#1. Booster Gold

Let it be known that I am predictable. I just had to go for the gold, though (Thanks for the joke, Harrison.)

Origin: Born in the 25th century, Micheal Carter was a professional football player at Gotham University. His dad convinced him to throw games to pay for Micheal’s mother’s operation. Micheal is caught cheating and becomes a disgrace, having to work as a night watchmen at a superhero museum. He stole a Legion Flight Ring, Brainiac 5’s force field belt, and Skeets a security robot and went back in time in Rip Hunter’s time machine. There he saved Ronald Reagan’s life, and accidentally gained the name Booster Gold, a mix of his nickname “Booster” and Goldstar, his planned hero name.

Life: Booster’s life is defined by the tragedies he suffered. He starts off looking for fame and endorsements, but when his sister comes back and time and is killed, he is humbled. He joins the Justice League International, where he becomes best friends with Blue Beetle. After Ted’s death Booster recruits Jaime to be the new Blue Beetle to shut down Brother Eye. Booster goes on to save the multiverse in 52, and then is in charge of fixing holes in time. During Blackest Night, Booster has to kill a Black Lantern Ted Kord. During Brightest Day, Booster has to deal with a revived Maxwell Lord.

Why he’s on the list: Do I need to even explain at this point? He’s Booster Gold, “The World’s Greatest Hero you’ve never heard of.” He saved the entire multiverse from Mr. Mind and continued on to save Superman, Green Lantern, the Flash and a myriad of other heroes. But he isn’t perfect and still tries to defy the laws of time to bring back Ted, a defining character moment. He has the highest amount of guilt placed on him when bad things happen, such as Ralph blaming him for Sue’s death. In the end, good things still happen to him and he continues to fight crime with his son, Rip Hunter.

Recommended Reading: Booster Gold (Vol. 2), Showcase Presents: Booster Gold, 52

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#2. Blue Beetle

We’re almost finished with a character who’s life was sadly finished, Ted Kord.

Origin: Ted Kord was the apprentice of Dan Garrett, the original Blue Beetle. Dan was killed by Ted’s uncle Jarvis, so Ted took it upon himself to carry on his legacy. He however, couldn’t access the same magic scarab that Dan did, and had to use his brain and gadgets to fight crime. He fought crime in his home city of Chicago, where his own company Kord Industries was based.

Life: Ted is most well known for joining the Justice League International, where he met his best friend Booster Gold. They were known as the “Blue and Gold” and were the funny guys of the team. After he left the team he fell into obscurity, being in comics like LAW and Extreme Justice. He made some cameos in the Birds of Prey series where he and Barbara Gordon had crushes on each other. Then Countdown to Infinite Crisis happened. After discovering Maxwell Lord’s plan to take over the world, Ted is shot in the head and killed. His death shocked the world, mostly Booster Gold who couldn’t even speak at his funeral.

Why he’s on the list: If you’ve noticed a trend here it is that I enjoy the lighter side to comics. People like Ted are the reason why. His genius level intellect and quips make him the perfect answer to Marvel’s Spider-Man. Even after his death, Ted still makes appearances in Booster Gold. Carrying on his legacy is Jaime Reyes, who actually can use the Blue Beetle scarab. His crowning moments are the “One punch” meme and stealing Martian Manhunter’s Oreos.

Recommended Reading: Blue Beetle (Vol. 2), Justice League International, Countdown to Infinite Crisis.

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#3. Shazam/Captain Marvel

Ugh, the name change makes writing this one a little bit of a problem. I’ll just stick with Captain Marvel for the rest of it.

Origin: Young Billy Batson was chosen by the wizard Shazam to be his champion for his pure heart. By saying the name “Shazam” Billy transforms into the adult superhero Captain Marvel. The word Shazam represents the six gods that he derives power from. Billy’s friend Freddy also gains the powers of Shazam becoming Captain Marvel Jr. Freddy’s sister Mary also gains the powers, calling herself Mary Marvel.

Life: Being one of the oldest comic characters, a lot of history and retcons have been made to Captain Marvel. Sometimes he’s been depicted as two different people. At other times it is just Billy’s body growing up. Billy often clashes with Dr. Sivana an insane scientist, making a magic vs technology duel. His biggest rival is Black Adam, the original champion of Shazam. In the New 52, Billy becomes Shazam and his new adopted family can share his powers.

Why he’s on the list: No matter what he’s called, Billy is still one of the strongest superheroes. Going by the name “The World’s Mightiest Mortal,” he frequently is compared to Superman. Him being a magic superhero causes many clashes between the two in Elseworlds. Billy’s cheery attitude is one of the defining traits of his character and series. There’s also a sense of family between him and the other Marvels. One last thing, they have a tiger butler named Tawky.

Recommended Reading: The Trials of Shazam, Superman/Shazam: First Thunder, Shazam (New 52)

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#4. Aquaman

I think I’m putting him on here as an apology to his creators (God rest their souls) for all the jokes about Aquaman. The following is his New 52 origin, as it is much clearer to me.

Origin: Arthur Curry is the half-human, half-Atlantean son of Tom Curry and Atlanna, queen of Atlantis. His Atlantean origins give him super powers like enhanced senses and strength, and telepathy with marine life. He ruled Alantis for some time, but the Atlanteans never treated him with respect. Him and his love Mera go to the surface to live free from Atlantis. There they struggle with the Earth’s customs and ways. And both of their shady pasts come to life to try and tear them apart.

