August 8, 2018

Maybe you thought radiology had no superheroes. You’d be wrong. Radiology may be more involved in superhero culture than almost any other medical field.

 

Did you know the first superhero with a superskill was not only a woman, but that her power was having x-ray eyes?

 

Olga Mesmer didn’t have a secret identity, but she is considered a Superman prototype. Her first appearance was in a “pulp” book called “Spicy Mystery Stories,” in August, 1937. Culture Publications printed her stories, but Olga’s creator is considered unknown.

 

You may recall from our other historical posts that this was right about the time x-ray technology was permeating medical diagnosis globally. So it makes sense that writers would begin to endow characters with this fantastic new ability.

 

According to Public Domain Super Heroes, Olga is a half alien, living on Earth, the daughter of the queen of an underground kingdom.

 

Queen Margot was driven out of her kingdom, so she retreated to the surface, where she met Doctor Hugo Mesmer, a scientist from Earth. They fell in love and married, and she became his lab guinea pig, apparently. Dr. Mesmer experimented on Olga using soluble x-rays. This experimentation nearly killed Margot but left her with x-ray vision. She accidentally killed Dr. Mesmer when she discovered her new power. Widowed, Margot gave birth to their daughter, Olga Mesmer, before she returned to her underground kingdom.

 

Olga grew to possess powers of her own. She inherited both the x-ray vision of her mother and supernatural strength. When she came upon an attacker attempting to murder of a young man named Rodney Prescott, she easily saved him by killing his attacker. After a blood transfusion from Olga to Rodney, he gained some of her abilities.

 

Together, Olga and Rodney traveled to the underground kingdom. During an adventure to destroy the rebels and restored Margot to her throne, Olga drank a secret potion of the kingdom that added immortality to her list of superpowers. Then they traveled to Venus together where a marriage between Margot and the Venusian king brought peace between Venus and Earth. Go, Olga!

 

According to comics historian, Will Murray, Olga is the first American superheroine in pulp magazines, with Fantomah being the first in comics.

 

Superman used his x-ray powers for the first time in 1939 in Action Comics #11.

These days, you’re practically not a superhero unless you have enhanced vision like Olga. Many writers use the superskill to empower characters like the Powerpuff Girls, Superboy, Ultra Boy, Hitman, Captain Dynamo, Luxray the Pokemon, Astro Boy, and even Batman and Robin.

 

Did you know there’s also a superhero that holds a PhD in radiology?

 

While he may be somewhat of a minor character, the Red Ghost was one of the Fantastic Four’s first villains. The Red Ghost is the secret identity of Ivan Kragoff. He and his Super-Apes premiered in Fantastic Four #13 in 1963, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Kragoff was a Soviet rocket scientist aiming to claim the moon for Communism. (Remember, this was 1963.) He trained three apes as crewmembers and shot himself and them into space, directly into the path of the same cosmic storm that gave the Fantastic Four their superpowers. Kragoff theorized that exposure to the storm would also empower him, and he was right. That’s how the Red Ghost began.

 

His main power is intangibility, or the ability to pass through walls. Intangibility is usually achieved by passing atoms between the spaces of other particles in the surface they are passing through: think Star Trek transporter.

 

But the Red Ghost is also super brilliant. He is an expert in rocketry, engineering, genetics, robotics, physics, and hypnotism, and, he has a Ph.D. in radiology. He’s invented numerous weapons and machines that have aided him in his evil plans and was smart enough to join Intelligencia, an organization of the smartest supervillains on the planet.  So how did you use your superpowers today?