Top 5: Superheroes Who Started Out In The Circus

There was in this nation when caravans of both skilled and abnormal people traversed the continent with an assemblage of animals and artifacts from across the globe. What better place to birth folks not afraid to show off their skills in sensational outfits?


5. Mikaal Tomas (Starman)

This one is a bit iffy, but it was surprisingly difficult to come up with 5 examples, so roll with it. While Mikaal Tomas might have been the alien Starman of the 1970’s, my (and I imagine many others) real introduction to the character was in the pages of James Robinson’s Starman where he was originally discovered being held captive in a circus.


4. Roustabout

Roustabout is interesting in that he did begin in the circus but also never left. I suppose there is enough circus related crime to keep him busy, and not everyone gets the luxury of living in Astro City proper.


3. Boston Brand

DC’s resident ethereal hero died as he lived: on a trapeze. I figure most folks have a passing familiarity with Deadman, but if not I implore you to check out the original run started by Carmine Infantino and finished by Neal Adams. It’s really something special and holds up to modern reading in a way that’s haunting (get it?).


2. Clint Barton

We’ve been seeing a lot of Mr. Barton lately, wonder what’s up with that? Anyways, while a certain upcoming cinematic event may gloss over the canonical original of our favorite surly archer, we all know that Barton’s began his villainous career straight out of the high top tent.


1. Dick Grayson

The original, oft imitated but never duplicated. Dick Grayson is a character almost as old as superhero comics themselves, and while his origin may falter a bit when thought about in a modern context (just what is a “ward” anyways?) the tragedy that drove him to teaming up with Bruce is raw, shocking, and could only have happened in the center ring.


  1. No Nightcrawler?

  2. Was just thinking about how Clint basically started his carrer after being inspired by Iron Man. It would be really interesting to see at least a small line of dialouge in the Avengers movie when Iron Man & hawkeye are in the same room.

  3. The original Batwoman was also a circus performer.

  4. Nightcrawler bumps Starman.

  5. Also, while usually not a superHERO, the Blob has a great circus origin.

  6. Wasn’t The Escapist also a circus performer? It’s been a long time since I read it (the comic, not the book it’s based on) but it rings a few circus bells.

  7. Man, Clint cannot catch a break, even as a circus performer he gets heckled

  8. Northstar has a history in the circus, too. A circus of militant Quebec separatists, no less.

  9. What bout the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime? Although they are villains, they still put on a great show.

  10. i half expected to see pre-crisis jason todd, but having 2 robins on a list of five would be lame. so good call.
    nightcrawler is definitely on my list. i don’t like x-books these days, but the claremont/byrne run will always hold a special place in my heart.

  11. “The original, oft imitated but never duplicated.”
    Except for Jason at the start when he was part of the Flying Todds before he was made into the punk that stole the hubcaps off the Bat-mobile.

  12. The fact that Nightcrawler is not on this list has caused me to lose a great deal of faith in the editorial integrity of this site…

  13. Ghost Rider?

  14. The fact that Nightcrawler and Ghost Rider is not on the list is a huge oversight.