Five Fun Facts About Your Favorite Superheroes
The longer a comic book superhero has been around, the more in-depth his or her bio tends to get. Some of the more steadfast stars have been gracing pages since the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s and have really racked up the impressive backstories. Sure, many backgrounds have been ret-conned a time or two, have gotten revamped, or even entirely rewritten to make room for slightly more attractive biographies. Sometimes these changes makes sense and other times they just kind of glaze over some otherwise far-fetched beginnings. Whatever the case, there is always some little hidden gem of knowledge that you don’t realize is there. Let’s check out some hidden info about our favorite superheroes.
1) The whole point behind Robin's creation was to draw young readers to the pages of Batman. It worked, and in 1940 when Dick Grayson made his first appearance, doubling sales.
2) There have actually been six incarnations of Robin: Dick Grayson (now Nightwing), Jason Todd (now Red Hood), Tim Drake (on again/off again current Robin, and Red Robin), Stephanie Brown (now Spoiler), and Damian Wayne (Robin to Dick Grayson's Batman when Bruce Wayne was thought dead). The sixth is Carrie Kelly who dons the role in Frank Miller's non-canonical The Dark Knight Returns.
3) Robin's original name started as a version of Robin Hood as recalled and designed by Bill Kane and Bill Finger, but it has also been noted that he is based on the American songbird as well.
4) It's been noted by his creators that Robin came to be simply because Batman needed someone to talk to, and having him think to himself all the time was getting tedious.
5) On Earth-2 (home of the Golden Age of DC Comics adventures), Dick Grayson remains Robin into adulthood, even after Batman's death, eventually joining the Justice Society of America.
- The Fantastic Four
1) Since their incarnation in 1961, the FF have become something of a dysfunctional family, often times arguing and squabbling among one another. And unlike traditional superheroes, they have often given up their identities for something of a celebrity status.
2) The creation of The Fantastic Four was actually born from a meeting between several comics producers who were talking with a man who worked for DC (then National Periodic Publications). He was telling them that the Justice League of America was outselling all other titles. Word got back to Stan Lee to come up with a team for Marvel and so the FF was born.
3) The original design for the FF's uniforms came from a defunct team penciled by Jack Kirby for rival DC. Kirby tended to use skin-tight costumes with a belt and liked to keep it simple (aside from The Thing), so he borrowed his own concepts from Challengers of the Unknown and they are nearly identical.
4) One of Kirby and Lee's most well-known achievements on the FF title was 1966's 'The Galactus Trilogy'. Not only did this open up a more mystical and cosmic feel to the narrative, but it introduced one of Marvel's most loved characters: The Silver Surfer.
5) Thanks to artist and writer John Byrne's run on the Fantastic Four in the '80s, Invisible Girl (Sue Storm) became Invisible Woman, as she transformed from motherly and subservient (a TV housewife-styled character) to an independent and powerful woman in her own right.
- Green Lantern
1) Five Earth men have held the title as Green Lantern: Golden Age Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Silver Age Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Bronze Age Green Lanterns (Guy Gardener and John Stewart), and Modern Age Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner).
2) In the '70s, a story within the pages of Green Lantern/Green Arrow shows Green Arrow's sidekick, Speedy (now Red Arrow), being forced to leave the team due to his heroin addiction. This was one of the first stories based around drug abuse.
3) On June 1, 2012, DC Comics announced that it would be introducing Alan Scott as a gay man in the title "Earth 2." The issue is scheduled to be released on June 6, 2012. This has come as a surprise to many considering the Golden Age of Comics made no mention of this.
4) Talk about close calls, Guy Gardener was actually the initial choice of Abin Sur to take the mantle of Green Lantern as he scoured the galaxy before his death. As it turned out, Hal Jordan was just closer to him.
5) In 2006, the Lantern's inherent weakness to yellow was changed so that the ring bearer need only understand, conquer and control fear in order to defeat yellow objects. The one caveat that still balances and explains the yellow issue us that it is a struggle and a learned ability, so yellow does still cause issues for some Lanterns.
