Cracked: 9 Iconic Superheroes Based on Real People

Cracked: 9 Iconic Superheroes Based on Real People

Look! Superheroes you didn’t know had real-life counterparts!

So: story time. My favorite Super Bowl memory was that time I didn’t see Janet Jackson’s breast. 

That was the year I’d been invited to the home of Jann (Jann Robinson these days) and JG Jones. Their Super Bowl party was excellent, their southern hospitality was in full, friendly force, and it was just the greatest time. They really knew how to make guests feel welcome at their parties, especially an ex-intern who was just happy to be among the people who created the dreams.

Halftime comes, and we all grab some more of Jeff’s incredible jambalaya. I had no interest in watching Justin Timberlake, so I meander around so somehow I’m in Jeff’s studio with him and…ah, I wish I could remember who the other guy was. They were talking and I was mostly staying out of the way. Jeff breaks out a bottle of fine scotch that had just arrived from Mark Millar to celebrate the successful reception to Wanted.


So now I’m drinking a private stock of quality scotch poured for me by one of my favorite artists courtesy one of my favorite writers. And I’m seeing art from a Top 10 book that won’t hit stores for a couple more months. That’s pretty much geek nirvana, folks.

You know Jeff’s art is amazing, but to see the originals up close, so smooth and light you’re not even sure if they’re prints or originals…and the postage-stamp sized thumbnails he does that show so much more understanding of anatomy than I can cram into an 11″ x 17″ splash page…it was just the best, gang. The best.
I finally piped up enough to ask if Halle Berry was the basis for Catwoman, since it was plainly Eminem for the other. It would become more apparent in future issues, but yeah, good catch, Brendan.

That’s when everyone in the living room verbally ejaculated that Ms. Jackson’s boob was out for the entire world.

Now I grew up in the ’90s which meant two things: the internet wasn’t really good at porn, and Janet Jackson was the hottest woman on two TV music channels. That meant half a decade or so of adolescent dreams had just exploded onto the boob tube in the front end of the house. But a FULL decade of dreaming about making comics, meeting the people who made comics great, and just…being part of this industry and medium I love so much…that was happening right here with a scotch in my hand.

Perfect night. Wouldn’t change one second of it. Still haven’t seen the footage of the wardrobe malfunction. Already found bliss.

Not even for her.

I’ve always loved the idea that superheroes are based on real folks. I think I read about the Shazam/Captain Marvel/Fred MacMurray connection way back in the Smithsonian treasury of comics, which also introduced me to Little Nemo (it was beyond my understanding then that a 1905 comic was also a video game I owned), who, p.s., was based on Winsor McCay’s son Robert:

The weird thing is Winsor McCay drew Nemo exactly how 12-year-old Robert would look almost a decade before he reached the age.

Lots of caped characters are based on someone, but this list I compiled for Cracked is of costumed do-gooders (and evildoers) who were created without their counterparts’ knowledge as far as we can tell. I did tweet at Ann Nocenti to find out if she was complicit in Art Adams’ depictions of Ricochet Rita, but didn’t get a reply because she’s not frequently on Twitter

Hey, if you read it, click on those links under the picture of Adrianne Palicki to read No Angel. Even though she knew dang well she was the basis for the half-angel hybrid protagonist, I threw a link in for it since it fit the article’s theme (though not befitting an individual entry). She co-wrote it with her brother Eric who is one of my favorite people in the world.

You’ll like it. It’s a good read, genuinely creepy, and I proofread the thing enough times while he was working on it that I now have a doting uncle’s love for it. (Good luck ever earning my doting love, real-life nieces and nephew! You’re not comic books!)

Good times, friends. Good times.

Post-script: I made a joke about the only openly geeky actors when Ultimates came out being Freddie Prinze and Sam Jackson. I know that’s the case because I was doing the exact same thing as Millar in Iconography. I’ll never compete with Bryan Hitch though, so when I saw that, I knew I was outclassed. Here’s what I’d been drawing in ’02 and ’03: