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CSBG Archive

Top 50 DC Characters #45-41

Here’s the next batch of characters!!

45. Jonah Hex – 162 points (5 first place votes)

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Jonah Hex was created by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga in one of DC’s 70s Western comics, and soon became one of DC’s most popular Western characters.

Known mostly for his terrible facial scar, Hex was different from other Western heroes, and so were his stories – they had more of an edge to them, which is something that Michael Fleisher kept up when he became the writer most known for Hex’s stories.

Hex’s solo series lasted almost 100 issues, but was canceled during Crisis on Infinite Earths. At the same time, though, Fleisher debuted a new Hex series, set in a post-Apocalyptic future that Hex was thrust into, in a sort of Mad Max style series. That comic lasted about two years.

That was mostly it for Hex for the next twenty years, besides some notable mini-series for Vertigo by Joe R. Lansdale and Timothy Truman during the 90s that were a bit more fantasy oriented than the original Hex comics.

Recently, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti started a Jonah Hex ongoing series closer to the feel of the original series.

Here’s John Mihaly, explaining why he put Hex #1 on his list…

I guess my pick of Hex has something to do with Westerns and cowboys as a whole. In a way, they’re this country’s original and indigenous form of pseudo-superhero. There’s good gunslingers and bad and some who fall in
between, like Hex.

He’s a simple character and if you’ve read any of his old stories they pretty much go like this: Hex rides into town. Is alerted to a wrong doing. Fixes that wrong doing. Discovers those that alerted him to the wrong doing are actually doing even more wrong themselves. Fixes that wrong. Rides off. End of story. It works though. Sometimes he gets the girl. Some times ( a lot of times) the girl is sickened by him. He’s funny at times but doesn’t really try that hard to be so.

But Hex, and his facial disfigurement make him a somewhat sympathetic character. Sort of the way you’re supposed to feel for Wolverine (because he’s short, ugly and feral) but that never really took. It’s his very original scarring that makes him stand out from any other gunfighter figure.

And it’s that same scarring that in my opinion opens up Hex to take on some more supernatural stories (like the mid to late 90′s Vertigo books written by Landsdale) or more standard comic-book stories like when Hex travels to the distant future. He works well in all of those stories.

All in all, he’s an underrated bad ass that I would put up there with your more popular types like the Punisher or Wolverine. After watching three seasons of Deadwood I’m convinced that a Hex movie or series could be done quite well.

Thanks, John!

44. Plastic Man – 163 points (3 first place votes)

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Plastic Man debuted in the pages of Quality Comics’ Police Comics, written and drawn by his creator, the legendary Jack Cole.

Plastic Man can stretch his body into any shape imaginable, and Cole used this to great effect, as he drew plenty of amusing, surreal tales using his stretching hero.

After Quality went out of business, DC Comics bought their characters, and Plastic Man was one character that they featured heavily, including later having him star in a well-received Saturday morning cartoon series.

In recent years, Plastic Man has gotten more attention (he was pretty much invisible for most of the 80s and 90s), as first Grant Morrison made him a member of the Justice League of America, and later, writer/artist Kyle Baker gave Plastic Man an excellent (although too short-lived) ongoing series.

Here is Stephen Cade explaining why Plastic Man was his #1 pick…

Why did I choose Plastic Man as my top choice?

I think the root of this is that I have a wacky side and a serious side, and I can relate to him that way. I am not a fan of all incarnations of Plas, some seem too wacky and some too serious.

Of course the best Plas is Jack Cole’s. I have some reprints of his work and he was creative and fresh. He didn’t really poke fun at superhero conventions, but he ignored them or used them-depending on the story. He created a sense of fun while going his own way. And as wacky as the stories could be, they were about story, and about the redemption of Eel O’Brien.

It seems odd to some to point out Plas has a serious side–but it’s there. And it’s a great counterpoint to Woozy Winks. Woozy almost made my top 10 as well.

My first exposure to Plas was the 70′s story-”Hamsters of Doom” which I picked up at a used book store–and I was hooked. Many of the 70′s stories were uneven, but there was good stuff and Hamsters was the cream of the crop for all post Cole Plas stories. Dr Forklift, the Cyborg Centaur almost made my top 10.

Thanks, Stephen!

42 (tie). Bizarro – 169 points

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Bizarro first popped up in a Superboy issue by Otto Binder and George Papp.

