What makes a hero? Heroes put on a uniform every day. Some get into squad cars, firetrucks or walk into a hospitals. Others put on flashy tights, flowing capes and take to the skies.
Most of the heroes in the DC Universe got their amazing powers in the normal ways: being born with them, coming to Earth from a doomed planet or screaming the name of a wizard. But some have to go take an odd path to become a hero.
10 Elongated Man - Extract from Soda
Teenage Ralph Dibny was fascinated by contortionists. He found they all drank a soft drink called “Gingold." Ralph learned that the active ingredient was a fruit called “Gingo” from the Yucatan. Teaching himself chemistry, Ralph engineered a super-concentrated form of Gingold that gave him super elasticity as the Elongated Man.
The Flash suspected Ralph of being behind a series of crimes. Ralph used his powers and his natural detective skills, and helped Flash find the real criminals. Ralph revealed his identity to the world and later joined the Justice League of America.
9 Metamorpho - Ancient Orb
CEO Simon Stagg hired adventurer Rex Mason to retrieve the ancient Egyptian artifact, the Orb of Ra. Mason began dating Stagg’s daughter Sapphire over the course of preparing for the expedition and this angered the possessive Stagg, who decided to kill Mason.
Once they breached the Egyptian pyramid, Mason is knocked out by Stagg’s neanderthal bodyguard Java. Mason is then exposed to the radioactive meteorite that was used to create the Orb of Ra. He is transformed into a shape-shifter who can become any element present in the human body. He takes the name Metamorpho, but sees the powers as a curse.
8 Dr. Fate - Mystical Helmet
Young Kent Nelson was with his archaeologist father in the Valley of Ur in Mesopotamia. There, they find an underground pyramid containing Nabu the Wise. Kent released him, but also triggered a poisonous gas that kills his father. Nabu removed the grief from the devastated boy’s mind and spent the next 20 years teaching Kent vast magical knowledge. With Nabu’s spirit inhabiting the Helmet, Kent donned it, the amulet and cloak to become Dr. Fate. Along with his girlfriend Inza, Kent moved to a tower in Salem, Massachusetts.
Nabu often took over Kent’s body when he wore the helmet, and Kent became unhappy with this arrangement. For some time, Kent wore half a helmet which drastically limited his powers, but later returned to the full helmet. After many decades as Fate, Kent and Inza were allowed to die and the Helmet of Nabu found new hosts.
7 The Flash - Hard Water
Brilliant college junior Jay Garrick was double majoring in physics and chemistry. He was in the midst of an experiment to purify hard water without the residual radiation in a cyclotron when the tube was spilled. The fumes overcame Jay and he passed out. A colleague pulled Jay out of the room and after a week, he awoke to find that he now had super-speed.
Jay became a prominent scientist as well as a founding member of the Justice Society of America. The Society fought spies, saboteurs and criminals throughout World War II. In the modern era, The Flash has become a mentor to all the speedsters and the cornerstone of the revitalized JSA.
6 Plastic Man - Acid in a Bullet Wound
Criminal Patrick “Eel” O’Brian was shot and struck by unknown acid while fleeing a chemical company robbery. Left for dead by his gang, O’Brian was saved by monks whose kindness turned O’Brian away from crime. He awoke to find that he was suddenly stretching to incredible lengths. Once he gained control, O’Brian hid his identity and went after criminals, starting with his own gang.
Dubbed Plastic Man by the press, “Plas” began to work with the police department and the FBI. President Franklin Roosevelt requested “Plas” help bring together the country’s heroes to form the All Star Squadron to battle the plans of Adolf Hitler and stop evil time-traveler Per Degaton.
5 Swamp Thing - Catching Fire and Falling into a Swamp
Scientist Alec Holland and his wife Linda had just solved the world’s hunger problem with their Bio-Restorative Formula. Then thugs broke into their lab and knocked Alec out. Alec awoke just as a bomb blew up in his face, dousing him in the formula and setting him on fire. In agony, Alec burst from his lab and ran into the swamp outside. The formula mixed with the swamp planet life and Alec Holland’s mind and it began to build a humanoid plant body and the Swamp Thing was born.
Swamp Thing thought he was Alec Holland transformed but learned he was a plant elemental. He has a complicated history with the other heroes. He once buried Gotham City beneath plant life for holding his human wife for unnatural acts. He turned the decimated Coast City into a lush garden to honor Hal Jordan. He tolerates John Constantine.
4 Elasti-Girl - Breathing Volcanic Gasses
Rita Farr is an Olympic gold medal swimmer turned Hollywood actress. While shooting a movie in Africa, Rita is exposed to volcanic gases of unknown origin. While she is still as physically beautiful as ever, she begins expanding and shrinking beyond her control. Rita became a recluse and was branded a "freak."
Niles Caulder contacted her with the offer to help her learn to control her powers and be with other “freaks like herself.” Rita joined the Doom Patrol and worked with them for many years. She married Mento and adopted Gar Logan. The Patrol sacrificed themselves for the lives of a small New England fishing village.
3 Beast Boy - Father Turned You into a Green Monkey
Young Garfield Logan lived with his scientist parents in Africa. They were attempting to “reverse evolution” to bring back extinct species. Gar contracted the extremely rare disease Sakutia, which is lethal to all species except the West African Green Monkey. Gar’s father used an untested serum that turned him into a green monkey for 24 hours. However, Gar’s skin, eyes, and hair remained green and he gained the ability to transform into any animal.
His parents were killed in a boating accident and Gar was adopted by his father’s villainous partner, who only wanted him for his inheritance. These efforts were stopped by the Doom Patrol. Gar stayed with the Patrol until most of the team was killed. He later became a mainstay of multiple Teen Titan teams. Gar also became an actor and media star.
2 Blue Devil - Trapped inside a special effect
Special effects wizard and stuntman Daniel Cassidy built the Blue Devil suit to star in the movie of the same name. Filming on location on the Ile De Diable, actors Wayne Tarrant and Sharon Scott accidentally freed the demon Nebiros from captivity. By using the gadgets, powerful exo-skeleton and rocket trident, Danny was able to drive the demon back to his dimension but not before a demonic blast fused Danny into the suit.
Danny was invariably drawn into that world of superheroes. His cameraman Norm surmised that Danny had become a “weirdness magnet.” An ill-advised deal with the demon Neron turned Danny into an actual demon and he served on multiple teams while trying to balance his demonic nature with his Catholicism.
1 Spectre - Act of God
Good cop Jim Corrigan is bound in a barrel of cement and thrown in the river by thugs. His spirit arrives in Limbo where Corrigan is given his mission to confront evil wherever he finds it as the Spectre. The Spectre is actually the Wraith of God.
At the start of WWII, the Spectre joined the Justice Society of America, but was stopped from wiping Hitler off the map by the Spear of Destiny, which Hitler possessed. The Spear, having pierced the side of Christ, is one of the only objects in creation that can destroy the Spectre. In the modern era, in addition to Corrigan, the Spectre had bonded with Hal Jordan and Crispus Allen.