Comic Book Superhero Who Am I. A Precursor To Superheroes. Created by New York-based pulp writer Johnston McCulley in 1919. Appeared in novels, short stories and films before appearing in comics
Comic Book Superhero Who Am I
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Created by New York-based pulp writer Johnston McCulleyin 1919.
Appeared in novels, short stories and films before appearing in comics
Secret identity: Don Diego de la Vega, a Spanish nobleman troubled by Spain’s colonial rule of California, adopts the identity of masked trickster anarchist vigilante whose name is Spanish for “fox”. Boring rich man by day, masked terrorist at night. His horse was called Toronado. His sidekick was deaf-mute servant Bernardo (a precursor to Bruce Wayne’s Alfred). He rode out of a secret cave under his mansion as well.
The novel was helped by stuntman-actor Douglas Fairbanks and Canadian-born wife Mary Pickford making a movie adaptation a year later for their new studio United Artists, which they started with Charlie Chaplin.
Actors: Douglas Fairbanks, Guy Williams (for Disney) and Antonio Banderas (first Hispanic actor ever to play the character)
created in 1941 by Vic Bloom and Bob Montana
Still sold at all convenience stores and Wal-Mart
A deal with the devil?
First appeared in May 1962
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Based on Robert Louis Stephenson’s Doctor Jekylland Mr. Hyde and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Secret identity: scientist Bruce Banner (sometimes David)
Story: a gamma radiation accident makes Banner uncontrollably transform whenever he loses his temper.
Originally grey, but a printing error made him green, which they liked.
Other characters: Rick Jones, girlfriend Betsy Ross, General “Thunderbolt” Ross, cousin Jennifer “She Hulk” Walters, Dr. Leonard “Doc” Sampson
Villains: Abomination, The Leader
Notable actors Lou Ferrigno/Bill Bixby, Eric Bana, Ed Norton, Mark Rufalo
Another Precursor To Superheroes
created by Lee Falk, (also creator of comics character Mandrake the Magician)
Was a daily newspaper comic starting in 1936
Story: Kit Walker is the 21st in a line of legendary heroes, each called “The Ghost Who Walks,” having no supernatural abilities, but being so ninja-like as to appear to have ghost powers. On his left hand is a ring with crossed sabres, which he gives to people he will protect. On his right, a ring with a skull, made from the nails in Jesus’ cross, which leaves a skull-shaped mark on enemies faces when he punches them. Rides a horse named Hero. Leads a huge army of Africans called the Jungle Patrol.
Actor who played him in 1996 movie: Billy Zane
First appeared in own book in May 1992
Created by “writer”/ Spider-man artist Todd McFarlane of Calgary, Alberta
Story: black U.S. Marine Al Simmons becomes a CIA assassin, and is then assassinated by the CIA and sent to Hell for assassinating. Simmons sells his soul to an evil force named Malebolgia to see his wife one last time. As a hellspawn, he punishes evil whenever in the presence of an evil-doer. (So, Ghost Rider with some Batman tossed in.)
Other characters: Malebolgia, Clown, Angela
Actor: Michael Jai White
first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966), later in Jungle Action.
One of the first black superheroes
Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and penciller-co-plotter Jack Kirby
Secret identity: T'Challa, King of African nation of Wakanda
Member of The Avengers not seen in the movie
Mystery Men: Big Influences On Superheroes
Created by Will Eisner
Appeared in newspapers right when Superman and Batman were taking off, starting in 1940
Denny Colt is a masked vigilante who solves mystery and stops criminals in a huge city, with the blessing of the police commissioner. Had a lair under his own tombstone, being thought dead.
Other characters: black sidekick Ebony White, villains The Octopus, Dr. Cobra and Mister Carrion; a witch named (witch) Hazel P. Macbeth, femme fatalesP'Gell, Sand Saref, Silk Satin, Silken Floss and LorleiRox.
Actors: Gabriel Macht (with Samuel Jackson as The Octopus) in 2008
This Canadian writer was given Superman to reboot in 1985. Gone were Superman being able to move planets, survive without oxygen in space, travel through time and the like. Stopping a 747 jet in flight became challenging for him again.
So successful was this reboot that this writer was given a number of other titles to reboot.
Answer: John Byrne
Yet Another Mystery Man
created by George W. Trendle and Fran Strikerfor radio in 1936, and then adapted for comics and short stories, film serials and television
Story: Britt Reid is a wealthy newspaper publisher who goes out with his Asian sidekick Kato to fight crime in his car Black Beauty with various gadgets, including a sleep gun.
Concurrent with the Adam West Batman and aired on the same channel, this character’s TV show aired in 1966, starring an Asian actor named Bruce Lee(!) as Kato. Fans were more into Bruce Lee than the hero character.
