Welcome back to The Beginner’s Guide! It feels like it’s been ages since I posted the last installment. I’ve been very behind lately in my comic book reading (you’d be amazed at the size of my Read Pile), but I did manage to read the 80-page DC Universe Rebirth when it first came out. Though I’m not that familiar with the majority of DC’s characters, I did find the issue very interesting. After consulting the friendly, neighborhood comic shop guru, I feel a little more up to speed on the story behind DC Universe Rebirth. However, I still feel a little in the dark about some of DC’s most popular heroes.
With the release of Rebirth and about seven revamped superhero titles (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Green Lanterns, The Flash, Aquaman), I figured that I’d better brush up on all the major players. I also thought that maybe there are others who do not know much about the DC Universe, but wish to get caught-up as well. So, before you is a quick, easy guide to some of the most popular DC heroes!
Superman (a.k.a. Clark Kent, a.k.a. Kal-El, a.k.a. Man of Steel) is perhaps the most well-known superhero in popular culture. He first appeared in Action Comics in 1938, and has been saving the world ever since. Superman came to Earth from the planet Krypton before it was destroyed, and was raised by two farmers who named him Clark Kent. While they instilled strong morals and value into him, Superman possesses extraordinary powers such as super speed, strength, flight, and heat vision. In his off-hours, Superman works as a reporter for The Daily Planet, which is the local newspaper in Metropolis. He’s also romantically involved with Lois Lane, and is a member of The Justice League. There have been countless iterations of Superman in comics, from bad guy, to Communist, to destructible. But, despite all these plot twists and pitfalls, Superman doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Batman (a.k.a. Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. The Dark Knight, a.k.a. The Caped Crusader) was introduced to readers in Detective Comics in 1939. After the murder of his parents, Bruce Wayne devotes his life to preventing other tragedies from occurring in Gotham City by becoming the vigilante, Batman. He is handsomely wealthy, intelligent, and a great fighter. Though he does not possess powers like Superman, the aforementioned skills are his powers. Due to these factors, he has created cutting-edge technology which helps him fight crime and solve cases. Most of his research and development occurs in The Batcave, a subterranean lair under Wayne Manor. Batman is aided by several individuals, like Alfred (his loyal butler), Robin (see below), Batgirl (see below), and Commissioner Gordon. Just as Bruce Wayne builds an empire in the business world, Batman builds an empire of justice.
Princess Diana, of the secluded Greek island Themyscira, is the Amazonian warrior who becomes known as Wonder Woman. Appearing in 1941, Wonder Woman is the most well-known heroine in comics. She was introduced to the rest of humanity by Steve Trevor, an army pilot who crashed on Themyscira. Wonder Woman has incredible strength, agility, and is a skilled warrior. She also wields some of the most badass weapons, like bulletproof gauntlets and the Lasso of Truth. In more recent installments, Wonder Woman carries the Sword of Athena. Wonder Woman is not only a hero, she’s also a strong feminist symbol. All in all, she’s awesome.
The Flash (a.k.a. Barry Allen) is the Fastest Man Alive; his story begins in 1940 when a lightning bolt strikes a shelf in Barry’s laboratory, the forensic scientist gains super speed. With his new power, he can scale walls, create sonic booms, and later time travel. Barry Allen’s motivation to fight crime stems from the murder of his mother. From that moment on, he dedicated his life to solving crimes. The Flash makes a pronounced appearance in Rebirth, so he’s definitely a character to lookout for.
Green Lantern (and Lanterns)
Anyone worthy enough can be a Green Lantern, but one of the most prominently known members of the Green Lantern Corps is Hal Jordan. Hal is asked to take up the mantle of a Lantern after an alien crash-lands on Earth. With the power of the Green Lantern ring, Hal Jordan can create out of pure energy the tools and weapons necessary to keep the planet safe. Since his first appearance in 1940, there have been others who have wielded the ring, such as John Stewart and Guy Gardner. Recently, two new heroes are bestowed with the Power Ring–Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz (their story is available now in Green Lanterns: Rebirth).
