Thor and Wonder Woman are the greatest of comics' mythological heroes, but they were a surprisingly common type in the Golden Age. I thought it might be interesting to put together a list. I'll add characters as they're suggested.

I'm including Brother Voodoo, Samson and the Seraph, since they're analogous characters, but I mean no disrespect. I believe living religious beliefs should be treated with respect in fiction.

The lists mostly consists of feature characters or co-stars (that is, members of a star team). Other characters included for their interest are in italics.

Atlas (Great Comics)

Birdman (Hanna-Barbera; Gold Key)

Bombshell (Gleason)

Brother Voodoo (Marvel)

I'm including Brother Voodoo here not on the basis of the appearance of zombies in his stories, which should rather place him with the folklore-based characters, but their use of loa from Voodoo belief (Damballa, Baron Samedi). Note they're not evil spirits in Voodoo.

the Bouncer (Fox)

The Bouncer was a statue of Anteus (=Antaeus) that came to life and aided his sculptor descendant. He starred in his own title. He gets knocked down, but he gets up again, You ain't never going to keep him down.

Captain Action (toy character; DC)

The toy could be outfitted as various heroes. The DC version starred in his own title and had coins which gave him the powers of the gods.

Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Junior, and Mary Marvel (Fawcett)

Although the Marvels partly had their powers from figures from mythology, mythology wasn't as prominent in their features as it was in Wonder Woman's. But it did appear: for example, Mary Marvel met Mercury in "The Flying Shoes" in Mary Marvel #25.

Comet the Super-Horse (DC) 

Comet was a centaur transformed by an evil magician and given powers by Circe. Although a significant recurring character, he never held his own feature.

Diana the Huntress (Charlton)

The goddess starred in a feature of this name in Yellowjacket Comics. Initially she was assigned by Zeus to aid Greece during WWII. In #3 he assisted her, and in #5 so did Mercury and Hercules. In her first couple of post-war instalments she fought criminals, but her final three were fantastic/mythological.

Hercules (MLJ)

From Blue Ribbon Comics. This was the Hercules of myth. The premise was Zeus had sent him to return to Earth to fight gangsters. Each adventure paralleled one of his mythological feats: for example, in the first instalment he defeated "Leo Nymia-lion of the underworld".

Marvel's Golden Age Hercules and Quality's Hercules appeared concurrently. See Related Types: Others.

Hercules (movie adaptations; Dell)

Dell adapted the Steve Reeves movies Hercules and Hercules Unchained in Four Color #1006 (art by John Buscema) and #1121 (art by Reed Crandall).

 

Hercules (Trans-Lux; Gold Key)

This is the version of the hero from the cartoon The Mighty Hercules. Gold Key did two licensed issues.

Hercules (Marvel, Silver Age)

Introduced in "Thor", subsequently an Avenger and Champion. He has sometimes been featured in solo stories. (Inventory story in Ka-Zar [first series] #1; featured in Marvel Premiere #26, possibly for trademark reasons; minis and graphic novel set in the future by Bob Layton in the 1980s; starred in Incredible Hercules.

Hercules (Charlton)

Charlton's Hercules was a Sam Glanzman-drawn series about the adventures of Hercules in the ancient world.

Hercules (DC)

In the 1970s DC published Hercules Unbound, about the adventures of Hercules on Earth following a nuclear war. His opponents were mythology-derived in just over half the issues.

Horus (Image)

Isis (Filmation; DC)

This is the heroine from The Secrets of Isis. She was a teacher who had an amulet that allowed her to transform into Isis. Licensed by DC: starred in Isis, guested in Shazam!

Man of War (Centaur)

Mars, God of War (Fiction House)

Mercury/Hurricane (Marvel)

First as Mercury in "Mercury in the 20th Century", Red Raven Comics #1; then as Hurricane in Captain America Comics. He was Kirby's first mythological hero, but the first instalment was bylined "by Martin A. Bursten", so the writer Martin Burstein may have been his creator.

