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Comic books graduated into adult reading a long time ago, bringing with it a serious approach to character, story and themes. There are still times, though, that a character will put the “comic” in comic book. Whether it’s a main character defined by sarcasm or the comic relief auxiliary character, there is a long tradition of funny superheroes (though you sometimes wouldn’t know it if you scanned current comics). So who are the five funniest superheroes in comic history? Here are my picks.
There is something inherently silly about the superpower to stretch in all contortions (just don’t tell Josh Trank that!). Plastic Man, who was created by Jack Cole, a man with a fascinating history of his own, was for many years a very popular comic book character. Originally published by Quality Comics, Plastic Man was bought by DC Comics in 1956. While many on this list are funny through dialogue and attitude, Plastic Man’s humor is more slapstick. He used his powers to create bizarre and often funny shapes out of himself while still managing to defeat the bad guys in the process. Though his popularity has waned in the past few decades, Plastic Man still has a devoted following among some comic book readers.
One of the most iconic and funniest superhero books of all time is the 1980s Justice League (aka Justice League America) by writers J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen. If there was one character who stirred the comedy drink in that series, it was Ted Kord. Often inseparable from his buddy Booster Gold, Blue Beetle was usually the one with the joke or the ridiculous expression. Though Guy Gardner was funny in a fool sense, Blue Beetle was like the kid in the back of the class making hilarious comments that the teacher couldn’t hear. He did have serious storylines, and he was tragically murdered in Final Crisis (though he’s returned in some forms during the “New 52”), Blue Beetle will always be one of the funniest superheroes.
One of the heroes who was established around the same time as the Blue Beetle in Justice League, Wally West’s the Flash was a version very different from his predecessor Barry Allen. Barry was heroic in the Silver Age sense while Wally, the former Teen Titan Kid Flash, was a more modern character: young, seemingly carefree, and a funny superhero. This version of Wally West was probably best captured in the DC Animated series Justice League from Bruce Timm and company. Wally had many funny moment in his own comics and team books as well, and he also became a respected carrier of the Flash mantel.
You can’t really talk about funniest superheroes without mentioning Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man. While the Spider-Man established by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko was not the first funny superhero, it became the most enduring. Spider-Man usually cracked wise during confrontations with villains and encounters with other heroes. Like Wally West, part of it was because he was young and different from the other heroes. Since Spider-Man was so popular and so heroic, however, his humor didn’t take away from his image but rather became a fundamental part of his character. It’s something that’s usually present whenever Spider-Man appears, so new Spider-Man Tom Holland might want to brush up on his comic timing.
Who could possibly top Spider-Man as funniest superhero? Well, it’s a character who took humor in an entirely different (and more insane) direction – Deadpool. Although Wade Wilson is in the spotlight thanks to Ryan Reynolds and the movie trailer that appeared at Comic Con, Deadpool has always been a very funny character, whether it’s breaking the fourth wall (Deadpool knows he is in a comic book) or appearing to teeter on the sanity line, Deadpool has re-established what it means to be a funny superhero in the modern age. This earned him cult status, but it seems like he and his skewed sense of humor might soon be seen as one of the preeminent Marvel Comics characters.
There are many other characters in superhero comics with a great sense of humor, whether it’s the title hero, sidekicks or supporting players. So there are many others who could appear on this list. Who do you think deserves a place on the list of top five funny superheroes?