An image of Superman, one of the first superheroes in comics.

A superhero is a type of stock character, dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas — have dominated comic books and crossed over into other media. The word itself dates to at least 1916.[1] A female superhero is sometimes called a superheroine. "Super heroes" is a trademark co-owned by DC Comics and Marvel Comics.[2]

By most definitions, characters strictly require actual superhuman powers to be deemed superheroes.[3] However, this term can be applied to characters who perform the same functions but are devoid of such powers and abilities who are alternately referred to as costumed crime fighters; an example of the latter being Green Arrow. Such characters were generally referred to as "mystery men" in the late 1930s and 1940s (a period historians and fans call the Golden Age of Comic Books), to distinguish them from characters with super-powers.[citation needed]

They fight villains with supernatural "stronger" abilities/powers.

In the traditional paradigm, superheroes utilize their abilities to combat criminal actions and to supplement the endeavors of law enforcement by circumventing legal restrictions on police entities to achieve success. In addition to this fundamental purpose, a superhero is also prone to combating characters representing their polar opposites known as supervillains, which are usually characters possessing similar powers and abilities who utilize them for nefarious or malicious purposes. Traditionally, a superhero will regularly engage in physical and strategic combat with a collection of recurring idiosyncratic and iconic villains often known as a rogues gallery in attempting to thwart a number of schemes; it is also common for one of these characters to serve as a primary antagonist for a superhero as an archenemy, with the others serving as secondary nemeses. Additionally, superheroes sometimes will combat such threats as aliens and supernatural or mythological entities.

Superheroes remain a staple of most illustrated serial fiction in Western culture, and frequently draw both acclaim and controversy for both their perceived and demonstrable influence on social and political issues that are usually addressed in the works depicting them. In the twentieth century, superheroes and comic books were occasionally attacked as proponents of subversive political and social ideologies; on other occasions, they served to support and idealize the dominant values of the national culture. They have, historically, also been utilized as commentary on controversial subjects afflicting national matters political, social, sexual, and philosophical.[citation needed]


Common traits

  • Extraordinary powers, skills and/or equipment. Superhero powers vary widely; superhuman strength, the ability to fly, enhanced senses, and the projection of energy bolts are all common. Others have special weapons or technology, such as Iron Man's powered armor suits and Green Lantern’s power ring. Many characters supplement their natural powers with a special weapon or device (e.g., Wonder Woman's lasso and bracelets, Green Arrow's trick arrows, Spider-Man's webbing, Wolverine's adamantium claws, Daredevil's billy club, or Thor's hammer).
  • A strong moral code, including a willingness to risk one's own safety in the service of good without expectation of reward (Spider Man's "With great power there must also come great responsibility"). Such a code often includes a refusal or strong reluctance to kill or wield lethal weapons.
  • A secret identity that protects the superhero's friends and family from becoming targets of his or her enemies, such as Clark Kent (Superman), although many superheroes have a confidant (usually a friend or relative who has been sworn to secrecy). As one scholarly work analyzed in 1972,

...the rigid convention of giving super-heroes a secret identity ... is part of their psychological defence mechanism. Each super-hero chooses in the beginning of his career a disguise and a battle name. ... He dons a mask and in doing so reaches back to the age-old custom of exorcising demons and evil spirits by frightening them with a terrifying disguise. Today the villain stands in place of evil spirits. The super-hero's disguise has therefore become a mythical element. ... The super-hero divides himself into two component parts, each part playing its role: the alter ego and the secret identity. The dream half (alter ego) expresses all that the author or designer — and with him the reader — would like to be; the other half, rooted in reality, is a symbol of the ordinary everyday man following the behaviour pattern ordained by society. It is a division of life into dream and reality ... and serves to strengthen the individual's self-confidence and to justify his personal way of thinking.[4]

  • A distinctive costume, often used to conceal the secret identity (see Common costume features).
  • An underlying motif or theme that affects the hero's name, costume, personal effects, and other aspects of his or her character (e.g., Batman resembles a large bat, operates at night, calls his specialized automobile, which also appears bat-like, the "Batmobile" and uses several devices given a "bat" prefix; Spider-Man can shoot webs from his hands, has a spider web pattern on his costume, and other spider-like abilities; Phoenix, has the ability to create inextinguishable cosmic fire, and she also an immortal as she always rises from death).
  • A supporting cast of recurring characters, including the hero's friends, co-workers and/or love interests, who may or may not know of the superhero's secret identity. Often the hero's personal relationships are complicated by this dual life, a common theme in Spider-Man and Batman stories in particular.
  • A number of enemies that he/she fights repeatedly. In some cases superheroes begin by fighting run of the mill criminals before supervillains surface in their respective story lines. In many cases the hero is in part responsible for the appearance of these super villains (the Scorpion was created as the perfect enemy to defeat Spider-Man, and characters in Batman's comics often accuse him of creating the villains he fights). Often superheroes have an archenemy who is more troubling than the others. Often a nemesis is a superhero's doppelganger or foil (e.g., Sabretooth embraces his savage instincts while Wolverine tries to control his; Batman is dark, quiet, and grim, while the Joker is colorful, loquacious, and flamboyant).
  • Independent wealth (e.g., Batman or the X-Men's benefactor Professor X) or an occupation that allows for minimal supervision (e.g., Superman's civilian job as a reporter).
  • A headquarters or base of operations, usually kept hidden from the general public (e.g., Superman's Fortress of Solitude or Batman's Batcave).
  • A backstory that explains the circumstances by which the character acquired his or her abilities as well as his or her motivation for becoming a superhero. Many origin stories involve tragic elements and/or freak accidents that result in the development of the hero's abilities.
  • A weakness or Achilles' heel, whether concrete and external, such as Kryptonite in the case of Superman; or psychological and internal, such as anger and biochemistry in the case of the The Incredible Hulk.

Common costume features

A superhero's costume helps make him or her recognizable to the general public both within the comic-book reality as well as the reader's reality. Due to the serial nature of comics, the style and appearance of the title character often changes with the introduction of a new artist. To make the title character immediately recognizable from other characters within the title or from competing characters in other comic-book titles it is practical to make the costumed character flamboyant and therefore more iconic. Costumes are often colorful to enhance the character's visual appeal and frequently incorporate the superhero's name and theme. For example, Daredevil resembles a red devil, Captain America's costume echoes the American flag, Batman resembles a large bat, and Spider-Man's costume features a spider web pattern. The convention of superheroes wearing masks (frequently without visible pupils) and skintight unitards originated with Lee Falk's comic strip hero The Phantom.

Many features of superhero costumes recur frequently, including the following:

