From: "Casadonte, Dominick" <DOMINICK.CASADONTE**At_Symbol_Here**TTU.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemistry-oriented science fiction?
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 2015 22:08:45 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: D1EFDAA9.D5EE%Dominick.Casadonte**At_Symbol_Here**

Mary Beth's comment reminded me that the most popular current superhero who was affected by chemicals is The Flash. As an ardent comic book collector throughout my childhood and into my early 20s (yes, I admit it!), I agree that there are many super heroes who were either created as a result of chemical accidents or had the ability to manipulate the elements. There was, for example, a cute set of  comic book characters in the 1960s called "The Metal Men". Each  of the characters had the characteristic of a specific metal. The symbols on their uniforms were the alchemical symbol for the metal. Great stuff for young, budding chemists.

 I can think of a lot more, but if one Googles "Comic Book Heroes and Chemical Accidents", an interesting Wikipedia page comes up. I have taken the liberty to redact the page to contain mostly chemical and physical transformations and manipulations (this might save you some time, Mary Beth :)):

Acid generation                                    Anarchist;[36] Man-Thing;[37] Reptile               

Ability to generate acid, can be manifested through touch or as a spray (e.g. acid spit, acid blood, etc.).


Firebreathing                                       Ghost Rider;[53] Etrigan the Demon[54]             

Ability generate gases from the body and exhale fire from the mouth.



Pheromone manipulation                       Wallflower;[71] Crimson Fox[72]                     

Ability to generate and control pheromones which may have various effects.


Poison generation                                 Cobra;[73] Poison Ivy;[74] Maya Herrera            

Ability to assault others with one or more varieties of toxins, with widely disparate effects..



Ability to develop a resistance or immunity to whatever they were injured by or exposed to. This effect can be permanent or temporary.

Self-detonation or explosion and reformation      Nitro;[79] Damage;[80] Ted Sprague[81]      

Ability to explode one's body mass and reform.


Vortex breath                                       Awesome Android;[84] Kirby                         

Ability to inhale/exhale with superhumanly powerful strength. This can range from exhalation on par with gale force winds to inhalation on par with the power of a gravitational vortex. In some cases, freezing temperatures can also be achieved.


Superhuman senses                               Sabretooth;[91] Supergirl;[92] Icon;[93] Jim Ellison          

Ability to see, smell, taste, feel and/or hear more than a normal Human.



Heat vision                                          Gladiator;[102] Superboy-Prime;[103] Mister Majestic[104]   Heat vision

Ability to burn objects and other individuals with one's gaze

Telescopic vision Peepers;[105] Lar Gand[106]  

Ability to magnify and extend one's vision to various levels

Freeze vision                                       Bizarro[107]                                                 

Ability to freeze objects and other individuals with one's gaze


WaterbreathingNamor;[110] Aquaman[111]  Water breathing Liquid breathing

Ability to respirate through water in lieu of a gaseous medium. Not to be confused with an ability to go without breathing or to be able to breathe an alternative air supply.


Adrienne Frost;[131] Jack Hawksmoor;[132] Tuxedo Mask[133]

Psychometry (paranormal)

Ability to relate details about the past or future condition of an object or location, usually by being in close contact with it


Exodus;[134] Saturn Girl;[135] Abe Sapien; Piccolo[136]


Ability to read the thoughts of, or to mentally communicate with others


Black Box;[137] Cyborg Superman;[138] Drummer;[139] Micah Sanders[140]

Ability to manipulate technology. Manifested as a special form of electrical/telekinetic manipulation, a special form of "morphing" which allows physical interaction with machines, or even a psychic ability that allows for mental interface with computer data

Physics or reality manipulation

Darkness or shadow manipulation

Shroud;[154] Shade;[155] Shikamaru Nara[156]

Ability to create or manipulate darkness, often by mentally accessing a dimension of dark energy (the Darkforce dimension in Marvel Comics, and the Shadowlands in DC Comics) and manipulating it

Density control

Vision;[157] Thunder[158]

Ability to increase or decrease the natural density of an object and/or one's self



Wither;[159] Plasmus;[160] Castiel[161]

