Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Top 10 Fictional Characters That Have Size Manipulation Powers

I’ve just recently done a list on fictional characters that can “super stretch”, and it somewhat stir me to do this list, which is kind of related to “super stretching” since it also involves physically transforming into an extent which is humanly impossible.   Size manipulation is the ability to change the mass of one’s body; either by shrinking down to the size of an ant or smaller, or growing up into a gigantic size.    


As the name suggests, this DC supervillainess has the ability to transform herself into a giantess.  In giantess form, she has super strength and super durability.  She is a regular enemy of Wonder Woman, but is also known to tackle with other heroes in the Justice League. 


Chōza is a tertiary character in Naruto and the father of Chōji, one of Naruto’s peers and friends.  As the head of Akimichi clan, Chōza has mastery of all of the clan’s trademark techniques.  This includes the “Multi-Size Technique” which allows its user to increase the size of a body part or his entire body.  Whenever Chōza uses this technique, he can grow into a giant and can stay in this form for an extensive period of time without any strain to himself.  Lesser experienced users of this technique, like Chōji, is incapable of keeping a giant form without finding it taxing.  


Before becoming the superhero Atlas, Eric Josten lived a life of a supervillain – first as Power Man and then as Goliath.  Then along with other former supervillains who reformed, he become part of the first incarnation of the Thunderbolts, which he was even a leader of for some time.  (I really enjoyed a lot that early Thunderbolts team [though I love the present incarnation of the team more], so I have to give a spot to Atlas.)  Unlike most size enhancers, who only gain super-strength when they increase size, Atlas already has super-strength even when in normal size (due to his ionically-charged physiology) and his strength increases some more when he grows in size.        

Janet van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp gained her ability while hanging out with super genius Hank Pym a.k.a. (the first) Ant-Man.  Undergoing a biochemical process involving Ant-Man’s Pym particles, she gained the power to shrink to wasp-size (hence the name) and grow insect wings.  Ant-Man and the Wasp would become superhero partners and, later on, husband and wife (but got divorced eventually).     

The Wasp is actually within Marvel’s top 10 most important superheroines.  She’s even a founder of the Avengers (along with Ant-Man).  The problem is, for me, more often than not, Marvel can’t figure out what to do with this character.  Most of the time I encounter her in comics, I’m underwhelmed with the character.  Sure, right now, she has a prominent role in the Uncanny Avengers, but she seemed to have been pushed at that point by serving as Havok’s current love interest/wife.       


The third person to become Ant-Man, Eric O’Grady was a former low-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent prior to assuming the identity.  He stumbled upon the latest Ant-Man suit after being tasked to guard Dr. Hank Pym’s lab.  He stole the suit and used the abilities it gave him for selfish motivations like stealing his best friend’s girlfriend, peeking on girls in the shower, and staging races between ants.   Eventually, he would find himself becoming part of superhero teams like the Thunderbolts and the Secret Avengers.  But though he was able to have heroic moments, he had as much self-centered, cowardly, and d-bag moments as well.  In time, O’Grady eventually desired to better himself, and in the end, he was indeed able to overcome his irredeemable flaws.   In one Secret Avengers mission, he died a heroic death by saving a child.  However, his teammates thought he survived the incident for the team’s enemy, the Father, bid a Life Model Decoy of Eric to infiltrate the Secret Avengers when the real Eric had actually died.   


Cassandra Lang a.k.a. Stature is the daughter of Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man.  Unlike her father, whose ability is to shrink down to ant size, Cassandra preferred to use her size altering powers to increase her size into gigantic heights.   Along with her co-Young Avenger teammate, the teenage Vision, Stature became part of the Mighty Avengers line-up for a time.  So far, Stature and the teenage Vision are the only Young Avengers that have been promoted to official full-pledge Avengers status (the rest only got as far as honorary memberships), and that is an impressive feat.  Unfortunately, Stature met her death during the “Children’s Crusade” storyline.    


