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Memorial Day Special!

I didn't notice the List of the 50 Greatest DC Characters EVAR until it was too late, but even if I did, I wouldn't have voted because there are not 50 DC characters out there I like, let alone find great. So instead, I present to you a list I can actually manage:

10. Guy Gardner: When I was a kid I hated him, but now I realize that the only way to make a Green Lantern interesting is to make him brain-damaged. Think upon that and realize what that says about the rest of the Corps. Giant living planet and chipmunk who walks like a man, you are more boring than an Irish douchebag with a concussion. Hang what passes for your heads in shame.

9. The Question: In his first episode of JLU, he didn't even get named (or if he did, it passed so quickly I missed it), but I did learn several important things about him:

a. His powers are not having a face and being crazy, in that order.
b. He knows full well the importance of a song to lighten one's burden.
c. Stealth is for losers who have faces.

Later on, I learned that he is not only willing to garrote people if the need arises, but also that he will announce his intentions before doing it. (Like I said, stealth is for losers who have faces.) In the comics, he was a bit duller on account of all the grimness and not-going-through-Green-Arrow's-trash (though I do appreciate the Brock Samson years), but I'll always have memories of precious Faceless Mulder to cherish in the coming post-oil years.

8. Rocket Red: He's a cuddly, bearded, politically-ambivalent Communist, and I think it's a damn shame that they asploded him, because he could have been the focus of some great adult-oriented (not "adult," just "for grown people") stories. Think about it--a former ideologue trying to navigate the ruins of the Soviet Union, having to deal with a system he may at one time have wished for but that seems a great deal different in its execution. He's not as young as he used to be, but his long experience in that suit would make him a formidable bear of an opponent, even if he's not so sure what he should be fighting for. Would he be nostalgic for the old days under the Politburo? Was that gear rightfully his, or did he spirit it away when the people in charge of these things abandoned their posts after the collapse? Would he hire himself out to an oligarch to keep his family comfortable, or spend most of his time defending stockpiles of nuclear material to prevent the calamity that befell the world that the Extremists came from (the same sort of thing that kids of his generation feared)? Or something else entirely? How are his kids adjusting to life in Russia, having once lived in the West?

We'll never know. But that's OK. It was really, really important to point up how badass the OMACs were.

7. Big Barda: My love for Barda is very simple: she's huge, well-armored, and enjoys hitting people really, really hard. In a sense, I see myself in her, though I don't think I'd marry someone who dresses like Mr. Miracle. But maybe. You never know.

6. Fire and Ice: I'm cheating by including two pairs here, but some characters I don't think work except in a pair. Hence Bea and Tora, who separately fare very poorly, but by their powers combined are adorable and flawed pieces of humanity. Extremely poorly-dressed pieces of humanity, at that.

5. Mr. and Mrs. Dibny: One's a colossal dork who is also a colossal smarty-boots! The other's a bright, snarky socialite who loves him enough to tolerate those times that he talks to her while he's peeing three rooms away! They get raped get murdered get set on fire seriously consider suicide fight crime!

I do like Ralph a tad more than Sue, though, because I really like his white and lavender "em" outfit. I think it's keen.

4. The Starman-era Shade: Do you know how Identity Crisis really should have ended? Instead of giving away the bit about the note in the most hamfisted manner possible, Jean should've kept her mouth shut and gone about the important business of having sex with Ray Palmer, while elsewhere people are starting to realize that some asshole brought a teeny tiny flamethrower into Sue's brain. Oh no, it might be Ray! Boy, what a dick! Cut back to the a-rockin' Palmer bed, where the couple is interrupted by the sudden and entirely unholy apparition of the Shade, standing at the end of the bed with his cane and top hat and an absolutely indescribable look of "Your ass is grass, and I am an extremely bitchin' lawnmower" on his face. Lo and behold, it was actually Jean who killed Sue, and now that the Shade knows that, Jean is in So Much Trouble You Have No Idea. Ray tries to protect her because he can't believe she'd do that (on account of her denying it up and down and actually, you know, covering her ass), but he's the goddamn Shade, and la la la la things go down in a much less disturbing and stupid fashion. Rather than learning "Bitches are crazy," the take-home message of IC becomes "Do not touch the Shade's things," which is certainly a better way to go.

3. Stupid TV Flash: IMPOTENCE?

Oh, Stupid TV Flash, I love you so, even if you do forget that your power makes you both unstoppable and without need of a van. For a while there I was genuinely worried that he'd die at the end of season 4 of JLU. Thankfully he didn't, because apart from the finale, the only good episodes of the last JLU season involved Flash doing Flash things.

I'd also place TV's Frank Amanda Waller here, except she and the Flash don't constitute a pair, so I guess she gets bumped off the list. Poor Amanda Waller, you are too awesome for this list.

2. Booster Gold/Skeets: From what I've seen, the writers of 52 are really trying to evoke Billy West's voice when they write Skeets, and it's been failing for me, but at least they recognize what Your Tiny Robot Pal SHOULD sound like. Apart from that, it's Booster. Booster, of the shiny ass and loose morals, Booster of the empty bank account. Booster, the football star written by men who clearly don't like football stars. He's the best, and also wears a very nice outfit when the collar's not out of control.

