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CSBG Archive

Top Five DC Acronyms!

Alan Coil also suggested this Top Five Month entry (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far), a look at the top five DC Comics acronyms!



H.I.V.E. (Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination)

I’m not a huge fan of HIVE, but they are a pretty important villain organization, even if they seem to scream “trying a Marvel thing at DC,” don’t they?

5. S.T.R.I.P.E. (Special Tactics Robotic Integrated Power Enhancer)

That’s not even all that clever, is it?

4. OMAC (One Man Army Corps)

That’s an awesome acronym by Jack Kirby – sadly, it is dragged down by the association with the stupid robot things that made me so mad during the lead up to and including Infinite Crisis.

3. S.T.A.R. Labs (Scientific and Technological Advanced Research Laboratories)

See, now that is an acronym that really works, and STAR Labs has become an important part of the DC Universe – an omnipresent part, even!!

Just please forget STARCorps after you go on to the next number.

2. L.E.G.I.O.N. (Licensed Extra-Governmental Interstellar Operatives Network)

This was an amazing book, and now that it is over, I really wish more writers would use Vril Dox. He is such a great character.

And the name of LEGION even works as an acronym! It makes sense and everything!!

1. SHAZAM (Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury)

* The wisdom of Solomon;
* The strength of Hercules;
* The stamina of Atlas;
* The power of Zeus;
* The courage of Achilles; and
* The speed of Mercury.

The greatest acronym in comics ever?

That’s the list!

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!


I’d have to put OMAC at #2, but that’s because I pretend Infinite Crisis never happened.

Infinite what? Robot who? There is only one OMAC!

I have that SHAZAM! issue. I don’t remember how I got it.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 18, 2008 at 3:27 am

I liked the Kirby cover showing the woman inside a box.
Kinda makes you wonder how she ended up like that.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

July 18, 2008 at 4:11 am

Howzabout O.G.R.E.?

I probably would have moved H.I.V.E. up from honorable mention and dropped L.E.G.I.O.N. but otherwise I agree with your choices. H.I.V.E. I don’t think has been a really interesting organization, but I love their name.

Kinda makes you wonder how she ended up like that

She was an android that had been sent to the scrapyard.

As far as other acronyms, the Inferior Five once worked with (in their spy-spoof issue) A.U.N.T.J.A.N.E. (Man from U.N.C.L.E., get it? You had to be sentiuent in the ’60s, I guess…)

i wish more writers would use Vril Dox as well. I just wish that they’d use him well. I can see him used too easily as as “one-dimensional draconian space antagonist” whenever they need one of those.

What happened to that woman on the OMAC cover?

It’s creeping me out. It looks like he crammed her into a tiny bath and threw it at the reader.

OMAC and SHAZAM are cool acronyms because it doesn’t look like they were created with the acronym in mind, which is usually the case with comic book acronyms like SHIELD (“Damn! What the heck can the E stand for?!?”).

In the Legion entry, you could have mentioned R.E.B.E.L.S..

Or maybe not, you better forget that book existed.

While not as good as LEGION, REBELS was a good book, as well.

Peyer “got” Vril Dox, I think.

That said, I don’t even know what REBELS stood for, like, at ALL, so it can’t be all that memorable! :)

According to Wikipedia:

Revolutionary Elite Brigade to Eradicate L.E.G.I.O.N. Supremacy

That actually sounds pretty cool, but no way did they ever actually call themselves that in the comic!

I thought this would include common lettercol abbreviations for books’ titles — of which the two best are of course All-Star Squadron and All-Star Superman.

How can that DC Shazam with the C.C. Beck artwork possibly have been a “brand-new issue”?

LEGION is one of the most successful attempts to cram meaning into a pre-determined set of letters, but I could just never take it seriously as a name. “Gee, what a coincidence that the team made up of ancestors of or people with vague connections to the LSH happens to have a long bureaucratic title that happens to spell out LEGION!” But STAR, OMAC, and SHAZAM all hit the sweet spot– evocative sounds or words with real meanings that don’t seem forced.

