Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who is the Smartest ?

Karen: The idea of a scientist-hero probably took root in the 1950s, after the development of the atom bomb and during the Space Race. Plenty of sci fi films of the 50s and 60s depicted these noble men of science -War of the Worlds, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, This Island Earth, just to name a few. Marvel and DC both picked up on this concept. Reed Richards is the direct descendant of these films, using his considerable scientific know-how to explore and change the universe around him.

But there are many others who fit into this category. All men (and unfortunately, only men) of vast intelligence, whose brains are just as potent as any super-power. At Marvel, besides Richards, there's also Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Hank Pym, and on the dark side, Dr. Doom. The Black Panther is also a genius, and lately the Beast has been accorded the honor of being called one of the smartest people on the planet.

At DC, there seem to be fewer characters in this mold, but there are some that sort of fit. You'd have to say that Batman qualifies as brilliant. And what of Lex Luthor?

So of all these brainy guys (and all the others I've left out), who is the brainiest? If you want to break it down by company, be my guest. And let's just talk about human beings -no aliens or conceptual beings please! And why haven't any female characters joined their ranks?


Steve Does Comics said...

In the Marvel Universe, with his huge brain, I always assumed the Leader was meant to be the smartest there was - although the fact that he wasted his intellect on coming up with ever more pointless attempts to outsmart the Hulk suggests he wasn't that bright.

So, I'll go for Modok. Basically, I'll vote for anyone with a huge head.

In the DC-Verse, Superman always managed to outwit Brainiac. So, for DC, I'll go for Supes.

Edo Bosnar said...

You bring up a really interesting point about no women genius characters. It seems that after the 60s there was a real trend to redress the inadequate characterization of women in comics, so a whole bunch of super-powered and/or "kick-ass" women characters began to emerge to the point that they are now a fixture, which is fine. But there are not really any women super-genius types a la Reed Richards that I can think of (since I pretty much stopped reading any regular ongoing series after the early 1990s, I could be wrong. Anyone here can feel free to correct me). Seems like grist for an entirely separate discussion.

Anonymous said...

Now this is an interesting topic, because in the Incredible Hercules comics of the past few years, Amadeus Cho always claims he's the 7th smartest person on earth, which makes me wonder who's ahead of him?

Clearly, Reed Richards and Victor von Doom are in the top 2 spots, and I presume Tony Stark and Hank Pym are up there as well. But after that? The Leader? The Mad Thinker, maybe? Peter Parker is presented as a scientific genius of sorts, but maybe not in the same class as Reed or Stark.

-- Thelonious Nick

Anonymous said...

I didn't see Brainiac 5 on your pool, but i think he was supposed to be pretty smart--and from the future!

But my vote was for Mr Fantastic.
I believe somehow he is truly the smartest. And he has a pretty hot wife who he treats like dirt- and she sticks around! Genius!

and i am also curious about the Amadeus Cho "top seven".


Karen said...

Hi Starfoxxx, I left Brainy out because I was asking only about regular old humans.

As for Marvel, and Amadeus Cho: in the recent Hulk books, the Leader and Modok worked together to kidnap the smartest people on Earth, and they grabbed Richards, Doom, Stark, the Beast, Hank Pym, and the Black Panther.

I really would like to see some writer create a brilliant female hero; why hasn't it happened already?


Karen said...

The poll results are in, and it's not even close: you picked Reed Richards by a landslide! Thanks for voting, and please feel free to keep this conversation going.


Anonymous said...

OK, I’m not a DC fan, but I’m a big Alan Moore fan, so let me put in early bids for Ozymandius and V. Though I think V was more learned & wise than a genius. OK, I feel dirty now, so back to Marvel.

Reed, OK. Tony Stark is more an artisan than a genius i.e. he makes clever stuff. Can’t believe no-one threw Xavier into the mix. Hank Pym is the brightest bio-chemist in the box, but Reed Richards seems to be a genius at everything from astro-navigation to zoology.

There are loads of super intelligent, super baddies . Thanos, The Mad Thinker, Egghead, Doc Doom, The Leader, Modok, when the Red Skull had the cube, did that make him all-knowing or just all-powerful? Magneto is not an obvious choice, but hey, he helped Charlie create Cerebro and let’s face it, if I designed built, launched & lived on my own artificial asteroid, I’d be pretty pleased with myself. Fu Manchu & the Yellow Claw I guess too.
What about Brainchild from the Avengers?
I think my vote goes to Fabian Stankowitz.


dbutler69 said...

For Marvel, I think Reed Richards has to be #1, though Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Hank McCoy, T'Challa, and Dr. Doom are all worthy of mention (dicounting cosmic characters such as Thanos).
For DC, I'd say Batman and Lex Luthor are both in the supergenius categoy (ala Wile. E. Coyote) and the other poster was right to mention Ozymandias, whom I'd totally forgotten about. One must also include the newer Mr. Terrific, Michael Holt, who has been described as the 3rd smartest person on DC's earth (don't ask me who #'s 1 and 2 are).

dbutler69 said...

Now that I've posted, I noticed the other posts. If we can include the 30th-31st century, Brainiac 5 would get my vote for smartest (Invisible Kid ain't no slouch, either, nor is that bug dude that works at the Time Institute).
I think that the Thinker and MODOK should also be included in the discussion.
Regarding no femal geniuses, that is more or less true, and also surprusing, especially since women used to seem to mostly have powers that did not require physical contact, such as Jean Grey's telekenesis, Sue Storm's invisibility, the Wasps's flying and sting blasts. You'd think a super intellect would fit right into that pattern. Anyhow, I think that Moonstone (Marvel) and Oracle (DC) are two pretty smart chicks!

dbutler69 said...

Nuts! How could I forget Bruce Banner. The problem with him is I tend to think of the Hulk rather than Dr. Banner, but he's certainly up there.

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