Follow TV Tropes

Following

Omnidisciplinary Scientist / Comic Books

Go To

Omnidisciplinary Scientists in comic books.


DC Universe

  • Subverted in DC One Million, a techno-organic virus from the far future infects everyone on Earth. The Atom enters Oracle's lymphatic system to examine the virus. He explicitly states that as a physicist he is in no way qualified to come up with a cure, he's just there to gather data for a panel of experts.
  • Rex Tyler, the original Hourman, went through most of his comic-book career specialising in biochemistry, and specifically in variants of one specific Super Serum. Then in JSA All-Stars he suddenly displayed the ability to create a fully functioning AI with a weird sense of humour. (This is a set-up for the fact that by the 853rd century the pharmaceutical company he founded will be experts in "bio-robotics", but even so...)
  • Advertisement:
  • The DC Universe has Lex Luthor. Superman: Birthright establishes Astrobiology to be Lex's forte, but LexCorp started as an Aerospace company that diversified into many fields. For the most part his specialities seem to be Robotics, Engineering and Physics, as well as being a successful businessman and later politician.
  • Mr. Terrific, whose non-metahuman "power" is to be an expert in any field he applies himself to which has led to him holding various completely unconnected doctorates (and still fight crime on the side). It's not just scientific fields. At one point he jumps into a jet fighter and starts flying. When questioned about how he did it without, say, crashing, he claims he's a fast learner.
  • Batman is occasionally portrayed as an Omnidisciplinary Scientist as well, impressively building the JLA Watchtower using Martian, Thanagarian, human and New Genosian tech. It also shows in his detective work, although he does have a computer that appears to be incredibly advanced and considering the members of his Rogues Gallery it's vitally important that he be familiar with chemicals. A side issue in the Tower Of Babel storyline made this explanation explicit. Batman's anti-JLA weapons were specifically adapted from his foes' technologies. Scarecrow's fear gases to give Arthur hydrophobia, Mad Hatter's mind technology to make Wonder Woman think she was locked in battle with an equal opponent and so on.
  • From the Silver Age through the Bronze Age, Superman qualified as well: his powers amped up his intellect along with everything else.
      Advertisement:
    • In the New 52, Superman and Supergirl supporting character Dr. Shay Veritas is stated to be an "omniologist".
  • Varies from incarnation to incarnation, but Batman villain Mr. Freeze occasionally edges into this. His specialty is cryogenics, but he also built the suit that keeps him alive in warm environments and explicitly researches his wife's degenerative disease. While the latter is justifiable (Cryobiology being a real sub-field of cryogenics), building the suit (engineering) is what pushes it into this.
  • Wonder Woman: Former villain turned stalwart lifelong ally Paula von Gunther starts out as seemingly an evil Psychologist who is able to brainwash people into becoming her slaves and acting out her plans. She later develops a chronoscope—that is sometimes treated as an outright Time Machine—, is able to treat Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor's mystical and bizarre injuries and ailments and is suddenly an expert in micro-biology, nuclear energy and anything else Diana may need to consult an expert on.
Advertisement:

