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A superhero is a fictional character who is noted for feats of courage and nobility, who usually has a colorful name and costume and who possesses abilities beyond those of normal human beings.

September 12, 2003


Spider-Man, the alter ego of Peter Benjamin Parker, is a Marvel Comics superhero created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko who first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962. He has since become one of the world's most popular superheroes.

Spider-Man. is the quintessential Marvel character--his gift of superpowers does not solve his emotional and personal problems; if anything, his powers seriously complicate his career and personal relationships. Despite these complications, Spider-Man continues to fight crime and help those in need because he believes that "with great power there must come great responsibility", a sentiment that serves as the theme of the Spider-Man story.

The character expanded the dramatic potential of the fantasy subgenre by proving that a series with a strong focus on a more human character and his personal struggles was a viable basis for a successful series.

Spider-Man is tremendously popular and is perhaps the most recognizable superhero alongside Superman and Batman. Through the years, he has appeared in a handful of animated series, a weekly comic strip and, recently, two very successful films.

Meanwhile, Marvel has published several comic book series featuring the character (most notably Amazing Spider-Man). The character has grown from shy high school kid to troubled college student to married man, but the core of the character remains the same.

The irradiated spider's bite caused a variety of physiological mutations in Peter Parker's body that mirror the characteristics of a spider.

He has superhuman physical strength, agility, and reflexes. His bodily tissues are substantially more durable and resistant to impact or trauma than an ordinary human, making it difficult to injure him (although he is not bullet proof). His recovery time from injury is less than that of an ordinary human, but it is far inferior to that of the X-Man, Wolverine. In addition, his vision also lost its myopia.

Spider-Man. also gained the ability to adhere to any smooth surface, allowing to him to support more than his own weight while on a vertical surface or upside down. He can also grip any solid object with any part of his body as long as it can accommodate the mass of the object. For instance, if he wanted to catch a ball, all he would really need is one fingertip to make contact. It has been theorized that his body can consciously attract the basic molecules of a solid object when pressed against it. Another idea is that this ability is similar to static electricity. In the live-action movies, Peter is shown to have barbed hairs or bristles, similar to those of real spiders, that extend or retract through his skin. However, the superhero has had trouble keeping his grip on heavily lubricated surfaces.

Spider-Man's agility and reflexes are far beyond a range attainable by human beings. His reflexes are instantaneous, allowing him to dodge single bullets provided they are fired at a reasonable distance from a low caliber gun that is not automatic. His agility is such that he can perform gymnastic feats no Olympic gymnast could dream of duplicating. Few characters in the Marvel Universe can match Spider-Man's agility, with some exceptions such as Nightcrawler of the X-Men.

Spider-Man's most subtle power is his spider-sense. A form of clairvoyance or sixth sense, it unconsciously activates and alerts him to any threat to himself, manifesting as a tingling at the back of his skull. While it cannot tell him of the exact nature of the threat, Spider-Man can judge the severity of it by the intensity of the tingling. For instance, if an enemy passes by Spider-Man. with no intention of interacting with him, the spider-sense would give a low signal indicating that he should be alert for a possible danger. On the other hand, if there is an immediate lethal physical danger to Parker such as a sniper is taking aim and about to fire for a kill shot, the spider-sense's tingling would take on an almost painful intensity to indicate a need to take extreme evasive action without hesitation.

The spider-sense not only alerts Spider-Man to threats to his physical safety, but it also warns him to threats to his privacy such as being observed while changing identities. Spider-Man also uses the spider-sense as a means to time his evasive maneuvers to the point where he can avoid multiple gunshots or machine gun fire. When combined with his superhuman reflexes and agility, this makes him an extremely difficult target who is almost impossible to shoot in combat. Extremely skilled martial artists taking Spider-Man on hand to hand often have better luck wounding him, although he is formidable in close quarters as well.

Although his spider-sense has saved his life innumerable times, Spider-Man has learned the hard way that it can be beaten. For instance, the Green Goblin once secretly attacked him with a gas that temporarily suppressed this perceptive ability, allowing the supervillain to shadow him and learn his secret identity. Additionally, the alien symbiotes Venom and Carnage are not recognized by the spider-sense. This gives the supervillains an edge that Spider-Man often has trouble countering.

