THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s ... Super Commando Dhruva?

By Chris Wright
August 28, 2011

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When Marvel comics announced plans to introduce a half-black, half-Latino Spider-Man recently, the company found itself being thrust into the role of super-villain. The idea of Miles Morales supplanting Peter Parker did not sit well with the, let’s say, traditionalists. Superheroes, after all, have always been white - well, possibly green or blue, but never brown.

Actually, there is a long tradition of comic-book superheroes from around the world - dating from the 1940s to the present day. One look at Venezuela’s Martin Valiente or Israel’s Adiri Atchelet will tell you that saving the planet is not, and never has been, the exclusive remit of Bucky Squarejaw.

This is not to say that these global do-gooders are always well-conceived - some of them are unspeakably lame - only that cultural diversity is as much a part of the superhero world as it is our own.

Here, then, a brief primer-and scorecard (ratings are out of 10 stars).

Zooman: El Hombre Mosca Nationality: Mexican

Backstory: Little is known about the buzzing one’s background. One theory suggests that he was an ordinary human who mutated into a man-housefly hybrid. Another posits that an illustrator wanted to create an insect-y superhero, saw that Spider-Man was taken, and settled on the next best thing. (6 out of 10)

Powers: Billed as “an insectoid superhero with fly powers who protects Mexico.” Apparently, this means he has the ability to leave little footprints all over your food, because there’s no evidence that he can fly, walk up walls, or do any of the other cool stuff flies do. In one frame he can be seen fending off a foe with - no lie - the wheel of a car. (2 out of 10)

Appearance: Apart from the oversized, vision-impairing metallic fly-goggles, there’s nothing insectoid about him. Has the requisite honey-melon biceps and Barbarella boots. Tends to stand with his legs apart, as if he has chafing issues. (2 out of 10)

Overall: Seems less suited to destroying his enemies than being a mild irritant during mealtimes. (2 out of 10)

Super Boy Nationality: French

Backstory: Enigmatic. Occupation listed as “Adventurer.” Father a scientist. Battles various evil-doers while saying things like “Arrêt!” The biggest puzzle is where the appellation “Super” came from. (2 out of 10)

Powers: Not much. Has a rocket belt, which allows him to get around his innate inability-to-fly thing, and - wait for it - “a radio helmet with a transparent visor.” Good with his fists; has been known to strangle foes with a length of rope. (3 out of 10)

Appearance: Buff. Firm jaw. Favored posture is one knee bent, foot hovering a few inches above the ground. The yellow booties aren’t exactly formidable. And, we have to ask: Have those arched eyebrows been plucked, monsieur? (3 out of 10)

Overall: He’s French, has the word “boy” in his name, and possesses no built-in powers. Lucky for him that French super villains aren’t known for their amazing abilities, either (see Batroc the Leaper, whose main power is, well, leaping). (3 out of 10)

Captain Canuck Nationality: Canadian

Backstory: Until aliens shot him with intergalactic rays, Tom Evans was an average guy. The rays made him “twice as strong and twice as fast as others,” so he signed up as a super agent for the Canadian government. The story is set in the future, a time in which Canada has risen to become a superpower. (0 out of 10)

Powers: Canuck’s fast, strong, and has an eidetic memory - which is great if a villain has briefly shown you a tray filled with everyday items and threatened to blow up the world if you can’t name them. According to one fan, “His best power is that he is Canadian.” (1 out of 10)

Appearance: Captain America with a maple leaf. (1 out of 10)

Overall: Sorry to say, but this guy makes Dudley Do-Right look good. (1 out of 10)

Eden Fesi Nationality: Aboriginal Australian

Backstory: Aboriginal boy has an average upbringing in the outback. Encounters a bunch of mutants one day and is told he has superhuman abilities. Abandons dreams of becoming a famous rock guitarist to sign up as a full-time Secret Warrior. As one does. (5 out of 10)

Powers: Handy with a spear, can “survive in the Australian wilderness unaided.” Oh, and he can rend the fabric of space and time with his bare hands, which makes teleportation a relatively simple proposition. (6 out of 10)

Appearance: Dress sense alternates between full-body paint and skin-tight, cap-sleeved T-shirts. Has natty dreadlocks and six-pack abs that extend all the way up to his forehead. In other words: famous rock guitarist. (5 out of 10)

Overall: A couple of issues: Why have the ability to survive in the wilderness if you can just teleport to a nice Parisian bistro? Also, if you’re teleporting into battle with an army of robot ants, surely you’d want to be armed with more than a spear and a trendy little beard. (5 out of 10)

Jabbar the Powerful Nationality: Saudi Arabian

Backstory: Kid steps on a landmine. The explosion shatters a nearby mystical gem, shards of which are embedded in the boy’s skin, transforming him into a “teen powerhouse.” After a spell being hassled by the Saudi armed forces, the boy joins an elite baddie-fighting unit called The 99. (2 out of 10)

Powers: A single sneeze from the boy-mountain “would level a house.” He’s strong. He’s big. He’s hard to hurt. He’s also emotional and unpredictable, and maybe a little stupid. Tremble before his awesome door-slamming abilities. (1 out of 10)

Appearance: Seems to have one of those gang-related teardrop tattoos below his left eye, but common sense tells you it’s more likely a piece of mystical gem embedded in his skin. Either way, no head that small should ever be placed on a body that large. (1 out of 10)

Overall: Jabbar the Insufferable would be a better fit. (1 out of 10)

Super Inframan Nationality: Chinese

Backstory: Evil princess rises from the center of the Earth, along with a coterie of monsters, bent on knocking lots of skyscrapers over. Employing a combination of mechanical genius and terrible fashion sense, human scientists respond by creating a half-man, half-robot superhero. (7 out of 10)

Powers: What can’t Inframan do? Guided missiles, laser beams, fireball fists, jet boots, energy blades, a protective force field, the ability to change size, mad kung fu skills, etc. Having this many powers smacks of cheating. (5 out of 10)

Appearance: Sports the same red pleather pantsuit Michael Jackson wore in his “Thriller” video, with a pair of silver knee-high boots thrown in. The ensemble is rounded off with huge shoulder pads, a recurring camel toe, and a crash helmet with a couple of car antennas jammed into it. (7 out of 10)

Overall: Considering the arsenal of superpowers at his disposal, Inframan seems to spend an awful lot of time clambering over the rubble of recently knocked-down skyscrapers. (6 out of 10)

Super Commando Dhruva Nationality: Indian

Backstory: Born to husband-and-wife trapeze artists and raised among animals and acrobats. When villains set the family circus camp ablaze, killing everyone in it, Dhruva vows revenge, gets it, and goes on to become a professional crime-fighter. (7 out of 10)

Powers: Talks to animals, does martial arts, and has “the strongest willpower among humans.” Relies on brain more than brawn - has a MacGyver-like ability to use a paperclip or soup spoon to defeat enemies. Owns a “special motorbike,” but has been known to trundle into a conflict on roller skates. (8 out of 10)

Appearance: Wears a yellow leotard over a blue bodysuit, leaving little to the imagination. He has no cape, and no headgear - opting instead for a solid-looking helmet of hair. Notable, too, for having the most pronounced calf muscles of any superhero. (7 out of 10)

Overall: It’s hard to find fault with Super Commando Dhruva - he’s completely nuts in the best possible way. (8 out of 10)

Chris Wright is a writer living in Spain.