Everyone enjoys “wearin’ o’ the green” each St. Patrick’s Day, but in the world of comics many heroes — and villains — have already been doing it long before it was fashionable.
According to writer and graphic artist Tim Leong in his recent comic-inspired book, Super Graphic, secondary colors are often the fashion of choice for villains as “orange, green, and purple are a signal of a character’s evil intentions,” with prime examples of green-friendly villains being Lizard, Riddler, Doctor Octopus, Doctor Doom and Mysterio. Even the purple-heavy Joker wouldn’t be Joker without his signature emerald locks.
Likewise, primary colors (red, blue and yellow), are the heroes’ colors of choice, with the most notable and noble examples being Wonder Woman, Superman, Big Barda, X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America.
This color palate may historically be a good indication of good vs. evil, but today heroes and villains are not always “black and white” or “primary and secondary” as the case may be. Plenty of heroes have “gone green” as well.
• Green Lantern. From Hal Jordan to Wally West, this Justice League regular has the ability to create solid, and green, weapons, walls, vehicles and anything else from his power ring granted to him by the intergalactic Green Lantern Corps. There are other colored “lanterns” out there, but that’s another story.
• Green Hornet. Since his radio debut in the 1930’s the Green Hornet and his martial arts expert partner Kato, and his dazzling green trench coat, have been fighting crime by infiltrating the criminal underworld as one of their own.
• Green Arrow. Thanks to the recent hit CW show, Oliver Queen (aka Green Arrow) has helped fuel the popularity of archery, although thankfully not the Errol Flynn beard.
• Iron Fist. This martial arts expert is one of Marvel’s 1970s creations and spawned by the Kung-Fu fighting craze of the time. He pals around a lot with fellow Marvel heroes Luke Cage and Black Lightning.
• The Hulk and She-Hulk. Scientist Bruce Banner and his cousin Jennifer Walters are large, powerful, strong, nearly indestructible, and very, very green. Yes, there’s Red Hulk and Grey Hulk, but they just aren’t as cuddly and loveable as green.
• Gamora. Gamora is the adopted daughter of super-villain Thanos, and has strength, agility, accelerated healing factor, and skin as green as She-hulk. As part of the team Guardians of the Galaxy, I think she’s about also be very, very popular.
• Kick-Ass. Clumsy, everyday teenager Dave Lizewski becomes the “real life” superhero in this over-the-top violent Mark Miller comic, after a video taken of him trying to fight gang bangers becomes viral. He purchased his signature green suit online.
• Caitlin Fairchild. Known by just her last name, Fairchild is the super smart, super strong, and super tall leader of Gen-13, and chooses a sporty green gymnastics leotard for her uniform. Her father, Alex Fairchild was a member of the military group Team 7.
• Martian Manhunter. In his human disguise he achieves via his shape-shifting power J’onn J’onzz is a police officer. In his true form he is the last surviving member of his race from Mars, and a very large version of the “little green man.”
• Savage Dragon. Savage Dragon is kind of a lizard-like Superman, in terms of powers. An alien discovered in a burning field, he has nearly indestructible skin and super strength. He also works as a police officer. Apparently, many green-skinned aliens work in law enforcement.
In all fairness, there many villains who have included “Green” in their names and personal styles:
• Green Goblin. There have been many Green Goblins over the years, as well as his off-shoots, Hobgoblin, Grey Goblin and Demogoblin, but the original evil alter ego of Spider-Man’s biggest enemy was industrialist and Oscorp, Head Norman Osborne.
• Loki. Currently one of the most popular and charismatic super villains in the Marvel Universe, thanks to his current movie portrayal by Tom Hiddleston, Loki is the adopted brother of Thor. Loki is the Asgardian God of Mischief, Madness and Evil, as well as of the wearer of very stylish green and gold costume.
• Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy, sometime depicted with a green costume, sometimes with green skin, Pamela Isley is a botanist-turned-villain who gained her powers after a failed attempt by her crooked professor to poison her with her own herbs. Considered by authorities one of the world’s most prominent eco-terrorists, she is not just green-skinned at times, but always green-minded.
• Fin Fang Foom. This 100-foot-tall ancient alien, whose name means “He Whose Limbs Shatter Mountains and Whose Back Scrapes the Sun” first arrived on Earth centuries ago in what is now China and was awakened from his slumber by the super villain, The Mandarin. Mandarin used the beast to terrorize Chinese government, but didn’t see fit to give this huge green dragon even one cameo in Iron Man 3.
There are plenty more where those came from, so feel free to let us know which ones I might have overlooked. Kermit the Frog obviously wasn’t thinking of the comic book world when he said “it isn’t easy being green.” For many superheroes and villains, there’s no other way to go.