I initially believed that this was the original backstory for Marvel's X-Man Angel before they settled on a more vague triggering of the X-gene, but I have found no references online indicating as such, which makes me think this was another work that I conflated to Angel in my head. The protagonist develops wings, and it turns out they're physiologically built for it, everything from hollow bones to specially adapted lungs to be able to breathe at high altitudes. It's indicated in the story that the mutation was caused by his parents (scientists?) being exposed to the fields from high voltage. Unfortunately, maybe because my brain associates this with the X-Men character, I don't really remember much of the plot, including what happens to him once he realizes that he can use his wings to fly.

I read this as a child in Ashland, KY, which means likely somewhere around the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s, in English, and I suspect it's a short story, based on the paucity of information and vague hints in my head. I do not believe it to be Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha Keatley Snyder as he gains his wings later in the story by magical means. It might have been a story in Isaac Asimov's Young Mutants or a contemporaneous book. Unfortunately, it might as well have been from an anthology of science fiction, of which I read many growing up, between the library and my father's collection.

  • 1
    Not sure if it's still a question but I can confirm that Warren Worthington III's canonical "origin" was always no more complex than 'he's a mutant whose power is that he has wings'. Unless they retconned that in the last 20 years since I've stopped reading Marvel comic books, of course.
    – Alex M
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 20:20
  • And it turns out we've had this one before...
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 14:49
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    Would've been more funny if it was you who answered it last time too :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 16:53

1 Answer 1


And, looking up Asimov's Young Mutants just to be sure that it wasn't the one I was thinking of, it is in the book, Edmond Hamilton's 1938 "He That Hath Wings", summary from here:

The story concerns a boy, David Rand, whose parents were caught in what is only described as an electrical explosion, but they were exposed to some unidentified form of radiation. David’s father dies before his [son] is born, and his mother dies a few hours after his birth. The boy has some odd growths on his back. The doctor who did the delivery has them x-rayed and discovers they are wings that haven’t yet broken the skin.

Weird Tales, July 1938, the first publishing of the story, is available on the Internet Archive.

  • 1
    A rare opportunity to upvote someone twice.
    – Spencer
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 21:56
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    It happens to me way too often... but once I've spent double digits in minutes writing a question, it seems a shame to scrap it because I found the answer.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 21:57
  • 2
    Even if its a self-answer it might help others that search for the same story.
    – masterX244
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 8:55

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