In 1941, a bored rich kid named Rod Reilly put on a see-through shirt to punch crime as Firebrand! And as lame as is to have the powers and abilities of a drag show brawl, Rod is not the Firebrand with the stupidest origin story. That honor goes to his sister Danette. She was a vulcanologist who appeared in All-Star Squadron almost as a prop, except props aren't constantly trying to kill themselves. Danette Reilly was only useful for two things, and filling a bra was both of them.
"Trampling tampons, curse me and my womanly noises!"
Danette got superpowers in a situation so absurd that I think it might have been a spelling error. It all started when she was running from two evil wizards, Wotan and Professor Zodiak.
And yes, that's an actual argument they're having about whether they should even BOTHER to shoot her in the back.
She runs slowly enough that Wotan and Professor Zodiak finish their long, long conversation about the pros and cons of murdering her. Wotan wins with this faultless and expository logic:
You can skip a lot of this. It's pretty basic wizard ethics stuff.
When an ordinary human woman gets killed straight into lava, there's not a lot of directions her story can take. So it came as a bit of a plot twist on the next page when the heroes set themselves free and one of them is holding Danette.
"Did anyone else find a free woman in the lava?"
So we have a woman who fell into magic lava. We're done being retarded, right? Not by any measure. Danette went back home and had a dream that revealed how to open her late brother's secret closet, where she learned he was Firebrand! We all grieve in our own way, so she put on her swimsuit, and then her dead brother's fetish gear, to surprise and delight his friends. The fact that everything began igniting around her probably had more to do with a furious God than her mystical lava accident.
"Guys! Guess who I am! Ha ha, I'm your dead partner! And, ha ha ha, check out these penises I drew on all his photos!"
So with a transparent costume 20 sizes too big and the combat training of a vulcanologist, Danette of course felt ready to wield the power of starting random fires whenever she points. I have no idea why the other superheroes thought that was a bad idea. Maybe they were hoping for something more safe and practical, like an algebra teacher who sneezes hand grenades or a seismologist who leaks radiation when teen boys are on his lap.
"Come on, you dicks. Name one time you won't need something to set everything on fire!"
From Barry Allen becoming the Flash when lightning struck police chemicals to Wally West becoming another the Flash when lightning struck police chemicals, super-speed heroes have the best, most novel origin stories. I mean, the Whizzer got his powers when he was bitten by a snake and his deranged father filled him with the blood of the mongoose that killed it. That's almost as awesome as it is educational.
There are a few exceptions, like Johnny Quick, who got his super speed by reciting math, and the other Whizzer, who stepped too close to weird fog, but the worst super speed origin belongs to the original Flash, Jay Garrick. Before he gained his powers, Jay was an ordinary college student with ordinary problems, like being harped at by women for not concentrating enough on football.
That's got to be the nicest way Joan could have put that. Oh, before you walk away, can I cool my drink down against your chest, you horrible bitch?
Jay wasn't much better at science, which is probably why they only let him do experiments with "hard water." What kind of experiments? I have no idea, and neither does Jay.
"God, that stupid professor would not shut up! New this! Experiment that! He almost said an entire sentence!! I'm going to have a cigarette."
"Oh, I'm going to have THE SHIT out of a cigarette."
So Jay leaned against the exact chemistry set he was taking a break from. I'm not saying that couldn't happen ever, but it's kind of like taking a break from setting rat traps to unzip your pants and do push-ups. Everyone except Jay saw this next part coming:
"This was ... the risk ... I took ... when I ... was born ... a dipshit!"
After weeks in the hospital, and what surely had to be the easiest F that chemistry professor had ever given, Jay woke up with fantastic speed. His first and only idea was this: do terrifyingly impossible things in front of that mean girl until she bangs him.
"AAAHH! You're the devil! Plus, this isn't the right book. This isn't CLOSE to the right book. You should really start letting people finish sentences, vanishing freak monstOW!!! Did ... did you just put your finger in my butt?"
In 1961, a mysterious and fit boy came from the future with an old man named Marla and used his PENETRA-VISION to look through other boys' shirts until he found out which one was Superboy. It all took place in the classic issue No. 98:
Tricking people into thinking you were or weren't Superman was how most comic book characters spent their time in the '60s, so this wasn't an unusual story. What made it unusual was how Ultra-Boy got his powers. Like Bouncing Boy, he was a member of the Legion of Superheroes, and every single one of them was created by shoving a stupid person out of a plane and screaming that his parachute will only open if he invents 250 superheroes with unique back stories.
The Legion's lineup was Color Kid and Lightning Lad, who were hit by rays, Colossal Boy and Fire Lad, who were hit by meteors, and Chlorophyll Kid, who fell into a tank of plant food. The rest of them just came from weird theme planets where everyone developed powers to deal with everyday life. For instance, if no one on the planet of Wiltor had a refrigerator, its humans would adapt to have crisper drawers and dispense ice. Jo-Nah lived on Rimbor, which gave him no special abilities. So how did he gain PENETRA-VISION and become Ultra-Boy? The same way the Bravo network picks their fall lineup: by assuming viewers are too busy being gay to care what they're looking at.
"OK, I have this idea for a new superhero. He's ... he's a guy with the powers of, of Superman! His name is Supe -- ULTRA Ma -- Ultra-BOY. He got them from ... from a space whale eating him! Please, I've done what you asked. Just give me my daughter back!"
"I'VE ESCAPED BUT ... MY PREMISE ... FEELS LAME! LAME!!!"
"And on Rimbor, they tell a story about SU-PERBOY. He, too, was a moron written during a fever dream!"