We all have our vices. Whether it’s comics, cigarettes or carbonadium synthesizers, we all have that one special substance or activity that helps us take the edge off, and/or briefly fill that endless dark void howling inside of our soul. Most listicle writers for instance are addicted to alliteration, the rule of threes and inciting insipid immature arguments about pedantic nonsense on the Internet. By the way, your favorite comic/movie/song is absolute garbage. Anyway, comic book characters are certainty no different; however, after a long day of fighting your evil clone from the future, growing back your own face or discovering your significant other is actually a HYDRA sleeper-agent/robot/robot-hydra agent, it’s going to take something a little bit stronger than binging out on The Mindy Project to decompress.
Fortunately, we’ve raided our long box stashes and we’re holding 15 of the most primo addictions in comics, ranging from addictions to high concept sci-fi super drugs to ordinary Earth substances that have groovy chemical reactions with extraordinary characters. Unfortunately, anime and manga do not qualify, so we can’t count the apple addicted Shinigami from Death Note. Not that it matters, as clearly the Netflix Death Note movie perfectly adapted – or dare we say improved upon – the anime series. But that’s another story…
15. MARTIAN MANHUNTER
Given his unique Martian physiology, The Martian Manhunter is addicted to Oreos. For legal purposes, these vanilla cream sandwich cookies are called “Chocos,” technically making Oreos the Hydrox cookies of the DC Universe. Anyway, the full extent of J’onn’s addiction is unleashed in “Double Stuff” from 2000’s Martian Manhunter #24 by John Ostrander and Doug Mahnke. Noting that J’onn is addicted to cookies, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold plunder all of J’onn’s Chocos stashes, taking the extra step of purchasing every Choco within a mile of headquarters. J’onn understandably hulks out, becoming a veritable cookie monster as he tries to crush Booster and Beetle.
Batman clarifies that Chocos are literally drugs to Martians, elaborating: “You’re a junkie! A Chocos junkies!” Mind you, during J’onn’s funeral on Mars in Final Crisis, Batman places a Choco on J’onn’s coffin, which is not unlike throwing a loosie into your coworker’s casket.
The evil Superman from Earth-3, Ultraman is the non-Bizarro opposite of Superman, whose cells are empowered by consuming Kryptonite. Does Ultraman eat Kryptonite? As a baby, sure, but that’s not evil enough. As he demonstrates during his introduction in 2013’s Forever Evil by Geoff Johns, David Finch and Richard Friend, Ultraman crushes his Kryptonite rocks down into a fine powder before lighting it up with heat-vision in order to snort it with super-breath. So, Ultraman is literally a cracked out Superman with a power-set based around scoring and smoking “K.”
Ultraman has smoked up all of the Kryptonite from Earth-3, so his primary motivation is scoring some space rocks, tearing out Metallo’s Kryptonite heart in order to light up. Also, not unlike most ghouls, vampires and/or junkies, Ultraman hates sunlight, specifically because it breaks down the Kryptonite in his cells.
Most supervillains love cocaine, but cocaine only grants (legitimate) superpowers to Snowflame, the self-proclaimed God of Cocaine from 1988’s New Guardians #2, whose power-set, personality and passion is cocaine. Cocaine gives Snowflame the strength of ten normal men on cocaine, represented by a flaming white psychokinetic aura and some exquisite monologuing: “Challenge accepted! I am Snow-Flame! Every cell of my being burns with white-hot ecstasy. COCAINE IS MY GOD — and I am the human instrument of its will!” Yes.
Snowflame is essentially a cocaine-golem, as he just lets the machine-man RAM unleash a full ultra-combo to his chest, mocking RAM with motormouth. When the Guardians raid Snowflame’s compound, Snowflame powers up with two fists worth of super-cocaine, ultimately immolated in his own chemical lab like some sort of cocaine-based Icarus.
12. LEX LUTHOR
Lex Luthor is obsessed with acquiring legitimate godhood, and is prepared to try any high-concept narcotic if it means beating Superman. Lex ends his term as President by tweaking out on a liquid Kryptonite and Venom cocktail before jumping into a customized Apokoliptian War-Suit in Superman/Batman #6 by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Lex explains: “Theodore Roosevelt said it best. ‘Speak softly, and carry a big stick.’ I wear that stick.” Lex even does that one Wolverine sewer pose while ranting about Infinite Crisis.
After Lex wields an Orange Lantern Power Ring during Blackest Night, he is consumed with acquiring the addictive avarice-powered accessory, in addition to basically all power-rings, in 2010’s Action Comics #890 by Paul Cornell and Pete Woods. Animated Luthor is no better, as Lex becomes obsessed with resurrecting Brainiac after sharing a body with him in Justice League Unlimited.
