Beautiful things happen everyday in the comic shop that I manage. Last Wednesday, the customers and I got into a huge debate over whether The Batman is merely a hero or a superhero. (To me, he is the greatest of SUPERheroes.) There was no question that Batman is truly a hero but I was shocked that more than one person in the store shared the opinion that it takes SUPERPOWERS to become a SUPERHERO.
I called bullshit.
Yes, Batman has no superpowers. Neither does Lex Luthor YET we firmly consider Lex a SUPERVILLAIN. What exactly constitutes the "super?" IMO, it's all about the measures the hero will go through to ensure the safety of others. Is Lex just as great a supervillain because of the lengths he's willing to go through to ensure one's demise?
Batman is a superhero simply because his every action bears the truth. He is simply a man made extraordinary because of the scope of his quest. Is Jason's quest for The Golden Fleece somehow less diminished becauseit wasn't performed by Hercules? Jason's effort was certainly "Herculean," wasn't it?
Think about The Blue Beetle's death. Because of Beetle's lack of power, his demise certainly resonated with more power than Superman's. Was it deminished any due to his "lack of power?" No, it resonated with us because in his death, Beetle found his "power" through his humanity.
Think about the deaths of The Doom Patrol. Yes, they had powers but their "greatest adventure" was their last. When faced with the choice of saving themselves or the lives of 14 people, they made the only choice superheroes make: the unselfish one.
THAT made them superheroes. Not the ability to grow bigger. That is, I believe, the same decision Batman would make. That, to me, makes a "superhero."