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The REAL X-Men

By

Nina Kulagina

Nina Kulagina

They have powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men or women. But unlike the characters of the comic book, these extraordinary people were quite real

THE X-MEN MOVIES were huge hits in the theaters. Based on the enormously popular comic book series, X-Men features a collection of human mutants - both good and evil - who were born with extraordinary and sometimes bizarre powers. With such names as Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, Magneto, and Mystique, they bound around making blades spring from their knuckles, conjuring hurricanes from the sky, or manipulating their environment through telekinesis. These characters, creations of legendary comic book author and illustrator Stan Lee, live only in the imagination, on paper, and on film.

Would you believe there are real X-Men? They may not be genetic mutants, in the strictest sense, and they may not be able to threaten or save the world with their strange and fantastic powers of the body and mind, but they are extraordinary... not at all like you and me. Here's our own gallery of real-life super-powered characters.

LIGHTNING MAN

When storm clouds gather, courageous Lightning Man stands in defiance of nature to draw deadly bolts of electricity from the heavens.

Roy Cleveland Sullivan was a Forest Ranger in Virginia who had an incredible attraction to lightning... or rather it had an attraction to him. Over his 36-year career as a ranger, Sullivan was struck by lightning seven times - and survived each jolt, but not unscathed. When struck for the first time in 1942, he suffered the loss of a nail on his big toe. Twenty-seven years passed before he was struck again, this time by a bolt that singed his eyebrows off. The next year, in 1970, another strike burned Sullivan's left shoulder. Now it looked as though lightning had it out for poor Roy, and people were starting to call him The Human Lightning Rod.

Roy didn't disappoint them. Lightning zapped him again in 1972, setting his hair on fire and convincing him to keep a container of water in his car, just in case. The water came in handy in 1973 when, seemly just to taunt Sullivan, a low-hanging cloud shot a bolt of lightning at his head, blasting him out of his car, setting his hair on fire and knocking off a shoe. The sixth strike in 1976 injured his ankle, and the seventh strike in 1977, got him when he was fishing, and put him in the hospital for treatment of chest and stomach burns. Lightning may not have been able to kill Roy Sullivan, but perhaps the threat of it did. He took his own life in 1983. Two of his lightning-singed ranger hats are on display at Guinness World Exhibit Halls.

BEASTMASTER

With just the power of his mind, he can command animals to do his bidding.

Vladimir Durov was no ordinary animal trainer. As a veteran performer in a Russian circus, he claimed to use a remarkable method for communicating with his canine coworkers - through telepathy. Professor W. Bechterev, head of the institute for the Investigation of the Brain in St. Petersburg, decided to test Durov's claim. Bechterev created a list of tasks that he wanted one of Durov's dogs to perform in a specific order, without any time for training.

After hearing or reading the list of tasks, Durov went to his fox terrier, Pikki, took his head in his hands and stared straight into the little dog's eyes - psychically transferring his thoughts directly into Pikki's brain. Durov released the dog and it immediately went about performing the assigned tasks. Thinking that perhaps Durov was giving the dog subtle clues with his eyes, the test was repeated with a new set of tasks, but this time with Durov blindfolded. Pikki still responded to his psychic commands.

THE ELECTROMAGNETO TEAM

Charged like superconducting human batteries, they roam the countryside thrilling all they meet with the electrifying power at their fingertips.

There have been several documented cases of people who apparently possess inexplicable electromagnetic properties:

  • For just a 10-week period in 1846, 14-year-old French girl Angelique Cottin's mere presence made the needles of compasses spin wildly; objects as heavy as furniture would slide away from her if she tried to touch them; objects near her would vibrate unnaturally.
  • Jennie Morgan of Sedalia, Missouri could emit highly-charged sparks from her fingertips that were strong enough to knock people unconscious. Animals would shun her.
  • After an 18-month undiagnosed illness, Canadian teenager Caroline Clare became so magnetized that metal objects, like forks and knives, stuck to her skin. The force was so powerful that another person was required to pull them off.
  • Inga Gaiduchenko, a 14-year-old Soviet student was also highly magnetic. Before members of the Moscow Technological Institute, she showed how spoons and pens stuck to her hands. Even non-metallic objects such as china plates and books were affected.

THE AMAZING KINETITRON

With her thoughts alone, a steely glance or a subtle gesture, she can move inanimate objects at will.

Nina Kulagina became one of the most famous psychics in the Soviet Union in the 1960s because of her amazing feats of telekinesis or psychokinesis. In films smuggled out of the country, Kulagina was shown to be able to move small objects placed before her on a table. Under close scientific observation, Kulagina would hold her hands a few inches above the objects, and in a few moments they would being to slide across the table top.

Wooden matches, small boxes, cigarettes and Plexiglas would all react to her intense concentration. At times, objects would continue to move even when she took her hands away. In the early 1970s, Kulagina was even recruited by the Soviet government to see if she could somehow help a sick Nikita Khrushchev.

Next page: More thrilling adventures with The REAL X-Men!

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