If I asked you, the comic book fan, to give me a list of characters you felt were the strongest superheroes, names like Dr. Manhattan, Superman, Hulk, and The One Above All would roll off your tongue with ease.
But there are characters who never come up in these who-is-stronger-than-whom debates, and yet they deserve mention, especially if you take a more astute look into their powers and how they can use them to seamlessly dispatch anyone who dares oppose them. The subsequent list will highlight those unsung characters who are worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as the aforementioned gods of the #DC and #Marvel universes.
In yet another incarnation of the popular experiment-gone-wrong trope, Franklin Hall gained the ability to manipulate gravity, predictably taking up the moniker “Graviton.” Since his debut in Avengers #158, the Canadian scientist has gone on to make appearances on the silver screen in the painfully short-lived Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and in the third episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. To understand just how immensely powerful Graviton is, we first need to understand how the force he controls works.
Ever since Isaac Newton — one of the most venerated figures in the pantheon of science legends — proposed his Universal Law of Gravitation, gravity had always been perceived as a force. Enter another physics hall-of-famer: Albert Einstein, who came up with General Relativity. This theory argued that gravity isn't exactly a force but rather a curvature of space-time. This analogy from Space.com sums up what Einstein meant:
"Imagine setting a large body [such as a bowling ball] in the center of a trampoline. The body would press down into the fabric, causing it to dimple. A marble rolled around the edge would spiral inward into the body."
From the analogy, the marble (the object with a smaller mass) is you, the bowling ball (the object with a larger mass) is the Earth, and the fabric is space-time. Because Graviton can manipulate the curvature in space-time, this is a list of God-like abilities he possesses:
- Slowing down time.
- Creating black holes, out of which nothing in the universe can escape from.
- Creating worm holes, allowing him to move faster than light.
The X-Men arch enemy has often been portrayed as a simple metal manipulator, stopping bullets and uprooting ships. Underneath that ability to literally bend metals to his will is the ability to control the electro-magnetic force. Because Magneto has power over this, here's a list of his deadliest abilities:
- Electromagnetic force (along with gravity, weak force and strong force) is one of the four fundamental forces. Together with the strong force, it holds atoms together by keeping particles such as protons in a fixed orbit with the nucleus (the center) of the atoms. Magneto could destabilize the atomic structure of any object, effectively destroying it.
- Our brains orchestrate biological functions such as breathing and heart pulsation by dissemination of electrical signals. Since Magneto possesses command over electricity too, he can manipulate these signals too cause the bodies of his foes to shut down.
3. Scarlet Witch
Wanda Maximoff is precisely what the name of her alter-ego alludes to: a witch, and not a mutant as popularly believed. Her abilities are as a result of genetic experimentation by the High Evolutionary that were later improved upon through years spent studying magic. The energy she channels from her sorcery empowers her with the ultimate deus ex machina: altering reality.
In the limited series House of M, she erased all of mutant kind from existence by uttering just three words: “No more mutants.” It’s only by a change of heart that things were reverted back to normal. Don’t expect to see a “Scarlet Witch vs. Galactus” thread in any forums, though.
There are a lot of similarities between the ensembles of Marvel and DC. On one hand, you have Nemo, and on the other you have Aquaman; Hawkeye and Green Arrow, Wasp and Bumblebee. The Nova Corps is Marvel’s imitation of the Green Lantern Corps, with Richard Rider being their Hal Jordan. This group of intergalactic peacekeepers featured in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and while in the film they weren’t capable of much, in the comics they have all sorts of amazing abilities:
- Flight at light speeds.
- Control of gravity.
- Creating wormholes.
In the Annihilation storyline, Rider gained control over the entire Nova Force — the energy which fuels the corps and is shared among them — and amped all these abilities to the max, granting him virtually boundless power.
1. The Flash
The mantle of Scarlet Speedster has been held by four people — Jay Garrick, Wally West, Barry Allen and Bart Allen — each of whom draws power from the Speed Force. While the Speed Force comes with a vast array of abilities, such as phasing through walls by quantum tunneling and rapid healing, these are perhaps the two most potent of them all:
- Traveling through time and re-writing reality as we know it. Flash (the Barry Allen incarnation) is responsible for turning the DC multiverse on in its head by triggering the Flashpoint event, which rebooted the comic book multiverse and has made significant changes to the small screen multiverse.
- Infinite Mass Punch. Introduced in JLA #3 by Grant Morrison, this power lends credence to the argument of Wally West being more powerful than Barry Allen. Though this power has been explained to not actually be infinite, it rivals that of Superman. The IMP is arguably the most powerful jab in the DC Universe.
What comic book characters do you feel are underrated?