Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Who are your favorite superheroes and why?

It's day two of my 30 Days of Blogging creative writing exercise, and today I will use the first question that I received from a friend when I announced this. From my friend Kevin:

Who are your favorite superheroes (other than the League) and why?

With Kevin and I both being more DC fans than Marvel, I'm assuming he means the Justice League, but I have to clarify something: the Justice League are not my favorite superheroes.

For those who are unfamiliar with who the Justice League are, they are DC Comics' headliner/blockbuster team, like Marvel's Avengers. The classic "Big 7" Justice League lineup is Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman, although DC has played with that over the years. For about twenty years Black Canary was a founder instead of Wonder Woman, and in the current version the editorial powers that be have swapped out Martian Manhunter for Cyborg. I've never really been a fan of the headliners, though, for a simple reason that also answers half of Kevin's question:

I am a fan of D-List superheroes.

Some of you may have figured this out already, given that my favorite team is, without a doubt, the Legion of Superheroes. If you read my blog, you know I've written about them over and over and over again, but probably the only two members that you can name, if you can think of any, are Ferro Lad and Invisible Kid. The Legionnaires are not individually famous, like the Justice Leaguers, but something in their earnestness and their need to prove themselves speaks to me. Any comic will sell with Batman on the front, but a Cosmic Boy miniseries? You have to really be a loyal fan to pick that up. Not surprisingly, the Legion started out as part of Superman's cast.

I love Superman's cast: Supergirl, Superboy, Krypto, Streaky, Whizzy, Comet, Beppo, Lois Lane, Dev-Em, Lana Lang, Jimmy Olsen, Cat Grant, Lex Luthor, Lori Lemaris, and on and on. I was even sad when Strange Visitor sacrificed herself to save the world.

I don't love Superman.

The big names never change, because they are icons. Superman, Captain America, Batman, and Robin might die, but they always come back. Spider-Man might get married, but he eventually gets reset back to single. Wonder Woman is always Diana from Paradise Island, and the Hulk might sometimes be red or grey, but he always gets set back to green. No matter how interesting the story, or how dramatic the shocking changes the cover promises, the icons always return to the status quo because that's what they're marketed as. Barbara Gordon spent more of her history as a character as Oracle than she did as Batgirl, but because the live-action Batgirl was Barbara Gordon and the Batgirl on "Batman: The Animated Series" was Barbara Gordon and the Batgirl in the George Clooney movie was Barbara Gordon, eventually in the comics she is always Barbara Gordon again.

Bette Kane and Cassandra Cain didn't stand a chance against her.

I love the D-Listers, though, because they are underdogs. They're the characters that things happen to, and the struggles that they go through are often permanent. Animal Man can climb out of the pages of his own comic book to confront his writer about the death of his family because he's not Superman. When Kole sacrifices herself to try to save Robin and the Huntress from death at the hands of the shadow demons her sacrifice is more poignant because no one is going to bring her back. Ferro Lad sacrifices himself to save the galaxy from the Sun Eater because Superboy can't. He has to grow up to become Superman.

Ferro Lad, on the other hand, explodes into legend.

So, yeah, my favorites are the lower tier heroes. The B, C, D, and Z listers. (That's you, Looker.) They're the ones that writers take risks with, and in the end, they're the ones who have better stories. They're the Blinks, and the Miss Martians, and the Obsidians, and the Spider Women (Julia Carpenter, not Jessica Drew), the Alpha Flights and the Outsiders and the Legion of Superheroes and the X Factors. They're Booster Gold in the classic Justice League episode "The Greatest Story Never Told". They're the potatoes that make the meat taste better, the side dish that completes the main course.

They are my favorites.

1 comment:

Marcheline said...

Batman, because the non-Disney-ized actual Batman was a complete bad-ass mofo. Plus, nice bulge.

Wonder Woman, because of the Lasso of Truth, and also, nice rack.