Charlton Comics Group once boasted an impressive range of superheroes during the Silver Age of the comic book industry. After the company went defunct, DC Comics acquired their library of content and characters, subsequently putting several of them into print. These heroes actually formed the basis for Alan Moore's iconic deconstruction superhero team, the Watchmen, as their Prime Earth counterparts went into print. Despite being few in number, the Charlton heroes have become some of DC's most entertaining characters and are symbols of the company's legacy heroes. Each hero represents their own sub-genre.

DC updated these Charlton heroes in a series of new and unique ways, ranging from slight alterations to outright makeovers. Many of these heroes have since played key roles in some major DC stories, both in and out of continuity. The small roster of characters has served on teams like the Suicide Squad, Justice League, and Justice Society of America, as well as making for focal points of the value DC places on mantles and legacy heroes. Each of the Charlton heroes has a home in DC and is welcomed by readers.

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8 Sarge Steel

Sarge Steel pointing a gun

Sarge Steel was created as a hard-boiled private eye who, after losing one of his hands, had it replaced with a fist of pure steel. Unlike Charlton's other heroes, Steel was firmly rooted in old-school action rather than superheroics, and the most "super" part of his story was his metal hand. He was an obvious holdover from Golden Age action, and he serves the same purpose in DC.

In DC, Sarge Steel has been incorporated into the U.S. government side of things, where he has advised Wonder Woman, joined Lex Luthor's cabinet, and aided the Suicide Squad. Unfortunately, Sarge Steel has fallen into obscurity in the DC universe and only shows up once in a blue moon. However, the universe added the functionality of a regular hand to his prosthetic.

7 Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt Charlton hero

Thunderbolt, much like Bruce Wayne or Doc Savage, was a hero who represented the peak of human capability and condition. The adventure-based hero traveled the world battling villainy, such as his recurring nemesis the Hooded Monk. The hero is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, Vajra. He had a 1992 limited series, Peter Cannon Thunderbolt, by Mike Collins and Jose Marzan Jr.

While Thunderbolt did spend a while at DC, the rights to the character reverted to its original creator, Pete Morosi. He served as the inspiration for Alan Moore's Watchmen villain, Ozymandias. Under DC Comics, he was given a revised origin and new enemies. He has since been published under Dynamite Entertainment comics.

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6 Judomaster

judomaster tying belt

Judomaster, true to his name, was a martial arts expert who had fought in World War II. With his young sidekick, Tiger, Judomaster fought crime in the Golden Age, and learning Judo was his reward. In DC, the hero was rolled into the universe's Golden Age. It was even established he learned some of his skills in Nanda Parbat, like many martial arts experts in DC.

DC Comics retroactively made Judomaster a member of the All-Star Squadron, the WWII name of the Justice Society of America heroes. The mantle has since been passed down, with his son donning the costume as a member of Checkmate and another separate hero taking on the name since. The hero was brought to the mainstream through James Gunn's DCU Peacemaker show.

5 Nightshade

Nightshade talking and glaring in DC Comics.

Nightshade was originally the daughter of a U.S. senator who masked up following the disappearance of her mother and brother. After becoming a superhero, she joined forces with Captain Atom as an agent for the U.S. government and was briefly a romantic interest for the hero.

First appearing in Captain Atom #86, Nightshade, like her fellow heroes, was rolled into the DC universe, where she became a mainstay member of the Suicide Squad. She's also joined the supernatural team Shadowpact and was integral to the New 52's Suicide Squad, where she was at her most prominent in modern comics.

4 Captain Atom

Captain Atom surges with power

Captain Atom was created as a fairly standard, bland '60s superhero and was given one of the more dramatic makeovers after being acquired by DC. In Charlton, the hero was depicted as an otherwise ordinary human in a yellow suit with an atom symbol who fought sci-fi supervillains. The hero in DC has been defined as a character torn between his allegiances to the U.S. military that created him and the Justice League.

In the world of DC Comics, the hero was reimagined as an Air Force captain who volunteered for a scientific experiment by the military, which transformed him into a silver-skinned hero who could absorb energy. In the DCU, Captain Atom is a walking atomic bomb if he wants to be. He went on to play key roles in great stories at DC, both Elseworlds tales and major arcs.

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3 Peacemaker

John Cena as Peacemaker holding his gun during the Kombat Pack 1 reveal in Mortal Kombat 1

Peacemaker was created as a hard-boiled, world-traveling hero defined by such a deep love of peace that he'd kill for it. By day, the hero is a diplomat by the name of Christopher Smith. He uses a combination of deadly weaponry and his various specialized helmets to face terrorism, from sinking villainous submarines to preventing nuclear war.

Peacemaker has, in DC Comics, become an antihero evocative of Punisher and regularly joins up with the Suicide Squad. Peacemaker has been given some depth of late, in large part thanks to his DCU popularity, where he's played by John Cena. Now, he's been given a more comedic persona in some of his comics to match the movies.

2 Blue Beetle

Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle in his Scarab armor in DC Comics

Interestingly, Blue Beetle didn't begin at DC or Charlton but was originally published under Fox Comics as the character Dan Garrett. In the Silver Age, Ted Kord took over the mantle and became Charlton's premier costumed inventor superhero as he traveled the world in his Bug airship. As of 2023, the hero has been brought into the mainstream through his DCU movie.

Blue Beetle was DC's biggest reinvention of a Charlton character. While Ted Kord was kept in print, the subsequent Jaime Reyes took the character from being a Phantom-inspired crime-fighter to being more like Iron Man. Armed with his Scarab super-suit, the hero is one of DC's most powerful tech-based characters.

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1 Question

The Question aka Vic Sage crouching.

The classic Noir-themed faceless detective, Question was created by Steve Ditko, Spider-Man's own co-creator. By day, the hero is Vic Sage, a Hub City journalist who reports on the likes of corruption and crime. By night, he dons a concealing chemical mask and fights the very underworld he reports on. The mantle is shared between Sage and Gotham detective Renee Montoya.

Question has been interpreted a few ways throughout DC media. In the DCAU, the hero was reinterpreted as a conspiracy theorist closer to Rorschach, who himself was inspired by Question. In DC Comics, Question is a Noir-themed detective who tackles street crimes like murderers and mobsters. The hero's best stories can be found in the pages of Dennis O'Neil's run, though many still love his DCAU interpretation most.