Journalism is an incredibly prevalent career in the comic book world – many of the biggest superheroes tangle with reporters and photographers along the way (whereas few, if any, regularly meet with accountants or used car salesmen). It’s not too surprising, of course. It is the journalists of the world who investigate the superheroes and villains who people the pages of our favorite comics. They are the ones researching the villains… and often attempting to unmask the heroes at the same time. Superheroes are big news, after all, and someone has to cover it. But these journalists and media moguls are more than just supporting characters who happen to work in the media – many of them have near-super powers of deduction and investigation, and they can solve crimes and uncover villainous plots with a minimum of effort. They may not have secret identities, but they are still powerful players in the world of comics, and it’s time they get the recognition that they deserve! These are the 15 Most Powerful Journalists In Comic Book History.
15. April O’Neil (IDW Publishing)
Although April was originally a computer programmer, rather than a reporter, she has always been a friend to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on their adventures. In the animated series from the 1980s, April’s origin was changed to make her a plucky reporter in a yellow shellsuit. It was her career that put her in the path of the turtles, reporting on their heroic deeds and eventually discovering their secret. After the massive success of the show, comic book April was revamped to line up with her on-screen counterpart, reimagining her as a plucky (if over-eager) reporter. This version of the character has now carried over to the big screen, as Megan Fox dons a yellow leather jacket to become April the investigative reporter, a much more hard-headed risk-taker than previous versions of the turtles’ friend. Although her backstory has shifted back and forth over the years, April still deserves a spot as one of the most iconic female journalists in comic history.
14. Cat Grant (DC)
A former gossip columnist, Cat Grant moved from LA to New York to join Lois Lane, Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen at the Daily Planet. There, she became something of a troublesome character in the office – with a powerfully flirtatious personality and a penchant for revealing clothing, she had a fling with Clark (leaving Lois fuming). Although she enjoys being a flirt and dressing up at the office, she also struggles with her image and wants to be thought of a serious reporter, not just a trashy columnist. She later moved to TV to host her own talk show, before returning to the Daily Planet as the head of the Entertainment and Arts section. Recently, Cat Grant (Calista Flockheart) has been given new life on Supergirl, where she has become the head of her own media empire Catco Worldwide Media. In this new series, her over-sexed nature is played down, and Cat has become a hard-headed businesswoman, determined to become the best news outlet in LA.
13. Sally Floyd (Marvel)
A reporter for radical and niche newspapers (originally The Alternative), Sally Floyd isn’t always the most professional journalist, but she is definitely one of the most passionate. She has struggled with alcoholism in the past, and it has occasionally got in the way of her work, but she has begun to cope with her issues in recent years. Connected to the mutant community (she had a mutant daughter), she usually writes about mutant issues, including a column called The Mutant Diaries. She has interviewed a range of mutants, as well as other superheroes (including an exclusive with Captain America during the events of Civil War). After quitting the Alternative, she joined forces with Ben Urich to launch Frontlines, where she works today. Despite the many issues that have plagued her, Sally is always there on the, well, frontlines of major Marvel events, including Civil War, M Day and World War Hulk.
12. Robbie Robertson (Marvel)
Although he is no-where near as well-known as his friend, J Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson is also one of the higher-ups at the Daily Bugle. The editor-in-chief of the famous paper, Robbie has been dedicated to journalism since high school, when he risked his own safety to write a story about Lonnie Thompson Lincoln (a future hitman). As editor-in-chief, Robbie is JJ’s right hand man, and one of the few staff members at the Bugle who is willing to stand up to Jameson – usually on the way that the paper deals with Spider-Man. Robbie takes a far more balanced approach to superheroes, balancing out his friend’s desire to attack Spider-Man at every turn. With a wife and two sons, Robbie isn’t as reckless in his investigations as some other comic reporters, but he will do what it takes to protect himself against intimidation – something that led to a brief stint in prison before he returned to work at the Bugle. Now, he works for Ben Urich at Frontlines.
