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Superpower Silly Putty

From the diary of James Bartholomew Olsen:

"Dear Diary,

I became Turtle Boy today. I was better than last time; I only fell on my shell once and a nice man was there to flip me over. I don't know quite what set it off — the radioactive meteorite I was investigating or that mystical talisman my girlfriend gave me.

It was certainly better than yesterday: a combination of Omega Radiation and a kryptonite candle turned me into Melting Lad. I really don't understand how melting is a superpower, but I was a puddle for half the day. Superman had to use his super-sculpting skills to put my atomic structure back together. I have to remember to get him something good for his birthday. Maybe a tie?

Well, tomorrow is a new day. Let's hope I don't get any more weird or wacky powers — I don't know how much I can handle, to be honest. It's never just super-strength or flight, it's always something weird, like lycanthropy or becoming super-fat (again, how is that a superpower?).

Tomorrow looks to be better, though, diary. I only have one assignment with Ms. Lane: to photograph STAR Labs' new particle decelerator. Here's hoping there are no mishaps.

Until tomorrow,
Jimmy."

A Sister Trope to Unfazed Everyman. Where an Unfazed Everyman is a normal person surrounded by weirdness, but who stays normal nonetheless, someone who is Superpower Silly Putty is one who is transformed by the weirdness. Numerous times. He never keeps the powers, however; he always manages to lose them just as he is getting used to them. Don't expect him to know exactly how to use them during the duration.

Pretty much a Dead Horse Trope by now, it was used quite frequently in the Silver Age.

A subtrope of Superpowers For A Day.

Not to be confused with Plastic Man, a literal Silly Putty superhero.


Examples

Comics
  • Jimmy Olsen, who had (and lost) so many superpowers, there is an entire collection called The Many Transformations of Jimmy Olsen.
    • In the Elseworld story The Nail Jimmy Olsen is the aide of Metropolis Mayor Lex Luthor because he has extensive experience of Meta-Human affairs due to his numerous transformations. Deconstructed when it is revealed that without Superman as his best friend, the transformations have driven him insane. And then Luthor used him as a guinea pig for grafting Kryptonian DNA to a human body. One short With Great Power Comes Great Insanity later and Olsen is the Big Bad, using Luthor as a Brainwashed puppet to bring down anyone who might be a threat to his dream of "New Krypton".
    • One comic (a lead-up to the New Krypton story) suggests Jimmy has had this happen to him so many times that it's made his mind impossible to read. Jimmy himself figures it out while being chased by a mind reading assassin. Long story.
    • And in Countdown to Final Crisis, Jimmy starts cycling through all his powers, and decides now's his moment to become a superhero... Mr. Action.
    • Jimmy's tendency to induce these transformations on himself eventually earned him the "My Brain Says No but My Mouth Says Go" Award in Craig Shutt's final Mopee Awards for the Comics Buyer's Guide.
  • Lana Lang also fell into this a lot in the Silver Age.
  • There was period in the Silver Age when Batman was either getting a superpower or experiencing a bizarre transformation (alien, genie, giant, merman, etc) every month. It would always Snap Back at the end of the story.
    • It still happens every now and then. There's even an Elseworld based on Bruce Wayne becoming a Green Lantern. (Or a pirate, or a knight...)
    • And according to Grant Morrison, every single wacky Silver Age transformation is now canon. Albeit with most of them retconned into being hallucinations brought about by the sensory deprivation experiment he underwent in "Robin Dies At Dawn!", or by the many chemical weapons Batman's rogues tend to use.
  • Rick Jones, the sidekick to the entire Marvel Universe.
  • There was a Silver Age "filler" series called "Dial H For Hero" where a kid found some mysterious artifact that looked a bit like a rotary telephone dial without the phone attached. Pressing a certain sequence on it would transform him into a "superhero", or at least something with (usually quirky) super powers, for a short period. The plot typically went "something bad happens, kid uses dial, kid turns into something weird, kid figures out how to use new abilities to solve problem, repeat sequence, repeat sequence again" (there were usually three transformations per story). Initially each transformation was unique (and the latest transformation would be met with some kind of thought like "I wish I was (some previous transformation) again" because that form would have made solving the problem easy), but some of them did occur multiple times over the course of the series.

Western Animation


Superpower MeltdownMagic and PowersSwiss Army Tears
Super StrengthCharacters as DeviceSupport Party Member
Super Power MeltdownSuperhero TropesSuper Registration Act
Super DickeryImageSource/Comic BooksThe Silver Age of Comic Books
Superman Stays Out of GothamExample as a ThesisSurrounded by Smart People

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