Sometimes, our fictional heroes take their names from animals, sometimes from natural phenomena and a few from the bug that bit them. Then there are those who look to history for their heroic noms de guerre… Welcome to Ten Things!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with ‘An Amateur Comics Historian’, and lost hero ‘Madame Curie-Man’, Presents:
TEN HISTORICAL ALIASES!
10) DON JUAN
Robby Reed’s career as a hero featured the “Dial H” gimmick, meaning that he changed superhuman identities two to three times per issue. Naturally, a LOT of aliases were needed, including this one that plumbed the myths and legends of Don Juan (AKA Don Giovanni, though the issue in question misspells it repeatedly as “Don Jaun.”) The weird thing is, Don Juan is a character best known as a libertine, whose driving forces are cruelty and lust, which seems like oddly heavy fare for a kid’s comic book circa 1967. Of course, Marvel’s Thor doesn’t really have a lot to do with Norse mythology, either…
‘Marvel: The Lost Generation’ was an attempt to fill in the ever-expanding gaps in the history of the Marvel Universe, specifically between the canonical Golden Age adventures of Captain America and the Human Torch, and the modern age of Marvels. As one of the heroes extant during a vague Cold War period, Nightingale took her name from historical personage Florence Nightingale, known as the founder of modern nursing, befitting this hero’s healing powers.
8) THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Raphael! Donatello! Michelangelo! Leonardo! In-universe, Splinter named his adoptive children for his favorite painters, all of whom were part of the Italian Renaissance. (I can only spell that word right be remembering how Ted Mosby mispronounces it. Bygones…) Throughout all their iterations, the idiosyncratic naming stuck, even with Michael Bay’s towering CGI brutes, proving that the power of a name-that-people-can-remember-but-they-don’t-know-why is the greatest super-power of all!
Originally a member of DC Comics’ Global Guardians, Dorcas Leigh was a local hero in Britain. Her name derives from Lady Godiva, an actual historic figure who reputedly rode naked through the town of Coventry in protest of ridiculously oppressive taxation. The legend states that it was her own husband, the regent, who snarkily informed her that he’d lower the tax only if she rode nude through the city square, a dare he obviously didn’t expect her to meet. The historical Godiva’s (probably apocryphal) bravery inscribed her in myth, a myth which Dorcas emulates using her prehensile hair. (The phrase “Peeping Tom” also originates in the story of Lady Godiva, as only one man was disrespectful enough to look as Godiva made her ride, covered only by her own tresses.)
6) AMADEUS CHO
Amadeus, Amadeus! Oh-oh-oh, AMADEUS! Marvel’s young genius (and current Totally Awesome Hulk) derives part of his name from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, another youthful prodigy. Mozart was said to be able to play piano and violin by the age of five, while Cho was able to figure complex mathematical equations and probabilities in his head. (He also had a force-field, because in comics, ‘GENIUS=FORCEFIELD’.) Whether Amadeus Cho will inspire a play that shows him being terribly bullied by Antonio Salieri is yet unseen, but he has taken his lumps from the likes of The Abomination…
The Egyptian delegate to Gauntlet Comics’ ‘U.N. Force’, Ahmad Mahfouz al-Aqqad derived power from three different arcane helmets. The Falcon allowed him to fly, the Hippopotamus allowed super-strength, and the Fox gave him the ability to read minds. His nom de guerre derives from Fourth Dynasty Pharaoh known also as Khufu, who is perhaps best known to comic-book fans as one of DC Comics’ Hawkman’s previous incarnations.
4) UNCLE SAM
According to some oral accounts, “Uncle Sam” is derived from Samuel Wilson, a meat-packer who provided rations for soldiers during the War of 1812. Whether or not this is actually true is the subject of some debate, but what isn’t questionable is that Uncle Sam quickly became the personification of the United States government. Quality Comics’ hero doesn’t just derive his name from these legends, he is a mystical agglomeration of the “spirit of America”, eventually outlasting his publisher and reappearing in the pages of DC Comics.
First published in the early 1800s, ‘Ivanhoe’ is a historical novel about one Wilfred of Ivanhoe, one of the last Saxons in Norman-controlled England. The hero is one of the longest-serving supers in the world of Bill Willingham’s ‘Pantheon’ series, who tries to uphold the standards of a knight of the realm in a modern (and increasingly violent and morally compromised world.) Interestingly, the original novel also features our next entrant…
…or, at least, his namesake. Richard I, known as “Richard The Lionheart”, was both a king and a commander during the Third Crusade. The comic-book Lionheart was a hero of Britain, one of the stronger characters to come out of the ‘Bloodlines’ crossover of 1993, though his power-armor was more than a little reminiscent of Iron Man. Sadly, even though Justice League Europe was a thing, he made few appearances in the comics. Also related to our last two entries is our final historical super…
One important bit of Robin lore is that, though his costume colors may be derived from the bird, his name has repeatedly been described as borrowed from Robin Hood, the outlaw of English folklore. With stories and legends dating back to the 15th Century, ‘Robyn Hode’ is one of the most used ‘probably-not-actually-historical-at-all’ historical characters of all. Richard Grayson, as the ward and partner of The Batman, provided a counterpoint, confidant and endless fountain of wordplay for the Dark Knight throughout the Golden and Silver Ages of comics, eventually graduating to leadership of the Teen Titans and his own career as Nightwing…
Feel free to follow along @MightyKingCobra for more Ten Things madness on Twitter. As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, especially if you remember Commander George-Washington-Man, who threw a tank across the Delaware, but couldn’t tell a lie about it…
Either way, the comments section is Below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!