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Comic Theme Time Month – Best Superhero Name That’s a Pun

All December long, I will be doing daily installments of Comic Theme Time. Comic Theme Time is a twist on the idea of a “Top Five” list. Instead of me stating a topic and then listing my top five choices in that topic, I’m giving you the topic and letting you go wild with examples that you think fit the theme.

Today’s topic is “what is the best superhero/supervillain/superhero team/supervillain team that has a pun for a name?”

Some examples include Atom Eve, Major Disaster, Force of July and Cloak and Dagger.

What’s your pick?

57 Comments

Along with AtomEve, I thought DupliKate & RexSplode were funny. You already mentioned my favorite, Force of July. I’ll add Duke of Oil. Mike Barr: Punmaster.

Does Strong Guy count?

Well there’s also Havok, and Wolvesbane.

This one has to be a tie for me. Either it’s Scott Free, or Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spder-Ham!

Rex Splode. This is not up for debate.

Scott Free. Gotta be.

Super Ann (Centaur Comics)

Most of the names in Invincible are fantastic.

One of my favourites though is the villain Raging Woody from Savage Dragon.

No heroes come to mind, but for villains I give the prize to Turner D. Century.

Well you can’t get more basic than ‘Box/Bochs’

Also Smart Alec

Batmanuel from The Tick TV show….American Maid, too…

More Tick: El Seed

And Man-Eating Cow became Apocolypse Cow on the TV show…

Wasn’t there a character in Cerebus that was a parody of Swamp Thing called Sump Thing? It was right before High Society started.

Alec Tronn and Nova Kane, of course!

Empowered by Adam Warren
A heroine who is everything but being empowered. She is highly self concious about her looks. Her supersuit tears too easily and leaves her powerless. It protects her from all harm somehow but still allows her ot be humiliated on a regular basis.

Of course, we need to show some love for the Flash villain, Rainbow Raider, who’s real name is “Roy G. Bivolo”.

Definitely someone from Invincible. Dupli-Kate, Multi-Paul, Rex Splode, Atom Eve, Shrinking Ray…

Not sure we should count names in series like The Tick that are meant to be parodies.

From the old Ultraverse series The Strangers there was Atom Bob and Electrocute

For real names, E. Nigma and T.O. Morrow stand out. Green Arrow and Black Canary once fought an old hillbilly woman who could control gravity. Her nephews/henchmen named her “Auntie Gravity.” (Actually a better story than it sounds.)

Metamopheus

Does Strong Guy count?

Well there’s also Havok, and Wolvesbane.

Those aren’t puns, are they?

Seems like we need to distinguish secret identity names (which are puns by the creators) from code names (which are, ostensibly, puns knowingly committed by the characters)

Does “Hitman” count? [And then Kirkman made basically the same joke with "Wolf-Man".]

Scott Free FTW! While we’re at it though, cosmic DC and Marvel is full of puns because, I guess, alien languages become witty when translated to English.

Darkseid? If we’re allowing for pronunciation. Apokolips also.

Major Victory….Mar-Vell, Genis-Vell, Phyla-Vell…..Kallark (Gladiator’s real name)

King Faraday.

Man-Thing.

Ursa Major the Soviet superhero who could turn himself into a bear. It’s a pun because in the Russian military he had the rank of major and his real name was Ursis. So Ursa Major was really Major Ursis.

@Rob Schmidt “Not sure we should count names in series like The Tick that are meant to be parodies.”

Might have to disagree with you…one man’s parody is another’s superhero….

definitely atom eve or rex plode.

Ellsie Dee (LCD), the robot girl from Hamma’s Wolverine run.

What about Jonn J’onzz? And how about richard “Don’t call me Dick” Rider?

I forgot about Elsie Dee. Dangit.

Mighty N. Dowd. PAD at his worst.

J.

Darkseid and Scott Free
Would Kamandi count, or was his name coming from the “Command D” bunker a retcon?

E(dward) Nigma
Harley Quinn

Would Victor von Doom count?

