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DC Comics, for those of you that are not familiar with the story behind the comics, is a major American comic book publisher founded back in 1934. DC Comics is a major player in the comic book business and is the “home” of many famous comic book characters such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and many others. Along with its chief rival, Marvel Comics, DC Comics is the biggest and most important mainstream comic book publisher in the United States. Throughout the rich and colorful history of DC Comics, a large number of characters have appeared in the stories published by them.
Our list is going to focus on DC’s characters, as we are going to bring you the 20 best DC Comics characters ever created. The main criterium is the quality of the character itself – including parameters such as character development, depth, popularity, consistency, etc. – and not such qualities as power, influence, or heroism. This list doesn’t care whether a character is a hero or a villain, it just cares how well the character was created and portrayed throughout the comic books.
We have the best that DC ever created and you can now relax and enjoy our list!
20 Best DC Comics Characters of All Time
20. Harley Quinn
Alias: Harleen Frances Quinzel
Debut: “Joker’s Favor” (September 11, 1992)
Created By: Paul Dini, Bruce Timm
A young graduate in psychiatry, Harleen Quinzel works at Arkham Asylum. A model student, in addition to getting good grades in college, she was also a dedicated gymnast, earning a scholarship from Gotham City University. While researching the madmen in Arkham, she becomes fascinated by a particular inmate. Willing to analyze him, she pleads for three months with the doctors of Arkham before being able to cure him.
After winning her sympathy during their sessions, he seduces her, making her fall madly in love with him. After helping him escape from the asylum more than once, Harleen is placed under suspicion by the authorities, who revoke her permit and place her in her own cell. Her passion for crazy people pushes her to take care of the Joker. Her license to practice was withdrawn and, ironically, she was interned in the psychiatric hospital where she practiced.
Much of it is destroyed by an earthquake that shakes Gotham City; Harleen Quinzel takes the opportunity to escape by donning a harlequin costume (hence the pun that her name constitutes) and she leaves to help her new mentor in fulfilling her destiny. From her real name, Harleen Quinzel derives her alias, Harley Quinn.
Her romantic relationship with the Joker is marked by excess. Psychologically and physically mistreated by the one she calls her “Puddin'”, she nevertheless always comes back to him. This relationship is marked by periods of separation because of internments in the walls of Arkham or conflicts that shake the couple regularly. The relationship becomes one of the most complex and twisted love stories in comics, the Joker being abusive and manipulative towards Harley.
She is the only person who has managed to become intimate over such a long period of time with the Joker, who in turn displays occasional moments of confusion and embarrassment that result in attempts to kill her. One day, when the Joker realizes that he has very deeply hidden feelings of love, he sends Harley on a rocket. She crashes in Robinson Park, in central Gotham, and is found by Poison Ivy.
When Harley regains consciousness, Ivy initially plans to kill her. The prospect of her own death totally fails to move Harley, and Ivy is curious as to why. She convinces Harley to tell her story and soon feels a friendly bond with her. Ivy offers Harley to take revenge on Batman and the Joker. She takes her to a toxic dump and looks after her; in particular, she injects her with a self-developed serum that allows Harley to be immune to various toxins and Ivy’s poisonous touch, while greatly improving her strength and speed. Ivy intends to give her new friend an edge over Batman and the Joker.
Quinn and Ivy team up and successfully become a criminal duo. The hot-blooded Harley, however, is angrier with the Joker than with Batman, and even initially works with the Dark Knight to help take down the Clown Prince of Crime. Harley sometimes teams up with Poison Ivy. When Catwoman joins, the duo becomes a trio dubbed the Gotham City Sirens.
The three then agree to form a team, on one condition: Harley and Ivy demand that Catwoman reveal to them the true identity of the original Batman. However, a new villain named Boneblaster, who tries to take down Selina Kyle, suddenly breaks into the apartment and the three of them must leave the premises after defeating him. Later, after a chance encounter with who she thought was Bruce Wayne (but who was actually Hush in disguise), the Joker attempts to kill Harley, apparently out of jealousy.
Quinn is saved by Ivy and Selina, and it is later learned that her attacker was not the real Joker, but one of his former henchmen posing as him. During her stay in a top-secret prison protected by the US government, she meets Deadshot, a rather clever hitman. During a mission (as a member of the Suicide Squad), these two villains get closer and the Joker takes umbrage at their relationship.
Harley Quinn has become an icon of DC Comics in recent years, even more than she was at the time of her debut in Batman: The Animated Series. She is one of the rare examples of a TV character that made it into the mainstream comics, but not only that – she has become an indispensable member of DC’s roster and a character without who we couldn’t really imagine modern-day comics. It is certain that Harley has reached stardom and that is why we start off our list with her.
Alias: Selina Kyle
Debut: Batman #1 (1940)
Created By: Bill Finger, Bob Kane
Affiliation: Villain, Antihero
Selina Kyle grew up in a broken home, and besides her older sister Magdalena, her only friends were the cats her family had adopted. But the two sisters took different paths: while Magdalena became a nun, Selina ran away from home at fifteen and quickly landed on the streets of Gotham City. Selina ended up in a home, but that place was Hell on Earth; the sadistic director of the home tortured the children, and the young Selina was almost killed.
However, she was later able to flee and vowed never to allow herself to be locked up again, but instead to shape her life according to her own ideas and laws. At seventeen, she fell into the hands of a pimp named Stan who beat so much she ended up in hospital. She was discovered in the hospital by a police officer named Flannery, who made sure that Ted Grant, aka Wildcat, trained her in various self-defense techniques.
However, the work of Flannery and Grant was almost completely ruined a little later when Selina returned “home” and was drawn back by Stan to her old life of crime and prostitution, from which she was only able to free herself again with difficulty. During this time Selina also discovered her natural skill as a thief. She was so successful in this that she was able to “work her way up” into Gotham’s high society within a very short time.
As a member of the rich upper class, the seductive beauty made “friends” with the richest and most powerful men in Gotham, who later became her victims. She met Bruce Wayne at a millionaire’s party, and the two of them immediately realized that they were attracted to each other. Under other circumstances, this relationship might even have turned into something, but inspired by the appearance of the mysterious Batman, Selina decided, as Catwoman, to put her forays under the trademark “cat”.
She put on a leather suit and took revenge on Stan first. The meeting of Selina and Batman was inevitable, but although there was also an enormous attraction between the two mask wearers, the law has always stood between them. During the Hush storyline, Batman revealed his true identity to Selina. But Batman’s distrust was too high after Tommy Eliott’s betrayal and he could no longer trust Selina / Catwoman completely.
After a painful defeat against Cyber-Cat, the otherwise carefree and light-footed Selina revealed another, tougher side: She stripped off her usual costume and put on metal armor with which she could defeat her dangerous opponent in a rematch. In the meantime, however, she is wearing her old costume again.
During the “War Games” storyline, Selina defended her territory on the one hand, and on the other hand, she took care of spoilers that followed the slaughter among the gang bosses. After Selina learned that Spoiler had started the “War Games”, she left Spoiler in the care of her two friends. Selina herself informed Dr. Leslie Thompkins of Spoiler’s role in the bloody fight in Gotham City, after which she managed to defeat Philo Zeiss in a duel.
After the “War Games” story, she defends her neighborhood against the invading gangsters who are acting under Black Mask’s orders.
Although Selina is strong-willed and usually remains to herself, over the years she has taken on several young girls who reminded her of herself. One of those girls, Holly, had previously worked for Stan with Selina. Selina soon handed her over to her sister Magdalena’s care. Holly later married and moved to New Jersey, but her criminal past eventually caught up with her and resulted in her death. Thereupon Selina avenged her death.
