5 Important Things You Won't Believe Comic Books Invented

#2. D.B. Cooper Was Inspired by a Comic Book Character


The legend of D.B. Cooper is a classic unsolved mystery. All you really have to know is that Cooper was the alias given by a man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in 1971 for a ransom of $200,000. He then parachuted out of the plane with his money, never to be seen or heard from again, securing a future of infamy and being a convenient plot twist on syndicated television. It's a mystery that's baffled investigators, FBI agents, and conspiracy theorists for decades and is the only unsolved air piracy case in American history.

Somehow we expected the face of air piracy to not look like our old principal.

Literally hundreds of people and TV shows have tried to solve the mystery of D.B. Cooper, and what's crazy is that the majority get the most basic part of the story wrong: Cooper's name. Of course D.B. Cooper wasn't the hijacker's real name, but it wasn't even the fake name he gave during the robbery: He actually told the stewardess on the flight that his name was Dan Cooper. Shortly after the robbery, the FBI interviewed, and cleared, a man named D.B. Cooper, and the media got the name wrong from that point on and never corrected themselves, because it's not like it's their job to deal in facts or anything.

"The Cooper story's getting stale. They just released a picture of his tie. Say he strangled
someone with it, keep it interesting ... maybe make his tie a snake, too."

The name distinction is important, as it led to one of the few leads in the case when the FBI learned that Dan Cooper is also the name of the main character in a French comic book that was popular in Europe around the time of the hijacking. It even turns out that the fictional Dan Cooper is a French-speaking air force pilot (he's French-Canadian, though, so think less surrendering and more Wolverine flying a jet while chugging maple syrup out of the bottle). The cover of one Dan Cooper comic released around the same time even showed Cooper parachuting out of a plane, and another had a ransom delivered by knapsack, just like the real-life robbery.

"I like the idea of this, but with money. And bitches."

This connection is actually more substantial than it first seems, if this is in fact where Cooper got his alias. The Dan Cooper comics were never published in the U.S., which means Cooper the hijacker must either be from Europe or have spent enough time there to fall in love with the local air force pilot literature. This hasn't managed to solve the case or anything, but it certainly narrows things down from "anybody" to "anybody who was in Europe for a while in the '70s."

And had a thing for fictitious pilots with strikingly beautiful eyes.

Oh, and we know we mentioned that there are a lot of nuts out there still trying to solve the Cooper mystery, but for the record, this isn't just some crazy Internet conspiracy we're sharing: This is the official theory of the FBI. And since we're on the topic of Cooper and comic books, we've got a little theory of our own about what D.B.'s been up to all this time, as it's pretty obvious he changed his name and went into a different comic-book-inspired career.

fbi.gov, Marvel Studios
We may have just revealed the plot twist for The Avengers 2.

#1. The Fantastic Four's Cosmic Rays Will Give You Superpowers

Marvel Comics

We all know how the Fantastic Four got their powers: Reed Richards brought his untrained family into space, and they were bombarded with cosmic rays that made three of them normal people with superpowers and Ben Grimm into a terribly disfigured monster with superpowers. It's shitty for the Thing, but at least the cosmic rays make a pretty decent way of getting superpowers, even though logic tells us that basically anything you run into in space that can affect you will likely kill you.

Marvel Comics
Can we take a minute to talk about all the fucks Sue is not giving right now about their impending doom?

It turns out that a more appropriate saying regarding space would be "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." China has taken this idea of getting special abilities from space and really run with it, as they've started using "cosmic radiation" to grow super fruits and vegetables.

Marvel Comics, Guandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences
"You should see how they made my wife's melons grow." -both guys

Continuing a project that started in 1987, the Chinese have been sending hundreds of seeds on shuttles or high-orbit satellites to be irradiated by "cosmic radiation in space," kind of just to see what would happen. We can't emphasize enough that those are the scientists' own words that they published in a journal for the United Nations and everything: "cosmic radiation in space," as in, "The most specific thing we know about this radiation is that it's from space."

20th Century Fox
They brought plants into space in the first Fantastic Four movie as well, but no one gave a shit because that movie sucked.

But the effects of this vague radiation are easier to understand than what's causing it, as most of the seeds that went into space show genetic changes and "multiple chromosomal aberrations" that enhanced the vigor and germination rate of the seeds once planted. Again, we can't say for sure that China got this idea from the comics, but the Fantastic Four does sort of have the "throw shit into space and hope it gets super" market covered. The results speak for themselves, proving that the Fantastic Four were really on to something: China has been able to produce super vegetables such as half-meter-long cucumbers, massive pumpkins, and giant eggplants from the seeds. The researchers also pointed out how not all mutations of the seeds were favorable, meaning that even in the world of super-radiated plant seeds, some come out as Mr. Fantastic and some come out as the Thing.

Marvel Comics, Rex Features
This pumpkin can only hope to one day meet a blind woman to love it for what's on the inside (seeds).

For more nerd comedy from D. McCallum, check out her website, Texts from Superheroes, on Tumblr, Facebook, or Twitter.

For more ridiculous predictions (that actually happened), check out 6 Eerily Specific Inventions Predicted in Science Fiction and The 5 Most Ridiculous Pop Culture Predictions That Came True.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out LinkSTORM to learn which Star Wars movie predicted John Cheese's life.

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