On November 4, 2010 a brand new motion picture from Dream Works animation and Paramount pictures was released called Megamind. This movie was a pretty funny and entertaining take on the Superman mythos.
From the unaffected Lois Lane character to the twisted Jimmy Olsen with Super Powers gone bad (who reminded me of the James Olsen of Ultraman's Crime Syndicate from the DTV Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths), I enjoyed watching the twists and turns with Metro-Man and Megamind in this currently released animated comedy. Because of this I was inspired to provide this list of some of my favorite non-Supermen.
10. Goku - Dragon Ball Z
I know otaku around the world are crying and screaming that I would even suggest that Goku is a Superman clone. But after the introduction of his background as a member of the alien race called the Saiyans it was kind of easy to see the parallels. A young baby who was rocketed to Earth and raised by humans as one of their own, who uses his awesome abilities to defend the Earth and her people. Never mind the erroneous mention of Goku's "scientist" father in the early Ocean Group dubs who was supposed to have created the faux-moonlight guns so Saiyans could all go Ozaru whenever they wanted that made me instantly think of Jor-El. When I first started watching Dragon Ball Z after graduating from Loyola Marymount University in 1999, coming from a comic fan's perspective I saw a lot of Superman in Goku. His background, strength, speed and ability to fly, not to mention his death and rebirth much like the Doomsday storyline and the subsequent Return of Superman storyline that followed which I grew up reading while attending James Logan High School.
Say what you will about the man of one thousand fiery suns; that a Superman type character has no place in the Marvel Universe, that his introduction to fans as a "lost" creation was all a bunch of weak-ass marketing hype, that his dementia and ultra-violence as a super hero has been realized better in titles like Miracleman; but I will always be grateful to the Sentry for one thing.
Thank you Sentry for chucking Carnage into outer space. You might have gone completely nuts, tried to destroy the world and done questionable things to Rogue, but you're still tops in my book buddy.
8. Gladiator - The Uncanny X-Men
Usually appearing in the Uncanny X-Men or any number of Marvel's cosmic titles, Kallark the praetor of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard is another Marvel Comics take on the character of Superman. Probably more analogous to Mon-El of the Legion of Super-Heroes than Superman himself, still comparisons to the Man of Steel are inevitable. I think my personal favorite Gladiator moment is when he punches the shields of the Enterprise in the Star Trek/X-Men crossover.
One thing that is always mentioned among fans ( at least I remember this always being brought up on the now defunct Wizard World "Superhero Showdowns" message boards) is the fact that Kallark's powers wain when his confidence level decreases. Along with being affected by a rare form of radiation, much like Kryptonite affects Kryptonians or Lead affects Daxamites, the decrease in his confidence level is another variation on the Superman archetype. This is how Thor usually wins his fights with Gladiator, by telling him his hair looks funny.
A character from the Milestone imprint of comic books originally published in the early 1990s, Icon is the story of an adult alien named Arnus whose star ship crash lands in a cotton field in the American South in the year 1839. The ship's computer alter's Arnus' appearance so he looks like a child of the first human being that he comes across, a African-American slave woman named Miriam.
Arnus survives all the way up until present day, still looking like he was in his mid-thirties. Going by the name Augustus Freeman IV, he eventually is convinced by his new sidekick Rocket to fight crime in Dakota city in the super hero persona of Icon.
6. Omni-Man - Invincible
To me this comic was always a take on Superman with a Dragon Ball Z twist. In this Image comic by Robert Kirkman of Walking Dead fame, lead character Mark Grayson is a pretty normal teenager except for the fact that his Dad is the heroic Omni-Man, another archetype analogous to Superman.
Omni-Man is of course an extraterrestrial superhero of the Viltrumite race who marries a human woman and his son Mark eventually gains his own super powers by the age of seventeen.
The big twist to what would start out as a "Superman and Son" type tale comes when Omni-Man kills off the Guardians of The Globe, the equivalent of Superman's Justice League. It turns out that Omni-Man and the Viltrumites are actually a race of alien invaders, and he was sent to initiate a hostile takeover of Earth.
5. Hyperion - Squadron Supreme
Mark Milton aka Hyperion was yet another Marvel Comics take on the Man of Tomorrow. In an alternate universe dubbed Earth-712 (the mainstream Marvel Universe is known as Earth-616), the Squadron Supreme are a super group that are basically DC Comic's Justice League, but gave the writers leeway to go to darker places that DC Comics would never let their flagship characters traverse.
