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Top 50 DC Characters #40-36

The countdown continues…

40. Deathstroke the Terminator – 171 points

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Marv Wolfman and George Perez created Deathstroke as an interesting menace for the New Teen Titans to face. Deathstroke’s son, The Ravager, took a job to kill the Titans. However, he died before he could complete the task, forcing Deathstroke to be honor-bound to complete the task.

Deathstroke was experimented on in the army, and is now a peak human. He is smarter, faster, stronger, etc. than a normal human. He is very tough.

Over the years, while Deathstroke has done plenty of evil things, he seemed to be working under a weird code of honor.

For a time, he was practically a superhero, even being personally recruited by Superman to lead the heroes of Earth against an alien invasion from Warworld.

More recently, he has become more and more a traditional sadistic supervillain.

Josh Barnes had him as high as he placed, and here is the reason he gave for why:

I’ve long felt that DC does a great job of creating formidable and interesting villains, sometimes there villains are more interesting than their heroes (I’ve got, what, like five of them on my DC list). Deathstroke the Terminator has always been one of my favorites because he’s not just the “tough villain” who is always ultimately out-smarted by the heroes and defeated. He’s an excellent tactician as well as an excellent fighter, but what I love is the vicious mind games he plays on those he chooses to torment, including his own daughter. Even when it seems he’s been defeated, he usually has still managed to set into motion some bigger scheme.

Thanks, Josh!

39. Yorick Brown – 186 points (2 first place votes)

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Yorick Brown is, well, the last man on Earth.

A plague killed every male being on Earth, except for Yorick Brown.

So Yorick, along with a government agent and a scientist, is searching for a way to solve the plague, before the human race dies out.

For his part in helping solve the plague, Yorick wishes to find his girlfriend, who was on a trip in Australia when the plague hit. Yorick is a trained escape artist, and his skills come in handy often. He travels with his monkey, Ampersand (who he was training to be a helper monkey).

38. Black Adam – 195 points

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Black Adam was introduced as an adversary to the Marvel Family in the first issue of the Marvel Family ongoing title, by Otto Binder and CC Beck.

He was basically just the evil opposite of Captain Marvel.

Later on, under Jerry Ordway, we learned that when Adam says “Shazam,” he is getting power from Egyptian gods, gaining the stamina of Shu, the swiftness of Heru (Horus), the strength of Amon, the wisdom of Zehuti, the power of Aton, and the courage of Mehen.

Recently, in 52, Black Adam was married, and along with her brother, he created a “Black Adam Family,” but his bride and her brother were both murdered, leading to Adam basically snapping and practically murdering the entire nation that sent the murderers after his family.

Adam was stripped of his magic word by Captain Marvel, but he since appears to have it returned to him.

Here is what Eric (who had Adam as high as he was anywhere) had to say about him…

I am drawn to the character of Black Adam for the same reasons that I am drawn to so many characters from the Ultimate and Supreme Universes. Moral ambiguity.

As an adult comic reader what peeks my interest are characters and storylines that go behind the black and white and good and evil that are so common in comics, movies and stories. Everyday life is so much more shades of gray than many stories make them out to be now and days.

In DC 52 and now the Black Adam miniseries hit much more closely to the moral in-between. Black Adam does not think of himself as a world conqueror in 52. He does not want for money or power in the terms of a lot of characters. He sees himself as a savior to Khandaq. He actually views himself a better hero for the hard choices he believes he makes. And most of Khandaq adores him for it to the point of zealotry. They are the Yankee fans of the DC Universe. He may not be a ‘good guy’, but the product he brings them makes them feel better, stronger and empowered.