The phrase "My spider-sense is tingling" has since become an oft parodied ironic catch phrase in American pop culture.

In addition to his other amazing powers, Spider-Man has superhuman strength, and can lift 10 tons or more if he is under great stress or pressure. However, his strength is not as advanced as that of the Thing or the Hulk who have vast superhuman strength. Because of his strength, he can leap to great heights. Spider-Man can jump the width of a city block, or almost five stories straight up.

Quite apart from his physical abilities, Peter has always been brilliant with prodigious aptitude in the physical sciences. In the comics, he is an expert in chemistry and physics, but later pursues a graduate degree in biochemistry from Empire State University. In the recent films, he maintains his superb intellect with a mastery of physics and a degree from Columbia University. He is described as "brilliant but lazy" by one of his physics professors, Dr. Curt Connors, in Spider-Man 2.

# Spider-Man

September 10, 2003


Superman, nicknamed The Man of Steel, is a fictional character and superhero who first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938 and eventually became one of the most popular and well-known comic book icons of all time.

The character, who was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, subsequently appeared in various radio serials, television programs, and films. Superman was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton. He was sent to Earth in a rocket by his scientist father Jor-El moments before Krypton exploded, landing on Earth outside the town of Smallville, where he was discovered and adopted by the amiable Jonathan and Martha Kent. As he grew, he discovered that he possessed superhuman powers. When not fighting the forces of evil as Superman, he lives disguised as Clark Kent, a "mild-mannered reporter" for the Daily Planet. Clark's love interest is fellow reporter Lois Lane. In current comics he is married to her.

Superman possesses extraordinary powers which render him, as stated in the lead-in to the 1950s television series, "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound". His powers were relatively limited in the early stories, but grew to become near-godlike by the 1980s. After Byrne's 1986 rewrite, Superman's powers were diminished, though have grown again since then.

His powers include:

Near invulnerability: In the 1940s, "nothing less than a bursting artillery shell could break his skin"; by the 1970s he could fly through a star and shrug off a nuclear blast. In 1986, Superman was somewhat depowered. Still able to withstand artillery shells, lasers, and even nuclear explosions, he would be killed if he flew into a star. His powers have since increased, allowing him to fly into the sun unharmed. Because Superman's powers are partly due to Earth's yellow sun, in Superman In Action Comics issue 782 (October, 2001), during the "Our Worlds at War" series, Superman flies through the sun, which gives him enough strength and power to move an entire planet. In addition, his immune system protects him from toxins and diseases.

Vision-related powers:
X-ray vision: The ability to see through anything except lead. He can see things behind a wall as if the wall were not there, or can "peel back" layer after layer of matter in his mind. Opponents sometimes use lead lined constructs in an attempt to hide things from Superman. In one "post-Crisis" story this trick backfired when Superman simply scanned the field for lead, which instantly stands out as the only opaque substance to his vision, and found the hidden item easily.
Telescopic vision: The ability to see very distant objects, without violating the laws of physics.

Superman can also see the entire electromagnetic spectrum, including infrared and ultraviolet, allowing him to see in the dark.

Microscopic vision: The ability to see extremely small objects and images.
Heat Vision: The ability to apply heat to a target by staring intensely at it with the conscious act of activating his power. Visually, the power is typically depicted as twin laser beams firing from the eyes. These beams can be made invisible, allowing Superman to work undetected.

Super hypnotism: Pre-Crisis, Superman had the ability to hypnotize others at will. This ability was dropped in the modern comics. One late 1970s story, attempting to explain the effectiveness of Superman's disguise as Clark Kent, suggested that his super-hypnotism, aided by his Clark Kent glasses, worked continually to make others see him as a thin, mild mannered man, not an athlete in a suit, and even included photographs of himself. However, this theory presented numerous flaws, such as various stories where Batman would disguise himself as Clark Kent; it also failed to account for anyone studying Kent's build from behind, let alone how the illusion could work on a video camera or whenever Kent was performing his job as a TV news anchorman. For these reasons, this explanation for his disguise's effectiveness was dropped, in favor of the traditional "suspension of disbelief" status quo.
Super-hearing: The ability to hear any sound at any volume or pitch. The only Earth creature who can detect sounds at the frequency he can is a dog (70-100,000 Hz).
Super voice: Superman is a master ventriloquist; he used this once to rescue Lois from criminals. He is also a brilliant mimic, able to impersonate human voices or animal sounds. Pre-Crisis, Superman also possessed the power of "super-ventriloquism," or the ability to pitch his voice across vast distances, which he would use in combination with his super-hearing as a means of communication.
The power of flight, by force of will, which also allows him to maneuver precisely in any direction, as well as hover. Originally, Superman could jump 1/8 mile, and only acquired the ability to fly in the early 1940s, when the first Superman animated films were being produced and super-jumping proved to not look very impressive on theatre screens.