Groups:

What was Thomas smoking (or his editors drinking) when they approved All-Star Squadron (note the unfortunate acronym)?

One that might fly right over your heads -
Thunderbolts – given they were founded by Baron Zemo while he was still in “I want to be my father” mode (was the WWII Zemo in the SS?), given the lightning bolts insignia of the SS?

For character’s whose real name is a pun, My absolute favorite is Jack Russell, Werewolf By Night.

A couple more worth mentioning from the early issues of Young Justice.
Nina Dowd who becomes The Might Endowed
Special Agents Fite and Maad. Of course Fite has a daughter, Anita.
And they crossed over with David’s other creation Spyboy to fight the japanese villain, Ani Mae.

And Mentioning the invincible character Dupli-kate, don’t forget her brother Multi-paul.

My least favorite is Rick Jones super powered identity, A-bomb. (he got his power from a nuclear explosion and he looks like the villain abomination…)

@Jay Tea

I read through all the comments (many of which aren’t even close to being puns) to mention that one. At least I can point out that her villain name was Mighty Endowed and her real name was Nina Dowd (i.e., “N. Dowd”).

A little off topic: Like J above, I’ve always found it weird how often alien characters have names taken from English phrases or Earth words (Didn’t Granny Goodness actually give Mr. Miracle the name Scott Free because he kept escaping from things? Meaning it’s not even a coincidence – she actually knew the Earth expression. Maybe that was written out of his backstory (blahblahblah New 52) or maybe it was something someone came up with long after the character was created to explain why Highfather’s son would be named “Scott Free” that was never widely accepted, but I’m sure I read that somewhere).

A recent episode of Young Justice had the Forever People, and they explained away Big Bear (named after an animal that doesn’t exist on Earth so he picked a similar Earth animal, which is sort of like Wolverine saying “just call me Badger if you don’t know what a wolverine is”), and Serifan dressing like a cowboy (you guessed it: obsessed with Earth TV), but didn’t bother explaining Beautiful Dreamer being named after an Earth song.

when the former Captain America became USAgent, they changed his civilian idendity from John Walker to Jack Daniels.

King Faraday, for sure. Most of these suggestions aren’t puns.

Neutron Bum may be my fave (or even Neutron Bob) but I also enjoyed Deadly Ernest and Poppa Wheelie.

The Juggernaut: Cain Marko = “Mark of Cain.”

Steve Gerber’s corporate villain from “Man-Thing”: F.A. Schist. (When I first read those stories as a kid, I didn’t know the word “fascist,” so it wasn’t until I reread them years later that I got it.)

Another Gerber pun name: Booster Cogburn from “Destroyer Duck.” A thinly-disguised attack on John Byrne for being a corporate “booster” who’s satisfied to be a “cog” in the machine, as well as a reference to Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit.”

Batroc the Leaper: The stereotypically French villain takes his name from “batrachian,” meaning “frog-like.”

One of my favorites is an obscure hero from Dave Cockrum’s “The Futurians”: A lightning-bolt tossing hero named Doctor Zeus. I particularly liked that one because it works completely independently of the pun; if you didn’t get the Dr. Seuss reference, it’s still a perfectly good name for a lightning-based hero.

Oh, and then there’s the Spider-Man villain The Spot, whose real name is Jonathan Ohnn…”Johnny-on-the-spot!”

The real name of my favorite Batman villain, Calendar Man, is Julian Day. So good!

A lot of the G.I. Joe characters had codenames that were deliberate puns, but it had to do with their specialties. Some include:
-Barbecue (firefighter)
-Breaker and Dial-Tone (communications)
-Blowtorch, Charbroil, and Ice Cream Soldier (flamethrower)
-Psyche-Out (deceptive warfare)
-Faces (infiltrator)
-Dusty (desert trooper)
-Low-Light (Night Spotter)
-Cover Girl (tank driver who used to be a fashion model)
-Doc, Lifeline, and Stretcher (medic)
-Tripwire (mine detector)
-Alpine (mountain trooper)
-Ambush (concealment specialist)
-And my favorite, the ninja T’Gin-Zu (I’ll give you three guesses where his name came from…)

When you mentioned Force of July in the article, I thought of Duke of Oil, and then right in the first comment, Mike Loughlin brings it up. Dang!