- Man-Thing and Swamp Thing
1) Though Man-Thing and Swamp Thing harbor very similar origin stories (in fact, the writers for both were friends), both have since gone in completely different directions. Therefore, there never was any legal action between Marvel and DC.
2) Yes, during a run in '74-'75, the Marvel character headed his own book titled Giant-Size Man-Thing. Seriously.
3) One of the main differences between the two vegetation monsters is that Man-Thing retains almost none of his former humanity though he does show empathy, and Swamp Thing retains significant amounts of humanity and can still communicate through human speech.
4) Oddly, creators for both Marvel and DC's swamp creatures noted vague but important similarities to The Heap. Fortunately for all three publications, no further mention or consequence occurred.
5) Interestingly enough, the feature film The Swamp Thing was directed by horror master and Freddy Krueger creator, Wes Craven.
- The Hulk
1) Not only was The Hulk's original color not green, it wasn't any one shade of gray, either. Colorist Stan Goldberg had such a struggle with the gray shading -- chosen by Stan Lee so he wasn't representative of any one ethnicity -- that The Hulk appeared as different shades of gray and even green in his premiere appearance.
2) The Hulk's real name (according to Marvel comics) is Robert Bruce Banner. The reason David was used in the TV series is that the name Bruce sounded too gruff and mean, whereas David had more of an innocence about it. Oddly, the name Bruce today carries with it a more... lilting connotation.
3) Believe it or not, in the '60s when The Hulk was both an ally and an antagonist to The Avengers -- not to mention a founding member -- his character development actually had him 'devolve' from a misunderstood giant who still spoke in complete sentences, into more of a mindless monster who spoke in stunted speech.
4) At one time over the course of The Hulk's existence, Banner had three separate personalities: the savage and unintelligent Green Hulk, Banner himself, and the wise-cracking yet morally ambiguous 'Mr. Fixit' Gray version. Eventually, they were all merged into one with the intelligence of Banner, the wit of the Gray, and the enhanced strength of the Green.
5) In the mid 2000s, it was revealed when The Hulk partnered with the Red Hulk (who originally absorbed The Hulk's radiation deterring his transformation abilities for a time), that Red Hulk was actually General Thunderbolt Ross. The mystery still remains as to where his mustache goes when he 'Hulks out'.
1) Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had initially created a bald telepathic villain bent on dominating the world in the short story "The Reign of the Super-Man" in Science Fiction #3, a fanzine Siegel published in 1933. Of course when Superman was reimagined none of this was kept, though it later molded the character of Lex Luthor.
2) One of the influences on Superman's costume was that of a 1930s circus strongman where tight shorts were traditionally worn over longer, unitard pants.
3) Though Jerry Siegel created all the names of the characters and the locations, he did, actually combine the names of Clark Gable and Kent Taylor for Superman's alter-ego, and borrowed the name of Metropolis from the Fritz Lang film of the same name.
4) Superman's original powers had nothing to do with either flight or invulnerability (to say nothing of his arsenal of heat vision and ice breath). In fact, he was only able to 'leap' an eighth of a mile and was bulletproof only to a point; artillery shells could hurt him. Though these limitations did give the character a more realistic appearance, audiences wanted less of such and more of a Superman that was practically indestructible.
5) Interestingly, though Superman was always quite popular, he was never very relatable to his readers. It was this influence that provided the writers with the idea to give Superman a more human side in his alter ego of Clark Kent, complete with a distinct backstory that felt more 'down home'.
1) Thanks largely to Frank Miller, Chris Claremont, and John Byrne (all very popular and well-known comics artists and writers), Wolverine became much of how we know him today, including the fact that he is far older than he appears -- a trait that was introduced in his first appearance in X-Men.
2) Though vehemently denied by creator Len Wein, it is yet strongly suggested by Stan Lee that Wolverine was originally planned to be an actual mutated wolverine animal where his claws were supposed to just be part of his gloves. As stated, this is up for debate, though Lee sticks to his story, too.