Super breath: The ability to create hurricane force winds by blowing, and to chill his breath to freeze a target (this latter ability has also been called "freeze breath").

Super speed: The ability to move at an incredible speed, like the Flash. This includes running, but flying is less strenuous and more versatile. The earliest Superman ran at a mere 30 miles per hour, but quickly became much faster; by the 1950s, Superman became capable of flying through space at faster-than-light speeds, as well as travel through time. Post-Crisis, his top speed seems to be at or near the speed of light, and he can no longer travel through time under his own power.
Super strength: The exact magnitude of Superman's strength is unknown, it is generally accepted that his strength easily surpasses the capacity to lift 100 tons, but how much more is not known exactly. This is because Superman's strength, like his other powers, has fluctuated over time, with the Man of Steel being at times able to shift a planet from its orbit. One figure for Superman's strength is 250,000 tons.

Super intellect: In the earliest comics, Kryptonians were endowed with genius-level intellects on their native planet. Eventually, this superior mental talent was altered to being another superpower gained only under the influence of a yellow sun (though Krypton still possessed an advanced educational and intellectual state). In the Silver Age comics, Superman possessed the intelligence of a collection of the world's greatest minds. He had a computer-like brain, which gave him total recall and the ability to speak all earthly languages and even most alien ones. His skill with science and mathematics were beyond human comprehension. However, over time, this power as a whole has been scaled back, if not eliminated, in current comics. The ability is evident in The New Batman-Superman Adventures and the Justice League cartoon series, though.

From the 1940s through the early 1980s, Superman's powers were nearly unlimited: he could travel millions of light-years in brief periods of time; he could dive into stars unharmed; he could travel through time by moving at speeds faster than light; and he could move planets and lift any weight. He could even vibrate his body so fast, the vibrations rendered him "invisible" to the human eye.

When Superman was revamped in 1986, he became more vulnerable and was no longer omnipotent. As in the original series, writers again gradually increased his powers. Since "coming back to life" during The Death of Superman story arc, Superman can once again survive nuclear blasts, though they leave him wounded and weakened, and he can no longer fly faster than the speed of light or travel through time under his own power. His strength too has increased, to the point of allowing him to move mountains again.

# Superman

August 20, 2003


The comic book character Batman (originally referred to as The Batman, and occasionally as The Bat-Man), is a fictional character and superhero who first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939. Although the character was co-created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, only Kane receives official credit for the character. Batman was at first just one of several characters featured in Detective Comics, but has since become the lead or co-lead character of a number of comic book series, in addition to a "family" of titles featuring related characters (e.g. Robin, Batgirl). Batman and Superman are DC Comics' two most popular and recognizable characters.

In the Batman mythos, Batman is the alter-ego of Bruce Wayne, a billionaire industrialist and philanthropist who was driven to fight crime after his parents were murdered before his eyes at the age of eight. The identity of the mugger traditionally is known as the small-time criminal Joe Chill, though recent comics have been somewhat vague on the identity of the killer of Wayne's parents (the 1989 Tim Burton movie Batman presented the Joker as the killer of Wayne's parents). In the comics and animated series, physician and social worker Leslie Thompkins was there to give loving comfort to the traumatized Bruce. Depending on the adaptation, he was then raised on the Wayne Manor estate by uncle Philip Wayne and/or wise and loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth.

