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Tenzil Kem (Pre-Zero Hour): Misc


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Up to date as of February 01, 2010

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Legionnaire, politician, holovision show host, tutor, savior of the damned


Place of Birth

Image:Quote1.png Jam? That gives me an appetite--and you don't want to give me an appetite...! K-K-KRUNCH! Image:Quote2.png
-- Tenzil Kem



Pre Zero Hour

Matter-Eater Lad is the fifteenth member inducted into the Legion of Super-Heroes, joining soon after Bouncing Boy. In his first appearance, Matter-Eater Lad explains his origins, saying that the natives of Bismoll found that microbes had made all their food inedible, and that the populace evolved their ability to eat all matter as a survival mechanism. [1] Tenzil's mother is named Mitz Kem. His brother, Renkil, tries to take Tenzil's place in the Legion during one story (Superboy #184). He has an unrequited crush on Shrinking Violet, which features for the bulk of the Legion's run in Adventure Comics, and recurs much later during the controversial "SW6" storyline.

He appears rarely in Legion stories, as the writers struggled with the problem of how to make his power useful in a fight and was routinely written out via a plot device where Tenzil was constantly being drafted into his planet's political system due to his fame as a Legion member. Matter-Eater Lad does have one major moment of heroism though, saving the universe in Superboy and The Legion of Super-Heroes #251 by eating the previously thought to be indestructible Miracle Machine, though the energies of the device leave him insane for several years.

It was not until the controversial launch of Legion of the Super-Heroes, volume 4, that the character becomes a major figure in the Legion series. Keith Giffen, who had much success with humor in his 1987 Justice League relaunch, revamped Tenzil Kem as a free spirit who rebels against his planet's virtual enslavement of him as a senator by becoming a multi-media celebrity, using his planet's tax money to finance multiple television shows that allow Tenzil to leave his planet for multiple trips to Earth and other planets for adventure and fun. Ironically, while Tenzil's exploits make him persona non-grata with his world's rulers, they make him even more popular with the masses of his homeworld, resulting in Tenzil being kept on as senator. Tenzil eventually comes into conflict with former Legion villain Prince Evillo, founder of The Devil's Dozen, and is sent to a Hades-like dimension. Having been technically "dead," Kem is voted out of office by the opposition party (who dislike both his disrespect for their traditions and his overwhelming popularity) and leaves Bismoll to find adventure.

Tenzil ultimately arrives on Earth and uses his force of will and absurdist sense of humor to free fellow Legion member Polar Boy from prison when Polar Boy is imprisoned unjustly by the Dominator-controlled Earthgov for speaking out against the Dominators. Tenzil rejoins the Legion, and since the team is now operating without the assistance of the United Planets, his political connections and owed favors become very important to the now-adult Legion. Matter-Eater Lad ultimately seduces and marries former Legion villain Saturn Queen.

Powers and Abilities



Matter-Eater Lad can eat any substance in any amount at super-speed. To his Bismollian appetite ray-guns taste "good", iron chains are "like chocolate cake", prison-robot fingers are "just as tasty" as ladyfingers and polymeric fibers "taste like taffy". Certain space-jewels, however, while edible are not as favorable to the Bismollian palate and are an "acquired" delicacy.

He can consume an unlimited amount of matter in any form - solid, liquid or gas. He once hollowed out a big meteor.

Component Analysis: Bismollian super-taste buds can instantly analyze the compositions of various foodstuffs and even detect substances which are poisonous to non-Bismollians. As well he can determine the nature of various chemicals in substances.

Digestive Enzymes: Their power to eat hard objects, like steel, without having super-strength or invulnerability, stems from the Bismollian ability to produce a variety of digestive enzyme that act on specific substances, making them easier to chew and digest. Once, when Computo had robbed him of his matter-eating ability, biting into a piece of steel hurt his teeth.

Metabolism Induced Super-Speed: Bismollians can metabolize food almost instantaneously, and need to, given the rate at which they can consume tons of food in minutes. The explanation of this apparent super-speed is as follows: Bismollians don't normally possess super-speed but as soon as the digestion process begins, the matter consumed is immediately transformed into food energy by the Bismollian "stomach". That energy fuels the person to move at a faster and faster rate of speed, as long as the energy supply keeps coming. When the person stops eating, the excess energy is collected and stored, in concentrated form, in cells very similar to human fat cells. Over the course of a couple of days, this stored energy is micro-diffused out of the body through pores in the skin.[original research?]


  • In The Fairly Oddparents, Chester's superhero alter ego is "Matter Muncher Lad."
  • Indie rock band Guided by Voices wrote a song called "Matter Eater Lad."
  • In an unauthorized comic written and drawn by fan artist Fred Hembeck, Matter-Eater Lad is awarded a trophy for the all-time most ludicrous super-power. He responds by eating the trophy.

See Also

Links and References

  • [ an episode of the Legion of Super Heroes animated series, Matter-Eater Lad appears (in his civilian identity as Tenzil Kem) as a participant in the Intergalactic Games, an Olympics-like event in which Lightning Lad also competes. When the Fatal Five attack the Games, Kem, along with Jo Nah of Rimbor, helps the Legion defeat them, at one point eating through the handle of the Persuader's Atomic Axe. He does not have a speaking part in the episode.

He reappears in the episode The Substitutes, where he tries out for the Legion as Matter-Eater Lad and gains membership. He distinguishes himself by calmly eating an ionosphere-eating monster without a worry - and notes it tasted like chicken. Matter-Eater Lad at]

  • Matter-Eater Lad at Wikipedia
  • Hero History: Matter-Eater Lad, Or, "With A Name Like Matter-Eater Lad, You KNOW He’s Got To Be Good...", by Matthew Peterson, at Major


Wikipedia This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Matter-Eater Lad. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with DC Database, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Legion of Super-Heroes member
This character is or was a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes from the 30th/31st Century, in any one of their various continuities. Including but not limited to, the Original Continuity, the Post-Zero Hour Legion, and the "Threeboot" Continuity.
This template will categorize articles that include it into the "Legion of Super-Heroes members" category.

This article uses material from the "Tenzil Kem (Pre-Zero Hour)" article on the DC Comics wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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