  • Superheroes who maintain a secret identity often wear a mask, ranging from the domino masks of Green Lantern and Ms. Marvel to the full-face masks of Spider-Man and Black Panther. Most common are masks covering the upper face, leaving the mouth and jaw exposed. This allows for both a believable disguise and recognizable facial expressions. A notable exception is Superman, who wears nothing on his face while fighting crime, but uses large glasses in his civilian life as Clark Kent. As well, because Superman possesses super speed, he is able to move his face back and forth quickly enough when he is Superman to blur any distinguishable features.[citation needed] Some characters wear helmets, such as Doctor Fate or Magneto.
  • A symbol, such as a stylized letter or visual icon, usually on the chest. Examples include the uppercase "S" of Superman, the bat emblem of Batman or the spider emblem of Spider-Man and the large skull emblem of The Punisher. Often, they also wear a common symbol referring to their group or league, such as the "4" on the Fantastic Four's suits, or the "X" on the X-Men's costumes.
  • Form-fitting clothing, often referred to as tights or Spandex, although the exact material is usually unidentified. Such material displays a character’s athletic build and heroic sex appeal and allows a simple design for illustrators to reproduce.
  • While a vast majority of superheroes do not wear capes, the garment is still closely associated with them, likely because two of the most widely recognized superheroes, Batman and Superman, wear capes. In fact, police officers in Batman’s home of Gotham City have used the word "cape" as a shorthand for all superheroes and costumed crimefighters. The comic-book miniseries Watchmen and the animated movie The Incredibles commented on the potentially lethal impracticality of capes. In Marvel Comics, the term "cape-killer" has been used to describe Superhuman Restraint Unit, even though few notable Marvel heroes wear capes.
Captain America's costume displays many features common to superheroes. Art by Gabriele Dell'Otto
  • While most superhero costumes merely hide the hero’s identity and present a recognizable image, parts of the costume (or the costume itself) have functional uses. Batman's utility belt and Spawn's "necroplasmic armor" have both been of great assistance to the heroes. Iron Man's armor, in particular, protects him and provides technological advantages.
  • When thematically appropriate, some superheroes dress like people from various professions or subcultures. Zatanna, who possesses wizard-like powers, dresses as a stage magician, and Ghost Rider, who rides a superpowered motorcycle, dresses in the leather garb of a biker.
  • Several heroes of the 1990s, including Cable and many Image Comics characters, rejected the traditional superhero outfit for costumes that appeared more practical and militaristic. Shoulder pads, kevlar-like vests, metal-plated armor, knee and elbow pads, heavy-duty belts, and ammunition pouches were common features. Other characters, such as The Punisher or The Question, opt for a "civilian" costume (mostly a trench coat). A few, such as the Runaways, do not wear any distinctive outfits at all.
  • Underpants worn over pants (trousers), or lack of pants altogether.


Many superheroes (and supervillains) have headquarters or a base of operations. These locations are often equipped with state-of-the-art or even alien technologies, and may be disguised or in secret locations to avoid being detected by enemies or the general public. Some, such as the Baxter Building, are known of by the public (even though in some other cases the precise location may remain secret). Many heroes and villains who do not have a permanent headquarters are said to have a mobile base of operations.

Categories of superheroes

Plastic Man's shapeshifting abilities have often been used for humorous effect. Plastic Man #17 (May 1949). Cover art by Jack Cole.

Individual superheroes often fall into established[citation needed] archetypes based on their power set. Many heroes fit into more than one category. Example like:

