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Meaningful Name: Comicbooks
The names of some Comic Book characters are about as subtle as the characters themselves...

  • "El", the kryptonian surname of Superman, means "God". Fittingly, it's frequently used as a suffix in the names of angels in the Hebraic tradition (e.g. "Michael", "Gabriel", "Raphael" and "Zadkiel"), hinting at Superman's role as an archetypal angelic figure.
  • The Sunderland corporation in early Swamp Thing. They're environmentally unfriendly — they sunder land.
  • Comic book villain T. O. Morrow. Thomas Oscar Morrow is a Mad Scientist obsessed with time and creator of Tomorrow Woman. However, it's a subversion - he's Polish, and his birth name is Tomek Ovadya Morah (which, admittedly, is rather close to his new name).
  • X-Men has a few despite tending to avoid this trope:
    • Magneto's long-since-not-secret-anymore identity is Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, and the "Magnus" is the only part of it that we know to be part of his birth name. "Magnus" could just refer to Magneto's awesomeness, not his magnetic powers. Though the fact that it sounds similar to his power is no doubt intentional on Stan Lee's part.
      • His real last name was eventually retconned as Eisenhardt - "eisen" is German for "iron."
      • Lehnsherr is German for "feudal lord."
    • Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men, though it's his fault instead of it being coincidental within continuity. He swears (depending on the era) that the name X-Men stands for "extra" power or for the X-factor gene, not his name. (Somehow, it took a villain deliberately outing him after years for people to get the hint that bald, wheelchair-bound Professor Xavier and bald, wheelchair-bound Professor X were the same guy... though there were other villains who already knew, but for various reasons had no interest in outing him.
    • The Vanisher's real name is Telford Porter. This is also Lampshaded in an issue of She-Hulk that revealed he has other aliases such as I.M. Ouddahere and C.U. Later.
    • En Sabah Nur (Apocalypse) is the first mutant, and his name is said to mean The First One. However, in our universe, it is Arabic for 'the morning light', ie. dawn. However, though it would be grammatically incorrect by modern understanding (it should be El Sabah Nur and Sabah and Nur are more commonly girl's names), Apocalypse was born in ancient Egypt, long before the modern Arabic language existed. At least in the Marvel Universe, "En Sabah Nur" meant 'The First One' and the language only changed after he had lived for hundreds of years, if not thousands.
    • Emma Frost is an "ice queen", though her powers are not ice-related. (She does take over Iceman's body at one point, though...) There's also the later addition of turning herself into a diamond (frost sorta being related to ice, which doubles as a slang term for diamonds).
    • Cain Marko, as in "the Mark of Cain", Professor X's jealous stepbrother (aka the Juggernaut). Less well known, the Mark of Cain was meant to protect Cain from being harmed (albeit indirectly). In Marvel he's a Nigh Invulnerable Implacable Man.
    • Wolverine (who may be James Howlett) may have been born in Canada during the 1800s. It was apparently revealed in the miniseries "Origin" that he was the son of a wealthy landowner who was murdered by their groundskeeper. Although James later called himself Logan, then later received the nickname 'Wolverine', he resembles more of a wolf (rather than an actual wolverine) in some illustrations through the years, which was highlighted in a several books. Healing Factor is also a mutant ability for this guy. 'Howl'ett is also an allusion to wolves which was the last animal seen by the end of "Origin" travelling with James in the Canadian wilderness.
    • X-23's real name is Laura, as in 'bay laurel', the leaves of which symbolize victory.
    • In X-Men: Evolution, Leech's real name is Dorian Leach. (In comics, he has no "real name".) A couple other characters in this show have their names changed to resemble their codename: Avalanche/Lance Alvers (comic: Dominic Petros, whose powers allow for the domination of rock) and Toad/Todd Tolensky (comic: Mortimer Toynbee).
    • Sunfire from the Uncanny Avengers has the name Shiro Yoshida. Shiro can be translated as "Samurai male," which is fitting for a character absolutely obsessed with honor.