Soon, the character began popping up all over the Superman titles, and rarely were there any real consistency in Bizarro’s background between the tales, except that he looked like a pasty Superman and he talked in opposite talk, “Me like you. Hello!” instead of “I hate you. Goodbye!”

There was even a Bizarro WORLD, a cube-shaped planet with bizarro versions of all of Superman’s supporting cast.

Crisis on Infinite Earths ended with Bizarro erased from Superman history, with John Byrne bringing him back quickly as a cloned version of Superman. This clone version came back a few years later.

More recently, due to a storyline where the Joker gained the powers of Mister Mxyzptlk, Bizarro is now basically back to his original state.

There is a current story in Action Comics featuring Bizarro World. It has amazing Eric Powell artwork. Eric Filemyr had Bizarro high on his list. Here is why:

“Me hate Bizarro.” There, got that out of the way.

In my mind, Bizarro is one of the great comic book creations. An imperfect, opposite-speaking duplicate of Superman from a cube-shaped world? Seriously, that is such a wacky, old school idea that could only come from comic books. Over the years though, Bizarro has proved himself to be more than a one-note joke. Even though he died in his first story, he kept coming back with different interpretations. Throughout the years, he has been used as a Frankenstein analogue, a sympathetic victim, an unstoppable monster, and even as a window for alternative comics creators to interpret the DC Universe in “Bizarro Comics.”

Bizarro is one of the few comics characters to really break into popular culture, showing how unique he is. Whether being referenced by Cordelia Chase on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” AND “Angel” or being brought into the pop culture lexicon thanks to Jerry Seinfeld, Bizarro has shown his influence.

The greatest villains reflect something in the heroes they fight, and Bizarro is an excellent example of that. Yes, Superman is powerful, but Bizarro shows what power is without a brain. He is sometimes funny, sometimes terrifying, and sometimes the most tragic character. And even though he was killed off in his first story almost 50 years ago, he is still inspiring the greats in comics like Morrison and Johns to tell his backwards-speaking tales.

Thanks, Eric!

42 (tie). Impulse/Kid Flash/Flash (Bart Allen) – 169 points (5 first place votes)

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Bart Allen, grandson of Barry and Iris Allen, showed up in the pages of Flash during Mark Waid’s classic Flash run, created by Waid and artist Mike Wieringo.

He grew up in the future, and was actually aged artificially, aging from an infant to a young teen almost instantly, with his memories supplied through virtual reality. As a result, young Bart had a hard time adjusting to the normal world, and often acted way too, well, impulsively.

He ended up becoming the protege of the great speedster hero, Max Mercury, who Bart went to live with as Bart attended school. Impulse became a member of the Titans, and later, Young Justice.

During this time, Max disappeared, and Bart ended up going to live with Jay Garrick and his wife, Joan.

Then Bart joined the newly reformed Teen Titans.

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A possessed Deathstroke shot blew off Bart’s kneecap, causing it to be replaced by an artificial one. Fearing he was not serious enough to be a superhero, Bart went to a library and used his superspeed to read every book in the library, becoming basically a sort of genius.

Soon afterwards, Bart disappeared along with Wally West (the Flash) in an attempt to stop a bad guy from killing many other superheroes.

When Bart returned, he was older, and was now the Flash.

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Tragically, during a battle with the Rogues, Bart lost his powers due to a machine built by his evil clone, Inertia. He fought the Rogues valiantly, but in the end, they killed him.

Here is why Kieran Shiach had Bart #1….

I chose Bart Allen for as my favourite character because of his many reasons.

He has one of the greatest origins in the history of comics, raised in virtual reality, he literally knows no fear, he doesn’t understand the concept of danger, he’s that little voice that tells you to bungee jump, skydive, or steal the parents car to go on a date. He’s not a master detective like Tim Drake or the stud of the group like Superboy, he’s just a kid, he enjoys kid things, he plays video games and at his best period (Impulse) he thought girls were ‘icky’ I love Bart Allen because he is the epitome of the ‘Inner Child’ fun, carefree and yes, impulsive. In a recent flashback in Teen Titans he stated “Thinking is overrated, you gotta do” and I think that sums up Bart perfectly.

Thanks, Kieran!

41. Flash (Jay Garrick) – 170 points (1 first place vote)

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Created by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert, Jay Garrick debuted in the comic that bore his name, Flash Comics #1, in 1940.