Ability to disintegrate matter through touch or through beams


Elemental transmutation

Alchemy;[162] Metamorpho;[163] Edward Elric[164]


The ability to alter chemical elements, changing them from one substance to another by rearranging the atomic structure. May be limited to self-transmutation


Intangibility or phasing

Kitty Pryde;[171] Phantom Girl;[172] D. L. Hawkins

Ability to quantum tunnel through solid matter without harm[171]


Light manipulation

Monica Rambeau;[173] Doctor Light;[174] Angelus[175]

Ability to control, generate or absorb light particles


Magnetism manipulation

Magneto;[176] Doctor Polaris[177]

Ability to control and/or generate magnetic fields


Mass manipulation

Harry Leland;[178] Thom Kallor[179]

Ability to increase or decrease mass in an object


Microwave manipulation



The ability to convert ambient electromagnetic energy into microwaves and manipulate it into various effects such as heat, light, and radiation


Molecular manipulation

Apocalypse;[181] Firestorm;[182] Solar; Piper Halliwell

Ability to mentally manipulate the molecules of objects and/or one's self on a molecular level


Probability manipulation

Longshot;[183] Calamity King


Ability to alter probability, causing unlikely things to happen, or likely things not to happen


Radiation manipulation

Radioactive Man;[184] Captain Atom[185]

Ability to generate, manipulate or have immunity to toxic radiation


Sound manipulation

Klaw;[190] Fiddler[191]

Ability to manipulate sound


Elemental and environmental powers

See also: Classical element

Ability to control or manipulate the elements of nature.



See also

Air and wind manipulation

Wind Dancer;[194] Red Tornado;[195] Aang; Sailor Uranus

Ability to control, generate, or absorb air or wind

Cold and ice manipulation

Iceman;[196] Ice;[197] Tracy Strauss;[198] Elsa[199]

Ability to reduce the kinetic energy of atoms and thus reduce temperature, can be used to control, generate, or absorb ice


Earth manipulation

Petra;[200] Terra;[201] Gaara;[202] Samuel Sullivan

Ability to control earth; sand, stone, rock, lava, dirt, or other minerals


Electric manipulation

Electro;[203] Black Lightning;[204] Sailor Jupiter;[205] Elle Bishop

Ability to control, generate or absorb electric fields


Fire and heat manipulation

Pyro;[206] Fire;[207] Sailor Mars;[208] Azula


Ability to control the kinetic energy of atoms to generate, control or absorb fire


Plant manipulation

Klara Prast;[209] Floronic Man;[210] Briar Moss

Ability to create, control, manipulate or animate plant life


Water and moisture manipulation

Washout;[211] Mera;[212] Sailor Mercury; Katara

Ability to control, generate or absorb water

Weather manipulation

Thor;[213] Weather Wizard;[214] Sarah Rainmaker;[215] Trisana Chandler

Weather control

Ability to control or mentally affect the weather. This includes the ability to generate various natural phenomena (rain, tornadoes, lightning, ocean currents, etc.) or control the intensity of the weather.

Energy manipulation

These powers deal with energy generation, conversion and manipulation. In addition to generic energy, versions of these powers exist that deal with such things as light, sound, electricity, nuclear energy, and the Darkforce dimension.



See also

Concussion beams

Cyclops;[216] Darkseid[217]

Ability to generate or transform various forms of energy into a "solid" or concussive beam of energy


Energy blasts

Havok;[218] Starfire;[219] Vegeta

Ability to expel various forms of energy from the body


Energy constructs

Cerise;[220] Jade;[221] Ury? Ishida

Ability to create complex shapes (such as giant boxing gloves or cages) or even functional machinery (such as fire extinguishers or laser rifles) out of solid energy


Energy conversion

Bishop[222] Winter[223]

Ability to absorb one form of energy and convert it into another form of energy


Force field generation

Unus the Untouchable;[224] Argent;[225] Orihime Inoue;[226] Wyatt Halliwell

Force field

Ability to project powerful fields of manipulated energy



Transportation and travel



See also

Electrical transportation

Atom;[227] Livewire[228]

Ability to travel through electrical conduits (such as power lines or telephone lines). Can enter through devices such as televisions, electrical poles or computers



Eternity;[229] Living Tribunal

Ability to be present anywhere and everywhere simultaneously


Dimensional travel

Roma;[230] Vox;[231]Access[232]

Ability to travel between two or more dimensions, realities, realms, etc.


