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The Human Bomb was first published by Quality Comics in the 1940s, and decades later by DC Comics after it acquired Quality's characters. Police Comics #1 also featured the first appearances of Plastic Man and the Phantom Lady, among others.
Roy Lincoln was originally a scientist working with his father on a special explosive chemical called "27-QRX." However, when Nazism|Nazi spies invaded his lab and killed his father, he resorted to ingesting the chemical to prevent it from falling into their hands. As a result, Lincoln gained the ability to cause explosions in any object he came into contact with, particularly through his hands; the only way to control it was to always wear special asbestos] gloves (which were subsequently retconned into "fibro-wax" gloves after the human health hazards of asbestos were discovered). Donning a containment suit to prevent any accidental explosions, Lincoln became the "Human Bomb," removing his gloves only to expose his explosive powers against Nazi and Japanese enemies, as well as ordinary criminals. He later gained enough control over his powers to be able to remove the containment suit, though the gloves were always necessary.
A Human Bomb feature continued in Police Comics through issue 58, published in September, 1946. During that run, he was given a comic relief sidekick named "Hustace Throckmorton," who acquired a power like the Human Bomb's (though instead centered in his feet) after receiving an emergency blood transfusion from the superhero. Throckmorton was then briefly replaced by three youngsters who were collectively called "the Bombardiers."
After Quality Comics went out of business in 1956, DC Comics acquired the rights to the Human Bomb as well as the other Quality Comics properties. The Human Bomb remained unpublished until he and several other former Quality properties were re-launched in Justice League of America #107 (October, 1973) as the Freedom Fighters. As was done with many other characters DC had acquired from other publishers or that were holdovers from Golden Age titles, the Freedom Fighters were located on a parallel world, in this case called "Earth-X" on which Nazi Germany won World War II. The team were featured in their own series for fifteen issues (1976-1978), in which the team temporarily left Earth-X for "Earth-1" (where most DC titles were set). The Human Bomb was then an occasional guest star of All-Star Squadron, a superhero team title that was set on "Earth-2", the locale for DC's WWII-era superheroes, at a time prior to when he and the other Freedom Fighters were supposed to have left for Earth-X.
The character then appeared with the rest of DC's entire cast of superheroes in Crisis on Infinite Earths, a story that was intended to eliminate the similarly confusing histories that DC had attached to its characters by retroactively merging the various parallel worlds into one. This erased the Human Bomb's Earth-X days, and merged the character's All-Star Squadron and Freedom Fighter histories so that the Freedom Fighters were merely a splinter group of the Squadron.
Lincoln was shown as retired and frail in several issues of Damage in the mid-1990s, but he then subsequently appears as the Human Bomb in several issues of JSA in 2003. His death was depicted in Infinite Crisis #1 (Oct, 2005) at the hands of Bizarro, when the Freedom Fighters fought with the Secret Society of Super Villains. After the Human Bomb killed Doctor Polaris in a fit of rage, Bizarro attacked the Bomb, hammering his face to produce more colorful explosions. Lincoln's body was pulped by the brutal beating received, his explosive nature not harming the impervious Bizarro. The explosions stopped even though Bizarro continued punching, indicating that the power ended at the instant of death.
Blüdhaven|Crisis Aftermath: The Battle For Blüdhaven #1, introduces a character named Andy Franklin, a former scientist caught in the blast that destroyed Blüdhaven who had been held as an experiment in the secret internment camps within the shattered city. He is referred to in the story as "some kind of human bomb." With issue #2, he becomes the new Human Bomb, first displaying his powers in Blüdhaven #3 when he plucks off a piece of his fingernail, flicks it, and kills an oncoming troop of Atomic Knights in the resulting explosion. He is a lifelong fan of Green Lantern, even refusing to attack him during the Battle For Blüdhaven series. In Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters #2, Uncle Sam remarks that a drop of Franklin's sweat would be sufficient to level Manhattan. Andy is highly emotional, and is hurt deeply because his teammates refer to him as a freak because of his destructive powers. He has a higher sense of morality than his teammates, however he has shown that he will use lethal force when he sees his friends hurt. Andy seems to be more powerful then his predecessors, as seen in Uncle Sam and The Freedom Fighters #2, when he created a concussive blast just by slamming his gloved fists together. Andy's condition requires him to take special medication developed by SHADE, otherwise he will involuntarily explode.
- In Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Kingdom Come series, the Human Bomb is briefly seen in issue # 2 in the metahuman bar where Superman was recruiting for the Justice League. This is a younger, amoral Human Bomb. The original Human Bomb is a member of the Justice League in the Kingdom Come series.
In the final issue of 52, a new Multiverse is revealed, originally consisting of 52 identical realities. Among the parallel realities shown is one designated "Earth-10". As a result of Mister Mind "eating" aspects of this reality, it takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-X, including the Quality characters. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the panel in which they appear, but a character visually similar to the Roy Lincoln Human Bomb appears.
Allusions in pop culture
In "The Education of Jaime Sommers" episode of Bionic Woman, Tom Gilchrist (played by Jordan Bridges) notes "One of my favorite comic books was The Freedom Fighters. There was a character called The Human Bomb" -- and pulls back his tuxedo jacket to reveal explosives strapped to his body.