Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, Hulk, etc. sure, they’re classic superheroes, among the best even, but while Marvel and DC hold a near-monopoly on superhero comics, there are more out there than just the Avengers and the Justice League. After all, neither company invented the idea of the superhero, they just happen to have some of the best known superheroes in the world. There are other superhero characters who are just as compelling maybe more so than their more famous counterparts, with intriguing origin stories, unique powers, and who live in fascinating worlds, which readers of Green Lantern or Thor would also love. This isn’t an article on “who’s the most powerful”. “Great” in this sense describes the personalities and traits that make up the characters themselves, what qualities make them beloved of readers, and why they stand out from hundreds of other characters as unique. Also, a lot of these characters have starred in their own movies which, like Marvel and DC, have varied in quality, while the ones that haven’t, have films in production. It shows that other artists have realised the potential these great characters have and have used them in other media to bring them to a wider audience. A great character doesn’t need to have had a movie made about them, but it’s rare when they don’t. So who’re the greatest non-Marvel/DC superheroes? Read on!
Created by artist/writer Todd McFarlane, Spawn, aka Al Simmons, made his first appearance in 1992’s Spawn #1 published by Image Comics. Simmons was a high level government assassin who discovered and objected to his government’s shadowy activities and was killed as a result. He went to hell because of his participation in the government’s questionable activities but while there he made a deal to sell his soul to come back and see his beloved wife Wanda again. As Spawn, Simmons has superhuman strength and speed, can fly, has a healing factor, and basically has a ton of assorted superpowers that make him stand out. But it’s his dark, iconic look that makes him instantly memorable and cool. That massive, amorphous cape and look that blends Batman and Spider-Man in one is terrific, and the supernatural battles between good and evil make for some great stories. Spawn himself is an anti-hero but a compelling one whose adventures have spawned (sorry) numerous media offshoots like a hugely successful toy line and a much less successful movie starring Black Dynamite himself, Michael Jai White. The character remains one of Image’s most enduring successes.