Quick, name a good bird-themed superhero. Hell, we'll even take a villain.
They all suck. Whether your choice was Robin, the Penguin or one of the lesser known C-list characters, chances are their powers are either flight or looking and sounding really stupid.
However, this is just lack of imagination from their writers' part. After all, when you look at the vast array of avian abilities in nature, it's easy to spot some serious superhero talent. For instance ...
5The Owl Is Daredevil and Wolverine Combined
Quick: What's special about owls? They can turn their heads all the way around? They can swallow mice whole?
This is a great example right here, because apparently owls can't do shit, if comic books are our guide. While there are several owl-themed superheroes and villains in existence, they tend to be thinly veiled Batman knockoffs with no powers to speak of. Even the superpowered ones usually possess some rather sad and useless power, such as Owlman's ability to "cause confusion."
We get the feeling Owlman was kind of confused himself.
Well, all we can say to that is comic book writers need to open a damned encyclopedia every now and then. We mean, look at the creature we're dealing with here. Besides having the best night vision of all birds, owls also have a satellite dish built into their face. The circular pattern of feathers on there? Yeah, that acts as a dish, focusing the sound and giving them what may be the best directional hearing in the world. And even weirder, those feather patterns can also, no kidding, be individually adjusted to increase reception.
"Jimmy, I know you hear me! You get back in the yard this instant!"
How well does this work? Let's put it this way: An owl can hear a mouse stepping on a twig from 75 feet away. Owls also have an incredible sense of sound elevation, meaning they can detect the height from which sound is emanating, because one ear hole is placed higher than the other. All of this is to pinpoint the exact location of the owl's prey, which in fact works so well that the bird can make in-flight course corrections to strike at its victim.
And keep in mind, we're talking about a nocturnal hunter -- they're using this finely tuned sense of hearing to take down prey that the owl can't even see. So, basically we're looking at a flying Daredevil but with a slew of built-in razor blades on its hands a la Wolverine.
To demonstrate how these powers would be handy fighting crime, we'd like to show you the following video. imagine that the lemming is crime:
To make matters even worse for the criminal element, owls also happen to have special serrated feathers that allow them to fly silently like a stealth fighter. Furthermore, they have the lowest wing-loading ratio of any bird, meaning they can fly extremely slow if they need to, or carry large loads. The owl superhero wouldn't need to zoom in like Superman or swing around like Spider-Man -- he'd just slowly, silently glide over the area, hearing everything and casting an ominous shadow in the night sky. Hell, he'd be his own Bat Signal, if the Bat Signal could swoop in at evildoers and carry them away.
Oh, and if you're now inspired to become an owl-themed superhero based on all this, there is one genus of owl that has already come up with a kick-ass name for you: Strix.
Via Wikimedia Commons
And it can see into your soul.