  • Armored Hero: A gadgeteer without personal superpowers, using powers generated from a suit of powered armor; e.g., Iron Man and Steel.
  • Blaster: A hero whose main power is a distance attack, usually an "energy blast"; e.g., Cyclops, Starfire and Static.
  • Energizers: A character who possesses the ability to generate vast amount of energy (Ki, Chakra, etc.) Mostly associated with anime and manga heroes Son Goku, Pegasus Seiya, Naruto Uzumaki, Yusuke Urameshi, etc., they can summon vast reserves of energy during combat. Growing in power as they train or when pushed to their limits. Some have even been known to "Henshin" into wilder version of themselves Super Saiyan, Nine-Tailed Forms, etc. This category can also extend to characters who have the ability to absorb, hold, or redirect energy as well as discharge it, absorb the properties of matter, or absorb DNA to gain a being's powers (such as in the case of Osmosian/human hybrid Kevin Levin, who has all of the previously mentioned abilities).
  • Metal Hero: A mainly space and police-based superhero who typically takes the form of an android, cyborg, or human that dons a "metallic" suit. Henceforth, most of the Metal Heroes are also referenced as "Henshin (transforming) Heroes." They usually feature futurist or space age technology, vehicles, or weapons to fight a monsters, high-tech gangs, extra-dimensional despot, or galactic crime baron. Samples include: The Space Sheriffs (Shaider, Sharivan, & Gavan), The Beetle Fighters (Juukou B-Fighter & B-Fighter Kabuto), & Special Rescue Teams (Exceedraft, Winspector, & Solbrain)
  • Behemoths/Goliaths: A character possessing massive superstrength and near-indestructibility and, for males, usually an oversized muscular body; e.g., The Hulk, The Thing and Colossus.
  • Elementalist: A hero who controls some natural element or part of the natural world; e.g., Storm (weather), Magneto (magnetism), Swamp Thing (vegetation), the Human Torch (fire), and Iceman (ice).
  • Gadgeteer: A hero who invents or wields special equipment that often imitates superpowers but have no super powers themselves; e.g., Nite Owl, Batman, Green Lantern, and Iron Man.
  • Ghost: A hero with 'ghost' type powers: either invisibility (such as Invisible Woman); or intangibility (such as Kitty Pryde); or both (such as Martian Manhunter, Ghost and Deadman).
  • Healer: A hero who is able to quickly recover from serious injury; e.g., Lobo, Wolverine. This may also be a hero whose primary ability is to heal others; e.g., Elixir.
  • Mage: A hero who is trained in the use of magic; e.g., Doctor Fate, Doctor Strange, Zatanna.
  • Marksman: A hero who uses projectile weapons, typically guns, bows and arrows or throwing blades; e.g., Green Arrow, Hawkeye, and The Punisher.
  • Martial Artist: A hero whose physical abilities are mostly human rather than superhuman but whose hand-to-hand combat skills are phenomenal. Some of these characters are actually superhuman (Iron Fist), while others are human beings who are extremely skilled and athletic (Batman, The Punisher).
  • Mecha/Robot Pilot: A hero who controls a giant robot, a subtype common in Japanese superhero and science fiction media (Gundam, Robotech, Mazinger Z) as well as American versions e.g., Megas XLR, Big Guy.
  • Mentalist: A hero who possesses psionic abilities, such as telekinesis, telepathy and extra-sensory perception; e.g., Professor X, Phoenix, and Raven.
  • Paragon: A hero who possesses the basic powers of super-strength, flight and invulnerability. They are considered to be one of the most powerful of the superhero types. Consisting of such heroes as the extraterrestrial Superman, the god Thor, the magically fueled Captain Marvel, and the solar and photokinetic such as Sentry, and Gladiator.
  • Possessed: A hero who harbors an entity inside of him/herself; e.g., Etrigan the Demon, Ghost Rider, Spectre.
  • Rider: A hero who rides either a powerful vehicle, like Ghost Rider or the Silver Surfer; or rides a unique creature, like Shining Knight.
  • Shapeshifter: A hero who can manipulate his/her own body to suit his/her needs, such as stretching (Plastic Man, Mister Fantastic, Elongated Man), or disguise (Changeling/Morph, Mystique). Other such shapeshifters can transform into animals (Beast Boy), alien creatures (Ben 10) or inorganic materials (Metamorpho).
  • Size Changer: A hero who can alter his/her size; e.g., the Atom (shrinking only), Colossal Boy (growth only), Hank Pym (both).
  • Slasher: A hero whose main power is some form of hand-to-hand cutting weapon—either devices, such as knives or swords, (Deadpool, Elektra, Blade) or natural, such as claws (Wolverine).
  • Speedster: A hero possessing superhuman speed and reflexes; e.g., Sonic The Hedgehog, The Flash, Quicksilver.
  • Mastermind/Super Genius: A hero possessing superhuman/superior intelligence or intellect; e.g., Professor X, Weasel, Forge, Brainiac 5, Mister Fantastic.
  • Sleuth: Technically a type of Super Genius, but mainly someone who relies more on their keen observation skills and deductive reasoning; e.g., Sherlock Holmes, The Question, Batman, Elongated Man, Green Hornet, Daredevil (debatable due to his "Radar Sense").
  • Teleporter: A hero who is able to teleport from point A to point B to point C, etc.; e.g., some teleport due to their own body chemistry, Nightcrawler, others teleport via telekinetic energy Mysterio II.
  • Time Traveller: A hero with the ability to manipulate time itself. Ranging from the standard time travel like Waverider and The Doctor, or manipulating the flow of time so as to either slow time down or to speed it up such as Tempo and Hiro Nakamura.
  • Demon: A hero with demonic powers but fights against his kind to protect humanity; e.g. Hellboy, Spawn and Etrigan.
  • Chosen: A hero who gets their powers from wielding magical items such as swords (E.G. He-man and King Arthur), wands (Sailor Moon), rings (Green Lantern) or other items generally worn on the chest (Power Rangers) arm region (Ben 10) and neck (Card Captors).