Later she took on the young runaway Arizona and tried, as with Holly, to help her build a new life. Selina still has a special love for cats. Once when she wanted to fetch a cat from the animal shelter, she felt so sorry for the other cats that she took them with her without further ado. Later on, a couple of strays came along too, and so now she has at least nineteen cats in and out.
As far as Catwoman is concerned, her name has become a well-known brand within the DC Comics roster. Although she initially wasn’t even close to her modern-day form, Catwoman has become one of DC’s most important female characters. She was initially closely connected to Batman, but she has since become a character in her own right and though she does still collaborate with Batman, we are happy to have had the opportunity to explore her solo adventures in the comics and in derivative media. This is why we have Catwoman on our list and why she is definitely among the best.
Alias: Slade Joseph Wilson
Debut: The New Teen Titans #2 (1980)
Created By: Marv Wolfman, George Pérez
Slade Wilson was sixteen when he joined the US military, lying about his age. After serving a period in Korea, he was promoted to the rank of major, and, in those years, around the year 1960, he meets his future wife, the then-captain Adeline Kane, who was entrusted with the task of training young soldiers in new techniques of combat in anticipation of the missions they were to carry out in Vietnam.
Adeline was immediately amazed by the abilities already possessed by Slade and how quickly he adapted to modern guerrilla tactics. She realized that he was arguably the most skilled fighter she had ever met and fell in love with him. Slade is promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, thanks to the exceptional speed with which he mastered all forms of combat, and six months after the promotion, he and Adeline are married.
Soon after, Slade is sent to Vietnam and Adeline gives birth to Grant. Slade will then be selected for a medical experiment designed to stimulate the adrenal gland in hopes of increasing a soldier’s ability to withstand the truth serum. Slade, after the experiment, discovers that he possesses qualities that are nothing short of out of the ordinary; his athletic abilities have increased to the limit of human possibilities, but it is his psychic abilities that have had a truly amazing change, as his logical and sensory faculties have grown to a level comparable to that of a computer.
It happened, however, that Slade is forced to disobey the orders given to him, which he had never done before; a certain General Sampson who, holding a grudge against his subordinate (and longtime friend of Slade) named William Wintergreen, had sent the latter on a suicide mission. Slade disobeyed the order not to carry out a rescue mission to prevent other soldiers from falling into enemy hands, running to the aid of his friend, managing to save him, but being forced to say goodbye to his future in the army; all in fact they see in his gesture of rebellion is a symptom of mental imbalance, probably due to the experiment he was subjected to.
Slade is therefore considered as no longer suitable for military life and therefore useless. A period of depression begins for him as he can no longer return to serve his country. During this time, Adeline becomes pregnant with their second child, Joseph.
Faced with the fact that he has come to the end of his military career, Slade decides to become a safari hunter. However, he is unable to stay away from danger, so he immediately abandons his job and slowly begins to become famous as a mercenary under the name and mask of “Deathstroke the Terminator”, managing to earn great wealth over time.
Even the family is not aware of Slade’s double identity, although there is no shortage of small suspects. A few years later, a group of mercenaries raid the Wilson’s villa, kidnapping little Joseph, despite Adeline’s intervention. Once he discovers what has happened, Slade realizes that he cannot hide the truth from his wife and therefore reveals his true occupation during the previous years.
He promises Adeline to rescue their son and together they discover that the latter has been kidnapped by order of a mercenary known as the Jackal. The latter is interested in secret information in Slade’s possession and is willing to kill Joseph for it. Slade has enormous confidence in his abilities and therefore decides not to accept the conditions imposed on him and to neutralize all of the Jackal’s men before they can harm Joseph.
During the fight against the Jackal’s men, however, things do not go as hoped: one of the criminals, in fact, almost manages to cut the throat of the little hostage, which Slade manages to prevent, but unfortunately, the criminal still manages to sever Joseph’s vocal cords. After taking him to the hospital, Adeline, furious at how Slade has endangered the lives of their entire family, attempts to kill him by shooting him in the head, but she only manages to destroy his right eye.
Slade is then forced to leave his family behind and decides to fully embrace his career as a mercenary and supervillain. The separation from Adeline will be terrible for Slade, who will never stop loving her. This will not stop him from having an affair with a woman named Lilian, who will give him a daughter, Rose.
Deathstroke’s legacy among DC Comics fans is truly amazing. Although he isn’t really a totally innovative character – skilled martial artists and mercenaries aren’t really uncommon in the world of comics – his complex personality, as well as his brilliantly written origin story is what makes Deathstroke so popular. He is more beloved than a lot of superheroes in DC’s slate and there is absolutely no doubt that he is one of the best-written characters in DC’s current roster, which is why he deserves a spot on our list.
17. Martian Manhunter
Alias: J’onn J’onzz
Debut: Detective Comics #225 (1955)
Created By: Joseph Samachson, Joe Certa
In his first story in Detective Comics #255 (1955), J’onn J’onnz was accidentally teleported to Earth by human scientist Dr. Erdel. The scientist immediately suffered a heart attack and died. Stranded on Earth and unable to return, J’onn J’onnz used his superpowers to make himself look human and eventually assumed the identity of a police officer named John Jones, who had been murdered by the Mafia.
From then on, he used his extraterrestrial powers to help the inhabitants of his new planet. In particular, television and comics helped him find his way around the world. During the Silver Age, from the early 1960s to the early 1970s, when classic comic book superheroes enjoyed tremendous popularity in the United States, he also fought crime in his ancestral looks, wearing a blue cape and a red crossed ribbon on his chest.
In later comics, J’onn J’onzz was portrayed as one of the last two survivors of his kind. The inhabitants of Mars – who were called Ma’aleca’andra in their language, based on a story by C. S. Lewis – lived in a peaceful society of poets, priests and magicians for millennia. This utopia was free from war and resentment because each Martian could read the other’s mind.
J’onn Jonzz was then a happily married scientist and father, the husband of M’yri’ah and father of K’hym, a girl. Only one Martian had no telepathic abilities, J’onn’s brother Ma’alefa’ak. Out of envy and anger, he let H’ronmeer’s disease plague the Martians; it was a disease that was telepathically transmitted and that burned the infected. The entire Martian race was exterminated, except for J’onn Jonnz, who believed he had killed his brother after a long battle.
From then on, the story began again with the earlier comics, where J’onn J’onnz was teleported to Earth. When Earth was attacked by various competing aliens in 1962, trying to see who could conquer the planet first, the Martian Manhunter teamed up with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Barry Allen as Flash, Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, and Aquaman to form the Justice League. The story appeared in The Brave and The Bold #28. J’onn J’onzz has since taken on the role of the wise thinker and sharp analyst on the team.
The Martian Manhunter is a very enigmatic character but nevertheless, his ideals and the values he represents have made him quite popular. A sage-like figure, J’onn J’onzz has evolved in DC’s stories and has – since his debut – become one of DC’s most popular superheroes and an irreplaceable member of the Justice League. His background and personality are truly intriguing, but what makes him truly special is the combination of his enormous powers and his vast intellect. He truly understands the responsibilities he has as a superhero and his decision to protect humanity, although he usually has to hide from them, is the reason he is so beloved.
Alias: Thaal Sinestro
Debut: Green Lantern #7 (1961)
Created By: John Broome, Gil Kane
Affiliation: Villain (former Hero)
Thaal Sinestro is a comic book character created by John Broome and Gil Kane, appearing in stories published by DC Comics. He first appeared in Green Lantern #7 (1961), later becoming the archenemy of Hal Jordan (the most famous Green Lantern) and the entire Green Lantern Corps. Over the course of Geoff Johns’ management, the character has undergone a significant evolution from a well-rounded villain to a complex and multifaceted anti-hero.
