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Gobble gobble! While there may not be a comic book featuring Turkey Man (yet), that doesn’t mean that there aren’t many popular comic book characters based on birds. Like with characters based on other animals, there are actually a large number of bird-based comic characters. That doesn’t even include those who happen to have a bird in their name, like Hawkeye or the Blackhawks. Let’s focus instead on character who are based in some way on a bird.
In honor of the many turkeys who fall on Thanksgiving, let’s look at the Top 5 Best Bird-Based Comic Book Characters.
Although this character is widely known from a number of movies, initially starring Brandon Lee, The Crow began as a comic book. James O’Barr created the character, a man who is killed after witnessing a gang assault and murder his wife. He is reborn as a spirit of vengeance called The Crow. It was a response to the death of O’Barr’s girlfriend, killed by a drunk driver. Although The Crow doesn’t possess bird-like powers, he is connected to the crow, which has often been linked culturally with death, mainly since the birds feed on dead animals.
Another character who doesn’t fly, Black Canary does have a power more closely aligned with a bird – the “canary cry,” an ear-piercing sonic scream that incapacitates evil doers. Canary has been a long-time member of the Justice League of America as well as the appropriately-named team Birds of Prey. Although canaries don’t seem to be the most intimidated birds around, the Black Canary is a very accomplished force who any smart bad guy would want to avoid.
Although recently Sam Wilson has taken on the mantle of Captain America (while still sporting the wings), I prefer him as The Falcon. The reason is simple: The Falcon is a great hero with a long and interesting (albeit at times strange) backstory with his own identity and who is his own character. I think this unique character is better than being the latest, temporary Captain America (until Steve Rogers gets un-aged). The Falcon has even made a very cool film debut (as played by Anthony Mackie), so I hope that we see Sam back as Falcon soon.
Hawkman has been a superhero for a long time, as he was one of the members of the original superhero team, the Justice Society of America, which debuted in All-Star Comics #3 in 1940. Since that time, there have been many different versions of Hawkman, from archeologist Carter Hall to Thanagarian Katar Hol. In nearly all of the permutations, Hawkman has sported wings and a ferocious fighting spirit (usually punctuated by a mace), appropriate for character named for one of the most majestic and fearsome birds. I avoided adding Hawkgirl on this list for repetition sake, though she is also worthy.
Oswald Cobblepot is having something of a moment right now, thanks to the television show Gotham, which charts his climb to crime prevalence. The Penguin was also a major force in the 2011 video game Arkham City, which showed Penguin as a fierce crime boss. That’s a long way from the creepy portrayal of Danny Devito in Batman Returns or the fun but wheezy Burgess Meredith in the Batman television show. However, the Penguin has long been a deadly and formidable foe for Batman in the comic books. Although Batman has a very deep rogue’s gallery, the Penguin has usually been listed among the top, making him the best bird-based comic character.
There are lots of other great bird comic characters like The Vulture; Leland Owsley, the Owl; and even the team Hawk and Dove. Some bird characters are better than others, but all can be thankful that they’re not turkeys this November. What’s your take? What are other great bird comic book characters? Let me know in the comments.