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DC Heroes Transformed! Part I Transformations Organized by Hero

INTRODUCTION

Many comic fans know that Jimmy Olsen suffered any number of transformations during the Silver Age at DC Comics.  This article will explore the transformations of the Silver Age first by hero and then by condition.  A transformation for the purposes of this article is limited to an outwardly physical transformation rather than an internal psychological transformation.

Transformations involving costumes are more problematic.  There are so many one-shot novelty costume changes among Silver Age heroes that this should really be another article.  A decision was made to only include categories of costume change that occurred more than once rather than one-shot costumes including: caveman wear, jungle wear, and kingly wear.

The hero titles analyzed include Aquaman, Batman, Challengers of the Unknown, the Flash, Green Lantern, Justice League of America, Lois Lane, Superboy, Supergirl, Superman, and Wonder Woman.  Jimmy Olsen is excluded as a character but not from the types section since I have dealt with Jimmy Olsen’s transformations in another article.

The transformations were also broken down by type and this will be dealt with in part II, the follow up post.  The types of transformations that occurred more than one time and generally with more than one hero include alien transformation, animal transformation, baby transformation, caveman transformation, devil transformation, doppelganger transformation, fat transformation, freak transformation, genie transformation, giant transformation, giant head transformation, half body transformation, jungle person transformation, king transformation, mirror transformation, negative being transformation, old, phantom/ghost/invisible transformation, radioactive transformation, robot transformation, small person transformation, tree being transformation, underwater being transformation, and werewolf  transformation.

TRANSFORMATIONS ORGANIZED BY HERO

Aquaman Transformations

Aquaman Transformations, Aquaman Collage Key, Aquaman # 2, Giant Aquaboy, Aquaman # 16, Alien Aquaman, Aquaman # 21, Giant Aquaman

Aquaman Collage Key

Aquaman # 2 (Giant Aquaboy), Aquaman # 16 (Alien Aquaman), Aquaman # 21 (Giant Aquaman)

Batman Transformations

Batman Collage Key

Batman Transformations, Batman #72, Jungle Batman, Batman #118, Underwater Batman, Batman #119, Old Batman, Batman #140, Batman and Robin Aliens, Batman #147, Batman Baby, Batman #162, Batman Freak,

Batman #72 (Jungle Batman), Batman #118 (Underwater Batman), Batman #119 (Old Batman), Batman #125 (King Batman), Batman #134 (Two-Dimensional Batman and Robin), Batman #140 (Batman and Robin Aliens), Batman #147 (Batman Baby), Batman #162 (Batman Freak),

Brave & Bold Batman Transformations

Batman in Brave & Bold Collage Key

Brave & Bold #68 (Batman Hulk), Brave and Bold #99 (Batman Hyde Face),

Detective #243, Giant Batman, Detective Comics #251, Alien Batman, Detective Comics #268, Glowing Batman, Detective Comics #275, Zebra Batman, Detective Comics #284, Negative Batman, Detective Comics #294, Calcium Batman, Detective Comics #301, Radioactive Batman, Detective Comics #302, Bronze Batman

Detective Comics 1 Collage Key

Detective Comics #127 (Small Batman and Robin), Detective Comics #148 (Small Batman and Robin), Detective #243 (Giant Batman), Detective Comics #251 (Alien Batman), Detective Comics #268 (Glowing Batman), Detective Comics #275 (Zebra Batman), Detective Comics #284 (Negative Batman), Detective Comics #294 (Calcium Batman), Detective Comics #301 (Radioactive Batman), Detective Comics #302 (Bronze Batman)

Detective Comics #316, Energy Batman, Detective Comics #322, Genie Batman

Detective Comics 2 Collage Key

Detective Comics #316 (Energy Batman), Detective Comics #322 (Genie Batman)

World’s Finest #121, Mirror, World’s Finest # 128, Freak, World’s Finest #138, Batman Caveman, World’s Finest #139, Batman Phantom, World’s Finest #151, Batman Big Brain,

Batman in World’s Finest Collage Key

World’s Finest #121 (Mirror), World’s Finest # 128 (Freak), World’s Finest #138 (Batman Caveman), World’s Finest #139 (Batman Phantom), World’s Finest #151 (Batman Big Brain)

Challengers of the Unknown Transformations

Challengers of the Unknown Transformations, Challengers of the Unknown Collage Key, Challengers of the Unknown #20, Giant, Challengers of the Unknown #36, Giant, Challengers of the Unknown #39, Big Brain, Challengers of the Unknown #50, Freak,

Challengers of the Unknown Collage Key

Challengers of the Unknown #20 (Giant), Challengers of the Unknown #36 (Giant), Challengers of the Unknown #39 (Big Brain), Challengers of the Unknown #50 (Freak)

Flash Transformations

Flash Transformations, Flash Collage Key, Flash #109, Small Flash, Flash #115, Fat Flash, Flash #126, Mirror Flash, Flash #133, Puppet Flash, Flash #146, Half Body Flash, Flash #157, Old Flash

Flash Collage Key

Flash #109 (Small Flash), Flash #115 (Fat Flash), Flash #126 (Mirror Flash), Flash #133 (Puppet Flash), Flash #146 (Half Body Flash), Flash #157 (Old Flash)

Green Lantern Transformations

Green Lantern Transformations, Green Lantern Collage Key, Green Lantern #20, Phantom Green Lantern, Green Lantern #29, Half Body Green Lantern, Green Lantern #36, Robot Green Lantern

Green Lantern Collage Key

Green Lantern #20 (Phantom Green Lantern), Green Lantern #29 (Half Body Green Lantern), Green Lantern #36 (Robot Green Lantern)

Justice League of America Transformations

Justice League of America Collage Key

Justice League of America #7 (Mirror), Justice League of America #9 (Trees), Justice League of America #10 (Finger Puppets), Justice League of America #18 (Small), Justice League of America #60 (Drones)

Lois Lane Transformations

Lois Lane Transformations, Lois Lane Collage Key, Jimmy Olsen #66, Cat Headed Lois Lane, Lois Lane #5, Fat Lois Lane, Lois Lane #10, Baby Lois Lane, Lois Lane #11, Jungle Lois Lane, Lois Lane #13, Cat Headed Lois Lane, Lois Lane #27, Giant Head, Lois Lane #33, Phantom Lois Lane, Lois Lane #40, Old Lois Lane, Lois Lane #66, Freak, Lois Lane #92, Centaur Lois Lane, Lois Lane #101, Invisible Lois Lane, Lois Lane #106, Black Lois Lane, Lois Lane #107, Snow, Lois Lane #124, Jungle Lois Lane

Lois Lane Collage Key

Jimmy Olsen #66 (Cat Headed Lois Lane), Lois Lane #5 (Fat Lois Lane), Lois Lane #10 (Baby Lois Lane), Lois Lane #11 (Jungle Lois Lane), Lois Lane #13 (Cat Headed Lois Lane), Lois Lane #12 (Mermaid Lois Lane), Lois Lane #27 (Giant Head), Lois Lane #33 (Phantom Lois Lane), Lois Lane #40 (Old Lois Lane), Lois Lane #66 (Freak), Lois Lane #92 (Centaur Lois Lane), Lois Lane #101 (Invisible Lois Lane), Lois Lane #106 (Black Lois Lane), Lois Lane #107 (Snow), Lois Lane #124 (Jungle Lois Lane)

Lois Lane is given a cat head not once but twice!  I guess this means that Lois was considered catty in the Silver Age.  At least the cat heads were different colors and the art wasn’t just recycled even if the concept was recycled.

