Energy = marvel characters2: E = mc2: an article by: GF Willmetts.

The nature of this article means I have to look specifically at the Marvel Universe because so much of it has consistent examples there when it comes to using Einstein’s famous formula. Whether this can be applied to the likes of the DC Universe remains to be seen.

As commented in the last super-powers article, it started with a need to examine the gamma radiation-induced super-humans. However the examination of them produced some interesting question marks and the examination meant I had to encompass much more. So what you are going to follow this time is my logic making sense of a crucial element of the Marvel Universe. No super-human is safe and you’d be well to know something of the history of the reality although I’m also only going to keep to the main examples unless some other appropriate information is required.

(c) Marvel Comics

The initial stages were the transformations of the likes of Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk. He gains mass in size, bones and muscles and goes grey and initially at night and later when angry becomes green and equally loses it all when he calms down. None of which generates any exothermic explosion when it takes place and appears to be self-contained. Banner’s early transformation also reacted to a Geiger counter although once complete the radiation does not appear to be high enough to contaminate any humans nearby suggesting that there is some stability and containment. An extra factor is that for the majority of humans, being close to a radiation source does not induce cancer and for some, totally transform them.

As proven with Jennifer Walters aka the She-Hulk, such mutations can run in a family. Banner’s initial transformations took a while to stabilise from grey to green although there was little that kept his mind intact. By receiving a blood transfusion from Banner, Walters did not receive such an intense transformation and also kept her own mind. Indeed, where there are comparisons to the likes of Emil Blonsky aka the Abomination, Samuel Sterns aka the Leader and even Leonard Skiverski Jr. aka Doc Samson, all three of which kept their own minds, Banner appears to be the worse example. History shows that Banner did retain his mind for extended periods later in his life. However, what they all have in common is where did the extra mass come and go to with each transformation?

This also applies to those exposed to cosmic radiation such as Benjamin J. Grimm aka The Thing, although his transformation was rather more permanent, slowly changing over his career. In many respects, apart from minor changes, such transformations are of a singular one-phase nature. Even so, one has to ask where does the extra mass come and go from? It certainly doesn’t behave like a steroid, so there has to be some other mechanism taking place.

Another common denominator is the resistance to harm and no physical damage when returned to their original body normal size. In some ways there are parallels to the mutants Logan aka Wolverine and Victor Creed aka Sabre-Tooth as they draw in body matter to maintain their original form. This also would explain how their strength can magnify as they draw in more mass to press ever greater weights. It should be pointed out such measures are only short term and irregular, suggesting that there are limits.

(c) Marvel Comics

The absorption of cosmic energy isn’t unusual in the Marvel Universe. We have the classic example of Alexander Summers aka Havok and Ahmet Abdol aka the Living Pharaoh aka the Living Monolith aka The Living Planet who shared the energy source for a time but utilised differently. Abdol’s transformation is significant, especially the size he grew, finally becoming the size of a small planet. Energy into matter is something common to Albert Einstein’s famous equation, E=mc2 or, for those who don’t know that the letters mean: Energy = mass multiplied by the speed of light (squared). The nature of the Marvel Universe, where there is a nexus between a variety of interdimensional realities with different properties, it is less of a step for total transformations. Indeed, Walter Langkowski aka Sasquatch, had his belief that he was following in the steps of Bruce Banner later turned out to be wrong and that he became the embodiment of the Great Beasts of the Elder Night dimension.

It would hardly be a big step to consider that all of the gamma-based super-humans share this common denominator and their physical appearance is akin to other dimension beings. Indeed, another example of this transformation was seen with the first Space Phantom when he transformed into the Hulk in his first encounters with the Avengers. He was clearly not shape-shifting but duplicating their form and depositing the originals into Limbo for the duration of replacing them.

It should be pointed out with the Summers brothers that absorbing solar or cosmic radiation does not illicit any physical change indicating that such transformations are limited to particular people with the right genetic make-up or possibly latent mutant gene. Without the right DNA, presumably, there have been a few fatal casualties. For others, it allows the possibility to store and occasionally transform it into other energy, sometimes taking the original punch out of it. The likes of the Summers brothers yield force but no radiation as a bi-product of their abilities. This is also a common trait for other super-humans yielding energy-based powers with few actually burning anyone.

This doesn’t hold true for all of them. John Storm aka the Human Torch and Shiro Yoshida aka Sunfire can generate plasma energy but normally resort to using it force blasts than let loose with their full power. There is a secondary reason for this as their energy absorbs oxygen and blasting too much would also consume their own air supply. Indeed, this might well be the reason why, other than those who can withstand vacuum, be the body’s choice to convert the energy they absorb into force than plasma.

