The United States Air Force celebrates its birthday, marking the 68th anniversary of the day President Harry Truman formally created the Air Force as a separate branch of the US Armed Forces. While the actual men and women who serve in the Air Force will celebrate with birthday balls throughout the month, we here at ComicBook.com are celebrating by listing five of our favorite superheroes who also donned an Air Force uniform at some point during their career.
An elite pilot with a penchant for rule breaking, Hal Jordan has served in the Air Force in two separate stints. Jordan joined the Air Force against his mother’s wishes on his eighteenth birthday and passed flight school with flying colors. Serving out of Edwards Air Force Base in California, Jordan quit the Air Force by punching out his superior officer in order to visit his dying mother, who refused to see him while he was still a pilot. Years later, Jordan saved Edwards Air Force Base from an alien attack as Green Lantern, leading to his old superior officer reaching out and convincing him to reenlist.
Carol Danvers joined the Air Force on her eighteenth birthdays with dreams of becoming a pilot. While she was at the top of her class, the Air Force realized her talent for intelligence and trained her as a spy and special operative. Danvers retired from the Air Force as a colonel to take a position with NASA, where she would eventually encounter the disguised alien Mar-Vell and gain her own powers after coming into contact with an alien device. Kelly Sue DeConnick played up Danvers’ military background and training in her acclaimed Captain Marvel run, showing off the characters’ piloting skills and her no-nonsense and kickass military attitude.
Before he was a beloved rock monster/superhero, Ben Grimm served in the military as a fighter pilot. Early Silver Age comics claimed that Grimm served in the Marines during World War II (in part because the Air Force didn’t exist until after the war), but later comics clarified that he actually served in the Air Force. After his military career ended, Grimm joined NASA as an astronaut and even flew a rocket into space before Reed Richards asked him to join the fateful space mission that resulted in Grimm and the rest of the Fantastic Four gaining their powers.
Unlike the other heroes on this list, Captain Atom gained his powers while still an active member of the Air Force. Court-martialed and sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit, Captain Nathaniel Adam volunteered for a dangerous experiment as an alternative to execution. The experiment left Adam’s body fused with an alien metal that granted him strange, energy based abilities. The Air Force blackmailed Adam into remaining with the service after the experiment, using the name Captain Atom and acting as the military branch’s own response to superhuman threats and problems.
While he wears barbarian garb and carries a sword and shield, DC’s Warlord was originally an Air Force pilot. While flying for reconnaissance over the North Pole, Air Force pilot Travis Morgan’s plane malfunctioned, forcing him to eject over what he thought was Northern Canada. In fact, Morgan touched down in the mystical land of Skartaris, a barbaric fantasy land located in a separate dimension (although early Warlord comics thought Skartaris was a secret world hidden inside the Earth’s core). After interfering with an evil magician’s quest to take over the realm, Morgan became known as Warlord and fought a variety of fantasy themed threats while occasionally returning to his native world.