To avenge his parents' death, Wayne spent his youth traveling the world, training himself to intellectual and physical perfection and learning a variety of crime-fighting skills, including criminology, forensics, martial arts, gymnastics, and disguise. He had entered such prestigious European universities as the Sorbonne and Oxford by the age of 14, and, in the film Batman Begins, attended Princeton University in New Jersey as a young adult. He studied hunting techniques from Australian Aborigines, subterfuge and shadowy tactics from ninjas, and even ventriloquism from practitioners of the art. After returning to Gotham in his early twenties, Wayne made several harrowing and near-fatal forays into the world of crime-fighting before donning his now familiar costume. The costume may have been inspired by a Halloween "bat-suit" worn by his father before his death, and was also certainly influenced by both Wayne's conviction that criminals are a "superstitious, cowardly lot" and his own fear of bats — at the age of six, he fell down a cavern, located beneath Wayne Manor (later to become the Batcave), that was swarming with the nocturnal creatures, wherein he was forever haunted by the event.

An important part of the mythos is that Batman – unlike Superman and most other costumed heroes – is a normal human being who does not possess any superhuman abilities. However, he has elevated himself to near-superhuman status through years of rigorous training. Batman is typically portrayed as a brilliant tactician and peerless martial-artist, possessed with a stoic personality and a strong desire for justice. In recent comics, Batman has often been presented as having an obsessive, humorless personality. Like Superman, the prominent persona of his dual identities has varied with time. Present comics seem to favor portraying the decadent playboy aspect of his character as the facade, while the masked and particularly dark, grim vigilante is marked as the "true" man. Usually, Batman is further separated from Bruce Wayne by the raspy voice he assumes while costumed.

# Batman

August 01, 2003

Captain America

Captain America, the alter ego of Steve Rogers (in some accounts Steven Grant Rogers), is a Marvel Comics superhero. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, he first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941).

Captain America was the most prominent of a wave of patriotically-themed superheroes that American comic book companies introduced during World War II. With his sidekick Bucky, Captain America faced Nazis and Japanese troops during his 1940s heyday, but the hero faded into obscurity after the war.

In 1964, Marvel revived Captain America, revealing that he had fallen from an experimental drone plane into the North Atlantic in the final days of the war and spent the past decades frozen in a state of suspended animation. The hero found a new generation of readers as the leader of the all-star group The Avengers and in a new solo series.

Since then, Captain America has been a much more serious and less jingoistic hero. Writers have used the character to reflect the conflict between politics and ideology by placing him at odds with the United States government and angry and troubled about the state of the country. He considers himself dedicated to defending America’s ideals rather than its political leadership, a conviction summed up when Captain America confronted an army general who tried to manipulate him by appealing to his loyalty. Rogers responded, "I'm loyal to nothing, General.. except the Dream." (Daredevil #233, August 1986)

Captain America was one of the most popular characters that Marvel Comics (then known as Timely) had during the Golden Age of Comic Books. With World War II over and his main reason for existence (as a fictional war hero) receding into the past, the character's popularity faded. He was briefly revived in the mid-1950s as a blatantly anti-Communist superhero, but sales were poor. In the 1970s, that version would be retconned into a successor user of the name. Marvel has repeatedly revised the Captain America continuity; the character's unbreakable ties to a specific time period make it particularly difficult for the series to avoid conspicuous anomalies and gross inconsistencies.

Rogers has no superhuman powers. However, as a result of the Super Soldier serum, he was transformed from a frail and sickly young man into a "nearly perfect" specimen of human development and conditioning. Captain America is as strong, fast, agile, and durable as it is possible for a human being to be without being considered superhuman. Mentally, his battle experience and training has also made him an expert tactician and an excellent field commander, with his teammates frequently deferring to his orders in battle. Rogers's reflexes and senses are also extraordinarily keen, and he is skilled in unarmed combat and several martial arts. Years of practice with using his indestructible shield has made it practically an extension of his own body, and he is able to aim and throw it with almost unerring accuracy.

Rogers has used several shields over the years. His first shield was a badge-shaped one made of a bulletproof experimental alloy, which was then replaced with the disc-shaped indestructible one. When he returned from suspended animation, Tony Stark "improved" the shield by incorporating electronic and magnetic components in it so that Rogers could even control it in flight. However, Rogers soon discarded the additional components because he found that it upset the balance of the shield.