Life: Early in his life Aquaman led a team called “The Others” who all used Atlantean artifacts. Aquaman’s dad is killed soon after Aquaman is discovered by scientists looking to get his DNA. The killer turned out to be Black Manta, who Aquaman goes to kill in revenge. He goes out to a boat and strangles the first black man he sees, but it turns out it was Manta’s dad. From then on, they were seeking each other out. When a member of the Others is killed, Aquaman gets the team back together to fight back against Manta.

Why he’s on the list: I hope by now everyone has realized Aquaman is no joke. He was a founding member of the Justice League, who displayed his strength by commanding sharks to eat Parademons. He has enough strength to break a tree with his bare hands. He carries an Atlantean trident which further enhances his strength. He wears scale armor, and has enough durability to bounce bullets off of his body. He is also a key element to the Brightest Day, becoming a water elemental.

Recommended Reading: Aquaman (Vol, 1), Aquaman (Vol. 2), Justice League (Vol. 3)

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#5. Guy Gardner

Choosing one Green Lantern was hard, so I’ll pick the most complex of them, Guy Gardner.

Origin: Guy was born in Baltimore with an abusive, drunk dad who only respected Guy’s cop brother, Mace. This led to Guy becoming a juvenile delinquent after no longer trying to respect his dad. Mace manages to turn Guy on the right path at 18, but Mace is revealed to be a dirty cop. Abin Sur crashes to Earth and his ring has to choose between Hal and Guy, but Hal was closest. Guy is left as the backup Green Lantern of Earth, a thing he hates very much.

Life: Guy’s life really is just a horrible series of tragedies. He is put into a coma soon after becoming a Green Lantern, so he is replaced by John Stewart. He wakes up and joins the Justice League International, where his brash personality conflicts with Batman. This is all culminates in Guy getting knocked out in one punch by Batman, which he is still made fun of for. He does start a relationship with fellow member Ice, which has been an on and off thing between them. He is currently residing in the Red Lantern Corps of the New 52.

Why he’s on the list: Between the five human lanterns, Guy has had the most changes happen to him. At one point he was revealed to be a Vuldarian, an alien race with the power to make weapons. He went by the name Warrior for a long time, but this was eventually just forgotten. He also wielded Sinestro’s ring for a while after his coma. Now he leads the Red Lanterns, as one of the few who can make energy constructs. His partnership with Kyle Rayner is also a very important part of his character. As stated by Hal, Guy’s ring glows because he is so eager to use his powers and his constructs are some of the strongest.

Recommended reading: Guy Gardner (Vol 1.), Green Lantern Corps, Justice League International (Vol 1.)

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#6. Martian Manhunter

Moving on to everyone’s favorite green skinned alien, the Martian Manhunter.

Origin: J’ohn J’onzz being a Martian, lived on Mars with two factions of Martians, the Green and the White. J’ohn is teleported to Earth by a scientist, who dies at the shock of seeing him. J’ohn shifts into a human form to disguise himself and to fight crime while he waits to go back to Mars.

Life: J’ohn later becomes a founding member of the Justice League of America. He also joins the Justice League International. He lives a long life as a hero, until he is killed during the Final Crisis. He is prominently shown as a Black Lantern during Blackest Night, fighting Barry and Hal. At the end of the Blackest Night J’ohn is one of the few to be revived. He plays a key role during Brightest Day, becoming the earth elemental.

Why he’s on the list: While Dick is the heart of the DCU, J’ohn is the heart of the Justice League. His death kicked off the horrible Cry for Justice sadly, but it was believable how hard his death affected Hal and Ollie. J’ohn is one of the strongest characters in DC, with powers on the level of Superman. Brightest Day shows him at his best, using his skills to find the other Martian while still showing his softer side. Also he has an addiction to Oreos, that once deprived of them he went on a rampage.

Recommended Reading: Blackest Night, Brightest Day, Final Crisis

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#7. Dick Grayson

Here’s a name even non comic fans should know, kind of because it is the subject of many jokes. Anyway, it’s Dick Grayson.

Origin: Again, most people know this so I’ll keep it short. Dick Grayson was a trapeze artist with his parents, the Flying Graysons. They were killed during a show, so Batman adopted him as Robin. Dick eventually left to lead the Teen Titans as Nightwing, his most well known hero name.

Life: Being a very old character, there is a lot of stories in Dick Grayson’s life. After he left the Titans he went to his own city, Bludhaven, which is much like Gotham. Bludhaven was destroyed in Infinite Crisis, when Chemo was dropped on the city. Dick spends some time in the irradiated city, until Final Crisis happens when he becomes Batman. In the New 52 Dick is Nightwing for a long time until Forever Evil where he decides to join an agency called Spyral as Grayson.

Why he’s on the list: Dick Grayson is the heart of the DC Universe. He is the one thing that convinces Earth 2 Superman that Earth 1 is worth saving in Infinite Crisis. Bruce considers him the one thing he knows he did not mess up. When he is Batman he brings a more human side to it, showing weakness and concern for how he’s raising Damian. Dick has had the most close calls with death, because no writer wants to write a story where Dick dies.

Recommended reading: Infinite Crisis, Forever Evil, Batman and Robin (Grant Morrison)

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