Captain Horatio Strong is a fictional character appearing in DC Comics publications. He was created as a parody of Popeye.
First appearing in Action Comics #421 (February 1973), Captain Strong was created by writer Cary Bates, who had wanted to see what would happen if Superman and Popeye (or a reasonable proxy of him) were to meet. In the first story, Bates presented a darker side of the famous sailor; the green vegetable akin to spinach that gave him his strength was in effect a drug, making him dangerously irrational as well as superhumanly powerful.
The character was designed to be more realistic-looking than Popeye, but still similar to him in appearance and speech. Other characters who appeared in his stories included Carnox (the DC Comics version of Bluto), his girlfriend Olivia Tallow (a takeoff of Olive Oyl), whom he later married, and his idle rich friend J. Wellington Jones (a knockoff of J. Wellington Wimpy). In one story Strong was reunited with his long-lost father, Pappy Strong (a takeoff of Poopdeck Pappy).
- Action Comics Vol 1 issue 421 (February 1973)
- Action Comics Vol 1 issue 439 (September 1974)
- Action Comics Vol 1 issue 456 (February 1976)
- Superman Vol 1 issue 361 (July 1981)
- Action Comics Vol 1 issue 566 (April 1985)
- Green Arrow Vol 3 issue 22 (May 2003)
- Harley Quinn Vol 2 issue 18 (July 2015)
Horatio Strong, captain of The Fantasia, is naturally stronger that most men, but one day he discovered a strange seaweed he called "sauncha," the consumption of which made him superhumanly strong. At first he used his newfound power to do good for others, but the sauncha (which turned out to be of extraterrestrial origin) had unexpected side-effects; it acted like a drug, making its user dangerously irrational and causing severe withdrawal pains. After being stopped by Superman and taken to a hospital, Strong swore off ever using sauncha again, saying that he would only rely on normal vegetables to keep up his strength. Strong became a friend of both Clark Kent and Superman (never realizing they were the same man, of course).
In the rebooted Post-Crisis continuity, Horatio was changed to be a drug-addict who was addicted to a type of alien seaweed called "Speed Weed", both a pun on the DC writer and producer Speed Weed, and a parody of Popeye's spinach. Like the sailor's vegetable of choice, Speed Weed seemed to increase Strong's strength, but, unlike spinach, it turned him violent and misanthropic, often getting in fights and wishing to avoid the company of everyone, even his wife. When Harley Quinn helped him overcome his addiction, his true personality, that of a kind, good-natured soul shined through once more as he became an ally of Quinn.