In honor of Earth Day, we’d like to go green and showcase some of the most pro-environment super beings from the pages of comics and beyond. Some may even take things to the extreme, but they all have the Earth’s best interest at heart. So without further ado, let’s begin!
10. Swamp Thing
Powered by The Green, the force of plant life in the universe, The Swamp Thing is a hybrid of human Alec Holland and Earth’s botanical life. Though many of his encounters revolved around his dual nature, the hero rarely interacts with other humans, never mind speaking out for environmentalism. And on occasion, he unleashes the power of plant life, just to remind people of what they’re messing with.
9. Toxic Avenger
Originally the star of a low-budget, 1991 B-movie, “Toxie” became the lead hero in “The Toxic Crusaders” an animated series/comic book that featured the Troma hero leading a group of similarly mutated individuals against alien polluters from the planet Smogula.
8. Earth 2 Green Lantern
Alan Scott takes being “green” to a level no other GL ever has, by serving as the embodiment of Earth 2’s life force, The Green. He quickly utilized this mystic energy to save the world from Solomon Grundy, who served as the avatar of The Grey, a creeping, fungal force of decay and death. (Plus, being a gay man, obviously he recycles everything and probably drives a Prius.)
7. (tie) Ra’s Al-Ghul
Both of these villains are pro-environment… and anti-human! Both view humanity as a blight and seek to eradicate it for the sake of the planet. Dinosaurus actually managed to wipe out the city of Las Vegas, in the Invincible universe! Ra’s al-Ghul nearly kills everyone in Gotham City with a deadly virus, before using his arch enemy, Batman’s contingency plans to take down the Justice League.
Aquaman rules Atlantis and by extension all of the oceans of the world, 80% of the Earth’s surface. As such, spends more time striking back at companies that pollute the waters and poachers and whalers that harm the world’s aquatic life, than he does fighting Black Manta.
5. Iron Man
In recent years, Marvel has made a point of stressing that Iron Man’s power source is a completely clean form of energy and is so powerful, he uses it to power entire cities in the Marvel United States. All that and starring in multi-million dollar movies… all in a day’s work for the dapper Tony Stark.
4. Poison Ivy
Along the lines of Ra’s al-Ghul, Poison Ivy cares so much for the environment that she battles humanity in order to save it. Beyond that, however, Ivy is actually a union between humanity and plant life, as she draws her energy from flora and in turn is able to manipulate it to her benefit.
3. Animal Man
While Green Lantern draws his energy from The Green, Animal Man draws his from The Red, the force connecting all animal life throughout the universe. Buddy Baker served as a part-time super hero, but devotes most of his time to animal rights activism. He later discovered that he is not the avatar of The Red, his young daughter Maxine is. The Red has simply granted Buddy super abilities in order to protect her until she is old enough to wield the power of The Red on her own.
2. Zen, Intergalactic Ninja
Zen began life as an artificial life form, raised by the monks of Om as a master of martial arts. Working as a mercenary, Zen was hired by The Gordons, cosmic environmental watchdogs, to protect the Earth. Like Toxic Avenger and Swamp Thing, Zen originated in an adult-skewing medium– in this case an independent comic book– but was watered down for kids and translated into an Archie comic, where he battled such super foes as Lord Contaminous, Sulfura and Oil Slick.
1. Captain Planet
Though better known for his animated series, Captain Planet did star in a comic book published by Marvel Comics. (Which I hope every issue of was recycled!) Captain Planet was a mystical being created when his five protegees– Gi, commanding the power of Water; Kwame, Earth; Linka, Air; Ma-Ti, Heart and; Wheeler, Fire– combined their powers to summon him to combat such villains as Doctor Blight, Sly Sludge, Hoggish Greedly, Duke Nukem and Verminous Skumm. Debuting in 1992, Captain Planet was created in response to a new wave of environmental activism in following the recent discovery of global warming and other environmental threats. The Captain was basically a crystallized, blue Voltron, summoned to save the day after his charges failed individually, but his impact on pop culture continues to be felt today as the various characters still appear on tee shirts and other merchandising.
There you have it! My top ten eco-friendly comic book characters. Of course some of you may disagree with my choices. Sound off below with any characters I omitted or any poor choices I made!