Superheroes have always formed a part of our lives. Though virtually non existent, they happen to touch our lives in more than one ways, be it comics, movies, daily newspaper strips, games or just costume parties.
Being a virtual entity, its possible to create a superhero with whatever powers you can think of. The comic book writers have already explored most of the superpowers and have ended up empowering their super heroes with multiple superpowers to make them thoroughly super. Be it superhuman capabilities like “Captain America”, The lovely super lady “The Wonder Woman”, the Norse god “Thor”, the good demon “The Hellboy”, the monster “Hulk” or the all in one “Super Man”.
All these super heroes have some sort of superpower which either they were born with or have acquired in the due course. The real challenge for the writers lies in creating a superhero who has no super power, whatsoever. Creating a man who is limited by his physical capabilities, yet rises to be a superhero. A super hero who can be anyone one in the crowd. You, me, anyone.
Lets us start with no 10.
10. Snake Eyes. (Publisher – Various publishers, G I Joe Series)
“Move with the wind, and you will never be heard.”
One of the most mysterious characters ever sketched. He does not speak, ever. The mystery around him makes him more intriguing. A master swords man, he has been trained in the Arashikage ninja clan. He is one of the most popular characters of the G I Joe series.
The Glamour Quotient: His multi martial arts techniques. His militarised Ninja suit. His silence.
Why he is at no 10: Other than the excellent fighting skills, the mysterious silence and calmness around him makes him more popular than the other G I Joe characters. This makes us wanting to see more of him, every time.
09. Ironman (Publisher – Marvel Comics)
The catch in creating a superhero with out any superpower is that he has to be equipped with a whole lot of gadgets to make him stand out. That’s exactly what Stan Lee did when he created Iron man. He gave him all the technology that is needed to become a super human, though not physically. He is the technological equivalent of a superman. And like superman has kryptonite, he has a vulnerability too. His heart is weak, and he has to keep recharging himself at regular intervals.
The Glamour Quotient: His shining armour, that is virtually capable of doing everything one can think of. In case the villains come out a new weapon, the writer just have too add its counter measure to his armour !
Why he is at no 9: Before I started making this list, I conducted a poll to check the most popular superhero with out superpowers and he figured on the top of the list. Though he extensively uses technology and virtually has no limits (he can do almost everything a superman can do), he is still a normal human being, hence qualifies for this list. Also, he is a core team member of the Avengers.
08. Black Widow: (Publisher – Marvel Comics)
“Let me put you on hold”
Just when you think its a mans world, you get introduced to the Black Widow. Like her name suggests, she was a spy before she got converted to a S.H.I.E.L.D agent. A master gymnast and a world class athlete, she is the only lady character to make it on this list.
The Glamour Quotient: Her never give up, keep fighting till you win attitude.
Why she is at no 8: Although, there are only a handful of lady superheroes who are with out superpowers, she has all the ingredients for a super character. The writers have made her sleek, and with dark shades and a dark name too. In fact, she could have been a bit higher on the list, but for the poor portrayal of hers by Scarlett Johansson, in the movies Iron Man 2 and the Avengers.
07. Supremo: (Publisher – India Book House)
Hijacker (pointing towards him): “Supremo !!“ Supremo: “Oh, so you do know me, huh? That saves me the trouble of introducing myself !”
Supremo, is the alter ego of one of the biggest superstars of India, Amitabh Bachchan. And a few of us have even grown up reading his books. The superstar fights crime in his spare time and has been shown as a hero in real life. And its creator is non other than our own Gulzar.
The Glamour Quotient: Supremo conceals his identity by wearing large glasses which resemble welding glasses, a skin-tight costume with a wrap which resembles those worn by fishermen on India's western coast, and a chakra pendant. Supremo also has a pet eagle, like the one Amitabh had in Coolie. The two sidekicks, Vijay and Anthony, are also a tribute to his on screen characters.
Why he is at no 7: He is the superhero, who is the alter ego of a real life superstar. What is better than your biggest superstar is also a big superhero? The perfect setup for a superhero comic, and all plots were short and neat.
Although, this series ran only for a short duration, we want him back now. and that's preciously why he is on the list.
06. Kato (Publisher – Now Comics. Seen in the Green Hornet series)
Britt Reid (The Green Hornet): You know what you are. You're a human Swiss army knife.
Kato: I don't know. what's that mean?
Britt Reid: It's a little things, and you keep pulling out things, and just when you think there couldn't be any more cool things, a new cool thing comes out, and that's you! You are even dressed like one. You should have a little plus on your chest.
Well, yes, you got that right. Kato is not a superhero by himself. He is the sidekick of The Green Hornet. But then again, The Green Hornet loses his existence without Kato. This Chinese martial artist is also a master of weapons and automobiles.
The Glamour Quotient: His sleek martial arts skills, complete with razor sharp and fast moves. In fact, his main character has not been able to make it to this list, but he has !
Why he is at no 6: The only side kick, so strong and sleek, that he beat Robin to this list. Watching him move is a pure bliss. Typically, not much gadgetry, relies more on martial arts, which makes it look more real.
05. Batman (The Dark Night) (Publisher – DC Comics)
“Whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you stranger.”
Voted as one of the most liked superheroes of all times, the dark knight beats his super powered colleagues with his gadgets and intelligence. Personally, even I think is one of the most well crafted character, ever. What makes this character interesting is also the amazing line up of super villains he faces, each uniquely sketched to match his personality.