Role-playing games

In RPGs such as Hero Games' Champions, Green Ronin Publishing's Mutants & Masterminds, Cryptic Studios' MMORPG City of Heroes and Champions Online, superheroes are formally organized into categories or archetypes based on their skills and abilities.

Trademark status

The trademark status are jointly claimed by these two companies.

Most dictionary definitions[5] and common usages of the term are generic and not limited to the characters of any particular company or companies.

Nevertheless, variations on the term "Super Hero" are jointly claimed by DC Comics and Marvel Comics as trademarks. Registrations of "Super Hero" marks have been maintained by DC and Marvel since the 1960s.[6] (U.S. Trademark Serial Nos. 72243225 and 73222079, among others).

Joint trademarks shared by competitors are rare in the United States.[7] They are supported by a non-precedential 2003 Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decision upholding the "Swiss Army" knife trademark. Like the "Super Hero" marks, the "Swiss Army" mark was jointly registered by competitors. It was upheld on the basis that the registrants jointly "represent a single source" of the knives, due to their long-standing cooperation for quality control.[8]

Critics in the legal community dispute whether the "Super Hero" marks meet the legal standard for trademark protection in the United States-distinctive designation of a single source of a product or service. Controversy exists over each element of that standard: whether "Super Hero" is distinctive rather than generic, whether "Super Hero" designates a source of products or services, and whether DC and Marvel jointly represent a single source.[9] Some critics further characterize the marks as a misuse of trademark law to chill competition.[10]


Growth in diversity

For the first two decades of their existence in comic books, superheroes largely conformed to the model of lead characters in popular fiction of the time, with the typical superhero a white, middle- to upper- class, tall, heterosexual, professional, 20-to-35-year-old male. A majority of superheroes still fit this description as of 2011, but many characters began to break out of the mold in the 1960s.

Female superheroes

The first known female superhero is writer-artist Fletcher Hanks's minor character Fantomah,[11] an ageless, ancient Egyptian woman in the modern day who could transform into a skull-faced creature with superpowers to fight evil; she debuted in Fiction House's Jungle Comics #2 (February 1940), credited to the pseudonymous "Barclay Flagg".

Another seminal superheroine is Invisible Scarlet O'Neil, a non-costumed character who fought crime and wartime saboteurs using the superpower of invisibility; she debuted in the eponymous syndicated newspaper comic strip by Russell Stamm on June 3, 1940. A superpowered female antihero, the Black Widow — a costumed emissary of Satan who killed evildoers in order to send them to Hell — debuted in Mystic Comics #4 (August 1940), from Timely Comics, the 1940s predecessor of Marvel Comics.

Though non-superpowered, like the Phantom and Batman, the earliest female costumed crimefighters are The Woman in Red,[12] introduced in Standard Comics' Thrilling Comics #2 (March 1940); Lady Luck, debuting in the Sunday-newspaper comic-book insert The Spirit Section June 2, 1940; the comedic character Red Tornado, debuting in All-American Comics #20 (November 1940); Miss Fury,[13] debuting in the eponymous comic strip by female cartoonist Tarpé Mills on April 6, 1941; the Phantom Lady, introduced in Quality Comics Police Comics #1 (August 1941); and the Black Cat,[14] introduced in Harvey Comics' Pocket Comics #1 (also August 1941). The superpowered Nelvana of the Northern Lights debuted in Canadian publisher Hillborough Studio's Triumph-Adventure Comics #1 (August 1941), and the superhumanly strong Miss Victory was introduced in Holyoke (comics) the same month. The character was later adopted by A.C. Comics.

The first widely recognizable female superhero is Wonder Woman, from All-American Publications, one of two companies that would merge to form DC Comics. She was created by psychologist William Moulton Marston with help and inspiration from his wife Elizabeth and their mutual lover Olive Byrne.[15][16] Wonder Woman debuted in All Star Comics #8 (January 1942).

