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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

ABILITIES
Prowess 3
Coordination 4
Strength 3
Intellect 4
Awareness 4
Willpower 4

Stamina: 7
Determination: 3

SPECIALTIES
Athletics
Deception
Investigation
Performance
Politics Expert
Trivia ("Pop Culture")

POWERS
Corrosion ["Acid Spit"] 10
        Consumption
Supersenses 6
        Enhanced Taste 6

EQUIPMENT
Legion Flight Ring

QUALITIES
  • Connections: The Legion of Super Heroes, Bismoll Senate, Calorie Queen
  • Famous
  • Very good sense of humour
  • Motivation: Matter-Eater Lad believes he should use his abilities to help others
CHALLENGES
  • Enemies: Fatal Five, Black Circle, Renkil Kem, Prince Evillo
  • Personal: Was rendered mad once, when he ate the Miracle Machine (later cured by Brainiac 5)
Points: 55 (impressive!)

ORIGIN STORY
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, good sense of humor, and underrated unarmed combat skills.

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. 

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. In Metropolis, he befriended Mon-El as a diner owner, “Mitch.”

(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 Legionnaires. Converted characters, most of the times, unavoidably exceeds the 45-point limitation that the ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying Game core book recommends. This entry was revised, according to the ICONS Great Power book. ).

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