Ma and Pa Kent Transformations

Ma and Pa Kent Transformations, Adventure Comics #237, Robot Ma & Pa Kent, Adventure Comics #270, Ma and Pa Kent Aliens

Ma and Pa Kent Collage Key

Adventure Comics #237 (Robot Ma & Pa Kent), Adventure Comics #270 (Ma and Pa Kent Aliens)

Superboy Transformations

Superboy, Superboy #32, King Superboy, Superboy #50, Superboy #116, Werewolf Superboy, Superboy #142, Superboy #162, Phantom Superboy, Superboy #178, Superboy #180, Superboy #184, Manbat Superboy, Superboy #194, Mermaid Superboy

Superboy Collage Key

Superboy #32 (King Superboy), Superboy #50 (Giant Superboy), Superboy #116 (Werewolf Superboy), Superboy #142 (Giant Ape Superboy), Superboy #162 (Phantom Superboy), Superboy #178 (Manbat Superboy), Superboy #180 (Werewolf Superboy), Superboy #194(Mermaid Superboy),

Superboy Transformations, Superboy Collage Key, Adventure Comics #255, Doppelganger, Adventure Comics #259, Blind Superboy, Adventure Comics #270, Alien Ma and Pa Kent, Adventure #283, Phantom Superboy, Adventure Comics #298, Fat Superboy, Fat Lana Lang, Adventure Comics # 308, Adventure Comics #315, Giant Superboy, Adventure Comics #330, Fat Superboy

Superboy in Adventure Comics Collage Key

Adventure Comics #255 (Doppelganger), Adventure Comics #259 (Blind Superboy), Adventure Comics #270 (Alien Ma and Pa Kent), Adventure Comics #283 (Phantom Superboy), Adventure Comics #298 (Fat Superboy, Fat Lana Lang), Adventure Comics # 308, Adventure Comics #315 (Giant Superboy), Adventure Comics #330 (Fat Superboy)

Supergirl Transformations

Supergirl Transformations, Supergirl Collage Key, Action Comics #267, Adult Supergirl, Action Comics #283, Fat Supergirl, Werewolf Supergirl, Small Supergirl, Action Comics #284, Two headed Supergirl, Mermaid Supergirl, Action Comics #324, Devil Supergirl, Supergirl #8, Medusa Haired Supergirl, Medusa Hair Supergirl, Medusa Hair

Supergirl Collage Key

Action Comics #267(Adult Supergirl), Action Comics #283 (Fat Supergirl, Werewolf Supergirl, Small Supergirl), Action Comics #284 (Two headed Supergirl, Mermaid Supergirl), Action Comics #324 (Devil Supergirl), Supergirl #8 (Medusa Hair)

Superman Transformations

Superman Transformations, Action Comics, Action Comics Collage Key, Action Comics #131, Phantom Superman, Action Comics #225, Robot Superman, Action Comics #239, Alien Superman, Action Comics #243, Lion Headed Superman, Action Comics #244, Underwater Superman, Action Comics #245, Small, Action Comics #251, Old, Action Comics #256, Giant Brain, Action Comics #270, Old, Action Comics #275, Third Eye

Action Comics 1 Collage Key

Action Comics #131 (Phantom Superman), Action Comics #225 (Robot Superman), Action Comics #239 (Alien Superman), Action Comics #243 (Lion Headed Superman), Action Comics #244 (Underwater Superman), Action Comics #245 (Small), Action Comics #251 (Old), Action Comics #256 (Giant Brain), Action Comics #270 (Old), Action Comics #275 (Third Eye)

Action Comics 2 Collage Key

Action Comics #284, Super Baby, Action Comics #290, Half Body, Action Comics #296, Ant Superman, Action Comics #303, Freak, Action Comics #312, King, Doppelganger, Action Comics #317, Colored Faces, Action Comics #325, Giant Superman, Action Comics #396, Action Comics #397, Action Comics #595, Phantom

Action Comics #284 (Super Baby), Action Comics #290 (Half Body), Action Comics #296 (Ant Superman), Action Comics #303 (Freak), Action Comics #312 (King and Doppelganger), Action Comics #317 (Colored Faces), Action Comics #325 (Giant Superman), Action Comics #396 (Old), Action Comics #397 (Old), Action Comics #595 (Phantom)

Superman Title

Superman Title, Superman Title Collage Key, Superman #139, Merman, Superman #139, Long Hair, Long Nails, Superman #165, Lion Headed Superman, Superman #171, Superman Caveman, Superman #186, Phantom Superman, Superman #221, Fat Superman, Superman #226, Giant Superman, Superman #263, Molten Superman,

Superman Title Collage Key

Superman #139 (Merman), Superman #139 (Long Hair, Long Nails), Superman #165 (Lion Headed Superman), Superman #171 (Superman Caveman), Superman #186 (Phantom Superman), Superman #221 (Fat Superman), Superman #226 (Giant Superman), Superman #263 (Molten Superman)

Various Titles

Various Titles, Various Titles Collage Key, Jimmy Olsen #81, Devil Superman, Jimmy Olsen #130, Robot Superman, Lois Lane #112, Tree Superman, World’s Finest #105, Alien Superman, World’s Finest #126, King Superman, World’s Finest #138, Caveman Superman, World’s Finest #151, Caveman Superman, World’s Finest #165,King Batman, World’s Finest #240, King Superman

Various Titles Collage Key

Jimmy Olsen #81 (Devil Superman), Jimmy Olsen #130 (Robot Superman), Lois Lane #112 (Tree Superman), World’s Finest #105 (Alien Superman), World’s Finest #138 (Caveman Superman), World’s Finest#151 (Caveman Superman), World’s Finest #165 (King Superman), World’s Finest #240 (King Superman)

Wonder Woman Transformations

Wonder Woman Transformations, Wonder Woman Collage Key, Wonder Woman #62, Doppelganger, Triplets, Wonder Woman #90, Giant Doppelganger, Wonder Woman #98, Doppelganger, Wonder Woman #102, Wonder Woman #111, Wonder Woman #136, Giant Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Collage Key

Wonder Woman #62 (Doppelganger, Triplets), Wonder Woman #90 (Giant Doppelganger), Wonder Woman #98 (Doppelganger), Wonder Woman #102 (Doppelganger, triplets again!), Wonder Woman #111 (Doppelganger), Wonder Woman #136 (Giant Wonder Woman)

The doppelganger theme dominates the transformation of Wonder Woman that is unique among the heroes of the Silver Age.  I did not even include issues in which Wonder Woman is not transformed but fights some sort of robot double.  Wonder Woman is also constantly reduced not via transformation but by fighting giant opponents.  Wonder Woman is then treated as a toy or trinket, or an object by the giant opponent.   Reduction is used to create the objectification of Wonder Woman.  In Wonder Woman #122, Wonder Woman fights a giant robotic double and in this issue the reader sees the juxtaposition of the objectification themes of reduction and duplication.  The giant doppelganger is clearly not a transformation since this double is clearly a robot.  I do include the similar plot of Wonder Woman #90 since the giant double challenges the identity of Wonder Woman and is therefore transformational.

Superboy (Adventure Comics #255) and later Superman (Action #312) face a doppelganger dilemma when red kryptonite splits him into two selves. In both cases, Superman faces a Clark Kent doppelganger.  The Superman doppelganger plots also take a very different direction since there are not two Supermans but rather the two sides of Superman are split physically and must see reunification to create a whole Superman identity.  In the case of Wonder Woman the doppelganger is not a side of Wonder Woman but a duplicate that challenges Wonder Woman’s unique identity.

The objectification of women as sex objects is recurrent feminist theme.  One of the characteristics of an object as opposed to a subject in existential terms is reproducibility.  An object is reproducible. A person is unique and not reproducible.  Even in a future of clones presumably we have a unique soul even if a physical duplicate could be made. The industrial reproduction of feminine beauty and images is a hallmark of 20th century mass media and consumer culture.  Paradoxically women have greater opportunities and education at the precise moment when technological objectification reaches and apex causing a unique post modern historical feminine anxiety.  The constant use of doppelganger themes in the Silver Age Wonder Woman title may be an unconscious response to this feminine anxiety and a naïve form of pop culture driven existential exploration.