Starting in the late 1950s, DC introduced Hawkgirl, Supergirl, Batwoman and later Batgirl, all female versions of prominent male superheroes. Batgirl would eventually shed her "bat" persona and become Oracle, the premiere information broker of the DC superhero community and leader of the superheroine team Birds of Prey In addition, the company introduced Zatanna and a second Black Canary and had several female supporting characters that were successful professionals, such as the Atom's love-interest, attorney Jean Loring.

As with DC's superhero team the Justice League of America, with included Wonder Woman, the Marvel Comics teams of the early 1960s usually included at least one female, such as the Fantastic Four's Invisible Girl, the X-Men's Marvel Girl and the Avengers' Wasp and later Scarlet Witch. In the wake of second-wave feminism, the Invisible Girl became the more confident and assertive Invisible Woman, and Marvel Girl became the hugely powerful destructive force called Phoenix.

In subsequent decades, Elektra, Catwoman, Witchblade, and Spider-Girl became stars of popular series. The series Uncanny X-Men and its related superhero-team titles included many females in vital roles.[17]

Superheroes of color

In the late 1960s, superheroes of other racial groups began to appear. In 1966, Marvel Comics introduced the Black Panther, an African king who became the first non-caricatured black superhero.[18] The first African-American superhero, the Falcon, followed in 1969, and three years later, Luke Cage, a self-styled "hero-for-hire", became the first black superhero to star in his own series. In 1971, Red Wolf became the first Native American in the superheroic tradition to headline a series.[19] In 1974, Shang Chi, a martial artist, became the first prominent Asian hero to star in an American comic book. (Asian-American FBI agent Jimmy Woo had starred in a short-lived 1950s series named after a "yellow peril" antagonist, Yellow Claw.)

Comic-book companies were in the early stages of cultural expansion and many of these characters played to specific stereotypes; Cage often employed lingo similar to that of blaxploitation films, Native Americans were often associated with wild animals and Asians were often portrayed as martial artists.

Subsequent minority heroes, such as the X-Men's Storm (the first black superheroine) and the Teen Titans' Cyborg avoided such conventions. Storm and Cyborg were both part of superhero teams, which became increasingly diverse in subsequent years. The X-Men, in the particular, were revived in 1975 with a line-up of characters culled from several nations, including the Kenyan Storm, German Nightcrawler, Russian Colossus, Irish Banshee and Canadian Wolverine. Diversity in both ethnicity and national origin would be an important part of subsequent superhero groups.

In 1989, Marvel's Captain Marvel was the first female black superhero from a major publisher to get her own title in a special one-shot issue. In 1991, Marvel's Epic Comics released Captain Confederacy, the first female black superhero to have her own series.

In May 1992, Steve Englehart and David Lapham of Valiant released a black superhero by the name of Shadowman. Though, when this character played through the series, there were no overly African overtones. Instead he was the opposite of most black heroes at the time. He lived in a nice house in New Orleans, and also had a maid by the name of Nettie. He didn't listen to hip hop or rap, but instead listened to Jazz and Rock and Roll.

In 1993, Milestone Comics, an African-American owned imprint of DC, introduced a line of series that included characters of many ethnic minorities, including several black headliners. The imprint lasted four years, during which it introduced Static, a character adapted into the WB Network animated series Static Shock.

In addition to the creation of new minority heroes, publishers have filled the roles of once-Caucasian heroes with minorities. The African-American John Stewart debuted in 1971 as an alternate for Earth's Green Lantern Hal Jordan. In the 1980s, Stewart joined the Green Lantern Corps as a regular member. The creators of the 2000s-era Justice League animated series selected Stewart as the show's Green Lantern. Other such successor-heroes of color include DC's Firestorm (African-American) and Blue Beetle (Latino). Marvel Comics, in 2003 retroactive continuity, revealed that the "Supersoldier serum" that empowered Captain America was subsequently tested on an African American.[20]

LGBT characters

In 1992, Marvel revealed that Northstar, a member of the Canadian mutant superhero team Alpha Flight, was homosexual, after years of implication.[21] This ended a long-standing editorial mandate that there would be no LGBT characters in Marvel comics.[22] Although some secondary characters in DC Comics' mature-audience miniseries Watchmen were gay, Northstar was the first openly gay mainstream superhero. Other gay and bisexual superheroes have since emerged, such as Pied Piper, Gen¹³'s Rainmaker, and the gay couple Apollo and Midnighter of Wildstorm Comics' superhero team the Authority.

