They have powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men or women. But unlike the characters of the comic book, these extraordinary people were quite real.
The movie version of X-Men was the hottest film in the theaters when it was released. Based on the enormously popular comic book, X-Men features a collection of human mutants – both good and evil – who were born with extraordinary and sometimes bizarre powers. With such names as Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, Magneto and Mystique, they bound around making blades spring from their knuckles, conjuring hurricanes from the sky or manipulating their environment through telekinesis. These characters, creations of legendary comic book author and illustrator Stan Lee, live only in the imagination, on paper and now on film.
Would you believe there are real X-Men? They may not be genetic mutants, in the strictest sense, and they may not be able to threaten or save the world with their strange and fantastic powers of the body and mind, but they are extraordinary… not at all like you and me. Here’s our own gallery of real-life super-powered characters.
When storm clouds gather, courageous Lightning Man stands in defiance of nature to draw deadly bolts of electricity from the heavens.
Roy Cleveland Sullivan was a Forest Ranger in Virginia who had an incredible attraction to lightning… or rather it had an attraction to him. Over his 36-year career as a ranger, Sullivan was struck by lightning seven times – and survived each jolt, but not unscathed. When struck for the first time in 1942, he suffered the loss of a nail on his big toe. Twenty-seven years passed before he was struck again, this time by a bolt that singed his eyebrows off. The next year, in 1970, another strike burned Sullivan’s left shoulder. Now it looked as though lightning had it out for poor Roy, and people were starting to call him The Human Lightning Rod. He didn’t disappoint them. Lightning zapped him again in 1972, setting his hair on fire and convincing him to keep a container of water in his car, just in case. The water came in handy in 1973 when, seemly just to taunt Sullivan, a low-hanging cloud shot a bolt of lightning at his head, blasting him out of his car, setting his hair on fire and knocking off a shoe. The sixth strike in 1976 injured his ankle, and the seventh strike in 1977, got him when he was fishing, and put him in the hospital for treatment of chest and stomach burns. Lightning may not have been able to kill Roy Sullivan, but perhaps the threat of it did. He took his own life in 1983. Two of his lightning-singed ranger hats are on display at Guinness World Exhibit Halls.
With just the power of his mind, he can command animals to do his bidding.
Vladimir Durov was no ordinary animal trainer. As a veteran performer in a Russian circus, he claimed to use a remarkable method for communicating with his canine coworkers – through telepathy. Professor W. Bechterev, head of the institute for the Investigation of the Brain in St. Petersburg, decided to test Durov’s claim. Bechterev created a list of tasks that he wanted one of Durov’s dogs to perform in a specific order, without any time for training. After hearing or reading the list of tasks, Durov went to his fox terrier, Pikki, took his head in his hands and stared straight into the little dog’s eyes – psychicly transferring his thoughts directly into Pikki’s brain. Durov released the dog and it immediately went about performing the assigned tasks. Thinking that perhaps Durov was giving the dog subtle clues with his eyes, the test was repeated with a new set of tasks, but this time with Durov blindfolded. Pikki still responded to his psychic commands.
The Electromagneto Team
Charged like superconducting human batteries, they roam the countryside thrilling all they meet with the electrifying power at their fingertips.
There have been several documented cases of people who apparently possess inexplicable electromagnetic properties:
For just a 10-week period in 1846, 14-year-old French girl Angelique Cottin’s mere presence made the needles of compasses spin wildly; objects as heavy as furniture would slide away from her if she tried to touch them; objects near her would vibrate unnaturally.
Jennie Morgan of Sedalia, Missouri could emit highly-charged sparks from her fingertips that were strong enough to knock people unconscious. Animals would shun her.
After an 18-month undiagnosed illness, Canadian teenager Caroline Clare became so magnetized that metal objects, like forks and knives, stuck to her skin. The force was so powerful that another person was required to pull them off.
Inga Gaiduchenko, a 14-year-old Soviet student was also highly magnetic. Before members of the Moscow Technological Institute, she showed how spoons and pens stuck to her hands. Even non-metallic objects such as china plates and books were affected.
The Amazing Kinetitron
With her thoughts alone, a steely glance or a subtle gesture, she can move inanimate objects at will.
