Matter-Eater Lad

© DC Comics / Used without permission
Origin: Unearthly
Real Name: Tenzil Kem
First Appearance: Adventure Comics #303 [DC Comics December 1962]
                            Character created by Jerry Siegel and John Forte


Prowess 3 {Average}
Coordination 4 {Fair}
Strength 3 {Average}
Intellect 4 {Fair}
Awareness 4 {Fair}
Willpower 5 {Good}

Stamina: 8
Determination: 4


Performance Expert 


Corrosion ["Acid Spit"] 10 {Supreme}
Supersenses 6 {Great}
       Enhanced Taste 


Legion Flight Ring


. "Attitude is half of success, and I have the other half, too"
. Hilarious sense of humour
. "Trust me, I'm a senator!"

Points: 43


The power to eat matter in all forms is not likely to defeat, say, Superman in combat. But surprisingly, Tenzil Kem, whose power to do just that is common to all natives of his home planet Bismoll, has gotten by very well in the Legion, thanks to his engaging personality and great sense of humor.

Matter-Eater Lad can eat any substance in any amount at super-speed. He can consume an unlimited amount of matter in any form - solid, liquid or gas. He once hollowed out a large meteor in a matter of minutes. Also, his Bismollian super-taste buds can instantly analyze the compositions of various foodstuffs and even detect substances which are poisonous to non-Bismollians. As well he can determine the nature of various chemicals in substances. His power to eat hard objects, like steel, without having super-strength or invulnerability, stems from the Bismollian ability to produce a variety of digestive enzyme that act on specific substances, making them easier to chew and digest. Once, when Computo had robbed him of his matter-eating ability, he could still produce enzymes, but biting into a piece of steel hurt his teeth. Bismollians can metabolize food almost instantaneously, and if needed, they can consume tons of food in minutes. Bismollians don't normally possess super-speed but as soon as the digestion process begins, the matter consumed is immediately transformed into food energy by the Bismollian "stomach". That energy fuels the person to move at a faster and faster rate of speed, as long as the energy supply keeps coming. When the person stops eating, the excess energy is collected and stored, in concentrated form, in cells very similar to human fat cells. Over the course of a couple of days, this stored energy is micro-diffused out of the body through pores in the skin.

Despite his bizarre ability, his self-confidence enabled Tenzil to gain acceptance as a Legionnaire on his first try. In his first case, he was accused of betraying the Legion to the alien spy-master Meglaro. He was cleared when Brainiac 5 revealed the real Legion infiltrator — a miniaturized spy implanted in Lightning Lad's leg by Dr. Landro, one of Meglaro's accomplices.

As time went by, however, Tenzil masked feelings of inadequacy about his powers. It didn't help that when the Legion was imprisoned in the Super-Stalag of Space, the villain Nardo nearly killed Matter-Eater Lad and altered his atomic structure, making him super-fat. He was later cured of this condition by Doctor Zan Orbal.

At home, he suffered from stress brought by his father, who was an alcoholic and a gambler. With the help of his good friend Shrinking Violet (on whom he had a crush), Tenzil stood up to his father and took his first steps towards true maturity. Matter-Eater Lad's father wasn't the only problem in his family, though. Tenzil's fame as a Legionnaire led to his brother Renkil to act out. After his family moved back to Bismoll, Renkil tried to take Tenzil's place in the Legion by convincing the others that Tenzil was plotting against them. 

Soon after this, Tenzil's fate was taken out of his hands. He was drafted to serve in Bismoll's Parliament. At first he tried to resist the decree by acting outrageous in public, cavorting with well-known women and acting in holovision programs. This plan backfired; the public loved him and wanted more. In the end, Tenzil decided to use his unique positions to help people. He used the money from his side ventures to finance a well-organized and efficient staff (led by Legion reject Calorie Queen), and establish important political connections throughout the United Planets.He would become a free spirit who reveled against his planet's virtual enslavement of him as a senator by becoming a multi-media celebrity. He used his planet's tax money to finance multiple television shows that allowed him to leave his planet for multiple trips to Earth and other planets for adventure and fun. Ironically, while his exploits made him persona non-grata with his world's rulers, they also made him even more popular with the masses of his homeworld, allowing him to be kept on as senator. He eventually came into conflict with former Legion villain Prince Evillo, founder of The Devil's Dozen, and was sent to a Hades-like dimension. Having been technically "dead," Kem was voted out of office by the opposition party.

Since his retirement, he has been called back into Legion service only once. To save the universe from destruction at the hands of Omega, Brainiac 5 asked Tenzil to eating the Miracle Machine — a cosmically powerful device from which Omega drew its power. The Miracle Machine's unique energies drove Matter-Eater Lad insane. Brainiac 5 was true to his word and did not stop until Tenzil was fully cured of this condition. He returned to service on Bismoll. 

At some point, Tenzil returned to Legion service and joined a new assembly of the Espionage Squad, traveling back to the 21st century in order to shepherd the hero Mon-El on to his destiny.

One of my favourite Legionnaires, because of his weird power and hilarious sense of humour, Matter-Eater Lad is a character full of possibilitiesThough many writers can’t figure out what to do with him, when used correctly, Tenzil is among the most interesting (and powerful) Legionnaires. Thanks to John McMullen for his keen insight on Tenzil's quality. This entry was revised, according to the ICONS Great Power book. Streamlined, once again, according to ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition.


Post a Comment

(c) Fabrício César Franco 2015. Powered by Blogger.