Next:

DC Heroes Transformed! Part II Transformations Organized by Type

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DC Superheroes versus Marvel Superheroes Chess Set Proposal

I have already proposed a revision of the Superman versus Batman chess set.  I have proposed a DC superheroes versus DC supervillains set.  Below is my third proposal:

 

DC

King – Superman

Queen – Wonder Woman

Bishop – Green Lantern

Knight – Batman

Rook – Flash

Pawn – Checkmate Field Agent

 

Marvel

King – Thor

Queen – Storm

Bishop – Iron Man

Knight – Captain America

Rook – Hulk

Pawn – S.H.I.E.L.D. Field Agent

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DC Superheroes versus DC Supervillains Chess Set Proposal

There is already a Marvel superheroes versus Marvel supervillains chess set at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Unknown-Marvel-Heroes-Chess-Set/dp/B00008W72X

However, there is no DC superheroes versus DC supervillains chess set and here is my suggested line up:

Superheroes:

King – Superman

Queen – Wonder Woman

Bishop – Green Lantern

Knight – Batman

Rook – Flash

Pawn – Policeman

Supervillains:

King – Lex Luthor

Queen – Cheetah

Bishop – Sinestro

Knight – Joker

Rook – Captain Cold

Pawn – Thug

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DC vs. Marvel: Sidekicks

This post will compare sidekicks of the DC and Marvel universes. Which universe has the best sidekicks?  First of all, what is a sidekick?  Wikipedia provides the following definition “A sidekick is a close companion who is generally regarded as subordinate to the one he accompanies”.  Wikipedia in the same article expands on the functions of a sidekick “Sidekicks can provide one or multiple functions, such as a counterpoint to the hero, an alternate point of view, or knowledge, skills, or anything else the hero doesn’t have. They often function as comic relief, and/or the straight man to the hero’s comedic actions. A sidekick can also act as someone more relatable to the audience than the hero, or whom the audience can imagine themselves as being (such as teen sidekicks). And by asking questions of the hero, or giving the hero someone to talk to, the sidekick provides an opportunity for the author to provide exposition, thereby filling the same role as a Greek chorus”.  A sidekick is not a villain’s henchmen or the romantic interest of a hero which is generally referred to as a companion.

The picture above got me thinking about sidekicks.  The picture is from page 199 of the graphic novel Bizzaro Comics (2001).  Bizzaro Comics is a hilarious collection of indie writers and artist’s parodies of DC comic titles.  This picture is from the story titled Without You I’m Nothing and follows the travails of obscure discarded sidekicks.  I am a comic book historian and do get a kick out of stories that use obscure characters like this story does.  I was not able to identify all the side kicks in the picture but have a partial answer key at the end of this post.  This post also attempts to provide definitive lists of sidekicks in the DC and Marvel universes and the Wikipedia definition was strictly adhered to.  Many obscure characters that have not been included in prior lists of this nature have been included in this post.  Below is a definitive list of DC sidekicks that will be discussed later.

List of DC Sidekicks

Superhero Sidekick First Appearance
Aquaman Aquagirl 1 (Lisa Morel) Adventure Comics #266 (November, 1959)
Aquaman Aquagirl 2 (Tula) Aquaman (vol. 1) #33 (May-June 1967)
Aquaman Aqualad  (Garth) Adventure Comics #269 (February 1960)
Aquaman Topo (Octopus) Adventure Comics #229 (October 1956)
Aquaman Qwsp Aquaman (vol. 1) #1 (January-February 1962)
Batman Ace the Bat Hound Batman #92, June 1955
Batman Alfred Pennyworth (Butler) Batman #16 (April-May 1943
Batman Bat-Girl (Bette Kane) Batman #139 (April 1961)
Batman Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) Detective Comics #359 (January 1967)
Batman Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) Legends of the Dark Knight # 120 (August 1999)
Batman Robin 1 (Dick Grayson) Detective Comics #38 (April 1940)
Batman Robin 2 (Jason Todd) Batman #357 (March 1983)
Batman Robin 3 (Tim Drake) Batman #436 (August 1989)
Batman Robin 4, Spoiler, Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) Detective Comics #647 (August 1992)
Batman Robin 5 (Damian Wayne) Batman #655 (September 2006)
Batman Robin Earth II (Richard Grayson) Detective Comics #38 (April, 1940)
Blackhawk Lady Blackhawk (Zinda) Blackhawk # 133 (February 1959)
Blue Devil Kid Devil Blue Devil #14 (July 1985)
Booster Gold Goldstar Lobo #5 (May ’94)
Booster Gold Skeets Booster Gold (vol. 1) #1 (1986)
Captain Marvel Captain Marvel Jr. Whiz Comics #25 (December 1941)
Captain Marvel Lieutenant Marvels Whiz Comics #21 (1941)
Captain Marvel Mr. Tawky Tawny (Anthropomorphic Tiger) Captain Marvel Adventures #79
Captain Marvel Uncle Marvel Wow Comics #18 (October 1943)
Captain Mid-Nite Hooty the Owl All-American Comics #25 (April, 1941)
Chameleon Boy Proty I Adventure Comics #308 (May 1963)
Chameleon Boy Proty II Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #72 (October 1963)
Crimson Avenger Wing How Detective Comics #20 (October 1938)
Flash Impulse (Bart Allen) Flash (vol. 2) #92 (June 1994)
Flash Kid Flash I (Wally West) The Flash  (vol. 1) #110 (December 1959)
Flash Kid Flash II (Iris West) Kingdom Come #3 (July 1996)
Flash Kid Flash III (Bart Allen) Teen Titans (vol. 3) #4 (December 2003)
Flash S’kidd Flash Flash vol 2 #235 (February, 2008)
General Glory Ernie the Battling Boy Justice League America # 46 (January 1991)
Green Arrow Amber Archer (Connor Hawke) Green Arrow vol 2 #0 (October, 1994)
Green Arrow Arrowette World’s Finest Comics #113 (November 1960)
Green Arrow Speedy  I (Roy Harper) More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941)
Green Arrow Speedy II (Mia Dearden) Green Arrow (vol. 3) #44 (January 2005)
Green Lantern Gen’ma Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #6
Green Lantern Doiby Dickles All-American Comics #27 (June 1941)
Green Lantern Terry Berg Green Lantern (vol. 3) #129 (October 2000)
Green Lantern Thomas Kalmaku (Pieface) Green Lantern (Vol. 2) #2 (September-October 1960)
Icon Rocket Icon #1 (May 1993)
Johnny Thunder Black Lightning the Horse Flash Comics #1 (January 1940)
Joker Harley Quinn The Batman Adventures #12 (September 1993)
Justice League of America Snapper Carr The Brave and the Bold #28 (February-March 1960)
Justice League International G’nort (Green Lantern, Humanoid Dog) Justice League International #10 (February, 1988)
Knight Squire (Cyril) Batman #62,(December 1950)
Little Boy Blue Tubby, Toughy Sensation Comics #1 (January, 1942)
Martian Manhunter Zook Detective Comics #311 (January, 1963).
Mr. Scarlet Pinky the Whiz Kid Wow Comics #4 (1940)
Owlman Talon Teen Titans vol. 3 #38 (September 2006)
Plastic Man Woozy Winks Police Comics #13 (November 1942)
Robin Flamebird (Mary Elizabeth Kane) Teen Titans #50 (October, 1977)
Tomahawk Dan Hunter Star-Spangled Comics #69 (June 1947)
Sandman Brute The Sandman #1 (May 1974)
Sandman Glob The Sandman #1 (May 1974)
Sandman Sandy the Golden Boy (Sandy Hawkins) Adventure Comics # 69 (December 1941)
Space Ranger Cyrll Showcase #15, (July 1958)
Star Hawkins Ilda (Robot) Strange Adventures #114 (March 1960)
Star-Spangled Kid Stripsey (Pat Dugan) Action Comics #40 (September, 1941).
Superboy Pete Ross Superboy #86 (January 1961)
Super-Girl Comet the Super-Horse (Biron) Action Comics #292 (1962)
Super-Girl Streaky the Super-Cat Action Comics #292 (1962)
Superman Bo “Bibbo” Bibbowski Adventures of Superman #428 (May 1987)
Superman Jimmy Olsen Action Comics #6 (November 1938)
Superman Krypto Adventure Comics #210 (March 1955)
Superman Super-Girl Superman #123 (August 1958)
TNT Dan the Dyna-Mite (Daniel Dunbar) World’s Finest Comics #5 (Spring 1942)
Vigilante Stuff the Chinatown Kid Action Comics #45 (February 1942)
Wonder Woman Etta Candy Sensation Comics #2 (Feb. 1942)
Wonder Woman Wonder Girl 1 (Wonder Woman as a teenager) All-Star Comics #8 (December 1941),
Wonder Woman Wonder Girl 2 (Donna Troy) The Brave and the Bold vol. 1 #60 (July 1965)
Wonder Woman Wonder Tot Wonder Woman #105 (April, 1959)

Robin wins the best DC sidekick prize easily.  Robin is the first teenage super hero sidekick and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Robin has been flattered to death.  DC went ahead and created an army of teenage sidekicks.  Eventually the teenage sidekicks of the major superheroes founded a teenage sidekick version of the Justice League called the Teen Titans.  The original Teen Titans included Aqualad, Kid Flash, Robin and Wondergirl.  Later still, Young Justice is created.  The Teen Titans and Young Justice meet in a giant sidekick crossover between their two groups.

