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; Man-Thing; Reptile
Ability to generate acid, can be manifested through touch or as a spray (e.g. acid spit, acid blood, etc.).
Firebreathing Ghost Rider; Etrigan the Demon
Ability generate gases from the body and exhale fire from the mouth.
Pheromone manipulation Wallflower; Crimson Fox
Ability to generate and control pheromones which may have various effects.
Poison generation Cobra; Poison Ivy; 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; Damage; Ted Sprague
Ability to explode one's body mass and reform.
Vortex breath Awesome Android; 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; Supergirl; Icon; Jim Ellison
Ability to see, smell, taste, feel and/or hear more than a normal Human.
Heat vision Gladiator; Superboy-Prime; Mister Majestic Heat vision
Ability to burn objects and other individuals with one's gaze
Telescopic vision Peepers; Lar Gand
Ability to magnify and extend one's vision to various levels
Ability to freeze objects and other individuals with one's gaze
WaterbreathingNamor; Aquaman 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.
Ability to relate details about the past or future condition of an object or location, usually by being in close contact with it
Ability to read the thoughts of, or to mentally communicate with others
Black Box; Cyborg Superman; Drummer; Micah Sanders
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
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
Ability to increase or decrease the natural density of an object and/or one's self
Ability to disintegrate matter through touch or through beams
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
Ability to quantum tunnel through solid matter without harm
Ability to control, generate or absorb light particles
Ability to control and/or generate magnetic fields
Ability to increase or decrease mass in an object
The ability to convert ambient electromagnetic energy into microwaves and manipulate it into various effects such as heat, light, and radiation
Ability to mentally manipulate the molecules of objects and/or one's self on a molecular level
Ability to alter probability, causing unlikely things to happen, or likely things not to happen
Ability to generate, manipulate or have immunity to toxic radiation
Ability to manipulate sound
Elemental and environmental powers
See also: Classical element
Ability to control or manipulate the elements of nature.
Air and wind manipulation
Ability to control, generate, or absorb air or wind
Cold and ice manipulation
Ability to reduce the kinetic energy of atoms and thus reduce temperature, can be used to control, generate, or absorb ice
Ability to control earth; sand, stone, rock, lava, dirt, or other minerals
Electro; Black Lightning; Sailor Jupiter; Elle Bishop
Ability to control, generate or absorb electric fields
Fire and heat manipulation
Ability to control the kinetic energy of atoms to generate, control or absorb fire
Ability to create, control, manipulate or animate plant life
Water and moisture manipulation
Ability to control, generate or absorb water
Thor; Weather Wizard; Sarah Rainmaker; Trisana Chandler
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.
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.
Ability to generate or transform various forms of energy into a "solid" or concussive beam of energy
Ability to expel various forms of energy from the body
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
Ability to absorb one form of energy and convert it into another form of energy
Force field generation
Unus the Untouchable; Argent; Orihime Inoue; Wyatt Halliwell
Ability to project powerful fields of manipulated energy
Transportation and travel
Ability to travel through electrical conduits (such as power lines or telephone lines). Can enter through devices such as televisions, electrical poles or computers
Ability to be present anywhere and everywhere simultaneously
Ability to travel between two or more dimensions, realities, realms, etc.
Ability to create wormholes, portation "discs" or other spatial portals for transport between two non-adjacent locations
Master Pandemonium; Kid Eternity; Jackie Estacado; Jiraiya
Ability to summon beings or objects for assistance. This may range from invoking simple implements to mighty familiar spirits.
Quicksilver; Flash; Seta S?jir?; Sonic the Hedgehog
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.
Ability to move from one place to another without occupying the space in between
Ability to travel back or forth through time
The following powers could be manifested in any number of ways.
Cosmic energy control
Energy aura projection
Kitty Pryde, Dead Girl; Doctor Manhattan, Piper Halliwell
Sonic repulsion field
Wind current control
Ability to change appearance or body structure.
Ability to take on animal forms. May be able to take on the abilities of the altered form
Mister Fantastic; Plastic Man; Monkey D. Luffy
Ability to stretch, deform, expand or contract one's body into any form imaginable
Ability to transform completely into an inorganic substance while retaining organic properties
Ability to turn partially or completely into a liquid
Ability to change one's physical, biological form to mimic the appearance, characteristics and/or power set of other individuals
Ability to increase or decrease one's size
Ability to transform into a gaseous, mist, or fog-like form
Ability to transform into any substance touched
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List <dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**med.cornell.edu> 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
To: "DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU" <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
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**keene.edu> 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 Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Chemical Hygiene Officer
Keene State College
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