SAY THE MAGIC WORDS1 of 12This week, Swamp Thing co-creator Len Wein spoke on his return to the character, and revealed that the current Swamp Thing mini-series would reintroduce characters and aspects of DC’s supernatural side ahead of DC’s June Rebirth initiative.
Meanwhile, over at Marvel Comics, Doctor Strange is anchoring a crossover entitled “The Last Days of Magic” that brings together Marvel’s mystical characters. He’s also headed for his own movie this November.
With all that in mind, we decided to take a look at some of the most important magical superheroes in comic books. Abra cadabra!
HELLBOY2 of 12While not necessarily a wizard by trade, Helboy has extensive knowledge of the supernatural... and being the son of a demon doesn't hurt with his magical prowess, we're sure. "Red" has had a string of mini-series along the way to both live-action and animated film stardom, as well as spinoffs including the years-long B.P.R.D..
He's fought demon after demon, as well as a plethora of creatures from different folklore around the globe. What keeps Hellboy so alluring is the imagery that Mike Mignola first embedded in our brains 20+ years ago: the environments and landscapes of Hell, along with Hellboy's massive silhouette, and the fact that despite his bestial form, Mignola and a slew of creators over the years have made him seem human.
Recommended Reading: Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, Hellboy in Hell
SCARLET WITCH3 of 12Oh, Wanda. The origins of your powers are so back and forth, you almost didn't make the cut. She was originally born with the mutant ability to generate "hex spheres/bolts" that could manipulate probability, then she was a caster of Chaos Magic, and then some sort of combination of the two.
She's gotten a bad rap in recent years thanks to that whole "altering reality and killing some of her friends" thing she went through, but we like to remember Wanda as the beautiful combatant fighting side-by-side with Avengers like Captain America and Hawkeye, weaving her spells against her opponents. Scarlet Witch has recently gotten her first ongoing solo series where there’s no question that she’s the arbiter of a specific corner of the mystical Marvel Universe.
Recommended Reading: Avengers: Dissassembled, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade
DAIMON HELLSTROM4 of 12Much like Hellboy, Daimon has dark magic in his veins, and was sired from a human female and the Devil himself (later retconned into a demon king). Since he's the Son of Satan, Hellstrom possesses supernatural powers derived from his "Darksoul," a demonic counterpart to his human soul, which physically manifested itself in the pentagram-shaped birthmark on his chest. Pretty hot stuff!
He's been a member on teams from the Defenders to the Midnight Sons and was a candidate for being the new Sorcerer Supreme, and sometimes acts as both hero and villain. Most recently, he was nearly killed toward the end of Brian Bendis's New Avengers run, and took a dark turn in Venom, binding a demon to the titular character in a storyline that, while taking a backseat, still had lasting implications on that book.
Recommended Reading: Marvel Spotlight #1224
THE DEMON, ETRIGAN5 of 12"Gone, gone the form of man! Rise the Demon Etrigan!"
Created by Jack Kirby in the early 70s, Etrigan and his human host, Jason Blood, have been a staple in the magical scene of DC since his debut. With Etrigan having Arthurian ties, it gives a sort of prestige and more mystical feel to him. Being a demon, his powers are pretty profound, and his hellfire breath is notoriously powerful; although, in Etrigan form, he has the same weaknesses as other demons, including being susceptible to iron and holy powers.
He's had a few solo ongoings and mini-series that did fairly well, and also starred in DC's Demon Knights, one of the launch titles of DC's "New 52" lineup.
Recommended Reading: The Demon: Suffer The Children, Demon Knights
TIMOTHY HUNTER6 of 12With his round glasses, dark hair, and pet owl, Tim Hunter is often mistaken for Harry Potter's twin (though he predates the boy who lived), and while Neil Gaiman and J. K. Rowling may have been drinking from the same well, the two couldn't be any more different. Tim Hunter was the star of DC/Vertigo's The Books of Magic series that told the story of Tim's destiny to be the greatest wizard of his age. Along the way he met magical guest stars like a blonde Zatanna, John Constantine, Merlin, Phantom Stranger, and of course, Death of the Endless.
The Books of Magic itself was basically a comic dedicated to the mystical and magical characters of the DC universe, interacting and engaging with one another, with Tim as the focus. Tim resurfaced a few years ago in Justice League Dark, a title that took the place of Books of Magic as DC's magic meet-up book in the first part of the "New 52."
