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One-Hit Wonders

Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman—they're the heavy hitters, powerful enough to make People magazine's 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons list for 2003. Then there's what many would categorize as the B-list: Iron Man, Green Lantern, Thor, and Green Arrow, heroes popular among comics fans, but never quite crossing the line into the general public's consciousness. Let's not forget the more minor titans like the Scarlet Witch, Blue Beetle, Ant-Man, and Metamorpho, heroes only a mother (or a die-hard comics fan) could love, whose shots at stardom come and go.

Olsen, Jimmy

It's not easy being Superman's pal. For Jimmy Olsen, his friendship with Metropolis' Man of Steel has led to frequent mutations and imperilments. But let's not overlook the fringe benefits: celebrity status, occasional superpowers, lots of dates, and a bulletproof bodyguard. Not bad for a freckle-faced, red-haired, all-American kid.


Action Girl Cover Image

Uncanny X-Men #414 © 2002 Marvel Comics. COVER ART BY STEVE UY.


Action Girl Cover Image

Nightwing #41 © 2000 DC Comics. COVER ART BY GREG LAND AND DREW GERACI.

The Night Man

Musician Johnny Domino is having a good morning in San Francisco, until an alien energy bolt strikes a trolley car, sending a chunk of metal into his head. After he recovers, he learns that he does not need to sleep, his eyes are permanently dilated (making light painful), and that he can telepathically hear other people's evil thoughts inside his own head. Using his aikido training, Domino garbs himself in a costume and prowls the city rooftops after dark as the Night Man, to stop the crimes he knows are going to happen.

Nick Fury

Action Girl Cover Image

Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 © 1968 Marvel Comics. COVER ART BY JIM STERANKO.

The New Gods

Action Girl Cover Image

Ms. Marvel #1 © 1977 Marvel Comics. COVER ART BY JOHN ROMITA.


During comics' Golden Age (1938–1954), the nascent medium of superhero comic books was overrun with cultural stereotypes, a manifestation of societal prejudices widely, and sometimes innocently, held at the time. Captain Aero's little Chinese pal, Chop Suey; the Lone Ranger's faithful Indian companion, Tonto; and Mandrake the Magician's obedient African aide, Lothar, were among the characters that marginalized the value of minorities.

Ms. Marvel

Action Girl Cover Image

Ms. Marvel #1 © 1977 Marvel Comics. COVER ART BY JOHN ROMITA.


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