Sunday, June 11, 2006

The DC List Returns!

Maybe I look like a spider man
But just say the word and I'll learn to fly

Like Ralph Dibny, the list streches on and on. You didn’t think I’d forget about them, didja? I mean, it’s a list, for chrissakes. A list. Let's think about what that means and hop on down to 31.

31. The Question:The star of one of the most remarkable books of the eighties, Vic Sage (aka Charles Victor Szasz, aka No-face guy—no one ever called him the Question in the book, although he tended to respond to “Who the hell are you?” with “Good question”) was motivated more by curiosity than justice – a very odd motivation for a super hero. It was a curiosity directed both outward and inward. In a demonstration of how cerebral the book could be, there was a two-issue story where Vic was buried up to his neck, motionless.
32. Deadshot: The best marksman in the world, and an assassin for hire. Yet for some reason, he never hits Batman. But those are just the rules of comics, right? Wrong. When Batman tells him to his face, “You’ve been pulling your shots around me,” it opened up a new avenue of character: Why would the world’s best marksman subconsciously keep himself from killing Batman?
33. Bat Lash: Essentially Maverick to Jonah Hex’s Man With No Name. A fun-lovin’ sweet-talkin’, card-cheatin’ cowboy, and a breath of fresh air in the midst of the grittier tales of the Old West.
34. Detective Chimp: A talking chimp who solves crimes in a deerstalker cap. Or at least, that’s what he did in the 50s. After a 50-year bender (and what’s funnier than a drunk monkey?) this ball-busting primate has taken up leadership of a bunch of DC’s “magic” heroes in the lacklusterly-named “Shadowpact.” (Lacklusterly? Ah, whatever. This is late enough as it is.)
35. Dian Belmont: As Greg predicted, Wes “Sandman” Dodds’s better half is here. The daughter of a D.A. in 1930s New York, Dian completes one of the best love stories in comics. Slowly evolving from a somewhat spoiled party girl with a good head on her shoulders to a concerned citizen of the world, she pushes Wes through as many changes as he inspires in her. What’s even sweeter is that, years later, when Jack Knight finally meets them, it’s Dian he’s awed by. She is, after all, one of his favorite writers.
36. Johnny Thunder: He’s always played for laughs, and appropriately so. I’ve always thought that a teenager (well, he was created in the 40s, before teenagers had any cultural identity of their own) with a Badhnesian Hex-bolt (read: genie) that would do his bidding was a great, kid-friendly idea. The fact that he didn’t know the Thunderbolt’s activation words for so long was the icing on the cake.
37. Braniac 5: Surprisingly, the only member of the Legion of Super-Heroes on my list, and I’ve never even really considered him a favorite. But as the arrogant scientist, he’s got a personality strong enough to take him consistently through the group’s many iterations. The idea that he’s the descendant (sort of) of one of the 21st centuries’ greatest villains is another plus.
38. Cyborg: One of a long tradition of superheroes “turned into a monster,” spearheaded, of course, by Marvel’s the Thing (and followed by DC’s Robotman). But what Cliff Stone, turned into a half-robot as the result of an accident in his father’s lab, was able to do that most similar heroes haven’t? He got over himself. It started in New Teen Titans #8, when he is confronted by a group of kids playing baseball in a park, who, like him, all have prosthetic limbs. Except they can’t turn their arms into sonic cannons. Eventually – and it was a long, slow process – he came to terms with his condition. And the happy-go-lucky cartoon version is always a joy to watch. Boo-YAH!
39. Crazy Jane: A multiple personality superhero, with a different power for each personality. Not the most reliable person to have on your team, but one of the most entertaining.
40. Enemy Ace: How DC ever had the chutzpah to make a recurring antihero out of a German World War I flying ace (the second most famous WWI airman in comics, and the first is a dog!), I’ll never know. But there’s something about Baron Hans von Hammer’s melancholy and skill that are compelling. The Hammer of Hell does three things well: fly, shoot, and brood.

More soon!



Greg! said...

Ah, Crazy Jane.
Damn, I ought to reread that whole Doom Patrol run. Sounds like a good excuse to shop around for the trade collections...

Rob S. said...

Yeah, I'd like to look back on them as well: "All the other children laughed at me because I was just a brain in a tank!"