Notable actors: Van Williams, Seth Rogan
Appeared in Action Comics in 1938
Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932
Secret identity derived from the names of actors Clark Gable and Kent Taylor). Reporter at The Daily Planet newspaper in Metropolis. Lair: the Fortress of Solitude
Born Kal-El on doomed planet Krypton to parents Jor-El and Lara. Weakness: kryptonite (shards of his exploded birth planet)
At first, only able “to leap tall buildings in a single bound,” his powers kept getting increased until he could fly in space.
characters: Lana Lang, LexLuthor, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White (boss)
notable actors: George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, Tom Welling, Brandon Routh
First appeared in The Tomb of Dracula #10 (July 1973)
Created by writer Marv Wolfman and pencillerGene Colan
Story: Eric Brooks is born in a whorehouse to a prostitute who was killed by a vampire while giving birth, which gave the child quasi-vampiric powers
Actors: Wesley Snipes and Kirk Jones
first appeared in own book in September 1963
created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby
Story: a mutant professor starts a school to train mutant children to be superheroes. The ideological difference between Martin Luther King (understanding) and Malcolm X (equality through violence if necessary) inspired the Professor X/Magneto divide. About tolerance.
Original members: Professor X, Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Marvel Girl
Villains: Magneto, Sentinels, Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, The Hellfire Club, Apocalypse, Mister Sinister
Notable actors: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Halle Berry, James Marsden and Canadian actors Shawn Ashmore and Anna Paquin
First appeared in All Star Comics in 1941
Created by William Moulton Marston(the psychologist who invented the lie detector before inventing the character with the lasso which made criminals tell the truth) and H. G. Peter
Secret identity: Diana Prince (sometime army intelligence officer)
From Themyscira, an all-female island of Amazons, created from clay by mother Hippolyta (queen of the Amazons, making Diana a princess)
Originally fought nazis with boyfriend Steve Trevor. Before they decided she could fly, they gave her an invisible jet. Weakness: helpless if tied up by a man.
Notable actresses: Lynda Carter (70s), Adrianne Palicki(2011)
Created in 1939 by artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker
Owned by Fawcett Comics (then bought by D.C. Comics)
First appears in Whiz Comics in 1940
12 year old homeless newsboy Billy Batson calls out the name of the wizard Shazam and magically transforms into an adult superhero
Lacks Superman’s vision powers, but has “Wisdom of Solomon”
Other characters: Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Junior, Uncle Marvel
Villains: Black Adam, Dr. Sivana
1985 story arc to reboot/simplify the DC Universe/sell many comics
D.C. had decided that there were infinite earths with different Batmen, Supermen and the like. This meant they could have stories that contradicted each other (or planets with ape versions of heroes, or with an Earth where the villains were the heroes) and not worry.
In 1985 they decided to undo that, blow up all the extra Earths and characters and start over.
They killed the Barry Allen Flash. Kid Flash (Wally West) took over. Also Supergirl. All the embarassingsuperdogs and supercats and batdogs and superhorses all got erased.
Things got (a bit) less childish and more modern.
Answer: Crisis On Infinite Earths
created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
first appeared in March 1941
Secret identity: weakling Steve Rogers is given an experimental Supersoldier Formula and an indestructible shield (adamantium and vibranium). Likes to ride a motorcycle.
Frozen in ice at end of WWII so they could bring him back in comics later
Member (leader) of Marvel’s The Avengers
Sidekick: Bucky Barnes
Villains: Nazis, Hitler, The Red Skull, Baron Zemo
(notable) actors: Chris Evans
Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert
first appeared in January 1940
Secret identity: Jay Garrick, who fell asleep in a science lab and inhaled heavy water vapour.
Wore red football shirt and his father’s WWI helmet, with wings on it, like Greek god Mercury
Part of one of the earliest superhero teams, The Justice Society (later “League”) of America
Answer: (Golden Age) Flash
was created by writer Bill Finger and artist Martin Nodell(who was ripping off Aladdin)
First appeared in All-American Comics #16 (July 1940)
Secret identity: railroad engineer Alan Scott
Story: inherited an artifact made from the metal in a meteor which fell to earth, and told him how to make a magic ring which could do almost anything.
(make him invisible, walk through walls, paralyse or blind people temporarily, cut stuff like a welding torch)
Weakness: the ring doesn’t work on anything made of wood. Scott learned this when hit with a wooden club.
Part of the Justice Society of America
Answer: (Golden Age) Green Lantern
...and I shall shed my light over dark evil.
For the dark things cannot stand the light,
The light of the Green Lantern!
created by writers Robert Kanigher and John Broome and pencilerCarmine Infantino
First appeared in Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956)
Secret identity: Barry Allen, police scientist (from talkshow hosts Steve Allen and Barry Gray)
Story: a lightning bolt hits chemicals in his lab, drenching him in them.
