Wacky power #20 – The human Geiger counter

by | May 5, 2010 | Wacky Powers | 1 comment

Wow, can you believe Daredevil has (had) so many wacky powers that this series is now up to twenty posts? Well, this probably won’t be the end either. Anyway, I may have touched on this particular topic before, but I had to post this scene, from Daredevil #43, by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, since there are so many wonderful things that are just wrong with it. How’s this one for example?”

“It happens all the time! Some bird-brained sneak thief grabs a doctor’s medical bag — not suspecting it contains deadly radioactive material!”

Okay, I get that there are drug addicts who steal things from doctors’ offices in the hopes of finding their opiate of choice, and get more than they bargained for. Fine, but doctors don’t walk around with bags contain loose vials of radioactive material. Wouldn’t this be a hazard to the person who normally carries it around, i.e. the doctor!? I’ve actually worked with radioactive materials in laborotory settings and the tubes are stored in metal blocks to minimize exposure. But fine, let’s just pretend our thief just took the vials and put them in a bag, and see what happens next.

Daredevil senses radiation, from Daredevil #43

Daredevil senses radiation, from Daredevil #43

Oh, apparently, this is right up Daredevil’s alley because he’s extra sensitive to radiation? Actually, this has been hinted at before, and later in this issue Matt has a very bad reaction to the radioactivity he’s exposed to. Here, it’s suggested that he’s extra sensitive to radiation. “With my hyper-keen senses, I’m like a walking Geiger counter! It shouldn’t take me long to sniff ‘im out!”

Daredevil compares himself to a Geiger counter, Daredevil #43

Daredevil compares himself to a Geiger counter, Daredevil #43

“And a strange burning sensation — coming closer and closer. […] It feels like I’m standing on top of a cyclotron!”

Hm, sorry Matt, but this makes no sense at all. Having been in an accident involving radioactivity shouldn’t make you more sensitive to radiation (though additional exposure certainly adds to his lifetime dose). Nor should it affect his hyper-senses the way it does later in this issue.

And, unless the dose is very high, he shouldn’t be able to feel it either. At least not unless he walks around constantly feeling the background radiation from the ground, and the bombardment of cosmic rays. Small amounts of radiation are insidious, you can’t actually feel the damage until it’s too late, and it would take more than a heightened sense of touch to change that fact. This is either a case of wacky science or a case of hysteria. Considering Matt’s history of mental health problems, my money is on the latter.

1 Comment

  1. Bill

    Somewhere is the first 100 issues Matt is exposed to radiation, looses this “moral compass” and attacks Captain America (might be this issue). I’m embarrassed to say that it’s one of my favorite fights for no reason, ever. They totally ‘red kryptonite’ poor DD just so he and Cap can kick the crap out of each other. I was suckered in and entertained.


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