Top 10 Sci-Fi Superheroes
Superman is a sci-fi character. He’s from another planet, after all, and Batman, from a certain point of view, is a sci-fi character, too. Batman is a super genius with the money and resources to develop incredible technology. He has traveled through time, to other planets, and spends a good deal of his time aboard a space station. But somehow this isn’t enough in my mind to make either of them real sci-fi superheroes. A sci-fi superhero, in my opinion at least, needs to have some other ingredient at the heart of their character that is more sci-fi. Most stories featuring Batman are set in the dark streets of Gotham, and even Superman stories are the usual urban superhero fare.
The superheroes on this top ten need to have science fiction elements, such as spaceships, robots and journeys between the stars as a far more central part of their adventures. These heroes are based in sci-fi settings and do sci-fi things, issue after issue of their action-packed comic books.
Number 10: Silver Surfer
Silver Surfer has metal skin and can travel through space with the aid of his surfboard-like craft. He used to roam the cosmos searching for planets for Galactus to consume. When his travels took him to Earth, he met the Fantastic Four, who helped him rediscover his humanity and nobility of spirit. Betraying Galactus, the Surfer saved Earth but was exiled there as punishment. He was created by artist Jack Kirby. As Lee recalled in 1995:
There, in the middle of the story we had so carefully worked out, was a nut on some sort of flying surfboard. I thought, Jack, this time you've gone too far'.
Maybe the best description of Silver Surfer was given in 1983 by Richard Geer’s character in Breathless.
The Surfer’s nuts to hang around! He knows life on Earth has no meaning! It’s chaos! It’s out of control! He’s got a chance to break away! I mean, he’s plugged into the galaxy! He’s got the power cosmic!
A Message from the Author
I write sci-fi novels that belong to a series called Dark Galaxy, which starts with Galaxy Dog:
What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet brings to light an ancient archeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy.
The entire series is available to buy from Amazon.
Number 9: Smasher
The Smashers of the Imperial Guard are human-like aliens using Exospex to grant themselves powers. For a long time, Vril-Rokk was the Smasher of the Guard, but since his death at the hands of Vulcan, his legacy has passed to Isabel Kane, the granddaughter of the legendary Captain Terror. She became the first human member of the Imperial Guard in the history of the Shi'ar Empire. Smasher first appeared in 2013, the newest incarnation of the Imperial Guardsman Smasher. She fought alongside the Avengers during the Incursion events, which caused all of reality to crumble and ushered in the new Secret Wars. She has now rejoined the Shi'ar Imperial Guard and, more recently, she and her team defeated Thanos. Smasher is super strong, has the ability of flight, and penta vision. Penta vision allows for powerful laser like blasts from Smasher’s eyes. She initially began as one of forty three sub-guardians but was recently promoted to a Superguardian.
Number 8: Green Lantern
One of the most famous sci-fi superheroes is Green Lantern. Green Lantern, like Smasher, is not a single hero, however, but a mantle that has been passed from brave individual to brave individual. There are a huge number of Green Lanterns, throughout space, and several on earth alone. Jessica Cruz, for example, is a member of the Green Lantern Corps, the first female ring bearer of Earth. Her first appearance was in 2014, and her path to becoming green Lantern was long and complex. She is later sent to space to train with the Green Lantern Corps and is under the orders of Guy Gardner who just pushes her around and berates her until she has had enough and attacks him.
Dan Dare appeared in the Eagle comic from 1950 to 1967. The Eagle had scale models of spaceships, and models in costume as reference for the artists. Scientific plausibility was important, and a young Arthur C. Clarke was a science and plot adviser. The concept then was that he would be the British equivalent of Buck Rogers. Dan Dare returned in new strips in 2000 AD, continuing from in 1977 until 1979 and it was here that he evolved into a superhero. He gained a glove called the cosmic claw that gave him an energy blast power, and his clothes became a tight outfit with primary colors and a starburst logo. He became a real sci-fi superhero whose adventures took place in space.
Number 6: Gamora
Gamora first appeared in Strange Tales in 1975. Gamora has become a big star since being played by Zoe Saldana in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She is the adopted daughter of Thanos, and the last of her species. Thanos found her half dead, and restored her to health, cybernetically enhanced to superhuman levels. She also is an elite warrior, able to beat most opponents in the galaxy, and has earned the nickname, the deadliest woman in the whole galaxy. She is a hero, at least she is now, and she is powerful, and she is a cyborg. She is a very good example of a sci-fi superhero, and I’m wondering whether I shouldn’t have placed her higher in the list.
Number 5: Nemesis the Warlock
Nemesis the Warlock is a comic series created by writer Pat Mills and artist Kevin O'Neill which appeared in the pages of the British weekly comics anthology 2000 AD. The title character is a fire-breathing demonic alien, but also a superhero. Nemesis the Warlock combines high-concept science fiction with superpowers and heroic action. O'Neill's imaginative, grotesque art helped to establish the popularity of the series, but the enormous effort he put into creating it led to a low rate of productivity. Nemesis is an enigmatic and mystical being who is capable of firing bursts of high intensity flame and hurling acid balls at his opponents.