Nina Kulagina became one of the most famous psychics in the Soviet Union in the 1960s because of her amazing feats of telekinesis or psychokinesis. In films smuggled out of the country, Kulagina was shown to be able to move small objects placed before her on a table. Under close scientific observation, Kulagina would hold her hands a few inches above the objects, and in a few moments they would being to slide across the table top. Wooden matches, small boxes, cigarettes and Plexiglas would all react to her intense concentration. At times, objects would continue to move even when she took her hands away. In the early 1970s, Kulagina was even recruited by the Soviet government to see if she could somehow help a sick Nikita Khrushchev.
Watch him stretch his body to incredible lengths and handle red-hot flaming embers in his bare hands.
Daniel Douglas Home was either one of the most incredible psychic mediums of the mid-1800s or one of the era’s cleverest magicians. The feats this Scotsman performed at close range astounded the elite and royalty of his day. In one demonstration, he entered his usual trance state and announced he was in touch with a guardian spirit that was “very tall and strong.” While being watched by two witnesses who flanked him, Home shot up an additional six inches in height, and it could be clearly seen that his slippered feet were planted flatly on the floor. Home could also hold burning embers in his bare hands completely without harm, a feat he performed on a number of occasions. Sir William Crookes of the British Society for Psychical Research, once saw Home pick up a hot coal as big as an orange and hold it nonchalantly in both hands. Home even blew on the coal until it became white hot and flames flickered around his bare fingers. Crookes then inspected Home’s hands and affirmed that they did not appear to be specially treated in any way – and showed absolutely no sign of blistering, scarring or burning. Crookes remarked, in fact, that Home’s hands were as soft and delicate as “a woman’s.” In yet another performance, Homes floated out of a second-story window, paused, then floated back inside to the utter astonishment of three witnesses on the ground.
The Incredible X-Ray
There’s no hiding evil deeds from the Incredible X-Ray whose penetrating X-ray vision sees all.
Koda Box, a stage performer who billed himself as “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes,” astonished audiences in the early 1900s. Box first allowed audience members to completely blind him by putting coins over his eyes and fastening them in place with adhesive tape. His entire head was then bandaged in cloth, assuring everyone that he could see nothing. He then proceeded to read messages that audience participants had written on paper. He could also read books and accurately describe objects held up by members of the audience. With is elaborate blindfold in place, Box once even safely rode a bicycle through the busy traffic of New York’s Times Square.
Microscopo and Telescopique
Like super-powerd human scientific instruments, these heroes use their fantastic vision to see microscopic details or great distances.
Two gentlemen might share the title of Microsopo, both having the ability to distinguish vinyl phonograph records merely by looking at the grooves with their unaided eyes! Alvah Mason first demonstrated this talent in the 1930s, and more recently, Arthur Lintgen, a resident of Philadelphia proved to none other than The Amazing Randi that he could do the same thing. Veronica Seider, a German dentist, apparently had telescopic vision. In several demonstrations she showed that she could identify people from more than a mile distance. Seider also claimed that she could see the individual red, green and blue dots that make up the picture on a color television set.
Medictron, the Healer
With the unknown force emanating from his miraculous hands, Medictron has the power to heal all forms of injuries and maladies.
John D. Reese of Youngstown, Ohio never studied medicine. In fact, it wasn’t until he was about 30 years old that Reese discovered his remarkable if latent power to heal. One day in 1887, an acquaintance of Mr. Reese had fallen from a ladder and seriously injured his spine – a “severe spinal strain” his physician called it. Reese, for some reason, ran his fingers up and down the man’s back, immediately after which the man announced that his pain had ceased entirely. He got up and went back to work. Reese likewise healed Hans Wagner, a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had been carried from the field with a back injury; he also instantly cured a politician whose hand and wrist became useless to him from so much handshaking. Doctors had told him he needed weeks and weeks of rest. After his encounter with Reese, he has perfectly fine.
How do we explain the abilities of these astounding individuals? Are they conduits for some unimaginable interdimensional power? Are they mere tricksters and hoaxers? Or are they genetic mutants who, like the X-Men, might be forerunners of the future of the human race?