The AudioFile: Sonic Weapons, Justice League-Style

Traveling through the Scottish countryside with fellow writer Todd Seavey, who has written a couple of storylines for Justice League comic books, I began to doze off. Todd had just told me one of his storylines, so I began daydreaming about the various members of the League in terms of how these heroes might make use of bleeding-edge sonic weaponry. After all, even superheroes can benefit from military technology. Here, true believers, is what bubbled up from the depths of my jetlagged brain.

(Geek note: On Todd’s advice, I used the classic Justice League lineup from the 1970’s cartoon. That is, except for Martian Manhunter, who wasn’t in the original animated series. Deal with it.)

Wonder Woman: Masking sight and sound
Her personal jet is invisible to the eye, so why not make it inaudible using the latest experimental sound-cloaking technology. The US military is messing around with stuff this in an effort to create a field around tanks that effectively cancels out noise from clunky treads and whining motors so the enemy won’t hear you coming. Wonder Woman would have a leg up on the military, since the enemy usually has eyes as well as ears. Then again, a scantily clad woman zooming through the air (as she herself always seemed to be visible) is pretty conspicuous no matter how silent.

Superman: High volume hurtin’
Surely the Man of Steel also has Lungs of Steel as well. The US military often uses high-volume audio to flush bad guys out of hiding–like when they played some really loud AC/DC to blast Noriega out of hiding in 1989. If it’s good enough for the military, it’s good enough for the Son of Jor-El. Of course, Superman doesn’t need high-energy PA systems like the one the US used from Power Sonix. If he can manage to take a few singing lessons, he can learn to sing some ultrasound tones that are capable of liquefying living tissue–or shatter Kryptonite at a distance!

Batman: Sonic bullets
The king of high-tech gadgets in the DC universe would easily be able to incapacitate evildoers with a portable sound cannon, much like the one Tom Cruise’s character used in Minority Report. The military has been testing such devices, which emit non-lethal sonic “bullets”. The bullets are made of low-frequency sounds that can really knock you around–presumably Batman would be able to modify it to produce the brown note, sending superbaddies running for clean tights.

Aquaman: All-natural sonic weapons
Aquaman’s telepathic powers allow him to communicate with sea life, making him the perfect candidate for 100 percent all-natural sonic weapon s. For example, he could mentally ring up his tiger pistol shrimp friends and request that they perform one of nature’s coolest audio tricks: emitting a powerful, focused sound wave to stun his enemies while he either escapes or kicks some tentacled butt. No shrimp around? No sweat–scientists think sperm whales and dolphins may be able to do a similar thing.

Flash: Runnin’ down a frequency
When something moves fast enough, it creates a sonic boom that packs quite a punch. It’s a wonder the Flash never took advantage of this, given his impressive speed capabilities. If he could just figure out exactly how fast he needed to run to create a good 7Hz rumble, he could bring down buildings just by circling them at the right speed. Maybe not as cool as Superman circling the earth to travel in time, but not bad.

Green Lantern: Pure energy infrasound
The Green Lantern can create quasi-solid shapes out of energy emitted from his power ring, enabling him to fabricate, say, an infrasound weapon–too large and cumbersome for mere humans to handle. This would let him produce low frequency sounds (under 20Hz) at a painful 145dB, causing some pretty weird and debilitating effects in humans, including visual distortion, nausea, and even (at high volume) rupturing eardrums and internal organs. Not to mention seriously shaking up anything in its path.

Martian Manhunter: Bad to the bone (conduction)
Bone conduction technology transmits sound to your eardrum via your skull for things like communication headsets in environments where there’s no air available to transmit sound waves. The high altitudes Martian Manhunter experiences when he’s flying around are a perfect application for this; sure, he has telepathic powers for talking to his compatriots, but he’s not always up for being inside someone else’s head. He could use this equipment to communicate without getting, say, images of Batman’s fantasies about Wonder Woman.

Some of this remains science fiction, but some of it will be making its way into local law enforcement for applications like crowd control. So watch your ass ears next time you’re out protesting cruelty to animals Tamagotchis.