Adherents has had a website dedicated to exploring the respective religions of various fictional characters for some time now and whenever I wander over there (which is very rarely) I find it fascinating.
One of their side pages is The Significant Seven: History’s Most Important Superheroes.
It is, for the most part, an excerpt from a book by Mike Benton that I never read entitled The Comic Book in America: An Illustrated History. So when I dispute adherents’ conclusions, I dispute Mike Benton’s ideas, but considering that at the end the site wants us to contact them if we find what needs correcting, I suppose we should contact them for the one thing I find factually incorrect in Mister Bention’s assertions. The rest is historical speculation, opinion, or genuinely correct.
I notice he limits himself to only comic book super-heroes, of course, as Batman and Superman have slightly limited originality if you count their pulp fiction fore-bearers. There is also only characters that are currently owned by DC Comics and Marvel Comics. Although then the characters were genuinely significant Plastic Man and Captain Marvel were owned by Quality and Fawcett Comics respectively.
The Significant Seven are as follows:
My questions are not whether these characters are significant for they surely are and certain I can dispute just how much more significant they are than most other characters. Yet I wonder if they really are only seven significant super-heroes in the fashion that the author intended.
Superman is Superman, that which other costumed characters follow. Wonder Woman is the Woman, and regardless of the creator’s intent she is now the female super-archetype in comics for better or for worse (usually for worse). Batman is the peak human being; his presence is the indicator that one need not be superhuman to fight evil. So we have Super-Man, Super-Woman and Man-Man.
What they’re missing is Green Lantern.
For my point any Green lantern will do, from the original to the modern to the one that was simply in print the longest consistently.
Batman is a normal human being with no special powers beyond what a man can gain or obtain with extra-normal amounts of time and ambition. Leaving aside the factor of talent there are professional athletes that could be real life comparisons. Superman’s core attributes when it comes to sheer ability and power are beyond us mere mortals obviously but then comes Green Lantern. He is a mere mortal, a normal human like us, that wields the power of gods through an artifact, a mcguffin. Green Lantern is a man and not a god (although that really could be arguable). Superman would have to be someone else entirely to not be Super; Green Lantern just needs to remove the ring, not recharge the ring, or in the contemporary comics discharge the weapon completely. He possesses abilities but they do not come from him; they are not internalized. His identity like Batman is of a man but his abilities as a super-hero are separate because of his powered artifact, and those capabilities are closer to Superman than a mere mortal.
Green Lantern is the midpoint of Superman and Batman. That is precisely why he is Significant.
I also think the article should have the first hero that only has one power but I cannot say for sure who that is.