  • Phantom Lady Last name is "Knight" and her power can create darkness. She is also a Knight in the sense that she's a champion of The US Goverment. Also Her father Henry K Knight is wealthy Senator and the concept of Knight derived from the Roman Imperal Congress. Her Legacy Character is 'Stormy' Knight.
  • Most of the Wolfrider elves in ElfQuest have meaningful names. Cutter is good with a sword (and also likes to cut through hypocrisy and bullshit), Skywise is a stargazer, Pike and Redlance are spearmen, Strongbow and his son Dart are archers, Treestump is short and stocky (and also stubborn and unyielding), One-Eye — well, for obvious reasons, and Bearclaw... well, I guess he just likes pastries.
    • Justified in that Wolfriders do tend to name themselves after their deeds, changing name when they perform a huge one (e.g. Redlance used to be called Redmark until he saved his chief using, yes, a lance). The other tribes tend to have non-meaningful names.
    • Female Wolfriders, on the other hand, tend to have names inspired by nature: Moonshade, Nightfall, Rainsong, Dewshine... Rainsong's name is also in honor of her father, who was named Rain, and who sang when exercising his healing powers (which however Rainsong did not inherit).
  • There is a lot of this going on in Noble Causes. Race Noble is a speedster, Rusty had his consciousness trapped in a robotic body, Zephyr has air control powers, Celeste has stellar energy powers, etc. The Noble family is huge on... coincidences, evidently. Even Zephyr's husband Slate is a rock man.
  • Captain America's sidekick The Falcon has the civilian name Sam Wilson. Samuel Wilson was the name of a meat packer who was allegedly the inspiration for Uncle Sam.
  • Kimiyo Hoshi, the female Dr. Light, received her powers from a star. Again, "hoshi" is Japanese for "star".
    • The wordplay only works in English, but her name combined means 'I am a star'.
    • An animal-naming site gave the meaning of "Kimiyo" as "she who is without peer, or without equal", which is all-too appropriate for her often-bitchy, Insufferable Genius personality. Furthermore, we have both the male and female interpretations of her name from the Kabalarian Philosophy site, which describe her personality to a tee.
  • Steel, the armoured, hammer-wielding African American hero, whose real name is John Henry Irons - after the folk hero who was stronger and faster than a machine.
  • Virtually every Batman villain has a theme name, some (Temple Fugate/Clock King, Julian Day/Calendar Man) more subtle than others (Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn), Mary Dahl/Baby Doll), Jonathan Crane (Crane being a reference to Ichabod Crane). The ones that don't, like Harvey Dent/Two-Face and The Joker don't either because they were a non-villain character previously or because they've had several names and the canon can't agree.
    • Some more examples: Edward Nigma (E. Nigma, AKA The Riddler... though his real name is Edward Nashton in the current continuity), Dr Victor Fries (presumably pronounced Frees, AKA Mr. Freeze), Dr Simon Ecks (Dr. Double X), Joe Rigger (AKA explosives expert Firebug), Hammond Carter (AKA the map loving Globe), Warren White (The Great WHITE Shark), Liam Hawkleigh (AKA Gunhawk), Humphrey Dumpler (AKA Humpty Dumpty), Johnny Witts (The Crime Boss who's always one step ahead of the Batman), Lyle Bolton (AKA Lockup), Margaret Pie (the Magpie), Joe Coyne (the Penny Plunderer), Anthony Lupis (the Werewolf) Deever and Dumphrey/Dumson Tweed (Tweedledee and Tweedledum), the silver-obsessed Sterling Silversmith...
    • Plant-obsessed villainess Poison Ivy had a short-lived Retcon where her real name was stated to be Lilian Rose. It was later changed back to Pamela Isley, which still counts.
      • In one episode of the animated series, Poison Ivy takes on the alias Daphne Demeter while carrying out a plot to turn people who were wrecking the environment into trees. Batman lampshades the Demeter part (Greek goddess of agriculture), but doesn't say anything about "Daphne," a nymph who turned into a tree to escape Apollo.
      • Gotham outright changes her civilian name to "Ivy Pepper."