While creating a super hero with out superpowers, the writers always position him as an extremely rich guy, which gives them the logic to justify his fancy gadgets and other extreme expenses. Also, they sketch these character as casual and playboy kind of men, which is a contrast to them being superheroes and helps them to conceal their identity. Iron man, The Green Hornet, Batman are a few examples of such characters.
The Glamour Quotient: The cool black costume. Batman uses a lot of gadgets. He also has a Bat cave where he keeps most of his secret stuff. He has a Bat mobile and more recently, a Bat Pod too.
Why he is at no 5: Many of us would contest that he should have been the numero uno of this list. Two reasons why he didnt make it to no 1. Firstly, he has been sketched as an extremely empowered character - with gadgets, resources, money and power. Also, too many technological advancements have been shown. Like, Batman has been seen falling from extreme heights and yet surviving because of his costume. He carries a variety of gadgets and weapons in his utility belt, which seem never exhausting. He can track everybody, but surprisingly, nobody can track him.
Secondly, this character has a lot of dark shades to it. He has a dark past himself and most of the villains he faces also have a dark past. His fights always end up taking the reader to a psychological level. So much so that he manages to occupy the minds of the readers, much beyond the book itself. And as a true comic book fan, I believe that the characters should not unnecessarily occupy the mind of the readers in real life, beyond the books.
04. Bahadur (Publisher – Indrajal Comics)
“Don't worry. No one gets hurt if you do what I say”
The brave man of India, Bahadur is the epitome of a local superhero. He hails from a fictional village in India and mostly fights dacoits. This theme was so created as the problems of dacoits was rampant in rural India during the period of the launch of this comic.
The Glamour Quotient: His much localised attire, an orange kurta and the long hair. He has a sidekick too, Lakhan. His love interest is Bela, who is a martial artist herself and has accompanied him on most of his missions. Bahadur also has a dog, Chammiya. And yes, he doesn’t feel the need to conceal his identity.
Why he is at no 4: We have grown up reading his adventures. He was the face of the changing nation. Although, the series was discontinued after some time, it was re launched in 2010. He is at no 4 because he is the true local hero.
03. Zorro (Publisher - Grosset & Dunlap)
Zorro: [after making a "Z" mark] “So the devil will know who sent you”
Zorro is probably one of those heroes, every child aspires to become when he grows up. The character is a dashing black-clad masked outlaw who defends the people of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains. He is based in the Spanish colonial era. The character has grown significantly over the years, only to be better each time.
The Glamour Quotient: The dashing attire. The character is not loaded with any gadgets, as is in most of the cases. Its the basic sword fights and the horse chases that make the setup more interesting.
Why he is at no 3: While creating a superhero, its easy for the writers to load the character with money and gadgets. What is difficult is to create a setup worthy of the character and to weave the stories according to the environment, and make them gripping. What a comic hero needs is not gadgets, but an appropriate setup. And it is proved by this character.
02. The Green Arrow (Publisher – DC comics)
“You see, I figure it’s more sporting if I give him thirty or forty chances to kill me first.”
One of my personal favourites, he is a typical superhero – A rich billionaire during daytime and a masked vigilante at night. He also has that typical “I don't care what happens” attitude. The only thing that differentiates this guy from Batman and Ironman is that he is limited by his capabilities. His mobility is seriously restricted, he does not have many gadgets except his quiver full of trick arrows and mostly operates in his home town, Star city.
The Glamour Quotient: The mask and the hat. Typically dressed like the Robin hood, he is more often than not referred to as the modern day Robin hood. Generally, he has been shown sporting a goatee and sometimes has a hood on too.
Why he is at no 2: The setup up of the character. He gives Ironman and Batman a run for their money. The story of how he becomes the Green Arrow is pretty gripping too. He has a touch of humanness in his heroics, which differentiates him from his likes.
The new series started a couple of months back on the CW network, called “Arrow” and based on Green Arrow’s character, shows the depths of this character and has already been declared a hit.
And the best part is that he has not been overloaded with excessive gadgetry. The writers have tried to maintain good balance between human skills and technology.
01. Rorschach (Publisher – DC Comics)
“Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.”
Rorschach forms a part of the “Watchmen” series. Although the series was short and never got beyond its 12 episode story created by Alan Moore, it gave us one of the best superheroes that the comic industry has ever produced. Clad in a trench coat and a spotted mask which appears to constantly change configuration, much like a Rorschach test, this unyielding vigilante dishes out punishment to evildoers any way he sees fit. (Usually death.)
The Glamour Quotient: His mask. His simple attire. And his kickass attitude.
Why he is No 1. The character has the most kickass attitude ever seen in any comic character. Mostly anonymous, his identity becomes public at some point of time. In a prison full of thugs who got jailed because of him, the attitude remains the same when he says “None of you seem to understand. I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with ME !!”
Full marks to Rorschach here.
P.S. Noteworthy Mentions: Others who didn't make it to this list, but are worth a mention:
* The Phantom - Indrajal Comics
* Hawkeye - Marvel Comics
* Robin/ Nightwing - DC Comics
* Elektra - Marvel Comics
* Tarzan - Various Publications
* Chacha Choudhary - Pran Comics
* Robin Hood - DC Comics
* Vigilante - DC Comics
* Super Commando Dhruva - Raj Comics
* Nick Fury - Marvel Comics