The Human Torch might be the most extreme of the plasma burners, his body appearing alit transforming heat into energy although rarely does anyone complain of his high temperature in close proximity suggesting this is a side-effect. Jim Hammond, a previous Human Torch and an android, possessed a similar condition. In many respects, there has to be a need to use these abilities to use this energy up although getting to test the limitations of storage is somewhat limited.

(c) Marvel Comics

An interesting contrast is with the mutant Robert Drake aka Iceman who draws in energy reducing the temperature to freezing conditions in a controlled way with his ability feeding on this energy. Although chilly, the teams about him never complain about the cold suggesting that there is also some containment. Considering he can move in such a state would suggest there is some flux in this state. There is some confusion about thermal dynamics with this ability because you cannot create cold only absorb heat and that he actually manipulates water. The fact that the Sentinels under the command of Lawrence Trask neutralised Drake by saturating his body in steam for a time showed he had some limits to his ability at that time. It also might be a similar process that the Sentinels used to contain Havok although he needed a containment costume until he gained better control.

In many respects, their energy absorption from their regular reality is normal in comparison to those who absorb energy from the Darkforce dimension which not only supplies energy but also a transit dimension for teleporters like Teleford Porter aka the Vanisher and Tyrone Johnson aka Cloak. Indeed, those who use the dark force from the Darkforce Dimension also turn the energy into force with little heat and radiation content which sounds like a common denominator. Quite where Tandy Bowen aka Dagger draws her light energy from to feed Cloak hasn’t really been explored.

The prevalent nature of super-beings able to absorb energy from various sources and dispense it appears to be a common mutation. They vary in how much power they can dispense and more importantly how much control they have. Deciding who is the most powerful of the terrestrial super-humans can be a personal choice. Certainly Blackagar Boltagon aka Black Bolt of the Inhumans surpasses all but to such a degree that even his voice is destructive. It would be interesting to compare Havok’s containment suit to that of Black Bolt and see how similar the technology it uses. Both of them can contain their own power for sometime as they demonstrate self-control.

There are not many super-humans who can change shape and yield energy-based powers at the same time. Probably the nearest is Carl Creel aka the Absorbing Man, although that does depend on what he has absorbed. One would have to wonder what was in the serum that the Norse deity Loki Laufeyson prepared but it does allow some thought into beings that are considered mystical in nature. One would have to consider where the super-science of Galactus stops and the likes of the Living Tribunal and even Eternity begins. However, this can be compared on a reduced scale to the Sorcerer Supreme Stephen Strange whose incantations produce known effects each time. As such, magic is more super-science and the channelling of interdimensional energy without necessarily becoming a living battery. This strongly suggests that many of these super-humans have some form of organic battery to maintain this energy/matter conversion or they would be seen as gateways to other dimensions.

Considering the nature of the Marvel Universe with access to multiple dimensions and various energy matrixes, it is hardly surprising so many beings can access and manipulate various forms of it. The manifestation of the uni-power into the likes of Captain Universe clearly shows a bond to physicality along the lines of Albert Einstein’s energy/matter equation and the speed of their change.

With the resurrection of so many super-beings over the decades, there is a strong suggestion that mature personalities are not always truly dead but may survive in one of the energy dimensions until restored in the likes of a clone body. Considering that so many of them manipulate energy they might not be aware of this aspect although not recognising their own form of immortality. It is also unlikely that they can resurrect themselves without some outside help. Some, like the vengeance seeking parasitic Phoenix Force, needs another mind to attach itself to. Most of the celestial beings, like the Stranger, can transform themselves between both energy and matter. The likes of Chaos and Order prefer to be between both states.

(c) Marvel Comics

Is it therefore any surprise that the likes of the gamma and cosmic-induced super-humans are drawing energy and converting it into matter in an uncontrolled manner from a similar source? No wonder Reed Richards discovered problems in trying to permanently return Benjamin Grimm to his normal appearance. In that respect, this article comes full circle and shows that in some respects the future prospects of mankind. Is it any wonder why Uatu the Watcher was assigned to observe the dawn of significant super-humans on Earth. It also seems to indicate across various realities the possibility of mankind to reach some level of deity-hood. Equally, this would also explain why other alien species would deem it necessarily to exterminate the humans before this was allowed to happen.


© GF Willmetts 2019

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