The Mad Monkey

July 18, 2008 at 9:27 am

Just based on it being Kirby, OMAC really should have been #1.
But, I admit, I am completely biased on that point.

Would R.E.B.E.L.S. be the only entry on a Top 5 list of “acronyms that contain an ancronym that’s part of the acronym”?

C.C. Beck was still alive and did at least one story when DC started that book in the 70’s (I think)

“but I could just never take it seriously as a name. “Gee, what a coincidence that the team made up of ancestors of or people with vague connections to the LSH happens to have a long bureaucratic title that happens to spell out LEGION!””

But contextually, it’s that ancestors of LEGION formed a group that uses the word in their name.
4th dimensional thinking and all.

Good god, that OMAC cover is creepy.

I seem to recall that there were alternative meanings for SHAZAM for when Mary or Adam said the word. Does anyone happen to know them?


Yeah, Mary originally invoked Selena’s grace, Hippolyta’s strength, Ariadne’s skill, Zephyrus’s speed, Aurora’s beauty, and Minerva’s wisdom, but was retconned post-Crisis to use the same sources as Billy.

Adam is the opposite: Originally “Shazam” meant the same thing to him as to Billy, but in recent years it was retconned to be the vaguely more culturally appropriate stamina of Shu, swiftness of Heru, strength of Amon, wisdom of Zehuti, power of Aton, and courage of Mehen.

L.E.G.I.O.N. was a great series with awesome Barry Kitson artwork but once they included that baby, it got a bit silly to me. i really enjoyed R.E.B.E.L.S. too!

What about K.O.R.D. Omniversal, the company Blue Beetle ran when he had his own series in the eighties. It stood for Kord Omniversal Research & Development. A bit redundant, but this was the ’80s, you see.

Andrew Collins

July 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm

I don’t know if this counts as an acronym or not, but I always enjoyed Grant Morrison’s whacked out Men From N.O.W.H.E.R.E., who always spoke in sentences where the first letter of each word spelled out the word “NOWHERE.”

“Never Open William’s Head Evil Reptiles Emerge.”

“Now Or When Hospital Earrings Revive Ernest.”

“Naked Old Widows Hover Earlier Around Easter.”

*cue laugh track*

OMAC not at the top?

Consider this my two weeks’ notice.


Jeremy A. Patterson

July 20, 2008 at 10:10 am

I have some new suggestions in my ‘Potential Top Ten Suggestions’ thread on the CSBG forums!


How could you not throw an Honorable Mention bone to G.O.O.D. and E.V.I.L. from Codename: Knockout?

“C.C. Beck was still alive and did at least one story when DC started that book in the 70’s (I think)”

Yeah, I have a Kitchen Sink Press issue of the Spirit with a CC Beck interview that covers this. I’ll post the pertinent information whenever I pull it out from my parent’s house.

SHAZAM is a bit flawed, because they borrow Solomon from Jewish/Christian mythology whereas all the others names are Greco-Roman deities or semi-deities.

William A. Owens

March 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

If you’re so “clever” why didn’t you submit a suggestion when DC was looking for a definition of S.T.R.I.P.E.? I did, and I’m very proud to say that DC accepted mine! That’s my little contribution to the comics community. What’s yours, other than being a critic?

William Owens

March 8, 2013 at 3:48 pm

No reponse? Okay, consider my word the final one on this subject. S.T.R.I.P.E. WINS!!!! NUMBER ONE…. WOOHOOOOO!!!!!!! YAY MEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s just nice to know who to blame.

I’m gonna go with “society.”

Travis Pelkie

March 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm

I’ve got money on “Canada”.

Okay, smart guy… How would YOU have defined S.T.R.I.P.E.? DC asked for suggestions. I didn’t see you submit one either!

Yep… Must be sad knowing that YOU didn’t name a character that was created by Jerry Siegel. Might as well say I named SUPERMAN’S brother :)

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