Within the context of The Umbrella Academy storyline, Sir Reginald Hargreaves numbers his adopted offspring from one to seven, with each displaying special powers from an early age that are developed by their adopted father until they are ready to become a crime-fighting team during their teenage years.
Number One, later to become known as Luther, or Spaceboy, has super strength and is eventually assigned to a clandestine moon programme following a critical injury during a mission to thwart a biochemical threat.
Sir Reginald is forced to draw upon a serum derived from a gorilla to save his life… causing Luther to lose focus and become bitter about his condition. In an effort to provide focus for him, he is sent to the moon to watch out for further threats to humanity and report back to his father.
Luther remains alone in exile on the moon until Sir Reginald’s mysterious death once again unites the family after years of separation.
Number Two, who becomes known as Diego, or The Kraken, has the ability to hold his breath indefinitely and displays telekinetic or psychokinetic powers that allow him to control objects, literally giving him an edge when it comes to throwing knives as he can change their direction in mid-air.
Number Three, Allison, becomes known as The Rumor due to her power to influence people’s thoughts by whispering “I heard a rumour” to them, which allows her to manipulate their perception of reality.
The main power of Klaus (Number Four, or The Seance) is psychic channeling, which allows him to both see and communicate with the dead; while Five (or The Boy) disappears into the future at the age of 13 after overstepping his ability to travel through time. Five had been given a name but it was unspoken for so long that he, and his siblings, have no recollection of what it was.
Number Six, Ben or The Horror, is deceased and only able to interact with Klaus. One of the more powerful members of the academy, he met a gruesome and mysterious end during one of their teenage missions. His power is to manifest “Eldritch monsters” from other dimensions under his skin, which most often appear as tentacles emerging from his torso.
Finally there’s Number Seven, Vanya or The White Violin, who is identified as being the weakest of the children, apparently displaying no special powers other than a keen talent for music. However, this is due to Sir Reginald medicating her from an early age because in fact her powers are too strong for her to be able to get a handle on and can manifest as incredibly destructive sound waves capable of harming people and destroying objects.
All mind-boggling stuff that is purely in the realms of fantasy? Well, not so much... research into all these “powers” has been going on through secret black-budget government projects for most of my lifetime… covert research that has been partially declassified, although has been largely kept covered up.
Surely by now the research has either proven, one way or the other, whether such powers are within the reach of mankind? So, are they?
Well, despite huge advances in our understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum that exists all around us, our ability to perceive the forces that exist remain almost negligible.
The human eye can sense the visible light part of the electromagnetic spectrum as seeing predators and finding food in this range was critical to our survival. We can also sense the infrared part of the spectrum as heat, but we are not able to see it without technology that has been developed for this purpose.
In fact humans can't sense any wavelength higher than the colour violet, which is why we can easily get sunburned by ultraviolet radiation and sense nothing when we undergo X-rays. We also can't sense electromagnetic energy lower than infrared and most of the higher-range radiation is filtered out by the Earth’s atmosphere.
However other lifeforms on this planet can sense different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum aside from the visible range. Some birds can see in ultraviolet light and reptiles can sense infrared radiation, which they use for hunting. Other animals use sonar to navigate and can generate large electrical charges, while there are some that can change skin colour to camouflage themselves or even modify their shape.
So, who knows what science is capable of once we develop a better grasp of what lies beyond what we can see, sense and hear?
Advances in genetic engineering and gene editing using CRISPR techniques to alter specific DNA strands is perhaps one of the most revolutionary breakthroughs of the last decade, so much so that it is relatively easy to work with under basic laboratory conditions.
Some of the main concerns surrounding CRISPR are ethical, its simplicity to use making it available to a huge group of biologists who may not obey moralistic principles when putting it to use.
One widely documented use for the technology, which appeared in the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology, has been “buffed-up” beagles, with researchers in China having genetically engineered a pair of beagles to be more muscular.
The researchers mutated a muscle gene in the beagles to test the effects of CRISPR, having identified that “myostatin” gave bully whippets and Belgian Blue cattle bulky muscles without impacting on the animals’ health.
