Superheroes aren’t just brawn wrapped it tight-fitting colorful costumes; they have brains, too. Well, some of them, anyway. From the resourcefulness of Batman and the tinkering of Spider-Man to the sheer brainpower of Iron Man and the futuristic technology of the New Gods, their fictional inventions can put Steve Jobs’ empire to shame.
From Gould to Kirby to Hickman, comics creators have long dreamed up some amazing fictional gadgets; some, like Dick Tracy’s wristwatch, have already come true. Pebble smartwatch. With that in mind, here are six other comic-book inventions that we wish would materialize at Best Buy.
The Mother Box
When some comic fans first got their hands on the original iPhone, they joked how it was reminiscent of the Mother Box from New Gods. But to truly replicate the power Jack Kirby imbued into device, you’ll need to wait a few centuries. Like smart phones, the Mother Box is a miniature supercomputer, but that’s where the comparisons end. In DC comics it was created by scientists working for Darkseid using a material called Element X, and the full extent of its abilities are unknown even to its inventors. The powers of other Boxes quickly became virtually endless, ranging from teleportation via Boom Tubes and communication to healing and energy manipulation. Furthermore, they are said to bond with their owners and even self-destruct should that person die. They’re known for the Kirby-esque circuitry pattern and the monotous “Ping!” sound, which can be understood by their owners.
Spider-Man’s Web-Shooters and Web Fluid
It’s so simple that its technological ramifications are often overlooked. However, this wrist-mounted device fires fluid kept under high pressure to form webs that Spider-Man utilizes for a variety of purposes: swinging from rooftops, restraining his enemies — the wall-crawler has even used it to make skis. The tensile strength of these webs are amazing, and estimated to hold up to 120 pounds of pressure per square millimeter in a cross-section. So simple, yet so many uses.
Metron’s Mobius Chair
You won’t find this piece of furniture at your local La-Z-Boy dealer. Another creation of the enigmatic New Gods (and Jack Kirby, of course), Metron’s Mobius Chair allows its owner to traverse space and time. He uses it in his pursuit of knowledge, but it’s been subverted by others in various instances for other, less noble pursuits. Powered by Element X (the same material Mother Boxes are made of), it can manufacture a life-support bubble, holograms, force fields and tractor beams — it even carries an encyclopedic record of everything known by the New Gods.
Iron Man’s Armor
Reed Richards might be the smartest superheroes, but Tony Stark sure knows how to put his brain to use. In addition to using it for his commercial endeavors, Stark has created more than 100 versions of his Iron Man armor, each with its own abilities. With the advent of the Iron Man feature films, these Stark inventions have taken on a new life in the mainstream, with even President Barack Obama co-opting the idea to promote manufacturing innovation. Even in its most basic form — the original costume, created by Jack Kirby and Don Heck — is a technological marvel by today’s standards. Some of the more modern models, such as the Extremis armor, could change Earth in an instance.
Cotton Incorporated has long employed the slogan, “the fabric of our lives,” but in the Marvel Universe, superheroes prefer unstable molecules. Created by Reed Richards, they’re utilized in many costumes because it can withstand drastic changes in temperature, pressure and density — basically, anything superhuman abilities can put it through. As you can see from the above image, superheroes shouldn’t leave home without it. And unstable molecules have grown into more than just a fashion accessory; they’re the primary element in the creation of Awesome Andy from Dan Slott’s She-Hulk series, and both Slapstick and Morph are composed entirely of them. Imagine what other uses it could have.
Like Star Trek‘s HoloDeck? The X-Men have one of their own, powered by Sh’iar technology. Originally housed in the basement of the original X-Mansion, the properties of the Danger Room are now built into ever nook and cranny of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. But what does it do? It creates holographic images using “hard-light,” making those images real to the touch — and dangerous. So imaginary creations can become real, and users can even alter gravity, temperature, humidity and texture of the constructs. Two down sides: The Danger room can be lethal, and from time to time it’s become sentient and rebelled against its masters. Other than that, it’s perfect. Want one?