Pulling an Authority way before that title ever came out the Squadron put themselves in charge of government and policy in a dystopic United States, with good intentions paving the road to disaster. Echoed later in Justice League Unlimited with the Justice Lords, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and you are right there along to watch the ride. While there may be other Hyperion's from other universes in the various Marvel titles, the pioneering nature of the 1985 maxi-series paved the way for great works like Watchmen and even the Authority or more recent stints on Wild C.A.T.S. featuring Mr. Majestic as leader of a Utopian Hawaii in a rather dystopian world setting over in the Wildstorm titles, which is why this version of Mark Milton gets my deserved attention.
4. The Visitor
The Visitor is an 1995 comic title published by Valiant Comics, which features a mysterious lead character introduced into the Valiant Universe calling himself the Visitor. For the Valiant Universe, which prided itself on more down to earth "realistic" characters, having a character who was a caped super hero who may or may not have been from another world, was a little out of character for the company, but also reflected an inspiration from the Man of Steel.
Although the alien background was later revealed to be a smokescreen and his origins as a time-displaced alternate future version of Peter Stanchek of Harbinger were more akin to the complicated origins of Cable of the X-Men than Superman, the character's visual appearance and desire to save the public from helicopter crashes, bank robbers, and by smothering bombs underneath his very person made him quite the imitation of a Superman archetype in the Valiant Universe.
3. Mr. Majestic
Mr. Majestic is the aforementioned hero from the Wildstorm Universe created by Jim Lee. I will always remember Majestic's original solo title being described as "the best Superman title out there that wasn't actually a Superman title." This was at a time when I think the creative forces behind the Superman titles at the time like Dan Jurgens had overstayed their welcome and had run out of event storylines, like Doomsday, Return of Superman, Superman Red and Blue, and the Death of Clark Kent (featuring my favorite Kryptonite Brownie transformed baddie Conduit, pre-Smallville tv series no less!) to keep readers interested.
By 1999 the books had become monotonous and old hat and along came this title of Mr. Majestic, which was essentially a poor man's Superman from the Jim Lee created Image Comic WildC.A.T.S. (who were now separated from Image and were being published by DC Comics under the Wildstorm imprint). Reading the stories by Joe Casey and penciled by Ed McGuiness were like a breath of fresh air and it didn't matter that Majestic's fortress was inside of Mount Rushmore instead of at the North Pole inside a Kryptonian fortress of solitude, you got the general idea, and before long DC got the general idea as well and ending up placing Casey and McGuiness on their Superman titles (albeit not the same titles) in the year 2000.
While Alan Moore wrote some really terrific Superman stories such as "For The Man Who Has Everything" and "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" (and even a great little Majestic story called "The Big Chill" - check it out! -D), I think he would acknowledge that he still had plenty of great Superman stories left in him, and the way he got those off his chest was through the highly criticized Rob Liefeld's Awesome imprint.
Supreme was a character of his that started out as an image book as well. Not exactly highbrow comic books, the kindest way I can describe the original intent of Supreme was a Superman with the arrogant personality of a Namor the Sub-Mariner or Vegita from Dragon Ball Z. Basically it was a title that had the same action level of the popular Superman-Doomsday books of the day and asked the question; What if Superman was just a big egotistical jerk?
This went on for about 40 issues or so and a few mini-series. One of the only writers who I think really "got" the concept of the original Supreme and managed to execute it well was Keith Giffen. His Legend of Supreme Mini-series is one of the better titles released from that time period.
Anyway around 1996 and issue #41 Alan Moore comes along and just takes the opportunity to use a defunct ersatz-Superman's title to tell some of the greatest Superman stories that at the time DC Comics wouldn't have let him tell anyway. This was in the hey day of the Lois & Clark television series mind you, so sexy, down to earth, my cape can rip, John Byrne Superman revamp was what was in and DC wouldn't have wanted to mess with that by letting Alan Moore retread the kind of classic Silver Age goodness and goofiness he wanted to explore in the character. So Supreme became the outlet for those eventual musings. From Ethan Crane as Clark Kent to Radar as Krypto, the man was unchained by the constraints of current fads and this led to some really terrific as well as timeless non-Superman Superman tales.
1. The Plutonian - Irredeemable
This being my number one pick might get me some flak as it is current, and makes me feel like I'm writing a Wizard top ten list and trying to hock the latest comic book title so the company will send me free swag or whatever Gareb Shamus got out of pimping books like The Authority or whatever was the hot item at the moment.
Anyway Irremeemable asks the question "How does a man go from being the world's greatest superhero to its greatest supervillian?"
In this ongoing series by Boom Studios and the writer of Superman: Birthright, Mark Waid, the title character is the Plutonian (who asks his friends to call him Tony). The idea of a Superman gone bad is not necessarily new and innovative in the world of comics, but the execution of the idea and the story that follows is. Since the book is ongoing and has yet to conclude, I don't feel like spoiling too much, other than to say this is a great read for a current modern day comic story.