    • There is also the none-too-pretty cop Dan Turpin (taken from the Latin for ugly/corrupt), though he is technically a Superman character.
    • Not only is Mister Freeze's wife's name, Nora, etymologically related to Lenore, but both "Nora" and "Lenore" are derived from "Eleanor," meaning "light." So, when she died, the light literally went out of his life.
  • The Flash battled a crook called Rainbow Raider, who used a pair of goggles emitting beams of solid rainbow-coloured light to rob art galleries, even though he himself was colour-blind. His real name was Roy G. Bivolo, the first seven letters denoting the colours of the spectrum (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.)
    • Bonus points for his initials being R.G.B.
  • The Astérix comics. Every name at least means something, from incompetent bard Cacofonix to Briton chieftan Zebigbos.
    • With a Crowning Moment of Awesome for translators with Obelix's dog. In French, he is Idéfix - similar to the phrase for "fixed idea". In English, the name is Dogmatix, which adds a pun and keeps the meaning. (In Hungarian they kept the name, since idée fixe is a reasonably well-known loan phrase, and since 'idé' is the same as the Hungarian for the dog command 'here').
    • The translators added a lot of these in for the villagers, which in the French mostly have absurd names, but in the English have names that fit their role, like Unhygenix, the fishmonger who sells stale fish.
    • 'Asterix' is a pun on "asterisk", meaning little star (as he is tiny and the "star" of the comic). 'Obelix' is a pun on "obelisk", the other punctuation used for footnotes as companion to the asterisk - * and †. Both characters are shaped loosely like the typographical symbols (Asterix has long arms, long legs, a very small body and two large protruding wings on his helmet, making six 'points' - Obelix has a shortish head, long arms, and a very long and large lower body with his legs underneath it, making him roughly dagger-shaped). Obelix also has another meaning attached - his job is to make and deliver menhirs, which are tall stone monuments similar to obelisks. Some people suggest his name might also be a play on O (round) + belly + the "ix" suffix all male Gaulish characters have, which fits as he is pretty fat.
  • Iznogoud:
    • Iznogoud is a phonetic spelling of "is no good" in French.
    • Dilat Larat, i.e. "dilate la rate", refers to laughing uproariously in French — for an extremely Deadpan Snarker character.
    • The Caliph's brothers Dheround, Troiround and Katround translate to "Two-round", "Three-round" and "Four-round" respectively.
  • DOOM is FURIOUS that Victor Von Doom, main villain from the Fantastic Four was not the very first example! Seriously, what were his parents thinking? According to the original canon, he was Roma, and they had to have it sound European. It was not uncommon in the past for Romanies to have two names, one used within their community and another used with outsiders, so his ancestors may have adopted 'Von Doom' to blend in with (the presumably Germanic-speaking) peoples around them.
  • A strange case: John Byrne brought Luke Cage and Iron Fist Back from the Dead by revealing that they were impostors. In the process he retconned that a character Tyrone King was a preestablished villain, Master Khan. "Even the name, 'Tyrone King', means 'Master Khan'!" The original author had put the meaningful name in by pure coincidence.
  • Tintin features Mik Kanrokitoff, a journalist who covers space-related news. To be fair, it might be a pen name.
    • And in the French version, the same character was named Ezdanitoff, which could be translated as "isn't that awesome" in the Flemmish dialect. Well, well.
  • In Midnight Nation, the detective who will choose which way to tip the Balance Between Good and Evil has the last name of Gray. I wonder why...
  • Spider-Man: Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus. Lampshaded in the second movie, when J. Jonah Jameson says "Guy named Octavius winds up with eight limbs. What are the odds?"
  • Michael Caesar from the Boondocks comic strip. He likes to rap and his initials are...
  • Namor the Sub-Mariner's name means "avenging son" in Atlantean. Avenging is all he does. His cousins Namora (avenging daughter) and Namorita (... little avenging daughter, one assumes) are less prone to ludicrous amounts of rage.
    • Namor is also Roman backwards, referring to the fact that Atlantis has some similarities with Rome.