Marvel Universe

  • Hank "Ant-Man" Pym started out as an entomologist. His training studying insects also left him able to, among other things, create shrinking particles and artificially intelligent robots. Although perhaps his complete lack of relevant background in the latter field helps explain that particular example of A.I. Is a Crapshoot.
    • One issue of Secret Invasion contained a hilarious but possibly inadvertent sight gag with a board listing the eight or so completely unconnected disciplines that Pym was giving lectures on his cutting edge research in.
    • Further evidence of Hank Pym being this trope in pop up in Mighty Avengers, wherein he is conferred the title of Scientist Supreme of the Earth-616 universe. Though it may or may not have just been Loki screwing with him. In any event, Reed Richards handily outclasses him, sooo...
    • In the Ultimate Marvel universe, on the other hand, Hank Pym is a specialist in cybernetics (which apparently includes both robots and insect control), who claims to have created the Giant Man formula, when actually he "merely" reverse-engineered it based on his wife Janet's mutant DNA. In an argument between the two, Janet hangs a lampshade on this by saying that he's already a great cyberneticist and doesn't need to make people think he's an amazing geneticist as well. Later, after discussing his interrogation of several Spider-Man villains for their scientific secrets, Janet remarks "Oh, so you're a psychologist now?"
  • Naturally, Doctor Doom will not be outdone by the accursed Richards. Many Fantastic Four villains fit this trope, in fact, but Doom is the only one who can claim to rival Reed—he usually claims to be better, with some justification. Doom specialises in robotics and he invented Time Travel, but you'd be hard pressed to find a field he hasn't mastered, scientific or otherwise- physics, astrophysics, engineering, computer science, brain surgery, history, politics, military strategy, literature...He also has at least one area of expertise Reed Richards truly is useless in - magic, as he is an accomplished Evil Sorcerer and was even in the running for Sorcerer Supreme at one point.
    • His Doctorate is, however honorary and self awarded. Not that he's not intelligent and learned enough to possess several, but receiving one from an educational institution would require him to bow to the judgement of inferiors (read- he accidentally blew up his room while opening an interdimensional doorway to Hell and was kicked out of university). Once he conquered his tiny homeland of Latveria he ordered the only university in the country to give him one since, after all, he earned it.
  • Doctor Strange is the most powerful sorcerer in the Marvel universe and was one of the best neurosurgeons in the world prior to a car accident that left him with too much nerve damage to operate again. This presumably had no adverse effect on his actual knowledge of the field. In Doctor Strange: The Oath he mentions that he's maintained his medical license — something which requires yearly certification and a certain number of hands-on hours.
    • While not his medical specialty, he was called on to deliver the twins babies of Scarlet Witch and The Vision. Since they were conceived via magic, his other job served useful as well.
  • Perhaps the ultimate Omnidisciplinary Scientist is Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four, who is openly acknowledged as a genius in every conceivable branch of science, including at least one he invented. However, there is plenty of Lampshade Hanging regarding this, and his multi-disciplinary skills are presented as a sign of his unique genius. Also, he's very rarely able to apply this to Mundane Utility, and as such he's named a trope: Reed Richards Is Useless.
    • This was also lampshaded in the mini-series Fantastic Four: True Story, where Reed said at one point; "This will require me to create an entirely new field of scientific study. Give me a couple of days."
      • Middle-lampshaded when Reed told Hank Pym he's the best biochemist in the world, so he would need weeks to be as good as him. Pym comments it's no wonder that people hate Reed.
    • In Marvel 1602 he invented several disciplines of science. Okay, so he picked out different names, but the dude came up with our modern foundation of science by himself.
    • In Marvel Apes it's established that Reed has a fellowship for achievement in multiple fields of study named after him.
    • One issue of Ultimate Fantastic Four states that Reed Richard's status as this is at least partly due to the nature of his powers. Just as his body has become infinitely flexible and stretchable, his brain has as well, allowing him to adapt his mind to tackle any number of subjects. The mainstream comics also strongly imply this is the case.
    • Former Fantastic Four writer John Byrne has jokingly stated that Reed has one degree, "in Science".
