Since the 1930s, comic books have been filled with tales of costumed characters fighting crime and protecting humanity. Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes, but certain characteristics enable them to be classified into certain key groups.
The nonpowered superhero has no superhuman abilities or superpowers. Instead, this type of hero relies on some combination of natural ability, both physical and intellectual; technology; and training. Two well-known examples of this type of superhero are Batman and Iron Man. Both of these superheroes are also independently wealthy. Their respective fortunes enable them to create the tools of the trade they need to assume their crime-fighting personas.
Heroes Born with Powers
Some superheroes are born with abilities that set them apart from ordinary humans. In the DC Universe, the most famous superhero of all time, Superman, falls into this category. Superman's alien Kryptonian DNA means that on Earth, the yellow sun grants him powers far beyond those of ordinary humans. From the Marvel Universe, the X-Men, including characters like Wolverine, Cyclops and Rogue, are all born with their powers. They have mutant DNA, which manifests itself in unique powers in each of them.
Some superheroes acquire their powers through a specific event. For instance, Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider, and he becomes Spider-Man. When Bruce Banner is accidentally exposed to gamma rays, he becomes the Incredible Hulk. The Fantastic Four were all ordinary people until they traveled into space and their ship was bombarded with cosmic rays. When a lightning bolt shatters a combination of chemicals all over Barry Allen, he became the Flash.
Items That Grant Powers
Some superheroes are only heroes because of the equipment that they carry. One of DC's most famous heroes, the Green Lantern, is granted powers through the use of the Green Lantern Ring. In the Marvel Universe, while heroes often have objects of power as equipment, those objects grant them power far less frequently. This device is used by Marvel villains, however, such as how the Crimson Gem of Cytorrak grants the Juggernaut his powers.
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