With the release of The Martian this weekend, all eyes are back on astronauts, one of the few occupations that still captures the imagination of adults and children alike. One would think that, with all the alien technology, super-scientists and specialized spacecraft used by superheroes in comic books, astronauts would be a bit obsolete in the Marvel and DC universes. However, several popular comic book characters got their start as astronauts, working to develop homegrown space technology not dependent on super-geniuses or aliens.
To celebrate The Martian's release, here's five of our favorite astronauts in comics:
The villainous Cyborg Superman may look like a mix between the Man of Steel and the Terminator, but he got his start as Hank Henshaw, a promising astronaut at NASA. Henshaw and a crew of three other astronauts, including his wife, flew into space for a Lex Luthor designed experiment involving radiation, where a solar flare struck their space shuttle. (Sound familiar?) The exposure to the solar flare and other radiation destroyed Henshaw's body, but also gave him the ability to control and transfer his consciousness into any sort of technology and machinery.
After learning that Superman had also been in space at the time of his accident, Henshaw blamed Superman for his transformation and took on the Man of Steel's appearance in the wake of his death to ruin the hero's reputation. This culminated when he and Mongul destroyed Coast City, leading to Hal Jordan's insanity and transformation as Parallax. After periodically fighting Superman for years, Henshaw became the leader of the Manhunters, robot foes of the Green Lanterns, and would align himself with the Sinestro Corps and the forces of the Anti-Monitor.prevnext
John Jameson, son of the Daily Bugle's J. Jonah Jameson, is a poster child on why you shouldn't touch strange alien rocks in space. An American astronaut, Jameson discovered a strange ruby while on the Moon for a mission. The ruby attached itself to Jameson's throat and transformed him into the savage and mindless Man-Wolf. As the Man-Wolf, Jameson fought Spider-Man several times before the hero finally removed the ruby from Jameson's throat. Jameson's astronaut career was one of the major reasons why his father hates Spider-Man so much, since J. Jonah thinks his son should receive the public adoration Spider-Man often receives. Despite this, the younger Jameson and Spider-Man are friends and the two have teamed up several times in adventures in space.prevnext
Anyone who's seen Interstellar knows that traveling long distances through space often comes with some tricky time and aging implications. Take Major Victory, the leader of the original Guardians of the Galaxy (the team that didn't appear in last year's popular Marvel movie). Vance Astro was an astronaut chosen to man NASA's first interstellar mission to the neighboring system of Alpha Centauri. Since NASA didn't have access to faster than light travel, Astro's journey to Alpha Centauri took 1,000 years, most of which he spent in suspended animation. When he arrived to Alpha Centauri, Astro discovered that humans had colonized the planet during his 1,000 year journey, rendering his entire journey obsolete. In addition to discovering that his trip through space was a waste, Astro also discovered he was a mutant with limited telekinetic and psionic abilities. After escaping a planetary attack from the Badoon, a group of militant reptilian aliens, Astro founded the Guardians of the Galaxy to protect the rest of the galaxy from the hostile alien threat. During his adventures, Astro also briefly traveled back in time and convinced his younger self NOT to become an astronaut, leading to the younger Astro joining the New Warriors as the superhero Justice.prevnext
If you've only seen the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, you might not know that Star-Lord, the charming leader of the modern incarnation of the team, was an astronaut in the comics. After an alien killed his mother as a child, Peter Quill joined NASA hoping to travel the stars and track down the aliens who killed his mother. Quill's opportunity for revenge came earlier than expected, when a different alien named the Master of the Sun appeared in front of Quill and several other astronaut trainees and offered to grant one of them the position of Star-Lord to help protect the entire galaxy. Although the Master of the Sun chose a different candidate, Quill stole a space ship and convinced the alien to make him Star-Lord instead.prevnext
While Superman has had plenty of adventures in space, his mother Lara was the first astronaut in the family. Lara was an astronaut for Krypton's space program, which had already colonized several other moons and planets in their system. However, a terrorist attack on one of the moon colonies caused Krypton to cancel its space program, grounding Lara permanently. Lara's knowledge of space travel would come in handy when she and her husband built a rocket to carry their newborn son away from Krypton after discovering their planet was about to explode.
Who are your favorite astronauts in comics? Leave your favorites in the comments below:prev