    • The Aquaman stand-in from Rob Liefeld's Awesome Comics line was named Roy Roman — "Roy" meaning "King" and Roman being, as noted, "Namor" backwards.
  • A villain from Fantastic Four, Diablo, real name Esteban Diablo, supposedly a Spanish alchemist born in the 9th century (or 19th, depending on the source). His name translates to "Stephen Devil". No one could use such a surname in Spain, even less in a more religious era. Later his name was retconned to Esteban Corazón del Diablo, meaning "Stephen Devilheart" or "Stephen Heart of the Devil". Now Mom's surname is "Of the Devil"; not a great improvement. Even later, Spanish-born comic-book artists working for Marvel apparently campaigned to change the surname to "De Ablo", meaning absolutely nothing but at least that would not require an execution.
  • Many characters from Carl Barks's Duck comics, including the miserly, Scottish Scrooge McDuck; Bungling Inventor Gyro Gearloose; and the mean, greedy Flintheart Glomgold.
  • In Marvel's Man-Thing comics, there was a Corrupt Corporate Executive named F. A. Schist, dedicated to anti-environmental policies. Because that's what a fascist is.
  • Disney's Scamp is a scamp. The only one of his siblings that looks exactly like his father the Tramp, his name is also the only one that rhymes with his father's.
  • Judge Dredd's full name is Joseph Dredd, and he was designed to strike dread into people's hearts. The real name of his enemy, Judge Death, is in fact Sidney D'Eath. Chief Judge Solomon is named for the Biblical king and judge with a gift of wise judgement.
  • In Thunderbolts, it's revealed than the axe-wielding Headsman's real name is "Cleavon Twain", as in "cleave in twain" (or in simpler terms, "cut in two").
  • Loud Boy's real name is Daniel Boom.
    • All of the five heroes have this, actually; the chaos-causing Destructo Kid's real name is Rex Rodriguez note , the hissy fit-throwing Tantrum Girl's real name is Violet Fitz note , and the Smart Girl Chatterbox's real name is Jeannie S. Boom note . Hilariously inverted, sort of, with Fidget, the hyperactive one who can't stay still; his real name is Sid Down note .
  • Marvel Comics' Doctor Strange is not only a sorcerer, he debuted in the series Strange Tales.
  • Minor DC villain Firefist is the man who re-discovered Greek Fire and used it for crime. His real name? Lyle Byrnes. In one Superman arc where he makes small talk with a victim, he even says it's funny how that turned out.
  • Josef Platapopoulos from Astro City goes by "The Platypus" to most, because of his extreme resemblance to the creature. Now look at that last name again.
    • Additionally, Atomicus' civilian identity of Adam Peterson. Atomicus was created during an experiment conducted by a Dr. Petrov; Adam Peterson = Atom, Son of Petrov. Interestingly, his love interest picks up on this almost immediately and continues to harp on proving his true identity for years.
    • And Braintrust's real name is Brian T. Rusk. Yeah, Rusk, not Rust. Apparently that would've been too easy.
    • The Samaritan's identity of Asa Martin might also be relevant.
  • In a similar vein, when the Red Skull had worked his way into the position of Defense Secretary of the United States, he used the alias Dell Rusk - an anagram as well as a reference to former real-life State Secretary Dean Rusk.
  • The leader of the Red Lantern Corps is tellingly named Atrocitus. As you can imagine, he spends his time helping poor people and injured animals and generally contributing to society.
    • Ironically enough, it's hinted that he might actually have been a genuinely benevolent being before the Manhunters went on a mass-genocidal rampage throughout his sector (leaving only he and four other survivors), thereby igniting his rage.
    • Going back much further in Green Lantern history, we have Sinestro, which is Latin for left-handed. As for another recent villain, there's Larfleeze: a combination of lard and sleaze, which is quite appropriate.
    • Some of the emotional entities/other powerful beings are an example of this.
      • The avarice entity is called Ophidion. Ophidion is the name for the "13th" constellation, which is a snake. So is the entity of avarice.
      • The hope entity is called Adara. The star sharing that name is blue, much like Adara and hope on the emotional spectrum.