Number 4: Adam Strange
Adam Strange was suddenly teleported away from Earth to another galaxy. Adam's introduction came way back in 1958, and he has a space suit, ray gun, and a jetpack. He also has genetically modified eyes that allow him to see the electromagnetic spectrum. As an active and predominantly space-based superhero, he's worked with the Justice League, members of the Teen Titans, the Green Lantern Corps and even the Omega Men fighting from one corner of the galaxy to the other. He can teleport almost anywhere using Zeta Beams. The character was a regular presence in the DC Universe through the 1970s, despite having no series of his own. Most recently, he has popped up on Krypton, which will make use of his time travel abilities. Krypton executive producer Geoff Johns explains:
One of the great things about Adam Strange is that on Earth he’s an average man but when he travels via his Zeta Beam to another planet like Rann, he becomes a hero.
Adam Strange is the human champion of the planet Rann with a signature ray gun and jet pack. Nothing says sci-fi as clearly as a ray gun and a jet pack.
Number 3: Captain Marvel
Carol Susan Jane Danvers first appeared as an officer in the United States Air Force and a colleague of the Kree superhero Mar-Vell in 1968 and later became Ms. Marvel in 1977 after her DNA was fused with Mar-Vell's during an explosion, giving her superhuman powers. Captain Marvel has been called Marvel's biggest female hero and quite possibly Marvel's mightiest Avenger. In 1977, Ms. Marvel was socially progressive for its time. This was reflected in the use of the word "Ms." then associated with the feminist movement, and in Danvers fighting for equal pay for equal work in her civilian identity. In March 2014, Marvel launched an eighth volume of Captain Marvel written by DeConnick and starring Danvers. DeConnick said:
The big difference is we were grounded in New York City for the previous volume. With the new Captain Marvel we start in NYC but after that we're letting her go cosmic. Carol will be spending time off planet.
Danvers later led an elite squadron of female fighter pilots stationed at an airbase called Hala Field, where she is the only superpowered being. Beginning in October 2015, Danvers starred in the ninth volume of Captain Marvel, written by Agent Carter showrunners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas with artwork by Kris Anka. The series sees Danvers take over the military agency designated to protect Earth from intergalactic threats. Editor Sana Amanat said: This is really meant to be the next level for Captain Marvel. Carol is really meant to be a soldier and a commander, and also a diplomat. We're really trying to build up this space complex and this space world.
Captain Marvel is very much a superhero, and she has become more and more a sci-fi superhero.
Number 2: Adam Warlock
Adam Warlock's earliest appearances were in 1967 and he was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The character has appeared in over four decades of Marvel publications. Scientists on Earth calling themselves the Enclave created an artificial, perfect human, who rebels against his creators, and has a conflict with Thor before leaving Earth and traveling into space. Warlock has wielded the Infinity Gauntlet, becoming a near-supreme being of the universe. During Warlock's temporary possession of the Gauntlet, he purged good and evil from his being, leaving him entirely a creature of logic.
Warlock has played a role in protecting the universe on several occasions, including from clones of Thanos. Warlock possesses the ability to manipulate cosmic energy for energy projection, flight and he can create a cocoon for self-preservation and regeneration. He can manipulate energy and manifest matter. He can manipulate quantum energy to create force fields, teleport, and travel faster than light, and detect or produce wormholes and other irregularities in space. Based on power level alone, Adam warlock has to be near the top of any list of sci-fi superheroes.
Number 1: Black Panther
Black Panther has always been a sci-fi superhero, and now he is heading into space. Black Panther was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Jack Kirby in 1966. Black Panther's real name is T'Challa, king and protector of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Black Panther is the first superhero of African descent in mainstream American comics, having debuted years before early African American superheroes such as Marvel Comics' the Falcon or Luke Cage, or DC Comics' John Stewart in the role of Green Lantern. A new Black Panther series written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and drawn by Brian Stelfreeze was launched in 2016 and continues to be published with Coates as the head writer.
Black Panther invented a potent mystical-scientific hybrid art called "shadow physics" and is able to use it to craft shadow weapons. He also has access to a vast collection of magical artifacts, advanced Wakandan technological and military hardware, and the support of his nation's wide array of scientists, warriors, and mystics. The Wakandan military has been described as one of the most powerful on Earth. His attire is the sacred vibranium costume of the Wakandan Panther Cult. This is a lot of science fiction paraphernalia, but what has boosted Black Panther to the top of this list is what comes next.
As part of Marvel’s Fresh Start initiative, a new Black Panther ongoing series is going to send T’Challa on an adventure far beyond the Earth. Ta-Nehisi Coates will remain the writer of the relaunched Black Panther as it travels to the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda. Prior to this story, T’Challa was one of the primary backers of Captain Marvel and Alpha Flight’s mission to expand humanity’s reach in space. But this empire goes far beyond that. Black Panther sets out on a quest to go across the universe with his people, and found an Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda on Planet Bast, located in the Benhazin Star System. This makes him the ultimate sci-fi superhero.
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