case there aren’t any nearby.
- Dogwelder, who welds dogs to people (most notably Lobo)
And of course…
- Bueno Excelente, who “fights evil with the power of perversion.”
These are our picks for the most bizarre super-powers, but there are plenty of strange heroes and villains out there to choose from! Do you have a favorite? Let us know!
Elsewhere on the web:
Zombie Hooker XXX-Mas (Adult Swim)
Rejected Mortal Kombat Fatalities (Gorilla Mask)
13 Bizarre Comics & Cartoons (I Am Bored)