Moon Knight (Marvel)

Nelvana of the Northern Lights (first Hillborough, later Bell)

In-story Nelvana was a demi-goddess, the daughter of "Koliak, Mighty King of the Northern Lights" by a mortal woman. As far as I can tell she and her father were creations of Adrian Dingle's rather than real Inuit gods. According to this Harper's Magazine article Dingle got the name "Nelvana" from Franz Johnston's account of sketching and photographing an Inuit woman of that name. Wikipedia's page on Inuit religion is here.

the Olympian (DC)

Samson (Fox)

Fox's Samson was a descendant of the Biblical Samson.

the Seraph (DC)

From the Global Guardians. His powers derived from his long hair and accoutrements, which were drawn from Old Testament figures.

the Shark (Centaur)

Snowbird (Marvel)

John Byrne intended Snowbird of Alpha Flight to be, between the lines, the superheroine Nevana's daughter. He changed the names of the heroine and her father to Nelvanna and Hodiak.

Son of Vulcan (Charlton)

A mortal given godly powers by Vulcan. Starred in Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds/Son of Vulcan.

Speed Centaur (Centaur)

Subbie (Marvel)

Thor (Fox)

From Weird Comics. In #1-#3 he had long hair and wore a cape and small helmet. In #4-#5 he had short, ginger hair and dropped the cape and helmet.

There is reason to suppose Fox's Thor was the model for Marvel's Thor, even though the latter also had precedents in Kirby's work: he was a mortal who had received the power of Thor, he had long hair, he was blond in #2, and his helmet looks somewhat like Marvel's Thor's.

Thor (Marvel)

Initially a mortal who discovered a cane which he could use to transform into Thor; later retconned into the real Thor all along.

Venus (Marvel)

Venus was the goddess come to Earth. I've seen it held that her feature was inspired by the movie Down to Earth (1948), where the goddess was Terpsichore. The feature is noted for shifting from romance to horror over the course of its run.

Retconned into a siren in Agents of Atlas.

Zha-Vam (DC)

Valkyrie

The Defenders character was initially a madwoman transformed into the heroine by the Enchantress. This origin built on two earlier stories (The Avengers #83, where the Valkyrie was the Enchantress in disguise; The Incredible Hulk #142, in which she transformed a woman into that persona).

Later, she was retconned into really Brunnhilde in an Earthwoman's body, and she got her own body back.

Wonder Woman (DC-AA])

The mythological elements in the series include the Amazons and Aphrodite. Mars was used as an antagonist early on.

Related types:

Arthurian characters

the Black Knight (Marvel, Transition Era)

the Black Knight (Marvel, Silver Age)

Captain Britain

the Demon, due to his connection to Merlin (DC)

Lieutenant Hercules, due to his connection to Merlin (Spark Publications)

Modred the Mystic (Marvel)

the Shining Knight (DC)

the Sword (Ace)

Arabian Nights characters

the Arabian Knight (Prize)

the Arabian Knights (Hanna-Barbera; Gold Key)

the Arabian Knight (Marvel), but he has never held a series

the Jinni from "The Jinni of the Jug" in Buster Brown Comic Book (Brown Shoe Co.)

the heroes of "Sky Dogs" from New Talent Showcase (DC)

Sinbad, in Dell's adaptation of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (movie adaptation; Dell)

Sinbad, in Marvel's adaptations of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (movie adaptations; Marvel)

Sinbad, in Sinbad and Sinbad Book II (Malibu)

Sinbad, in 1001 Arabian Nights: The Adventures of Sinbad (Zenescope)

Sinbad's son Sinbad, in Son of Sinbad (St. John)

Sindbad, in Dell's adaptation of Captain Sindbad (movie adaptation; Dell)

Sindbad, in The Fantastic Voyages of Sindbad (Gold Key)

Sindbad, in The Last Voyage of Sindbad (as a serial, in Heavy Metal; as a graphic novel, Catalan Communications)

Folklore-based characters

Paul Bunyan (Prize)

Jack O'Lantern (DC)

the Sandman (DC, Bronze Age)

the Sandman (DC, Vertigo)

Demons, and characters who have their powers from demons or Satan

the Black Widow (Marvel, Golden Age)

Blue Devil (DC)

the Demon (DC)

the Gargoyle (Marvel)

Ghost Rider (Marvel)

the Grim Ghost (Atlas)

Madam Satan (MLJ)

the Son of Satan (Marvel)

Satana (Marvel)

Spawn (Image)

Tasmanian Devil (DC)

Others

Atlas (DC) was named for the mythological character, and probably intended as the real Atlas that the Atlas of myth was based on.

