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Subj: Re: What's with the term "Metahumans"?
Posted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 at 01:31:28 pm EST (Viewed 187 times)
Reply Subj: What's with the term "Metahumans"?
Posted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 at 02:10:08 am EST (Viewed 185 times)
To add to what Daveym said:
The first time I remember the term was also during DC's Invasion! crossover. The Dominators wanted to know why Humans, a species that is technologically and biologically inferior to pretty much all other species in the the galaxy had an annoying tendency to develop godlike superpowers and determine the outcome of events on other worlds. This is why Earth was a threat and was targeted for invasion by an alliance of alien worlds (Dominators, Thanagarians, Durlans, Daxamites, and Khund). The Dominators determined that the key was in the Metagene, something which a small percentage of Humans were born with that is only triggered during a fatal event; the Metagene will activate to save the Human from death by granting them powers to help them survive. I would think this is why the powers frequently mirror the trigger event, like if you're struck by lighting to you gain lightning powers to survive. However this is not always the case. In their experiment, the Dominators lined up 100 Humans and shot them with laser rifles; something like 7 of them gained superpowers but none were laser-related. Snapper Carr gained the ability to teleport, for instance.
When I used to see this compared to Marvel's Mutants the thinking seemed to be that the Metagene was actually closer to Marvel's non-Mutant heroes like Spider-Man. It would explain why one man can be exposed to radiation and simply get cancer and die while another gains fantastic powers; because the second man had the Metagene and the first didn't. This is different from the Mutants (capital M) who possess what they call the X-Factor. The difference between the X-Factor and Metagene is that the X-Factor is always triggered during puberty. The Metagene is only triggered due to an otherwise fatal event and therefore people can go their whole lives with a dormant Metagene and never gain powers.
The word Mutants is a little misleading the way Marvel uses it. A real mutant (lower case m) refers to an offspring that differs from its parent. So if a Human without the X-Factor has a child with the X-Factor, that child could be considered a mutant. But if a parent with the X-Factor has a child with the X-Factor then the child should not be considered a mutant, because it does not differ from its parent in that regard. There is also the case of Graydon Creed, the son of Sabretooth and Mystique, two Mutants possessing the X-Factor. Graydon did not inherit the X-Factor which would make him a mutant (little m) because he differs from his parents in that regard, but he is not a Mutant (big M) since he doesn't have the X-Factor.
DC also has mutants, notably Captain Comet who was simply born with advanced physical and mental gifts like telepathy and telekinesis. He was supposedly what a human would be like after centuries of evolution.
Metahumans played a big role again for DC in their 1993 crossover Bloodlines. The gimmick was that every DC annual that crossed over would introduce a brand new hero. Aliens referred to as Parasites came to Earth and started biting people on the back of their necks and draining their spinal fluid. Most people would be killed in the attack but anyone with a Metagene would survive and gain superpowers. The idea was to try out a bunch of new heroes and see which ones stuck. The only one who stuck was Hitman.
There was another storyline in the 2000s in the Superman books, I'm struggling to remember the details. I was thinking the villain was the red-armored Russian Zod. I think they turn the sun red so that Superman will be powerless, and then Team Superman responds by somehow activating the dormant Metagenes in every human on Earth so suddenly Superman has a team of like 100,000 superheroes. At the end of the story they undo it and all the Metagenes became dormant again.
Then there's Jay Garrick. After his "added vitality" was stripped during Zero Hour he remained young due to his connection to the Speed Force. But then following Infinite Crisis when Bart "internalized the Speed Force" rendering all other speedsters powerless, Jay maintained his powers and relative youth stating that he must have had a dormant Metagene that kicked in. Handy, eh?
But yes, I think that DC started marketing the term Metahuman probably in answer to the Mutant craze. At some point I think the writers and DC forgot what the term meant and it basically became a catch-all for any DC character with powers, whether mutant, metahuman or someone imbued with powers any other way.
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