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Here's How Starlight's Powers On The Boys Actually Work

After sitting through two full seasons of the vile, anarchic antics of deranged Supes like Homelander (Anthony Starr) and Stormfront (Aya Cash), fans of Amazon Prime Video's anti-superhero saga The Boys may find themselves wondering if superheroes can ever really be heroes again.

There are, however, a few good guys to be found in the nasty, nihilistic world of The Boys. There's even one in the ranks of Vought International's infamous Supe team The Seven: the electricity-flinging femme we've come to know as Starlight (Erin Moriarty). Starlight continues to be a lone bright spot in The Boys cynical superhero landscape, though questions still abound about how her powers (which include bioluminescence, energy projection, and electricity absorption) actually work. And no, her own simplistic reasoning that "Electricity goes in, blast comes out" isn't quite thorough enough for many fans. 

Luckily, Wake Forest University Professor of Physics Dr. Jed Macosko was kind enough to turn his scientific eye on Starlight's powers and offer Looper a few intriguing theories as to what makes them work.

First and foremost, Dr. Macosko posits that Starlight is "a living, breathing, human capacitor," which he explains is "a device that takes in electrical current and creates charge separation," a process not unlike generating static charge by scuffing your feet on carpet. He further offers that — in Starlight's case — charge separation is, "likely to be within each and every cell in her body," even equating her ability to a similar biological function found in electric eels.

Are Starlight's powers similar to others found in nature?

As cool as that all sounds, Macosko notes that unlike eels, "Starlight's superpower allows her to generate charge separation directly from the electrical energy she absorbs." It's worth noting here that Starlight does, in fact, require an outside source (artificial or biological) to draw charge from (a fact her Vought bosses used to imprison her in season 2), so this power can also become a significant weakness.

Still, Macosko remains intrigued by Starlight's ability to harness energy in such fashion, going on to point out that other factors appear to fuel the light emanating from her hands and eyes. "External energy is the main driver of her impressive power blasts, and yet she also is able to harness biological energy sources, clearly tied to her emotional state, that enable her to undergo bioluminescence."

Macosko theorizes said bioluminescence may be driven by a separate internal system similar to others found in nature. "I would argue that her ability to cause her eyes and hands to glow utilizes a separate biological system. Generating photons, after all, is not the same as generating powerful blasts of electricity. It's unclear if the luciferin molecules she uses are the same as any of the half-dozen different classes that have been discovered in organisms ranging from insects to fungi to vertebrates to squid."

However Starlight's powers work, Macosko is clearly in agreement with The Boys fandom stating, "the overall effect is just plain cool."