by Brian Clarey



BATMAN Inspired by the recent discovery that I can buy and read comics with an app on my phone, I give a list of the best comic-book superheroes — in my opinion. I start with Batman, a total badass. Batman has no superpowers, though he fears no one — he can even take down Superman, thanks to a stash of Kryptonite on his Bat Belt.. He’s a millionaire, yet chooses to fight street crime instead of languish in some casino or resort somewhere. Plus, he has all those cool devices.


Though Superman is not my favorite, it would be wrong not to include him on this list. My problem is that he’s invulnerable — super strength, super hearing, X-ray vision, laser eyes and that thing where he can freeze stuff by blowing on it. On the plus side, his alter ego, Clark Kent, is a journalist. Speaking of which….


I love the Question, the superhero who is an investigative journalist. The origin story is complicated, involving a mad scientist and artificial skin, and his only superpower appears to be paranoia. Further complicating the storyline, the original Question, Vic Sage, dies of lung cancer in the recent DC comics reboot, replaced by former Gotham City cop Renee Montoya.


Storm, AKA Ororo Munroe, an X-Man with the mutant ability to control the weather, has one of the best backstories in comics. Born in New York City to an American photojournalist and an African princess, both of whom were killed in a plane crash. Ororo spent time as a child pickpocket on the streets of Cairo, was later worshipped as a goddess and then, after being wooed for the X-Men by Charles Xavier and saving the world a few dozen times, married T’Challa, prince of Wakanda and the hero known as Black Panther. Plus she rocks a sweet white Mohawk.


The healing factor. The adamantium skeleton. The claws. Wolverine, AKA Logan, is the best there is at what he does, and what he does isn’t very nice. First seen as a member of the Canadian outfit Alpha Flight and later a key member of the X-Men, Wolverine has developed into one of the most-loved badasses in the comicbook canon.


Hit Girl, from the comic series and film Kick Ass, is an 11-year-old girl taught by her father, the superhero called Big Daddy, to be a stone-cold, pint-sized killer. She got her own comic-book series in 2012.


Pound for pound, they don’t get much tougher than Spider-Man. You know the story: A teenage Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider, giving him the proportionate strength and speed of the arachnid, the ability to cling to walls and ceilings and a “spider sense” that alerts him to danger. The web-=shooters he made himself — he is also a boy genius. I’d put Spider-Man up against just about anybody — he’s tangled with Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain America, the Punisher and even this next guy….


The Hulk came to be when scientist Bruce Banner got belted with gamma rays in the lab. Now, every time he gets pissed off he morphs into a big, green rage machine. There’s backstories and interplanetary episodes galore in the Hulk timeline, but all you really need to know is that Hulk is the strongest one there is.


Spider-Woman, AKA Jessica Drew, was initially created by Stan Lee to protect the copyright to Spider-Man and prevent another comic company from creating a female version. But Spider-Woman is no mere female equivalent to the wall-crawler — she can cling to walls, but only because of some weird bioelectricity coursing through her veins that also allows her to deliver electric blasts from her hands. She’s immune to poison and radiation, has superhuman strength and speed, and can fly. She also exudes a pheromone that causes men to fall in love with her.


I’m giving the last spot on this list to Daredevil for a number of reasons. For one, he is the only handicapped superhero I know of, though his blindness is more than compensated for by his heightened senses and radar. For another, his alter ego, Matt Murdock, is a lawyer. Finally, rather than save the universe, Daredevil most often patrols the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City, where he often takes the kinds of beating no other superheroes seem to get.