Wednesday, August 15, 2007

DC's Top 50: Long Time Comin'

So what’s with the long posts, Rob?

My laptop lock got lost in the move, and there’s no place to secure my laptop at night. I’m hoping to get a new one soon. The again, I figured we’d have a Democratic President by now, so I’m not exactly Karnak. Anyway, until that day, I’ll have my laptop on the train.

Today, I figure I’ll take a whack at finishing up a long-forgotten meme: The Top 50 Characters in the DC Universe. I was counting up, since everyone knows number one is Space Cabby.

Join us, won’t you, as we take a step back to yesterblog. You can see the first forty here, simply by clicking this link and scrolling down. And now, without further ado (like you’d want further ado – there’s been over a year of ado already, right? Oh—is THIS ado? You don’t say… I guess I’ll clam up then.)

This is me, clamming up. Onward, heroes!

41. The Shining Knight (Sir Justin): In a sense, he’s DC’s Captain America. Except instead of coming from World War II to fight in our time, he came from Arthurian times to fight in World War II. And riding a flying horse never hurts.

42. Deadman: Boston Brand, circus aerialist, shot to death in his first appearance. From there, his ghost haunts the world, righting wrongs and searching for the man who killed him, identifiable only by the hook that replaced his hand. Essentially, The Fugitive brought to comics, with a supernatural twist. Add in a great costume design by Carmine Infantino and Neal Adams’ hyperrealistic art, and it has all the hallmarks of a minor franchise. It’d make a fun movie, actually – besides the actor who plays Deadman’s spectral form, pretty much everyone else in the cast would have a chance to play Deadman, too, as he leaped into and out of their bodies, possessing them.

43. Elongated Man: Poor Ralph Dibny. I don’t think he was dead when I started this list, although he was certainly marked for it. But grief-stricken over his wife Sue’s death the year before, Ralph nevertheless channeled his loss into solving one last crime, and imprisoning the devil himself. It cost him his life, but there was an upside to that; he and Sue are reunited, solving supernatural mysteries as ghost detectives. Stretching was the least of his abilities.

44. Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. A long-haired kid in cutoff shorts, running through a world of talking animals. Yeah, it was kind of a ripoff of Planet of the Apes. That didn’t stop it from being much more fun. Let’s see Charlton Heston ride a giant grasshopper through a department store. Kamandi had a never-say-die spirit, and a never-stop-moving plot. He’s the Huck Finn of the apocalypse.

45. Pied Piper: To my knowledge, DC’s first gay character in its mainstream hero books. (The issue where he comes out to Wally was terrific.) Even better, a reformed villain who stayed reformed (at least, until recently, sort of. Oh, I don’t even know anymore). He’s a major player in Countdown, but Ill be interested in seeing him come back to a book I actually buy one of these days.

46. Ambush Bug: He knows he’s in a comic book. And he thinks the comic sucks. That’s one thing. Plus he put a baby doll in a costume and adopted him as “Cheeks, the Toy Wonder.” His primary nemeses include a giant koala, a nefarious sock, and Darkseid. He’s the Bugs Bunny of the DCU, and he’s sorely needed.

47. Green Lantern (Guy Gardner): The one Green Lantern – hell, one of the only heroes, period – who shows that not all good guys are nice guys. And not all jerks are creeps. When he was reintroduced to the DCU around the time of the first Crisis, he served pretty much as a foil for Hal Jordan. But in Jordan’s absence (whether in the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League or in the DCU at large in the decade Jordan spent as Parallax) he thrived, showing much more nuance than he had previously. He’s still funny, but no longer the comic relief he once was. It was a long road, but somewhere along the line, Guy became one of the most respected members of the Green Lantern Corps.

48. Zatanna: It’s not just the fishnets and magician’s outfit (really!). By mindwiping several supervillains and even her colleague Batman in the JLA, she’s become one of the most morally conflicted characters in the DCU. A recent reconciliation with Batman was a welcome step, but I doubt her earlier actions will ever leave her conscience. Like Superman, she’s so powerful that she can be defined by what she chooses not to do from now on.

49. Emerald Empress: This Legion villain was sexy before I knew what sexy was. But beyond that, she’s in charge of (or in the thrall of) an ancient, tremendously powerful artifact that even she doesn’t know the origin of. I liked her incarnation as the Empress in the 90s even better – it showed how deadly she was even before she acquired (or was acquired by) the Emerald Eye of Ekron. Frankly, I like her because she’s a big threat, and has a ton of story potential. And she’s teamed up with four other villains as badass as she is.

50. Paul Gambi: Tailor to the super-villains. Introduced in a Silver Age Flash comic as a tribute to a faithful reader (Paul Gambiccini was his name, I think) Gambi showed up a few more times in the decades since. Someone’s gotta find that blue and white boomerang pattern, make a suit and hat out of it, and then take another look and think, “Know what this needs? A silk scarf.” Paul Gambi is that guy, and the DCU would be a poorer place without him, and all the other people behind the scenes who make the craziness happen. (He's also the guy responsible for the horrible getup Piper is wearing, above.)

That’s it! One less thing on the loose ends list!


1 comment:

Alexandra Kitty said...

Very nice round out, Rob. Glad to see Guy Gardner and Ambush Bug there, though I think Guy would be hurt that he wasn't #1!