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November 9, 2012
the science of superheroes
Featured By Owner
Nov 9, 2012
A superhero (sometimes rendered super-hero or super hero) is a type of stock character possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers" and dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes—ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas—have dominated American comic books and crossed over into other media. The word itself dates to at least 1917. A female superhero is sometimes called a superheroine (also rendered super-heroine or super heroine). "SUPER HEROES" is a trademark co-owned by DC Comics and Marvel Comics.
By most definitions, characters do not strictly require actual superhuman powers to be deemed superheroes, although terms such as costumed crime fighters or masked vigilantes are sometimes used to refer to those such as Batman and Green Arrow without such powers who share other common superhero traits. Such characters were generally referred to as "mystery men" in the so-called Golden Age of Comic Books to distinguish them from characters with super-powers.
Normally, superheroes use their powers to counter day-to-day crime while also combating threats against humanity by supervillains, their criminal counterparts. Often, one of these supervillians will be the superhero's archenemy. As well, some longrunning superheroes, such as Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man, each have a rogues gallery of enemies. As well, superheroes sometimes will combat such irregular threats as aliens, magical entities, American war enemies such as Hitler and Nazis, and godlike or demonic creatures.
Superheroes most often appear in comic books, and superhero stories are the dominant form of American comic books. With the rise in relative popularity of non-superhero comics, as well as the popularity of Japanese manga, this trend is slowly declining. After success in the printed community, superheroes have also been featured in radio serials, novel, TV series, movies, and other media. Most of the superheroes who appear in other media are adapted from comics, but there are exceptions and changes are common.
Marvel Characters, Inc. and DC Comics share ownership of the United States trademark for the phrases "Super Hero" and "Super Heroes" and these two companies own the vast majority of the world’s most famous and influential superheroes. Of the "Significant Seven" chosen by The Comic Book in America: An Illustrated History (1989), Marvel owns Spider-Man and Captain America and DC owns Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and Plastic Man. Like many non-Marvel characters popular during the 1940s, the latter two were acquired by DC from defunct publishers. However, there have been significant heroes owned by others, especially since the 1990s when Image Comics and other companies that allowed creators to maintain trademark and editorial control over their characters developed. Hellboy and Spawn are some of the most successful creator-owned heroes.
In superhero role-playing games, such as Hero Games' Champions, Green Ronin Publishing's Mutants and Masterminds, Cryptic Studios' MMORPG City of Heroes and Champions Online, superheroes are formally organized into categories or archetypes based on their skills and abilities. Since comic book and role-playing fandom often overlap, these labels have carried over into discussions of superheroes outside the context of games:
Acrobat: A hero whose skills rely on their incredible aerobic & gymnastic abilities, their own stamina and reflexes, whether they're regular (like Daredevil, Dick Grayson and Super Mario), or superhuman (like Spider-Man or John Carter).
Aerial: A hero whose primary power is flight (not to be confused with the strong & durable Paragons). These types fly either through physical means (wings like Falcon or Hawkman) or through special means (levitation or energy propulsion like Nova). Heroes who are extraordinary aviators (like the Thunderbirds) may also count as Aerials.
Armored Hero: A gadgeteer whose powers are derived from a suit of powered armor; e.g., Iron Man and Steel.
Aquatic: A hero whose abilities either come from living underwater (like Aquaman, Namor and Aspen Matthews from Fathom) or from being trained to adapt to underwater conditions (like the Sea Devils).
Blaster: A hero whose main power is a distance attack, usually an "energy blast"; e.g., Cyclops, Starfire, Roy Mustang and Static.
Brick/Tank: A character with a superhuman degree of strength and endurance and, for males, usually an oversized muscular body; e.g., The Hulk, The Thing, Colossus, and Lobo. Almost every superhero team has one member of this variety, a point X-Factor's Guido Carosella noted when he took the codename "Strong Guy" at a reporter's suggestion that this was his role in the team.
Elementalist: A hero who controls some natural element or part of the natural world; e.g., Storm (weather), Magneto (magnetism), Swamp Thing (vegetation), the Human Torch (fire), Iceman (ice), Aang (air, water, earth, and fire), Static (electricity), and Gaara (Wind and Earth).
Energizer: A hero who emits great amount of energy in combat (ki, chakra, karma, etc.), either by supernatural powers (like Cole McGrath) or for combat (like Son Goku and Naruto)
Feral: A hero whose abilities come from a more bestial nature. This bestial nature could manefest itself either partially (like Wolverine), fully (like Beast), or through therianthropic dual natures (such as the supernatural werewolf Jack Russell, or the mutant werewolf Wolfsbane.
Gadgeteer: A hero who invents special equipment that often imitates superpowers but have no super powers themselves; e.g., Nite Owl, Batman, and Iron Man.
Ghost: A hero with 'ghost' type powers: either invisibility (such as Invisible Woman); or intangibility (such as Kitty Pryde); or both (such as Martian Manhunter, Deadman, Ghost and Danny Phantom).
Government Agent: A hero (or sometimes antihero) who is recognized by his occupation as a government soldier, or special service agent of any agency in the planet such as Nick Fury, Men in Black, Maria Hill, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or people who used to be an agent; e.g., The Punisher, Kenshin Himura.
