Ever since Superman first exploded off the page in 1938, popular culture has been proliferate with legions of colorful characters who use a host of otherworldly powers and abilities, either to fight for the greater good or to bring the world to its knees. Sometimes these powers are attributed to a special object; a pair of bracelets forged by Hephaestus, a ring bestowed by an super-intelligent alien race or hammer forged in the heart of a dying star. Other powers, however, may reside in the body of a hero or villain.
Whether the gift of a special alien heritage, the bite of a radioactive arachnid or simply years and years of training, the world of comics is packed with extraordinary individuals who’ve used their bodies in the battle for (or against) truth and justice. While you’d have to do some serious digging to find a comic book body that’s not a paragon of physical fitness and anatomical allure, some of these incredible individuals use one particular body part to devastating effect. Whether it’s the optical acuity that allows Hawkeye to never miss or She-Hulk’s well rounded… legal mind, the world of comics is chock-full of devastatingly deadly body parts. Let’s go take an anatomy lesson…
17. BATMAN’S BRAIN
The Dark Knight’s body may be trained to the peak of physical perfection, but it’s his prodigiously powerful prefrontal cortex that makes him far deadlier than even the most unassailable opponent. Batman’s brain is a manual of martial arts, a library of criminology and an encyclopedia of escape artistry (the latter a possible homage to the beloved trap escapes of the ’60s TV show).
Aside from being a master strategist whose martial tactics have enabled him to go toe-to-toe with Superman and Wonder Woman, he’s an expert in psychology who knows how to use fear and intimidation to win the fight before a single punch has been thrown. He can even assert his indomitable will over his body to disconnect pain signals to his brain and accelerate his healing without the need for sleep.
16. THE MASK’S HEAD
The 1994 Jim Carey vehicle really doesn’t do this darkly humorous and malignantly violent character justice. The comic book version of the mask has a far more dangerously transformative effect on Stanley Ipkiss (and a whole cast of other transient protagonists). This version of the mask turns into a murderous nutcase dubbed “Big Head” on account of his disproportionately large head upon wearing the green antique.
Ipkiss originally uses the Big Head persona to enact vengeance upon the people who wronged him but The Mask soon spirals out of control, murdering old enemies and officers of the law alike. This version of The Mask combines near infinite power with an insatiable bloodlust with a wide array of cartoonishly violent gimmicks, so it’s no surprise that he has shared the page with such gleefully violent characters as The Joker and lobo.
15. BLACK WIDOW’S EYELASHES
Usually, when a pretty girl flutters her eyelashes at you, it’s okay to be flattered and even deploy some mild flirtation. Yet, if this Russian born super-spy and assassin bats her luscious lashes in your direction you’d better run for the hills. Natasha Romanov is skilled in many infiltration and assassination techniques but none is more devastating than her ability to use her feminine allure as a weapon.
Sex and seduction are as familiar to her as knives and handguns, and equally deadly when deployed by this red-headed bombshell. Let this lethal lady get close enough with her sultry eyes and seductive curves and she may just slip a knife between your ribs, poison your martini or perhaps just crush your head like a sparrow’s egg between her thighs.
14. CYCLOPS’ EYES
Throughout his publication history, Scott Summers has been portrayed as a fearless leader, a goody-two-shoes teacher’s pet, a serial womanizer and even a borderline fascist. One constant, however, has been the devastatingly powerful optic blasts that spring forth from those mutant peepers of his. Constrained only by a pair of ruby quartz lenses devised by Professor X, they’ve been known to level mountains yet can be wielded with almost surgical precision.
Scott has the marksmanship to rival Hawkeye and can bounce his optic blasts off of different surfaces as inventively as when Captain America throws his mighty shield. While Scott’s blasts may look interchangeable with Superman’s heat vision (the way most artists draw them anyway) they’re actually blasts of kinetic energy rather than heat energy. Think of them as express trains being launched at you from out of those eyes, which are, in fact, brown.
13. BLADE’S TEETH
Blade’s mother was bitten by a vampire before he was born, resulting in a strange hematological anomaly that created “The Daywalker”, and would later be enhanced when he was bitten by Morbius, the living vampire. Blade has a vampire’s inhuman strength and speed but shares none of their weaknesses; except, that is, for the thirst.
He faces a neverending battle against his primal, vampiric urges but usually manages to keep them at bay with his synthesized blood substitute referred to as “the serum”. If those day-walking pearlies were ever to be turned on us, however, humanity would face not only an insatiable vampire but a strategic mastermind versed in a range of fighting styles from boxing to capoeira. Let’s just be glad he’s on our side!