Before becoming the successor of Hank Pym’s “Ant-Man” superhero name, Scott Lang was an electronics expert who also did some burgling to augment his income.  One day, his daughter, Cassie (see No. 5, Stature), was diagnosed with a serious heart condition.  To rescue the doctor – who was being held captive by an evil a corporation – that can help his daughter, Scott resorted to stealing Hank Pym’s Ant-Man costume and shrinking gas canisters.  Unbeknownst to Scott, Hank Pym observed the whole thing, and while in his superhero guise of Yellowjacket, Pym followed him to see what he will do.   Scott proceeded to free the doctor from his captors, and the doctor was able to save the life of Cassie – much to the relief of Scott.  Afterwards, Lang went back to Pym to return the costume and to turn himself in.  However, Pym decided to give it to him, provided he will use it for good.  And from that day on, Scott Lang became the second Ant-Man, fighting crime and assisting other heroes.  He would even become an Avenger, and then the leader of the replacement Fantastic Four while the original F4 is in space.      


Makarov is the Guild Master of Fairy Tail, implying that he’s the most powerful member of this delightful ragtag band of magi.  He’s also one of the legendary “Ten Wizard Saints”, cementing his reputation as one of the most powerful magi in the world.  He has a big paternal heart, and acts like a good parent to the members of Fairy Tail, which he affectionately refers to as his “children.”   He is at his most wrathful and most terrifying when his “children” are attacked and hurt by an enemy.

Makarov knows a variety of magical techniques.  But his trademark magic is “Titan,” which allows him to enlarge his small stature into gigantic proportions.  Its application vary from just selecting a body part to enlarge, like his arm to increase its punching power, or to completely increase his size at its maximum capability, which is as immense as a large island!   At “Titan” mode, Makarov also gains superhuman strength and durability.


Ray Palmer a.k.a. the Atom is considered as the DC universe’s Reed Richards.  That itself is impressive, but more than that, Ray’s genius enabled him to utilize the remnants of a white dwarf star to create a shrinking agent.  He decided to use this technology to become a superhero.  While most size reducers in fiction can only (or choose to only) shrink down to bug size, the Atom can shrink down to subatomic levels while retaining his strength in normal size.  The initial awesome thing that made me like him was his mode of transportation: he would shrink to subatomic size and travel through phone lines by dialing a number and entering through the handset!

Almost all size manipulators in the Marvel Universe have their abilities thanks to Dr. Henry “Hank” Pym.  Just like most scientific super-geniuses in the Marvel Universes, Hank is also versatile in a wide area of scientific fields.  He has great proficiency in various areas like biochemistry and artificial intelligence (he’s the one who built Ultron).  His intellect is great enough that he was once considered the “Earth’s Scientist Supreme”; he is probably only second to Reed Richards in terms of genius (though Bruce Banner and Tony Stark will disagree).   But despite his many accomplishments, Pym is most known by his “Pym particles” (that’s why it’s named after him).    The technicalities of Pym particles are completely unclear.  But, in the nutshell, it’s about storing or borrowing mass from a pocket dimension which allows the shrinking or enlarging of things or persons.  Hank Pym, utilizing Pym particles to have size altering powers, assumed different superhero guises through the years, namely Ant-Man (he was the first), Giant-Man (when he decided to use his Pym particles to grow in size instead), Goliath, and Yellowjacket.  He was even “the Wasp” for some time, in honor of his ex-wife (who was believed to be dead then).  The other size manipulators that came after Pym (most are in this list) also got their powers from obtaining access to these mysterious “Pym particles.”           

Hank Pym was recently made the leader of the Avengers A.I., an Avengers team composed of android superheroes.   It’s a shame that the Avengers A.I. comicbook has just been cancelled (a run of only 12 issues).  It was a fantastic and enjoyable comic, and it was here that Hank Pym was at his most likable portrayal ever.

No comments: