Comic book science is a wonderful thing, with innovations frequently being showcased that far exceed what’s possible in the “real” world. One such area is in the replacement of body parts: specifically, hands. Even in the relatively grounded world of “The Walking Dead,” Rick Grimes eventually gained a metal hand after the Governor chopped off his right-hand in #28. While some superheroes (including Forge and Grid) also possess fairly standard bionic hands, the mere replacement of a hand with a metal equivalent is rather passe in superhero comics. While some characters may be content with this trade, others take things to a whole new level.
For such characters, possessing four fingers and a thumb just isn’t going to cut it; not when a hand can be replaced by a veritable cornucopia of gadgets and gizmos, ranging from axes to chainsaws. Here, CBR counts down 15 of the most notable hand replacements, from the innovative to the downright bizarre.
Poor Aquaman. For years he had been the butt of jokes from non-comic readers, his appearances in the ’70s “Superfriends” cartoon often used to reinforce the perception of him as the lame hero that talked to fish. He was still afforded a certain amount of respect in the comics, even serving as the leader of the Justice League during the ill-fated “Detroit” era in the ’80s. But with comics becoming ever darker in the late ’80s and early ’90s, a bright orange shirt and a neat blonde hairstyle just weren’t deemed edgy enough. When Peter David took over “Aquaman” in 1994, Arthur Curry was soon transformed into an armor wearing, hook handed bad ass.
Aquaman lost his left hand during a confrontation with the unstable Charybidis, who fed Arthur’s hand to hungry piranhas in “Aquaman” #2 (1995). Understandably rather peeved with this turn of events, Arthur later replaced his hand with a harpoon spearhead that was later upgraded into a cybernetic prosthetic with a retractable reel. Unfortunately for Arthur, this wasn’t the only time that he would lose a hand. Six years later, in the pages of “Brightest Day” #19, his right hand was severed by Black Manta.
14. ASH WILLIAMS
Ashley J. Williams, the character memorably played by Bruce Campbell in both films and TV shows, is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive action heroes out there. He may not have a grubby white vest, huge muscles or a strange accent, but Ash has something even better. He has a winning way with one-liners, a remarkable instinct for self-preservation and a chainsaw for a hand. As is well known, the “Evil Dead” franchise revolves around the Necronomicon, the cursed book that releases Deadite spirits. Ash cut off his own deadite-possessed right hand with the chainsaw, before later attaching the machine to his stump. This was the beginning of Ash’s transformation from an out-of-his-depth coward into a (still out of his depth) action hero.
The popularity of the franchise has allowed Ash to star in other forms of media since the release of “Army of Darkness,” the third film in the trilogy, in 1992. Many of these adventures have been in comics, with Ash and his chainsaw being pitted against a range of adversaries, including the Marvel Zombies, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. Whatever the odds, somehow, Ash always managed to survive. Hail to the King, baby.
“Hitman” was one of DC’s gems of the ’90s. Pairing Garth Ennis and John Mcrea, the series followed the exploits of Tommy Monaghan, a super powered hitman who lived in Gotham City. Readers were introduced to a host of memorable characters, including Tommy’s short-lived foe, Nightfist. He was introduced in “Hitman” #5 and died two issues later in “Hitman” #7, so why, you may ask, does he merit a slot on this list? It’s simple, really. As the cover to #5 proudly declares, “He will hit you with his fist!”
“Hitman” was populated with absurd but entertaining characters, interpreting superheroes with a nod and a wink, and Nightfist was no different. A crime-fighting superhero, Nightfist targeted drug dealers but then sold off the drugs himself. Unlike other entries on this list, Nightfist hadn’t lost his normal, human hands. Instead, following the maxim that “bigger is better” he simply wore an even larger pair of fists on top of them. Why he only managed to survive three issues before being killed truly is a mystery.
12. CHARLIE CHAINSAWS
Charlie Chainsaws first appeared in “Wolverine: Weapon X” #6, by Jason Aaron and Yanick Paquette. As his name suggests, Charlie had chainsaws for hands. Some may say that this would be something of an inconvenience, but these people obviously don’t comprehend the twisted genius of Dr Algernon Rotwell. After causing a riot at the Dunwich Sanatorium, Rotwell installed himself as head doctor, leaving him free to carry out his bizarre experiments.
One such experiment was on Charlie, who before being committed to Dunwich had been a serial killer who sawed up his victims. Rotwell replaced Charlie’s hands with chainsaws and used him as part of his scheme to toy with Wolverine’s society. With Charlie being a ferocious fighter, Wolverine’s mentally addled state meant that he sustained severe injuries. Having a chainsaw almost cut you in two does tend to leave a bit of a mark… Charlie was most recently seen in “Deadpool and the Mercs for Money” #3, where he went in search of finger food at a supervillain auction.
