Would comic book superheroes (the non-magical ones, of course) be considered sci-fi? I'm more of a Marvel fan, so I first think of Iron Man as a prime example in the "yes" camp, but I wonder what would others like Superman, Green Lantern, et cetera where their powers are not clearly rooted in technology and understood scientifically.

Looking forward to your answers.

6 Answers 6


I've always been a fan of superhero comics and I've always considered it a sub-genre of science fiction. Some characters are certainly more "hard" sci-fi than others, of course.


It depends on the comic, and what part of the work is being asked about.

Some superheroes, like Batman or Spider-Man, have mundane or fairly flimsy technobabble-based orgins ("I will train and dress up as a Bat", Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive Stan Lee) and others like Green Lantern or the Fantastic Four, are clearly science-fiction (cosmic police, a flight into space to gain their powers). Also, pretty much all superheroes have been in some sort of cosmic event storyline at some point (The Infinity Gem saga, Crisis on Infinite Earths).

At the same time, there['s really not a clear dividing line. If a question asks, say, about Galactus's origin, sure, that's on-topic. Asking about how nobody recognizes Clark Kent to be Superman with a squint would be clearly off-topic. Superman's origin is clearly SF, but his work at the Daily Planet kinda isn't.

In summary, I suggest we err on the side of being inclusive, and in general allow questions that ask about the science-fiction aspects of comic books.

(If the comic book proposal becomes a site, we can migrate questions there at that time.)

  • 1
    Great answer, especially the point about not just the comic but about the question.
    – Tony Meyer
    Jan 20, 2011 at 7:58
  • 3
    +1 for "radioactive Stan Lee", lol Jun 5, 2011 at 19:13

Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen would be a good candidate.

In contrast to other superheroes who lacked scientific exploration of their origins, Moore sought to delve into nuclear physics and quantum physics in constructing the character of Dr. Manhattan. The writer believed that a character living in a quantum universe would not perceive time with a linear perspective, which would influence the character's perception of human affairs.


I think it depends on the comic.

  • 1
    Can you elaborate or give examples? What part of the comics would be on-topic and what parts would be off?
    – Möoz
    Apr 21, 2016 at 22:32

I've never seen a clear distinction between sci-fi and fantasy. I think sci-fi is fantasy and the names are pretty much a matter of perspective or taste.

Just consider the words inverted and imagine a book of fiction about [real world, not fantasy land] science. Would that look like "science fiction"? No, it would be "popular science" or "history of science" (as Mortimer Adler notes, history is a sub-branch of fiction). At its most fantastic: really boring fiction.

Comic book super heroes could therefore fall into both camps, as indeed they do in these examples.

  • This question is basically out of date, since fantasy has been on-topic here for a long time.
    – Adamant
    May 24, 2017 at 11:57
  • OK. Does it hurt to add answers?
    – Michael
    May 24, 2017 at 12:19
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    Not really…it’s just that the purpose this question was created for is sort of obsolete. It doesn’t matter (for the purpose of declaring what is on-topic, anyway) whether a work is science fiction or fantasy. But your answer is good nonetheless.
    – Adamant
    May 24, 2017 at 16:22
  • I don't understand why you say it's obsolete. Also, what do you think the question's purpose was all about? Curious about the direction you'd go further with this... May 31, 2017 at 21:21

There's a comic proposal in Area 51 right now. http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/3972/comic-books

  • 2
    This proposal has now been deleted.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    May 14, 2016 at 15:35

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