If I could go back in time and tell my 10 year-old self that one day they would make, not just one but five X-Men movies, including a Wolverine one, I don't think I'd make it back to 2013 because my 10 year-old head would explode.
The flurry of Superhero movies consistently coming down the pipe for the last 10 years from both the D.C. and Marvel Universes (Spider-Man, Batman, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Daredevil, Green Lantern, Watchmen, Avengers) has given us a world that comic book fans have waited for their whole lives. It's a world where the Hollywood Superhero movie has become so commonplace that most forget that only a generation ago these blockbusters didn't exist.
It's not as if attempts weren't made earlier. We're all familiar with Linda Carter's beloved Wonder Woman, Lou Ferrigno's painted-on Hulk and Adam West's cornball Batman, but network television's confined budgets left less than dazzling results when compared to the actual comic books that inspired the shows. If anything, the t.v. experiments tarnished the idea of propping up superheroes for big budget features. Thankfully, Christopher Reeve's Superman and Tim Burton's Batman kept the spirit alive long enough for Toby McGuire to come web-slinging around as Spider-Man in 2002.
And yet, with all the millions of dollars now being pumped into making the Silver Surfer and Iron Man come to life, and with my sustained awe and wonder at each successive movie, I still find myself clinging to yesteryear and reverting back to a time when none of this was possible. I do this by listening to Power Records.
What is Power Records?
Power Records was a subsidiary of the children's record label giant, Peter Pan Records. While Peter Pan mainly put out records aimed at young kids during the '40s all the way through the late '80s, like Frosty The Snowman, Alice In Wonderland, Mother Goose and Bugs Bunny, Power Records' discography was mostly made up of DC and Marvel characters for older kids. Comic strips would often accompany the stories that were contained on the vinyl, and they marked my childhood like a booster shot.
Power Records became the default in bringing the comic book characters to life, eventually superseded by cartoons like Spider Man, Super Friends, Challenge Of The Super Friends and Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends. Not every superhero got the Power Records treatment, however. Sure there was the triumvirate staple of Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman and the Spider Man/Incredible Hulk records, but past the odd Captain America or Flash 7" storybook it was, after all, a line of records aimed at kids. And there wasn't much money to be made putting out a Wonder Man, Moon Knight or Dr. Fate album.
The stories hold up from when I was a chump, too. Whether it's Spider Man battling Man-Wolf or Batman unwelcome in Gorilla City, there's enough left to your imagination to keep its wheels greased. Digitally transferring the records onto my iPod has allowed me to enjoy them when the wifi and iPad have all gone temporarily kaput while on tour.
But trying to figure out where all my nostalgia stems from in the middle of this Superhero Blockbuster age has been nagging me for quite some time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not gonna stop watching the movies, but it is cause for some concern only because I sorta loathe retro fanatics -- people who insist that everything was better yesterday while lacking the ability to appreciate what's happening right in front of them. I'm concerned my zeal for Power Records may very well be the beginning of my near-ironic imperial moustache/pork pie hat/monocle phase and that scares me to death.
I think my Power Records collection stems from wanting to creatively re-engage with the superheroes I grew up with while I still can. With the advances in movie effects technology this may be a last gasp before CGI blows our minds to the point where our brains won't be able to creatively compete as we enter the next Singularity phase.
If so, I'm ready for whatever outcome. Whether I end up reverting back to reading the actual hard copy comics again to go against a virtual reality goggle-wearing populace, or we all end up in some grand Star Trek-like holodeck swathed in our favourite costumed caper's getup battling in some Secret War, sign me the hell up.
I'll probably end up ditching it all anyway in favour of jigsaw puzzles, Rubik's cubes and model airplanes, a knee-jerk reaction to all the stupendous stimulating simulation available to us.
Matter-Eater Lad is from the planet Bismoll, where poisonous microbes made all food inedible, forcing the planet's inhabitants to evolve to have the ability to eat any form of matter. Man-Eater Lad can also eat at super-speeds and consume matter otherwise thought to be indestructible, meaning that theoretically, he could eat Superman. (Via <a href="http://www.manolith.com/2010/02/10/15-lamest-superhero-powers/" target="_hplink">Manolith</a>)
Bouncing Boy made his comic book debut in 1961 after young Chuck Taine accidentally drank an experimental super-plastic formula he mistook for soda pop. He then gained the ability to inflate his body like a ball and bounce around without injury. (Via <a href="http://www.weirdworm.com/10-weird-superheroes-you-might-not-have-heard-about/" target="_hplink">Weird Worm</a>)
Arm-Fall-Off Boy's power stems from his ability to -- you guessed it -- detach his limbs and use them to beat evil-doers. Sadly, he was denied entry into the Legion Of Super-Heroes, despite the group inducting the likes of Matter-Eater Lad and Bouncing Boy. By all accounts, Arm-Fall-Off Boy was intended to be a joke character, and he very much was. (Via <a href="http://www.weirdworm.com/10-weird-superheroes-you-might-not-have-heard-about/" target="_hplink">Weird Worm</a>)
This crime-fighting high schooler can communicate with squirrels, but also has super strength, super speed and a retractable knuckle spike. She consumes macadamia nuts for extra strength and even has a squirrel sidekick. Squirrel Girl's crowning achievement is her defeat of the infamous Doctor Doom after she, umm, overwhelmed him with squirrels. (Via <a href="http://marvel.com/universe/Squirrel_Girl" target="_hplink">Marvel</a>)
Jazz appears to be a very special case in the X-Men universe due to the fact that his genetic mutation is not a power, but rather a change to his physical appearance resulting in his skin turning blue. He has no other discernable powers or abilities. However, he is an aspiring rapper. (Via <a href="http://www.weirdworm.com/the-5-dumbest-x-men-characters/" target="_hplink">Weird Worm</a>)
Maggott's superpowers derive from his abnormal digestive system, which consists of two mutant, sentient slugs named Eany and Meany who live inside his body. The slugs are able to leave his body, quickly digest and absorb the power of any object, and then return and transmit the energy back to Maggott. In doing so, the slugs give Maggott superhuman strength, speed and stamina. For the slugs to exit and enter Maggott's digestive system, they need to eat through his skin. Yum! (Via <a href="http://www.comicsalliance.com/2009/11/23/strangest-most-bizarre-superpowers-comics/" target="_hplink">Comic's Alliance</a>)
When Rick Raleigh isn't working as the assistant to Superior City's District Attorney, he's fighting crime under the guise of Red Bee. Red Bee has a swarm of trained bees stored in his belt to unleash on criminals at the ready. It is unknown how he trained the bees or how he is able to keep them in his belt (don't ask too many questions) but Red Bee is not to be confused with <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowjacket_(Charlton_Comics)" target="_hplink">Yellowjacket</a>, who can also control bees. (Via <a href="http://www.dcindexes.com/indexes/indexes.php?character=192" target="_hplink">DC Indexes</a>)
Alex Cluney has a very distinctive mutant power which enables him to spew acidic vomit from his mouth. Tragically, he discovered his power while making out with a girl; he vomited acid all over her and burned her face (thankfully she survived). His vomit is highly acidic, able to burn through 10-centimeter-thick steel in less than 30 seconds. Hopefully he also carries mints. (Via <a href="http://www.weirdworm.com/the-5-dumbest-x-men-characters/" target="_hplink">Weird Worm</a>)
Drura Sehpt hails from the planet Somahtur, whose inhabitants can easily infect others with various diseases while they themselves remain immune to its effects. After travelling to Earth, Drura became Infectious Lass and began fighting crime, although her powers sometimes do as much harm as they do good, especially when she accidentally infects other heroes with illnesses. Oops! (Via <a href="http://www.comicvine.com/infectious-lass/29-47108/" target="_hplink">Comic Vine</a>)
Ulu Vakk was just a normal guy until a beam of multi-colored light from another dimension struck him, thereby giving him the superpower to change to the color of anything he wants. (Via <a href="http://www.weirdworm.com/10-weird-superheroes-you-might-not-have-heard-about/" target="_hplink">Weird Worm</a>)