3) Wolverine wasn't just accidentally seeking out The X-Men to join them, it turns out he was sent to assassinate Professor Xavier. Xavier wiped his memories and had him join the team thinking it was in his best interests.
4) At one time, Wolverine had his adamantium forcibly removed from his skeleton by Magneto, rendering him much weaker and with his real bone claws. Later, after being brainwashed by Apocalypse, his adamantium was refused to his bones and he was used as Horseman Death. Wolverine eventually broke from his capture and rejoined The X-Men.
5) At one time, Matt Murdoch (Daredevil) used his law background to aid Wolverine in suing a man named Kade Kilgore for the sum of $879 Million dollars for his role in attempting to blackmail the X-Man.
- Wonder Woman
1) Much like her Justice League companion, Superman, Diana, aka Wonder Woman, did not initially have the ability to fly. Some time later she acquired this ability as another of her Amazonian gifts.
2)William Moulton Marston, the creator (along with his wife) of Wonder Woman, is also credited with inventing the polygraph Lie Detector and the systolic-blood-pressure measurement tool. These play out in the comics as Wonder Woman's Magic Lasso of Truth.
3) In the late '40s and early '50s, Wonder Woman was given an honorary membership in the Justice Society of America, which was the custom of DC superheroes with their own separate titles at the time. However, this was made a bit uncomfortable -- especially in today's day and age, as well as going against the entire point of Wonder Woman in the first place -- as she was made the team's secretary.
4) Oddly, after decades of Wonder Woman dressing in an almost one-piece-bathing-suit type singlet (except when she was rendered powerless for a time and dressed like a martial artist), her entire costume was revamped in 2010 keeping only her tiara and lasso. She was given Spandex pants and a different shirt, eschewing her iconic stars and stripes all together.
5) Apparently Wonder Woman can speak every language known to man, as well as some not entirely known, including Cave Man and Martian.
- Captain America
1) Captain America's original name was to be 'Super American' according to a sketch done by writer Joe Simon. Obviously, the name didn't stick.
2) Were it not for the assistance of one artist that he could indeed make the proposed deadline for the release of the initial Captain America comic, two others, Al Avison and Al Gabriele, could have had their names attached to the soon-to-be iconic Super Soldier. That other artist was of course, Jack Kirby. Few people have ever heard of the two Al's.
3) MLJ's comic The Shield, which debuted a full year before Marvel's Captain, successfully lobbied Marvel to change the shape of Cap's shield (which was triangular and too-closely resembled The Shield's chest emblem). By issue 2 it was round and became a throwing weapon as well.
4) It was discovered in the '50s that several other personas were used as 'Captain Americas'. These others included William Burnside and his partner Jack Monroe who donned the alter egos of Captain America and Bucky, respectively. They used an experimental and untested form of the Super Soldier Serum on themselves and became slightly unbalanced superheroes going so far as to blame everyone for being communists.
5) When Steve Rogers went through a personal crisis questioning America's government and their off-kilter ethics, he dropped the Captain America guise semi-permanently becoming a superhero called Nomad, a man with no country. Eventually it was the ideals of what it meant to be an American that brought Rogers back to the Stars and Stripes.
1) If your idea of Batman still harbors some of the campiness you remember from the '60s, blame the television show. It took years to finally shed that goofy sensibility and return Batman to his far darker and morose roots.
2) Batman's non-superhero persona Bruce Wayne came about from Robert Bruce (the Scottish patriot and playboy) and Mad Anthony Wayne (a Revolutionary-era military general known for his brash behavior and heroic exploits). Batman's mannerisms were most prominently based on The Phantom.
3) It took thirty issues of the original run of Batman in the late '30s to finally introduce the iconic tools in his large arsenal: the Utility Belt and the Batarang.
4) In June of '52 (Superman #76), Batman and Superman finally team up for the very first time. When they do, they immediately learn of each other's secret identities and have known such ever since.
5) Believe it or not, in 1964 thanks to slumping readership and sales of comics all together, Batman was slated to be killed off entirely.