Pirates are some of the coolest people who ever lived. Sure, they steal and pillage and kill, but they always look great doing it. Men and women swinging from ropes, battling ships with booming cannons, and fighting each other with swords never really gets old. That’s why they’re such a big part of pop culture. Pirates have made appearances in movies, TV shows, novels and video games, and with the release of the teaser trailer for “Pirates of the Caribbean 5,” there’s no sign of the trend stopping any time soon.
Much like everything else that’s cool, pirates have been a big part of comic books as well. There have been a many pirate villains who’ve stolen and wreaked havoc, forcing superheroes to rise up against them. But there have also been quite a few pirate heroes who have taken from the rich and given to the poor (while keeping a little for themselves). With all of these swashbucklers scuttling around, CBR runs down our favorite 15 pirates in comics.
15. Thing / Blackbeard
When the Fantastic Four first met Doctor Doom, he completely surprised them with an energy net over the Baxter Building. He took Sue Storm hostage, and gave the team a bizarre order. He happened to have a time machine, and wanted the Fantastic Four to go back in time to get a treasure chest from Blackbeard the pirate. As a man made of rock, Thing is a little inconspicuous, so he put on a disguise, including a beard, which was the style at the time.
While trying to find Blackbeard, the Fantastic Three ended up being drugged and kidnapped and put into the hold of a pirate ship. But with his brute strength, Thing not only escaped, he ended up taking over the entire ship! The ship began fighting another, which they thought was led by Blackbeard. Afterwards, the people cheered for the “black-bearded one,” which turned into cheers for Blackbeard. Reed and Johnny realize that they’re cheering for Ben Grimm, which makes him the Blackbeard of legend.
The weird thing about this (besides the idea of a huge rock man being sent back in time to be a legendary pirate) is that the real Blackbeard wasn’t a mysterious legend, as the comic implies. Blackbeard was a real person named Edward Teach. But forget about him. The Thing rocks the pirate look. Literally.
When he first appeared in 1969’s “Marvel Super-Heroes” #18, Yondu wasn’t a pirate. He was actually a good guy. The last survivor of his species in the 31st Century, he became one of the founding members of the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Together, with other alien survivors, he fought as a savage warrior against the Badoon, an alien race trying to conquer the solar system. He even traveled to the twentieth century, and became an honorary member of the Avengers. But a funny thing happened in the form of a 2014 movie called “Guardians of the Galaxy.” That’s when his character changed.
In the movie version, Yondu was a leader of a band of mercenaries and pirates known as the Ravagers. They kidnapped Star-Lord and did a lot of rotten stuff, not least of which was killing and stealing. Needless to say, this version of Yondu definitely wasn’t one of the Guardians of the Galaxy. That led to a change in the comics, as well. In “Star-Lord” #2, Yondu was reintroduced into continuity as a mercenary and pirate leader, just like in the movie. That makes Yondu’s piracy canon.
13. The Sky Pirate
One of Green Lantern’s older villains, the Sky Pirate, first appeared in “Green Lantern” #27 (1947). Back then, Green Lantern wasn’t Hal Jordan, a member of an elite intergalactic corps of peacekeepers. Green Lantern was Alan Scott, who gained his power from a magical object known as the Starheart. Scott’s weakness was wood instead of the color yellow.
The Sky Pirate commanded a zeppelin called “The Flying Dutchman.” His method of operation involved flying his zeppelin up against a skyscraper (preferably abreast of a penthouse full of valuables), after which he and his men would climb out to loot the building, and escape. Armed with skilled swordplay as well as unarmed combat, the Sky Pirate had more than enough at his disposal to keep the original Green Lantern at bay. His only real weakness was a fear of low places, which probably explains why he spent his time in the sky. You wouldn’t think a guy in a zeppelin could fight the mystical power of Green Lantern, but he held his own surprisingly well. Why? Because he’s a pirate, that’s why.
In “X-Men” #107 (1977), the X-Men traveled to a distant planet to stop an alien race known as the Shi’ar, but they were in for a huge surprise. During the battle, they were helped by a group of space pirates calling themselves the Starjammers, led by a man called Corsair. Jean Grey probes Corsair’s mind and is shocked to discover he is actually Christopher Summers, the father of the X-Men Cyclops and Havoc.