      • The compassion entity is called Proselyte. This is based off prostrate, which may tie into the subtle hints of it being connected to religion in Green Lantern #52(namely, a cross-shaped light when its backstory is examined).
      • Prostate could also be seen as convert. The Indigo Tribe gets new members by "converting" sociopaths through brainwashing.
      • Nekron, Lord of the Unliving. His name is based of necrosis, representing his connection to death and the general coldness of darkness.
  • This is a plot point in an issue of 1963, where USA realizes that Brian Ruby, the man who tried to kill Leo Harley Osborne, was really his archenemy the Red Brain. How? He knew the Red Brain was too vain to use an alias that didn't allude to his true identity.
  • The Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, was named for one of the Twelve Apostles; sure enough, he's practically a saint within the DC superhero community thanks to his Heroic Sacrifice in the Crisis on Infinite Earths (he's back now, if you somehow missed it). note 
  • Many of the villains in Dick Tracy famously had nicknames describing their physical appearance or criminal specialty, such as Flattop, Pouch, Pruneface, the Brow, the Mole. During the first fifteen years of this long-lived strip, it was also commonplace for characters to possess names that become descriptive when spelled backwards: a midget named Trohs, a bandleader named Seton, a playboy named Kroywen, an honest man named Toirtap, a crook named Doolb, and (long before Stephen King was born) a killer named Redrum.
  • The Big Bad of Kick-Ass is named John Genovese.
    • This is a reference to Kitty Genovese, a woman who was murdered apparently without her neighbors bothering to intervene (the situation may have been more complex, but that was the public perception). This incident is commonly cited as sparking the real-life superhero movement.
    • Genovese is also the name of a major Mafia boss/family.
  • The title character in Werewolf by Night is named Jack Russell.
  • Victoria Hand, Norman Osborn's right hand (wo)man in Dark Avengers.
  • One of the main characters in the Dead Space Graphic Novel is a priest. His name? Deakin Abbott.
  • The twins in Crossing Midnight are named Toshi and Kai. Toshi, "mirror". And Kai is the reflection.
  • A minor villain from Empowered is named "King Tyrant Lizard", the literal translation of "tyrannosaurus rex".
    • Willy Pete from Empowered. "Willy Pete" is what they call white phosphorous in military jargon. White phosphorous is a strong incendiary. Willy Pete is an incredibly powerful and vicious fire elemental whose body burns several times hotter than the surface of the sun.
  • In Star Raiders, the very tomboyish Tomorrow Hardtack calls herself "Tommy".
  • The second Foolkiller's real name was Greg Salinger. He was a poet and very attuned to literature. He instructed his successor to say to his contact that he was picking up a package for Pierre, J.D. A reference to Pierre Salinger and J.D. Salinger, both of whom are also known for something literary.
  • In Cul De Sac there's a girl who combines this with an ironic (nick)name — her name is Loris Slothrup and she's an artist who does things about four times faster then normal a la Wayside School's Bee Bee Gunn.
  • The real name of Fenway, a Deadpool supporting character who is obsessed with baseball, is Homer Unn. Clearly it's supposed to be bad, but that's just... eugh. Ironically, his nickname comes from one of the hardest ballparks to hit a homer in, due to Fenway Park's infamous "Green Monster".
  • In Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja , the powerful Reality Warper Psychopathic Manchild is named Alfie O'Meagan, a mashup of "alpha" and "omega".
  • In Rapunzel's Revenge, there is a man named Brute who is strong, not very bright, and works for Mother Gothel. Justified and maybe subverted when we find out that Gothel gave him that name, and something like a magical lobotomy, making Brute neither his real name nor a proper description.
  • Tony Stark (Iron Man) is one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe - not surprising considering that his last name is the German word for strong.
    • His middle name, Edward, means 'rich protector'.
  • Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, translates to Crusher.
  • The Hawkeye villain Crossfire has the real name William Cross.
  • Wilhelm Busch's stories often have these, or rather names with a meaningful sound. One example: The guy Dümmel isn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. (May not work in other languages, though.)