Sinestro was born on the distant planet Korugar in Sector 1417. He was the greatest of all the Green Lanterns, but is now believed to be their greatest enemy. After being trained by Abin Sur, the former Green Lantern of Sector 1417 managed to free his home planet from all forms of oppression and then pursued the same goal on all other planets in his sector.
Believed to be a prime example of how a member of the Corps should behave, the Guardians of Oa commissioned him to train all freshman Green Lanterns, and that was how he met Hal Jordan. Jordan in fact, after an initial training received by Kilowog, was entrusted to the care of Sinestro; over time the two developed a strong bond of friendship.
After training, Hal became the lantern of Sector 2814 (sector that includes Earth) and Sinestro returned to Korugar. There happened what none of the Guardians could have foreseen: Sinestro, in fact, let himself be corrupted by the power of the Ring, and soon, from a beloved hero, he became first feared and finally despised.
Sinestro proclaimed himself ruler of Korugar, and began to neglect his responsibilities as a Lantern. This did not please the Guardians, who exiled him to the anti-matter universe of Qward. Sinestro felt humiliated for this, and swore revenge against the Guardians and against the entire Green Lantern Corps.
Sinestro’s charismatic personality soon took hold of the Qwardians, united by their hatred of the Guardians of Oa, and allied themselves with him. They provided him with a Ring of Power very similar to that of the Lanterns, but unlike the Lanterns, it used yellow energy, the only weakness of the rings created by the Guardians.
Back in his universe, Sinestro became a sworn enemy of Oa and this led to him becoming Hal Jordan’s nemesis. They fought for years, until Sinestro was defeated and imprisoned inside the main battery, a larger version of the Lantern from which each member of the body draws their powers.
Locked in there for years, he was released to stop Hal Jordan who, after the destruction of Coast City, went insane and slaughtered the entire Green Lantern Corps and set about destroying Oa. Not even Sinestro could do anything against Hal’s fury, who killed him and entered the main battery, absorbing its power and becoming the very powerful Parallax.
Years after the incident, Kyle Rayner discovered that Sinestro was not dead. He was, in fact, the one who caused the alien parasite to take possession of Hal and drive him to madness, realizing what Sinestro had always wanted: the destruction of Oa and making his former pupil a renegade too, just like him.
True heroes don’t usually become villains, but Thaal Sinestro is an exception. This guy was considered to be one of the best Green Lanterns in history. He was a skilled fighter, intelligent, wise, and loyal to the values embodied in the Green Lantern Corps. Still, at one point, he became corrupt and the power he attained became the reason of his downfall. Upon returning, Sinestro became an embodiment of fear, the only thing that could annul the effects of a Green Lantern, thus becoming one of DC’s best villains. Sinestro is on this list because of the depth this character has and the quality of his story, as was consistently presented in the comic books themselves.
Debut: Warrior #1 (1982)
Created By: Alan Moore, David Lloyd
V is a comic book character from Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel V for Vendetta, which started its publication in 1982. V is the titular hero of the story, although this Guy-Fawkes-inspired character is more of an antihero than a classical superhero, but he does fight for liberty and humanistic values. The character was illustrated by David Lloyd and Tony Weare.
The main character of the story, V, with a mysterious past, tall, stature and imposing voices, always appears masked (he wears a mask representing Guy Fawkes). He is known to have been used as a guinea pig in Larkhill Internment Camp in 1993 and escaped after a destructive and apparently patiently premeditated operation.
He then undertakes his revenge, not only by assassinating the former staff of the camp while he was detained there but also by preparing the end of the fascist regime of England. He advocates terrorism. He thinks that by carrying out an attack he is doing something good to free the people.
He has taken full control of Destiny, is an expert in combat against several armed opponents (especially with his dummy arm). He lays bombs in very large quantities apparently without any accomplices and has a secret, large, comfortable lair. He is also a music lover and is described as being very enigmatic.
Alan Moore is known for creating truly majestic characters and majestic stories. V, from V for Vendetta, is a prime example of such characters. He is in line with Moore’s usual characters – morally ambiguous, idealistic, mysterious, intriguing – and although he does use the wrong methods for the right causes, there is something in him for which he cannot hate him. V is a freedom fighter, he upholds the right values and although he might be violent in his methods, the rationale of his behavior is so convincing that we cannot not agree with him. V is a treasure among DC’s characters, especially since he’s not part of the house’s mainstream roster, and we absolutely had to put him here on this list.
Alias: Vril Dox
Debut: Action Comics #242 (1958)
Created By: Otto Binder, Al Plastino
Brainiac is a comic book character created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, appearing in stories published by DC Comics. He is a supervillain whose real name is Vril Dox and usually appears as one of Superman’s worst enemies, who has more than once opposed his insane plans to conquer him. He is quite often an enemy of the Justice League.
In his first appearance, Brainiac is depicted as an extraterrestrial who has the hobby of preserving entire cities under glass after having reduced their size with a ray of his own invention: among his most famous victims we can mention the city of Kandor, originally from the planet Krypton, shrunk and bottled with its seven million inhabitants.
Later, through a retcon, it will be explained that in reality, Brainiac is a very sophisticated android created on the planet Colu, where all the inhabitants have an intelligence superior to that of the terrestrials. After years of pacifism, the Coluans will build computers with a tenth level of intelligence, which in a very short time will conquer the planet making the Coluans mindless slaves; wanting to increase their power the Computer Tyrants will build a spy android, or Brainiac.
Defeated by Superman after attempting to shrink Metropolis, Brainiac will clash numerous times with the Kryptonian, eventually allying himself with Superman’s other great enemy, Lex Luthor. It will be Luthor himself to discover that there was the potential to reach the twelfth level of intelligence in the circuits of Brainiac.
Luthor will help his ally, but will insert a sort of switch in Brainiac’s brain that left the robot completely at the mercy of the earthling. Later, Vril Dox will lead a crusade to free Colu from the Computer Tyrants and the Brainiac dynasty will radically change his life by giving itself to good. This change will be maintained until the 31st century, when a young Coluan named Querl Dox joins the Legion of Super-Heroes under the name of Brainiac 5.
After his old body is destroyed following the explosion of a nova, Brainiac will build a new body in the form of a metal skeleton and a huge space shuttle in the shape of a skull.
After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Braniac’s story was changed: the scientist Vril Dox was destroyed by the Computer Tyrants of his planet and his mind travels through space until he finds a magician with latent telekinetic powers called Milton Fine, whose nickname was in fact “Brainiac”.
After mutating his human body into an almost entirely Coluan one, Brainiac will hypnotize the heroines Maxima and Supergirl and take possession of the war machine known as the Planet of War and use it to attack Earth. He will be stopped by Superman and his allies, thus ending up in a kind of psychic coma.
After Superman’s apparent death, Brainiac will awaken from his coma and proceed to undermine the confidence of the Man of Steel’s friends and allies in Superman’s resurrection.
Brainiac is a truly intriguing villain. His “quirk” of acquiring whole civilizations for his morbid collection is something that makes him truly unique among comic book villains. But, on top of that, he has a very complex backstory that makes his character interesting, rather than being bland and a slave of his obsessions. Brainiac does have depth, and although he is a villain we cannot really relate with, he is a villain that we love to hate and is among the best that DC has to offer, and DC is well-known for having truly great supervillains. This is why we decided to include Brainiac on our list.
13. John Constantine
Debut: The Saga of Swamp Thing #37 (1985)
Created By: Alan Moore, Stephen R. Bissette, Rick Veitch, John Totleben
John Constantine is the main fictional character in the Hellblazer comic book series published by DC Comics. He is an anti-hero, a specialist in black magic and the occult. He is characterized by a sarcastic and sometimes contemptuous style towards others.