Lai Liangxue and her colleagues at the South China Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Guangzhou injected the gene editor into 35 beagle embryos and, of 27 puppies born, two exhibited edited genes.
A female puppy named Tiangou had both copies of the myostatin gene mutated in all of her cells and at four months old showed more muscular thighs than her unedited sister. A male puppy, Hercules, who carried double mutations in most, but not all, of his cells, wasn’t more muscular than other four-month-old puppies. But both dogs packed on more muscle as they matured, and Lai said their fur may have been concealing how ripped they really are.
The small hounds are simply one application of the technology applied to a menagerie of gene-edited animals that apparently also includes pigs and monkeys.
But bulking up beagles is one thing, using CRISPR to make a super soldier is another… although it may surprise people to know that declassified Soviet documents reveal that even before World Ward II Josef Stalin had ordered his scientists to attempt to cross humans with apes in a bid to develop a super warrior.
The Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia’s top animal breeding scientist Ilya Ivanov was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super soldier after Stalin’s demand was passed on to the Academy of Science by the Politburo in 1926.
So allegedly the biologist, an expert in artificial insemination who had used his ground-breaking methods to create an assortment of hybrid animals, set out for Guinea in French West Africa, where he planned to perform one of the world’s most sensational experiments.
At the time the story was a media sensation but when no ape-man hybrid materialised from Ivanov’s laboratory the fuss died down and his research was forgotten.
But at the start of the 20th century the biologist was internationally acclaimed for his pioneering work in artificial insemination, with his first big project being to enhance Russia’s imperial horses by using sperm from the best stallions.
From this he started research into hybridisation and soon had produced a zeedonk (zebra-donkey hybrid), a zubron (European bison-cow cross) and various combinations of rats, mice, guinea pigs and rabbits.
In 1910 he told a gathering of zoologists that it might even be possible to create hybrids between humans and their closest relatives, which he found himself working towards less than two decades later.
On his first visit to Guinea Ivanov was not able to find sufficiently mature subjects for his experiment so he left for Paris, where he worked on ways to capture and subdue chimps at the Pasteur Institute. This saw him working with celebrated surgeon Serge Voronoff, inventor of a revolutionary “rejuvenation therapy” that involved grafting slices of ape testes into rich and ageing men hoping to regain their former vigour.
Together he and Ivanov made headlines by transplanting a woman’s ovary into a chimp called Nora and then inseminating her with human sperm.
While the press waited for the outcome, reporters turned their attention to Ivanov’s unusual ape-human hybrid project through which he managed to inseminate three apes… although none conceived. So Ivanov headed home from Guinea with 20 chimps to stock an ape nursery in the Soviet republic of Abkhazia.
Only four chimps made it there and while the nursery set about acquiring more apes, Ivanov looked for volunteers for a second experiment to inseminate women with chimp sperm… allegedly he found five.
But although the nursery did get hold of an assortment of apes, they never flourished, and by the time Ivanov was ready to proceed the only adult male left was Tarzan, a 26-year-old orangutan… but he died of a brain haemorrhage before the experiment went any further.
More chimps arrived in Abkhazia by 1930 but by this time Ivanov had fallen victim to Stalin’s widespread purge of scientists and was exiled to Kazakhstan, where he died a year later.
So it would seem an ape-human hybrid did not materialise in 1930 but we’re now 90 years into the future and the field of genetic engineering has advanced dramatically, with the recent advances in CRISPR technology bringing buffed-up beagles into the world.
Odds on scientists now being able to develop super strong traits in embryos? I’d say pretty good. Odds on that strength being enhanced by some form of CRISPR gene-edited serum? Again, pretty good.
And, before we move on to Part Three, what about Luther being banished to the moon? Well, look into Project Horizon and Project Moon Shadow, as well as the testimony of Randy Cramer, a 20-year military veteran who allegedly served as part of a secret US space initiative that included a tour of duty in an elaborate, fully-equipped base on the dark side of the moon!
About the Creator
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