Other characters: girlfriend Iris West, Wally West
Actor Michael Rosenbaun is remarkable for playing LexLuthor on Smallville while voicing the animated version of this character on Justice League.
Answer: (Silver Age) Flash
First appeared in Detective Comics in May 1939
created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, based on a The Shadow story.
Parents Thomas and Martha Wayne were shot in front of him as a small boy.
Secret identity: millionaire Bruce Wayne. Lair: the Batcave under Wayne Manor in Gotham City.
Other characters Alfred Pennyworth the butler, Dick Grayson (Robin), Police Commissioner Gordon
Huge assortment of gadgets, huge “rogue’s gallery” of whacky, themed supervillains including The Joker, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Bane, Killer Croc
notable actors: Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale
First appearence in Showcase #22 in 1959
Revamped by writer John Broome and Batman artist Gil Kane,
Secret identity: fearless test pilot Hal Jordan
Story: on the planet Oa, little blue creatures called the Guardians of the Universe dole out power rings to space police. Abin Sur is ours, and when he dies, the ring finds Jordan. It can form solid objects out of imagination/will
Weakness: doesn’t work on anything yellow
Other characters: girlfriend Carol Ferris, Inuit best friend Tom “Pieface” Kalmaku
Villains: Sinestro, Parallax (evil Hal Jordan)
Played in the 2010 movie by Canadian actor Ryan Renolds (who was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine as Deadpool)
Guardians on Oa were based on Israel’s Prime Minister David Ben Gurion
Answer: (Silver Age) Green Lantern
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power... Green Lantern's light!
first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962)
created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko (who just drew himself)
Secret identity: Peter Parker
High school science nerd is bitten by a radioactive spider and gains its powers. Works at Daily Bugle, not Daily Planet. Photographer, not reporter. Hyphen in name.
Other characters: Aunt May, J.Jonah Jameson (boss), Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy, Flash Thompson, Harry Osbourne
Villains: The Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, The Lizard, Electro, The Kingpin, Mysterio, The Rhino, Kraven the Hunter.
(notable) actors: Tobey McGuire, Andrew Garfield
To grab massive sales, D.C. wrote this story arc in 1992.
This story arc was reported on the actual TV news.
A popular comic character was killed off and followed by a number of possible replacements
Fans were less than pleased when the character turned out to not be dead after all.
Answer: The Death of Superman
first appeared in April 1964
created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett (help from Jack Kirby)
“The Man Without Fear”
Secret identity: Matt Murdock
Story: blind(ed by radiation) New York street kid becomes a lawyer, while fighting crime like Batman/Spider-man using his other, greatly enhanced senses
Other characters: Jack Murdock, Foggy Nelson, Karen Page
Villains: The Kingpin, The Fixer, Bullseye, Electra
Notable actors: Ben Affleck
first appeared in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963)
created by writer-editor Stan Lee, developed by scripter Larry Lieber, and designed by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby
Story: Howard Hughes-style millionaire inventor turns a pacemaker needed to keep his damaged heart going into a flying suit of armour. A cold war, anti-communist, anti-asian one.
(not) secret identity: millionaire Tony Stark (flying Batman with armour and energy weapons)
Villains: alcohol, the Mandarin, Justin Hammer, Crimson Dynamo, Backlash
Notable actors: Robert Downey Jr.
Another Mystery Man
Created by Walter B. Gibsonas a radio drama, then series of short stories for magazines, then a comic
First aired on Detective Story Hour on radio in 1931
Story: rich guy Lamont Cranston learns the ancient Eastern art of “clouding men’s minds” when he is near, making them unable to see him. By night he drives around fighting crime with his two pistols and maniacal laugh. A precursor to Batman and the Joker
Catchphrases: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? _______knows!" (maniacal laugh) and “Crime does not pay!”
Had the attributes and stylized look of a criminal or robber, but was a (dark) hero. Had a Jewish chauffeur and a black sidekick.
Crime often took place in Chinatown with Asian villains
Girlfriend: Margo Lane
Actors: Frank Readick, Jr.,Orson Wells, Alec Baldwin
First appeared in Nov. 1961
created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist and co-plotter Jack Kirby
First Marvel superhero team
Story: scientist Reed Richards, with girlfriend Sue Storm, her brother Johnny and pilot Ben Grimm, fly an experimental spacecraft and get exposed to space radiation, giving them powers. No secret identities.
They become: Mr. Fantastic, The Human Torch (II), The Thing and Invisible Girl/Woman
Villains: Galactus (eater of worlds), Dr. Doom, the Skrull Empire
Actors: IoanGruffudd, Chris “Captain America” Evans, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba
Early Precursor to Superheroes
a play and adventure novel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, written in 1903
Story: a British nobleman adventurer known after the small flower with which he signs his secret notes, leads a secret society which rescues French noblemen from the guillotine during the French Revolution. Turns out he’s the clownish Sir Percy Blakeney, who pretends to be a drunken fop to hide his adventurous identity. His wife is, Lois Lane-style, anamoured of the adventurer, not knowing he is actually her husband, for whom she has little respect.