    • "Pater Filucius" abounds with this, especially as it is to a large extent an allegory of religious conflicts of the era. Thus Gottlieb Michael is Germany (Der deutsche Michel - the German Michael is the German counterpart to John Bull or Uncle Sam, named after the Archangel Michael, patron saint of Germany), his aunts Petrine and Pauline (named after St. Peter and St. Paul) represent the Catholic and Protestant churches, and his lady love, Angelica, refers to the Anglican church (Bush recommending to end the interdenominational strife by establishing something like the Church of England in Germany).
  • Adam Warlock had his name changed to this by the Evoltionary. 'Adam' (for being the first of his kind) and 'Warlock' because "Men would fear his powers".
  • Ray Palmer, The Atom, had two notable enemies who shared this trait: The Bug-Eyed Bandit (Bertram Larvan), and the Floronic Man (Jason Woodrue). The Bug-Eyed Bandit had a son, Bertram Larvan, Jr., who would become his Legacy Character.
  • Lampshaded in Albion, where Zip Nolan doesn't believe the Spider's real name is Alfred Chinard because "A. Chinard" is an anagram of "arachnid." "It's a phony name!" The Spider then sarcastically claims his true name to be "Arthur O'Pod" — arthropod.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye features a subversion and a Deconstruction. They meet an Autobot named Dent, but his name was changed because he had the same name as a more important Autobot named Prowl (The other bots wonder why had chose such a stupid name, but Ratchet says that all the best were taken). Then they meet a medic named Ambulon, it seems like a play on the word Ambulance, but it really means to ambulate, or to move about. He was forced into an experiment to turn him into a combiner, and his alt-mode was permanently changed into a leg, and after that he defected. Ratchet's line takes a darker meaning when he says it to Ambulon.
  • Wiccan of the Young Avengers. In the belief system of Wicca, emotions are believed to have power; Wiccan is at his most deadly when influenced by strong emotion. Example: he put 20 bad guys into comas when they were threatening his boyfriend.
  • Kitrina Falcone, Catwoman's short-lived sidekick, Catgirl.
  • The most recent iteration of the Ray was named Lucien Gates. The Ray famously has light-themed powers, while Lucien is Greek for "light".
  • Zipi y Zape: The twins are named from the Spanish word zipizape ("chaos", "turmoil"). Peloto takes his name from one of the meanings of the Spanish word pelota ("suck up"), Sapientín's name obviously comes from sapient, etc.
  • Wetworks features Clayton Maure, alias Claymore, an elite soldier and demolitions expert.
  • Jade Singer from My Little Pony Micro Series Issue#1 . Jade as in "Jaded" and her last name Singer which singers are often called artists. I.E "Jaded Artist".
    • The four named ponies from My Little Pony Micro Series Issue #3, Wheat Grass, Flax Seed, Tofu, and Tempeh, all are names of products that would be otherwise considered highly organic or part of a natural way of lifestyle. Moreso, Tempeh continues to go on and on about soy products, which is apt, as tempeh is a foodstuff made from soybeans.
  • In Image Comics' Rat Queens, the Four Daves are an adventuring party of four men, all of them named Dave.
  • In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, Julie-Su's mother was named "Mari-Su", which certainly fit the view of Julie's half-sister Lien-Da as a sickeningly perfect being.
  • In Godzilla Awakening, the prequel comic to Godzilla (2014), the antagonist monster (Shinomura) is named after Shi No' Mure which literally translates into "swarm of death". This make sense due to the fact Shinomura is really a conglomerate monster made up of smaller creatures.
  • Victor Stone, from Teen Titans, was reconstructed like a Cyborg. His name is a Shout-Out to Victor Frankenstein (in German, "Frankenstein" means "Stone of the Franks").
  • Mr. Stubbs from The Multiversity, appears to take his name from a chimpanzee in Toby Tyler; or, Ten Weeks with a Circus, a Victorian novel concerning the difference between the glamour of the circus as seen from outside, and the reality of it as seen from the inside.
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