Tagged: The Hulk

Martha Thomases: Thanks For The Mammories

Woody Allen

The doctor was over an hour late for my mammogram appointment this morning. The only magazines in the office were about decorating and polo, and my phone was being wonky, so I had a lot of time to think.

As you might expect, I thought about breasts. A lot.

Too much.

Specifically, I wondered why, despite our culture’s obsession with breasts, especially among the adolescent man-children who make so many of our commercially artistic decisions, no one (to my knowledge) had ever considered what a super-powered breast might be like.

Even without fictional help, breasts have a lot of power. As mammals, we use them to feed our young. Our patriarchal culture judges a woman’s value (in part) by the firmness, size and perkiness of her tits. While some people (including a fair number of women) think this gives women power, I have never perceived it this way. Instead, in my experience, men think the mere fact that I have them means they can remark on how much they do or do not like them.

I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t had a stranger say something about her breasts. While there may be some women who make similarly unrequested comments to men, I’ve never heard about any and must suppose it to be a much less common phenomenon. Telling me what he thinks about my body parts is one way that a man can tell me that he thinks I exist for his appraisal and approval.

What if my breasts could actually be a source of physical or metaphysical power? What if the more than 30-years exposure to radiation charged them up to affect me the same way that radioactive spider affected Peter Parker?

Would they shoot out webbing like Spider-Man does from his hands, but from the nipples instead? Would the webbing be edible, like Twizzlers?

Or would they shoot out death-rays?

Perhaps they would be malleable like Mr. Fantastic’s body, able to change shape and size to rope in criminals, or cushion a fall.

They might turn rock hard, like The Thing, and make my rib-cage impenetrable, so that no one can shoot me in the heart.

Or perhaps they could jiggle at super-speed, creating veritable earthquakes to knock my antagonists off their feet or allowing me to vibrate through walls.

Or they might grow massively in size and strength, like the Hulk, when I get angry, allowing me to use them to smash any cat-caller who gets in my face.

Alas, none of this happened to me.

I did get a clean bill of health, which is a good thing. I urge you to do the same.

Dennis O’Neil: Beginnings, Myths, & The Flash

I guess that now we know because – correct me if I’m wrong – last Tuesday we were all hunkered down in front of our television sets watching the latest addition to broadcast video’s superhero pantheon acquire his powers. ‘T’was lightning mixed with some other stuff that made the Flash the Flash.

Can we all just relax a bit?

We seem to have a need to know from whence we came, we noble mortals. Most of the word’s religions/mythologies have an “in the beginning” chapter and, funny thing, it doesn’t seem to matter much what the particulars of those creation myths are. A bird brings up a speck of mud from deep in a primordial ocean and that morphs into our planet; the earth emerging from the cracking of a cosmic egg; the dismemberment of a primordial being whose body parts become flora and fauna…and on and on and on. These tales and many, many more have all, at one time or another, sufficed to answer the question of our Beginnings. We seem to want to know our heroes’ origins, too, and so “origin stories” have been staples of comic books (which are what we’re concerned with here) from the first pages of the first appearance of the first mega-popular superhero and of course we could mean none other than Superman. That origin, as movie producer Michael Uslan pointed out decades ago, is quite similar to a story found in the Bible, and you can take that anywhere you want it to go.

Where were we? Ah, I remember: flashing.

The creators of the program under discussion chose to use science to explain how Barry Allen can move so darn fast. Nothing new: there have been four comic book iterations of The Scarlet Speedster and all owe their special traits to science… or maybe we should make that “science.” Briefly: Jay Garrick inhaled hard water vapors to acquire his power; Bart Allen got his after a sojourn in a time machine; Barry Allen and Wally West got their superspeed after being near a lightning bolt that struck some lab chemicals in two separate incidents. (And hey, you carpers – the word “coincidence” exists for a reason.) The teevee folk chose a variation of the Allen-West scenario.

There are, of course, other comics heroes who owe their uniqueness to “science” – we’re not forgetting The Hulk’s exposure to gamma rays, The Fantastic Four’s being zapped with cosmic rays, Spider Man’s encounter with a radio active spider and if you’ve a mind to, you can add your own favorites to the list, but I want to get back to the Flash.

If comics had existed before, oh, say, the Renaissance, our heroes powers would probably been explained by magic because, although science – without the quotation marks – existed back then, I doubt that the varlet on the street thought of it when he considered the miraculous. Magic, or contact with the Almighty, were what caused miracles to happen. Label something magic and… case closed. “Science” served the same purpose for comics (and pulp) writers. As suggested above, we mostly don’t care about the particulars of our origin stories, we just want them to exist.

Then: abracadabra. Now: quantum physics.

As for that label we use to explain the marvelous…we have to be careful if we plan to call it bogus. The nifty – and frustrating – thing about scientists is that they’re never absolutely sure of anything. They always allow for the possibility that they’re mistaken, that something will happen tomorrow that will completely invalidate what they “know.” Radioactive spider? Wellll…