Yes, I know Marvel characters don’t smoke anymore, but I’m sure they’re doin’ it off-panel.

§ July 10th, 2024 § Filed under what § 14 Comments

From What If? #8 (1978) by Don Glut, Roy Thomas, Alan Kupperberg, and Jim Mooney):

That’s Marvel supervillain the Owl threatening Daredevil with a device specifically designed to overwhelm ol’ Hornhead’s extra-sensitive senses.

Now, the hooting, textually the Owl’s own hooting, has got to be annoying to everyone just on its own, whether you have super-hearing like Daredevil or not. But the odors…the odors. You generally don’t think about smells in a comic book, except when there’s a scratch-n-sniff cover (like this or this or God help us, even this).

But wondering what smells exactly the Owl is emitting from his marchine…I just picture people walking into this room, gettin’ a snootful, and crying out “oh Good Lord, it smells like an owl’s nest in here!” And by extension, one starts to think about what all these superheroes and villains smell like, runnin’ around and getting into scraps and building up the sweat in their fancy costumes. Aquaman smelling like salt water all the time. Wolverine smelling like stale cigar smoke. Man-Thing…okay, he doesn’t have a costume, but he’s a walking swamp, c’mon son. Swamp Thing at least can command flowers on him to emit pleasant scents, covering his filth with perfume like 18th century French royalty.

Anyway, superheroes — probably stinky.

14 Responses to “Yes, I know Marvel characters don’t smoke anymore, but I’m sure they’re doin’ it off-panel.”

  • Sean Mageean says:

    It all makes me wonder why The Owl didn’t have his own henchwomen–“The Hooters”…

  • Oliver says:

    There’s one issue when Man-Wolf falls into a pond and another character comments on his ‘wet dog’ smell…

  • Tom W says:

    The odour of Cerebus’s wet fur is famously unpleasant, but he’s not a superhero. There’s a line in Crisis Times Five, Grant Morrison’s JSA-JLA team-up, where Wildcat’s talking about how he used to ‘sweat like crazy’ in their old base and a fellow member says ‘Ted… we noticed.’

  • King of the Moon says:

    Pretty much anyone on the floor of a Con on Day 3….

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    I know Spider-Man’s commented several times over the years something along the lines of “with my spare costume damaged, I just haven’t had the time to wash my regular costume. Yech!”

    I bet Captain America smells nice. I’m thinking a subtle splash of old-school aftershave.

    I think Storm smells like petrichor.

  • Thom H. says:

    Also from Morrison’s JLA: Flash apologizing to Wonder Woman about the smell of his boots…as he rests them on the dashboard of her invisible jet.

  • Jon H says:

    Maybe he smells like fresh owl pellets.

    I’m wondering about the transition between those two bubbles. Was there a middle bubble we don’t see?

    Because “always be ready for the unexpected. Which amplifies…” doesn’t make any sense.

  • Mikester says:

    Jon – I think it’s following up on dialogue from a previous panel. I’ll have to check.

  • Robert Dahlen says:

    Let us not consider what 70s Hulk smelled like, especially with his fondness for beans…

  • Snark Shark says:

    The Owl LOOKS like someone who’d be stinky!

    “what 70s Hulk smelled like, especially with his fondness for beans”


    That’s a real line of dialogue… from when an enemy gassed the Defenders, not from Hulk’s eating habits.

  • Oliver says:

    On the subject of Swamp Thing, R.I.P. Michael Zulli, who drew Swampy exquisitely — including the infamous, never-published issue when he met Jesus Christ.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Michael Zulli”

    That sucks. That unpublished issue sounded damned interesting, too.

    “Peter B. Gillis, 1952-2024”

    This also sucks! His writing on Micronauts: The New Voyages was GREAT. Probably far greater than M:TNV had any right to be.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @Snark Shark

    Thanks for the link to The Comics Journal obituary article on Peter B. Gillis. I always enjoyed his writing.

  • Snark Shark says:

    you’re welcome!

    Ii only knew about that because I was looking on TCJ for something else.

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