April 21, 2011
We’ve talked a lot about the history of both Gilbert Graham and Alex Thomas as The Standard, their impact on the world, and on the superhero world as a day. But one basic yet crucial aspect of the world’s greatest superhero hasn’t really been talked about in detail. So today, we’re going to discuss The Standard’s superpowers.
As is well known by now, Gilbert Graham got his powers when a meteorite struck his laboratory, showering him with a combination of chemicals and meteoric particles. The exact combination is known only to Gilbert (and, presumably, Alex), which is why we’ve not seen the chemical reaction that created The Standard replicated beyond Fabu-Lad. It’s uncertain what effects were the result of the very specific combination of chemicals concocted in the explosion, and what were a result of the meteorite of unknown origin, but the combination of both resulted in an impressive array of metahuman abilities manifesting themselves within Gilbert Graham.
The first power worth mentioning, the one that arguably captured the public imagination most keenly when he first arrived, is the power of flight. How The Standard is able to do this remains a mystery. His flight is not like that of a bird, there is no flapping of wings involved. When questioned about what it’s like, Alex Thomas had this to say:
It’s hard to explain. It just works. The way I do it, I stretch my hands upwards into the air, push myself upwards, and it’s like lifting off the ground is an extension of that. It just feels totally natural, like it’s a natural function of the human body. It’s almost like there’s muscles in our body we don’t know about that are always there, and it’s just a matter of unlocking them.
Also notable is The Standard’s incredible strength. The upward limit of this strength has never been fully measured, though in their time Gilbert and Alex have, between them, lifted a passenger jet, a truck, a house, a train carriage, a bank vault, a portion of a bridge, and The Gentleman Giant. Interestingly, The Standard may not be the strongest person in the world. Lodestar, San Diego’s masked heroine, claims to be stronger, citing the occasion when she moved the Convention Centre.
The Standard’s powers also grant him a degree of invulnerability. The famous shot above shows Gilbert Graham casually deflecting bullets with the palm of his hand. The Standard is not completely invincible, however. Some of the heavy-duty weaponry created by Zachary Zarthos did leave The Standard with a fair share of cuts and bruises.
Though not generally considered a “speedster”, and not amongst the elite in this field, The Standard is amazingly fast, with far quicker movement and reflexes than a typical human. It has been said that, when averting a bank robbery, he has been known to burst through the door, and have taken out every criminal in the building before the door closes behind him.
In combat, The Standard’s trademark weapon has long been the so-called “energy blasts” he can generate. This intensely bright, crackling energy accumulates around The Standard’s hands, causing them to glow. When focusing and directing this energy, The Standard can launch it at enemies and obstacles like a fireball. The strength of these energy blasts can vary greatly, suggesting the absolute control The Standard has over them. A small blast can be used to disarm or neutralise an enemy, while a massive blast can put a hole in a tank.
Throughout this analysis, when I’ve talked about The Standard, I’ve been meaning in both his incarnations: the original guise of Gilbert Graham, and the current form of Alex Thomas. As far as we can tell, the nature of their powers are exactly the same. This is rather strange, as only Gilbert was in the lab when the meteorite hit – Alex wasn’t even born at that time. Alex has never told anyone how he got the powers to become Fabu-Lad, but an educated guess would suggest that Gilbert Graham was somehow able to recreate the magic formula that turned him into a real-life superhero. He has the key to make a hundred Standards if he so chose, but right now it looks like he won’t be sharing the secret.