When you think of comic book superheroes the names of Batman, Superman and Spiderman immediately spring to mind. This is hardly surprising as it was America that brought the genre of the comic book superheroes to the world’s attention.
But the invention of characters that have special powers are not solely the domain of DC Comics or Marvel. In fact, in the 1960s in Britain there were a plethora of costumed characters that appeared in comics and books, such as the robot Archie, or the Steel Claw. We thought it was time to celebrate these British icons and find out more about them.
Johnny Alpha was a mutant and was the son of a mutant-hating politician who was set on wiping out mutants as a race. He soon became the leader of the Mutant Resistance and with incredible powers such as the ability to read minds and see through objects he hunted down his oppressors. Johnny Alpha was one of the first characters to also have a set of really cool gadgets that set him aside from his other comic book contemporaries.
Marvelman was the British rip-off of Captain America, and just like his namesake, Marvelman was a consequence of a military experiment. The British government merged alien and human DNA to create a new military weapon.
This superhero was a creation by Marvel UK, and he only existed in Britain. He is somewhat an adaptation of the magician Merlyn and had many special powers bestowed on him. He was elevated to the status of Champion of Britain after he was gravely injured in one of his adventures.
When he first came on the scene Captain Britain has a somewhat dodgy start and went through many changes but later on he became immensely popular and a far more interesting and complex character.
Psylocke is our first female superhero and she made her debut in 1976 in a Marvel UK publication. She appeared in the American press ten years later in the New Mutants Annual. It was British born Chris Claremont that created Psylocke and originally, she was simply a supporting character to Captain Britain. Her iconic purple hair made her perfect as an X-Men character in the late 80’s.
Not all superheroes are serious characters and Bananaman is a highly humorous figure that gained massive popularity in Britain during the 80s. Whenever our hero eats a banana he inherits abilities such as strength, super speed and even flight.
The best thing of all is that despite all these amazing abilities his inherent incompetence causes Bananaman to foul up just about every adventure he comes across, only to be saved at the very end by some good piece of fortune and luck.
In a way Bananaman epitomizes the British sense of fun, and that the underdog will also have his day. The character has so many flaws that you cannot possibly call him a superhero, but this is what endears him to the reader and why he is loved so much.