As Christopher Summers, Corsair started out his life as an Air Force pilot on Earth. While flying a plane with himself, his wife and his two sons Alex and Scott, they are attacked by a Shi’ar spaceship. Christopher managed to give his parachute to his children before being swept up by the Shi’ar ship. His wife was killed, and he was imprisoned as a slave until he managed to escape. Along with several other escaped slaves, he seized a ship called the “Starjammer” and took on the ship’s name for his group. The Starjammers took revenge by attacking Shi’ar ships, thus branding them throughout the galaxy as pirates.
Corsair was an expert swordsman and fighter who had a flair for dashing derring-do, and was also an expert pilot. Corsair and the Starjammers returned again and again, joining the X-men in their battles. Corsair turns out to be a perfect ally of the X-Men, and a father to Cyclops and Havoc. His love of high seas adventure in space made him awesome to be around and one of Marvel’s most consistently entertaining characters.
11. Abslom Daak
Abslom Daak was introduced in “Doctor Who Weekly” #17 (1980) in a backup story. Daak was a criminal in the 26th Century, convicted of numerous crimes, some too terrible to even describe. He was given the choice of vaporization or being exiled on a suicide mission as a “Dalek Killer.” Daak chose the latter, transported across the Galaxy to a primitive planet dominated by the feared cybernetic aliens, the Daleks. While fighting to free the planet, Daak destroyed all of his enemies except one. Unfortunately, the last surviving Dalek killed his true love, Princess Tailyn. Daak vowed to spend the rest of his life killing Daleks.
With Tailyn in cryogenic suspension in hopes of a cure, Daak joined with a band of pirates known as the Star Tigers. He began traveling the Galaxy in a starship called the “Kill-Wagon,” armed with his “chainsword” (literally a sword with a chainsaw for a blade). They raided and destroyed Dalek ships wherever they found them. Daak continued his adventures in the comics, either solo or aiding Doctor Who. He’s a ruthless killer, redeemed by the fact that his enemies are even worse.
10. Alexandre LeRoi
In the 1989 story “Gotham By Gaslight,” a Batman of the 1800s fought Jack the Ripper. “Gaslight” was successful enough to lead to a sequel, “Batman: Master of the Future” in 1991. The main villain of “Future” was Alexandre LeRoi, a mysterious air pirate trying to stop Gotham City’s celebration of the new century.
LeRoi first appeared during Gotham’s Fair, threatening to destroy the city if the people didn’t follow him. He was an environmentalist who foresaw that the coming century’s technology would pollute the Earth. Flying a gas-powered zeppelin, LeRoi threatens to burn the city with fire, bringing death from above. He kidnapped the mayor of the city, and began using a gigantic lens to focus the sun’s light. The heat ray destroyed much of Gotham, and threatened to ruin the entire city. Fortunately, he was no match for Batman, who was able to beat him in a sword fight and force his airship to crash.
In the mythology of Conan the Barbarian, Belit is a pirate who is Conan’s first and greatest love. Belit originally appeared in 1934’s “Queen of the Black Coast,” one of the original short stories about Conan. When Marvel began its own comic book series based on Conan, Belit was introduced as one of the supporting characters.
First introduced in “Giant-Size Conan” #1 (1974), Belit was the daughter of a sea-faring king whose father was killed by slavers. She grew up to command her own ship, “The Tigress,” and became one of the most feared pirates in the Hyborian seas. She and Conan fell in love, and he joined her on her pirate adventures. It’s rare to find anyone who could keep up with Conan, and as a woman in an especially patriarchal world, it was even impressive the respect and awe at Belit’s command.
She vowed to one day save her lover’s life, and kept her promise, even after her death. In “Conan the Barbarian” #100 (1979), Belit was killed by a winged ape-monster. But as Conan tried to kill the beast, he saw a ghost of Belit fighting it, giving him enough time to defeat it. With her help beyond the grave, Conan lived on to fight and avenge her.
8. Psycho Pirate
Unlike most pirates, the Psycho-Pirate doesn’t steal gold. He steals emotions.
The first Psycho-Pirate was a criminal named Charles Halstead, who committed crimes based on different emotions. He fought the Justice Society of America on many occasions, but they finally managed to lock him up for good.