12. POISON IVY’S LIPS
Poison Ivy has been portrayed throughout the years as a man-eating sadist, an ecoterrorist zealot and a sympathetic anti-hero. She’s been drawn as a sultry redhead in a green dress and as a monstrous plant / woman hybrid. One thing that has remained constant, however, is her ability to use her feminine allure (or plant based pheromones, depending on who you ask) to lure her prey in for a deadly kiss.
Even the child-friendly Batman: The Animated Series used this trait in the classic episode “Pretty Poison”, although animated Ivy used a tainted lipstick whereas her comic book counterpart actually secretes a deadly toxin through her lips. If you should find yourself wrapped in the embrace of this succubus of shrubbery, make sure you take a leaf out of the Chris O’Donnell Robin’s playbook and wear some rubber lips.
11. THE JOKER’S TONGUE
The Joker may not have the hulking physique or martial arts prowess of some of his fellow DC villains, but it’s his twisted mind and devastatingly astute understanding of psychology that make him one the deadliest man (or men, depending on which continuity you’re in) in the DC Universe. His devious, manipulative, lying tongue has driven many a well-meaning psychiatrist trying to make a name for themselves to insanity and eventually to death.
He’ll flatter to deceive, as in the case of Dr. Wolper in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns while luring you in close enough for a spectacular killing stroke. Of course, this has only ever backfired once when he drive one Dr. Harleen Quinzel the wrong kind of crazy and the rest… is history.
10. BLACK BOLT’S LARYNX
Don’t let the astonishingly unimpressive trailers for the upcoming Inhumans ABC show fool you, Black Bolt’s vocal chords are bona-fide weapons of mass destruction. His quasi-sonic voice can level buildings or even mountains with the slightest whisper while a scream can decimate entire planets. So great is his destructive power, as an infant he had to be kept inside a soundproof cell and constrained by an energy harnessing suit.
He’s fought the toughest that the Marvel Universe has to offer and pretty much always come out on top including The Thing, Namor, Thor, The Hulk, Gladiator, Nova, Apocalypse and even The Sentry (Marvel’s psychologically unstable answer to Superman). Even without his life-ending larynx he has strength, speed and stamina that surpass most of his Inhuman brethren. All hail Black Bolt!
9. EMMA FROST’S SKIN
They say that if you’ve got it, flaunt it and while Emma Frost is infamous for wearing the most impractically skimpy of outfits (even by comic book standards), it’s likely because her mutant skin is almost as dangerous as her psychic prowess. Emma Frost’s secondary mutation allows her skin to harden, taking on the appearance and strength of diamond (a flourish that came courtesy of Grant Morrison who needed to imbue a character with Colossus’ power set).
Though she tends to use this ability passively to defend herself from attacks, it can lend devastating impact to her physical attacks. She famously slugged Iron Man in the gut in Avengers vs X-Men #2 and when Emma’s organic diamonds met Tony’s billion dollar suit it resulted in the world’s most expensive punch.
8. POWER GIRL’S ARMS
Karen Starr AKA Kara Zor-L aka Power Girl may look like just another blonde bombshell in a skimpy outfit, but she packs a punch that few women (or men for that matter) in the world of comics can match. A Kryptonian from Earth 2 (essentially an alternate Supergirl), Power Girl has many of the same powers and abilities as the Man (and Girl) of Steel due to their near identical physiology.
She even has a notable advantage over her Earth 0 counterparts as she is unaffected by Kryptonite. While her publication history has played fast and loose with her powers and origins (at one point it was posited that she was Atlantean and she even had telekinetic powers for a while), she’s earned a place among DC’s heavy hitters. In fact she once, famously, punched Wonder Woman from Washington, DC into Canada.
7. HULK’S HANDS
Many superheroes have leveled buildings and even entire neighborhoods with their bare hands. But when Hulk lets fly with those giant green ham hocks of his, entire planets can get broken in half. Look no further than the pages of “Planet Hulk” where the Jade Giant’s gamma powered tantrums shattered the planet’s crust, drowning his foes in lava.
At his calmest, Hulk can lift 100 tons but just remember that the madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets. At their most destructive, Hulk’s mauling mitts have even landed blows so far they’ve punched a hole in the space time continuum, shattering the fabric that separates dimensions (see Incredible Hulk #126). Those savage hands can also be used for good, though. “Planet Hulk” also saw Hulk save countless lives by holding up the very tectonic plates of Planet Sakaar.
