Top 10 Underrated/Under-Utilized Characters in DC Comics

As per usual with my top 10 lists, this is my opinion. These are the characters I think are good enough to be mainstay characters in the DC Universe.

10. Captain Atom

Captain Atom is USAF pilot Nathaniel Adam. Adam volunteers to participate in an experiment conducted by a research facility called the Continuum. At this facility, Dr. Megala’s research is focused on the quantum field and on “dimensional transfer through M Theory”. Adam is asked to pilot the dimensional-transfer vessel by Dr. Megala, but is seemingly atomized during the experiment. Soon afterwards, he reappears, now an energy-based life form. The world at large looks on Captain Atom with suspicion due to uncertainty about his agenda and the nature of his abilities. Despite this, Nathaniel chooses to try and use his powers to help others on Earth, clandestinely if need be.

Captain Atom is a being whose atoms are constantly splitting and then reforming just as quickly, releasing massive amounts of energy. This surplus of power can be manipulated in a number of ways such as flight and the ability to transmute physical matter. He can also absorb massive amounts of energy. Captain Atom’s abilities are largely nuclear in nature and involve tapping into the strong nuclear force, the energy that binds protons and neutrons in the nucleus. He is able to sense and perceive radio signals, cell phone signals and other similar transmissions. He can also see the energy of certain molecules. He also does not need air, food or water to survive.

captain atom

9. Plastic Man

Plastic Man’s (real name Patrick “Eel” O’Brian) powers are derived from an accident in which his body was bathed in an unknown industrial chemical mixture that also entered into his bloodstream through a gunshot wound. This caused a body-wide mutagenic process that transformed his physiology. Even his brain is no longer organic – and thus it is immune to telepathy. Eel exists in a fluid state, neither entirely liquid nor solid. He can however change his density at will. Because of this fluid state he can stretch his limbs and body to superhuman lengths and sizes; even being able to add or take away muscle mass. He can also use this fluidity for disguise by changing the shape of his face and body. These stretching powers grant Plastic Man agility, flexibility, and coordination far beyond the natural limits of the human body. Plastic Man’s powers extraordinarily augment his durability and grant him regeneration powers. His bodily mass can be dispersed, but for all intents and purposes it is invulnerable. Plastic Man, an ex-criminal, is a master thief and quite the detective.


8. Black Lightning

A gold medal-winning Olympic decathlete and a metahuman, Jefferson Pierce returned to his old neighborhood in the Southside (Suicide Slum) section of the city of Metropolis, with his wife Lynn Stewart and his daughter Anissa to become the principal of Garfield High School. Suicide Slum was being torn apart by a local criminal organization called the 100, shady corporations, and crooked local politicians like Tobias Whale. Appalled by the public murder of Earl Clifford, one of his more promising students, Pierce adopts the costumed identity of Black Lightning and  tried to intervene on behalf of the schoolchildren, but quickly learned that the 100 objected violently to any interference.

Black Lightning is able to shoot extremely powerful lightning bolts, even a mystical lightning bolt called Black Lightning – it’s not just his name. This ability is fueled by his rage and gets more powerful the angrier he gets. Basically Black Lightning can do everything and anything involving electricity. He can even literally turn into electricity allowing him to travel any way that electricity can travel – through power lines, cables and wires, even the atmosphere. He can create shields from pure energy that can even stop bullets and super-powered punches.