Jay was a college student who gained his speed powers by inhaling heavy water vapors (or something like that, does it really matter?). He first used his powers to become a sports star, but then decided to be a hero, using a shirt patterned after the God Mercury, and a helmet his father used during the Great War (stylized to look like the Greek God Hermes).

Jay eventually became one of the most prominent members of the Justice Society of America, serving with them for many years, even going to limbo with them for years.

Jay is married to Joan Garrick, and they are one of the few superhero romances to begin in the Golden Age and continue to this day!

Currently, Jay is once again with the Justice Society of America, helping to keep a watchful eye on the next generation of superheroes.

Here is Anthony Strand, detailing why he thinks Jay is #1…

Jay Garrick started out as an irresponsible young man, smoking and sleeping on the job. Instead of fired, though, he got superpowers and immediately used them to . . . win a football game and impress the girl who would become his wife. Since his return, that isn’t mentioned much, but I think it’s key to his character. He started out unsure of what to do with superpowers. But he learned quickly (heh), and he’s been the consummate hero ever since. He doesn’t fight crime because he has a Batman-style personal vendetta or a Superman-like obligation (he could have retired long ago, and The Flash would still be there). He fights crime because it’s there and he has the skill to help out. He does all this despite being in his mid-80s, and while he might not show his years physically, he wears every one of them emotionally. He has shared that experience with younger heroes from Barry Allen to Stargirl, ably filling the role of Grandfather for the DC Universe.

Like many grandfathers, then, he seems equally at ease with a wisecracking grin or an admonishing scowl. He always takes his job seriously, but he never forgets that being a superhero is, above all, fun.

And that’s not to mention the best marriage in comics. Unlike some superhero husbands, Jay never sits around talking about how much he loves Joan. He doesn’t need to. After all these years, it’s still obvious every time they look at each other.

Thanks, Anthony!!

That’s it for today, folks!

See you tomorrow for more!

23 Comments

Working on a Jonah Hex book would be a blast. Especially with, as John Mihaly mentioned, a Deadwood (or Vertigo or Marvel MAX) sensibility.

I always love the description of Jay in James Robinson’s ‘Shade’ miniseries, where he says Carter (Hawkman) is the one you’re scared of, Alan (Green Lantern) is the one you’re in awe of, but Jay is the one you LIKE. He’s everyone’s pal, and just a genuinely nice guy.

I voted for the Wally West Flash in my top 10 but truthfully it could have been any of the Flashes in there. Good to see the original gets a placing in the final 50- with 3 other popular flashes to deal with he could have been frozen out.

Jay was one of my ones who nearly made it to my list.

The Jonah Hex Showcase Presents book is super cool. He’s “the killingest man that ever was!” I hope volume two comes out eventually…

Oh, I’ll second that. ‘Showcase Presents Jonah Hex’ belongs on every comic fan’s shelf. Hex is such a well-drawn character, every story is just purely honed Western goodness…I’m not even much of a Western fan, and Jonah Hex won me over by the end of the first story. Don’t recall if I put him on my top ten (the DC universe is a crowded place), but I’m glad to see him on this list.

Bizarro is my first character I voted for to rank! Both he and Jessica Jones ranked today, and I had them both as my number 3 on each list.
I just think that Bizarro is such a great, goofy Silver Age concept. I think that along with the likes of Plastic Man and Captain Marvel and the Legion os Super-Heroes, he is a concept that is clearly rooted in comics and no other media could have produced him. On top of that, they are all also unique in comics. I’m resisting the urge to speak Bizarro-speak, so I’ll end here.

Jonah Hex is the first DC character to make my Top 10 list so far. There’s something about the character that just plain *works*. I think some of it is all the little details, like the scarring and the Confederate cavalry uniform, that all have intriguing backstories, but aren’t talked about incessantly (or, usually, at all, Jonah not being the most talkative of fellas.) Interesting to see him next to the gimmicky high-concept characters who round out Showcase Volume 1 with Jonah, a high-concept character who *works*. (I need that Showcase Volume 2, dammit!)

Bizarro’s a fun character, though his more recent appearances usually annoy me, with writers not quite “getting the point” in some way or another. IMO, Bizarro should be “sort of” dangerous (mostly by well-meaning accident), but *never* truly malevolent or murderous. And it annoys me when people take his “opposite” talk too literally. Bizarros are imperfect duplicates, and their *imperfection* is imperfect too! Bizarro dialogue shouldn’t have to be parsed with a “reverse every single word’s meaning” algorithm.

