6 Other Comic Book Captains
I wrote an article last week teasing Captain America and calling him a big, patronizing jerk. That was unfair of me. I’m sure he’s a nice guy. Plus ‘Murica! Amiright? So to make up for that perceived slight against our nation’s greatest superhero, I’ve dedicated this List of Six to the noble act of being a Captain Superhero. Because for some reason, there are a ton of comic book characters who put the word ‘Captain’ in front of their name.
Why not ‘General’ or ‘Private’ or ‘Sergeant’? Why is ‘Captain’ the go-to rank for superheroes? Heck, some of these guys aren’t even in the military, let alone any business that would use the word ‘Captain’. None of them pilot boats or airplanes. Somehow it’s just stuck. One of those weird comic book traditions, I guess. So join me after the jump for six comic book characters who consider themselves Captain of…something.
6. Captain Atom
Captain Atom is one of the only ‘captains’ in comics who actually served in the military, the Air Force to be exact. Nathaniel Adam (because puns are awesome) was framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and instead of a prison sentence, he volunteered to participate in a military experiment that went horribly, horribly wrong – as these things often do in comic books. And so Captain Atom was born, a being composed of some kind of vague, powerful energy contained in that pretty silvery metal costume. From there, Captain Atom was kind of blackmailed into becoming the military’s own pet superhero, his sense of duty often conflicting with the general freewheeling vigilantism of his superhero colleagues.
5. Captain Cold and Captain Boomerang
I have no idea why either of these super-villains has to have the word ‘captain’ in their name. Not only that, but they are both enemies of the Flash! In fact, both captains Cold and Boomerang are members of the same super-villain team, The Rogues! How did this happen? What sort of lunacy produced two independent villains calling themselves ‘captain’ for no reason, then put them on the same team? Well anyway, Leonard Snart is Captain Cold, who decided that a parka was the best way to visual his new super-villain identity. A small time thief who got nabbed by the Flash, Snart accidentally invented a freeze ray while trying to figure out a way to slow down the Fastest Man Alive. And if you’ve got yourself a freeze ray, you might as well go full tilt into the ‘ice’ theme.
Digger Harkness is Captain Boomerang, an Australian kid who grew up so poor that he only had boomerangs to play with. Because Australia. He probably played with kangaroos too. Digger eventually became a professional boomerang artist, because those are a thing, then got hired as the mascot of a toy company who gave him the name ‘Captain Boomerang’. Somehow this led to him turning to a life of crime, a danger for all professional boomerang artists, I’m sure. And again, somehow, this led to him going up against the Flash with a series of novelty boomerangs. And wouldn’t you know, but Captain Boomerang is not the only super-villain in comics to use novelty boomerangs as a gimmick. Comics can be really weird sometimes.
4. Captain Nazi
If you’re going to pick a noun to place after the word ‘captain’ in your name, I think the worst possible choice is ‘Captain Nazi’. Either that or ‘Captain Drowning Puppies’, and there would have to be a lot of them. Captain Nazi lives up to his name in that he is most definitely a Nazi. Armed with super strength and other general enhanced abilities, Captain Nazi kicked Allied butt in World War II, then decided to put himself into suspended animation so that he could later revive the Third Reich sometime in the future. I think Hitler had a similar plan. Or was that Walt Disney? Captain Nazi was indeed woken up in modern times and has spent his career getting belittled by superheroes and battling another ‘captain’ superhero who will show up later on this list…
3. Captain Universe
This one doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Captain Universe isn’t an actual person or a superhero or one particular individual. Captain Universe is a disembodied force of universal energy called the Uni-Power. Whenever someone in the universe is in trouble, the Uni-Power will temporarily possess them and give them enough super-powers to save the day. Maybe Spider-Man needs help beating up the Juggernaut. Or maybe little Timmy needs to get out of the well. The Uni-Power will be there! But considering there are still accidents and deaths in the world, the Uni-Power is very picky about who it saves. I get the ‘universe’ part of the name, but how would a disembodied cosmic energy force get the name ‘captain’?
2. Captain Britain
It makes a certain kind of sense when you think about it. This is the world we’re talking about, after all. When America has a ton of success with Captain America, other countries are going to want their own patriotic superheroes. Russia has the Red Guardian, and he even has his own shield. There’s even a Captain Canuck. But when Marvel created Captain Britain for the United Kingdom, they went kind of insane. Rather than just creating a new English super soldier, Captain Britain is instead a member of the interdimensional Captain Britain Corps. Apparently in every single parallel dimension in the entire Multiverse, there is a Captain Britain. And they all get their powers from Merlin, from King Arthur legend. Don’t…don’t expect a Captain Britain anytime soon.
1. Captain Marvel
Who better to battle a guy like Captain Nazi than a 10-year-old in the body of Superman? Meet Captain Marvel, the most successful of all the attempts to make a knock-off Superman in the late 30s. Somehow, Captain Marvel managed to stick around, telling the story of 10-year-old Billy Batson and his superheroic adventures. All Billy has to do is shout the word, “SHAZAM!” and he is transformed into the World’s Mightiest Mortal…but he still has the mind and personality of his 10-year-old self. So he’s both the ultimate in childhood wish-fulfillment and child endangerment. Oddly enough, Captain Marvel is not a character from Marvel Comics. I”m pretty sure there are some lawsuits about that…
Honorable Mentions: This ‘captain superhero’ trope isn’t just a comic book fad. It’s used across all media for superhero fun and frivolity!