Not all superheroes fight for the “American Way.” Here is the history of some Canadian superheroes from our newest title, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Weird Canada.
The original Johnny Canuck appeared in newspaper editorial cartoons in the 1860s. A working-class, tall-tale hero in the mold of Paul Bunyan, he sometimes appeared as a lumberjack, at other times as a farmer or a rancher. In 1942, in answer to the war and to the comics ban, the character received a reboot and was resurrected as a Nazi-fighting aviator and secret agent by 16-year-old Leo Bulche, who got the job after a chance encounter with the owner of Dime Comics. Later still, the lumberjack version of Johnny Canuck was adopted as the logo for the Vancouver Canucks, and he occasionally makes appearances on their uniforms on “retro nights.”
Over the years, Captain Canuck has been the secret identity of three different Canadian secret agents: Tom Evans, Darren Oak, and David Semple. He wears a red-and-white costume based on the Canadian Flag, with a red Maple leaf on his forehead.
Wolverine was born in Alberta in the 1880s to the wife of a wealthy farmer and a groundskeeper named Logan, with whom she had an affair. Wolverine is a mutant who has retractable claws and regenerative powers that keep him from aging. In the late-20th century, Wolverine was a part of Canada’s Weapon X program, where his memories were wiped out and he had adamantium fused onto his bones, making him even stronger. A member of Marvel’s X-Men, Wolverine is regularly voted one of the most popular superheroes in the world.
Wade Winston Wilson is the secret identity of the villain-turned-antihero Deadpool. Like Wolverine, Deadpool is a product of the Weapon X program, a super-secret attempt to breed ultimate soldiers conducted by the Canadian government.
DC’s tree-hugging, new age, crystal-loving Centrix is the Canadian member of the Global Guardians, an international team of super heroes originally backed by the U.N. Centrix can shoot energy beams at his enemies and quote Carlos Castaneda to them.
All of the members of Alpha Flight—a superhero team based on The Avengers—are Canadian, many from the First Nations. They include Guardian, Box, Sasquatch, Diamond Lil, Yukon Jack, and Northstar, who was the first openly gay Marvel superhero.
Northguard is a “realistic” superhero. He does not live in a fantasy universe where superpowers are real. He lives in the “real world” of Montreal. With no superpowers, Northguard simply dons a costume because he thinks it will be easier to battle evil if he has a secret identity.
Northguard’s Quebecois partner, she also has no actual superpowers. Her name is taken from the stylized lily that is the symbol of both France and Quebec.
NELVANA OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
As World War II was under way and U.S. entry seemed likely, the value of the Canadian Dollar began to plummet in exchange with green- backs. In December 1940, Canada passed the War Exchange Conservation Act, which, among other things, banned the import of U.S. comic books. Canadian publishers stepped up to fill the void, creating the first Canadian patriotic superheroes. One of these was Nelvana of the Northern lights, one of the first female superheroes (she predates Wonder Woman by four months). Nelvana was inspired by a hideous witch from Inuit mythology. She was immortal, could fly faster than the speed of light, turn invisible, and communicate telepathically.