The obvious absurdity of Robin is that crime fighting is dangerous work even for an adult like Batman and introducing a minor to crime fighting makes no sense whatsoever except as a plot device.  Batman’s villains were obviously very aware that Robin was the weak link and Two-Face even referred to Robin as the boy hostage.  The psychologist Fredric Wertham decided there was a homosexual subtext in the Batman and Robin relationship and wrote about this in Seduction of the Innocent.  Batman goes through a whole slew of Robins and eventually one gets killed brutally by the Joker with a crow bar in a Death in the Family.  Jason Todd is the lucky Robin to suffer death and the best part is that readers entered a poll to decide if he lived or died.  Truly a low point in comic book history but a lot of Batman issues were sold so all in all the project was a success.  Later Robin 4 (Stephanie Brown) in the identity of the Spoiler is even more brutally killed by the Black Mask with a power drill.

Of course no one really dies in comic books so Jason Todd return as the Red Hood and wants some payback from Batman for letting him die and secondly, and probably more importantly letting the Joker live.  The five Robins all get starring roles after Batman “dies”.  The ex-Robins have all become heroes in their own right.  I would argue that the Red Hood is an antihero not a villain.  Robin 1, Dick Grayson, has become Nightwing.  Robin 3, Tim Drake, becomes Red Robin.  Stephanie brown is resurrected from her power drill death and becomes Batgirl.  The male Robins are all potential impersonators of the dead Batman. The Red Hood gets in the act and kind of forces Dick Grayson to become the new Batman because if he doesn’t then the Red Hood will assume the role.  The potential heirs to Batman agree that the death of Batman should be hidden and one of them should pretend to be the original Batman.  This is similar to the Phantom, the ghost who walks that has the son of the prior Phantom assume the role of the Phantom so as to give the illusion that the Phantom never dies.  The Robins are basically sons of Batman but unfortunately there is more than one son i.e. more than one Robin and succession is not clear.  This jockeying between the Robins is largely covered in the Batman miniseries Battle for the Cowl but this power struggle affected all Batman related titles of the last year.  Dick Grayson does a good job impersonating Batman but doesn’t fool Commissioner Gordon.  The new Batman of course needs a new Robin and gets a psychopath kid, due to being trained by the League of Assassins since childhood.   This new Robin is the long lost son of Bruce Wayne and called Damian Wayne.  Confused?  Everyone is confused so don’t feel bad.  I am sure the writers of the Batman lines have cheat cards on their desks.  Will the barnacles of Batman history eventually sink the line?  Maybe!

Robin and his teenage copies at DC and even Marvel have so dominated the sidekick market in comic books that readers tend not to look at the broader literary concept of a sidekick when looking at comic books.  Another Batman sidekick is Alfred Pennyworth.  Alfred provides an alternate point of view to the audience as well as the ability to aid Batman when he is hurt.  Alfred has surgical skills gained when Alfred was an army medic.  Alfred was also in the theater and can pretend to be Batman when needed.  This is a rarely used skill of Alfred that is nevertheless crucial when someone is too close to discovering Batman’s identity.  Robin is presumably too small to provide a similar function and anyway Robin needs to be by Batman’s side so people don’t think Robin is pretending to be Batman.  Alfred Pennyworth can be extremely critical and sarcastic with Batman unlike the army of Robins.  Alfred provides an “adult” perspective about Batman to the reader.  Alfred has known Batman since he was a child. Alfred is aware of the how the killing of Batman’s parents made Batman a great crime fighter at the expense of a normal life.  The Red Hood has argued with Batman that most of his hard core rogues gallery only fear death and the fact that Batman does not kill and the fact that the villains know this limits the effectiveness of Batman as a crime fighter.  Batman may be able to instill fear in common criminals but provides more challenge than fear to the likes of the Joker.  In Batman #647, Alfred actually agrees with the Red Hood mentally but does not express his views to Batman verbally.

Batman is a serial teenage sidekick mentor and there is something very creepy about this.  Any “normal” person would not expose even one minor to extreme violence and certainly would not continue this behavior after the death of Jason Todd much less the subsequent death of Stephanie Brown.  Alfred has expressed dismay about the use of teenage sidekicks many times to Batman.  However, Alfred in the end is the dutiful butler who does what his master wishes despite any misgivings about such a course of action.  Alfred’s subordination to Batman’s wishes despite sarcastic remarks is what makes Alfred a sidekick rather than an equal partner.  Batman is not the only member of the Batman story line with a sidekick.

The Joker, Batman’s archenemy, has a sidekick!  Villains generally do not have sidekicks but henchmen, minions or lackeys.  Villains are generally egomaniacs and incapable of having long lasting meaningful relationships or so the theory goes. Villains see their henchmen as disposable cannon fodder.  The Joker generally treats those around him in precisely this manner but there is one exception and that is Harley Quinn.  Harley Quinn was a female psychiatrist that treated the Joker at Arkham Asylum and turned to the dark side rather than curing the Joker.  Harley Quinn is in love with the Joker but the relationship has clearly never been consummated.  The Joker obviously sees Harley Quinn as a capable sidekick even if Harley Quinn wants more.  Harley Quinn is a near superhuman gymnast who uses her skill with great combat effectiveness.  Harley Quinn wears a Jester outfit and became friends with Poison Ivy at Arkham were she ironically resided after her break down.  Harley Quinn provides comic relief to Joker stories that despite the name of the Joker were not very funny before Harley Quinn showed up.

The Joker had been jealous of Batman having Robin as a sidekick in the silver age and got his own one-shot sidekick in Batman #186 called Gaggy.  The main function of Gaggy was to provide comic relief to then Joker since such comic relief led to the Joker having great crime ideas.  Gaggy rather simplistically hated Robin and managed to knock Robin out with a head butt to the stomach.  Gaggy was never heard of after that one issue.  I think an issue in which Gaggy, embittered by being discarded by the Joker, targets Harley Quinn for assassination might be interesting.  Harley Quinn turns to Batman to figure out who is trying to kill her and clues are left that the culprit is a dwarf with a penchant for practical joke paraphernalia.  Since not an awful lot of characters fit that description, Batman deduces that the culprit is Gaggy!  Did I mention I like obscure comic book characters?  Batman’s sidekicks on the whole do not provide comic relief.  This is not the case of Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel also has an army of sidekicks but largely for comic relief.  Mr. Tawky Tawny is an anthropomorphic tiger i.e. a funny animal that gets into all sorts of silly trouble Captain Marvel can save the tiger from.  Uncle Marvel is an older bumbling version of Captain Marvel.  Captain Marvel was always a sillier line than his doppelganger Superman.

Flash is another serial sidekick character that has gone through three Kid Flash characters.  Kid Flash was clearly inspired by Robin.  Super speed is a major power that is very much underestimated in comic books.  Basically you can hit the bad guy a hundred times and dodge whatever the bad guy tosses at you.  “Realistically” the foes of the Flash should stand no chance against the Flash.  Captain Cold has a freeze gun.  The Flash should be able to dodge anything the cold gun can come up with.  A teenager with super speed is still incredibly powerful despite being a teenager unlike Robin who has no super powers and even the inferior strength of someone who is younger.  Maybe a Kid Flash can only punch with half the power of an adult but a hundred punches later and even the toughest boxer is going down.

Green Arrow has had two teenage sidekicks named Speedy.  The first Speedy grows up to become a heroin addict, but recovers, and there is some suggestion that maybe crime fighting as a teenager might not be all that healthy psychologically and contributed to the heroin addiction.

Superman only has one teenage sidekick and that is Jimmy Olsen.  In the silver age, Jimmy Olsen was officially Superman’s best pal and again very creepy if you think about it.  Superman is perennially in his early thirties and if I saw some thirty year old hanging around a teen rather than a guy his own age then I would wonder exactly what function this teenager serves.  Jimmy even has a watch with an ultrasonic signal that allows him to call Superman when he is in danger.  Lois Lane does not have such a watch!  Teenage guy gets the watch but not the gal?  Maybe the silver age Superman had reasons for not marrying Lois Lane that had more to do with subconscious gender preference than any other reason.

