What do Superman and Spider-Man have in common besides their color schemes? Well, each have civilian identities-and each works for the foremost newspaper in their respective universes. Journalism has been tied to superheroes and comics more than any other profession besides "mad scientist". So who in comics joined the ranks of the press, and why?
1. Clark Kent (Superman)
Arguably the most famous pop culture journalist of the last century, Clark Kent has served as a reporter with the Daily Planet for nearly his entire existence, including in the New 52 reboot. Depending on the depiction, the career takes varying importance ranging from a convenient side job to a main focus of his life. Kent even won a Pulitzer prize at one point.
Clark's motivations are just as righteous as those for his "other job". The journalistic career allows him a more intellectual pursuit to truth and justice, while also providing early access to information regarding potential crises as well as giving plausible excuses for leaving the building during them.
The non-comic origins of this career lie with his creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Both were heavily involved in journalism. Mr. Siegel wrote for his high school newspaper, and later created and ran a science fiction fan magazine titled Cosmic Stories. For his part, Mr. Shuster had worked at the Toronto Daily Star as a paper boy. When they created Superman, his career was only natural.
2. Peter Parker (Spider-Man)
Another pop culture icon, Peter Parker was not originally a journalist. It took his family's quick descent in to poverty to inspire him to look for work with J. Jonah Jameson and the Daily Bugle. He made money by taking pictures of Spider-Man that no one else could, and quickly ascended in popularity at the newspaper.
Peter's motivations aren't quite as magnificent as Clark's. He's just trying to make a living to support his aunt, which is consistent with his "average guy" persona as Peter Parker.
Peter's career as a reporter was likely also influenced by one of his creators, Stan Lee, who formerly wrote obituaries for a news service and sold subscriptions for the New York Herald Tribune newspaper. It's also possible that the career was possibly inspired by Clark Kent himself.
Fun Fact: Peter's clone, Ben Reilly, has also served as a photojournalist in Peter's place.
3. Billy Batson (Captain Marvel/Shazam!)
After Billy Batson gained his superhuman abilities from the wizard Shazam, he was in a unique position to tell the exciting adventures of Captain Marvel. He took advantage of this by becoming a radio reporter during his run in the Whiz Comics series during the Golden Age of comics.
As far as motivations, it was seemingly mostly for Billy's own enjoyment of telling about his adventures. Captain Marvel was considered a more light-hearted alternative to DC's Superman, and even passed the iconic hero in sales for a while. After DC obtained rights to Captain Marvel in a lawsuit, his reporter side faded in to the background.
Unlike Clark Kent and Peter Parker, there is no clear inspiration for Billy's career as a reporter, though it too may be partially inspired by Kent.
4. Vic Sage (The Question)
Vic Sage, originally published by Charlton Comics was the first comic character for whom being a reporter was his main job. As an investigative reporter, he collaborated with a former professor to obtain a mask that would cover his recognizable features when he was researching his exposés.
As the Question, Sage uses his investigative prowess to bring the corrupt and evil to justice, no matter the method, most notably foiling a plot by Lex Luthor to kill Superman, and damning his soul to prevent his return to life.
Sage may have been partially derived from creator Steve Ditko's time working on an Army newspaper in postwar Germany.
5. Jack Ryder (Creeper)
Jack Ryder is a TV journalist, generally depicted as a host or reporter on an editorial show. He's considered hotheaded and difficult to work with, and has fired or quit his job several times. In the New 52 reboot, he recently quit his job as a talk show host, though his future in reporting is likely to continue.
Jack seems to be motivated by popularity or a need to be right, as suggested by his arrogance and outspokenness. Regardless of his motivations, he has continuously worked on the front lines of major events as both Jack Ryder and the Creeper.
Ryder too was created by Steve Ditko, and as such is another character likely influenced by the creator's background.
Other Famous Comic Journalists
The list above is all about hero/journalists, there are many other comic journalists. Those below are some of the most well known outside of the heroes.
- Lois Lane
- J. Jonah Jameson
- Vicky Vale
- Iris West
- Jimmy Olsen
- Perry White
- Betty Brant-Leeds
- Ben Urich
- Lana Lang
- Ned Leeds
- Cat Grant
Journalists are immensely important to the comic universe. They help move plot along with reports and are often directly involved in events themselves. And given how many turned out to be super heroes, I'm feeling pretty good about my career choice.