Lesser-Known Superhero Mottos

Posted: January 21, 2011 in comic books, Jeff Holland, Threat Quality
Tags: , ,

A less catchy motto, but still pretty good.

One of the more baffling ideas in “The Cape” – the one that makes everyone assume the creators have probably not read a comic ever – is that the hero of the fictional comic has a motto: “One man, one fight, one right.”Which doesn’t actually mean anything, but…hey, “The Cape,” everybody.

I sat on the couch racking my brains trying to think of other heroes who had a well-known motto, let alone a catchphrase encapsulating their views (even as obtusely as The Cape’s). But while it’s not exactly a staple of superhero comics, it’s actually more common than I’d initially thought.

Superman’s got “Fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way.” And I suppose you could make a case for Batman’s “Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot.”

The DC trinity motto is unfortunately rounded out by Wonder Woman’s battle cry…

…“Hey buddy, eyes up here.”

Green Lantern has a great big wordy (“In brightest day, in blackest night” and so on) oath, though I’m pretty certain that now that Braak and I have said it multiple times, GL’s current motto is, “If I was at a restaurant and a waiter brought me a plate of fear, I’d say, ‘No thank you,’ and send it back.”

Spider-Man’s got the most clear-cut motto – “With great power comes great responsibility” – which he’s actually said to people! So he’s covered.

TQP favorite The Question – as written by his Objectivist creator Steve Ditko – was nothing BUT mottos, but seriously, they are all kind of terrifying.

Captain America seems like he should have an oath – but the Pledge of Allegiance is both too long, and strangely hard to remember once you’re an adult (it always turns into the lord’s prayer midway through when I think of it). On the other hand, the more succinct “America: Fuck Yeah” isn’t really Cap’s style, since he doesn’t want to hear that sailor speak coming out of your mouth, son. There are ladies present!

After that, it gets a bit more murky.

“Hulk SMASH!” isn’t really a “motto,” though that may be up for debate.

Thanks to the 60’s theme song, Iron Man has a pretty awesome motto, but not necessarily one that others will be able to relate to. Still, “Tony Stark! Makes you feel! He’s a cool exec with a heart of steel!” might be something to aspire to, I guess?

If Hawkman’s personal motto is anything other than “I am a man with wings and I will hit you with this MACE,” then he’s trying too hard.

Aquaman’s motto: “Quit making fun of me. Seriously. I’m king of the damn seas, what have YOU done lately?”

Nick Fury has a dozen mottos and they all involve cigars and creative use of the term “goldbricker.”

Naturally, Iron Fist’s motto is “Shirts are for people too chicken to get chest tattoos.”

But obviously, it’s his partner Luke Cage who wins this one hands down, with a motto that is informative, catchy, and useful in many everyday situations:

I think we can all get behind that one.

  1. “… a crazy BLACK man …!”

    When letterers say too much.

  2. Jeff Holland says:

    I like that Doom can be cheap, racist, AND flabbergasted all in one panel.

    Actually, it’s just observational – the rest of the Fantastic Four are white, so there’s only like two other guys it could be, and the Black Panther has his own flying cars.

    So really, it’s the Fantastic Four’s fault for only having one black friend they’d loan their car out to.

  3. braak says:

    Wolverine has a motto, too.

    I think it’s important to distinguish between a motto, a catchphrase, and a tagline. Superman’s “For truth, justice, and the American Way!” is definitely a motto, but “Up, up and away!” is just a catchphrase — he says both of them out loud to people, but only the first one actually provides any definition for his character.

    The X-Men’s “fighting for a world that hates and fears them” is really a tagline — it’s true, and it’s definitive, but none of them ever actually SAYS that. And they may or may not think about themselves that way, it’s just the role the happen to fulfill in that universe.

  4. Erin says:

    Titans Together!
    To me, my X-Men!
    Avengers Assemble!
    I’m the best in the world at what I do, Bub, and what I do ain’t very nice.

  5. Erin says:

    I am the Terror that flaps in the night….
    Let’s get dangerous.

    I am Vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman.

  6. Erin says:

    Oh, and I think the Green Lantern Corps has adopted, “Let’s light ’em up.”

  7. Erin says:

    Wonder Woman’s should probably be, “Hera, give me strength.”

  8. braak says:

    Well, some of these are clearly catchphrases, though, not really mottos. “Spoon,” “Cowabunga,” “Avengers, assemble!” I mean, catchphrases in the sense that they’re iconic things to shout, but not mottos in the sense that they aren’t really particularly definitive.

  9. Jeff Holland says:

    Yeah, I classify “Hera Give Me Strength” with Superman’s “Great Rao!” and “Great Scott!” and “Great Caesar’s Ghost!” and…

    Boy, guys in the Silver Age did a lot of work to keep from saying “Jesus Christ!”

    But “Avengers Assemble” tells you quite a lot: “This is our team name; we like being together to do our work effectively.” It’s a call for cooperation AND asskicking.

  10. Cory Morr says:

    The Flash “Prepare to be dazzled.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s