His first appearance takes place in the Swamp Thing comic book in 1985, written by Alan Moore. He is from Liverpool. Since his mother died shortly after giving birth to him, he was raised, with his sister Cheryl, by his father, with whom he did not get along. During his youth, he was part of a punk band called Mucous Membrane.
Gary Lester, a character who will reappear in the first story of Hellblazer, John Constantine’s own series, as well as Francis Chandler, nicknamed “Chas” and John’s best friend, are also part of this band. It was during this period that John’s first real experience with the occult world occurred.
Dubbed in retrospect the ‘Newcastle accident’, it was a disaster. While touring with the group in this city, he discovered a girl named Astra in the basement of a club where they were to play. Raped by a group of adults, Astra had unconsciously created a monster that had slaughtered everyone.
John persuaded the group of friends around him to ward off the curse, thereby summoning a demon. But with this one being out of control, he carried the girl to hell, tearing off her arm. We will discover later that this demon was none other than Nergal, a recurring enemy of the series.
This event, described in a flashback in Hellblazer #11, will mark John, who will end up locked up in Ravenscar Asylum, and will also haunt all of the members present during this scene. The first issues of Hellblazer reveal a John Constantine who perfectly masters his black magic and who is able to pull many strings to achieve his ends.
In the first few arcs of the series, we see him subduing a demon who possesses living beings by making them satisfy their cravings until death, then we see him simultaneously fighting the army of the Resurrection, as well as the demon Nergal and his army of damnation, which are two opposing camps.
Each time, he emerges victorious, having mystified everyone, friends and enemies alike. His former sidekick Gary Lester, his girlfriend Zed and the demon Nergal pay the price. Not to mention that two of his friends, Ray Monde and Ritchie Simpson, are part of the collateral damage, on purpose or not.
This is one of the characteristics of John Constantine: most of his relatives end up dying, and then come to haunt his conscience. He appears in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic book series, as a supporting character in one of the chapters. He also appears in the comic Injustice: Gods Are Among Us, where he allies himself with the rebel camp led by Batman. He also appears in the epilogue of the Brightest Days series. From September 2011, he is the main character of Justice League Dark.
Ah, the sheer amount of fun we have reading (or watching) Constantine stories is a completely different level of entertainment. Another creation by Alan Moore, John Constantine is the ideal antihero for every type of fan. He is dark, he has a sarcastic approach, he is a drunk and curses a lot, but he’ll also do everything he can to protect people from the monsters he himself cannot get rid of. Constantine’s story is deep with the right dose of tragedy and darkness, his personality absolutely amazing and we had no doubts that the guy would land a spot on our list; it was only a question of which one.
Alias: Eobard Thawne
Debut: The Flash #139 (1963)
Created By: John Broome, Carmine Infantino
The Reverse-Flash is, like the Flash, a superhero name used by several different characters in the DC Comics universe. At the time of writing this article, there has been a total of five Reverse-Flashes – Edward Clariss, Eobard Thawne, Hunter Zolomon, Thaddeus Thawne, and Daniel West. Since Eobard Thawne is by far the best-known and most important Reverse-Flash in the continuity, we are going to focus on him.
Eobard Thawne had an ever-changing origin story before his history was finally established in The Flash: Rebirth (2009), written by Geoff Johns. The character debuted in The Flash #139 (1963) and was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino. In this iteration, Thawne found a time capsule with the Flash suit in the 25th century. He then amplified the suits energy and turned himself into a Speedster, but reversed the colours of the suit, becoming Professor Zoom the Reverse-Flash. Flash discovered this and confronted Thawne, eventually defeating him and destroying his suit. Blaming the Flash for his defeat, Thawne became obsessed with “replacing” Barry and travelled back in time to exact his revenge. He killed Iris West and tried to kill Fiona Webb, but Barry Allen snapped his neck in order to avoid losing another person he loved.
The post-Crisis story “The Return of Barry Allen” gave Thawne a new origin. He was depicted as a scientist obsessed with the Flash, so much in fact that he underwent plastic surgery to look like Barry Allen. He managed to gain Speedster powers by using an antique Cosmic Treadmill and went back into time, fighting Wally West in the process. He was ultimately sent back to the 25th century.
Thawne returns as a major DC villain in The Flash: Rebirth (2009), where his return foreshadowed the major Final Crisis event. He played a major role in the Blackest Night storyline, where his pre-Crisis corpse was revived by Nekron as he became a Black Lantern and, subsequently, Black Flash. He died once again but was ultimately resurrected, after which event he escaped. In one later story, Thawne travelled back in time to completely alter his personal history. During the Flashpoint storyline, he goes back in time to kill Barry Allen’s mother, which results in the creation of the “Flashpoint universe” after Barry Allen also went back in time to stop Thawne from killing his mother. The“Flashpoint universe” was an alternative timeline Barry Allen ultimately fixed, but only after Thomas Wayne – that universe’s Batman – killed Thawne with a sword.
Thawne, of course, did not die and it was late revealed that he is practically immortal because of his connection to the Negative Speed Force. His origins slightly changed during the New 52 and Rebirth imprints, but the essence was kept. He played a major part in the events leading to and happening during the Doomsday Clock narrative, where he was killed by Dr. Manhattan. He survived even that, proving that even the omnipotent Dr. Manhattan could not kill or erase him.
Whatever name you pick for him – Eobard Thawne, Reverse-Flash, or Professor Zoom – this guy is always one of the most epic characters DC has ever created. A complete opposite of Flash, Thawne is a supervillain that is unique in so many ways. He has been part and even had a role in the development of some of DC’s major narrative arcs, such as Flashpoint or Rebirth, and has managed to become much more than just a Speedster villain – he has become one with the Speed Force, he has become energy. His backstory is also interesting and as it got darker with the years, Thawne became more and more interesting; there is absolutely no doubt that his modern-day iteration deserved a spot on our list.
11. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
Alias: Hal Jordan
Debut: Showcase #22 (1959)
Created By: John Broome, Gil Kane
Hal Jordan, aircraft test driver for Ferris Aircraft, is forced to make a crash landing while testing an aircraft. At the same time, the same thing happens to a dying alien. The alien is a Green Lantern and, considering the severity of his injuries, orders his ring to look for someone who can replace him. The ring of Abin Sur probes the surrounding terrain and finds the qualities of honesty, courage, and great willpower precisely in Hal Jordan, considered by all to be a reckless and unreliable man who risks throwing away his own life.
However, the Ring calls him to itself, near the body of Abin Sur, and informs him of the existence of a space police force that has the task of maintaining peace in the Universe, at the center of which is the planet Oa, by choice of the Guardians of the Universe, a race of blue dwarves, controllers of the green energy contained in the Ring, themselves.
The Guardians divided the Universe into sectors (3600), placing Oa in the center and making sure that each sector was controlled by an intelligent being of proven honesty and courage, in order to give it a ring of power like that of Abin Sur and an oath of fidelity, which serves to recharge the ring every 24 hours. The only limitation is the color yellow, as the Ring can do nothing against objects of that color. Informed of these facts, Hal agrees to become the new protector of the Earth, located in sector 2814, irreversibly changing his life and that of his loved ones, among which is his beloved Carol Ferris; she would later become Star Sapphire, a future opponent of Green Lantern.
Among his important enemies are the telepath Hector Hammond, his archenemy, the former Green Lantern Sinestro, and the Red Lantern Atrocitus.