Laugh if you want, but Aquaman (a.k.a. Arthur Curry) is actually pretty cool. Born in Atlantis, grew up on land, Aquaman was called back to his underwater hometown to become the ruler of Atlantis. With superhuman strength, agility, and the power to control the seas, Aquaman’s skills are no laughing matter. I don’t know when or why he became a huge joke, but he’s a cool superhero. I mean, he’s the King of Atlantis, for crying out loud!
Robin (all incarnations)
The role of Robin in the Batman cannon has a long and varied history. Many have played the role, and brought something new to the table. Usually the protege of the Caped Crusader, a Robin usually possesses similar skills as Batman. There are five prominent characters that have been Robin, with the original being Dick Grayson. Grayson became Robin after he witnessed his parents’ death during their circus act. After finding out that they had been killed, Grayson turned to a life of crime-fighting with Batman, who took him under his wing. Grayson, being a skilled acrobat and fighter, became Nightwing. The next Robin was Jason Todd. After being sentenced to death by a fan poll (in the pivotal Batman story Death in the Family), Todd was later resurrected as The Red Hood. Tim Drake then took u the mantle as Robin, who was inspired by the original sidekick Dick Grayson. Tim Drake was a born do-gooder, and is also known as Red Robin. The latest Robin was Batman’s son, Damian Wayne. Fearing that his mother, Talia Al-Ghul, might transform their son into a murder machine, Batman whisks him away and trains him as Robin. Damian was later killed in action, and then resurrected. There is also a female Robin, who appeared in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Rises and The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Carrie Kelley is known as the first full-time Robin in the long line of sidekicks. At 13, she saves Batman from death, and he later appoints her to the role. Each Robin brings something different to the Batman cannon, and they’re all unique in some way.
Batgirl is my home girl, as some of you may know, and she’s just as important as any other DC superhero. Like Robin, Batgirl has been portrayed by many characters in the Batman cannon–the first being Betty Kane–but the most well-known Batgirl is perhaps Barbara Gordon, who is Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. Batgirl was first introduced in 1961, and continues to be a huge hit in comics. Add a huge helping of genius-level smarts, sprinkle in a photographic memory, and mix in dance and combat skills and you get one badass. Barbara’s career as Batgirl was nearly ended when The Joker shot her, paralyzing her from the waist down. Gordon later became Oracle, a wheelchair-bound hacker who helped her other superhero friends. During her tenure as Oracle, others took up the role as batgirl, including Cassandra Cain, Michelle Carter, and Stephanie Brown. Barbara reclaimed the role in The New 52 comic, and has since been Batgirl.
Oliver Queen (a.k.a. Green Arrow) is a vigilante superhero who’s first seen in 1941. Having a natural talent in archery, Queen became the hero that he is after being stranded on a remote island. After learning to fend for himself, Queen decides to take a page from Batman’s book and become a vigilante. Being obscenely wealthy doesn’t hurt, either. Green Arrow’s powers include archery (of course), hunting, and martial arts. He’s also known to be in a relationship most often with Dinah Lance (a.k.a. Black Canary).
Supergirl (a.k.a. Kara Zor-El) has all of the same powers as her cousin, Superman. Supergirl arrives on Earth in a similar fashion as Superman, but her arrival is delayed. When she eventually reaches Earth, her cousin has already made a name fr himself as The Man of Steel. Though her origin varies depending on the DC Universe, it’s pretty much a similar formula. First appearing in comics in 1959, Supergirl was created to be a female counterpart to Superman. She later broke free from the sidekick position to star in her own comic series. Recently, Supergirl has not only gained a brand new comic series, but her own TV show, which has become wildly popular. It doesn’t seem like Kara is going anywhere.
And there you have it!
I hope that this quick guide proves useful! I know that I benefited from researching the characters, because knowledge is power. I know that some characters and details have been left out of this Cheat Sheet, but with many variations in the DC Universe, some information is hard to detail in a quick guide.
So, with that being said, let’s nerd out in the comments below! Who’s your favorite character? What detail did I leave out? What do you think of the new Rebirth series? Let’s discuss! And remember: sharing is caring. If you like this blog post, then spread the love!
Life was meant to be lived nerdily, so what are you waiting for?