“8-Man” originally ran as a weekly comic strip in Japan from 1960 to 1963, then a half-hour cartoon from 1963 to 1964. The show eventually moved overseas to air on American television as well, starting in 1965. The U.S. version had a few changes to suit American tastes, was re-edited, dubbed into English, and renamed The Eighth Man.
Eighth Man centered on a police detective, Peter Brady (Detective Yokoda in the Japanese version), who was killed. After his death, in true comic book style, Brady’s body was claimed by- who else? – a scientist. The scientist’s name was “Professor Genius” (Professor Tani in the Japanese version) who experimented on the body. While he’d tried it seven times before Brady and failed, Genius’ experiment to bring Brady back to life worked… sort of. He was able to successfully transfer Brady’s life essence into an android with amazing abilities. Kind of an early Robocop.
8-Man would recharge his “atomic energy supply” with a substance manufactured in a laboratory and put in rolled papers, very much resembling cigarettes; a few puffs on his special smokes and 8-Man was revitalized and ready to take on the evildoers of the world.
8-Man wasn’t the only superhero to have a questionable power source (or powers) in that era:
Super Chicken was another who transformed from his alter ego, Cabot Henhouse III, after drinking “Souper Sauce”. (Booze anyone?)
Underdog also seemingly had an addiction problem, getting his powers from popping pills.
Squirrel Girl was a high school student who could control squirrels and used them to fight villains. She also had a 3-4 foot tail, buck teeth, claws (and retractable knuckle-spikes a-la Wolverine), and lips that tasted like hazelnuts… She wanted desperately to be Iron Man’s sidekick, but he rejected her, even after she saved his life- though he did tell her when she was older, perhaps she could join the Avengers.
- Zeitgeist was another Marvel character. After finding out he had super stomach acid, he naturally decided to use it to fight evil. How did he find out about his super power? After getting drunk and making out with a girl, he fell ill and vomited all over her, burning the poor girl’s face and disfiguring her. The good news is that Zeitgeist now realized he had a super power and began using it for good by vomiting all over the bad guys. His stomach acid was so potent, that it could burn through a 4 inch thick steel plate in half a minute.