green superheroes

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to compile a listing of the top ten green-themed superheroes.  Enjoy, while you sip your green beer!

10. Fire

You may wonder why a character named Fire is in any way green.  Well, originally, when she was introduced, Beatriz Bonilla de Costa was named the Green Fury and possessed a wider range of powers which in addition to breathing fire, included super freeze breath and illusions.  (In fact, her appearance in superhero mode, was an illusion!)  Later, to avoid confusion with another character, The Fury in Infinity Inc., her name was changed to the Green Flame.  In these stories, her extra powers were dropped and fire became her main focal ability.  When she and Norwegian partner Ice Maiden joined the Justice League, they simplified their names to Fire & Ice.  There you have it.  A former spy, she uses her espionage background in her heroic endeavors.  A former model, she’s also not opposed to using her feminine wiles to distract simpleton male opponents.  She and Ice have served with the Justice League consistently over the years and are currently part of Justice League International.

9. Brainiac 5

The Legion of Super Heroes’ petulant, know-it-all super genius, is actually a descendant of Superman’s enemy Brainiac.  He invented the team’s Flight Rings, granting every member that particular super ability, the serum that cured Mon-El of his weakness to lead and for himself, a force field belt.  On a negative side, he also built the supercomputer, Computo who killed one of Triplicate Girl’s selves, forcing her to become Duo Damsel.  He also served as Supergirl’s true love of her life until her death.  Even after she was erased from existence after ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths,’ he still experienced a deep melancholia on the anniversary of her death, although no one around him could understand why.  Sadly, the Legion has been reinvented nearly nonstop since the Crisis, but every time, Brainiac 5 is a featured member, despite his snooty attitude.

8. Beast Boy/Changeling

Originally a member of the Doom Patrol, Garfield “Gar” Logan was an orphan, losing his jungle explorer parents in an accident.  Prior to their deaths, however, in order to save Gar from a rare jungle illness, they injected him with an experimental serum, which saved him, but turned his skin and hair green and gave him the ability to shape shift into any animal.  He was semi-orphaned once again, after his adopted mother, Elasti-Girl, died to save a small New England town.  (His adopted father Mento survived but paid him little attention.)  Suffering from insecurity and a constant feeling of rejection, he adopted a fragile “class clown” persona which irritated his teammate Cyborg after they both joined the Teen Titans.  Over the years, Gar has matured and even led a new version of the Doom Patrol.  He will be reinvented in the new series ‘The Ravagers.’

7. Green Arrow

Green Arrow, Oliver Queen, is the DC Universe’s finest archer, a regular human, who charges into battle alongside Superman and Dr. Fate, carrying nothing but among the oldest and most primitive weapons in human history, a bow and arrows.  And he does it with flair!  Arrow is strong-willed, single-minded and driven in his modern day Robin Hood quest to squash corruption and level the playing field for the Average Joe.  His street level focus has, at times, taken away from his membership in the Justice League, but he still regularly serves among their ranks.  His liberal stance often brings him into conflict with conservative teammate Hawkman to either the amusement or annoyance of his teammates.  He was linked romantically, off-and-on for decades (real world time) with Black Canary.  The nature of their relationship in current continuity has yet to be explored.

6. She-Hulk

The Hulk’s alter ego, Bruce Banner, was forced to give his wounded cousin a drug transfusion.  His gamma ray-irradiated blood passed his Hulk powers on to her, but with changes.  Jennifer could transform at will between her two identities.  (Although she would eventually opt to remain in She-Hulk mode for the majority of the time.)  She also retained her normal human personality, which evolved from mousy to party girl over the years.  She served dutifully as a member of The Avengers, enjoying a brief flirtation with Hawkeye before, upon the request of The Thing, she took his place in the Fantastic Four so that he could remain on the War World created for the ‘Secret Wars.’  She blossomed as a member of the Fantastic Four and remains the hero that has served the longest on that team besides the four founders.  She has resumed her law career, becoming one of the most prevalent lawyers in the Marvel Universe.  She aids the Avengers whenever they need her.  And she, ahem, enjoys a healthy dating life.