Superman has a dog called Krypto.  In the silver age, Batman got a dog called Ace but there is no comparison with Krypto and Ace in terms of importance.  Superman in the silver age was Superboy and Krypto and Superboy were constant companions.  This is one of the healthier sidekick relationships in comic books.  Krypto cannot talk but can communicate to the reader via thought balloons that show what Krypto is thinking.  Krypto’s attempts to understand Superboy’s behavior using canine logic were pretty cute and comical and one of the few things that made the otherwise lame Superboy title work.

The current Supergirl has no hyphen between “Super” and “Girl” in her name.  The current Supergirl is a hot babe in a half shirt who has fled to the 31st century to avoid being a sidekick!  The silver age Super-Girl, on the other hand, was very much a sidekick.  She was teenager attending high school and was kept as a secret weapon for much of her silver age career.  Super-Girl was Superman’s cousin so no fear of hanky-panky that would make her a companion.  However, Super-Girl does try to match Superman up with an adult version of her on another planet!

Super-Girl has sidekicks in her own right!  Super-Girl has a super cat named Streaky and a super horse named Comet.  Somewhere in the Superman family there is a super monkey named Beppo but I am not really sure who he belongs to.  All the super animals unite with Proty to create the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st century.  Years later Marvel will make its own group of superhero animal sidekicks.  Proty is the sidekick of Chameleon Boy who is a member of the Legion of Super Heroes of the 31st century.  Proty I sacrificed himself to revive the dead Lighting Lad but a Proty II soon shows up.  Proty I and II are aliens that look like blobs and can mimic just about any form.

That leaves us with Wonder Women’s sidekicks.  The silver age Woman had several sidekicks.  Etta Candy was a fat rather stupid college student who was supposed to be used for comic relief but was more obnoxious than funny.  The silver age Wonder Woman went through a rather silly phase in which she had adventures with herself as a Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot!  Wonder Woman used Amazonian technology to create films of herself that showed “what if” adventures with her younger versions.  I have to tell you I was maybe seven when a lot of these adventures came out originally and I was totally confused.  I assumed Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot were sisters of Wonder Woman and didn’t find out the “truth” until I was in my thirties.  Wonder Woman is probably one of those silver age titles that is really hard for modern readers to digest but the title had a fantasy quality that was very different from the more sci-fi quality of most silver age stuff and appealed to my young imagination.  Wonder Woman may go down in literary history as the only character that had two versions of herself as her own sidekicks. The graphic novel Bizzaro Comics (2001) does have a story with Wonder Tot and Wonder Girl racing to sit next to Wonder Woman during lunch and destroying half the Amazon city in the process.  Later, a more Robin like Wonder Girl was created as a sidekick.

Below is a list of Marvel sidekicks that will be discussed at the end of this list:

List of Marvel Sidekicks

Superhero Sidekick First Appearance
Avengers, Iron Man Edwin Jarvis (Butler) Tales of Suspense #59 (Nov 1964)
Captain America Bucky I Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941)
Captain America Bucky II (Rick Jones)  
Captain America Free Spirit Captain America vol. 1 #431 (September 1994)
Captain America Jack Flag (Jack Harrison) Captain America #434, (December 1994)
Captain Britain Jackdaw The Incredible Hulk Weekly #57 (April 1980)
Captain Marvel Falcon (Sam “Snap” Wilson) Captain America #117 (Sept. 1969)
Daredevil Foggy Nelson Daredevil v1 #1 (April 1964)
Deadpool Weasel Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1 (August 1993)
Deadpool Blind Al Deadpool #1 (Jan. 1997)
Deadpool Bob, Agent of HYDRA Cable & Deadpool #38 (May 2007)
Doc Samson Geiger Captain America vol. 1 #431 (September 1994)
Doctor Strange Wong Strange Tales #110 (Jul 1963)
Falcon Redwing (Hawk) Captain America #117 (Sept. 1969)
Franklin Richards H.E.R.B.I.E. (Robot) Fantastic Four #209 (August 1979)
Hulk Jim Wilson Incredible Hulk  v1 #131 (September, 1970)
Hulk Teen Brigade Incredible Hulk v1 #6 (March 1963)
Hulk, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Avengers Rick Jones Incredible Hulk v1 #1 (May 1962)
Human Torch Toro Human Torch Comics #2 (Fall 1940)
Inhumans Lockjaw (Dog) Fantastic Four #45, (December 1965)
Ka-Zar Zabu (Sabertooth Tiger) X-Men #10 (Mar 1965)
Fantastic Four Franklin Richards (Son of Reed Richards & Susan Storm) Fantastic Four Annual #6 (November 1968)
Fantastic Four, Franklin Richards Valeria Richards (Daughter of Reed Richards & Susan Storm) Fantastic Four vol. 3 #54 (June 2002)
Fantastic Four Lockjaw Puppy (Dog) Fantastic Four vol.3 #9.
Nick Fury Dum Dum Dugan Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1 (May 1963)
Shadowcat Lockheed (Small Dragon) Uncanny X-Men #166 (Feb 1983)
Speedball Niels, Hairball (Cat) Speedball #1
Spider-Man Jackpot Free Comic Book Day Spider-Man: Swing Shift (May 2007)
Spider-Man Ms. Lion (Dog) Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends #1
Spider Girl Scarlet Spider 3 (Felicity Hardy) Spider-Girl # 46
Taskmaster, Agent X Sandi Brandenberg Taskmaster Mini-Series (2002)
Thing, Captain America Demolition Man aka D-Man Captain America #328 (April 1987)
Wolverine Jubilee Uncanny X-Men #244 (May, 1989)
Young Allies Whitewash Jones Young Allies Comics 1941

The first sidekick on the list is Edwin Jarvis who is a butler at Avengers Mansion that in turn is owned and operated by Tony Stark.  Tony Stark is of course Iron Man.  Jarvis is an obvious clone of Alfred, Batman’s butler, but is much more one dimensional and provides comic relief rather than insight into the super heroes he deals with unlike Alfred.  Alfred was a medic during a time of war and may be old but is obviously tough and handles sensitive Batman impersonation missions.  Alfred would beat the crap out of Jarvis in any altercation.

Bucky is probably the most famous sidekick in the Marvel universe.  Bucky is Captain America’s sidekick from the golden age that was killed in the golden age.  In 2010, Bucky was resurrected after more than forty years just to make sure whatever faith readers had in comic book continuity was crushed once and for all so that suspension of disbelief via continuity would be rendered impossible once and for all.  Comic sales are down way down.  The recession and competition with other media are to blame but decisions like the Bucky resurrection don’t help.  Anyway, Captain America is put into suspended animation minutes after Bucky is “blown up” and the guilt Captain America feels upon reawakening in the silver age is a major part of the Captain America story line.  Captain America over the last forty years continually demonstrated how the trauma for the death of Bucky affected him mostly in the form of nightmares.  Batman has never shown this level of trauma about the deaths of his Robins.

In the first silver age appearance of Captain America (Avengers vol. 1, #1) Captain America runs into a teenager he mistakes for Bucky, Rick Jones.  Rick Jones is the side kick of the Hulk but this doesn’t stop him from later becoming Bucky II.  The Hulk is not too pleased with this and this leads to altercations between Captain America and the Hulk.  The Hulk has a point.  Bruce Banner was exposed to gamma ray radiation while saving Rick Jones and became the monster called the Hulk because of Rick Jones.  Yeah, Rick Jones owes his life to the Hulk’s alter ego but heck Captain America has wavy blonde hair and also is not a monster, literally, so Rick Jones decides to become Bucky II.  Rick Jones is not a very loyal sidekick and becomes Captain Marvel’s sidekick later on.  I guess Captain Marvel’s wavy silver hair beat Captain America’s wavy blonde hair.  Rick Jones is currently a Hulk type called A-Bomb and is really digging not being a sidekick anymore despite having Hulk monster type problems.  Captain America has had other sidekicks beside Bucky I and II including Jack Flag and Jackdraw.  Heroes in both the DC and Marvel universe seem to either have slews of sidekicks or no sidekicks. Are sidekicks addictive?  For the records there have been several Captain Americas with their Bucky sidekicks but I am only dealing with the Steve Rogers Captain America.