Hal Jordan is by far the best-known and most popular Green Lantern. Although he has had quite interesting colleagues and successors, it is Hal Jordan that is the true embodiment of the Green Lantern Corps for comic book fans. He does have a somewhat typical superhero personality and a somewhat atypical origin story, but Hal Jordan’s later adventures as the Green Lantern are what makes him so special. His character has evolved in many different ways, he has gone from being a superhero to a mad villain, but he would always go back to the ideals and values he usually represented. He is a member of the Justice League and a character we always love to see, which is why he is on this list.
Debut: The Sandman #1 (1989)
Created By: Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg
Dream is a fictional character who first appeared in the first issue of The Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman and published by DC Comics. He is one of the seven Endless, inconceivably powerful beings who appeared before the gods.
Dream is both the lord and personification of all dreams and stories, that is, everything that is not in reality. He goes by many names, including Morpheus and Oneiros, and his appearance can change depending on who is looking at him.
Dream lives in a castle in the heart of his kingdom, “the Dreaming”. The castle and the rest of her kingdom are modifiable and change often, mostly at his will, although his resistance to change (and difficulty in changing) is a recurring theme throughout the series.
Dream maintains the castle and the realm, and all aspects of his appearance, in a half-accommodating, half-terrifying state. Dream is the only one of the Endless known to populate his realm with speaking and animated characters: a multitude of dreams and nightmares he created, as well as entities from other realms.
These include the narrators of old DC horror comics, including Cain and Abel, and Fiddler’s Green, which mimics G. K. Chesterton in human form. Dream recruits and creates (or recreates) minions to perform tasks he could easily accomplish on his own, including reorganizing the castle and guarding its entrance.
Although it is not specified in the series, Gaiman stated that he “always assumed” that Dream had been alone in the Dream and that he had populated it for lack of company. After Dream himself, the most important inhabitant of the Dream is Lucien, the first of Dream’s crows and now the Dream’s librarian. Dream gives Lucien authority over the Dreaming on several occasions.
The character originally appeared in the 1970s DC comic book Tales of Ghost Castle, which appeared in just three issues (and was apparently killed in Secrets of Haunted House #44). Lucien and Cain have a similar appearance as they were created by the same artist.
The Dreaming is also filled at all times with all the creatures that are dreaming at that time, although these rarely appear in the comics. Several comics published by DC’s Vertigo took place in The Dreaming, including the eponymous series (lead author Alisa Kwitney).
Although ultimately a heroic character, Dream is sometimes slow to take in humor, sometimes callous, often self-centered, and very slow to forgive an affront. He has a long list of failed loves, and it’s both shown and implied that he punished women in these instances.
Towards the end of the Brief Lives story arc, Desire says of Dream: “He’s stuffy, stupid, and thinks he knows everything, and there’s just something about him that gets on my nerves.”
There is a long-standing hostility between Dream and Desire, which stems from Desire’s possible involvement in the failure of one of Dream’s loves. It is implied that prior to his imprisonment, he was more cruel and more blind to his flaws, and much of The Sandman centers on his desire to atone for his past actions (for example, helping his former lovers Calliope and Nada).
Dream reacts strongly to the insults received; he banishes Nada to hell for rejecting him and expresses his indignation when Hob Gadling suggests that he seek company.
As far as Neil Gaiman’s Sandman is concerned, it is undoubtedly one of the best comic books ever written. The depths with which Gaiman approached his characters and their stories is absolutely amazing, and all of that has made The Sandman a literary masterpiece. Dream is the protagonist of the series and a characters whose evolution is truly mesmerizing, as is he himself. Despite being an Endless, Dream is very authentic and his development is similar to that of all humans in the way that Gaiman analyzes, through his godly persona, issues and topics that “haunt” regular human beings. The precision of Gaiman’s ideas is truly amazing and there is absolutely no doubt that Dream had to land a spot on our list.
Alias: Walter Joseph Kovacs
Debut: Watchmen #1 (1986)
Created By: Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons
Rorschach is a fictional antihero created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons for the Watchmen comic book, published by DC Comics between 1986 and 1987. Like many other characters in the Watchmen series, Rorschach is character based on earlier Charlton Comics character, as DC Comics had acquired the rights to them and planned to use them.
Wearing a mask inspired by the inkblot from the Rorschach test, which the character considers his true face, this antihero continues his lonely battle against crime long after the vigilantes become both scorned and illegal characters, being the only one to remain active without being a government employee.
Rorschach’s thoughts and actions show that he is a being who strongly believes in moral absolutism, where black and white are clearly defined and gray does not exist, where good and evil are clearly differentiated and evil must be violently punished. He alienates himself from society in order to achieve these ends.
Adrian Veidt himself, another Watchmen character, describes Rorschach follows: “I believe he’s a man of great integrity, but he seems to view the world in very black and white, Manichean terms.” Politically, he is anti-communist, anti-liberal and strongly nationalist. He is described by Moore as a far-right political figure.
Walter Joseph Kovacs was raised by his mother, a debt-ridden prostitute who violently discharged her frustrations onto her son. After reacting in an almost animalistic way to the abuses of some older boys, Walter is entrusted to an institution. After a few years, apparently improved, he leaves the institute and finds a job in a clothes shop.
He decides to become a masked vigilante after the killing of Kitty Genovese, a client, brutally murdered despite the presence of numerous people, none of whom decides to intervene.
As a mask, Walter Kovacs uses a special fabric, invented by Dr. Manhattan and originally intended to become a suit just for Kitty Genovese, composed of two layers of latex with a viscous black liquid in the middle which, being sensitive to heat and pressure, shape of the spots that are always different depending on the facial expression, resembling the Rorschach test.
Early in his vigilante career, Kovacs actively collaborates with other superheroes, most notably the second Nite Owl, fighting street gangs and arresting several criminal bosses. However, at the time, Kovacs had not yet taken on that violent and disturbed personality that will characterize him in the period in which Watchmen is set; Rorschach, looking back on that period, defines himself as “Kovacs pretending to be Rorschach”.
The complete transformation from Walter Kovacs into Rorschach takes place in 1975, while he deals with the case of a child, kidnapped because she is mistakenly believed to be the daughter of pharmaceutical magnates. Kovacs will discover that the little girl was killed and torn to pieces by her kidnapper, who then got rid of her body by feeding it to German shepherds.
Kovacs horribly kills the culprit, but from that moment on, his psyche undergoes a violent change: his methods become brutal, his way of speaking tight and hasty and he himself tends to act in solitude and write a diary with his own thoughts and reflections. When he operates under the identity of Walter Kovacs, he turns into a fanatic obsessed with the end of the world and is an avid reader of the New Frontiersman, an anti-Communist right-wing periodical that looks favorably on violent vigilantes.
After the Keene Decree of August 3, 1977, which makes the activity of vigilantes illegal, Rorschach refuses to withdraw or to make his identity public. The list of his crimes gets longer and he becomes a wanted man.
At the beginning of Watchmen, Rorschach learns of Edward Blake’s death and manages to discover that he was secretly the Comedian. He then discovers a secret plan to murder masked heroes, and his suspicions are strengthened after the escape of Dr. Manhattan and the attempted assassination of Adrian Veidt.
Trapped and captured by the police thanks to Veidt, Rorschach is freed by the second Nite Owl and the second Silk Spectre. Once he discovers the plan to avoid a war between the United States of America and the USSR by having millions of New Yorkers killed by a fake alien creature, which Veidt had just carried out, he refuses to hide the truth.
For this reason he will be killed by Dr. Manhattan. However, his diary, sent to the editorial team of the New Frontiersman, could reveal the secret to the world and tear Veidt’s perfect plan to pieces.
