Welcome to the final part of our Top 100 DC Comics Heroes series! These heroes are the best of the best and I love them all so believe me when I tell you it was incredibly difficult to rank the top 10.
10. Martian Manhunter
First Appearance: Detective Comics #255 (November, 1955)
J’onn J’onzz aka Martian Manhunter has so much potential to be a flagship DC hero. His origin is tragic and he is a detective like Batman, his leadership skills and wisdom rival Wonder Woman and he is strong enough to go toe to toe with Superman. For much of his history, Martian Manhunter was used as a Superman substitute and he didn’t break into pop culture until Justice League the Animated Series in 2001. I really want to see him adapted in his own feature film because I believe his shape shifting powers and origin could translate well on screen.
First Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (November, 1941)
Growing up I always thought Aquaman was cool. My first exposure to the character in media was the 2001 Justice League series and he was a bad ass. Nowadays his appearance is more traditional and I really like how his stories delve into the magical side of the DC Universe. Now that writers and readers/viewers know what to expect with the character with the success of Geoff Johns’ New 52 run and the DCEU Aquaman movie, maybe the annoying Aquaman jokes will go away because the King of Atlantis’ stock is quickly rising.
First Appearance: Whiz Comics #2 (February, 1940)
I was first introduced to Shazam (the ORIGINAL Captain Marvel :p) through a children’s book titled “Shazam! A Circus Adventure”. Shazam is so fun to watch and that stems from how great his superpowers are. By saying the magic word SHAZAM, Billy Batson gains incredible powers while still retaining consciousness literally becoming a kid in a mans body. Billy has a good head on his shoulders and is forced to grow up quickly being a foster kid, but the hardships he has faced in his life makes him appreciate his powers even more and aspires him to make the world a better place. I absolutely loved the modernized direction Geoff Johns took Shazam in the New 52 and I am equally hyped for the upcoming Shazam movie because it is heavily inspired by it.
7. Green Arrow
First Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (November, 1941)
When I decided I wanted to delve deeper into the DC Universe as a kid Green Arrow was one of the characters that I immediately gravitated towards. Like Batman, Green Arrow is a powerless, rich vigilante who was formed from turmoil. The key difference between the two is that instead of being so grim and brooding, Green Arrow has a more comedic and optimistic view of life. His quips are as dead on as his aim and I love how DC portrays him as a political crusader who stands up for the little guy. Although I enjoy the Arrow TV series, I strongly object to the creative liberties and the direction that writers have taken the show on post season 2. I would absolutely love to see a more comic accurate, goateed version of Green Arrow in the DCEU. He can deal with more mature/street level issues that the more iconic heroes are too big to tackle while at the same time proving how much lamer Hawkeye is compared to him.
6. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
First Appearance: Showcase #22 (October, 1959)
“Green Lantern” is a title that is well known in pop culture and growing up I thought Green Lantern was a single character, John Stewart. This was because from 1993-2004 Hal Jordan was not a Green Lantern, he was the villain Parallax and The Spectre. The comics focused on Kyle Rayner while John Stewart was the main Green Lantern in the Justice League animated series. When Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern: Rebirth limited series released in 2004, Hal Jordan propelled back into the spotlight and regained his title as Green Lantern of sector 2814. I absolutely love everything Geoff Johns’ has added to the Green Lantern mythos and cosmic DC in general and Hal Jordan who is the center of all of that. Hal is brash, cocky and sometimes a little hotheaded but he is also selfless and fearless, and that combined with his exceptional willpower makes him the greatest of all the Green Lanterns.
5. Wonder Woman
First Appearance: All-Star Comics #8 (December, 1941)
In my opinion Wonder Woman is the greatest and most iconic female comic book character period. She is the heart and soul of the Justice League and I believe she is a better leader than Batman and Superman. Not only is Diana the fierce and skilled warrior Princess of the Amazons, as of DC’s 2011 New 52 relaunch she is now a demi-god and the daughter of Zeus. This further expanded Wonder Woman’s link to the mythical side of the DC Universe and will be a permanent part of her origin due to it’s inclusion in the critical and commercially successful Wonder Woman film. I believe the most important part of Wonder Woman is her compassion for others and her belief in humanity. Wonder Woman has been able to transcended the comic book medium and become an iconic figure that everyone can look up to regardless of gender, race, religion, etc, an accolade that few superheroes have.