    • It's also possibly-canon that Reed invented — not just discovered, but invented — all the 616 universe's frickin' laws of physics during a time travel stunt with a cosmic entity...based on his knowledge of the laws of physics during his time period.
    • During the Civil War crossover, Reed claimed that he had invented a working theory of psycho-history in college, being inspired by reading Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels. The conclusions he came up with through his psycho-history studies convinced him to throw in with Tony Stark and the Pro-registration side. This may have been an Author's Saving Throw to justify his siding with Stark, as his initial justification, that his uncle was wrong to go up against Joseph Mc Carthy, was not well received by the fans.
    • In one issue, Reed claimed to know more about Pym particles than Hank Pym. Pym's response? "It's on, bitch."
    • During the build-up to Secret Wars, Reed claims to be "fractionally" smarter than Tony Stark, but less adept as a multitasker and less imaginative of a problem solver.
    • Reed's daughter Valeria may well be on her way to surpass her father, flat-out having Super Intelligence as an inborn power.
  • The trope is played with in one Incredible Hulk mini-series; Bruce Banner is found after one of the Hulk's rampages through a town, and all but refusing to let them help him, offers his own help, saying he's a doctor. "Medicine?" He admits he's a physicist, but that he's also a willing pair of hands.
    • Played straight in general with Bruce Banner - he started out as a physicist working on a gamma bomb, but is apparently a skilled enough biologist and engineer to attempt to cure himself of the Hulk several times throughout the comic's history with new antidotes and/or new devices. Some adaptations play the above example straight, implying that he also has an MD. Specifically, the '70s series portrayed him as a physician first and foremost, while his Marvel Cinematic Universe counterpart has seven PhDs and was originally working with gamma radiation in a medical capacity.
    • He's at least adept enough at medicine to set up an impromptu blood transfusion to his critically injured cousin, Jennifer Walters.
  • Oddly enough, Iron Man (Tony Stark) mostly gained this after Stan Lee's writing stint. He was originally and is primarily an electronic and munitions engineer, an ambitious enough combo on its own. However, later writers have seen him brought in to consult on everything from spatial anomalies to medicine.
    • The second animated series, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, extends this retroactively to his father, who is (at the least) versed in physics, engineering, infinite energy creators, biology, neurology, ancient Chinese, ancient Mongolian, mythology, geology, math and geometry.
    • This is also the case in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where he can become an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics... in one night.
  • Reading the early Spider-Man comics, it looks like Peter Parker is also an Omnidisciplinary Scientist. Able to build an electromagnetic device to stop the Vulture one week, and mixing up a chemical concoction to cure the Lizard the next. It seems that Stan Lee gave all of his "scientists" this trait to a certain degree. Later writers seem to try to narrow it down to a single field or two. Incidentally, he eventually got a degree in Biophysics, which is indeed a multi-disciplinary subject that involves applying principles of Physics to biological systems.
    • Interestingly enough, Spider-Man usually goes the other way. Writers can often forget that Peter Parker is (or was) a fledgling super scientist and just cast him as a photographer with above-average intelligence and a secret identity. Considering how many OTHER super-scientists there are in Marvel canon, it's not surprising that they let Parker go his own way. It doesn't come up much, but his actual degree is in Biophysics, which—given his powers—crosses over into Boxing Lessons for Superman.
    • That said, Hank Pym looked at his spider tracers in Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #15 and was shocked that Parker was able to develop something at 15 so akin to Pym's own kit for communicating with ants (which took years to develop), and in the New Avengers Tony Stark made a point of using Spider-Man's science brain rather than his spider powers. This may be considered to have backfired on Stark given that Peter discovered and put his own override on Tony's backdoor into the Iron Spider armor. Older issues though say that his spider-powers give him an intuitive grasp of how to make his spider-tracers (which are attuned to his Spider Sense), so not (wholly) an intelligence feat.
      • Canonically, one alternate future for a non-Spider-Man Peter Parker involves becoming a super-scientist to rival Reed Richards.
      • One issue of Exiles sent them to an Earth that was conquered by Skrulls in the 19th century. When the Skrulls left, the top scientists who studied their technology were Reed Richards, Bruce Banner, and Peter Parker. Reed Richards was the top scientist, but he was only just coming to grips with radio.