Although he represents values that aren’t really held in high regard, Rorschach is one of the best comic book characters ever. There is a deep and disturbing psychology behind his personality and he is, in a way, a less maniacal version of Joker’s “one bad day” theory embodied. A man on the brink of a breakdown, Walter Kovacs witnessed the brutal murder of an innocent child and it drove him over the edge. He did not go mad, but he became ruthless. His moral absolutism might not reflect the actual state of our society, as there are grey areas, and his right-wing ideology is certainly nothing one should laud, but you’ve got to admire his persistence and his strength, the firmness of his ideological views and the fact that, despite all of his faulty views, Rorschach fights for justice and for good. He is a bit radical in his methods, but Rorschach has humanity in mind when he does what he does. Whether you agree with him or not, the man chose to die for his ideals and that is certainly good enough to land a high spot on our list.
8. Dr. Manhattan
Alias: Jonathan “Jon” Osterman
Debut: Watchmen #1 (1986)
Created By: Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons
Affiliation: Hero, Neutral
Dr. Manhattan is the pseudonym of Jonathan “Jon” Osterman, a fictional character from the DC Comics fictional universe. He debuted in Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel, Watchmen (1986), and has played an enormous role in shaping the DC Multiverse, even bigger than The Presence.
The creation of Dr. Manhattan was actually an unfortunate incident that happened to physicist Jon Osterman, as he returned to get a watch from his lab coat. The lab coat was left in a test chamber, so Osterman went inside, but the door closed. The other researchers are unable to open the door or override the countdown to the next activation, and Jon’s body is torn to pieces from the force of the generator. In the months that followed, Osterman managed to rebuild himself gradually, until he finally reappeared as a tall, hairless, naked and blue-skinned man, glowing with a “flare of ultraviolet.”
Becoming an actual superhero, Osterman became known as Doctor Manhattan — in honour of the Manhattan Project — and became a pawn of the U.S. Government and the leader of the Watchmen. At one point, he realised the banality of his situation and disappeared off to Mars, abandoning both the Watchmen, and the Earth.
Still, at one point he became disillusioned with his role on Earth and teleported himself to Mars, where he spent most of the time, pondering complex metaphysical questions and discovering the secrets of life and creation. He played a prominent role in enabling Ozymandias’ plot to prevent World War III, even destroying Rorschach in the process.
Later on, he played a pivotal role in the creation of the Flashpoint and New 52 timelines and was the center of the mystery explored by Batman and The Flash during “The Button” storyline. He played another major role in Doomsday Clock, where he – once again – became a true superhero, ultimately wiping himself out of existence.
7. Lex Luthor
Lex Luthor is a supervillain from the DC Comics universe. He first appeared in Action Comics #23, which was first released back in 1940. In the comics, he is a highly successful businessman, an intelligent scientist, and the CEO of LexCorp. Lex Luthor comes from an old Metropolis family that became impoverished at the end of World War II. He grew up in the poorest area of Metropolis, the Suicide Slums.
When Lex was thirteen, his alcoholic, hopelessly falling-out parents were killed in a car accident; the cause of the accident is still unclear (sometimes it is claimed that Lex had a hand in it). The young Luthor received $3,000,000 from his parents’ life insurance and went to live with foster parents, the Griggs family. It soon turned out that the Griggs, who were “professional foster parents”, were interested only in his money. After Lena, a young orphan, died, Luthor evolved into the ruthless and determined egomaniac he is today in order to survive in this hostile environment.
As a young man, Luthor met the Contessa Erica Alexandra del Portenza, with whom he soon entered into a relationship. Luthor founded his company LexCorp, which quickly developed into one of the most influential global corporations and consolidated its power. For a long time, Luthor was the most powerful and influential man in Metropolis. Research institutions as well as television broadcasters and radio stations were part of his empire.
Luthor saw himself as the heart and soul of Metropolis until Superman appeared. He arranged a test to test Superman’s abilities and then offered him a seemingly friendly partnership, which Superman refused. Luthor learned very quickly that you can’t buy Superman’s service and loyalty. Since then, he has set himself the goal of defeating Superman and regaining his old place as the most powerful man in Metropolis. Luthor tried again and again to kill him – but unsuccessfully.
Another one of Alan Moore’s masterpieces, Doctor Manhattan has been mentioned on this site on several occasions, mostly as the most powerful fictional character ever created. Still, in this context, he is not the best, but he is undoubtedly among the best. What is most interesting about Dr. Manhattan is not his might – although he can do practically anything he wants – but rather his mind and the psychology behind the character. He is a human being who became god in the most literal possible sense of the word. He is a being that had to dehumanize himself, that had to destroy everything he was, in order to become something more. He surpassed the limits of human knowledge and perception, becoming an omniscient and omnipotent being, and the process of him coping with these issues was masterfully written by Moore. On one hand, he yearns for his human side, but on the other, he is aware that there is little human left in him. His further evolution in the Doomsday Clock narrative was likewise brilliant, as it showed him reconciling with his human side and humanity. There is no doubt that Dr. Manhattan deserved a spot on this list.
Debut: Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 (1970)
Created By: Jack Kirby
Darkseid is a fictional character appearing in stories published by DC Comics. He was created by the legendary Jack Kirby and made his full debut in Forever People #1 (1971), after having had a cameo in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 (1970).
Darkseid is a supervillain in the DC Universe and is usually depicted as the greatest supervillain in the whole franchise. He is one of the New Gods and the merciless ruler of the planet Apokolips. Darkseid’s chief plan is to erase every being with free will in the universe and then reshape the whole universe in accordance with his principles, which is why he often clashes with DC’s superheroes, including the Justice League.
Darkseid was born as Prince Uxas as the son of King Yuga Khan and Queen Heggra of Apokolips. He was the second in line for the throne of Apokolips, after his brother Drax (a.k.a. Infinity-Man). At one point, when Drax tried to claim the famous, yet powerful Omega Force, Uxas killed him and claimed the force himself as part of his plot to take over the planet. The Omega Force transformed Uxas into a rock-like creature, which is when he took the name Darkseid. Not long after these events, Darkseid had his mother poisoned and became the sole ruler of Apokolips.
His early reign is mostly remembered for the destructive and seemingly endless war with the neighbouring planet of New Genesis, where the good New Gods reside. Led by Darkseid’s brother Highfather, the gods of New Genesis fought Darkseid and wanted to stop his evil plans. The war was actually stopped through intense diplomatic efforts made by Darkseid’s son Scott Free (Mister Miracle) and Highfather’s son Orion; in truth, the two children were switched in early childhood, so Orion is in actuality Darkseid’s son, and Scott Free is Highfather’s son.
Darkseid is usually depicted as the biggest supervillain in DC’s Multiverse, although there are more powerful cosmic entities inhabiting the Multiverse. He turned Apokolips into a hell pit and made a plan to conquer the whole universe and submit every sentient being with free will to his own vision of a Darkseid-ruled universe. He traveled the universe, conquering and destroying planets and then terraforming them so that they resemble the hell pit he created on his home planet.
He played a role in several major DC Comics storylines, the most notable among them being Final Crisis and The Darkseid War. In Final Crisis, Darkseid is seemingly killed by Orion at the beginning of the story, but his life essence survived and traveled to Earth, where he took on a human form (“Boss Dark Side”) until returning to his original body.
Using the Anti-Life Equation, Darkseid threatened the whole universe and was eventually confronted by the Justice League. He was shot and mortally wounded by Batman using a Radion bullet (the same one that killed Orion, since Radion is Darkseid’s Kryptonite) and finally “killed” by the combined effort of the two Flashes, Wonder Woman and Superman; Batman was hit by Darkseid’s Omega Beam and was sent back in time, finally returning after a long time traveling experience.
In The Darkseid War, Darkseid had to fight the Anti-Monitor, another evil cosmic entity from the DC Universe, and was eventually killed by him. This event had serious consequences for the evolution of future stories. In Scott Snyder’s Metal series, he appears as a baby.