Foggy Nelson is a sidekick of Daredevil.  Foggy Nelson is the law partner of Matt Murdock the alter ego of Daredevil.  Foggy provided a great deal of comic belief in the beginning but has matured into a more competent brilliant lawyer that is an asset to Matt Murdock.  Foggy has an incredible case law memory and might even superior to Matt Murdock as a lawyer but does not have the confidence of Matt and is therefore generally not the lead lawyer.  Without Foggy, the law practice of Matt Murdock would have gone down the toilet during his many, Daredevil caused, MIA stints.  Foggy Nelson has a paunch and food related jokes are his comic relief contribution.

Deadpool is a hilarious anti-hero that has had several equally hilarious sidekicks including Weasel, Blind Al and Bob, Agent of Hydra.  My favorite is Bob, Agent of Hydra.  Bob is a parody of henchmen and the number one lesson he learned from Hydra was “hiding behind each other”.  Under pressure, Bob tends to shout “Hail Hydra”.

Doctor Strange has and adult Asian manservant from Tibet named Wong.  Wong may not know much magic but he is a master martial artist.  Wong is fairly subservient compared to other comic book sidekicks.  If you do visit Doctor Strange at his Sanctum Santorum in New York then you have to get past Wong first.  His role as a literal gatekeeper gives him some power that a lesser servant would not have.

Marvel decided to transform the son Reed Richards and Susan Storm from a typical omega level angst driven mutant to a Calvin type character, as in Calvin and Hobbes, character with great success.  Franklin is a side kick to the Fantastic Four that provides a child’s perspective of the Fantastic Four as well as comic relief.  Franklin is also a scientific genius who can modify his dad’s super science gadgets but generally his attempts to improve dad’s gadgets lead to disaster.  Franklin has his own sidekick, H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot. H.E.R.B.I.E. provides a logical to the point of absurdity perspective to the childish antics of Franklin. H.E.R.B.I.E.  constantly tries to convince Franklin H.E.R.B.I.E. to leave his dad’s lab alone but he is ultimately a subordinate that is then forced to try to clean up the mess created by Franklin.

The Hulk got over the loss of Rick Jones and adopted Jim Wilson.  Jim Wilson was an inner city, Black teenager that very poignantly died of cancer later.  Doctor Strange has an Asian sidekick.  The Hulk has an African-American sidekick.  The Lone Ranger has a Native American sidekick, Tonto.  Does anyone see a pattern here?  My next post will be titled DC vs. Marvel: Multicultural Heroes and I will examine the issue of race in the DC and Marvel universes in detail.

In 2009, Marvel untied all the animal sidekicks into a team called the Pet Avengers.  The Pet Avengers are a rip off of the Legion of Super Animals over at DC.  The Legion of Super Pets was played straight and this was probably a bad decision given the absurdity of the concept.  The Pet Avengers is a silly title with lots of comic relief and one of my favorite current titles.  I am not sure how far you can go with this concept but so far so good.  The members of the Pet Avengers include Redwing a hawk of Falcon, Lockjaw a giant dog that can teleport of the Inhumans,  Zabu a saber tooth tiger of Ka-Zar, Lockheed a small dragon that is a sidekick of Shadowcat, Hairball a cat belonging to Speedball and Ms. Lion a dog belonging to Spider-Man.  The team includes Throg is a frog with lesser versions of Thor’s powers and is not a sidekick of Thor but a hero among his frog tribe in his own right.  The interplay between the animals is what really makes the team work.  Krypto and Streaky were a dog and a cat in the same legion but the fact that dogs and cats don’t get along was never really explored.  Hairball the cat thinks Ms. Lion is an absolute idiot and worse, a dog!  Ms. Lion is the only one on the team that doesn’t have super powers is very much the pampered house dog of Spiderman’s Aunt May.  Ms. Lion claims the right to membership based on her sidekick status alone.

The sidekick status of the members is highlighted in one story of Tails of the Pet Avengers: The Dogs of Summer #1.  In the story titled“Garbage Grief”, Franklin Richards teams up with the Pet Avengers flanked with his own sidekicks H.E.R.B.I.E. and Puppy.  Puppy is a miniature version of Lockjaw complete with his powers of teleportation.   In this story Puppy does manage to teleport the Pet Avengers to deal with a giant humanoid garbage creature that Franklin created more or less accidentally. So this is a sidekick crossover albeit on a much smaller scale than the DC Teen Titans/Young Justice crossover.  Another treat of this particular issue, is that the origin of Puppy is finally dealt with.  Puppy has been a fixture of the Fantastic Four for a while but his origin has not been dealt with until this issue.  Turns out Puppy is the grand pup of Lockjaw and is a present of Franklin’s future self to himself in the past.  In another issue, Tails of the Pet Avengers #1 has an adventure with Redwing the hawk titled “Birds of a Different Feather”.  Redwing the sidekick of Falcon is chased by a pigeon that wants to be a sidekick of Redwing.  Redwing refuses this offer at first but the pigeon pulls a masterful guilt trip to change the mind of Redwing.

I also have to mention the Incredible Hercules that ran from 2008 to 2010.  Hercules is teamed up with Amadeus Cho.  Amadeus Cho is really smart, mutant level smart but Hercules is Hercules!  Normally Amadeus Cho, the brainy, sixteen year old, nerdy teenager, would be the sidekick but an argument can be made that Hercules is the sidekick even if Hercules would smash anyone who suggested as much.  In one issue Hercules is up against his old enemies the Amazons.  Amadeus Cho is captured by the Amazonians.  Amadeus Cho is referred to as the eromenos of Hercules (Incredible Hercules #121, 2008) by the Amazons during his captivity.  Amadeus Cho is not happy with this appellation at all.  This is one of the few issues that points out the obvious, when older men have sixteen year old guys as buddies then there is usually one sort of relationship at work going back to Greek times.  This is an intelligent comic book line that turns the sidekick conventions upside down in an extremely funny manner.

The most famous teenage sidekick of Marvel is Bucky but Bucky is not nearly as important to comic book history as Robin.  Probably getting killed in the golden age for plus forty years didn’t help the career of Bucky at all.  Marvel has other teenage sidekicks like the golden age Toro but all and all Marvel does not have the rooster of well known teenage sidekicks that DC has. DC also wins in terms of teenage sidekick teams.  DC has the aforementioned Teen Titans and Young Justice.  Marvel has teenage teams including the Young Avengers and the Runaways but they are not sidekick teams but teams of teenage heroes.  In many ways Marvel sidestepped the need for teenage sidekicks by making more teenage heroes than DC.  Spiderman began his career in high school.  The X-Men operate out of Xavier’s Academy which trains teenagers.  The New Mutants are teenagers that go to Xavier’s Academy and are not sidekicks.  I think overall Marvel may have been smart to make teenage heroes to fulfill many of the teen identification functions of teenage sidekicks.

DC just has a lot more sidekicks than Marvel period.  DC has 71 sidekicks on their list.  Marvel has 34 sidekicks on their list.  Beyond numbers, DC has a rooster of more famous sidekicks especially in the teenage sidekick category.  DC and Marvel have pursued different strategic approaches to the use of teenage sidekicks in their respective universes.  Marvel, however, is doing great things with animal sidekicks with the Pet Avengers and funny sidekicks like Franklin Richards and H.E.R.B.I.E.  Unfortunately, a two year trend does not negate the fact that DC has historically had the most and best sidekicks.

DC wins the sidekick wars!

Answer to DC Sidekick Quiz

1. Stripsey

2. Proty

3. Doiby Dickles

4. ?

5. Streaky?

6. Brute

7. Qwsp

8. Glob

9. Cyrll

10. Mr. Twaky Tawny

11. Zook

12. Ace the Bat Hound

13. Wing

14. ?

15. ?

16. Ilda

17. Skeets

18. ?

19. ?

20. ?

I do wonder if some of the sidekicks I can’t figure out are actual sidekicks in DC comics.  Number 5 might be Streaky the Super Cat but looks more like a mouse than a cat.

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

Other DC vs. Marvel Posts

Big Monsters

Fourth Wall Heroes

Funny Animals

Horror Hosts

Kids

Robots

Sidekicks

Spacemen

Super pets

Teenagers

Transportation

War Heroes

Weapons

WesternHeroes

Women in Refrigerators

WorkingWomen

WereVerse Universe Baby!