Anthony Strand’s description of Jay Garrick is a great one, and the perspective kind of makes him, for me, the epitome of the Greatest Generation’s superhero. Like the vast majority of the guys who licked Fascism and saved the world, Jay was no particular paragon, but when he needed to step up and was given the means to do so, he did.

“Tragically, during a battle with the Rogues, Bart lost his powers due to a machine built by his evil clone, Inertia. He fought the Rogues valiantly, but in the end, they killed him.”

….and the whole thing was a debacle, Amen.

Decent picks, all. I never much cared for Bart myself, but then I never gave a fig for Kon or Cassie either. If I were a teenager myself when they showed up I might have liked them better.

I expect #711 from that Police Comics cover above to make a strong showing higher up in the list. I mean, his secret identity was a prison inmate, and he’d sneak out to fight crime! How cool is that?

I’m really surprised Plas ranked higher than Ralph Dibney. Personally, I prefer Plas (he almost made my list) especially after the Baker series, but geez, the internet as a whole just seems to go ga-ga over Ralph.

Well, here’s 2 of my votes on the list. Bizarro and Hex. Bizarro’s, well, bizarreness and backward ways are hilarious to me. Why DC doesn’t promote the character more is weird to me. Hex is a great western character who’s definitely his own man who, despite the gun for hire motiff, does definitely have a conscience and a solid set of morals.

Plas, was one of my top picks but didn’t make it. He is a card and definitely a one of a kind.

Impulse / Bart, will always be Impulse to me. I really dug him as Kid Flash tho in a retro way. Still don’t care for him as Flash. It would have been a natural progression but it was all too fast now. Didio’s eliminating duplicate character types makes sense, and god knows there are a ton of speedsters, but this was too quick. Bart was best as Impulse.

Jay Garrick – One of the classic JSAers. Always level-headed and genuine. Great guy.

Jonah Hex ended up being my #11 and it was very hard to not include him. I was flipping through my father’s copies almost before I knew how to read. Happy to see he made the list.

How do you bring up Bizarro and not recommend the ASS arc?

I’m now going to go see whether Cliff Cornwall has a Wikipedia entry.

Ah, Jay garrick–my favorite Flash–Not surprised he wasn’t higher–but if I’d listed all 50 in my mind, he’d be higher.

I’m sort of disappointed, but not surprised Plas wasn’t higher–but he’s a great character

I was really hoping that plas would rank out higher. i had him as my #3

Plastic Man was (possibly still is) Hugh Hefner’s favorite superhero. This was a major factor in picking him as number one.

I’m annoyed that I didn’t even think of Bizarro. He might have squeezed into my ten.

But the Flashes never did much for me.

I never had much interest in the Flash or speedsters in general … until Impulse. Impulse’s own title was great fun, month after month. I felt the “Graduation Day” story changed the character irreperably. I wish DC had just left him the hell alone.

It’s good to see Jonah making the list. I’ve always been a fan of western comics and Jonah Hex was the best of the bunch.

This is the second of the offbeat characters I had on my list to make the top 50. Very nice.

The thing about Jonah Hex that has always got to me is this. During the American civil war he fought for the Confederates. The pro slavery confederates. Sorry but how this is considered heroism is beyond me.

I’m far from an expert on the American Civil War, but as I understand it it was about a lot more than just slavery. I’m sure there would have been people fighting on the Conferates side who were anti slavery, but pro other aspects of whatever it was that the Confederates stood for.

Don’t get me wrong. I realise the Civil War was not just about slavery after all, the prime reason that the Union wanted freedom for the slaves was for purely financial reasons.
The thing that gets me is the that American fiction seems to romanticise the whole Confederate rebel thing, white washing (excuse the pun) the fact that those guys in grey where fighting for, at least in part, the continuation of slavery. Just to clarify I’ve read Hex stories and some of them I think are great, especially the Joe R. Lansdale Vertigo series. I’m just fed up, I suppose, of the glossing over of the this simple fact. If you fought for the South during the Civil war you pretty much where fighting for the continuation of slavery. I hope that I’m seriously out of date with this and that I’ll read the current series of Hex and find that these issues have been addressed by the writers in some way. Sorry to hijack this thread; I’ll just shut up now.

[...] Wally West #29. Flash: Barry Allen #41. Flash: Jay Garrick #42. Kid Flash/Impulse: Bart Allen (tied with [...]

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