11. BARON STRUCKER
Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker has been a thorn in the side of Marvel’s heroes since his first appearance in 1964’s “Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos” #5. Whether as a Nazi officer in WW2 or as the scheming head of Hydra in the modern era, Strucker has repeatedly sought to exert control, using all the resources at his disposal. With his links to Hydra, Strucker controls a powerful organisation that has immense levels of men, technology and influence. This doesn’t mean that Strucker himself should be underestimated, with his Satan Claw making him a formidable foe.
Designed by the mad scientist Arnim Zola, the Claw has a number of functions. It grants the wearer great strength, can unleash electrical shocks, can fire razor blades and explosives and can also teleport its wearer. While Strucker originally wore the Claw as a glove over his right hand, the loss of his hand in battle with Nick Fury meant that he subsequently used it as a prosthetic replacement.
As her name suggests, the Green Lantern known as Boodikka was a strong-willed, aggressive warrior, one whose attitude at times caused consternation among her fellow Green Lanterns. Fearless in battle, she eventually became a recruiter for the Green Lantern Corps, but was one of a number of Green Lanterns to be used as sacrificial lambs when Hal Jordan turned to the dark side in “Green Lantern” #50. As Boodika would not willingly relinquish her ring, Jordan came up with a simple yet effective solution. He severed her hand, leaving him free to take the ring.
With the large number of Green Lanterns that have historically been featured in DC’s comics, it’s common for characters to fade in and out of the spotlight. This was the case with Boodikka, who made only sporadic appearances after her injury, until her return in “Green Lantern” #11 (2006). In this storyline the death of a fellow Green Lantern allowed Boodikka to wield his ring, and she later used the energies of the ring to craft a new, emerald hand for herself.
9. DEATH’S HEAD
Created by Simon Furman and Geoff Senior, this freelance peace-keeping agent (whatever you do, don’t call him a bounty hunter!) originated in Marvel UK’s “Transformers” comics, with his popularity quickly leading to the launch of an ongoing series. Whether hunting Galvatron, crossing paths with MI:13 or complicating life for the 7th Doctor and the Fantastic Four, Death’s Head’s motivations are normally simple. It’s about making a profit, yes?
Death’s Head’s robotic body is remarkably durable, granting him superhuman strength, speed, durability and stamina. An accomplished fighter, his first appearances saw him drawn on-scale with Transformers, before later adventures saw him reversed to a more human size. A professional like Death’s Head knows that the right tools for the job are important. That’s why one of his main abilities is a multi-use hand. If the situation calls for it, Death’s Head can remove the appendage and attach one of several attachments, including a spear, a blaster, a mace and a rocket.
8. DR STRANGE
Famously, magicians are meant to be good with their hands, but for Stephen Strange his hands have been both the means of his ruin and his salvation. It was his skill with his hands that brought him such fame as an acclaimed surgeon, leading to the arrogance that brought about his car accident, And it was the damage to these same hands that set him on the road to the Ancient One and his eventual transformation into Doctor Strange, master of the mystic arts.
In this role, Strange’s hands were again instrumental to his success, but now in the casting of spells and incantations, again helping to create and save lives. It’s perhaps fitting, then, that when Strange sought the mystical aid of the demon Zom during “World War Hulk,” these life-giving hands were transformed into maces, symbols of barbarity and destruction. In the end, even Zom’s influence wasn’t enough to help Strange defeat the Hulk, perhaps proving that even mystically powered hands are nothing when compared to a plain old green fist.
Anatoli Knyazev, the KGB assassin known as “The Beast,” first appeared in “Batman” #417 by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo. A legend in assassin circles, his martial art training and cybernetically-enhanced strength helped him become coldly effective in his role. In his first appearance he was linked with hundreds of previous kills and upon his arrival in the United States he demonstrated just how dangerous he could be. The Beast’s confrontation with Batman was directly responsible for the loss of his arm. Batman snared his left wrist which led to the Beast chopping off his own hand with an axe to avoid capture, later replacing the limb with a cybernetic gun.
The Beast was later killed by Tally Man in “Detective Comics” #817, later being resurrected as a Black Lantern during DC’s “Blackest Night” event. He used his ring to form a black energy construct of his gun arm before terrorizing Gotham City with other resurrected Batman foes. Anatoli Knyazev has been a recurring character in the “Arrow” TV series, acting as Oliver’s main contact in the Bratva. Sadly, he doesn’t appear to have a ludicrously over sized gun arm, but there’s always next year…
6. OPTIMUS PRIME
Back in 1984, the popularity of “The Transformers” was beginning to take off in America. Toys were flying off the shelves and the cartoon was helping to give America’s youth a regular fix of the robots in disguise. As with the current Michael Bay produced films, Optimus Prime was front and center in both the marketing and the cartoons. Children knew that he could transform into a truck and could also transform his trailer, but young minds across America were blown when, in the second episode of the cartoon series, Optimus turned his right hand into an energon-axe.
The memorable conflict on top of Sherman Dam saw Optimus and Megatron face off, with Megatron utilising an energon-mace. While the energon-axe didn’t become a regular part of Prime’s armory, it has been repeatedly referenced. Many Optimus Prime toys have been released with this as a hand attachment, while the battle at the Dam was used in Dreamwave’s “The War Within” series to highlight the Transformer conflict on Earth.