DC vs. Marvel: Transportation

The most important category of objects in the comic book universe of DC and Marvel has to be the weapons.  I look at this topic at:

https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/marvel-vs-dc-weapons/

I would argue that the second most important category of objects in the DC and Marvel comic book universe are objects of transportation.  Superheroes fight supervillains and weapons are needed to do this.  Unfortunately for superheroes, supervillains are often a cowardly lot that will flee with the loot rather than fight.  Some warrior supervillains like Doomsday will stand and fight Superman but many supervillains try to flee Superman.  This means the superhero needs a speedy mode of transport to catch the supervillain and the supervillain wants a mode of speedy transportation to escape.  Plus when a crime occurs, the superhero needs to show up at the scene of the crime in the first place.  Last but not least, most superheroes patrol anything from a sector of a galaxy, Green Lanterns, to a section of city, Daredevil and Hell’s Kitchen, and need a way of getting around.

In other science fiction universe there is a “vehicle” category but comic books are more speculative fiction than science fiction and some of the most iconic and important forms of transport only vaguely fit even the most general definition of vehicle.  This post will look at vehicles but also discuss other objects that provide transportation.  Does DC or Marvel have the coolest objects of transportation?

DC Transportation

Below is a list of objects of transportation in the DC universe.

  1. Adam Strange’s Jetpack
  2. Alpha Centurion’s Pax Romana
  3. Ambush Bug’s Teleport Suit
  4. Batboat
  5. Batcycle
  6. Batmobile
  7. Batplane
  8. Birds of Prey – Aerie One
  9. Birds of Prey – Aerie Two
  10. Black Manta’s Sea Saucer
  11. Black Manta’s Walker
  12. Blackhawk Planes
  13. Blue Beetle’s Bug
  14. Blue Tracer
  15. Boom Tube
  16. Booster Mobile
  17. Brains Submarine
  18. Braniac’s Skull Ship
  19. Braniac’s Star Ship
  20. Brontadon (Ship)
  21. Catwoman’s Catmobile
  22. Catwoman’s Catplane
  23. Challenger SST
  24. Clockincopter
  25. Cluster Ship
  26. Cometeer
  27. Craddock Carriage
  28. Di’ib
  29. Doomsday Ship
  30. Eye of Zared
  31. Fiddler’s Fiddle Car
  32. Flash’s Cosmic Threadmill
  33. Flying Fish
  34. Flying Sundial
  35. Fokker Dr. I
  36. Gentleman’s Horse
  37. Gibel Ship
  38. Golden Knight Flying Horse
  39. Gorandian Battle Tripod
  40. Gorandian Submarine
  41. Green Arrow’s Arrowcar
  42. Green Arrow’s Arrowplane
  43. Green Lantern Ring
  44. Grumman XF5F
  45. Gyrosub
  46. Haunted Tank
  47. Hawkman’s Wings
  48. Hourman’s Timeship
  49. Huntress Motorcycle
  50. Javelin-7
  51. Jokermobile
  52. Jonah Hex’s Mechanical Horse
  53. JSA’s Steel Eagle
  54. Justice League Cruiser
  55. Justice League Teleporter
  56. Kal-El’s Rocketship
  57. Kanjar Ro’s Spaceship
  58. Lansarian Morphing Disk
  59. Legion Cruiser
  60. Legion Flight Rings
  61. Legion of Superheroes Flying Rings
  62. Legion of Superheroes Time Bubble
  63. Legion of Superheroes Time Cube
  64. Lobo’s Spacehog
  65. LX-811 Star Cruiser
  66. Mark 494 Star Cruiser
  67. Mitsu-Bishi
  68. Mobius Chair
  69. Multipurpose Intercept/Reconnaissance Vehicle
  70. Mustang Three
  71. Nautilus of Earth ABC
  72. Newsboy Legion’s Whiz Wagon
  73. Omega Men Mothership
  74. Orion’s Astro-Harness
  75. Owlship
  76. P-40 Warhawk
  77. Paco’s Convertible
  78. Panzer-Ship
  79. Peacemaker Hog
  80. Pilgrim One
  81. Quantum Jet
  82. Rip Hunter’s Timesphere
  83. Robin’s Redbird
  84. Royal Flush Gang’s Flying Cards
  85. Sam
  86. Samson’s Chronomobile
  87. Sandals of Hermes
  88. Scanner One
  89. Scarlet Skier’s Cosmic Skis
  90. Scorpion-Ship
  91. Sea Witch
  92. Sheba
  93. Space Cab
  94. Space Shuttle Excalibur
  95. Star-Rocket Racer
  96. Starhunter’s Sunrider
  97. Steel Eagle
  98. Super-Cycle
  99. Superman’s Phantom Zone Projector – It transports you to another dimension!
  100. Supermobile
  101. Swinging through the rooftops – Batman
  102. T-Jet
  103. T-Sub
  104. Teen Titan’s Helicopter
  105. Thangarian Star Cruiser
  106. Time Bubble
  107. Trickster’s Air Shoes
  108. User: Bonesaw 19
  109. Vig-Cycle
  110. Vigilante’s Motocycle
  111. Warehouse X Toys
  112. Warhound
  113. Warlord’s Plane
  114. Whirly-Bat
  115. Whiz Wagon
  116. Wildcat’s Motorcycle
  117. Wingcycle
  118. Wonder Woman’s Invisible Plane

Some of the more famous objects of transportation are Adam Strange’s Jetpack, the Batmobile, the Flash’s Cosmic Threadmill, the Haunted Tank, Hawkman’s Wings, Green Lantern’s Ring, Kal-El’s Rocketship, Legion of Superheroes Time Bubble, and Wonder Woman’ Invisible Plane.  The top two of this list, the crème de la crème, are the Batmobile and Kal El’s Rocketship.  If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the Batmobile has been praised again and again.  The Arrowmobile, Catmobile, Jokermobile and to some extent the Spider-Mobile, as parody, are all derived from the Batmobile.  Kal-El’s Rocketship refers to the space ship that delivered Superman to the planet Earth from Krypton.  The Batmobile has been the subject of schematics from the beginning and you can buy toy collections of Batmobiles from the golden age to the present.

Superman’s rocket is a very different affair and the particulars of how the ship looks have varied tremendously from the golden age to the present.  This is a contest between a very visually defined vehicle and an icon.  The historic significance of Superman’s rocket ship is more important than the Batmobile.  The rocket ship is an integral part of the Superman mythos and that mythos in turn largely defined comic books from the beginnings to the present.  On iconic grounds I would say Kal El’s rocketship is the most important object of transportation in the DC universe and the coolest.

Marvel Transportation

Below is a list of objects of transportation in the DC universe.

  1. Asgardian Star Jammer
  2. Avengers Quinjet
  3. Big Wheel
  4. Dr. Doom’s Time Machine
  5. Dr. Strange’s Cloak of Levitation
  6. Fantastic Four’s Fantasti-Car
  7. Fantastic Four’s Pogo Plane
  8. Flying Horses – Valyky, Black Knight
  9. Galactus Ship
  10. Ghost Rider’s Hell Cycle
  11. Green Goblin’s Glider
  12. Guardians of the Galaxy – Freedom’s Lady
  13. Hawkeyes Sky-cycle
  14. Iron Man’s Armor
  15. Kang’s Time-Ship
  16. Moon Knight’s Helicopter
  17. Nextwave’s Shockwave Rider
  18. Quasar’s Quantum Bands
  19. Runaway’s Leapfrog
  20. S.H.I.E.L.D. Flying Car
  21. S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier
  22. Silver Surfer’s Board
  23. Spider-Man’s Spider-Mobile
  24. Stiltman’s Stilts
  25. Swinging through the rooftops – Spiderman, Daredevil
  26. Thor’s Hammer Mjolnir
  27. X-Men’s Blackbird

Some of the most important objects of transportation in the Marvel universe include:

the Fantasti-Car, Iron Man’s Armor, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, Thor’s hammer and the X-Men’s Blackbird.  I have to mention is the Spider-Mobile that is largely forgotten but was in Spider-Man during the seventies and was hilarious.  The Spider-Mobile was a parody of consumerism.  Spider-Man agreed to ride the Spider-Mobile for an ad agency.  Spider-Man is about always broke.  The problem was the Spider-Mobile was constantly having troubles.  Webhead would have been better of sticking to his webbing and swinging through the roof tops.