When Rogers gave up the costume and shield to John Walker and became the Captain, he used a pure adamantium shield provided, once again, by Stark. Rogers returned this shield to Stark, however, when he discovered that it had strings attached; Stark had hoped that Rogers would not interfere in his efforts to retrieve his Iron Man technology from others by force. Rogers then turned to the Black Panther, who provided him with a vibranium shield. When Rogers reassumed the Captain America identity, he regained his indestructible shield along with his costume.

Rogers has also used two energy shields, during periods when the indestructible shield was unavailable - a cool-temperature plasma shield which was later on reconfigured to become a photon shield, both provided by S.H.I.E.L.D. technicians. The photon shield worked by creating a force field whose frequency mimicked a vibranium matrix, being able to store and return energy in the same way. Both energy shields were controlled by an emitter in the uniform's gloves, expanding only when needed. Despite all these, however, Rogers has always returned to using the indestructible shield that is most associated with him.

# Captain America

July 14, 2003

Fantastic Four

The Fantastic Four (sometimes called the FF) are a Marvel Comics superhero group. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, they first appeared in The Fantastic Four #1 (1961).

Although the Fantastic Four membership has occasionally changed temporarily, the team usually consists of four friends who gained superpowers after being exposed to cosmic rays:

Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), the leader of the group, a scientist who can stretch his body.

The Invisible Woman (Susan Richards, née Storm; originally the Invisible Girl), his wife, the second-in-command of the group who can become invisible at will and create transparent force fields.

The Human Torch (Johnny Storm), her brother, who can surround himself in flames and fly.

The Thing (Ben Grimm), their grumpy friend, who possesses superior strength and whose body is made of craggy orange rock.

Since their introduction, the Fantastic Four has been portrayed as a dysfunctional superhero family of sorts. They squabble and even hold some deep animosity towards one another, but ultimately truly love and care for one another.

The team launched the revival of Marvel Comics in the early 1960s, giving them pivotal place in the history of American comic books. They have remained more or less popular since and have been adapted into other media.

The Fantastic Four acquired their superhuman abilities after an experimental rocket designed by the scientist Reed Richards passed through a storm of cosmic rays on its test flight. Upon crash landing back on Earth, the four occupants of the craft found themselves transformed and possessed of bizarre new abilities.

Richards, who took the name Mister Fantastic, was now able to stretch his body into nearly any shape he could imagine (similar to the earlier Plastic Man). His fiancee, Susan Storm, gained the ability to become invisible at will and named herself the Invisible Girl (later the Invisible Woman). She later developed the ability to project force fields, create invisible objects, and turn other objects visible/invisible. Her younger brother, Johnny Storm, was possessed with the incendiary powers of the Human Torch, enabling him to control fire, project burning bolts of flame from his body, and fly. Finally, pilot Ben Grimm was transformed into an orange-skinned craggy monster with incredible strength and a nearly invulnerable hide. Filled with self loathing and self pity, he dubbed himself the Thing.

The four characters were all modelled after the four classical Greek elements--earth (The Thing), fire (The Human Torch), wind (The Invisible Girl) and water (the pliable and ductile Mr. Fantastic). These same four elements also inspired Jack Kirby's earlier creations, the Challengers of the Unknown.

The team of adventurers have used their fantastic abilities to protect humanity, the earth and the universe from a number of threats. Propelled, for the main part, by Richards' innate scientific curiosity the team have explored space, the Negative Zone, the Microverse, other dimensions and nearly every hidden valley, nation, and lost civilization on the planet.

They have had a number of headquarters, most notably the Baxter Building in New York city. The Baxter Building was replaced by Four Freedoms Plaza, built at the same location, after the Baxter Building's destruction at the hands of Kristoff Vernard, adopted son of the Fantastic Four's seminal villan Doctor Doom (and rumored half-brother of Mr. Fantastic). Pier 4, a warehouse on the New York waterfront, served as a temporary headquarters for the group after Four Freedoms Plaza was condemned, due to the actions of another superhero team, the Thunderbolts. Most recently, an orbiting satellite version of the Baxter Building has been used.

# Fantastic Four

MARVEL, SPIDER-MAN, DOCTOR OCTOPUS and all MARVEL character names and distinctive likenesses thereof: TM & © 2003 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. MARVEL and SPIDER-MAN: Trademarks registered in the USA and certain other countries. © 2003 Sony Pictures Digital Inc. All rights reserved.