Among the greatest comic book supervillains of all time, Darkseid is a character that inspires both fear and admiration. Although his backstory isn’t really that unique – a commoner who rises to the rank of a tyrant is a common plot element – Darkseid is quite special in so many ways, even if we disregard the fact that there exists a “True Form” of him more dangerous than everything we’ve seen so far. His appearance, his ideology and the ruthlessness of his conquests, along with the fact that he has absolutely no other motivation but to satisfy his own megalomaniac needs, are all elements that make Darkseid so important and that justify our decision to put him so high up on our list.
Debut: Batman #1 (1940)
Created By: Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson
Similar to his origins, the Joker’s biography lacks a definitive account of his background and the character has undergone several changes since his first appearance in the 1940s. According to the character’s own dubious narrative from The Killing Joke: “I’m not exactly sure what happened. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!” His explanations range from being abused by his father, to being an incarnation of a jester who served a pharaoh.
In Detective Comics #168 (1951) it is revealed that in the past, he assumed the identity of the criminal Red Hood to rob a factory. However, Batman thwarts his plans when he appears on the scene and pursues him until the criminal enters a container of corrosive substances that disfigure his face and turn his hair and skin green and white, respectively.
Alternatively in The Killing Joke, he is described as a chemical plant assistant who gives up his job to pursue his dream of becoming a famed comedian. However, his failure in this occupation puts his economic stability at risk, on which his wife Jeannie also depends, who at that moment is pregnant. In a desperate act, he agrees to help a pair of criminals infiltrate the interior of the factory where he had worked, only to find out later that his spouse and child were killed in an accident.
Although he tries to back down from the robbery, he is ultimately forced by the criminals to keep his word. Thereafter, the story takes place in a similar way to the previous publication: Batman appears and the frightened man throws himself into a vat of chemicals that give him the characteristic physical features of Joker.
In fact, Batman: Gotham Knights #50-55 argue that Edward Nygma witnessed the kidnapping and murder of Joker’s wife in order to force him to cooperate with the robbery of the chemical corporation. This version is supported in other publications such as The Man Who Laughs, where Batman suspects that Red Hood survived the fall and became the Joker, and Batman #450, where Joker assumes the identity of Red Hood to recover from the events of “A Death in the Family”.
Although Batman Confidential #7-12 proposes a similar outcome to explain the physical appearance of the villain, it differs from previous interpretations by pointing out that, after abandoning his job as Red Hood, Jack is a man who lives obsessed with Batman to the point of hurting to his romantic interest, Lorna Shore, which causes the Bat to injure his face with a Batarang and cause his deformity.
Eventually, Jack becomes the Joker after being tortured by a group of gangsters in a chemical plant, where he is exposed to a set of chemicals and neuroleptic drugs. Other accounts, such as The Brave and the Bold #31, suggest that Joker burned his parents alive after being discovered killing animals, while “Zero Year” reveals that Joker is the mastermind of a group of criminals known by the collective pseudonym of Red Hood.
In turn, the publication “Case Study” describes the character as a sadistic gangster who created the personality of Red Hood to carry out crimes and robberies, as well as feign insanity to avoid the death penalty.
Whether you take the campy version from the Golden Age or the modern, I-Cut-Off-My-Own-Face-And-Wore-It-As-A-Mask iteration, Joker is one of the best and scariest comic book supervillains ever created. There is, in fact, no other comic book supervillain that matches him when it comes to the level of depravity of some of his crimes. Joker is an absolute genius and as much as he scares the sh*it out of us, we also love him for what he is – and he is completely unique. The darkness behind his personality, the depth of his madness, and the genius of his twisted mind make Joker so dangerous, and if you add to that the fact that we know practically nothing about his past except that the guy who became the Joker had “one bad day”, you get a character that every author would want to use in their stories. Joker just offers us so much, both horrible and brilliant, and that is why we commence our top five with him.
4. Wonder Woman
Alias: Diana of Themyscira / Diana Prince
Debut: All Star Comics #8 (1941)
Created By: William Moulton Marston, H.G. Peter, Elizabeth Holloway Marston
Wonder Woman is a fictional superheroine appearing as one of the major characters in the DC Comics fictional universe. She debuted in Sensation Comics #1 in 1942 and was created by psychologist William Moulton Marston and illustrator H.G. Peter, who is usually not credited as her creator. Her real name is Diana, which accounts for her civilian name – Diana Prince.
Wonder Woman was born in the fictional island nation of Themyscira as Princess Diana of Themyscira. Dina is an Amazon warrior and has been trained in the way of the Amazons ever since she was a child. Initially, her origin story included a clay statue made by the Amazon queen, Hippolyta, which was later granted life and several superpowers by the Greek gods (the so-called Old Gods). Newer origin stories retconned this and made Diana the daughter of Zeus and Queen Hippolyta.
Wonder Woman is known as one of DC Comics’ most powerful superheroes ever. She was trained by the Amazons and she also possesses some divine powers, along with specific magical artefacts like the Lasso of Truth. Wonder Woman was granted passage out of Themyscira and into “Man’s World” when she had to accompany U.S. pilot Steve Trevor back to his home. Steve Trevor would later become a crucial part of Wonder Woman’s story.
Deciding to stay in “Man’s World”, Wonder Woman took on the civilian name Diana Prince, while secretly working as a superheroine and a member of the Justice League. During the years, she has managed to “accumulate” a fairly large and colourful gallery of rogues, which includes names such as Ares, Cheetah, Doctor Poison, Circe, Doctor Psycho, and Giganta, along with more recent adversaries such as Veronica Cale and the First Born.
Today, Wonder Woman is one of the most important members of the Justice League but also a standalone heroine, a very important factor history-wise, especially given the fact that she was one of DC Comics’ major character in an area where female, characters weren’t. She has certainly helped shape modern DC Comics.
The highest-ranked female character on our list, Wonder Woman has done so much for the evolution of DC Comics. Not only is she a fan favorite and the strongest female superhero in DC’s slate, she also helped redefine – through her own evolution as a comic book character – the role of female characters in superhero comics, while also being an inspiration for real-life women. In-universe, she is a founding member of the Justice League and one of Earth’s best-known protectors, a character so powerful that she was even able to stand her ground against powerful enemies such as Darkseid. Wonder Woman, like every person, has her flaws, but she is a truly great character and it was absolutely amazing to see her evolve from somewhat of an object in her early appearances to a powerful and empowering female character. Since she is one of the big three of DC Comics’ superheroes, we had to give her such a high spot on our list of DC’s best characters.
3. The Flash (Barry Allen)
Alias: Bartholomew Henry “Barry” Allen
Debut: Showcase #4 (1956)
Created By: Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino
The Flash (Bartholomew Henry Allen) is a fictional superhero who appears in comics published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Showcase #4 (1956), created by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Carmine Infantino. Barry Allen is a reinvention of an earlier character named Flash, who appeared in comics from 1940, whose real name was Jay Garrick.
His power mainly consists of super speed. Several other effects are also attributed to his ability to control the speed of molecular vibrations, including his ability to vibrate at speed to pass through objects and travel through time.
The classic Barry Allen stories introduced the concept of the Multiverse to DC Comics, and this concept played a large role in the various DC continuity reboots over the years. The Flash has always played a major role in the major reboot stories of the entire DC company, and in the Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 (1985), Barry Allen died saving the Multiverse, which eliminated the character from DC’s regular lineup for 23 years.
His return to regular comics was announced during the narrative (and a single image of a blur) in Grant Morrison’s crossover story Final Crisis: Revenge of the Rogues #3 (2008), fully updated in Geoff Johns accompanying The Flash: Rebirth #1 (2009), starting a six-issue limited series. Since then, he has played a pivotal role in the crossover stories Blackest Night (2009), Flashpoint (2011), Convergence (2015), and DC Rebirth (2016).