In “Showcase” #56, a new and more dangerous Psycho-Pirate was introduced. Roger Hayden was imprisoned for attacking his abusive father when he heard about the Medusa Masks from his cellmate, the first Psycho-Pirate. The masks give the wearer the ability to project their emotions onto others. As the supervillain Psycho-Pirate, he becomes addicted to absorbing emotions, and is only stopped by Doctor Fate and Hourman. But Psycho-Pirate continued to return, and became a serious threat during the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” in 1985.
The Anti-Monitor used the Psycho-Pirate to control the Barry Allen Flash, but the collapse of the multiverse left Hayden with memories of the lost realities. In “Animal Man” #24 (1990), Psycho-Pirate returned. Driven insane by his loss of continuity, he almost destroyed the entire DC universe. He’s continued to be a threat to this day, and his powers make him one of the most dangerous pirates on this list.
7. Deadpool the Pirate
Known as the “merc with a mouth,” Deadpool is one of the craziest and most lethal superheroes in the Marvel Universe. Through an experiment, Deadpool was given rapid healing abilities and became a gun for hire. While he sells his talents to the highest bidder, he ends up doing a lot of good in the process. he’s even become a fully-fledged superhero, having joined the Avengers Unity Team (“Uncanny Avengers”). But throughout the years, Deadpool has been many things, from hero, to villain… to pirate.
In “Deadpool” #13 (2008), Deadpool was paid a fortune that Norman Osborn owed him. When Deadpool finally got the cash he was owed, he did the only logical thing that would come to his ever-so-slightly diseased mind. He became a pirate.
First spending a ridiculous amount of cash on a nuclear submarine, which he immediately sank, he then spent another fortune on a tugboat, had huge guns mounted on it, bought a solid gold gun that shoots diamonds (which he dubbed “The Compensator”), and headed to a remote island to wreak havoc on the wealthy yachts parked around it. Unfortunately, another pirate called Wackbeard got there first, so he ended up having to fight off his fellow pirate to protect his investment. In the end, he did right by the people, even though he wanted to do wrong. Classic Deadpool.
6. Web Beard
How do you make pirates more awesome? You combine pirates and Spider-Man, of course.
On the TV show “Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors,” there was a two-part episode called “Return to the Spider-Verse.” Spider-Man and his counterpart Miles Morales discovered that the cosmic artifact called the Siege Perilous had broken the barriers between alternate realities. Not only that, but another version of Spider-Man called the Wolf Spider is traveling through other worlds to collect the pieces of the Siege Perilous to drain the life force of other spider-powered beings. Spider-Man and Morales have to travel throughout the multiverse to find the Siege Perilous themselves. Really, it’s more an excuse for Spider-Man to travel to worlds hosting other, crazier versions of himself.
In the second part of “Return to the Spider-Verse,” Spider-Man meets two new Spider-Men. One is Webslinger, a cowboy version of Spider-Man. Another is Web Beard the Pirate. Web Beard wears a pirate outfit along with a Spider-Man mask and a huge brown beard. He’s not too happy to see the other Spider-Men until they help him get his ship back, which happens to be made of the plant-superhero, Groot. Yeah, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but if it gets us a pirate version of Spider-Man, we’ll allow it!
First introduced in 1975’s “Giant-Size X-Men” #1, Nightcrawler is a long-time member of the X-Men, and one of the most colorful mutants in Marvel Comics history. Raised in a German circus, he has fangs, a tail, black skin and the power to teleport. He also fancies himself a real ladies man. He’s an expert swordsman, a gymnast and has a love of high-flying adventure. He expressed a love of Errol Flynn in “Captain Blood,” and when Iron Man gave him a holographic image inducer to make himself look human, he used it to make himself look like Flynn.
In “Ultimate X-Men” #50, Nightcrawler and Angel went to the Danger Room, a virtual training room where the X-Men can create virtual simulations to combat for training. In it, the two mutants ran a simulation that fulfilled Nightcrawler’s ultimate fantasies, making him the Dread Pirate Bluetail, fighting an evil Captain Eagle. It seemed to fit Nightcrawler perfectly.
Of course, this wasn’t Nightcrawler’s first foray into altruistic piracy. Back in 1985, Nightcrawler got his own four-issue miniseries, where he got to live out his dreams as real pirate. In the series, Nightcrawler was pulled into alternate worlds in a Danger Room accident caused by Kitty Pryde. The portal sends him onto a flying pirate ship, where he joins the crew and enjoys bizarre adventures on the high seas.