Although Bushwacker may have become a generic ‘bad guy of the week’ in recent years, his origins do help set him apart from other superpowered killers. Created by Ann Nocenti and Rick Leonardi in “Daredevil” #248, Carl Burbank was an ex-priest who joined the C.I.A., receiving a cybernetic arm and being trained as an assassin. As happens to most assassins in the Marvel universe, Bushwacker eventually entered the employ of the Kingpin and has subsequently fought a variety of heroes, including Wolverine, Daredevil, Punisher and Nomad.
Bushwacker’s distinctive gun arm is a formidable weapon, capable of a variety of functions. His index fingers can fire bullets and the arm itself can turn into various weapons, including a shotgun, machine gun and flamethrower. As impressive as this is, Buchwacker’s method of obtaining ammunition for these weapons is equally noteworthy, swallowing any ammunition or fuel that he needs. This raises the question of what else Bushwacker’s arm can turn into if the appropriate things are swallowed: perhaps a mustard dispenser, or even an icing gun? The possibilities are endless.
4. GRIM REAPER
The black sheep of the Williams family, Eric Williams became a gambler and joined the Maggia criminal syndicate. When his brother Simon was transformed into Wonder Man and died fighting the Avengers, Eric used these criminal ties to obtain a costumed criminal identity. He became the Grim Reaper, with his greatest weapon being a techno-scythe that was provided by the Tinkerer. This could spin at rapid speed, fire power blasts and dispense electric shocks. It also had the ability to induce deep comas in its victims.
Eric has died and been resurrected several times since his early appearances, with a significant effect being that this has taken him beyond his technological origins and provided a link with the supernatural. His right hand was amputated, with a magical scythe attached in its place that, among other abilities, had the power to drain the lifeforce from its victims. In the last few years the Grim Reaper has actually died twice: once at the hands of Rogue in “Uncanny Avengers” and then at the hands of Virginia, the Vision’s newly created wife. As the Kenny of Avenger’s villains, it’s a safe bet that the Reaper will soon return, only to die again shortly thereafter.
First appearing in “Fantastic Four” #53, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Ulysses Klaw was a corrupt physicist, working in the field of sonics. In attempting to design a transducer that would convert sound waves into physical mass, he sought to steal vibranium from Wakanda. This led to the death of T’Chaka, the Wakandan ruler, and the destruction of Klaw’s right hand thanks to the efforts of T’Challa, the future Black Panther. Klaw subsequently replaced the arm with a sonic emitter, allowing him to convert sound into a variety of forms. He could create sonic waves and blasts of concussive force, as well as sound constructs, often immense in their size and scope.
Klaw is no slouch in the science department, but the sonic emitter has also been tweaked by AIM scientists over the years, ensuring that it became even more powerful. While the Klaw of the Marvel universe has typically been portrayed as a bad guy, perhaps there’s still hope for him yet. “Marvel adventures: Superheroes” #4 saw him putting his abilities to good use, pursuing his muse and forming a country band. Yee haw!
2. DOCTOR BONG
It takes a special kind of villain to be the arch-foe of Howard the Duck. Given Howard’s rather unique position among Marvel heroes, his arch-foe would have to be equally memorable. Lester Verde, the villain known as Doctor Bong, didn’t just rise to this challenge; he embraced it, thereby becoming one of Marvel’s most (in)famous villains. Lester was bullied as a child and grew into a nervous adult. In a freak accident, his hand was severed by a miniature guillotine while he performed with a punk band. He subsequently replaced the severed hand with a large golden orb. Why? Because it was perfectly suited to striking his bell-shaped helmet. Clearly, Doctor Bong is a man with some unresolved issues.
Such a… unique approach to life meant that Doctor Bong’s eventual move into psychiatry was a perfect evolution for his character. He took on Deadpool as his first client and encouraged him to seek an epiphany through violence, leading to the immortal moment in “Deadpool” #27 where Deadpool used a “Streetfighter 2” move on Kitty Pryde.
Our final entry on the list is a man who stands alone in his field, spoken of in hushed whispers by his peers. Unfortunately, rather than admiration, his peers are wondering what on earth he was thinking. That’s because Razorfist’s brilliant idea was to replace both of his hands with razor-sharp steel blades. A cool visual, certainly, but not the most practical of alterations (beyond providing a close, smooth shave). Heaven forbid if Razorfist gets an itchy nose or has to tie his shoelaces, while the intricacies of his bathroom habits can only be guessed at.
There have been several characters that have taken on the mantle of Razorfist, none of which have been particularly successful in their field. William Young and Douglas Scott both died, while William Scott has worked as a goon for various Marvel bad guys, including the Hood and Madripoor crime lords. Perhaps one day this will change and Razorfist will be recognized as a major-league villain in his own right, but if his past showing is anything to go by, it’s exceedingly unlikely.
There you have our picks for characters who replaced their hands with something crazy, but there are lots more out there. Who are your favorites? Who did we miss? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook!