There are very few things that gear heads and comic book geeks agree on. There are even fewer things that either camp would admit to having in common with the other. But in the spirit of crossing the invisible line that separates both sides of these particular fandoms, I submit that there is some common ground that both share. One of those things is the appreciation for a really badass ride. So here are a few of my favorite vehicles that have been or are currently in use by some of our favorite heroes.
The Batmobile – Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the Batmobile was first introduced in Detective Comics #27 in May of 1939. Even though it has gone through several different iterations across multiple genres including live action and animation, the Batmobile has always been one of Batman’s most reliable pieces of equipment. While the design continues to change and evolve with the times, there are some features that tend to be universal. The body of the Batmobile is bulletproof. It uses a jet exhaust for propulsion and carries an array of defensive and non-lethal weapons designed for urban pacification. The vehicle itself is so iconic that it has even been established in court as a character in itself.
Ghost Rider’s Muscle Car – In 2014, Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore decided to give the classic character an upgrade in more ways than one. Making his first appearance in All-New Ghost Rider #1 in May 2014, Robbie Reyes took over as the spirit of vengeance. While retaining all of the powers and abilities of previous Ghost Riders, Reyes decided to ride into battle in a modified 1969 Dodge Charger. This new iteration of the character uses the Hell Charger, as he calls it, to hunt down, intimidate and destroy those who commit evil. Like the motorcycle, the Hell Charger is bound to Robbie and he can command it at will.
Ghost Rider’s Motorcycle – Created by Gary Friedrich, Roy Thomas and Mike Ploog, Ghost Rider made his first appearance in Marvel Spotlight #5 in August 1972. The first Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, was a motorcycle stunt performer in the vain of Evel Kenieval. He makes a deal with the demon Mephisto to save a friend. When the demon comes to claim Johnny’s soul, he is thwarted in the attempts, but he does bond Johnny to a demon in order to have Johnny take up the mantle of the Ghost Rider and punish evil by sending it to hell. While there is no specific information on what kind of motorcycle Ghost Rider rides, the bike itself is an extension of his power. It can be summoned or disappear at will. It can carry Ghost Rider anywhere, including vertically and across dimensions. It can withstand most outside forces and fire the same hellfire energy that Ghost Rider can.
Black Beauty – The Green Hornet actually didn’t get his start in comics. It was a radio show that started in 1936. What links it to the world of comic books is the Batman series from 1966. Because of the success of that series, Green Hornet was given a series of his own and has subsequently moved into the realm of comic books. Not only did the series introduce American audiences to Bruce Lee, but it also gave viewers the Black Beauty. A modified 1966 Imperial Crown sedan, the Black Beauty was outfitted with the latest in technology. Not only was the car bullet-proof, but it also had an array of offensive weapons as well. It had retractable cannons, rocket launchers located below the headlights, gas nozzles throughout the frame and a surveillance drone that could be launched from the trunk.
Lawmaster – Judge Dredd’s futuristic mode of transportation is a heavily modified motorcycle that comes with built in artificial intelligence. It is designed for both urban pacification and tactical intervention. It is heavily armored and armed. It boasts a mobile crime lab as well with equipment designed for investigating scenes in order to allow Street Judges to carry out justice. All Lawmasters are connected to the central command at the Grand Hall of Justice and some have the capability of flight. It also houses the Widowmaker modified automatic shotgun, which can be deployed when the standard issue Lawgiver side arm is not effective.
Fantasticar – So this is a car in the loosest sense of the word. Designed by Reed Richards, the Fantasticar is designed as the personal vehicle for the superhero team, The Fantastic Four. Designed to carry all four members of the team, including The Thing, the Fantasticar is over 20 feet long and can separate into four modules. The design has changed over the years, but the VTOL aspects of the design remain. It is definitely designed more for function than style, but its top speed of 550 mph and defensive capabilities make up for its relatively bland outer appearance.
With the ever expanding worlds that comic books create on a regular basis, there are obviously new and exciting vehicles that will be introduced. The vehicles on this list, far from being my personal favorites, have endured over time and continue to inspire generations of comic book fans as well as vehicle designers both in real life and for movie productions. These vehicles are iconic for a reason and the fact that many people across many spectrums can find something interesting about them is a good thing. What are your favorite comic book vehicles? Are there any that I left off this list that you’re passionate about? Let me know.