- Unstable molecules
Unstable molecules are a piece of fictional technology featured in
Marvel Comics. They exist as a configuration of unknown atomic nucleiand electrons that are responsive to certain energized matter around them. Developed by Reed Richards ( Mister Fantasticof the Fantastic Four), unstable molecules are typically utilized in fabrics for superheroor supervillaincostumes, allowing the fabric to conform with the wearer's form and to not succumb to the wearer's powers. For example, as Mr. Fantasticstretches, his costume stretches with him instead of tearing. The same goes for his teammates: the Invisible Woman's costume goes invisible when she does and the Human Torch's costume doesn't burn when he activates his powers. Essentially, it acts as an extension of the wearer's skin.
Unstable molecules are not generally employed by heroes other than the Fantastic Four, whose day-to-day clothes are treated with them to allow for use of their powers in situations that do not require their uniforms, although Mr. Fantastic has, on rare occasion, gifted fellow superheroes with costumes of the material (most notably the
X-Men's costumes, as well as Henry Pym's). The formula has occasionally been stolen by supervillainssuch as the Mad Thinker(who used it to create Awesome Andy), as well. It was also swiped by Taylor Industries, the company owned by Night Thrasher. Reed Richards allowed Thrasher's team, the New Warriorsto keep the costumes they had, so they could fight crime more effectively. The Power Packhad costumes made of unstable molecules manufactured for them by the Kymellian smartship Friday; as the alien Kymellians had no direct contact with Earth natives prior to this, it's possible that they developed their own form of unstable molecules, as certain Kymellians naturally develop super-powers.
The molecules also had a downside. The
Trapsteronce defeated Reed Richards through the use of a white powder which rendered unstable molecules inert, thereby preventing Reed's suit from stretching with him.
Although a potentially lucrative commercial enterprise, unstable molecules are deemed too dangerous for use by the public in general - when a fashion designer procured a small sample of unstable-molecule fabric and attempted to have the process reverse engineered, the "lock" kept on the molecules by Mr. Fantastic was undone, unleashing their instability, which spread to neighbouring molecules in a chain reaction that dissolved surrounding matter, including humans. The reaction was thankfully contained by the
To a certain extent the phrase has become a source of humour regarding the pseudo scientific explanations that arose during the
Silver Age of Comics.
*The name was also used in the name of "", an
Eisner Award-winning miniseries published by Marvel in 2004, and written by James Sturmwith artwork by Guy Davis.
*Unstable molecules have become a common material by the time of the
Marvel 2099line of comics, to the extent that Miguel O'Hara, Spider-Man 2099, had a Day of the Deadcostume made of them.
*Slapstick has a body composed of living unstable molecules dubbed "Electroplasm". Similarly, Morph of the Exiles once said his body is made of Unstable Molecules.
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