    • Doctor Octopus started out as a specialist in the fields of Radiation and robotics, with his specialty in the former being so great that Reed Richards asked him for consultation on the subject once. Ever since Otto has also been depicted as anAstro-physicist, physicist, chemist, and medical surgeon, amongst others. It's worth noting that a lot of these originated during his stint as the Superior Spider-Man, where he basically had to take Peter's place as an omnidisiplinary scientist and decided to do it better.
  • X-Men tried to subvert this and ended up using it perfectly straight with Bolivar Trask, the anthropologist who first considered mutants a menace. Trask built the robotic Sentinels to protect mankind and they immediately turned against him, claiming to be his superiors. Professor X commented that this had happened because Trask was an anthropologist and not a robotic expert, and therefore had an inadequate knowledge of cybernetic brains. Building self-aware robots seems an accomplishment in cybernetics. Then again, doing so seems particularly easy in the Marvel Universe.
    • X-Men also has Xavier himself - not the degree of Hank Pym, but he is at least an expert in genetics and the creator of Cerebro. He's not a half-bad medic either. He also managed to build a jet he could remotely control via telepathy, but no one talks about that anymore.
    • Hank "the Beast" McCoy had his brains undergo an inflation similar to Superman's powers going from Flying Brick in the Golden Age to almighty in the Silver Age. In the early days he was just the best and most studious of the school's students. By now he's a world-renowned expert in every science there is, and when it comes to solving the science-based problem of the week, be it a virus, a killer robot that doesn't respond to Eye Beams, etc. he'll be the one to do it. Officially Reed Richards is the smartest human in the Marvel Universe, but Beast really can stand up to him in the actual count of scientific day-saving moments. Need a device to make the godlike Dark Phoenix's butt temporarily kickable? He'll whip it up in an hour. The Big Bad is using an alien spaceship left behind by The Precursors? He'll pull up a chair and make it work for him in under an hour! Legacy Virus? Get on it, Hank. And somehow, even with the superhero-ing and research work in all fields of science, Hank also finds time to be a regular on the talk show circuit.
      • Interestingly, he's less like this in his Avengers appearances: when you've got a team with Pym, Stark, and Banner you don't need another genius, so he's more of a Boisterous Bruiser with his (considerable) physical powers emphasized (which have also greatly increased since his days as one of the original X-Men; he once casually boasted about being able to bench press 70 tons and his agility has always been on par with Spider-Man). However, that was when he was first with the Avengers, during the interregnum between the original X-Men series and the "all new, all different" one that introduced Storm, Wolverine, etc. This many decades of being the X-Men's resident genius later, it's no longer possible to ignore the brains angle. He keeps his X-Men characterization during Secret Avengers, and in that series he's clearly on par with Pym.
      • Dark Beast, the evil alternate Hank who arrived here from the Age of Apocalypse universe, once posed as "our" Hank and ended up complaining about all the things he was expected to know. (Dark Beast is an expert on genetics, making him seriously bad news to have on the wrong side in this universe. However, genetics is his specialty while the prime Hank's specialty is "everything ever." At one point, that was prime Hank's specialty too, but he's branched out a lot since then, being a medical doctor in addition to having Ph.Ds in genetics and biochemistry and being a self-trained expert in everything else.)
    • The late Silver Age of X-Men includes Super Doctor Astronaut Peter Corbeau, who started out as an astronaut who was also an astrophysicist, but Chris Claremont was soon using him any time the plot called for a scientist or medical doctor. Even his original appearance is somewhat questionable, since he's both a space shuttle pilot and a mission specialist, which are distinct roles in the the actual space program.
    • Moira McTaggart had a similar arc, though she ended up staying on as a long-term supporting character, right up into the 90s.
  • Forge from the X-Men has being omnidisciplinary as his power, in a way. He can invent anything mechanical he puts his mind to. He also has to go and be a sorcerer. And there are no explanations of why he doesn't invent a machine that cures cancer.
    • His mutant talent is along the lines of Mad Science. He can create tremendously complicated machinery that can do anything. He sometimes has to take it apart to figure out how it works. And he therefore doesn't always realize when there will be side effects.