11. CAPTAIN AMERICA
“Captain America: Streets of Poison” by Mark Gruenwald and Mark Bagley offers an informative précis on methamphetamine use in 1990s America, even offering a Wikipedia-worthy definition of “Ice” for those of us who haven’t seen Breaking Bad. After Cap fires an Avengers lab tech for smoking Ice, the technician points out that Cap gets his powers from drugs, a fact Cap never realized. When Cap is caught in a meth lab explosion, a “truckload of Ice” bonds with the super soldier serum.
This accident proverbially freezes Captain America in “Ice” as he turns into an aggressive, paranoid and downright frisky methamphetamine man-machine with no comedown period whatsoever. Ultimately, Steve realizes that drugs do not make Captain America; rather it is his American dream to enable everyone else’s American dream. Incidentally, Cap has this epiphany about drugs while on drugs, as Cap hallucinates while being forcibly sedated.
10. SUPERIOR IRON MAN
No, we’re not talking about his alcoholism, but rather, that time Tony Stark’s moral alignment literally switched, turning the douchey weapons manufacturer into a douchey app developer in 2014’s Superior Iron Man by Tom Taylor and Yildiray Cindar. Stark sells your superego in the form of Extremis 3.0, a nano virus in app form (with a pill icon) that allows the user to become their ideal self.
Like any good dealer, Tony makes the first taste free for everyone with a smart device in San Francisco. After the trial period, however, a $99.99 daily subscription fee sets in, prompting users to turn to crime immediately, in addition to inciting a few cyberpunk race wars. Worse, Extremis automatically installs itself for a free 24 hour trial dose when you’re within 50 feet of Tony Stark – the world-hopping Avenger in symbiote-infused armor – so you’re probably trying Extremis at least once.
A graduate of the Weapon Plus program, Nuke (AKA Weapon VII, AKA Frank Simpson, AKA Scourge) is devoted to serving the Red, White and Blue – which is what Nuke calls the trio of government-issued combat drugs prescribed to him. The amphetamine “Reds” give Nuke adrenaline, “Blues” calm Nuke down, and “Whites” keep Nuke balanced between ops. When hopped up on Reds in Daredevil #233 by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, Nuke engages in CQC with Daredevil, later stealing a bottle of Reds while escaping military custody.
Despite his catchphrase being “Gimme a Red,” we discover in 2006’s Wolverine: Origins #2 by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon that Nuke’s pills were apparently placebos that helped control Nuke’s violent tendencies. The pills have since been replaced with a twin set of cybernetic hearts, one for pumping blood, and the other for pumping drugs remotely administered by Nuke’s handlers.
8. CADE SKYWALKER
The bad boy bounty hunter descendant of Luke Skywalker, Cade Skywalker is a high-functioning death stick addict, accepting three sticks in lieu of space-cash in 2006’s Star Wars: Legacy #3 by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema. Cade takes the sticks to deaden his connection to the Force, in addition to preventing Force Ghosts from reaching out through the nether to tell Cade how lame he is.
Seriously, Cade doesn’t want to be a badass space knight-wizard healer because he’s scared of succumbing to the Dark Side, which is ridiculous. Nobody chooses to be a space junkie over maybe becoming a necromancer Darth Vader. For those curious on what both Obi-Wan and Luke were missing out on, death sticks produce a euphoric hallucinogenic trip, at the cost of cutting away a chunk of your lifespan, with each subsequent trip taking larger amounts of life.
7. OMEGA RED
Omega Red was chosen for the Soviet Super Soldier Program specifically because of his mutant power to drain one’s life force with death spore pheromones. When used in conjunction with Carbonadium – a Soviet knock-off of Adamantium implanted in Red’s body that is slowly killing him – the result is a villain with addiction and tentacle-fetishes built into his power-set. Carbonadium coils have been implanted into Omega Red’s forearms, enabling him to halt healing factors and extend his own life from a distance.
Red demonstrates this by fighting Wolverine for 18 hours straight in 1991’s X-Men #5 by Jim Lee and John Bryne. 2006’s Wolverine Origins #7 by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon has Omega Red searching for the Carbonadium Synthesizer, which can neutralize the “death factor” in Red’s body – a quest that has plagued Red for his entire existence.
It’s almost cheating to include Transmetropolitan by Warren Allis and Darick Robertson, as nearly everyone and everything is addicted to some sort of high-concept sci-fi narcotic or kink. Spider Jerusalem’s infamous asymmetrical camera-shades for instance are the result of his Maker – a household appliance – trying to construct shades whilst high on Tripwire 7.0. Alternatively, Channon’s former boyfriend Ziang is a machine-addict, being arrested for lewd conduct with a shelf-stacking machine, culminating in transforming himself into a cloud of nano-bots.
The cyberpunk reincarnation of Hunter S. Thompson, Spider Jerusalem is not shy about his vices. In addition to the cigs that Spider is perpetually chain-smoking, the cavalcade of narcotics littered around Spider’s nest include: “My Lil’ Junkie” horse kit, “extract of queen ant (upper),” Frank Miller’s Hard Boiled, Ebola Cola and nearly every theoretical form of alcohol.
5. QUENTIN QUIRE
Quentin Quire is addicted to chocolate/Kick. Both substances allegedly increase Quire’s brainpower; however, only the latter is the secret primary antagonist of Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men. Hypercortisone D, or “Kick” as the cool mutants call it, is a stimulant that temporarily boosts the user’s powers, at the risk of burning their X-genes out. As Emma Frost, who is no stranger to narcotics, elaborates in 2006’s New X-Men #134: “I’ve tried it, of course… In the interest of science. I felt angelic and violently insane for five hours.”
Quire has his Omega Gang tweak out on Kick to riot at the Xavier Institute. Ultimately, Kick turns out to be Sublime — an ancient evil sentient bacteria who has hated mutants since the dawn of life itself — in aerosol form, making Kick the most literal interpretation of “drugs are bad,” ever.
Hourman originally appeared in 1940’s Adventure Comics #48 as Rex Tyler, who altruistically took the drug Miraclo, a mix of vitamins and hormones, to fight crime for one high hour at a time with enhanced strength and speed. To combat increasingly bizarre threats, however, Rex strengthens his Miraclo formula, gradually turning it into an addictive combat drug. Rex’s addiction is passed to his son Rick, who claims his “homeopathic” blend of Miraclo has no side effects, which is like switching from cocaine to coca leaves.
Initially, Rick claimed to have beaten his addiction to Miraclo pills, but then continues to use “non-addictive” Miraclo, which is the opposite of beating an addiction. Alternatively, Hourman has saved lives because of Miraclo, so maybe it was wrong for him to kick the habit. Incidentally, 2006’s JSA Classified #17 notes that Miraclo is the pharmacological forerunner of Venom, so… yeah, not a great lineage.
3. VENOM (THE DRUG)
Initially based on Hourman’s Miraclo formula but without the time restraint, Venom is a super-steroid that Batman originally experimented with in 1991’s Batman: Legends of The Dark Knight #16 by Denny O’Neil, Trevor Von Eeden and Russell Braun. After he fails to save a girl pinned under a boulder, Batman gets addicted to Venom caps – prescribed by the girl’s drug designer father – augmenting Batman’s strength and anti-social tendencies. To break his addiction, Batman has Alfred seal him in the Batcave for a month.
While Batman couldn’t handle Venom, it’s Bane’s narcotic of choice, chemically perfected over years of fighting the Batman. Trapped in a warehouse surrounded by heroes during 2011’s Secret Six #36 by Gail Simone and J. Calafiore, the Six dose themselves with Venom ampules “to go out like Gods,” making their last stand as loud and frothy as possible.
2. VENOM (THE SYMBIOTE)
The Venom symbiote, the alien avatar of addiction, grants its host shapeshifting powers and strength, while simultaneously feeding off of the wearer’s adrenaline and giving them increasingly psychotic/cannibalistic suggestions – so, sentient space shrooms plus amphetamines, basically. The symbiote itself is addicted to rage, eating brains and finding stronger hosts, while its host is addicted to the symbiote, as Mac Gargan worries that he is getting addicted to the symbiote’s cold hunger even as it slowly takes control of him during 2006’s Thunderbolts #112 by Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato, Jr.
The drug metaphor that is Venom is further emphasized in 2016’s Venom by Mike Costa and Gerardo Sandoval, wherein the symbiote is depicted as a wiry, ghoulish alien addict whenever acting autonomously. Furthermore, Spider-Man only “beats” the symbiote initially by going to church, and Eddie Brock really gets into religion after renouncing Venom.
1. THE SENTRY
The Sentry’s true origin story is revealed by his wife Linda in 2010’s Dark Avengers #13 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato Jr., wherein meth addict Robert Reynolds breaks into Dr. Cornelius’ lab, drinking a glowing serum that gives him the “ultimate high.” Imbued with the power of a thousand exploding suns, Bob bogarts the serum, exploding as he transforms into The Sentry. When Dr. Cornelius discovers Bob, he immediately asks Cornelius if he can make more.
Though the Sentry resembles a Golden Age hero, he remains an addict with superpowers. His dark inky counterpart The Void, as it turns out, is a physical manifestation of Bob’s addiction. To power him up for the Siege of Asgard, Norman Osborn gives Bob a dose of serum, producing a brilliant technicolor supernova that gets Bob high enough the rip the literal God of War in twain.
Can you think of a strange super addiction that we overlooked? Should we have included Victor Mancha from The Vision? Rapture from Spider-Man 2099? Let us know in the comments!
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