Dr Fate (DC)

Dynamite Thor (Fox) was the superhero who replaced Thor in Weird Comics (only briefly, but he later appeared in Blue Beetle). His superpower was he used dynamite.

The Eternals (Marvel), in their original series, were the real people the gods were based on.

Hercules from Mystic Comics (Marvel, Golden Age) was a man raised to be physically and mentally perfect.

Hercules from Hit Comics (Quality) was a modern man with super-strength.

Medusa, Gorgon and Trigon of the original Inhumans (Marvel) had mythological names/models, and Crystal was supposed to resemble a witch.

Lieutenant Hercules (Spark Publications) was named for the hero.

The New Gods (DC) were implicitly the new gods who came into being after Ragnarök. Orion was named for a hunter from mythology. In the later issues of his series Captain Victory (Pacific) was implicitly the son of Orion.

Samson (Farrell)

As far as I can see Farrell's Samson was unexplained in-story. He was billed as "World's First Strong Man!" on the covers. Unlike Fox's Samson he had short hair.

This post displaced the thread Kirby Centennial from the homepage.

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On reflection, widening what may be included blurs the focus. I've stuck to mythological characters in the main list and noted other characters sepatedly under Related Types.

Shouldn't Comet be grouped with the base mythological heroes, since Circe didn't just give him powers, but gave him the powers of the Olympian gods (exactly which god provided him with his "telepathic vision" power, I can't guess)--it was never played up as much as the Shazam Family, but he would seem to be closer to them than anything else.  In fact, I have long suspected, given the number of former Marvel Family creators that found homes with the Silver Age Superman Family, that the character that became Comet might have originally been conceived as a companion for Mary Marvel, but at this late date, it seems that we'll never know if we just barely missed getting "Thunder the Marvel Mustang" back in the Golden Age.  For that matter, being a centaur originally should qualify him as a Mythological Hero.

With that in mind, Centaur Comics had a super-powered Speed Centaur in it's line-up, and a hero called the Shark who was the son of Neptune, so they should make the list.

I put Comet under "Others" as he never held a series, but it would make more sense to put him on the main list. I think what I'll do is put him on the list in italics, along with Zha-Vam.

Neptune even teamed up with his son in a couple of the Shark's stories. I'm counting Speed Centaur as mythological too, but now I'm worried it's not consistent to include centaurs and banish fairy-folk to an appendix. I'll have to think about that.

The Sea Devils met quite a number of mythological beings. Are there any series that used mythology as much, without being mythology based? Superman's feature used it occasionally.

In Timely's Kid Komics #1-2, they introduced SUBBIE, a child version of Namor, who was the nephew of Neptune.

Flipping through Jeff Rovin's Encyclopedia of Superheroes for a character I remembering, I found:

  • ATLAS from Choice Comics #1 (1941) who received exercise instructions from the actual Titan. He made only one appearance.
  • BIRDMAN (1967) received his solar powers from the Egyptian sun-god Ra.

And the one I was looking for:

  • BOMBSHELL, THE SON OF WAR from Boy Comics #3 (1942) who was the real son of Mars sent to fight FOR the Allies because the Axis had corrupted warfare!

Thanks, Philip. I've put Dr Fate into the appendix as he invoked Egyptian gods but didn't have his powers from them. In his original origin Nabu says he comes from another planet.

It should be noted that Charlton's Son of Vulcan and DC's Son of Vulcan were different characters. They're related, but I don't recall how.

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