My Marvel favorites are the Fantasti-Car and Iron Man’s armor.  Both are marvels of comic book engineering.  Schematics of both were provided early on and you could almost believe these machines could be created.  They represent very different ideas of design.  Iron Man’s armor is a sleek, streamlined, minimalist machine that is a high tech, red and yellow, hot rod of the skies.  If Iron Man’s armor is a hot rod then the Fantasti-Car is a Volkswagen that is not streamlined but very practical.  The Fantasti-Car has a modular design that looks goofy but allows the individual Fantastic Four members to break away from the main ship and fight more effectively as a group.  Iron Man led to any number of armored imitators and again if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Iron Man’s armor wins.  However, does Iron Man’s armor deserve to win in this sort of contest?  Iron Man’s armor is more weapon than transport.  I think because of this the Fantasti-Car is the winner in the Marvel universe.  The modular design of the Fantasti-Car might have real life applications.

The Soviet Union often used tank riders instead of trucks for transportation during WW II.  Men hung onto tanks for dear life.  This was done due to a lack of trucks on the part of the Soviet Union.  However, later many tactical advantages came out of this experience.  The men could quickly jump from the tank and provide support to the tank and vice-versa in a way troops in trucks could not.

I wonder if there is the possibility of some sort of helicopter rider system in which special forces could break away from a helicopter using some sort of individual pod rocket system attached to the outside of the helicopter allowing for greater speed in exiting than the current rappelling system used by special forces.  You enter the external rocket pod using a door on the inside of the helicopter to provide maximum protection until the moment of exit.  The rocket pod also allows quicker dispersal of special forces around an area and the pod also offers some extra protection upon exiting the protection of the helicopter.

Conclusion

The winner of the DC competition is Superman’s rocket ship.  The winner of the Marvel competition is the Fantasti-Car.  I love the sixties campiness of the Fantasti-Car but iconic value beats campiness and Superman’s object wins as the coolest object of transportation!  DC wins!  In the course of this study something else stood out.

What is very interesting when comparing the objects of transportation of DC with Marvel is that there is a giant difference in the number of such objects.  This difference in numbers took me by surprise and is serendipitous result of this study.  DC has 117 objects of transportation.  Marvel has 27 objects of transportation.  I have done my best to be exhaustive in the compilation of both lists but still may have missed an important object of transportation here and there but the difference in numbers is so great that one must come to the conclusion transportation, as reflected in the numbers above, is more important in the DC universe than the Marvel universe.  I have my own after the fact theory about this.

I am old enough to have read comic books from the golden age to the present and let me assure younger readers that comic books have changed tremendously!  The Marvel universe is a relatively new universe compared to DC whose superheroes and story line foundations were largely created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the sixties.  I would argue one basic difference between Marvel and DC, especially in the sixties, was that Marvel focused a lot more on fights than the chase.  For example, Superman spent way more time flying around looking for crooks than Thor.  Thor quickly found his enemy and most of the issue focused on the fight.  Thor fought characters like the Hulk.  The Hulk does not flee from Thor that’s for sure.  I actually bought the first issue in which Thor and the Hulk fought solo and even then I knew this was something different.  For one thing Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created all these fight scene cartoon blurb sounds that had no equivalent in the DC universe.  Jack Kirby used a lot more  lines showing shock waves than anyone else.  The fight looked more real and the key to this was actually using exaggerated action that is less real but interestingly looks more real due to the nature of the medium.  I am into martial arts and have at least fifty books in the area with pictures that show each move of a kata and the pictures look pretty boring compared to a well done Jack Kirby punch or kick.  I came to the conclusion that Marvel had better fight scenes and certainly longer fight scenes than DC.  The difference in the quality and quantity of fight scenes between Marvel and DC has largely lessened over time.

I mentioned Doomsday and Superman in the introduction and their fight as chronicled in the Death of Superman storyline was generally one giant multi-issue series of fight scenes.  I hate to admit it but I enjoyed the series!  Remind me to grow up one of these days.  For the record, Superman didn’t die despite the title of the series and I knew darn well Superman wouldn’t die and was amazed how my friends and family bought the lie hook line and sinker!  And also for the record, Captain America and Batman are not going to stay dead!

The greater emphasis on fight scenes made Marvel more “modern” from their beginnings.  Movies and TV were becoming more violent in the sixties and it made sense for comic books to go this route as well.  Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were more attuned to modern media trends than their counterparts at DC at the time and this is one reason Marvel became such a success at the expense of DC.  As a side note, I do not consider comic books overly violent at all compared to other media.

Comic books have become more violent from the sixties to the present but are still much less violent than other media.  I am especially amazed at some of the cutesy violent video games on Facebook that have tremendous appeal to my nieces and nephews who are in the six to ten year old age group.  I would much rather my nieces and nephews were reading the most violent DC or Marvel comic book out there than playing those horrible video games.  I guess I am getting old because despite the best efforts of my nieces and nephews to explain the games, I had no interest.

The games are kind of Hello Kitty meets the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  You have these very cute cartoon characters wielding knifes or whatever and doing terrible things to other cute cartoon characters with blood and guts pouring out.  I like my genres purer than that.  I like Hello Kitty and I like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre but I really don’t care for Hello Kitty acting like Leatherface, the bad guy in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The games are very similar to Ren and Stimpy of The Simpsons fame but again are video games rather than a cartoon within a cartoon.  I do think the interactive nature of a violent video game as opposed to a violent cartoon on TV is worrisome.  Back to the topic of this post!

Another example of fight versus chase, many fifties Batman issues were reprinted in 80 page Giants in the sixties that I read when I was young and in many ways I grew up with this version of Batman.  The fifties Batman is all about the chase!  The Batman of the fifties invariably ended up in some sort of scenario with giant objects.  Batman chased and fought crooks in an almost surrealistic landscape.  Batmite was introduced at this time and used his reality warping powers not to fight Batman but to make the chase more interesting.  There is no Marvel counterpart to this sort of chase.

I would argue the greater number of objects of transportation in the DC universe is due to DC having a golden age inheritance in which the chase was more important than the fight.  Marvel does not share this inheritance and presumably would have more weapons than DC.  Counting weapons is much harder than counting objects of transportation.  I spent hours compiling lists of weapons in the DC and Marvel universe for my last post and am still not happy with the result.  Weapons are ubiquitous in comic books.  Objects of transportation are much smaller in number and easier to count definitively.

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

Other DC vs. Marvel Posts

Big Monsters

Fourth Wall Heroes

Funny Animals

Horror Hosts

Kids

Robots

Sidekicks

Spacemen

Superpets

Teenagers

Transportation

War Heroes

Weapons

Western Heroes

Women in Refrigerators

Working Women

WereVerse Universe Baby!

Flash Haiku

Super fast hero

Lightning + chemicals, speed!

Good guy, short blond hair

WereVerse Universe Baby!

Justice League of America Haiku Riddles

Test your comic book IQ!  

See if you can figure out which haiku describes which superhero.  The answers are at the bottom.

1

Fish man swims quickly

Telepathy controls fish

King of Atlantis

2

In atom sized world

Atomic shrinking smart man

In atom world, big

3

Batarang flying

Dark knight prowling silently

The streets are safe now!

4

The man can stretch, wow!

Wiggling nose means mystery

His wife is so smart!

5

Super fast hero

Lightning + chemicals, speed!

Good guy, short blond hair

6

Deadly green bowman

Skilled, tough, martial artist

Has a son, his heir

7

Green ring glowing bright

Will power universal

Evil doers beware

8

Giant flapping wings

Feathered bird faced mask

Ancient mace in hand

9

Wise green man from Mars

Telepathic Superman clone?

Fire makes him scream

10

Super man, swoosh, bam, pow

A blur of red cape, blue tights

Green Kryptonite glows

11

Shiny Tiara

Large breasts in golden eagles!

Golden lasso of truth

Key

1-Aquaman

2-Atom

3-Batman

4-Elongated Man

5-Flash

6-Green Arrow

7-Green Lantern

8-Hawkman

9-Martian Manhunter

10-Superman

11-Wonder Woman

 Reference

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice_league_of_america#Silver_and_Bronze_Age_.2F_Justice_League_of_America

WereVerse Universe Baby!