A Most Bizarre Power

Many comic books have been based on the adventures of hero’s gifted with super powers marked by limitations to illustrate some of their weaknesses that show them mortal; focusing attention on their ingenuity to defeat a foe with moral resolve. Whatever the powers are, one effect on the reader is to imagine that if it were possible to have the same abilities, how could it change their lives; perhaps by creating fantasies about wielding great power or enhancing their observation of existing in an extraordinary reality.

Of all the hero’s of the DC universe, the one no one ever wanted to be was Matter Eating Lad, the fifteenth initiate admitted to The Legion Of Superhero’s, an organization founded in the thirtieth century to protect Earth and the Galaxy. Each member had a power, which had to be innate, and a flight ring, provided by the three original leaders, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy. The ring was allegedly invented by Brainiac 5 who had super intellect, green skin and blond hair.

Matter Eating Lad‘s real name was Tenzil Kern, a son of the planet Bismoll, the only known place where microbes made all native food poisonous to its human inhabitants, provoking mutant genes to adapt their digestive system to eat any known substance at super speed  without harm or weight gain. Although this was considered an evolutionary change consistent with the biological principle of adaptation, it doesn’t explain why the poisonous food remained the exception. Perhaps Tenzil should have come back in time to serve as a representative of Weight Watchers, since his unique ability had little super power significance except to eat his way to save members of the Legion held in jailed captivity. Even his standing in the Legion was challenged by Calorie Queen who had the ability, like him, to eat anything no matter how large but also the power to convert  the calories into super strength. He was rarely featured in adventures and spent a great deal of time in politics on his home world using his membership in the Legion as an advantage to win a seat in the senate.

It was reported by an unknown source that Matter Eating Lad once saved Superboy when he was exposed to Kryptonite by digesting the green glowing meteorite, but the claim has remained unsubstantiated by any reputable source, although Krypto, the Dog Of Steel, had been quoted by the The Future National Enquirer, a highly respected periodical based in the former Great Britain as saying, “These reports are over exaggerated and highly suspect.”Krypto further explained in a separate statement, “since exposed to Red Kryptonite, I am now able to speak English with a German accent.” When pressed by the newspaper for a response, Matter Eating Lad was quoted as saying, “Krypto is still angry because I ate his bone while he was napping.”