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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Comics and Drugs!

Strange objects granting their users powerful abilities is not out of place in the comics world; Steve Rogers took a serum to become the apex of human achievement known as Captain America, Rick Tyler crunched Miraclo pills which gave him the super-abilities he needed to become Hourman, even Batman popped a vein with some venom when necessary. In the comic world these methods are often the means to an end, in the real world it's known as drug use. And it's illegal.

Now, to be fair, Venom proved to be harmfully addictive and Batman went cold turkey. Miraclo, the "miraculous vitamin" also had its addictive properties so Tyler had to kick that habit, though later he resorted to a special black-light that would activate the residual traces of Miraclo in his system. Probably sweating and shaking in a back-alleyway somewhere.

While those are, generally the most popular, I thought it would be interesting to run through a few of the other, lesser-known comic book drugs:

In homage to Captain America we've got the Anabolus Serum, invented by Dr. Anabolus it was intended to create a legion of super soldiers. Anabolus tested it on a K-9 corps. puppy thereby creating Rex the Wonder Dog.

In usual fashion, Anabolus was killed soon after, and was therefore unable to replicate the serum. Crazy foreign doctors and their serum compound memorization skills.

Who could forget the Bio-Restorative Formula invented by everyone's favorite would-be plant-man, Alec Holland? Instead of being able to use his invention to turn deserts into forests, he got it all over himself and blew up. He then became the creepy monster-fighter Swamp-Thing.

At least until Alan Moore got his hooks into him and changed him into a...well...maybe I shouldn't spoil it for you!

We all love to be scared, but psychologist Jonathan Crane takes it to a whole new level with his Fear Gas. Oh, and also dressing up like a freaked out Scarecrow as well.

Crane uses his Fear Gas to terrorize the inhabitants of Gotham City, at least up until a man dressed as a freaked out bat hits him in the face.

Mutant Growth Hormone is a drug extracted from a genetic mutant in the Marvel Universe. It was invented by Dr. Hank McCoy, also known as The Beast, and is responsible for his azure hirsuteness. MGH has been recently making the rounds as it has become a popular street drug which gives the non-powered powers, and ramps up the abilities of already powered characters.

I couldn't find any pictures of characters using MGH, so here's a cool picture of Daredevil, who doesn't use drugs, but beats up people who do.

The Terrigen Mists are a time-honored and traditional part of the Inhuman's culture. Much like Ayahuasca is to the Peruvian Indians, except Terrigen causes the Inumans to randomly mutate and gain super-powers.

Non-powered humans that breathe in the mists gain abilities for a time, and depowered mutants regain their abilities for a little while.

Of all the crazy drugs in the Marvel Universe, ZAP takes the cake. Not so much for its effects, which seem to be psychotropic in nature, but where it comes from. ZAP stand for Zootoxic Acid Psychogalvanide, and it comes from the hypothalmic fluid of the extinct Madripoorian Spider Monkey. I mean...WHAT!?

It appeared in Wolverine #32, and apparently when further refined it becomes yet another power granting drug, this time called Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt causes death in one hour.

So, in the comic world taking drugs gives you incredible strength, speed and endurance, sometimes at the penalty of death, but most likely just uncomfortable addiction, or a profound change in morphology.

In real life taking certain drugs can give you the feeling of incredible strength, speed and endurance, sometimes at the penalty of death coupled with a prolonged and wasting addiction, or profound change in morphology.

In the morally simplistic realm of comics drug addiction always has an immediate and intense benefit, and is generally pretty easy to kick. Unless you're a bad guy. Then you probably O.D. and die.

Got any favorite comic book drugs that I missed? Chime in and let me know about them!


  1. I feel like there should be a bunch in the Judge Dredd/20,000AD books, but I can't think of any (nor can I find much about them online). Whatever those are, they are my favorites.

  2. Gatts! SUGAR is a drug in the world of Judge Dredd! And it's just 2000AD, take your meds.

  3. I live in the world x 10,000.

    And I can't believe I forgot about Sugar and Umpty Candy, the candy so good it makes you addicted!

  4. What about Hourman's Miraclo and Elongated Man's Gingold Extract?

    Miraclo was a 'vitamin', but "the idea that Miraclo was addictive, combined with the suggestion that Tyler himself was addicted to crime fighting, made Hourman one of the superhero world's first cautionary tales."

    Interesting in a post-Blackest Night world that "due to the addictive nature of Miraclo (he later invented a non-addictive formula), the way that Hourman accessed his powers changed somewhat over the years. At one point in his career, he would use a black light lantern (similar to the Golden Age Green Lantern) that would activate a residue of Miraclo still in his body."

    And the Batman: Brave & the Bold version "uses an hourglass shaped device to fuel his powers instead of Miraclo, most likely to avoid sending the wrong message to younger viewers."

    Elongated man "developed a super-concentrated extract of the rare "gingo" fruit of the Yucatan, which gave him his elasticity." The Gingold was used in a popular soda there, even though "most people are extremely allergic to highly concentrated Gingold."

    So maybe that's not exactly a 'drug' but it is something he takes to enhance himself.

    From their Wikipedia pages.

    Speaking of Dredd, I have Dredd novels that I don't necessarily want, perhaps a contest of some sort?