And yes, he's even a workable Christ figure if you really need him to be. I don't see why you would, but it's nice to know. Booster really should have taken my top spot, but I've grown to seriously hate his latest incarnation, so that leaves but one man to pick up the slack.

1. Blue Beetle: I know it's sacrilegious, but reading a bunch of the old JLI stuff as an adult, I've come to understand that a lot of the Beetle's schtick just wasn't that funny--a lot of it was recycled or otherwise warmed-over vaudeville routines that went out of style before my parents were born, corny sub-Fozzie Bear wocka-wocka nonsense. If I were encountering it now, I'd ignore it. But somehow, that's a lot of Ted's charm for me. This won't make any sense to you unless you were growing up in the tristate area (NY, NJ, and CT) in the late 80s, but Ted is kind of like Steampipe Alley. It's sort of lame, but it's entertaining enough, and it's pretty much the only game in town to entertain a kid playing hooky from church. Ted's a relic of the world that disappeared at the end of history; the world I was raised to expect, the one that had local kids' TV shows and Communists to fight and comics that kids could and wanted to read, that disappeared, replaced by networks that ate the old independents and nothing to worry about but sexed-up interns and child molestors that Superman couldn't beat. And I know that's nothing special, and everyone feels that way when they get older, but that's what the old JLI (and Ted in particular) does for me.

So you can imagine I really appreciated it when they blew his brains out. It's all very Bill McNeil of them.

But Ted's a great character on top of all that. Some people will say that the Morrison or the Miller or the ___ Batman is their Batman; Ted is my Batman. He's making the world a better place, not because of a personal tragedy or the discovery of powers or particularly handy crime-fighting gear, but because someone he loved asked him to carry on where he could not. I don't think most of us would be able to fulfill that kind of deathbed promise, but Ted did, and for that alone that makes him a better person than Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. He didn't set out because he wanted to make a difference, but because someone asked him to make one; in this, he's similar to the Jack Knight Starman, but Ted had it rougher since he had to build and learn his trade by himself. Somewhere I saw a panel that had Ted claiming that the reason he made jokes all the time was because he felt guilty over Dan Garrett's death, but I think that's the wrong way to go--Ted's Beetlyness should've been a celebration of his friend, not a lament. You get the sense that he's just keeping Dan's costume warm for him; in the issues of JLI where he goes into the coma and nearly dies, we see exactly that in his mostly-empty head. More than that, you could claim that not only is Ted carrying on in Dan's footsteps, but he's also living up to his example, even if he's quiet about it; why would he identify himself with Dan so strongly in his subconscious unless he really felt that he was worthy of wearing that outfit? That bit at the end of Countdown where he hopes that someone else will be a better Beetle than he was really, really rang false because of that; first, why would anyone want to honor a loser like he thinks he is (though it would have been interesting if they dumped a mostly-dead Ted where Jaime could find him, and Ted begged him to keep things going before dying), and second, I think he really did feel like he was being a good little Beetle. Or at least he used to. Maybe being fat took that away from him. What happened to him after the XTREEMLY JUST years was a great big muddle, especially since he was relegated at the end to being a professional crowd-shot cameo.

Those issues with the coma and the crotch in Amanda Waller's face are probably my favorite for another reason: you can see what Ted's really capable of when he puts his mind to it. He's not a buffoon, and anyone who made him one should be rapped on the knuckles for suggesting it. If he really were as stupid as he looked, he would've gotten killed years ago. (Though it does explain how he finally bit it. WHO SAYS NO?) I hate that people think that just because someone cracks jokes, that makes them incompetent. It might make you annoying, sure, but being funny is orthogonal to being stupid in real life, and I wish that was true in comics. In my mind, Ted's more like a very smart, slightly malevolent Joe Garelli: good-hearted but a little weird, really great at cobbling random bits of duct tape into missile defense systems, and willing to channel his "I'mma punch you" impulses into elaborately cruel practical jokes. Instead, we get Cap'n Mopey-mope Assfat, now with Lakeview Hippocampus.

I mean, really.


( 52 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 29th, 2006 09:24 pm (UTC)
Bah! That 'Great Curve' list was crap, crap I say! This is why democracy fails. ComiXfan had such a better list. And I might just be saying that because they put John Constantine on #3 and I am a Vertigo whore.

However, I think your top #10 is for the win. Identity Crisis + Shade = +50 badassery!
May. 29th, 2006 10:02 pm (UTC)
The Comixfan list was wrong for many reasons, not least among them the fact that there is no way that Aquaman is a better character than the Shade.

