There are literally thousands of different comic heroes, some obviously more famous and well known than others. But I want to know what makes a hero super. Is it the powers? Is it the heroic deeds? Is it the costume? What elevates some heroes beyond your everyday ones like cops and firefighters to the level of ‘super’?
The quick and easy answer is ‘super powers’ are what make heroes super. It's right there in the description, right? But then what about heroes like; Batman, Nightwing, Iron Man, Moon Knight, Green Arrow, Night Thrasher, or countless others? Each of those heroes have saved their world (ok maybe not Night Thrasher, but he’s trying), shouldn’t they be considered super? And let’s look at the other side of the coin, shouldn’t Lex Luther count as a supervillain, even though he doesn’t have any powers of his own? I mean he has fought against, who some (foolishly) consider, the greatest superhero of all time. So, by those accounts, we can take powers out of the equation of all things “super”
Let’s say you agree with me thus far and move onto the deeds achieved. All the aforementioned characters have saved the day, there’s no denying that, so maybe that’s what makes a hero super. Not powers, but what they’ve done with their talents. However, Vibe, Beak, and Flatman are all considered ‘super’ heroes, and associated with high profile team (except Flatman’s Great Lake Avengers, but I predict big things for them coming on the horizon), yet none of them have really done anything of note to save the world, or even a city. But they all have powers (break dancing is a power, right?) and are on teams that at least try to save the day (I’m still looking at you GLA) so should they be stripped of their title of ‘super’ if they haven’t done much with it?
Is it the costume that elevates a hero to super? I mean, I’ve worn plenty of costumes in my life, mostly on Thursdays walking the streets trying to make a buck, but they’re costumes nonetheless. Does that make me super? I mean, I think I’m super, you most certainly think I’m super if you’re still reading these ramblings of mine (don’t worry, you’re in a judgement free zone). Let’s look at this question a little differently. There’s plenty of controversy around cops nowadays, so I’ll avoid using them as an example. Let’s just agree that firemen are heroes. They risk their lives in order to saves the lives of others. By all accounts that’s heroic. They all have a uniform they wear, but they aren’t costumes. Is that then the difference? If a firefighter, who risks his/her life saving the lives of others, decides to wear a costume over their uniform then a superhero? I think not. Also, if we’ve already established that Lex Luther should qualify as a super villain, one would assume the same goes for Wilson Fisk the Kingpin, however he doesn’t wear a costume, just a white suit with a stylish ascot. Same goes for Professor X and Luke Cage. Sure they commit the crime of not sporting the ascot, but that’s forgivable in this instance. Are they somehow less super for eschewing the standard colorful fair of their heroic brethren? Again, I think not.
The answer can’t be simply be characters in comics, because Justin Beiber has appeared in a comic, and we all know damn well he’s not a hero, he’s not even American. I kid, of course.
If you were reading this article in hopes of me having an answer to the question I posed, you are sadly mistaken.