Recommended Reading: Books of Magic vol 3: The Land of Summer's Twilight
DR. FATE7 of 12There have been more than a handful of characters who have worn the Helm of Nabu and been bestowed the mantle of Dr. Fate, all of them powerful in their own right. Except, that is, for Jared Stevens as the monosyllabic "Fate" that was a less than stellar run.
The spellcasting abilities actually come from the helmet, but the rest of the costume doesn't leave the wearer totally defenseless, giving them flight, super strength, and limited telekinesis. A new Dr. Fate made his debut in the New 52’s Earth-2, and a second version in the mainstream DC Universe has anchored his own title for almost a year – though that title seems to be ending when DC undergoes its Rebirth in June.
Recommended Reading: The Immortal Dr. Fate
JOHN CONSTANTINE8 of 12The star of Vertigo's longest running series, Hellblazer, John Constantine has had his share of magical adventures, without really using magic at all. Though Constantine is quite an adept sorcerer, his primary skills are sleight-of-hand and hypnosis, though he is known for busting out his hellfire cigarette lighter and necromancy when things get a bit thick.
His occult knowledge has come in handy countless times when aiding fellow supernatural beings and humans alike. Hellblazer left its mark over at Vertigo, and when the New 52 launched, Constantine joined the DCU proper with Justice League Dark before transitioning into his own solo series, which will relaunch as The Hellblazer during Rebirth.
Recommended Reading: Hellblazer: All His Engines
ZATANNA9 of 12DC's Mistress of Magic. Everyone's favorite fishnet-clad, raven-haired, sassy sorceress. Created in 1964 by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson, Zatanna was involved in DC's first major crossover, as she searched for her father, the famed magician Zatara, who was a character back in the WWII era. Instead of relaunching Zatara as DC had relaunched titles like Green Lantern and The Flash (giving them more sci-fi based origins this time around, and igniting the Silver Age), DC created a completely different character entirely.
Her powers have shifted over the years from powerful spellcasting to just controlling the elements and everything in-between. Her magic is verbally controlled (sdrawkcab slleps reh yas ot sah ehs), but during the rare occasions that she's rendered voiceless, she can write out what she needs - backwards and in her own blood - and it works just the same. Zatanna has served as a member of the Justice League and, in the New 52, Justice League Dark, as one of its founding members.
Recommended Reading: Zatanna #1-16
DOCTOR STRANGE10 of 12Stephen Strange started out as a renowned neurosurgeon who lost his way and found a new life as Earth's Sorcerer Supreme. Trained by the Ancient One in the mystical arts, Dr. Strange was given powerful artifacts, most notably the Eye of Agamotto to aid in his quest to stop the threat of malevolent warlocks and demonic entities alike.
Strange has been a member of the Avengers, Defenders, Midnight Sons, and the Illuminati, making him a central figure in Marvel lore. Though he has lost the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme more than once along the way, he's always managed to prove his worth and retain it once more. His powers are unsurpassed in the Marvel Universe ranging from astral projection and telepathy to stopping time and unconsciously destroying galaxies.
Strange is once again anchoring his own series that serves as the hub of Marvel’s mystical wing, and will get his own movie this November, starring fan-favorite actor Bendict Cumberbatch.
Recommended Reading: Dr. Strange: The Oath
LORD MORPHEUS, DREAM OF THE ENDLESS11 of 12While the others on this list are conjurers of magic, Dream is the physical manifestation of dreams and stories. Now we're talking serious magic here.
Dream is one of the Endless, created by Neil Gaiman over twenty years ago. They are all inconceivably powerful beings, older than gods, and each a manifestation of a universal constant. Morpheus reigns over dreams and his own realm called the Dreaming, his powers more cerebral than physical.
When we're introduced to him in the first arc of Sandman, we see what he is capable of. He tricked the Devil himself and let his enemies suffer with eternal nightmares. He's prideful and angry, and conscious of his responsibilities, yet does not accept, nor want change. His magic is infinite, and when he died, he was reborn into infant Daniel Hall with even greater power.
Gaiman is notoriously protective of Morpheus, arguably his most beloved creation, so his appearances since his original series wrapped have been limited. Gaiman did return to the character last year with a special anniversary mini-series entitled Sandman: Overture.
Recommended Reading: Sandman vol 1: Preludes and Nocturnes
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