Elemental Powers – The Stuff of Superheroes

Elemental Powers – The Stuff of Superheroes

Elemental powers are the Holy Grail of philosophers, scientists and comic-book aficionados alike. Unfortunately, these elemental powers have never been ours to control, submit or wear in our structural DNA. But that doesn’t mean we’ve given up on dreaming or fantasising about it since immemorial times.

Imagine a bunch of white-bearded philosophers, treading the agora, admittedly slightly annoyed by their long tunics- fashion of the day, can’t fight against the trendsetters.

Anyway, in the shadow of the Parthenon, they hunch on the cold marble in deep brooding over a complicated matter. The matter is actual matter. The stuff of life. The fabric of a world stretching as far as the eye can see. How far was that to the ancients?

To find out the equation, they had to split it into known factors. Aristotle exposed the first four elementsFire, Water, Air, Earth and added a fifth one, Aether, reserved for the stars and the divine. A less imperfect sort of matter than the low quality materials used to patch up humans.

Japanese and Tibetan Buddhism agreed to that classification while assigning physical properties to the elements.

Earth was solidity. Water- unity. Fire-temperature. Air-movement. The void incorporated and ruled them all. Number 5 became the lottery number. People have five senses, five extensions of the body, five fingers on each hand, five favorite colors.

In that vein, here is a five item list of superheroes endowed with some wicked elemental powers.

Air and Avatar Aang

Aang Avatar Elemental Powers
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‘Air is the element of freedom.’

In the Nickelodeon’s animated television series ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’, dancing to the tune of air currents is not only the prerogative of birds.

Bending air is one of the four elemental powers of the Air Nomads, deserters of the material world and achievers of spiritual enlightenment.

Aang, the last surviving Airbender resembling a Buddhist pupil with a blue arrowlike tattoo streaming down the length of his body, is the reluctant hero who lives strongly by two of his religions’ most crucial precepts. Do not kill and do not eat meat.

The elemental powers are strong with this one. Aang masters all four elements, while air bending remains his first love. This style of fighting draws on a Chinese martial art called Baguazhang, which involves kicking ass through finger strikes, joint locks, throws and circular footwork.

Earth and Gaara

Gaara Elemental Powers
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‘In order to become the world’s strongest shinobi… I became the incarnation of sand…’

Initially an antagonist because of his emo-gothic stare and stubborn anti-social attitude, Gaara gains audience sympathy once it is revealed his troubled past and the tailed beast he’s harboring inside from birth are a little bit of a trauma to the poor guy.

Gaara is a shinobi with the power to manipulate sand. Maybe as a child, he used it to win sand castle competitions, but as an emotionally messed up teenager, he hands his power to the service of ninja politics. Evil. Fortunately, Naruto is there to soothe the anger first by defeating Gaara, then by launching into a tear-felt therapeutical speech.

Fire and The Human torch

The Human Torch Elemental Powers
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‘They call me the Human Torch. Ladies call me Torch.’

Don’t play with matches, or you’ll end up like the Human Torch! And who doesn’t want that? If your parents had used that piece of warning, you would have probably ended up a pyrophiliac by now.

Fire-breathers come close enough to playing with fire, but no one does it like The Human Torch. A fictional superhero of Marvel Comics and a founding member of The Fantastic Four, Jonathan Jonny Storm, aka The Human Torch gained his powers by accident. Never read that before in a comic book!

While on a mission into space, Johnny was subjected to intense cosmic radiation. Since then, he’s transformed into a whirling plasma of heated molecules and developed some wicked elemental powers. He can ignite his body on command and absorb flames into his body from any nearby sources of fire. I guess lighting a match in his vicinity is not going to prove too efficient.

In the spirit of handsome superheroes with a fiery gaze and full-body flame effect, The Human Torch has a hot spot for catchphrases. Flame on!

Water and Sailor Mercury

Sailor Mercury
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“For love and exams, I’m Sailor Mercury !Stand under a cold waterfall and reflect on your conduct !”

In the Sailor Moon manga series created by Naoko Takeuchi, Sailor Mercury is the first Sailor Soldier to team up with Sailor Moon. When she’s just your normal nerdy Japanese student, the blue-eyed crop-haired girl goes by the name Ami Mizuno. She’s intelligent and doubles as the accountant of the group. By that, I mean she knows how to use a computer and keep track of all battles on an Excel sheet. Before you judge, remember! This was the 1990s.

In Japanese, planet Mercury is Suisei. In translation, a celestial object made of water. Initially, Sailor Mercury specializes in dowsing, which means she can find underground water without the rods. Later, her abilities upgrade to water whirlwinds, creating solid and dense cumulonimbus clouds of mist and fog, giving her enemies the chills and a fever, building defensive barriers out of solid ice.

Fifth element. Infinity Man

Infinity Man
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‘The answer to gravity is anti-gravity.’

With his superhero created for DC Comics, Jack Kirby comes as close as it gets to Aristotle’s idea of the elusive fifth element. No other hero is more ethereal when it comes to elemental powers than Infinity Man. He juggles such extraterrestrial talents as unlimited strength, invulnerability, super speed and anti-matter deflection.

All four dynamical forces of gravity, electromagnetism, nuclear and weak nuclear power pitch in to mold the unbeatable being, Infinity Man. Not far-fetched at all, considering where this somewhat older superman hails from. His home is a place where all natural law bends. In one episode, he infiltrates the antagonist’s lair by changing the earth’s atomic structure, while explaining how he can ‘swim through it like the blue sea.’

Elemental powers might belong to the world of fiction or, in the best case scenario, distant future. Still, we do have the power to summon the supernatural into our daily life by listening  to the words of the philosopher.

“Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.”

Here are some snapshots of your favorite superheroes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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Garrett.Freeman@mashoid.co'
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Garrett Freeman

Garrett.Freeman@mashoid.co'
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