11. Vicki Vale (DC)
Vicki Vale is a reporter for the Gotham Gazette, usually assigned to report on Batman (although we have to assume that most Gotham reporters write about Batman most of the time!). Over the years, she has become deeply connected to the Bat-family, and has even learned the secret identities of many members (including Batman himself). Despite her long-held suspicions about the true identity of Bruce Wayne, Vicki has never published her suspicions, waiting to find proof before she put them into print. Exposing him was her original intention, but her connections to Bruce eventually prevent her from revealing his secret. Over the years, Vicki has also had an on-again-off-again romantic relationship with Bruce Wayne which was famously brought to the big screen in Tim Burton’s 1989 movie Batman. Although she is often thought of as a relatively minor character in the Batman universe, she is an incredibly skilled investigator and has been one of Batman’s inner circle at times.
10. Jane Arden (Newspaper)
Jane Arden was the first girl reporter to grace the pages of comics, first appearing in the funny pages in the 1920s. Arden is a crime reporter, the first to go out and do her own investigating, rather than simply re-printing the news as it is delivered to a safe office desk. Due to her original appearance in newpaper comics rather than her own title, Arden would usually investigate unrelated crimes and villains one week at a time, rather than deal with protracted storylines or long-term nemesis. Although Arden’s stories are relatively straightforward, she deserves recognition for being the inspiration for many of the female investigative reporters that came after her, including Lois Lane. Often described as “spunky”, “pesky” or “plucky”, she was an impressively hard-headed journalist for her time period, and her high heels and pretty dresses shouldn’t detract from her serious skills as an investigative reporter. Fearless and determined, Jane Arden was so popular that she has since been adapted for film and radio.
9. Iris West-Allen (DC)
The wife of DC’s favorite speedster, The Flash, Iris is also a talented reporter in Central City. She has a somewhat complex backstory with Barry Allen (and a romantic history involving time travel!), but her career has always been deeply important to Iris, although her love for the Flash often takes precedence. A staunch defender of the Flash in print (for obvious reasons), she cannot use any information that she learns for her husband for her stories, courtesy of an ongoing “off the record” deal that the two have – it may not help her work, but it certainly helps their relationship. In the hit CW series The Flash, Iris (Candice Patton) is a central character. She remains a journalist in the show, working for Central City Picture News and struggling to ensure that the Flash is always portrayed in a positive light. She also briefly ran a blog in the series, using her investigative skills to track the Flash before he was a well-known figure (and before she learned who he really is).
8. Tintin (Le Lombard)
The youngest journalist on this list, Tintin is still a teen, yet he manages to travel all around the world as a reporter (along with his little dog Snowy). It’s never quite explained why a boy as young as 14 would be working as a journalist, let alone a journalist sent to cover stories all over the world, but Tintin’s adventures aren’t known for their intense realism. Although he carries a notebook, Tintin also seems to do little actual reporting, and spends more of his time on the investigation side of things. Later on in the comics, he seems to abandon his work entirely to become a full-time explorer. Somewhere in between a traditional journalist and a detective, Tintin is still incredibly talented at ferreting out the truth, and he always manages to solve the mystery and save the day. Deeply caring, Tintin is a diplomat and a compassionate friend, always looking out for the underdog – qualities that we want in every great reporter.
7. Jimmy Olsen (DC)
Like Peter Parker, Jimmy Olsen works in images rather than words, as a photojournalist alongside Lois Lane and Clark Kent at the Daily Planet. Usually considered Superman’s best friend, he has a close relationship with the big Boy Scout as well as with Clark Kent and Lois Lane, although for much of his history he did not know that the two were one and the same. (He did eventually find out, and the reveal caused a rift between them.) He often works with Lois and Clark, providing the images for their incredible stories, although various versions have emphasized his work as either a simple photographer or as an accomplished photojournalist whose work stands on its own. Recently, fans were outraged to discover that Olsen won’t be appearing in the DCEU in future, as he was killed off after only a brief cameo in Batman V Superman. Still, Superman’s sidekick can still be found in live-action, on the CW series Supergirl.
6. Ben Urich (Marvel)
A gifted investigative reporter, Ben Urich is one of the many Marvel journalists to work at the Daily Bugle, where he maintains friendships with several of the other reporters on this list. Urich’s first big brush with a superhero was when he managed to discover Daredevil’s secret identity – originally, Urich intended to expose Dardevil, but when Matt Murdock told him his story Urich decided to keep his secret. This started a long friendship with the Man Without Fear, and Urich is intensely loyal to the defender of Hell’s Kitchen. He now investigates the criminal element of New York, and publishes stories that expose some of the villains that his superhero friends face off against. He has investigated Kingpin, the Green Goblin, and Red Hulk (among others), and although his superhero friends help him at times, most of his work is done solo – relying only on his own abilities as a reporter. Now, Urich has left the Bugle, and runs his own paper – Frontlines.