Other

  • The independent comic 3 has as one of the main characters "one of the last generalists, a dabbler in dozens of fields."
  • Darkly subverted and deconstructed in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. Two of Robotnik's henchmen, Cassia and Clove, started working for him because Cassia was dying from an unknown genetic disease and Robotnik offered a cure in exchange for their service, seemingly showing a degree of medical/pathology experience alongside his revolutionary skill in robotics and engineering. Except that's a lie. He hasn't cured Cassia's illness; he's merely supplied them with a chemo-like treatment machine (stolen from somewhere else) that will keep the disease from progressing as long as it's used regularly. He did this because he knew Clove had no loyalty to him, only seeing him as a means to cure her sister, and so needed to ensure that they would need to keep working for him. He even calls Clove out for falling for it when this is revealed; he's an engineer with a minor in physics not a medical doctor so it should've been obvious he couldn't help them, but Clove was too desperate to stop and think.
  • Professor Ludwig von Drake from the Disney Ducks Comic Universe (he has 999 diplomas, including one on diplomology). It's a Running Gag for him to reveal that he happens to be an expert in some obscure and ridiculously specialized branch of science, anything from exploring jungles to reading ancient languages.
  • Like most Silver Age scientists, Bruce Gordon and his evil alter-ego, Eclipso, studied whatever the plot required him to.
  • In Gold Digger, both Gina Digger and her rival Penny Pincer qualify, as they are both able to construct power armor, teleporters, cloaking devices, making and using advanced medical equipment, chemistry, particle physics, AI programming, some forays into time travel, and are joint founders of a new field, 'Beta technology', based on manipulation of 'phantom mass' as well as allowing tapping into the ether stream where magic gets its punch! This multi-talentedness also applies to Erwin 'Peewee' Talon, Dr. Alfred Peachbody and other scientists in universe, but we get to see it in Gina and Penny the most.
    • Handwaved in the instance of Gina. She apparently spent all her time getting degrees, at least until a certain 'incident' that caused her to go boy-crazy. Penny Pincer is also an old-fashioned heart surgeon (Gina actually rattles OFF a few of her degrees in an early comic).
  • Jommeke has Professor Gobelijn, whose official title is "Professor in EVERYTHING". Too bad he is also the resident Absent-Minded Professor, so his inventions often cause problems.
  • Played with in Mortadelo y Filemón. In his first appearance ever, Dr. Bacterio is introduced as a biologist and just a biologist, only specialized in Super Serums. However, he is later stripped of the trait and given instead the role of T.I.A.'s chief scientist, extending his field not only to biology, but also physics, technology and pretty much everything which is needed. The best sign of this evolution is his very title: the series and its adaptations are wildly inconsistent about whether Bacterio is a doctor or a professor, with both titles being pretty much interchangeable for him.
  • Invoked as an Informed Ability for Plaitius the stargazer in Red Sonja: The Art of Blood and Fire. He's a physicist by training but claims to be an expert in biology and chemistry as well. Of course as a medieval scientist the threshold for expertise would be a bit lower than a modern equivalent would expect.
  • Star Wars Legends: Master Thon in Tales of the Jedi is the Jedi version of this. Most Jedi tend to be excellent combatants who specialize in a particular discipline of the Force (such as mental powers, being really excellent in combat, etcetera) with one or two uncommon skills. But if you name a Jedi skill, any skill, Thon is likely to be an expert in it.
  • Professor Barabas from Suske en Wiske can build futuristic machines (including a time machine, a machine for talking to inanimate objects and a machine that can bring persons from paintings and other images to life), and has extensive knowledge about various historical and scientific subjects (including astrophysics and genetic engineering).
  • Tintin. Professor Calculus is apparently versed in engineering (he built a working submarine), astrophysics (the moon rocket), nuclear physics (the nuclear propulsion engine), acoustics (a sonic weapon, though he consults with expert Topolino) and pharmaceutical and oil chemistry (identified the substance that ensured Every Car Is a Pinto and created a pill that makes you hate the taste of alcohol).
  • Peric in The Trigan Empire is the Omnidisciplinary Scientist par excellence. Initially an architect, he later builds a space rocket, invents a machine for turning men into intelligent water (!), discovers an elixir of youth, etc. etc.
  • The older sister from the Valiant series The Troublemakers is also another example coming by this trope with superpowers. She's just more skilled then anyone nearby. Her parents are smart enough to toss her in a lab with some brains to get work done...but not smart enough to keep her away from a crazed near-god.


Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback