Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Oddball Super Heroes: Bouncing Boy

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the internet's leading source of olive oil and olive oil derivatives. I'm Dave-El and yes, I am going to eat that last crescent roll, thank you very much. 

An interest that has been part of my life since childhood is the wonderful world of comic books, particularly super hero comics. When I first came to start reading comics in earnest, it was the 1970s (Yes, I know! I'm old) when comics were first attempting to appeal to a slightly more grown up sensibility. Which meant that some of the more bizarre elements of the genre from the 1960s and back were regarded with much derision and outright loathing.  

But as I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate the innocent and goofball charm of some of these early comic book concepts. When I regale by daughter with tales of certain super hero concepts from this rarefied time frame, she sometimes has trouble determining that I'm totally bullshitting her (which I've been known to do do) or this is really something that actually existed.  

So for the next undetermined number of Wednesdays, I want to touch base on some weird and offbeat super hero concepts that someone actually sat down to write up and someone else came along to draw them and then subsequently be committed to paper. 

These are super heroes that exist in the world of comic books.

For the first few installments, I want to look forward a thousand years to the future of DC Comics's super heroes and look at some concepts that came to life during the 1960s heyday of the Legion of Super Heroes

The Legion began life in a Superboy story (when Superman was a boy) with three heroes arriving from a future 
millennium to meet the hero from the long ago past who inspired their own exploits.

The Legion of Super Heroes became a popular recurring feature in Superboy stories and eventually secured their own regular series in the pages of Adventure Comics.

But three heroes do not a Legion make so other heroes were created to fill out the ranks to more Legion-like dimensions. And when you have super hero group that is more like an army, you're going to wind up with some oddball characters with some rather strange power sets. 

Like Bouncing Boy.   

Chuck Taine was born on Earth in the 30th century with no super powers. However he gained super human abilities after he accidentally drank a super plastic formula which he thought was soda pop.  

You read that right. Chuck Taine got super powers through a Jimmy Olsen plot device.  

And the powers that Chuck got were the powers of... bouncing.  Super bouncing.   

As Bouncing Boy, Chuck could inflate his body with a mere thought and proceed to, well, bounce. 

Now it does sound like a really stupid power but in many ways, Bouncing Boy was my favorite member of the Legion of Super Heroes. Yes, he had an absurd power and he looked absurd using it. 

Yes, that looks stupid. 

But Bouncing Boy has demonstrated many times how he can use his body's shape and rubber-like consistency as an effective ballistic weapon. His power also provides him with a limited degree of invulnerability while bouncing. For example, he is invulnerable to electric shock while in his spherical state.

So being Bouncing Boy may look stupid but Chuck Taine has frequently proven to be a more than capable member of the Legion and is responsible for training new recruits. After all, if you can take something as ridiculous as Super-Bouncing and actually make a contribution to a team that has Superboy as a member, you've got to have something going on. 

But yeah, it's still Super-Bouncing. So, you know...


Next week, a look at another hero from the 30th century who did not make the cut to get into the Legion. If a guy with the power of Super Bouncing can make the cut, what kind of power set would not make the grade?

We'll find out next week. Meanwhile, another post on some damn thing or another is coming up tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another. 

Carl Kasell

I was saddened to hear of the death of Carl Kasell, a distinctive voice on NPR’s "Morning Edition" and "Wait, Wait ... Don...