With Halloween recently behind us, we’re taking a look at some of those comic heroes that straddle the line between superhero and supernatural. Mixing in magic and the supernatural often leads to some of the more creative comic book tales ever written. For the purpose of this list, I decided to list only those characters that had done duties as superheroes. That eliminated mystical beings like The Watcher and Death (or any of the other Endless of ‘Sandman’), as well as supernatural, but non-superheroic, leading characters like Jesse Custer (‘Preacher’) and John Constantine (‘Hellblazer’).
10. Dr. Fate
Kent Nelson (Dr. Fate) was trained by the wizard Nabu to become the DC Universe’s version of the Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Strange. His magic was powered by the mystical Helm of Nabu. Since Nelson’s time, there have been several men to take the title of Dr. Fate, all of them were (and are) the go-to mystical powers in DC Comics.
9. The Phantom Stranger
The cryptic being known only as the Phantom Stranger has long dwelled in the shadows of the DC Universe. No one knows his real name, age, or the extent of his powers. Even DC Comic’s own ‘Secret Origins’ series gave four different possible origins for the Stranger without confirming any of them. The Stranger is said to serve either God or the Lords of Order. He can often be found fighting evil forces or, more often, guiding the other heroes of the DCU with his advice.
8. Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan
As the son of Satan/Lucifer (or the demon Marduk Kurios as he was partially retconned), Daimon Hellstrom wields the powers of Hell. Through his trident, he can shoot “hellfire” which burns the soul and leaves the body unharmed. He also has unlimited power within Hell itself. Like his father did against God, Daimon has denied his own heritage again and again and helped the heroes of Earth. However, often Hellstrom (or Hellstorm as he is often referred) helps people only when those actions somehow benefit his own ends.
Al Simmons, an elite military man, was betrayed and killed by his own partner (at the order of his boss no less). Simmons, in an effort to see his wife one last time, made a deal with the Devil. He agreed to become a Spawn, a knight in Hell’s army. In doing so, Simmons became possibly the most powerful being in the Image Comics Universe. He has since fought demons, angels, and prevented an Armageddon or two.
6. Ghost Rider
There have been two Ghost Riders. The stunt driver Johnny Blaze and, later, a young man by the name of Dan Ketch. Both of these Riders were possessed by Zarathos, the spirit of vengeance. Whenever the possessed men are in the presence of evil, they become the Ghost Rider and send the evil souls back to Hell. In addition to flaming powers, a virtually prehensile chain, and super strength, the Ghost Rider also has the “penance stare”. When the rider looks into a person’s eyes, they feel all of the pain and anguish that they have inflicted on others throughout their lives. Personally, I’d rather him just kill me and be done with it.
Summoned by Nazi mystics led by a resurrected Gregory Rasputin during World War II, the demonic creature that would become Hellboy was found by the Allied Forces. Since then, Hellboy has gone on to become the world foremost paranormal investigator. He has since found that he may be the son of a witch or possibly a decendent of King Arthur and rightful King of England. However, Hellboy wants none of this. He is content battling otherworldly beasts and sending them back into the nether from whence they came.
4. Dr. Strange
Dr. Stephen Strange was a world-renowned surgeon before a disastrous accident that left him without the use of his hands. In an attempt to reclaim his livelihood, Strange delved into dark and mystic arts. While he never returned to surgery, Strange became so adept at his magical skills that he eventually earned the title of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. Despite having since passed that title on to another, Strange remains one of the most powerful human beings in the Marvel Universe.
3. Swamp Thing
Alec Holland was a scientist working on a serum to bring life to barren areas. When criminals came after his invention, Holland was killed and died in a Louisiana Swamp. The swamp absorbed his Holland’s consciousness and the plant elemental called the Swamp Thing was born. Throughout time, there have been many Swamp Things. Each one was the guardian of The Green (the elemental force of all plant life on Earth). As such, they can manipulate all plants, travel through other dimensions, and grow new bodies as necessary. Potentially, the Swamp Thing is one of the most powerful beings in existence. Luckily, he’s almost always on our side.
The daughter of a powerful magician, Zatanna has since surpassed her father to become a powerful magician in her own right. Zatanna has the ability to make almost anything happen, as long as she can say it backwards. Provided that an enemy can’t slap a hand over her mouth first, Zatanna has already won any battle that she’s in. Too bad she can’t say: “Eno rebmun em ekam!”
1. Captain Marvel
Selected by the dying wizard Shazam, young Billy Batson was literally given the powers of the the Gods. By speaking the wizard’s name, Batson transforms into Captain Marvel with the wisdom of Solomon, strength of Hercules, stamina of Atlas, power of Zeus, courage of Achilles, and speed of Mercury. Using all these abilities together, Captain Marvel might be the most powerful hero in the DCU… as even Superman has a weakness to magic!
Who would you add or eliminate from the list? Comment below and let us know!