Barry Allen was orphaned at the age of 11 after his father, Doctor Henry Allen, was charged with the murder of his wife Nora, who was actually murdered by Reverse-Flash, a time traveler with a fierce hatred of The Flash. Before Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry Allen was the Flash of Earth-I.
This forensic scientist obtained his powers following an accident, and was inspired by Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-II, whose adventures were the subject of a comic book on Earth I to become the hero Flash, who would later become a founding member of the Justice League of America.
The two heroes will meet many times in the comics of the 1960s, the first of which explained to the reader that Barry Allen and Jay Garrick come from two parallel universes. He died in Crisis on Infinite Earths and his succession was taken over by his nephew Wally West, former Kid Flash.
Barry has been back since April 2009 and The Flash: Rebirth. A curse is now attached to him since he destroys all the “speedsters” he touches. In Flashpoint he has a counterpart who never became Flash.
The best-known and most popular iteration of the Flash character, Barry Allen is a beloved character that has done so much for DC Comics. Much like Eobard Thawne, whom we have talked about already, Barry Allen is essential to the evolution of DC Comics since the 1990s, but in a heroic, rather than a villainous role. He has played an important role in almost all major DC crossover events since Crisis on Infinite Earths, including Blackest Night, Flashpoint, Convergence, and DC Rebirth, and his return – after years of absence – was hailed by comic book fans around the world. It is fair to say that modern DC Comics would not be as it is without Barry Allen. On top of that, Barry Allen is a really cool guy. He has a great backstory, he has ideals he fights for, he is quite likable and very funny, which is why fans love him so much. His importance for the development of DC’s modern stories is why we put him in front of Wonder Woman and gave him a spot in the top three.
Alias: Kal-El / Clark Joseph Kent
Debut: Action Comics #1 (1938)
Created By: Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster
Superman is one of the chief characters in the DC Comics universe. Born as Kal-El of Krypton, he was sent to Earth by his parents, moments before the tragic destruction of his home planet. On Earth, he landed in Kansas, near the estate of ones Jonathan and Martha Kent, two local farmers who took him in and raised him as their own child, giving him the name Clark Kent. Young Clark was thus raised in Smallville, not knowing his heritage and the powers he possesses.
As he grew up, Clark Kent became aware of his powers and found out about his heritage, but he decided to accept the Kents as his real parents, even after discovering his true identity. Most of these scenes include him discovering the messages left to him by his real father, Jor-El, through which he learns everything about himself and his heritage.
Later on, Clark Kent becomes a reporter for the Daily Planet, a Metropolis-based newspaper, while simultaneously “working” as Superman, the protector of Metropolis and the Earth. While working for the Daily Planet, Superman meets Jimmy Olsen, a trusted friend and ally, and Lois Lane, a big-shot reporter, with whom he eventually falls in love and starts a relationship. He’s also had an on-and-off relationship with Wonder Woman, but Lois was always his first and true love.
One of Superman’s first opponents was General Zod, another survivor from his home planet, who threatened Earth, before being stopped by Superman. Unlike some other DC superheroes, Superman has a lot of extra-terrestrial enemies, some of the most notable being Brainiac, the collector of planets, and Doomsday, a Kryptonian monstrosity matching Superman’s own powers. Still, his archenemy is a human, a very powerful and very intelligent human, but still only a human. His name is Lex Luthor and he plays a very important role in Superman’s crime fighting career.
Superman’s most famous nickname is the Man of Steel, which symbolizes his superhuman strength and abilities. He is certainly the most powerful among the DC Comics heroes, but he also has a very strong weakness – Kryptonite. Those who know this, often used this to their advantage, since Kryptonite can do devastating damage to the Man of Steel.
It is really difficult to overstate Superman’s importance for the whole superhero genre; the guy is practically a synonym for a Superhero. Superman paved the way for modern American superhero comics and his Golden Age iteration was what actually attracted readers towards superhero comics back during the 1940s. Still, Superman has undergone an evolution just like all the characters from that period, with his origins becoming deeper and darker, and his character more layered and more complex. Today, Superman is much more than just a caped pretty boy with powers, he is a symbol and a character that merits a very detailed analysis, which is not something we’re going to do here. Still, Superman is a truly brilliant and important character, a character that embodies the right values and embodies the whole concept of superheroism in a certain way. His pivotal role in the evolution of the genre is unprecedented in the history of superhero comic books and that is why we have him – although it was expected in a way – a spot in our top three. Why the second one? Well, because there is a guy who’s just a bit more awesome than Superman and you can probably guess who it is.
Alias: Bruce Wayne
Debut: Detective Comics #27 (1939)
Created By: Bob Kane, Bill Finger
Batman is probably one of the most famous (if not the most famous) comic book characters in history. The stories about Gotham City’s Dark Knight have been popular for decades now and have created a multimedia franchise consisting of movies, TV shows, video games, and a lot of other merchandise. But, who is Batman?
Batman is the secret superhero alter ego of Bruce Wayne, a billionaire playboy based in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne is the owner of Wayne Enterprises, a successful company based in Gotham City and is the heir of the Wayne estate. He lives alone in Wayne Manor, on the outskirts of Gotham, with his butler and trusted friend, Alfred Pennyworth.
Wayne’s life has been defined by a tragedy he had witnessed as a child. Namely, one night Bruce went to the movies with his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne. His father decided to take a shortcut through an alley after exiting the theatre, but he did not know that an unknown mugger was standing there, waiting for his prey. The mugger attacked and ultimately killed both Thomas and Martha Wayne, but spared the life of young Bruce, who was left to the care of Alfred Pennyworth. The mystery of his parents’ murder played an important role in Bruce Wayne’s life and was a key fact in his decision to become the vigilante Batman.
Believing that criminals are a “a cowardly and superstitious lot“, Bruce Wayne decided to put on Batman’s cowl, taking inspiration for the name and the design from a childhood experience with bats.
Frank Miller’s important Batman: Year One comic book depicts Batman’s beginnings as a vigilante in Gotham and since that moment, he has become a symbol of Gotham City and a name used with fear among the city’s criminals. While fighting regular villains and members of his Rogue’s Gallery, Batman has also tried to solve the murder of his parents, ultimately finding out that they were killed by a street criminal named Joe Chill.
The Batman mythos has grown with time and with it also Batman, who has evolved from a solitary vigilante to the leader of the Batman family (or Batfamily), which includes several other superheroes like Batgirl, Batwoman, former Robins Nightwing, Red Robin, Spoiler and others. Currently, Batman is aided by his son Damian Wayne (his mother is Talia al-Ghul, Ra’s al-Ghul’s daughter), who is also the fifth and incumbent Robin.
“I’m Batman” is probably one of the most famous lines associated with comic book superheroes. And this guy really is the Batman, a character whose lore and background are so awesome that he rightfully beat every other character on this list to be the best DC Comics character of all time. We could write a whole essay on just how and why Batman is that awesome, but we assume that you know most of the stuff by now. Batman is, himself, truly great and unique in a lot of ways, certainly very different from other mainstream superheroes. During the 1980s, it was him – through his stories – that redefined superhero comics and started the Modern Age. His lore is absolutely brilliant and he probably has the best rogues gallery of all comic book heroes. Still, what really makes Batman so special is the psychology behind the character and the issues tackled by the authors. Batman offers a lot, both for authors and readers, there is a lot to analyze and explore, probably more than with any other superhero. These are all reasons why Batman is better than other characters and why we have put him on top of our list.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we gave you all the information you were looking for! See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!