Notable actors: Anthony Andrews, Richard E. Grant
First appeared inown book in Sept. 1963
created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby, after the success of D.C.’s The Justice League of America superhero team
Earth’s Mightiest Super-Heroes
A teaming of Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man and the Wasp, soon joined by Captain America
Battle cry: “_______ Assemble!”
Could fight the villains of any of the team members, so first faced Thor’s evil brother Loki of Asgard
first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #129 (February 1974)
Created by writer Gerry Conway and artists John Romita, Sr., and Ross Andru
Secret identity: Frank Castle
Story: his family were killed by criminals (like Bruce Wayne) so unlike Batman, he drives around in a van and shoots criminals
Other characters: Microchip (his gear guy)
Villains: the Mafia, drug cartels, organized crime of every nationality or origin
Actors: DolphLungren, Thomas Jane, Ray Stevenson
First appeared in 2000 AD #2 in 1977
Created by John Wagner (writer), Carlos Ezquerra (artist), Pat Mills (editor)
Story: in the post-apocalyptic future, “Judges” with cybernetic upgrades and smartguns go around being judge, jury and executioners.
Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Karl “LOTR/Star Trek” Urban
first appeared in the final "teaser" panel of The Incredible Hulk #180 (October 1974)
created by writer Len Wein and Marvel art director John Romita, Sr.
Catchphrase: “I’m the best there is at what I do, and what I do isn’t very nice.”
No secret identity. Unknown identity until 2001, when they ended the mystery (one of the most interesting things about the character) by saying he’d been born James Howlett in Alberta in the 1880s.
Other characters: Alpha Flight’s Heather Hudson, Yuriko, The X-Men (particularly Jean Grey), Sabretooth, Magneto
Actors: Hugh Jackman
first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #120 (April 1979)
Created by Chris Claremont and (Canadian) John Byrne as “Canada’s answer to The Avengers”
originally just part of Wolverine’s backstory.
Sasquatch, Northstar, Snowbird, Shaman, Guardian, Aurora, Puck and Marina
Pierre Trudeau appeared in an X-Men comic, demanding Canadian government funded Wolverine’s return to this team
Answer: Alpha Flight
First appeared in Marvel Spotlight #5 (Aug. 1972)
created by Gary Friedrich, writer-editor Roy Thomas, and artist Mike Ploog.
Story: stunt rider Johnny Blaze sells his soul to an evil force named Mephisto to cure his mentor’s cancer. As a ghost rider, Blaze transforms into a blazing skeleton and punishes evil whenever in the presence of an evil-doer.
Actor: Nicholas Cage
first appeared in own book in June 1972
Created by writer Archie Goodwin and artist John Romita, Sr.
First black superhero with own book
Story: A street youth in jail, underwent a procedure which gave him impervious skin and enhanced strength. Works for the chedda
first appeared in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975)
created by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum
Secret identity: Ororo Monroe (OroroT’Challa once she married The Black Panther)
Story: a child street thief in Africa, Storm was found by Professor X and trained to be an X-man.
Actors: Halle Berry
First appeared in own book in 1984. It was the toy line which sold the story.
Created by Kevin Eastmanand Peter Laird
Named after renaissance artists: Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo and Donatello.
Story: four teenaged, anthropomorphic turtles, raised by a rat sensei to be trained ninja warriors, fight aliens, robots, other mutants, street criminals and the evil samauri Shredder
Other characters: April O’Neil, Casey Jones, (Master) Splinter, Krang, Beebop, Rocksteady, Shredder
came out in own book in 1986
Created by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons
Intended to take “gritty” and problematic to the limit, and be a “tombstone for superhero comics” so this “gritty” thing could be put to bed once and for all.
Features “new” characters based on established kinds of superheroes
“spawned” a huge following of ripoff comics with more nasty characters who killed, with demons, violence, sex and drugs.
In 1987, this comic writer (famed for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear and the Wolverine four-issue book) rebooted Batman
He wrote Batman: Year One
Now Batman could start out in the 70s rather than the 30s, and Robin wasn’t taking thirty years to finish high school.
Grittier. Street Crime. No yellow oval around the bat symbol on his chest, and no one smiling. Catwoman as a prostitute/dominatrix with a whip.
Went on to write Sin City and 300
Answer: Frank Miller
Marvel story arc in which an all-powerful being named The Beyonder transports all the heroes and villains to a distant planet to make them fight.
Spider-Man got a black suit for a while.
Answer: Secret Wars
debuted in 1987 in Spider-Man comics
A nemesis for Spider-man.
they took Spider-man’s black suit (a temporary Spider-man sales gimmick) and made a modern anti-hero.