black lightning

7. Mr. Terrific


Holt is described as having “a natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes”; picking up complicated skills quickly and retaining them. As Holt himself put it, “everyone has a talent… Mine is learning.” Holt is the third smartest man on Earth. Holt is also a polymath who has specialized in multiple fields of medicine, engineering, and science. He possesses 14 Ph.D’s (two of which are in engineering and physics). He is aided by his “T-Spheres”, floating robotic spheres with multiple functions, holographic projection, projecting laser grids, and recording, communication, linking with and manipulating other electronic devices, from satellites to electronic locks. They allow Terrific to fly by bearing his weight, and can be used as weapons, both by exploding with powerful force, generating powerful electric charges, and strike as flying, projectile weapons. They respond to his mental and vocal commands. He is invisible to all forms of electronic detection. This ability is tied to nanotechnology woven into his specially designed “T-Mask” (which is molecularly bonded to his face and can appear and disappear at will) and costume. His mask also protects his face from chemicals. The mask works in conjunction with an earpiece to act as a communications system, and also doubles as an encephalic broadcaster, picking up aggregate thought-waves, allowing him to communicate with his T-Spheres, and even project a speaking hologram of himself, even if he is injured or too weak to speak. He is a black belt in 6 different martial arts disciplines and an Olympic Gold Medalist in the decathlon.




6. Blue Beetle (Ted Kord)

Ted Kord had no superpowers; he possess a genius-level intellect, with an IQ of 192. He is proficient in numerous sciences such as chemistry, physics, engineering, aircraft, and solar tech, as well as an understanding of alien tech. Kord was an Olympic-level acrobat and skilled hand-to-hand combatant, having studied in the martial arts of karate and aikido. He is also highly skilled in espionage. Kord created numerous gadgets, including suction pads, sight-enhancing lenses, and a protective costume. His BB gun is a handheld weapon that could blind villains with a flash of light, or knock them back with a compressed air blast capable of felling a charging rhino. Blue Beetle’s airship, the “Bug”, contained high tech equipment, could electrify or magnetize its hull, fire electrical energy, and fly at 600 mph.



5. The Atom

The Atom (real name Raymond Palmer) possesses the power to alter his size down to the subatomic level while retaining his natural strength level. This is accomplished by using the remnants of a white-dwarf star made into a belt buckle worn with his costume. The Atom is one of the few heroes in the DC Universe that has 100% control over his body on the molecular level thus making him exponentially more powerful than he is often portrayed; he is limited only by his application of his powers. Some of the applications have included reducing his mass to glide through the air and increasing his mass to punch through concrete. He has been shown to be able to ride phone lines to his destination by dialing a number and traveling through the handset (his signature use of his power), and recently shrinking small enough to travel on photon signals through fiber optic cable.


4. Hawkman

Katar Hol aka Hawkman is currently using the name Carter Hall. His origin has yet to be fully explained since he appears to not know his alien heritage, believing himself to be human. However, Katar Hol was once a proud member of the Thanagarian race, adopted son of their king Thal Provis and lover to the princess Shayera Thal. Unlike other Thanagarians, he was a pacifist; desiring to find an end to centuries of war, he convinced the king to hold a peace conference. However the Daemonites took advantage of this to spread a deadly disease that quickly destroyed all Thanagarians’ wings and killed their king. The new ruler, son of Provis and Katar’s adoptive brother, Corsar, came to believe that only the Nth Metal could save them, but this desire for power sacrificed hundreds of lives, which was apparently rewarded when Katar was accidentally fused with it creating a full body armor and regenerating his wings. Since that time his armor and weapons appear and disappear out of his skin. But seeing his brother’s increasing insanity, Katar refused to let the metal power be distributed, leading to fighting between them and the death of Corsar. Shayera then vows to hunt down Hawkman, also blaming him for her father’s death. He runs away in a stolen ship that ends up crashing on earth.


3. Etrigan the Demon (Jason Blood)

Before the Dark Ages, Etrigan was a rhyming demon (one not yet good at rhyming) in Lucifer’s service and after too many indignities, he led a rebellion. Lucifer waited until the last moment before handing him over to Merlin: the two had struck a deal. Jason of Norwich had been sent to Camelot as a scribe to Merlin and was growing frustrated with life, believing he was meant for greater things and suffering from rages. A prophecy showed that if Jason did not have some sort of quest to force him to heal himself, his rage would grow and cause him to kill his love, Madame Xanadu; at the Fall of Camelot, Merlin bonded Etrigan to Jason in an attempt to provide this quest. Now immortal, Jason and Etrigan came to an agreement and shared their existence. Madame Xanadu began traveling with Jason only to find Etrigan had now begun falling for her as well and would slaughter innocents if he thought she and Jason were happy together. In order to placate the demon, she pretended to be in love with him and cuckolding Jason.

Even among demons, Etrigan is considered to be extremely powerful. He has above superhuman strength (mystically enhanced) to the degree that he can stand against other powerhouses such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and Lobo. He has a high degree of resistance to injury and can project hellfire from his body; usually from his mouth. He has a very high command of magic. Other powers include mystically enhanced fangs and claws, enhanced senses, super speed, agility, telepathy, energy blasts, and precognition. His sadomasochistic nature allows him to enjoy pain as if it were pleasure, making him generally fearless in the face of combat and torture. His healing factor can handle an incredible amount of damage, allowing him to recover from wounds that have removed large sections of his body. He also has pyrokinesis and cryokinesis enabling him to manipulate fire and ice. Even without Etrigan Jason Blood is a highly skilled hand-to-hand combatant. His skills include mastery in swordsmanship. Jason is also adept at magic, and is often called upon to act as an advisor or investigator in occultic matters. He also has limited precognition and telepathy.


2. Metamorpho

Rex Mason is an adventurer who is hired by Stagg Enterprises CEO, Simon Stagg, to retrieve a rare Egyptian artifact, the Orb of Ra. Shortly after hiring him, Simon Stagg learns that Mason has been dating his daughter, Sapphire Stagg. This and other incidents begin to fuel in Stagg a dislike for Mason that ultimately leads to a plot to kill him.

In an Egyptian pyramid, Rex Mason is knocked out by Simon’s brutish bodyguard, Java, and is eventually exposed to a radioactive meteorite from which the Orb of Ra was fashioned. A tremendous flare-up of its radiation transforms Mason into Metamorpho, the Element Man. He gains the ability to shapeshift and change himself into any element or combination of elements found in the human body. Rex can assume forms of gas, liquid or solid states. Metamorpho is virtually invulnerable in his inert (untransformed) state. The Orb of Ra, however, has the same effect on Rex that kryptonite has on Superman. Thus Stagg continues to control Metamorpho using the Orb.


1. Firestorm

Ronnie Raymond is a high school senior and the captain of the football team. During a terrorist attack on their school, classmate Jason Rusch produces a vial given to him by Professor Stein, which contains the “God Particle”, one of Stein’s creations. The God Particle transform both Jason and Ronnie into Firestorm, and the two teens briefly battle each other before accidentally merging into a hulking creature known as the Fury. Sharing the identity of Firestorm with Ronnie being the brawn and Jason being the brains, Firestorm is considered for recruitment into the Justice League along with several other heroes.

Firestorm has the ability to rearrange molecular to subatomic structure of any substance into most anything else, changing the particles of matter & energy to create objects of different atomic characteristics of equal mass. He can not only transmute the basic composition of an object but he can also change its shape. He initially could not, however, affect organic matter without painful, even lethal, feedback. As Jason Rusch became Firestorm however, that weakness had all but dissipated. The organic limitation does not extend to his person as he can change himself at will, allowing him to regenerate lost and damaged tissue, boost his immune system, shapeshift, increase his physical capabilities and survive indefinitely without food, water and air. Much like a Green Lantern’s limitations, Firestorm can only create items whose workings are understood by the “driver” of the Firestorm matrix. Firestorm also has the ability to fly at fantastic (but unmeasured) speeds, to render himself intangible and thereby pass through solid objects harmlessly, to generate destructive and concussive blasts of nuclear fusion energy from his hands, absorb radiation harmlessly, and superhuman levels of strength and resistance to injury the powers of the Firestorm matrix remain the same but now not only can it be shared through multiple users at a time, but through the processes of nuclear fusion with another matrix wielder they can fuse into larger and stronger yet more unstable atomic entities with greatly amplified powers as opposed to the sum total of its individual parts. The entity formed between Ronnie and Jason when using the Matrix in tandem create a nuclear being called The Fury when they pool their resources.


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