Comics/Graphic Novels

Best Underrated Superheroes in Comics

Eileen Gonzalez

Contributing Editor

Eileen's primary literary love is comic books, but she’s always on the lookout for her next literary adventure no matter what form it takes. She has a Bachelor's in media studies, a Master's in digital communication, a smattering of published short stories, and a seriously cute dog. Follow her on Bluesky.

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When I say “superhero,” there are certain names that naturally jump into your mind faster than others. Batman. Spider-Man. Superman. Wolverine. All of these characters have had multiple films dedicated to them (and, let’s be honest, are favored by the middle-aged white men whose opinion is still considered paramount by movie studios and comic book publishers), so they have developed a truly impressive cultural presence during their many decades of existence.

While it’s great that these characters have achieved such timeless popularity and can be reinvented in so many different ways, where does that leave everyone else? What about the newer characters who haven’t had a chance to prove their longevity? What of the heroes who have been mishandled by publishers who don’t know how to help them reach their full potential? And let’s not forget the goofballs, who, while always entertaining to watch, just aren’t A-list material (yet).

This Heroes & Heroines Day, we’re going to take a look at some of the best underrated superheroes in comics. Some of these names may be completely new to you. Others you may recognize, but, perhaps like me, feel that they do not get anywhere near the amount of attention they deserve. In this article, they finally get a chance to shine!

Every Green Lantern Except Hal and John, but Mostly Hal

The human Green Lanterns listen with irritation as the United Planets urges them to stay with the Corps despite recent changes in leadership.

Hal Jordan and John Stewart are each considered the definitive Green Lantern by different audiences for different reasons, but they’re not the only blinged-out space cops around. Jessica Cruz, Guy Gardner, Simon Baz, Jo Mullein, and Kyle Rayner all save the galaxy on the regular, but for far less acclaim.

Kyle has especially gotten short shrift. Once the only Green Lantern in existence (because Hal killed them all, but then it turned out it was actually a giant yellow space bug or whatever, so it’s cool, I guess), he is now stuck playing second fiddle to Hal and eating tamales. Most recently, thanks to some major upheaval with the batteries that power their rings, Kyle was reduced to a gibbering wreck, capable of little more than clinging to Hal and begging him to fix things while his fellow GLs got to lead the resistance against the Corps’ new leaders. Ouch.

Guy is more of a borderline case. Like Kyle, he’s been shoved off center stage, but lucky for him, he’s been around a lot longer than Kyle. He’s had more of a chance to accumulate enough fans and appearances in other media to allow him to stay pretty active as a hero and/or comedy relief, which is what he’s been since the 1980s anyway.

All I’m saying is, Hal has had decades of comics and an admittedly terrible movie all to himself, and John’s costarring role in Justice League Unlimited earned him an entire generation of fans. They can afford to take a little time off to let their fellow GLs shine.


High above the ground, Silk punches a helmeted supervillain on the face. Her narration box reads, "Finally."

Peter Parker may complain of being underappreciated, but in our world, he’s the most famous arachnid of them all. He certainly overshadows characters like Cindy Moon. After developing uncontrollable spider-powers, she agreed to be locked in a bunker to protect her family from the people pursuing her due to said powers, and there she stayed for a solid decade. Despite the extreme social distancing, she isn’t appreciably more messed up than any other superhero. That alone should get her infinite respect.

And yet, despite headlining multiple series of her own, Silk remains underutilized compared to her male counterparts. She was all set to star in her own live-action series, only for the project to be unceremoniously cancelled in May of this year, reportedly because “Amazon wanted to refocus the show with a more male-skewing audience in mind.”

All due respect to fans of Parker, Miles Morales, Venom, et. al., but I think the men have enough spider-themed franchises to play with. If they can’t handle a single, solitary series about a female spider — especially one who masqueraded as a villain to bring down the Black Cat, has a mostly dead ex-boyfriend for a guardian angel, and rescued her parents from the Negative Zone — that’s their problem. Her enemies-to-frenemies relationship with Black Cat alone is worth a whole trilogy.

The Rocket Red Brigade

Five members of the Rocket Red Brigade flies out over Moscow.

You all know I’m a sucker for a good Cold War story, so this entry is pure self-indulgence, but go with me a second.

The Rocket Red Brigade is the love child of the late-era Soviet government and the Green Lantern Kilowog, who helped the Soviets develop a team of super-soldiers in high-tech armor. Tragically, Kilowog was forced to kill the Brigade’s first member, a good friend of his, in self-defense after trigger-happy politicians, jingoists (hello, Guy), and the “just following orders” crowd (including said friend) allowed devotion to their oversimplified ideologies to overcome their humanity.

Despite this, the Rocket Reds brigaded on and, as far as I’m concerned, have been grossly underutilized both as characters in and of themselves and as a counterpoint to the American heroes. I get that a sympathetic Russian hero team would be a hard sell at the moment, and frankly, that’s the point. Given everything going on in the world, I think everybody needs a strong reminder that individuals are not governments and that mindlessly swallowing political propaganda always ends badly, no matter whose government is dishing it out.

Aside from any political messaging, the Rocket Reds have proven that they can generate promising characters, like my best boy Dmitri Pushkin, one of the more fun members of the Justice League. Dmitri’s fellow JLI alumni, Blue Beetle, Fire, and Ice, have all seen a resurgence of popularity lately. Why not take this near-blank-slate of a team and give them new life?

Wonder Man

A close-up image of Wonder Man in his ionic energy form, storming towards the viewer as he threatens Morgan le Fay.

Wonder Man was the first hero to join the Avengers after their founding, only he wasn’t a hero: he was a villain sent to destroy them from the inside. In a last-minute heel-face-turn, he sacrificed himself to save the team instead.

Thus began what would become a familiar pattern for dear old Wondy: he’d join the Avengers, die in the line of duty, and then be resurrected and rejoin the team — sometimes with funky glow-ups, like the ionic energy form pictured above — only to start the cycle over again. During the times when he was alive, he put his strength and indestructibility to good use as not just a superhero, but also an actor and stuntman, which is really excellent of him.

I have always adored Wonder Man. Not only does he have a great character arc, but his supporting cast is fascinating: his brother became a supervillain to avenge his first death (granted, he blamed the Avengers for it, which was less good), he became besties with Beast of X-Men fame, and he dated the Scarlet Witch after her marriage to the Vision crumbled. The drama!

Wonder Man’s streaming series, unlike Silk’s, is still a go. While they’ve changed his origins quite a bit, hopefully he will at least get more love from the general public soon.

Yes, I know I missed your favorite. (I missed some of my faves, too.) Want to share them with me? Find me at BlueSky!