Average Joe Comic Books: Does a super hero need a college degree?

He was born with an Olympian body, incredible super-powers and an intellect on the level of Isaac Asimov. Fighting his way through a world filled with science villains and magic monsters, saving the damsel in distress and loved by all.

Comic books have a funny way of making all of their heroes what I like to call “hyper-intelligent.” I mean sure there are those bumbling not so bright heroes like Hercules and Deadpool who sort of go through life cutting a path of destruction in their wake sometimes with the end result being in favor of the good guys. There are those guys who are more followers than leaders (we call them sidekicks), and then there are the buddy characters like Jimmy Olsen who sort of just love being able to call the hyper-intelligent hero a friend.

I think it was more of a golden age and silver age thing in comics where every superhero created was smarter than the average Joe. But in the ‘60s with Marvel Comics it is probably safe to assume that it was happening more often.

Stan Lee, Joe Kirby and Steve Ditko (sorry to anyone I forgot to mention) created some of the most famous characters in the Marvel Universe. Lee who was really the architect for the company’s universe wrote all his characters as being these smart scientist types who had superpowers.

Peter Parker was a science protégé in high school, Bruce Banner was a nuclear scientist, Reed Richards was just a genius, Donald Blake was a doctor, Matt Murdock a lawyer, Professor Xavier was a brilliant psychic, Tony Stark brilliant scientist, businessman and futurist, and Henry Pym was an inventor.

Every character had an interesting occupation prior to becoming a hero and each one was already brilliant and at the top of whatever occupation they were currently in.

The same kind of goes for DC as well, Superman is a crazy-smart, super-strong alien. Batman is a rich playboy who is also a brilliant forensic scientist and detective.

The thing is though is that these concepts are fun for a story, but they sort of alienate a reader as well. Sure when you are reading a comic book you are looking for escapism, you are trying to get away from your crappy dead-end job.

But wouldn’t it be fun for a change if just some average down on his luck guy got super powers. Stumbling through life and being a cosmic joke, the guy makes more mistakes than he does good. I mean there is some heroes out there who are sort of less intelligent to a certain degree but luck always seem to be on their side.

But what I am talking about is a guy who has no knowledge of gamma rays, cosmic rays, the x-gene, kryptonite, the mystic arts, weapons or a real understanding of theoretical physics. Just some guy, a grunt, off the streets—trying his best to learn what it means to be a hero, sort of learning as he goes. The type of guy who is opposed to reading and would rather watch T.V. and yet is forced to go to a library so he can learn how not to kill someone with his new incredible powers.

For more on heroes that are smart check out this article in business week by clicking here


  1. As you demonstrated in the pic,Peter Parker is a pretty regular joe. Matt Murdock, Scott Summers…I don’t know man, there are pretty regular first liners out there. Even the green lanterns.

    Correctt me if i’m wrong.

    • Yeah I suppose your right, but the regular joes I am thinking of are un-educated, lazy guys. Even Wolverine who is a beer drinking, street fighting machine is like this super educated polyglot who speaks like 20 languages and writes a haiku every now and again.

      • yea but lazy guys don’t make it in the real world, why would they on the comic world? cept’ Galactus.!!! =D

        Nothing is for free!

      • Thats true I just that it would be a humorous premise for a comic

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