4. Captain Harlock
Captain Harlock is a space pirate from the appropriately-named manga series “Space Pirate Captain Harlock,” created in 1977. Since his creation, he’s appeared in multiple TV shows and movies. His background and history has been changed many times over the years, as he’s re-invented with every new appearance. But what does stay the same is that Harlock is in space and he’s a pirate; and really, what more do you need in life? When he’s betrayed by a corrupt Earth, the good Captain sets out on his own with his loyal crew aboard the starship “Arcadia.” Moulded in the classic pirate template, Harlock can always be found partaking in travels across the stars in a perpetual search of adventure.
As a character, Harlock never changes. He’s a deeply moral man who always keeps his promises and fights for justice, even if it means working against Earth. His actions have earned him a reputation as a pirate, even though he doesn’t do much stealing and pillaging. At the same time, he’s always chivalrous and courteous, even to his enemies; unless you cross his moral boundaries, that is. Then you die.
3. Long John Silver
It’s the story that pretty much defined our image of pirates in the modern era. Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel “Treasure Island” was originally written in 1883, and captured the imagination of the entire world. The story of sailors hunting treasure with parrots and peg-legs is pretty much what we all think of when we think of pirates. It was an especially huge influence on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. The main villain in the novel is Long John Silver, a ruthless pirate who manipulates the young Jim in his hunt for gold.
In 2007, Marvel published its version of “Treasure Island” with its “Marvel Illustrated” line of books, which successfully adapted classic fiction into comic book form. In “Treasure Island,” young Jim Hawkins sets out to find a treasure hidden by his father. Unfortunately, he has to go up against the crew of the pirate Billy Bones, and the ship’s cook, Long John Silver. The story came to life in this illustrated version, giving us all the swords and sails we could want. When it comes to pirates, it doesn’t get better than this. At least, until we get to Batman.
2. Pirate Batman
Remember that time Batman died and came back to life as a pirate… sort of?
In 2008’s “Final Crisis,” Batman was apparently killed by Darkseid. But in reality, Darkseid’s Omega Beams pushed Bruce Wayne back through the timestream to the prehistoric era. In 2010’s “Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne,” he had to travel through history to return to present-day Gotham City.
In the third issue, Bruce Wayne ended up in the 18th century, where he met Blackbeard the pirate. Oddly enough, it wasn’t the Thing in a beard, but the real Blackbeard. Blackbeard thought Wayne was the legendary Black Pirate, who stole a famous treasure from the native Miagani tribe. Along with another captive of Blackbeard named Jack Loggins, Wayne agrees to lead him into the cave where the treasure is rumored to be buried. But Loggins turns out to be the grandson of the real Black Pirate, and the two manage to trick Blackbeard and his crew. With a little help from the Miagani tribe, who worship Wayne for his prehistoric appearance among them, Wayne is able to get his cape and cowl back. He goes on to the Old West, but Loggins kept his legend among the pirates alive.
What’s the only thing better than pirate Batman? Another pirate Batman. Obviously.
The 1994 Elseworlds story “Batman: Leatherwing” went full pirate, set in the age of pirates where Bruce Wayne became Captain Leatherwing. Leatherwing hid his identity behind a cape and cowl, leading the crew of the “Flying Fox” to pillage enemy ships for King James II of England. With him is his faithful Italian servant, Alfredo. When Leatherwing finds a young orphan in Jamaica, the boy becomes his sidekick, Robin Redblade. Together, they gather treasure in hopes of recovering the land and avenging the death of Leatherwing’s parents.
Things were going well for Leatherwing until he met the insane Joker-esque Frenchman known only as the Laughing Man. The Laughing Man goes to the rival cat-oriented pirate, Capitana Felina, who convinces her to seduce Leatherwing for the location of his treasure. Of course, it doesn’t go too well. There’s a lot of swashbuckling and swordfighting on the high seas, proving that pirates are awesome. But pirate Batman is even better.
Ahoy, ye hearties! Who be yer favorite bulge-sucking buccaneers in yon comics? Grab yer grog and tell us in the comments here at CBRRRRRRR!
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” opens May 26, 2017.
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