It takes a lot to make a superhero. Maybe it's a freak accident of some sort, or maybe it's your birthright, or maybe it's the fact you just got lucky and someone handed you a nice, shiny, green ring but, whatever it is, all the best ones have a dark and tragic past to go hand in hand with their abilities.
Oh sure, there's always room in the superhero pantheons for a happy go lucky, smiley-faced caped crusader, but the best ones - the ones that resonate with readers more often than not - are those that have been through the proverbial wringer on their way to becoming midnight vigilantes.
Perhaps it's because readers find it easier to relate to someone who has as many problems as they do, or perhaps it's because it always feels a little bit good to know someone out there has it worse than you do but - pop psychology aside - most will gravitate towards a hero with a tainted history more readily than one where butter wouldn't melt.
It's not always those heroes who wear their darkness on their sleeves who have the most tortured pasts either, and that's what makes it all so interesting...
10. Martian Manhunter
The Martian Manhunter has never had it easy. From his first appearance in Detective Comics #225, back in November 1955, all the way up to his current incarnation within the DC Universe, the alien who would become known as J'onn J'onzz always had a past that was as tortured as any other.
When he was first brought to Earth, it was against his will, thanks to Dr. Saul Erdel and his experimental transportation beam. Firing rays into space willy-nilly, he ended up pulling J'onn from his home planet and, when the shock of the encounter proved too much for him, caused him to drop dead. The Martian Manhunter now found himself stranded.
That alone would've been enough for him to find himself on this list, but what eventually followed was the icing on a tragic cake.
He would later discover that his twin brother, Ma'alefa'ak, had not only mind-raped his wife, M'yri'ah, but had been the person responsible for the ultimate destruction of Mars. He had created a trap, known as H’ronmeer’s Curse, that had meant that whenever they had used their telepathic abilities, they literally had burst into flames. Ouch.