Since the dawn of the superhero (and even before), super-abilities have been bestowed by any number of power-objects, from rings to helmets to the occasional enchanted horse. Then there are the heroes who want to make sure that their powers don’t go to “waist.”
I don’t feel good about that joke… But regardless, welcome to Ten Things!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with ‘An Amateur Comics Historian’, and ‘Notch Your Average Hero’ (that joke is better), Presents:
TEN SUPERS WHO CAN REALLY ‘BELT’ IT OUT!
10) KID QUANTUM
James Cullen, the original Kid Quantum, is a continuity implant to Legion Of Super-Heroes history, first seen in the ‘Five Year Gap’ era of the team. With nebulous “stasis powers” that came from a mechanical belt, his existence was designed to answer the question of just why the team didn’t allow heroes with technologically derived powers: Because of Kid Quantum’s death some years earlier. A later retcon established him as a colony of shape-shifting Proteans before the Zero Hour reboot, which restarted continuity and once again sacrificed K.Q. to explain why mechanical powers aren’t allowed. (His sister Jasmin replaced him as Kid Quantum during the remainder of the post-Zero Hour ‘Archie Legion.’)
9) SINBAD, JR.
Ten Things: Where we play the Deep Cuts of superhero history! The son of the historical Sinbad, our hero hit the small screen in the mid-60s, just ahead of the groundswell that came with the debut of the 1966 TV Batman. For 86 episodes, Junior used his magic belt (which empowered him with the strength of fifty men) to aid him in the proverbial ‘walkin’ the earth and havin’ adventures.’ Part of his run was animated by Hanna-Barbera, and Sinbad was voiced by a young Tim Matheson, with the legendary Mel Blanc as sidekick Salty The Parrot, making for a heavy-duty cartoon pedigree for our sailor pal. Seldom seen in syndication, Sinbad Jr. and his magical belt seem unlikely to ever make a comeback, but in the DVD era, I’ve learned to never say never.
For thousands of years, the Pumaman has stood, defending the world with supernatural powers against any threat, using his mighty abilities to fly (like a puma does…n’t) and massive strength and extrasensory something something whatever mystical mumbo jumbo. The latest in this proud lineage is Tony Farms, who is thrown through a window, then given a magical belt by Vadinho, Aztec priest and keeper of the Pumaman legacy. Pumaman’s powers are many and varied, and thanks to Vadinho’s tutelage (which is French for “doing all the heavy lifting himself”), the day is saved, and one thing is undeniably true…
He flies like a moron.
7) CAPTAIN THUNDER
When DC Comics basically sued rival Fawcett Comics out of existence in the 1950s, there was no way for them to know they were building a metaphorical petard upon which their future fortunes would be hoisted. Flash-forward 20 years and we find that DC Comics now OWNS much of Fawcett’s intellectual property, including Captain Marvel, whose superficial resemblance to the Man Of Steel spurred the lawsuit in the first place. A few months AFTER giving the Big Red Cheese his own book under the DC banner, Superman #276 floated a trial balloon to bring him into the DCU proper with Captain Thunder! Young Willie Fawcett, thanks to a shaman and an enchanted belt, could transform himself into his superheroic alter-ego by rubbing the belt’s buckle and saying the magic word, “Thunder!” Some months later, the Man Of Steel and the World’s Mightiest Mortal would meet for real, as though, perhaps, this issue was designed solely as a test run to gauge reader interest. (HMMMM…)
6) THE JAGUAR
Long after their Golden Age superheroes (Fly-Man, The Shield, The Comet and more) had fallen by the wayside, Archie Comics returned to the superhero business, and their first original Silver Age hero was Ralph Hardy, the mighty Jaguar! Much like Pumaman, his powers are quite confusing for someone who is ostensibly named for a big cat, his “nucleon energy belt” allows him super-strength, telepathic control of animals, the ability to channel ALL animal powers and also rocket pods. (Because ancient Peruvian societies were all about their rocketry and stuff…) Ralph’s most impressive super-ability, though, had to be the power to make his mustache disappear in his Jaguar form, then reappear on his face when he reverted to mild-manned Ralph Hardy, thus adding “complete control of facial foliage” to the abilities Silver Age Archie creators thought that jaguars should possess.
5) EL CAPITAN JUPITER
Astronomer Rex Vane searched the night skies for interesting phenomena, only to find much more than he bargained for when he was abducted by aliens! Now, as Chile’s greatest hero (or at least Chile’s snappiest-dressing hero, because that costume is A-One), he uses his push-button belt to gain powers far beyond those of mortal men. Like Ultra Boy before him, his powers allowed him all the abilities of Superman, one at a time, including eye-beams, super-hearing, protection from all elements, invulnerability and (unlike Superman) a button for invisibility. There are limits on how often and how long he can use the powers, but he’s effectively a Kryptonian in all but name, thanks to his super-belt.
4) TOM TURBINE
Hailing from an alternate Earth, Tom Turbine is a member of the heroic Justice Guild Of America, heroes of the second World War. Any resemblance to the Justice Society is 100% intentional (the story was actually conceptualized as a JSA story before thins were changed) and Tom himself serves as a rough analogue for Al Pratt, the Golden Age Atom, with overtones of the Fleischer Brothers’ cartoon Superman. His existence proved to be more than it seemed, but Tom’s genius intellect ended up saving the day, having created not only his turbine-belt, (which led to the defeat of the villain behind the mystery) but the portal that allowed the Justice League to return to their home world safely.
Born and raised in a rough part of Dakota City, Raquel Ervin found herself at loose ends, until she impulsively agreed to accompany her idiot friends in robbing the home of Augustus Freeman IV. When Freeman revealed himself to have super-powers, it was Raquel who convinced him to become the superhero Icon, and she used an “inertia winder” (actually the life-belt from the very escape pod that brought Icon to Earth years before) to become the superheroic Rocket. With the power to redirect kinetic energy, thanks to her belt, Rocket is not only one of the greatest heroes of Dakota, she balances her time to become a responsible and caring parent to her son, Amistad. (The real shame is, we may never get to see whether she and Static actually grew up to do anything about their shared chemistry.)
2) SPACE GHOST
Man. Myth. Legend. Talk Show Host. Some say he was once Thaddeus Bach, but now there is only the ghost, mighty avenger of the spaceways. Though he has a number of powers (super-strength, flight, the voice of Gary Owens), his signature power of invisibility comes from his Inviso-Belt, which allows him both to be unseen and to pass through matter intangibly. With an incredible cool streamlined costume design (generally credited to the criminally-underrated pen of the late Alex Toth), Space Ghost is a space-age amalgam of Superman and Batman who not only fights the good fight against monsters from all galaxies, but serves as mentor to the next generation of heroes in the form of Jan and Jace, who wear Inviso-belts of their own.
The linchpin of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents lineup, Len Brown was a mere pencil-pusher when asked to put on the Thunder Belt (created by the late genius Professor Jenkins) and become the super-strong Dynamo! Though he never quite got away from his nebbishy roots, he nonetheless was a capable agent, able to channel massive strength and invulnerability for 30 minutes at a time. Like all the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. agents, there was a downside to his powers, but he nonetheless threw himself into missions with abandon, and even tried to redeem the villainous Iron Maiden from her wicked ways (though his overwhelming desire to kiss her might have colored that decision as well.)
Feel free to follow along (@MightyKingCobra) for more Ten Things madness on Twitter! As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, but when they’re this specific, they just might be! Can you think of any important super-belts I’ve missed? Use the comments section Below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering![signoff predefined=”PayPal Donation” icon=”icon-cog”][/signoff]