6. DEADSHOT’S TRIGGER FINGER
Don’t be deceived by Will Smith’s charm and charisma, Floyd Lawton is one of the most ruthless and dangerous sleazebags in the entire DC Universe. In a world populated by super powered extraterrestrials where Amazon goddesses walk the streets, here’s an ordinary man who can rack up a four figure body count with one little finger… so long as he’s equipped with the right hardware.
As long as he’s equipped with his wrist-mounted machine guns and trusty sniper rifle then no target is safe from his unimpeachable aim (which is metahuman in all but name). Fortunately, Deadshot had the good sense to monetize his skills so his unwavering accuracy is only ever directed at his target… and anyone who gets in the way of his target. He once even shot himself through the neck to distract Green lantern into breaking the construct that imprisoned him in Infinite Crisis.
5. LADY DEATHSTRIKE’S NAILS
Raised by her father, an embittered zealot and former kamikaze pilot, Yuriko Oyama was a brutal and vengeful force of nature, even before she got her trademark adamantium manicure. Her father engendered a bitter hatred of all things American in her and he even deliberately scarred his children’s faces with a stylized version of his own battle scars.
Lady Deathstrike boasts superhuman strength, speed and agility with a healing factor to rival Wolverine but she became all the more deadly when her electromagnetically tempered katana was replaced with 12-inch long adamantium claws that serve as her fingers. Over the years, despite various cybernetic upgrades and an adamantium infusion in her skeleton, her vicious claws combined with her volatile psyche make her one of the Marvel Universe’s most dangerous living weapons.
4. SCARLET WITCH’S HEART
Having explored hands that can make planets crumble and teeth that could turn the world into a populace of vampires, it all pales in comparison to a heart which has the power to alter the very fabric of reality itself when broken. Wanda Maximoff has always been as powerful as the story needed her to be, but in the continuity ravaging “House of M” storyline, readers got to see the true extent of her powers unleashed.
Devastated by the death of her husband The Vision, her powers became so unstable that both The Avengers and The X-Men gathered together to debate whether Wanda should even be allowed to live. Her broken heart triggered a reality warping event that not only fundamentally changed the Marvel Universe but would have an aftermath which would take the fictional universe years to rectify… the end of all mutants.
3. SUPERMAN’S LUNGS
Bulletproof strong men are a dime a dozen in comic book realms, but only the daddy of comic book superheroes can combine flight, super strength and amazing speed with weaponized breath. By blasting air out of his lungs at super speed, Superman can neutralize any threat by literally freezing it in its tracks (sorry physics).
Fortunately, Superman rarely uses this power to attack; though he did inadvertently kill a little alien boy with it in the “Godfall” storyline (it’s okay though, the boy turned out to be a psychic construct all along). He’s used his arctic breath to freeze bodies of water to avert catastrophes, as in Superman Unchained or even Superman III while the pre-crisis Superman’s breath was so powerful it could blow out a star as if it were a candle.
2. LADY SHIVA’S LEGS
There are few martial artists that can knock Batman on his butt with a kick that’s so fast he doesn’t even see it, but that’s exactly what Lady Shiva did in the imaginative but endless “Knightfall” saga in the early ’90s. Her encyclopedic martial arts knowledge is rendered all the more lethal by her pathological addiction to combat and dangerous situations.
While Batman views violence as a crude but necessary tool in his war on crime, Lady Shiva views martial arts as a tool to refine her capacity for violence. She has trained under some of the world’s greatest martial arts masters, including Sensei Otomo, who also trained Black Canary, and gone on to train Batman, Robin (Tim Drake), Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) and both the Vic Sage and Renee Montoya versions of the Question.
1. THE FLASH’S FEET
A common frustration among Flash fans is when the uninitiated say “but all Flash can do is run fast”. Not only is “running fast” an enormous over-simplification, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Scarlet Speedster’s power set. By propelling his body at enormously high speeds, the momentum allows him to build up enormous force.
By running fast enough to break the sound barrier (that’s 767mph at sea level, trivia fans) The Flash builds up force to the tune of around 2,000 Newtons, converting that into an equivalent 450 lbs redirected through his fist. By launching himself in the air, Flash is able to multiply that exponentially by putting his body weight behind it resulting in a transference of force of over 70,000 lbs or, in layman’s terms… “Supersonic punch, baby!”.
Are they body parts that should have made the list? Let us know in the comments section!
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