The 6 Mightiest Lion Superheroes
Why are there no famous lion superheroes? Lions are the king of the jungle! They’ve got that badass mane to signify their dominance! The females do the hunting! Lions are pretty cool animals, but they are poorly represented in the world of comic book characters. We’ve got a Batman and a Spider-Man for crying out loud, but no prominent lion heroes!
I’ve made it a List of Six hobby of mine to track down all the comic book characters based on obscure but interesting creatures. I’ve done frogs, dogs, pigs, eagles, dinosaurs and more! And now we’re going to take a deep dive into the history of superhero comics to detail some obscure, but no less interesting, comic book characters based on lions! Surprisingly, a lot of them are actually super-villains!
Join me after the jump for six of the mightiest, king of the jungliest, lion-themed characters in comics!
6. Black Lion
The Black Lion is one of those random 1940s superheroes that tried desperately to capture the same success as Superman, Batman and the rest of the actually popular heroes. Black Lion was a bored big game hunter who decided to hunt criminals instead. He appeared in a handful of issues of Wonderworld Comics by Fox Features in 1941, along with his identical sidekick Cub. There’s simply not much to say about the guy, as he appears to be as generic a superhero template as humanly possible. He’s also neither black or a lion.
5. Lion Man
Speaking of historic superheroes, Lion Man was one of the stars of All-Negro Comics in 1947, the first ever comic created by an all-black lineup of writers and artists. Lion Man was a college-educated American scientist sent by the United Nations to protect a crater full of Uranium. With this sidekick Bubba, Lion Man took on a couple of thieves looking to plunder the Uranium for nefarious purposes! Sadly, Lion Man only had the one adventure, because its said that racist publishers stopped the creator of All-Negro Comics from purchasing the newsprint needed to make more issues, or at least that’s the rumor. Alongside Lion Man, that single issue of All-Negro Comics features the detective Ace Harlem, which is a pretty awesome name for a gumshoe.
4. Red Lion
From the distant past to the modern day, Red Lion is a mercenary from DC Comics who recently started making trouble in the Deathstroke comics — and is clearly a Black Panther rip-off. Red Lion is Matthew Bland, the self-declared president-for-life of the fictional African nation Buredunia and a big fan of ethnic genocide against his enemies. He built himself a fancy supersuit and and get wrapped up in some international intrigue with Deathstroke, then butted heads with the Justice League when their Watchtower crashed into his civil war-torn nation. It’s pretty clear that he is a Black Panther rip-off because he was created by writer Christopher Priest for his Deathstroke comic. Priest’s most popular and best known work was a legendary run of Black Panther comics for Marvel. Perhaps he just likes color-themed jungle cats.
So, the Zodiac. Marvel has this team of super-villains who are based on the signs of the Zodiac. There have been so many different incarnations of the Zodiac over the years that I can’t really be sure that the Wikipedia page on the team has every single one of them. Sometimes they’re human. Sometimes they’re androids. There’s just a lot of them. And more often than not, they include a Leo on the team. Sometimes it’s a subtle costume. And sometimes he’s wearing a giant lion headdress! The Wikipedia page on Leo specifically mentions at least five different versions. It’s crazy. But if you need a team of rando super-villains who at least look thematically interesting, Leo and the Zodiac are a good go-to!
2. Kraven the Hunter
Kraven is probably the most famous character on this list, but he’s not the most liony — that guy comes next. But Kraven is definitely a lion guy. Just look at him! Nobody wears a shirt like that without really meaning it, without really committing to that look. Kraven is a world-famous hunter and tracker, who most often hunts Spider-Man, of all people. He’s also probably next in the running to be the villain in the next Spider-Man movie. He’s never been an A-list baddie, but he’s got some beloved classic stories, and there’s nobody else like him. So lets give it up to that shirt!
Giant animal people is a staple of comics. I’ve even done an entire List of Six based just on that concept alone! Imagine my surprise when I discovered a giant lion person character definitely exists! Lion-Mane is a Hawkman villain, which would explain why I’d never heard of him before. Specifically, Ed Dawson was an archaeologist who turned into a were-lion after touching a special meteorite. After getting his butt whooped by Hawkman, he would just keep going back and finding more meteorites that kept turning him into Lion-Mane. And then just as Hawkman has been rebooted over and over again, some version of Lion-Mane keeps coming through as well. One time there was a whole Lion-Mane Tribe on Hawkworld and they were all aliens that just looked like were-lions. Then in the New 52, he was used as an African warlord to battle the new Batwing. Because a man-lion can always find some good use somewhere.