Dori Aandraison, also known as Rainbow Girl, can wield the mysterious power of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_spectrum" target="_hplink">Emotional Spectrum</a>, meaning that she has the ability to give herself unpredictable mood swings (ladies, amiright?!). Having always wanted to become an actress, she aspired to join the Legion Of Super Heroes in order to gain notoriety, but instead had to settle for the Legion Of Substitute Heroes. (Via <a href="http://www.comicvine.com/rainbow-girl/29-51582/" target="_hplink">Comic Vine</a>)
Anarchist, one of the founding members of the X-Statix mutant superhero group, has the ability to secrete acidic sweat. His sweat allows him to project acidic blasts of energy. He and Zeitgeist should probably talk. (Via <a href="http://www.comicvine.com/anarchist/29-12913/" target="_hplink">Comic Vine</a>)
In the 1940s, infant Richard Grey Jr. was with his parents on a scientific expedition in Mongolia when their caravan was attacked. Richard was the only survivor and was adopted by a group of hyper-intelligent condors who raised him and somehow taught him to fly (we don't want to know). Eventually, he would move to America and adopt the guise of Black Condor, the name he would use to fight corrupt politicians and racketeers. (The Black Condor was later reintroduced as a new character several times by DC Comics, who revised his backstory and changed the origin of his powers.) (Via <a href="http://www.comicvine.com/richard-grey-jr/29-30198/" target="_hplink">Comic Vine</a>)
Brian Cruz's genetic mutation allows him to force people to uncontrollably run away from whatever object or person he chooses, hence the alias "Tag." He uses a psionic signal which forces anyone within a radius of approximately 100 feet to either run away from or run directly at a target source. When applying his power, he always yells, "You're it!". Clever. (Via <a href="http://www.manolith.com/2010/02/10/15-lamest-superhero-powers/" target="_hplink">Manolith</a>)
Tar Baby's genetic mutation grants him the ability to secrete an adhesive, tar-like substance, allowing him to stick to whatever objects he chooses. Sadly, Tar Baby was captured by the Weapon X program (known for performing experiments on mutants) and put to death in a mutant concentration camp. (Via <a href="http://www.manolith.com/2010/02/10/15-lamest-superhero-powers/" target="_hplink">Manolith</a>)
Dead Girl's mutant powers were activated by her death (shocker) which allowed her to continuously reanimate her corpse and come back to life, essentially making her immortal. Additionally, she can communicate with other dead beings, survive without any food, water or oxygen, and control severed parts of her body. And guys, she's single. (Via <a href="http://www.comicvine.com/dead-girl/29-11483/" target="_hplink">Comic Vine</a>)
Dag Wentim is a native of the planet Zwen, where people developed the ability to turn themselves into stone for long periods of hibernation. Originally, he was unable to move in his stone form and was only able to transform into an immovable, nearly indestructible statue of himself, which was not very useful in battle (his teammates would sometimes drop him on villains). However, he eventually gained the ability to move while in his stone state. (Via <a href="http://www.comicvine.com/stone-boy/29-12876/" target="_hplink">Comic Vine</a>)
Brother Power The Geek was originally just a mannequin in a tailor's shop. One day the mannequin was struck by lightening, which somehow not only brought it to life, but also gave it super powers. He may not look very formidable, but he has super strength and is nearly indestructible, though he is portrayed as a pacifist. (The original comic book debuted in 1968 and only lasted two issues before being canceled.) (Via <a href="http://popcultureaddict.com/comic-books/lamestsuperheroes-htm/" target="_hplink">Pop Culture Addict</a>)
Robbie Rodriguez, another member of the X-Statix mutant group, has no discernable powers aside from a telepathic connection to a flying, seemingly sentient skateboard. He can control the skateboard with his mind, though the skateboard can also act through his subconscious thoughts. Sadly, after the skateboard falls under a curse, it flies out of control and impales El Guapo through the heart, killing him. Ironic, isn't it? (Via <a href="http://www.comicvine.com/el-guapo/29-43412/" target="_hplink">Comic Vine</a>)
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