Some DC heroes’ origins are less-known and not as charming as others, with some being downright gross.
The Legion of Super-Heroes’ Bouncing Boy got his ability to inflate and bounce around like a ball after drinking a plastic formula.
Deadman was a trapeze artist who was killed during a show by a hook-handed member of the League of Assassins, starting his gloomy supernatural career.

The DC Universe is filled with superheroes who have awe-inspiring origin stories. From Superman rocketing to Earth to Flash being struck by lighting, the beginnings for many DC heroes are bold and iconic. But some superhero’s origins are less-known and not as charming as others. In fact, some are just downright gross.

To be fair, even heroes whose origins are over-the-top, downbeat, or even disturbing can rival the greats. But in a world where there are origins as notable as Batman’s, it’s interesting to look at some of the less friendly backstories of heroes. Read on to discover 15 of the grossest origin stories in DC history.

15 Bouncing Boy

The Legion of Super-Heroes’ Bouncing Boy might be a hero on the level of Superman, but he has no Superman-esque origin. Unlike many Legionaires, Chuck Taine was not born with his powers. Rather, he got his ability to inflate and bounce around like a ball after drinking what he thought was soda. Instead, it was a plastic formula that completely changed his physiology.

14 Deadman

Deadman is the DC Universe’s ghost with the most, and his humble beginnings were actually quite dark. Long before he was an incorporeal spirit, Deadman was a high-flying trapeze artist. Unfortunately, that came to an end when he was killed during a show by a hook-handed member of the League of Assassins. Boston was shot and fell to his death in front of an audience, starting his long and gloomy supernatural career.

13 Jonah Hex

Before Jonah Hex picked up his career as a bounty hunter, he went through a radical and grotesque transformation. After fighting in the Civil War, Hex came across his adopted brother where bad blood forced the two into combat. Jonah lost and was disfigured by having the right side of his face scarred with a heated tomahawk. The injury became Hex’s signature look during his years hunting down outlaws.

12 Blue Devil

Despite his appearance, Blue Devil wasn’t originally a demon of any sort. Rather, Dan Cassidy is a special effects artist who crafted a suit for an in-universe Blue Devil movie. Unfortunately, Dan came into contact with an actual demon who assumed Blue Devil was the real thing and accidentally bonded him to his suit with powerful magics. Ironically, Cassidy later became a devil later after striking a deal with the demon villain Neron.

11 Slobo

Lobo’s otherworldly healing abilities served as the creepy origin for his clone, Slobo. The Main Man was once turned into a teenager (who went by the name Li’l Lobo) and was killed by Parademons. Of course, he was able to reconstitute from his blood, but the droplets accidentally created one smaller, weaker clone, who felt himself unworthy of Lobo’s name and called himself Slobo.

10 The Creeper

If it seems like the Creeper has a connection to the Clown Prince of Crime, that’s because he actually does. Jack Ryder was transformed into his wacky, yellow-skinned alter ego after an experiment. However, it’s later revealed that the science to turn him into the Creeper was derived from Joker Venom. Creeper may be a hero, but he’s got an undeniable connection to DC’s worst villain.

9 Harley Quinn

Speaking of connections to the Joker, there isn’t a fan alive who isn’t aware of the awful things he did to Harley during her first foray into the costumed life. Not only did he lure Harley away from a stable life, he corrupted her by pushing her into a chemical bath that made her like him. Harley has fared far better than the Joker, but she can’t rid herself of the past she shares with the clown.

8 Cyborg

Cyborg is one of the DC Universe’s more tragic heroes. Victor Stone was a promising athlete before he was grievously injured. Much of Vic’s body was destroyed in an accident, forcing his father to save the young man with S.T.A.R. Labs technology and a Mother Box from New Genesis. The results were a success, but Cyborg was forced down a long and painful path to reclaim his humanity.

7 Animal Man

Animal Man’s origin seemed simple enough: He made contact with a downed alien ship that blew up and gave him powers. However, Buddy Baker later discovered that he hadn’t actually survived the encounter. He was killed and his body was rebuilt “cell by cell” by the ship’s passengers, who gave Buddy access to the morphogenetic field that allows him to mimic the powers of animals.

The most tragic member of the Doom Patrol suffered the worst origin of his teammates. As part of Niles Caulder’s bizarre Catastrophe Theory, Cliff Steele’s body was destroyed during the Indy 500 and only his brain could be salvaged. The last human part of Cliff has been hosted in dozens of bodies since then, each one causing Cliff to feel less and less connected to his humanity.

5 Mother Panic

Mother Panic is the result of crime happening right under Batman’s nose. Violet Paige was once a resident of the Gather House, a boarding school that experimented on its students and trained them to be killers. Violet escaped but suffers lingering trauma from her experiences. Despite gaining enhanced strength and reflexes, the mechanical augmentations that make them possible wear down and cause Mother Panic considerable pain.

4 Beast Boy

Beast Boy might be a jovial prankster, but the way he gained his powers was quite disturbing. Garfield Logan traveled with his parents when he contracted a terminal illness. His parents used an experimental procedure involving a West African green monkey to save their son’s life. It worked, but Gar was changed forever. Not only was he turned completely green, but he could change into any animal on Earth.

Rex Mason was an adventurer who traveled the world in search of rare items. A trip to an Egyptian pyramid put Mason into contact with a rare meteorite. The meteorite radically transformed the man, breaking down every cell in his body. He survived and gained the power to transmute into any element, but his appearance was permanently changed.

2 Swamp Thing

Swamp Thing’s origin is as disgusting as it is sad. Scientist Alec Holland was once a normal man working on a project in the swamp lands until he was murdered, later a monster emerged from the swamp, containing all thoughts and memories from Holland. Holland was dead, and in his place was a being composed of roots and moss that was connected to all plant life in the world.

1 Plastic Man

Plastic Man was once a regular crook until a job changed his life forever. After a crime went sideways, Eel O’Brian was shot and exposed to a mysterious chemical. This concoction completely broke O’Brian’s body down, but he was able to reform with an incredibly malleable body. With the desire to finally go straight, Eel used his new abilities to become Plastic Man, a hero who could mold himself into literally anything.

There are plenty of messed-up origins in the DC Universe, but these 15 stand above the rest as some of the most perturbing.

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