Portal creation

Spot;[233] Gates[234]

Portal (doorway)

Ability to create wormholes, portation "discs" or other spatial portals for transport between two non-adjacent locations




Master Pandemonium;[235] Kid Eternity;[236] Jackie Estacado;[237] Jiraiya[238]

Magic satchel

Ability to summon beings or objects for assistance. This may range from invoking simple implements to mighty familiar spirits.


Superhuman speed

Quicksilver;[239] Flash;[240] Seta S?jir?;[241] Sonic the Hedgehog[242]

Speedster (fiction)

The ability to move, run, fly, react, think, and sense at speeds much faster than a normal human. Those with this ability also have accelerated brain activity which allows them to process sensory information so fast that everything seems to be moving in slow motion while the user moves at normal speed.



Nightcrawler;[243] Misfit;[244] Goku;[245]


Ability to move from one place to another without occupying the space in between


Time travel

Trevor Fitzroy;[246] Time Trapper;[247] Hiro Nakamura

Time travel

Ability to travel back or forth through time


The following powers could be manifested in any number of ways.

Energy propulsion



Cosmic energy control


Energy aura projection

Sunfire;[248] Halo[249]

Gravitational manipulation


Magnetic levitation

Polaris;[251] Static[252]

Molecular manipulation

Kitty Pryde, Dead Girl; Doctor Manhattan,[253] Piper Halliwell

Sonic repulsion field

Banshee; Tyroc

Telekinetic power

Vance Astrovik; Sapphire

Thermo-chemical energy

Cannonball; Jetstream


Physical propulsion

Wind current control

Cyclone;[254] Red Tornado[255]


Warren Worthington III;[256] Northwind;[257] Rouge the Bat



Ability to change appearance or body structure.



Animal morphing

Snowbird;[261] Beast Boy;[262] Jake Berenson

Ability to take on animal forms. May be able to take on the abilities of the altered form



Mister Fantastic;[57] Plastic Man;[263] Monkey D. Luffy[264]

Ability to stretch, deform, expand or contract one's body into any form imaginable



Colossus;[265] Ferro Lad[266]

Ability to transform completely into an inorganic substance while retaining organic properties



Hydro-Man;[267] Aspen Matthews[268]

Ability to turn partially or completely into a liquid



Mystique;[269] Clayface;[270] Voodoo[271]

Ability to change one's physical, biological form to mimic the appearance, characteristics and/or power set of other individuals


Size shifting

Henry Pym;[272] Giganta;[273] Garganta[274]

Ability to increase or decrease one's size



Amelia Voght;[275] Count Dracula

Ability to transform into a gaseous, mist, or fog-like form


Substance mimicry

Absorbing Man;[276] Amazing-Man[277]

Ability to transform into any substance touched


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List <dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**> on behalf of Mary Beth Mulcahy <mulcahy.marybeth**At_Symbol_Here**GMAIL.COM>
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Date: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemistry-oriented science fiction?

I have a five year old boy who loves comic books, so while I haven't memorized all the villains and super heroes like he has, from reading to my son I know a lot of them were transformed by chemical accidents. I can look up specific names in one of the references we have at home if that would be helpful.

Mary Beth

On Mon, Aug 10, 2015 at 3:51 PM, Stuart, Ralph <Ralph.Stuart**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
I'm thinking about the safety culture presentations I'll be giving next week (better before the presentation than during) and one question that occurred to me is "what examples of science fiction are there that are primarily focused on chemistry and/or chemical safety as a key topic?" I suspect that there are people who are better versed in this literature than I and I'd appreciate examples that come quickly to mind.

I'd also be interested in examples of specific books you may have had as children (age 12 and under) that got you interested in science outside of school.

Thanks for any information on these questions.

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Chemical Hygiene Officer
Keene State College


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