The other one I can think of might be (and I only know this because someone else pointed it out on a different post a while back) is the XMen character Psylocke. Her powers involve her psyche (Psi-key), and the name is changed to Psi-lock (pronunciation-wise, that is).

When whoever it was posted that, I FINALLY “got” her name, because until then it never made sense to me (not that I was, y’know, thinking about it a lot. Like with the focused totality of my thinking or nothin’…)

A lot of the G.I. Joe characters had codenames that were deliberate puns, but it had to do with their specialties. Some include:
-Barbecue (firefighter)
-Breaker and Dial-Tone (communications)
-Blowtorch, Charbroil, and Ice Cream Soldier (flamethrower)
-Psyche-Out (deceptive warfare)
-Faces (infiltrator)
-Dusty (desert trooper)
-Low-Light (Night Spotter)
-Cover Girl (tank driver who used to be a fashion model)
-Doc, Lifeline, and Stretcher (medic)
-Tripwire (mine detector)
-Alpine (mountain trooper)
-Ambush (concealment specialist)
-And my favorite, the ninja T’Gin-Zu (I’ll give you three guesses where his name came from…)

I am asking this because I am sincerely curious as to whether I am the one who is wrong or not, but aren’t nicknames or code names or handles something very different than puns? To me, only the T’Gin-Zu one comes across as a pun, which I always thought of us a play on words, a double meaning. Everything else on the list seems to be a clever nickname. That goes for a lot of other names in the comments section as well.

Oh, PAD. Never heard of Mighty N. Dowd. He also came up with Skang Kee Ho as a villainess in Marvel Mangaverse’s Punisher.

What’s the pun in “Super Ann”? Been sounding it out and still can’t figure out why that’s a pun.

RE: Psylocke: on her pink costume, are assorted trapezoids at the throat, belly button, and knees… I think these were supposed to visually reference the hole that you normally see on padlocks.

I agree with Erich, it’s Johnny Ohnn, aka The Spot. Whether they are actually puns or not, there are a lot of good ones.

Merry Christmas to all.

True Blood character names are usually and anagram hinting their involvement in the story, does that count?

Of course it doesn’t count, it’s an anagram, not a pun. Forget it.

Empowered was already mentioned, but hers was actually one of the least punny names in her series. That brilliant and massively underappreciated book has some great groanworthy names like:

- Jugganaut, a busty strongwoman
- Baron Womb (supervillain)
- Blunt Trauma (a pro-pot-legalization strongman)
- Hand Cholo (who had a giant hand instead of a head)
- Crimera – or don’t portmanteaus count? This one was a criminal chimera
- Crowquet, a crow-themed supervillain who wields a croquet sticket

And many others. If you haven’t read Empowered yet, do yourself a favor and get it, because it’s far superior to over 90% of the Big Two’s current output.

Well I always thought Havok was a pun for Havoc (since he can’t control his powers w/o his suit) and a werewolf named Wolvesbane?

Havok is simply an alternate spelling of the word havoc; wolfsbane is the name of an actual plant once thought to repel werewolves. They’re not puns because there’s no double meaning.

Ah, Xombi had a ton of these:

~ Nun of the Above.

~ Nun the Less (from the recent mini).

~ There was a character (in the same mini) who died from a book-related disease: semi colon cancer.

~ There was a hand-shaped assassin from issue 7 of the original run called Manuel Dexterity.

Xombi rocks!!!

(Excalibur also rocks (tho’ nothing to do with this thread, was championing it earlier))

Jon C (the 2nd Jon C on this forum, as it turns out)

I’m amazed that noone mentioned Big Sir ;)

Starfire’s family was a brood of puns: Koriand’r, Komand’r, and Myand’r

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