Healer: A hero who is able to quickly recover from serious injury; e.g., The Crow, Wolverine, the Hulk, and Deadpool. This may also be a hero whose primary ability is to heal others; e.g., Elixir.
Mage: A hero who is trained in the use of magic; e.g., Doctor Fate, Doctor Strange, Zatanna, John Constantine.
Marksman: A hero who uses projectile weapons, typically guns, bows and arrows or throwing blades; e.g., Green Arrow, Hawkeye and The Punisher.
Martial Artist: A hero whose physical abilities are mostly human rather than superhuman but whose hand-to-hand combat skills are phenomenal. Some of these characters are actually superhuman (Iron Fist, and Daredevil), while others are human beings who are extremely skilled and athletic (Batman and related characters, Captain America, every superhero of Watchmen save for Doctor Manhattan, Rock Lee, Shang Chi and Wildcat).
Mecha/Robot Pilot: A hero who controls a giant robot, a subtype common in Japanese superhero and science fiction media; e.g., Megas XLR, Big Guy.
Mentalist: A hero who possesses psionic abilities, such as telekinesis, telepathy and extra-sensory perception; e.g., Professor X, Jean Grey, and Raven.
Molecular: A hero with the power to manipulate molecules, thus being able to alter the laws of physics (such as Doctor Manhattan, Firestorm and Captain Atom).
Paragon: A hero who possesses the basic powers of super-strength, flight and invulnerability. They are considered to be one of the most powerful of the superhero types: consisting of such heroes as the extraterrestrials Superman, Martian Manhunter; the magically-fuelled Captain Marvel; the relatively unknown Invincible; or even mythological gods such as Thor.
Possessed: A hero who harbors an entity inside of him/herself; e.g., Etrigan the Demon, Ghost Rider, Spectre, Naruto, and Yugi Moto.
Rider: A hero who rides either a powerful vehicle, like Ghost Rider or the Silver Surfer; or rides a unique creature, like Shining Knight.
Robotic: A hero whose own nature and skills are related to technology, this category includes remote controlled robots (Bozo the Iron Man, Box), cyborgs (Vic Stone, RoboCop) and androids (Red Tornado, The Vision).
Shapeshifter: A hero who can manipulate his/her own body to suit his/her needs, such as stretching (Plastic Man, Mister Fantastic, Elongated Man), or disguise (Changeling/Morph, Mystique). Other such shapeshifters can transform into animals (Beast Boy), alien creatures (Ben 10) or inorganic materials (Metamorpho).
Size Changer: A hero who can alter his/her size; e.g., the Atom (shrinking only), Colossal Boy, Giganta, Apache Chief (growth only), Hank Pym, Wasp (both).
Slasher: A hero whose main power is some form of hand-to-hand cutting weapon—either devices, such as knives or swords, (Elektra, Blade, Katana, Ichigo Kurosaki) or natural, such as claws (Wolverine).
Speedster: A hero possessing superhuman speed and reflexes; e.g., The Flash, Quicksilver, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sasuke Uchiha and Rock Lee.
Super Genius/Mastermind/Detective: A hero possessing superhuman/superior intelligence or intellect; e.g., Batman, I.M. Weasel, Iron Man, Professor X, The Question, Shikamaru Nara, Forge, L, Brainiac 5, Mister Fantastic, John Constantine.
Teleporter: A hero who is able to teleport from point A to point B to point C, etc; e.g., some teleport due to their own body chemistry, Nightcrawler, others teleport via telekinetic energy Mysterio II, others for unknown reasons (Jumper).
Time Manipulater: A hero possessing either a natural, magical, or scientific control of time. This could be either time travel like Waverider or the Doctor, time stop like Tempo or both like Hiro Nakamura who can also teleport.
Wolf-Dog: A hero who originates from the side of the enemy but changes sides and fights against his kind to protect humanity; for example a vampire who hunts vampires (Angel, Vampire Hunter D, Alucard from Hellsing series) a demon who kills other demons (Mike Mignola's Hellboy), etc.
These categories often overlap. For instance, Batman is a skilled detective, martial artist and gadgeteer, and Hellboy has the strength and durability of a brick and some mystic abilities or powers, similar to a mage. Wolverine fits into both the slasher and healing categories. Very powerful characters—such as Superman, Thor, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Dr. Manhattan, and the Silver Surfer—can be listed in many categories. Flying, super-strong, invulnerable heroes such as Superman, Captain Marvel and Thor are sometimes in a category all their own, known as "Paragons" or "Originals" (as they were some of the earliest heroes in comics). Another possibility is that Superman is a "Paragon" and a "Blaster" (heat vision and super-breath), Captain Marvel is a "Paragon" and a "Mage" (the Power of Shazam), Thor is "Paragon" and a "Elemental" (weather manipulation) and Hancock is a "Paragon" and a "Healer" (immortality), or perhaps even the Martian Manhunter (Paragon, Ghost, Blaster, Shapeshifter, Size Changer, Mentalist, Mastermind and Healer). So, in esscence, the Fantastic Four consists of a Shapeshifter/Mastermind (Mister Fantastic), a Ghost/Mentalist (Invisible Woman), an Elementalist/Aerial (the Human Torch), and a Brick/Martial Artist (The Thing).
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