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 (Jeff). 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 breast was out for the entire world.

Guy Gardner costume design
RELATED: Journalistic Correction Time: I Was Completely Wrong About Guy Gardner

They say certain cultural moments, you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. All I can tell you is that moment was already seared into my memory regardless. 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 my one-time crush’s wardrobe malfunction. Already found bliss.

Now as to the article: 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.

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 with Ann Nocenti to find out if she was complicit in Art Adams’ depictions of Ricochet Rita, and she was apparently just as surprised as the rest of us.

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.