Follow TV Tropes


No Ontological Inertia / Comic Books

Go To

  • Particularly aggravating when mutants (in the Marvel Universe) lose their powers and (in general) turn human. That is, you might have looked like this as a mutant, but once you're cured, you get an instant human body. Almost as if you had never been a mutant in the first place. Although, it's only a general rule. Chamber, a mutant whose explosion/fire/whatever powers blew off his lower face and chest, had to be put on a life support when his powers disappeared. It seems it doesn't count if it was an indirect effect of their powers, or if it will cause something even shittier to happen to the character.
  • Advertisement:
  • X-Factor, in fact, did an arc based partially around that premise. SOME mutants became completely human looking when they became non-mutants, but other mutants retained vestiges of their mutations even after Decimation — horns, colourful feathers instead of hair, etc. — and some of them resent ex-mutants who can pass as completely humans who retain their attachment to their previous mutant state, because they can go back and forth, whenever they want.
  • In Spider-Man, the character "The Lizard" was created by a man, Dr. Curt Connors, trying to grow his right arm back. When he becomes the Lizard, his right arm does, indeed, grow back. When he's cured and reverts to normal, however, he loses his arm again. Connors's RIGHT ARM has No Ontological Inertia. Ditto for Kommodo, who uses an improved version of Dr. Connors's formula, that allows her to transform at will. In human form, she has no legs. Where on earth do they come from?
  • Advertisement:
  • Scarlet Witch and her twin sons. To wit: back during the Vision & The Scarlet Witch mini-series, Wanda used a big mass of chaos energy to do the otherwise impossible — make herself pregnant with the android Vision's children. (Why an android would have reproductive organs... let's move on). We find out later on that the twins aren't kids with impossible origins, but magic-powered figments of Wanda's imagination. When she wasn't thinking of them on some level, they literally faded from reality. They were "killed off" when minor baddie Master Pandemonium absorbed them into his demonic gestalt body. Recently, the twins were resurrected and aged-up as Wiccan and Speed of The Young Avengers (though their parentage has never been officially confirmed by canon or Word of God).
  • Used to horrifying effect in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume II. During a dinner scene, Mr. Hyde's conversation slowly reveals that he has just brutally raped and partially eaten Hawley Griffin, the Invisible Man, whose blood gradually becomes visible on the walls and table and all over Hyde as Griffin dies in the next room.
  • Advertisement:
  • Averted in an interesting way in Judge Dredd. In the earliest years of the comic (those set in the 2100s) there has been a prophesied doom that would strike in 2120. Judges Dredd and Anderson used an experimental time machine to travel to the future where they find the cause, a psychic entity of huge power known as The Mutant, travel back in time and prevent it coming to pass. However the Zombie Dredd of the future that The Mutant had unleashed to torment Dredd had come back with them. It has become deanimated, but the fact remained that there was now a 13-year-older Judge Dredd corpse in the Black Museum. This being Judge Dredd, it came alive again and ran amok 12 years later, just in time to get everyone nervous about the old prophecy again.
  • Superman:
    • The titular hero's Kryptonian physiology has often been described as a solar battery, absorbing the radiation from Earth's yellow sun and storing it, which powers his flight, invulnerability, and super-cake-baking powers. However, whenever someone wants to shut off Superman's powers, they just bung him in a room with a Red bulb and he becomes as weak as a kitten. The equivalent with a human would be going into a dark room and suddenly deforming with rickets because of massive Vitamin D deficiency.
    • As with anything Supes-related it varies continually, but one explanation bandied around is that red sunlight blocks up the cell mechanisms which use solar energy in a manner analogous to competitive inhibition of enzymes in cell biology. The stored energy is still there, but he can't use it until he's purged the red sunlight clogging up his cells. Still, it doesn't make sense — a light bulb irradiates way, way, way less light than a sun.
    • Even his reaction to red sunlight varies by writer. Sometimes his powers flip off like a switch when exposed, sometimes the light simply weakens him rapidly, and likewise he can recover slowly or quickly. Recently, the Kandorians made a Red Sun gun that fires a burst of red sunlight at a Kryptonian which shuts off their powers completely for an hour even though the exposure is brief.
  • During the Millennium crossover, the Justice League visited the homeworld of the Manhunters and confronted their leader. The entire planet collapsed when the head Manhunter escaped.
  • A major plot point in Lucifer where everything starts to go straight to hell (so to speak) when God up and leaves the universe. Justified in that His name was technically the only thing that was holding each individual atom of creation together in the first place.
  • Briefly mentioned and sort of averted in the JLA special Foreign Bodies, in which the Justice League undergoes one big Body Swap. Green Lantern, stuck in Martian Manhunter's body, points out to Aquaman (in Wonder Woman's body) that at least he got his hand back—all of the characters' unique physical features stay with their bodies, not their minds, as it should be if you only switch minds. He calls it "proof of some kind of thermodynamic 'conservation of anatomy' principle."
  • This is how the powers of a Green Lantern work. The constructs and effects he creates only exist as long as he is thinking about them. However, any impact his constructs have on normal physical matter remains (if he digs a pit with a glowy shovel, the pit remains after the glowy shovel disappears.)
  • In recent decades, this has been a common theme in the Batman mythos:
    • Bruce Wayne is not truly Batman until he puts on the costume; and as soon as he removes his mask, he reverts to being Bruce Wayne. In part this is an in-universe Enforced Trope: Batman must be stupid, incompetent Bruce Wayne while out of costume to preserve his secret identity. However, it is also a psychological internalization in that Wayne believes that, on the level of reality that most matters to him, he doesn't merely dress as Batman but is Batman - and without the costume, he's stripped down to his "skeleton" and not truly alive.
    • The same goes for quite a few of the villains. For example, the Scarecrow's primary gimmick is, of course, scaring people - something that he obviously cannot do as the very unthreatening-looking Dr. Jonathan Crane. But his scarecrow mask and the effect wreaked on the human mind by his fear toxin together make him walking, talking terror made form. Batman fully understands this, and in certain cases that knowledge makes the Scarecrow a pretty easy adversary to defeat. He'll be stalking the streets of Gotham City, terrorizing everyone in his path and boasting about how everyone is too frightened to ever stop him - and Batman will just pull his mask off, revealing a pathetic little man underneath...who now realizes he's surrounded by a huge crowd of his formerly terrified, now angry and vindictive victims.
    • Anarky is a violent left-wing vigilante in a gold death mask (and also wears a broad-brimmed hat and a cape, making him look not unlike the title character of V for Vendetta). His modus operandi is self-righteously punishing the rich and powerful for their unethical business practices. He finally bites off more than he can chew when he targets Batman for assassination, blaming him for all of the crime in Gotham. He interferes in a battle between Batman and (ironically enough) the Scarecrow, which proves disastrous for him when one of the Scarecrow's mind-controlled Mooks punches him in the face, knocking off his gold mask and destroying his confidence so that he reverts to the tongue-tied, peevish, cowardly juvenile delinquent he actually is (and his intelligence plunges as well, so that he goes from a brilliant wit quoting the great minds of literature and history to a stereotypically inarticulate teenager who says "man" a lot.) For extra irony, Anarky is fairly masculine in appearance with his mask on, but without it appears pretty effeminate.
  • This is why the Cosmic Cubes of the Marvel Universe are Awesome, but Impractical. Yeah, they make you a Reality Warper, but you have to keep thinking to make any changes to reality permanent. If your attention goes elsewhere or you fall asleep, everything will go back to normal. This is not always applied consistently, however, as things like Steve's restoration of Bucky's memories at the end of the Winter Soldier arc remain in place after Steve loses the Cube.
  • Mazeworld: The defeat of the Satan-esque Big Bad when the hero performs a Heroic Sacrifice to take them both out causes all the demonic Mooks that he created to vanish.

Example of: