Uri-On battles an alien Uri-On battles an alien Israeli superhero Uri-On battles an alien in this scene from the comic book series. (Photo: Courtesy Michael Netzer)

International superheroes

Expand your geek cred by learning about these 5 heroes from around the world

When you think of superheroes, you probably think of Superman, Batman and the Avengers from DC and Marvel Comics. But did you know that there are international superheroes with thriving fan bases around the globe? Though not as well-known in the United States, these heroes are notable because of the popularity and pride they’ve engendered in their home nations. Some are humorous, while others have poignant origin stories, but all are valiantly dedicated to upholding peace and justice.

1. France – Asterix

mural with French comic book character Asterix and his friend ObelixA mural on the exterior of a duplex in Germany features the French comic book character Asterix and his friend Obelix. (Photo: Johann H. Addicks/Wikimedia Commons)

An all-ages comic set in Gaul (ancient France), The Adventures of Asterix follows the humorous exploits of the smart but undersized title character, who becomes a hero capable of resisting Julius Caesar’s Roman Empire with the help of a magic potion that gives him and his allies super-strength. His comic book series began in 1959 and has been translated into more than 100 languages. He’s also been the subject of 13 films – both live action and animated – and even has his own theme park, Parc Asterix, near Disneyland Paris.

2. Canada – Captain Canuck

Captain Canuck merchandiseCaptain Canuck merchandise on display at Niagara Falls Comic Con in June 2013. (Photo: grilled cheese/Flickr)

Created in 1975 as a “distinctly Canadian superhero,” Captain Canuck was a mountie who gained super-strength after exposure to rays from an alien spaceship. An overnight success, Captain Canuck became the first Canadian comic book to be widely distributed throughout the United States. More than 2 million of the comic books have been published to date, and an animated webseries launched in 2013 after a successful Indiegogo funding campaign.

3. Israel – Uri-On

Uri-OnUri-On holds his cape as a villain lurks behind him. (Photo: Michael Netzer)

An alien-fighting superhero with powers similar to Superman's, Uri-On debuted in 1987. “Uri-On was an introduction of hero-genre comics to the Israeli culture, a simple story that brings the superhero mythology into a local setting,” Uri-On’s creator, comic book author Michael Netzer, told From The Grapevine. “His adversaries (an alien armada) were not very different from the ones in the Avengers film." In the story arc, Uri-On not only stops the aliens from invading Earth, but helps them “understand that a more graceful approach would have allowed them to get what they need without a confrontation.”

4. Argentina – El Eternauta

An artist recreates El Eternauta in Buenos AiresAn artist recreates El Eternauta in Buenos Aires on Sept. 4, 2014, for the fifth annual celebration of Argentina's National Day of the Cartoon. (Photo: El Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación/Flickr)

The protagonist of a science-fiction comic book first published in 1957, El Eternauta was an ordinary man named Juan Salvo, who survived an alien attack that wiped out most life on Earth, developed superpowers and set out to travel through time and space, seeking his lost wife and daughter (his hero's moniker translates to “Eternal Traveler”). El Eternauta was created by Argentinian writer Hector Germán Oesterheld, and other authors continued his saga after Oesterheld’s death.

5. Japan – Goku

Statues of Goku and Piccolo from DragonBallZ Statues of Goku and Piccolo from DragonBallZ at 2013 San Diego Comic Con. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The hero of the manga and anime series “DragonBall” and “DragonBallZ,” Goku is a Saiyan – a magical being who can transform himself into several increasingly powerful incarnations. He fights for peace and freedom against a series of antagonists, including the galactic emperor Frieza. Despite his abilities, like most superheroes, Goku has a weakness: his superhuman appetite causes him to lose power if he doesn’t have food. First introduced in a magazine in 1984, he has since appeared on TV, in video games and in several animated and live-action feature films.


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International superheroes
Expand your geek cred by learning about these 5 heroes from around the world