5. Clark Kent (DC)
Another superhero doubling up as a journalist during the day, Clark Kent is the mild-mannered alter ego of Superman, and he works alongside Lois Lane at the Daily Planet. With the vast majority of his stories centered on his adventures as Superman, it’s easy to forget that he’s actually a darn good reporter in his free time. In fact, at the Daily Planet, his writing and journalistic ability is said to be second only to Lois Lane’s. As Kent, he is something of a shy and bumbling reporter, less like the hard-hitting Lane who demands answers from anyone in her path. His ability to get the scoop is helped hugely by his superhuman abilities – including his enhanced hearing and vision, which allow him to eavesdrop from afar. Of course, his secret identity is also incredibly useful, as he can get the scoop on Superman like no-one else – it’s actually how he first got hired at the Planet, with an exclusive Superman interview.
4. J Jonah Jameson (Marvel)
Although JJ is technically an editor, rather than a reporter on the streets, he is definitely one of the best-known names in comic book media. Originally chief editor and publisher of the Daily Bugle, he was known for his obsessive grudge against superheroes – Spider-Man in particular. He despises masked heroes, and is always looking to push an angle that puts them in a negative light – showing the true power of editing in the media. With the right headline, it’s possible to make even the good guys appear to be bad. However, he is absolutely passionate about printing the truth – the measure of a great editor. He will always print retractions when Spidey proves his darkest fears to be groundless, and has even fired Parker himself for creating a false photo. Jameson simply believes that he is printing the truth when he tries to make superheroes look like criminals. More recently, Jameson has lost the Bugle, and taken his journalistic rants against caped crusaders to the screen, appearing as a host on a TV News channel.
3. Peter Parker (Marvel)
Lacking the vast funds of billionaire superheroes such as Tony Stark, Oliver Queen or Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker has to hold down a job when he’s not out there swinging from the skyscrapers as Spider-Man. Of course, it’s tough to find a steady job when you are a superhero, so Peter had a fantastic idea – work as a freelancer, so that he could fit his job around his heroics. To make it a little more lucrative, the young hero set up cameras to take photos of himself in his Spidey-suit, claiming to have a special relationship with the superhero. This was music to the ears of J Jonah Jameson, who immediately started buying up all of Parker’s photos, ensuring him a steady income and flexible hours. Although he’s a photojournalist rather than a writer, and often has little control over how Jameson captions his photos, Parker still has the power to show the world what really happens as he is out on the streets of New York – one photo at a time.
2. Lois Lane (DC)
Probably the most famous reporter in comics, Lois Lane is a tough-as-nails, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Daily Planet (the major Metropolis paper). Not only has Lois covered difficult stories, but she is often the first reporter to cover Superman’s activities… when Clark Kent doesn’t somehow get there first! Lois was the first to publicly name ‘Superman’, and was almost the first to get an interview with the man himself (Clark beat her to that one, as his first article for the Planet). Lois is always ready and willing to take risks to get her story, and has no problems taking care of herself, either. Although she knows Clark’s secret identity, she has to be careful to report the news without giving away her very personal relationship with the big man – something that has definitely been difficult in the past. Kick-ass and capable, Lane is the definition of the ideal investigative reporter, and has been a role model for aspiring journalists for decades.
1. Spider Jerusalem (Vertigo)
The central character of Vertigo’s Transmetropolitan series, Spider Jerusalem is a gonzo journalist with a bad reputation. The anti-hero investigates the darkest corners of The City, writing books that make him famous and a column at The World. He’s foul-mouthed, cynical, and driven by hatred, but an absolutely brilliant journalist despite it (or perhaps because of it). His investigations reveal the worst of humanity as he investigates half-alien separatists, Presidential candidates, police corruption and assassinations. His journalism is driven by an obsession with The Truth, although his deep-rooted cynicism leaves him looking for the worst truths at all times. Inspired in part by Hunter S Thompson, he is a chain-smoker, an anarchist, and more comfortable in the worst parts of the City than even he might like to admit. He surrounds himself with journalistic assistants to help him in his investigations, including a stripper with a journalism degree (Channon Yarrow), who almost deserves a mention of her own.
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