Comic books are a playground for the imagination. Much like science fiction, comics don’t have to play by the rules of the normal world, which is why Batman can dodge bullets, the Hulk can lift a mountain, and Superman can sneeze apart a galaxy and no one bats an eye. That all has happened, by the way. It’s that same level of freedom, that unbridled enthusiasm which makes comic books a haven for ridiculous superhero cars, motorcycles, and everything in-between. Many of our entrants have been featured in Hollywood films or animated series by now, but all have origins in the glossy pages of a comic.
Most superheroes don’t need to drive, but when they do, they do it in style.
Tank (Tank Girl)
What’s better than beer, sex, and violence? Beer, sex, and violence in a tank, that’s what! Throw in a mutant kangaroo boyfriend, post-apocalyptic Australia, and a highly surreal punk art style, and you have the basis of a British comic called Tank Girl.
Tank Girl, a.k.a. Rebecca Buck, is a young anarchist that lives in a, well, you know. After her career as a bounty hunter was cut short for “accidentally” shooting a military officer and failing to deliver colostomy bags to the incontinent Head of State, she was declared a fugitive with a multi-million dollar price on her head. Luckily, she had a psychedelic tank and a buttload of guns on her side.
Steve Rogers’ motorcycle (Captain America)
If you couldn’t tell Captain America was patriotic by his name, outfit, star-laden shield, or undying service to his country, just check out his most famous ride — a custom Harley-Davidson.
Whether it’s the 1942 WLA he rode during the Second World War or the 2012 Softail Breakout from The Avengers, Steve Rogers’ motorcycle is an icon in its own right. Most iterations of the bike are unmodified from the factory, but certain models got a little boost from one Howard Stark, who added functions like self-destruct, a deployable trip wire, mini rocket launchers, and a rear-facing flamethrower. Because America.
Turtle Van (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
The X-Men have the X-Jet, the Avengers have a Helicarrier, and the Ninja Turtles have a van. It may not have the weaponry or flight capabilities as the others, but if you’re looking for a good place to scarf down pizza, the Party Wagon is your best bet.
The Turtle Van started out in life as an ordinary, run-of-the-mill people-carrier, but after the Turtles got a hold of it, it became the primary vehicle for one of the most beloved crime-fighting teams of all time. Depending on which version you’re looking at, the Turtle Van could be fitted with missiles, cannons, jet engines, retractable armor, a manhole cover launcher, or anything else Donatello could come up with. Cowabunga, dude!
Lawmaster (Judge Dredd)
The second two-wheeler to show up on our list, Judge Dredd’s Lawmaster is every bit as smart as the Street Judge’s Lawgiver pistol. Fitted with limited artificial intelligence, the futuristic motorcycle boasts machine guns, brass catchers, communication capabilities, and a scabbard for a magazine-fed shotgun called the Widowmaker 2000. Basically, when Judge Dredd says “I am the law,” you listen.
Now please, Hollywood — make a sequel to Dredd, already.
Fantasti-Car (Fantastic Four)
After, coincidentally, four tries at it, we still haven’t gotten a decent Fantastic Four film. It’s not for a lack of source material though, because as Marvel’s first superhero team, the Fantastic Four has plenty of fleshed-out storylines, captivating adversaries, and intriguing technologies to showcase. One of those technologies is the Fantasti-Car.
Despite its hilariously bad name, the Fantasti-Car is a versatile machine that developed a following of its own. Each variation — all of which can fly, by the way — can split into individual segments, and the Mk. II version has a top speed of more than 500 mph. There’s always a bit cheese with this family though, and for proof, look no further than the Dodge-branded Fantasti-Car from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
S.H.I.E.L.D. Flying Car (Marvel)
S.H.I.E.L.D. has all the coolest toys. As the only agency equipped to deal with scientifically-advanced and extraterrestrial threats, S.H.I.E.L.D. has access to a miscellany of tech from this world and beyond. Helicarriers are cool and all, but for our money, nothing beats a good old-fashioned flying car.
The airworthy automobile was originally designed by Stark Industries, and like the Iron Man suit, it has evolved greatly over the years. At various times, S.H.I.E.L.D. has used flying Porsche 904s, Porsche Boxsters, Aston Martin Vanquishes, and even Chrysler Prowlers (for some reason), but the most famous of the lot is the cherry red ’62 Corvette from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A restored classic, the ‘Vette features flamethrowers, guns, and the world’s first GPS system. She is lovingly named Lola by agent Coulson and she is not to be touched.
Why does Spider-Man need a car? Well, he doesn’t really, but this thing is so silly we had to include it.
The Spider-Mobile came to be after Spidey was approached by a company called Corona Motors, who asked him to promote the vehicle. He thought this a silly idea at first — he had to build the thing himself after all — but apparently Spider-Men still need to pay their Spider-Rent, so he eventually accepted the job. He called his superfriend Johnny Storm for help, and when they had finished, they’d created a spider-themed dune buggy of sorts complete with web shooters, an ejector seat, and naturally, a button that can make it look like a 1950s Chevrolet Fleetline.
Almost immediately, however, Spidey was tricked into driving the Spider-Mobile into the Hudson River by a villain called Mysterio. The original Spider-Mobile was eventually found, repaired, and repainted by Deadpool.
Hell Cycle (Ghost Rider)
Cleanse your thoughts of Nicholas Cage and come at this one with a clean slate. Yes, the two Ghost Rider films were very bad, and as the cinematic equivalent of drinking bleach, they may have left a bad taste in your mouth. Despite that, Ghost Rider is actually a pretty gritty fella.
He’s a stunt motorcyclist who sells his soul to the devil to save his dying father, and becomes possessed by an impish demon called Zarathos as a result. Under the influence of evil, the Rider becomes a flaming, superhuman skeleton with the power to make his victims feel all the pain they had ever inflicted on the world. Probably not the guy you want to cut off in traffic.
Even cooler is Ghost Rider’s choice of transportation — a mystical chariot made of pure hellfire. The motorcycle is nigh indestructible (making it a good choice for ramming), and can travel at speeds much higher conventional bikes, almost flying at times. It can also ride up vertical surfaces and over water, a not-so-subtle reference to its religious origins.
Black Beauty (Green Hornet)
If you like a car to be well-armed yet also classy, look no further. The main ride of the Green Hornet’s face-kicking chauffeur, Kato, the Black Beauty boasts more munitions than a Soviet pawn shop. The jet black Chrysler Imperial packs two .30 caliber machine guns, front-mounted missiles, a flamethrower, headlight shotguns, rear-mounted missiles, rear machine guns, door guns, anti-riot spikes, interior rifle mounts, and various other things that go POW!
The Pink Panther films parodied Green Hornet right down to its martial arts expert sidekick (named Cato in this instance), but the Panther’s daily driver was significantly less threatening — a modified Citroen 2CV called The Silver Hornet. It also broke down all the time, but we suppose that was the point.
Was there ever any doubt? The Batmobile is without question the most iconic vehicle ever featured in a comic book, and it’s unequivocally the coolest. Whether it’s the 1960s-era convertible, the sleek Art Deco version from the animated series, or the tank-like Tumbler from The Dark Knight trilogy, all of Batman’s rides are unique in their own way, each with its own gadgets, weaponry, and distinct personality.
As to which is the best, it depends on your preference, or, in the case of some, which one you grew up with. Head on over to our list of favorite Batmobiles to see where you stand.