In the mid-2000s, some characters were revealed to be gay in two Marvel titles: Wiccan and Hulkling of the superhero group Young Avengers; and the X-Men's Colossus in the alternate universe Ultimate Marvel imprint. Xavin, from the Runaways is a shape-changing alien filling the part of a transgendered lesbian. In 2006, DC revealed in its Manhunter title that longtime character Obsidian was gay, and a new incarnation of Batwoman was introduced as a "lipstick lesbian" to some media attention.[23][24]

See also


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster Online: "Superhero"
  2. ^ "United States Patent and Trademark Office latest status info for trademark serial #78356610
  3. ^ Per Niccum, John. "'V for Vendetta' is S for Subversive", Lawrence Journal-World, March 17, 2006; Gesh, Lois H., and Robert Weinberg, The Science of Superheroes (John Wiley & Sons, 2002; ISBN 978-0-471-02460-6), Chapter 3: "The Dark Knight: Batman: A NonSuper Superhero";, "The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters: Rev. Dr. Christopher Syn, the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (one of the world's first masked crime-fighters)" (undated, no byline); Lovece, Frank, The Dark Knight (movie review) Film Journal International, July 16, 2008 ("Batman himself is an anomaly as one of the few superheroes without superpowers..."), and other sources. While the definition of "superhero" is "A figure, especially in a comic strip or cartoon, endowed with superhuman powers and usually portrayed as fighting evil or crime," the more longstanding Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the definition as "a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also: an exceptionally skillful or successful person".
  4. ^ Reitberger, Reinhold, and Wolfgang Fuchs. Comics: Anatomy of a Mass Medium (Little, Brown and Company, 1972), p. 124
  5. ^ Superhero
  6. ^ Ulaby, Neda. All Things Considered, "Comics Creators Search for 'Super Hero' Alternative". March 27, 2006
  7. ^ Schwimmer, Martin. The Trademark Blog, "Do DC and Marvel Own Exclusive Rights in 'SUPER HERO'?" 2004.
  8. ^ Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Arrow Trading Co., Inc. v. Victorinox A.G. and Wenger S.A.. 2003
  9. ^ Coleman, Ron. Likelihood of Confusion, "SUPER HERO® my foot". 2006.
  10. ^ Doctorow, Cory. Boing Boing, "Marvel Comics: stealing our language". 2006.
  11. ^ Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Fantomah
  12. ^ Don Markstein's Tonnopedia: The Woman in Red and Grand Comics Database: Thrilling Comics #2
  13. ^ Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Miss Fury
  14. ^ Markstein's Toonopedia: Black Cat and Grand Comics Database: Pocket Comics #1
  15. ^ Bostonia (Fall 2001): "Who Was Wonder Woman? Long-ago LAW alumna Elizabeth Marston was the muse who gave us a superheroine", by Marguerite Lamb
  16. ^ The New York Times (February 18, 1992): "Our Towns: She's Behind the Match For That Man of Steel", by Andrew H. Malcolm
  17. ^ Comic Zone (May 1, 1996): "An Interview with Chris Claremont"
  18. ^ Brown, Jeffrey A. (2001). Black Superheroes, Milestone Comics and their Fans. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-57806-281-0. 
  19. ^ Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Red Wolf
  20. ^ Truth: Red, White & Black #1-7 (Jan.-July 2003) at Grand Comics Database.
  21. ^ Gay League - North Star
  22. ^ The Comics Journal: Online Features
  23. ^ BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Batwoman hero returns as lesbian
  24. ^ Caped Crusaders – June 12, 2006 – Page 1

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