I mean, COME ON.
(no subject) - thekeet - May. 30th, 2006 01:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sollie7 - May. 30th, 2006 02:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thekeet - May. 30th, 2006 03:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - heykidzcomix - May. 30th, 2006 02:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 29th, 2006 09:26 pm (UTC)
lots of agreement
May. 29th, 2006 09:31 pm (UTC)
Ted Kord did, by himself, in about two years, what it took Bruce Wayne ten years to accomplish. People forget that.
May. 30th, 2006 03:22 am (UTC)
That being ... ?
(no subject) - jarodrussell - May. 30th, 2006 03:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - razorsmile - May. 30th, 2006 03:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jarodrussell - May. 30th, 2006 06:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - heykidzcomix - May. 30th, 2006 02:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 29th, 2006 09:43 pm (UTC)
Re Rocket Red: I know nothing about him, being the Marvel Commie that I am. But you should read The Winter Men if you haven't been, 'cause it's the adult-oriented, ex-Soviet super-soldier adventure you're looking for, all beautifully illustrated by John Paul Leon and with excellent mistranslated Russian-to-English idiomatic dialogue. Also, it's possibly the densest mainstream comic book that's been pushlished in the last five years, at least, if you like a high ratio of words and ideas to images. It's not very good toilet reading because your tailbone will hurt.
May. 29th, 2006 09:59 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it looks good, but it comes out once every four months. I'm waiting for a collection to come out.
(no subject) - tarpit05 - May. 29th, 2006 10:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 29th, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC)
I'd marry Vic Sage in a heartbeat. ::wists::

As much as I love Wally... I think The Question is the only person in the entire DCU I'd actually want a relationship with. If he wasn't a fictional character, of course. ::cough::
May. 29th, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC)
Did somebody say Stupid TV Flash?

Also, a friend of mine once told a girl that she reminded him of Big Barda (a fair comparison). She didn't get it, and he was going to find a comic to show her, but then decided against it. Wise, I think. That's a lotta woman.
May. 29th, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
...I forgot just how much fake muscle they crammed into that suit.

I meant this one, but...just...

jeezum crow, man.
(no subject) - gwalla - May. 30th, 2006 04:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - raielchan - May. 30th, 2006 05:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - phthoggos - May. 30th, 2006 09:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - heykidzcomix - May. 30th, 2006 03:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - phthoggos - May. 30th, 2006 05:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - phthoggos - May. 31st, 2006 05:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - heykidzcomix - May. 31st, 2006 05:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - raielchan - May. 31st, 2006 02:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - evanwaters - Jun. 1st, 2006 06:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gwalla - Jun. 1st, 2006 05:04 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 29th, 2006 10:38 pm (UTC)
The only thing I agreed with in the Great curve list was Space Cabby.
He should be ranked that high though not necesarily higher than Alfred.
May. 30th, 2006 01:18 am (UTC)
"Bitches are crazy" vs. "Do not touch Shade's things". "Bitches are crazy" vs. "Do not touch Shade's things". "Bitches..."

Yeah. "Do not touch Shade's things" would have been a MUCH better message.

Poor Ted. We miss you and we hope that you come back. Because you're cool in the "Bwa-ha-ha" sense, not in the "I'm so bad" sense. ;_; I want my non-angst-bucket heroes back.
May. 30th, 2006 01:24 am (UTC)
Fantastic write up, HKC.
May. 30th, 2006 02:09 am (UTC)
Ted is my Batman. He's making the world a better place, not because of a personal tragedy or the discovery of powers or particularly handy crime-fighting gear, but because someone he loved asked him to carry on where he could not

...I hate that people think that just because someone cracks jokes, that makes them incompetent.

...In my mind, Ted's more like a very smart, slightly malevolent Joe Garelli: good-hearted but a little weird, really great at cobbling random bits of duct tape into missile defense systems, and willing to channel his "I'mma punch you" impulses into elaborately cruel practical jokes

*holds up lighter*
May. 30th, 2006 04:21 am (UTC)
Mr. Miracle is the manliest man of all. It takes giant balls of solid titanium to go out in public looking like that.
May. 30th, 2006 03:35 pm (UTC)
I think Shilo's balls are even bigger--Mr. Miracle's from Apokalips, so he has an excuse, but Shilo should really know better.
(no subject) - gwalla - Jun. 1st, 2006 04:56 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 30th, 2006 05:25 am (UTC)
I very much agree with your list.

Though I will admit to enjoying every JLU episode at least in some manner.
May. 30th, 2006 01:42 pm (UTC)
In my mind, Ted's more like a very smart, slightly malevolent Joe Garelli: good-hearted but a little weird, really great at cobbling random bits of duct tape into missile defense systems, and willing to channel his "I'mma punch you" impulses into elaborately cruel practical jokes.

... And now I'm seeing Joe trying to get into the superhero business.

Of course, he just does it in the hopes of getting laid.
May. 30th, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC)
...you mean Ted didn't?
(no subject) - apathocles - May. 30th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 30th, 2006 10:24 pm (UTC)
Shade could make any series better... Imagine ASBAR with The Shade.
Jun. 1st, 2006 04:56 am (UTC)
There would be one issue. Batman would not survive.

So, yes. Much better.
Jun. 4th, 2006 12:00 am (UTC)
Kudos to your top ten.
I agree almost exactly with your pics, although I have to put John Constantine, Death and Buddy Baker in to replace Shade, Barda and Guy...sorry Guy and Barda, I love you both but I love my Vertigo weirdos more.
( 52 comments — Leave a comment )

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