5. The Vision

The Vision serves as one of the most engaging, emotionally resonate characters in comics.  A “synthezoid” created by the villain Ultron, utilizing the remains of the robotic Human Torch and the brainwave patterns of Wonder Man, he was sent to infiltrate and betray The Avengers.  However, Ultron built too great a creation, as The Vision instantly sought to understand what it meant to be human, and betrayed his master and joined the Avengers.  His journey continued for several years, as he struggled to fit in with his emotional, human comrades, with him ultimately falling in love with the mutant sorceress The Scarlet Witch.  The two were wed and retired to live in New Jersey.  Through magical mutant means, the couple sired twin sons, William and Thomas.  Unfortunately, due to their magical mutant nature, they were “not real” and erased from existence.  (They got better.  They’re currently Speed and Wiccan of the Young Avengers.)  The Vision has been destroyed numerous times, but keeps getting revived through various means, most recently rebuilt by Tony Stark in his spare time.  He serves as a loyal, stoic ally.  Now that the Scarlet Witch, who was living with amnesia following her actions in the ‘House of M’ storyline, has returned, we can only imagine what the future holds.

4. Swamp Thing

Earth’s plant elemental, who may or may not be scientist Alec Holland, has starred in some of the deepest, most thought-provoking and provocative tales in the comics field.  (A story in which he met Jesus Christ was pulled after protests.)  He’s not your run of the mill super hero, but his series are introspective and deep, transcending the typical world of heroics.  In fact, his existence for many years was banned from the mainstream DC Universe.  He has just emerged as part of the ‘New 52’ and his excellent new series lived up to his rich history.

3. Martian Manhunter

J’Onn J’Onzz was the last surviving Green Martian, accidentally teleported to Earth by Dr. Saul Erdel, who was so startled by the experience that he had a heart attack and died.  J’Onn possesses powerful telepathy, the ability to alter his appearance, super human strength, invulnerability, flight and a multitude of other super abilities.  His major weakness is fire, which renders him powerless.  He used his shape-shifting abilities to adopt the human identity John Jones, replacing a recently deceased police detective.  In the excellent miniseries “A New Frontier,’ he is overwhelmed with the negativity of humankind and attempts to return home by stowing aboard a U.S. rocket into space, but is captured by government agent King Faraday.  Faraday and J’Onn bond over the course of his captivity and both heroes help the rest of America’s emerging super beings against a powerful alien threat.  As a result, J’Onn joins the Justice League, which he serves valiantly throughout multiple reincarnations.  Many consider J’Onn the backbone of the team, serving in the “Merlin” role as wise counsel.  His distance from human culture typically helps in this role.  In particular, he has a closeness to the orphaned hero Gypsy.  (J’onn having lost his natural daughter and wife back on Mars.)  Lately, he has taken a darker turn as a member of Stormwatch.

2. The Green Lantern Corps

The GLC are entrusted with the ultimate weapon, the Power Ring, which allows them, by using their own will power, to create anything they can think of, out of powerful green energy.  Each Lantern is recruited because they are found to possess no fear, a trait necessary as they are granted the honor of policing the entire universe, defending it from tyranny and corruption.  Most notable among their ranks, of course are Earth humans Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner, but fans have also embraced their supporting cast, Killowog, Salak, Ch’p, Arisia, Mogo, Soranik Natu, Isomot Kol and on and on!  It’s rare to have a super team where they all have the exact same power, yet their diverse backgrounds and histories work to create tension and drama.  All four human GLs have served as loyal members of the Justice League for lengthy periods of time, sometimes at the same time!  And next to Batman, the Green Lantern franchise has the most books being published right now at DC Comics.

1. The Hulk

Kermit the Frog sang, “It’s not easy being green” and that’s certainly the case with our number one hero, Marvel’s monstrous Hulk!  Inspired by Doctor Jeckyl and Mister Hyde, The Hulk is meek scientist Bruce Banner, bathed in gamma radiation after saving innocent bystander Rick Jones from an experiment in the desert.  Once night fell, Banner turned into the behemoth The Hulk.  Though he was initially colored gray, Marvel quickly switched him to a more eye-catching tone, green, complimented by very fashion-forward purple pants.  As the Hulk, Banner was a savage, semi-intelligent brute who smashed everything in his path, cutting a swathe of destruction across the U.S. South West.  He frequently found himself in contention with the Army.  Though he was present for the formation of The Avengers, he never again assisted them as a member.  He did, however serve as a member of non-team The Defenders for several years.  In the 80s and 90s, more psychological connotations were added to the dual personalities of The Hulk and Banner, with it revealed that Banner’s father had abused him as a child.  The Hulk is one of comics’ most recognizable stars, having appeared on every manner of merchandising possible and having starred in successful live action and animated TV adaptations, as well as high-profile feature films.  With his role in the upcoming “Avengers” movie, look for a flood of more licensing, as well as a more visible role within The Avengers comics.

Have a few green beers and comment below!