The Silver Age of comics produced some of DC’s most well-known and respected superheroes. In addition to this, it also gave the company the opportunity to build upon and reimagine some of its greatest Golden Age heroes. Even though the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman weren’t created in the Silver Age, DC found a way to create heroes that have gone on to shape their entire comic book universe.
These heroes have stood the test of time and given future creators a template around which all superheroes should be built. Here are the 10 greatest superheroes from DC’s Silver Age.
10. Mr. Miracle
Mister Miracle is the son of the ruler of New Genesis, Izaya Highfather. In an attempt to end the years-long war with Apokolips, it was decided that the two rulers, Highfather of New Genesis and Darkseid of Apokolips, would exchange heirs. With the agreement in place, the eventually named Scott Free was sent to Apokolips to live in the Terror Orphanage with Granny Goodness.
Under the watchful eye of Granny Goodness, Mister Miracle was put through incomprehensible torture. The torture, designed to break the will and spirit of those it’s inflicted on, didn’t work on him and as a consequence, he found that he could never really fit in on the planet. This was because, unlike the others in the orphanage who were forced to conform to Apokolips rule, his indomitable will prevented him from conforming. Frustrated by his own refusal to fit in, Mister Miracle was advised by Metron to see a future outside of Apokolips.
Scott, along with a small band of others living on Apokolips, was then secretly tortured by the leader of the Resistance Movement on Apokolips, Himon. It was during this time that he met his future wife, Big Barda. With Metron’s guidance in mind, he fled Apokolips and made his way to Earth. Although most would think that Scott’s departure would’ve been a blow to Darkseid, it wasn’t. Darkseid had long anticipated that Scott would leave and, in fact, hoped he would.
And why? Scott’s departure signified a breach of contract between New Genesis and Apokolips. With the contract nullified, Darkseid was free to wage war against New Genesis.
9. The Atom
Similar to Marvel’s Ant-Man, The Atom has the ability to shrink and grow his body to various sizes. When shrunk, he maintains the strength he had when he was full size. Ray Palmer is also one of the foremost minds in DC and possesses a Ph.D. in physics.
Before he was The Atom, Ray Palmer was a professor at the fictional Ivy University. His main area of study was matter manipulation. He took an interest in matter manipulation after he theorized that it could be a viable way to combat planet-wide overpopulation and famine. He came to be The Atom after using the remains of a White Dwarf Star. Although initial tests showed that compression by using the star resulted in the object using to explode, he soon found that adding moisture to the equation resulted in the object being able to return back to its normal size without repercussion.
Since his debut, The Atom has become a staple of many DC superhero teams. Most notable of these are the Justice League of America, and The Teen Titans, and he was, for a time, a member of the Indigo Tribe.
Perception of the Justice League members is that Aquaman is the least useful. After all, most of his existence has been unfairly spent at the butt-end of jokes.
What many people don’t understand/realize is that Aquaman is A) the ruler of Atlantis B) the ruler of the seven seas and C) can do practically anything he wants to with water. This means that he controls 70% of the Earth’s surface and everything in it. Anybody who controls 70% of the planet is probably a better ally than an enemy. Aquaman is powerful beyond measure and if he’s around water, his power is amplified.
As one of the original Silver Age DC superheroes, he has been through more battles, heartache, victories, and trials than most. His inclusion is invaluable and for any who still believes he isn’t deserve of being on the team, remember, he also controls all animal life underwater. Never was this power more impressive than when he summoned a shark to destroy his enemies (Justice League vol. 2, issue 4).
7. Kid Flash
Kid Flash first appeared inside the pages of The Flash #110 back in December of 1959. He was created by Carmine Infantino and John Broome and has been an integral member of the Teen Titans. Kid Flash possesses many superpowers. Most of these revolve around the Speed Force.
As such, he has super speed, can read and process material as quickly as he runs, can phase through objects, can time travel, can dimensionally travel, has heightened senses, can give and take speed away, possesses electrokinesis, is able to manipulate time, and become one with the Speed Force. Because Wally can become one with the Speed Force, he is considered the fastest superhero in DC. Yep. You read that right. Kid Flash is actually faster than his mentor, Barry Allen. He is living proof that having a succession plan isn’t such a bad idea.