4. The Flash (Barry Allen)
First Appearance: Showcase #4 (October, 1956)
In the mid-1950’s DC was reinventing their heroes for a new era of comics and The Flash was chosen to be the first hero that would be completely overhauled, officially ushering in the Silver Age of Comics. Barry Allen replaced The Flash of the Golden Age (Jay Garrick) and due to his relatable personality and science based origin, he quickly became popular. My first exposure to The Flash was the Justice League animated series but much to my surprise, Wally West was the Scarlet Speedster in the show not Barry Allen. Barry had died in 1986’s Crisis on Infinite Earths where he sacrificed himself to deal a devastating blow to the Anti-Monitor. Grant Morrison brought Barry back in 2008’s Final Crisis event, explaining that he never died but was trapped within the Speed Force, the energy that speedsters tap into to use their abilities. Barry Allen is one of the most powerful earth based heroes in the DC Universe and seeing him struggle with the fact that he cant undo his past with his ability to time travel are always very emotional. Hopefully the ongoing Flash TV series can regain the momentum it once had and that his movie breaks out of production hell because the DCEU could use a slight reboot and a Flashpoint adaptation could do that.
First Appearance: Action Comics #1 (June, 1938)
Superman was not only my first superhero but the world’s first superhero. Superman rocketed to icon status immediately and to this day he is one of the most recognizable characters in any medium. As his home planet of Krypton was about to blow up, Superman’s parents sent him to Earth with the hope that their infant son could live. His Kryptonian physiology soaks in the rays of Earth’s yellow Sun giving Kal-El incredible powers like flight, super strength, heat vision, etc. He is often unfairly criticized for being a boy scout or for being a boring character which I honestly feel is ignorant. What I find fascinating about Superman is that he could have chosen to use his powers for the wrong reasons but instead he uses them to protect the world and instill hope in the people he vows to protect. Clark grew up thinking he was the last of his people while living on an alien planet, he was bullied in school and felt lonely growing up because of how different he was. Even as a young adult he struggled to pay rent in the big city living paycheck to paycheck and now as a adult he has to juggle a full-time job, a wife and son and his responsibilities as a superhero. Superman may be an alien but he is just as much, if not more human than anyone else. He is a humanitarian in every sense of the word and I believe that there is a little piece in Superman that everyone can relate too.
P.S. For the love of God WB make Man of Steel 2!
First Appearance: Detective Comics #27 (May, 1939)
Batman was the character that started my life long love for DC comics. He is the most iconic and well loved superhero in my opinion even though he has no powers. As a boy Bruce Wayne witnessed the murder of his parents and as he stood over their bodies he vowed to rid Gotham City of crime and prevent others to feel the same loss he did. Bruce honed his body and mind into weapons and pushed himself to the limit adopting the appearance of a bat to instill fear into the eyes of criminals. Batman may only be human but he uses his genius level IQ, detective and tactical skills, dozens of martial arts and the absolute best technology money can buy to wage his war on crime. When he isn’t wearing his cape and cowl, Bruce is still a hero using his vast wealth and reach to do right by his parents by being a positive public figure through charitable works and donations meant to keep crime down. Batman has been able to thrive and adapt perfectly to all mediums because the Batman family of heroes and rogues gallery is so vast. This along with DC’s ability to hire excellent writers like Frank Miller, Scott Snyder and Tom King to push the comics forward and WB’s ability to tell those stories with talented actors like Kevin Conroy, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck has been the key to the Dark Knight’s longevity and iconic status.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #38 (April, 1940)
I was first introduced to Dick Grayson in Batman the Animated Series as a kid and immediately became a fan of the character. He could hold his own and take down Gotham City’s worst criminals alongside Batman and he was just a kid like me. Not only was Dick the best Robin but he has been able to escape from the shadow of Batman and become his own hero Nightwing. He was the first superhero sidekick and is the greatest among DC’s many sidekicks and it has been a wonderful journey watching him grow from Boy Wonder to Nightwing. Like Batman his parents were killed in front of him, but Dick has been able to overcome his anger and the loss of his parents doesn’t define him as a hero. Nightwing is nearly as good of a fighter and detective as Batman and with more experience and time he could surpass him. Dick is a gifted acrobat and uses this unique skillset in battle making him difficult to hit and allows him to perform daring jumps. Dick has been able to successfully lead multiple iterations of the Teen Titans and the Titans and even took up the mantle of Batman when Bruce Wayne was sent back in time by Darkseid. Many Justice Leaguers view Dick as the next leader of the team when he comes of age and given the experience he already has he is the obvious choice. Brenton Thwaites is absolutely killing it as Dick Grayson on Titans and I cant wait until he takes on the Nightwing mantle but I need the DCEU’s Nightwing film to be made because Dick Grayson deserves to be as widely loved as the other icons of the DC Universe.
Thank you for reading my Top 100 DC Heroes series of articles. I hope that my love of these characters has gotten some of you to read up on them and dive deep on other aspects of the DC Universe. I have many ideas for future lists and discussions to post on the Hub World and I look forward to sharing my opinions with all of you in the future. If you have any suggestions for future content feel free to comment and one of us will read it.