Many Marvel superheroes make claims of being invincible. And the fact is, many heroes are extremely hard to kill. The Incredible Hulk can sustain and recover from unbelievable amounts of damage. Wolverine’s healing factor has let him live over a hundred years with no permanent scars. And Deadpool’s ability to regenerate every part of his body literally makes him laugh at injuries.
However, there is one hero who can really show all of the Marvel superheroes what it really means to be indestructible. And although his name isn’t particularly well known by most comic book fans, once readers understand the source of his powers, they’ll realize his unkillable body is the true definition of invincibility. Forget characters like Juggernaut and the Sentry – when you want a hero who’ll come back from every hit, call the Awesome Slapstick!
Wait, who? As a character who’s only starred in two miniseries and made sporadic appearances over the last thirty years, it’s understandable that even dedicated comic book fans wouldn’t know who Slapstick is. First appearing in 1992 in his self-titled comic The Awesome Slapstick #1, Steve Harmon was a compulsive practical joker who enjoyed pulling outrageous pranks like breaking into his high school biology lab and gluing all the frogs back together. When his archrival Winston made fun of him though, Steve decided to dress up as a clown, go to the carnival where Winston was hanging out, and hit him with a pie.
Things took a weird turn, however, when Steve found out that the clowns at the carnival were actually evil alien beings from Dimension X. Steve tried to follow the clowns through their funhouse mirror/dimensional portal, but the portal closes as he goes through and his molecules end up being stretched through thousands of different dimensions. Materializing as a puddle of goop in Dimension X, Steve is told that he’s been mutated into a new form of matter called “Electroplasm” that is completely indestructible. The Scientist Supreme of the dimension creates a pair of clown gloves that allow Steve to regain some cohesion, causing Steve to reform into a being resembling a living cartoon character.
Essentially, Steve gains the powers of a Looney Tunes character like Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck. Like a cartoon character, his body can’t be permanently harmed by bullets, lasers, or neutron bombs (all of which he’s encountered at one time or another). Any damage he does sustain is immediately repaired and Steve (or “Slapstick” as he comes to call himself) never seems to feel any real pain from his momentary injuries – just comical annoyance.
As invulnerability is now his natural state, Slapstick’s durability basically trumps any other superhero. Since he doesn’t have any internal organs, he doesn’t have to wait for his body to regenerate like Wolverine or Deadpool. He also doesn’t have to “die” to have his body revert to a healthy state like Mr. Immortal of the Great Lakes Avengers, making him very hard to get rid of. And while obscure characters like the 50 States Initiatives’ “Butterball” may not fall to pieces from being shot at or electrocuted like Slapstick, Steve also doesn’t seem to suffer from any trauma like those heroes.
In many ways, Slapstick is Marvel’s answer to similar “living cartoons” like Dark Horse Comics’ “The Mask.” Some of his later stories attempted to include some extra darkness to his stories by establishing that Steve couldn’t turn back into his normal human form (in the original miniseries, he could shift back and forth with no problem). This did give Slapstick some emotional problems, although it didn’t lessen his ability to come back unharmed from massive injuries, earning him the title of Marvel’s most invulnerable hero.
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