As the cousin of Superman, Supergirl can do everything that he can. Supergirl has an extensive list of powers. She possesses superhuman strength, speed, durability, stamina, hearing, and agility. She also has infrared, telescopic, x-ray, heat, microscopic, and electromagnetic vision. In addition, she is nearly invulnerable, can fly, has a healing factor, and possesses both freeze and wind breath.
But there’s more…Supergirl is nearly fast as any in DC, is an expert combatant, and isn’t afraid to die for the greater good. She is everything that superheroes aspire to be. Because her power set is so malleable and she’s easily stood the test of time, she easily makes this most important Silver Age DC superheroes list.
5. Martian Manhunter
For everything that Superman and Supergirl can do, Martian Manhunter can do more. Like Superman and Supergirl, Martian Manhunter is an alien from another planet. Martian Manhunter first appeared in DC Comics back in 1955. His first story explains that he was inadvertently caught and teleported to Earth by Dr. Erdel. Once on Earth, he explained that he was from Mars, was a scientist on his home planet, and went by the name of J’onn J’onnz.
Martian Manhunter’s list of powers is long. Of them, some of his more notable are shapeshifting, invisibility, phasing, superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and durability. He also possesses regenerative powers, flight, telepathy, and enhanced senses. Martian Manhunter is so overpowered that when enemies face off against him and Superman, they often focus their attention on him. A list that counts down Silver Age DC superheroes like this just isn’t complete without him.
Zatanna began her story inside the pages of Hawkman #4 back in November 1964. She was created by all-time great Gardner Fox and artist Murphy Anderson. As mentioned, she is the daughter of the Golden Age of Comics character Giovanni Zatara and a member of the Homo Magi race species.
As a member of the Homo Magi, Zatanna is capable of casting spells that control the Earthly elements, are able to heal wounds, and manipulate the minds of others. Zatanna is so powerful that Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow has claimed that she is the most powerful member of the Justice League. When you think about it, it’s quite a compliment. Remember, this is a group that includes both Martian Manhunter and Superman.
What makes Zatanna unique in the realm of magic users is that, unlike most others, to use and control her incantations she recites the words backward. This means that LUOF NOMED EB ENOG translates to Foul Demon Be Gone. Even though it seems strange to recite spells backward, Zatanna does this by choice. As one of the most powerful magic users in all comics, Zatanna is easily one of the most important Silver Age DC superheroes.
Throughout her history, Barbara Gordon has done what very few characters have managed to successfully do. She has completely rewritten herself in a better and more interesting way.
The events of The Killing Joke, although not meant to be canon, left Barbara in a state of emergency. She was shot by The Joker and left paralyzed. Although she could’ve easily been written out of DC Comics, the team of Kim Yale and John Ostrander completely changed who she was. Gone was the Batgirl persona and in her place stood Oracle. As Oracle, rather than being able to fight one crime at a time, she could fight an unlimited amount of crimes.
Barbara Gordon is one of the most important Silver Age DC superheroes because she has something that very few characters will ever have…a willingness to succeed when all seems hopeless.
2. Green Lantern
Since his debut, Green Lantern has gone on to become one of the greatest superheroes ever created. Not only is he one of the founding members of the Justice League, but he’s also responsible for keeping the peace across the entire galaxy.
As a member of the Green Lantern Corps, Hal Jordan is charged with protecting Sector 2814, or Earth. He took over this responsibility after its former protector, Abin Sur, was killed and his ring sought out a new wearer. Once in Hal’s possession, he was brought in front of the Guardians of the Universe and trained by Sinestro. He cemented his legacy as a Green Lantern after discovering that Sinestro kept peace in his Sector through fear and violence.
Hal is well respected (for the most part) by the Green Lantern Corps. Because of this, he’s often the first to be called should another Sector require assistance. Hal is the epitome of what a Green Lantern is and as such, one of the greatest Silver Age DC superheroes.
1. The Flash
The Flash is one of the oldest superheroes in existence. He (Barry Allen) first debuted in Showcase #4 in October of 1956. As the most famous of all the Speedsters in DC Comics, Barry Allen has assembled a following of fans that rivals that of the yet-to-be-named original Justice League members. Remarkably, Barry’s popularity remained extremely high even after he died during Crisis on Infinite Earths.
As The Flash, Barry is capable of doing anything faster than anyone around him. This means that he heals and moves quicker than most. Because he moves so quickly, he can become intangible through vibration, manipulate time, travel through time, cause lightning and energy to release from his body, and read and understand the world around him better than most.