In the world of comics, some thematic motifs – such as superheroes, aliens and fantasy creatures – enjoy enormous success, making up a large part of the genre’s public image. The past decade has seen the biggest superheroes from DC and Marvel Comics break out from publishing and bleed into the mainstream media, creating more demand for content than has ever been seen before.
In fact, the release of Marvel Studio’s epic series of movies based on their most popular comic book characters has made billions of dollars and the films have been enjoyed by audiences worldwide. Familiar faces like Captain America, the Incredible Hulk and Wolverine have been given a 21st century makeover, much to the delight of new and old fans alike.
But how about the less obvious, less celebrated themes of comic books? Beyond the (largely humanoid) superheroes, the dramatic action scenes and the intense relationships, there are other patterns that hold just as much magic and intrigue for the reader. We’ve collected a few of them together here.
Whilst flashy figures like the unbeatable Superman or godlike Thor tend to steal all the glory, it is the characters with a keen interest in science who keep the story moving along. Where would we be, after all, without Tony Stark’s inventions or the advanced technology of Professor X? Undoubtedly, the subject of science holds an important place in the comic book world but isn’t always given the focus it deserves.
Sometime antagonist and sometime partner of Batman, Poison Ivy, is an accomplished botanist who survives her own poisoning. She uses her extensive knowledge of plants to further her own nefarious plans as well as protecting the natural world of which she is so fond. Doctor Octopus, meanwhile, is usually found causing trouble for Peter Parker, aka Spiderman. He epitomises the ‘mad scientist’ stereotype and uses his knowledge of nuclear physics to wreak havoc in NYC.
And let’s not forget that Bruce Wayne relies on his scientific know-how in order to become the Batman. He uses his vast wealth and all of the resources at his disposal to create the Batsuit, the Batmobile, the Batphone, the Bat Signal and many more tools to include in his kit. Without his knowledge of science, he couldn’t possibly be half as effective as the Dark Knight.
Casinos and Table Games
Many of the most famous comic books are set in big cities like New York, or their fictional counterparts at least. Therefore, they incorporate all of the elements of city life, including public transport, the rush of the rat race, cramped living conditions and, naturally, popular entertainment. Casinos and the table games found therein feature heavily in a number of different storylines, ranging from the interests of Batman rivals Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, The Penguin and The Joker, to the unique powers of characters Roulette and Gambit. This particular form of entertainment suits the DC and Marvel universes well, and casinos provide the perfect backdrop for all kinds of action.
Real-world casino enthusiasts are more likely to indulge their penchant for gaming online these days and it’s in this sphere where you can find another comic book crossover. Popular titles from the comic book world now feature in their own slots games, most successfully in the virtual world where they have ample space to expand. The two realms really are the perfect match and represent something of a real world equivalent to the infinite Casino Cosmico found in Silver Surfer and the Fantastic Four.
Animals and Pets
You may never have heard of them until now, but where would our favourite superheroes be without their trusty animal companions? Both Batman and Superman have picked up canine companions during their adventures, named Ace the Bat-Hound and Krypto the Superdog respectively. Although Ace starts life as a normal German Shepherd, he does acquire some surprising skills in his time with Batman; Krypto, however, was born on Superman’s home planet of Krypton and acquired super powers to match his friend.
The award for most unusual yet charming domestic super-animal, however, has to go to Bat-Cow. Rescued from a slaughterhouse by Batman and Robin, she lives at Wayne Manor and offers her support from afar.
Animal characters like Zabu and Throg have more complex back stories than simply another companion animal, never stooping so low as to be classed as a ‘pet’. In fact, Throg is essentially the frog version of the thunder god, Thor, even wielding his own tiny version of Thor’s Hammer named Frogjolnir. He stars in his own storylines and is part of the Pet Avengers. Zabu is a sabretooth tiger who raised X-Man Ka-Zar after his parents were killed. He goes into battle with his adopted son, and interacts with quite a few other recognisable characters such as Spiderman.