Wednesday, October 16, 2013

[Guest Post] The Top 5 Most Underrated Superheroes of all Time

You don't have to look up in the sky to find superheroes in today's world.  In recent years pop culture has been inundated with characters like Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Captain America and the Green Lantern.  From TV and movies to comics and clothing, superheroes seem to be everywhere.  While most people are familiar with, or can at least recognize these comic book creations, there remain many costumed vigilantes who go unnoticed, underappreciated and unknown.  

These are the top five heroes you may or may not have heard of, but who still save the day.


5.) Daredevil - Matthew Murdock was the son of a boxer named "Battling Jack" Murdock in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York.  While pushing a man out of the way of an oncoming truck to save his life, Matt was doused in radioactive waste and stricken blind.  He soon discovered, however, that his other senses were heightened to near super-human levels; the accident even providing him with a kind of sonar.  After his father was murdered for refusing to throw a fight, Murdock constructed a costume from his father's boxing robe and used his fighting skills to bring the murderers to justice.  Murdock subsequently earned his law degree. When he is not patrolling the streets of New York as Daredevil, the man without fear, he practices law at his own firm with his best friend "Foggy" Nelson.

After first appearing in 1964, the creation of Stan Lee and Bill Everett at Marvel Comics, Daredevil has gone onto to appear in several iconic comic book stories, cartoon shows, video games and a notoriously awful 2003 film starring Ben Affleck.


4.) SHAZAM! – Billy Batson was an orphan who struggled to connect with his numerous foster families.  Then he found himself transported by a subway car to a magical temple called the Rock of Eternity.  There he met the Wizard who saw that Batson possessed a pure spirit, bestowing upon him the Living Lightning, making him the Champion Shazam anytime he uttered the special phrase.  Possessing the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury, Batson battles Black Adam and other villains in the DC Universe.

Created in 1939 by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker for Fawcett Comics, the character was originally known as Captain Marvel and represented the ultimate in childhood wish fulfillment.  He became the very first comic book superhero to appear onscreen in a 1941 serial from Republic Pictures entitled Adventures of Captain Marvel.  Shazam, or Captain Marvel, also played a central role in the seminal graphic novel Kingdom Come and has squared off with Superman on several occasions.


3.) Hawkeye – Orphaned after his parents were killed in a car crash, Clint Barton ran away and joined the circus while still just a child.  There he became an expert marksman and swordsman but eventually left after discovering that his mentors were criminals.  After seeing Iron Man save the lives of several innocent people, Barton was inspired to become a costumed hero himself using the name Hawkeye.  Using his almost super-human archery skills, Hawkeye went on to join the Avengers.  Though his attitude and impulsiveness occasionally bring him into conflict with the straight-laced Captain America, Hawkeye continues to combat evil as a member of the Avengers.

Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck, Hawkeye first appeared in 1964 as a villain of Iron Man.  Hawkeye has appeared in many storylines as well as cartoon shows and video games.  Jeremy Renner played Clint Barton onscreen in 2011's Thor and 2012's The Avengers.  Rumor has it that Hawkeye will play an even more prominent role in the next Avengers movie as well.


2.) Aquaman – Arthur Curry's father was a lighthouse keeper named Tom Curry and his mother a woman named Atlanna.  Raised in Amnesty Bay, Maine, Arthur began manifesting strange powers at a young age; including incredible strength and swimming speed, the ability to breathe underwater and the ability to communicate telepathically with all sea life.  On her death bed, Arthur's mother revealed that she was the exiled queen of the underwater city of Atlantis and that Arthur would one day inherit the throne and become king of the seven seas.  With his father's aid, Arthur learned to control his powers and went on to become the super-hero Aquaman and the ruler of Atlantis.

The butt of many jokes over the years from fans and critics alike, including a recent stint as a bullied-victim-turned-evil-villain on Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken, Aquaman was actually one of the founding members of the original Justice League.  First written by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris, Aquaman appeared in 1941.  Since then he has gone on to be one of DC Comic's longest running characters and even starred in his own cartoon show from 1967-68 called The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure.


1.) Space Ghost – Thaddeus Bach was peacekeeper on the planet Eidolon, with a wife and baby on the way.  He was selected by his commanding officer to join an elite undercover group known as the Wrath.  When Bach discovered the group was corrupt, he questioned their actions- he and his family were subsequently marked for death.  Bach was left for dead on an extinct planet until he was found by the planet's lone survivor Salomon.  Salomon was the engineer of the weapons that caused his planet's holocaust, which he revealed to Bach. He offered Bach a ship and the powerful weapons so he could escape the Ghost Planet and return home.  Using his powers of invisibility, teleportation, flight, enhanced strength and incredible power bands, Space Ghost continues his quest for justice in the far reaches of the galaxy.

Space Ghost was created by Alex Toth and was originally an animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions.  The first episode of the show aired in 1966 and the series ran until 1968.  Space Ghost regained popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s when he began hosting his own late night talk show spoof Space Ghost Coast to Coast on Cartoon Network.  DC Comics put out a comic mini-series which told the character's origin story from a serious angle in 2005. 

Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes and appear in every type of entertainment.  With so many out there, both good and bad, it can be easy to overlook some of the best ones.  Don't underestimate these heroes though, someday your day might need saving. 

AUTHOR: Adrian Rawlings

BIO: Adrian Rawlings is a TV and entertainment blogger.  Look to him for the scoop on hit movies and TV shows, sports, tech reviews, how-to’s, and more.


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