The further development of him through his relationship with Isis, in some ways attempting to redeem himself in her eyes because of his love for her, continues to add new nuances to his psyche. He becomes even more compelling yet again in the rubber band effect he has when he completely loses it in his grief and despair over her loss. In the first two issues of the mini-series they have shown what makes him so dangerous

The more gray I see in a character, the more I can connect to him and relate and the more keenly I empathize with him. The way they have progressed his character have made him one of the most compelling to me along with Marvel’s Supremeverse. When these characters feel self doubt, when they experience loss and grief, when this is interwoven into the complexities of their personality and not just drawn out in an occasionally good storyline, as so many comics do, this is what draws me in and makes me think about things. Every week when I read DC 52 I flipped through first to read all the Black Adam storyline and then went back to check out the rest. That’s a sign that something has hooked me.

Not to mention, just look at him. He’s a frickin badass in that black and gold. Almost every panel I have ever seen drawn of him screams “You do NOT want to meet this Mofo in a back alley, powers or no powers.”

Thanks, Eric!

37. Green Lantern (Alan Scott) – 196 points (3 first place votes)

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Alan Scott was an engineer who discovered an ancient lantern whose mystical flame told Alan to melt the metal into a magical ring. The ring gave him powers, and after creating a garish costume (to intimidate crooks, natch) he became a superhero called the Green Lantern.

He joined the Justice Society, and served with them for many years (even going into limbo with them).

After they returned, for a short period of time, after discovering that the mystic flames were due to this thing called “The Starheart,” Alan was de-aged. He also no longer needed the ring. So he called himself Sentinel.

This did not last too long (it was also pretty creepy for him to be so much younger than his wife).

He now has the ring again and is back to being Green Lantern, and he is still with the JSA, teaching a new generation of heroes.

Here is what Sean (who had him #1) has to say about him:

Simply put, I think there is a good argument that says if there was no such thing as Alan Scott, there would be no DC comics, or at least in the fictional world. I think it may be near impossible to ever write Alan wrong cause writing him from any other mind set that is “stately gentleman” would not do the character justice. The denizens of the DCU will always know that Alan was there first, every character treats him with the utmost respect. I mean according to Batman: Hush, Alan was ringslinging when Bats was just in his underroos. You could make the same case for Jay Garrick, but Jay, like all of the Flashes, has too much of an easy going attitude. Alan knows that he is the alpha and omega of the caped world, he basically began it, and will be training future generations till the end.

Take a look at his recent track record.

Infinite Crisis- He loses his own daughter but still has the fortitude to keep going on, its so easy for writers to write him into a dark corner to shake up the status quo, but consistently through 52 and other stories, Alan shows a lot guts, even when some dumb bitch off the streets adopts his daughters codename and still embraces his daughters once boyfriend Kyle Rayner like a son.

JSA- First issue opening pages, the oh holy trinity looks to Alan to help. Yeah, thats right, Bats Supes and Wondy going to old man Scott for help. He is smart enough on how to approach teammate Wildcat about his son, and fully embraces new recruits like Cyclone and Damage. and in the latest issue, he even apologizes to the fire chief about the Wildcats throwing vandal savage into a oncoming firetruck.

Green Lantern: Wanted- In this storyline, Alan shows up with the JLA to take Hal into custody. Alan knows Hal has his reasons, but he is not going to let his namesake/legacy ruin his own reputation, Alan cares for him and wanted to help him out.

I think the most telltale sign is that in the DCU, arguably the most important group is the Guardians of the Universe. and even those little blue bald headed bastards recognize the power of Alan Scott that they make him an honorary member. i think that might be the best sign there that when the Guardians of your own freaking Universe think your hot, youve gotta be the most important character out there, or at any rate, the best.

Thanks, Sean!

36. Firestorm (201 (4) for Ronnie/Professor, 8 for Ronnie/Arkadi/Professor) – 209 points (4 first place votes)

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Ronnie Raymond was created by Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom to basically be a Marvel hero for the DC Universe.

He got caught in a nuclear explosion because he was trying to impress some folks, and he was saved by a scientist, Professor Martin Stein. This time, however, the two ended up merging to form Firestorm, who could control molecules. Ronnie controlled the body, but Stein was a disembodied voice who would give Ronnie advice.

They were normal heroes for awhile, with Firestorm joining the Justice League during the same time.

However, John Ostrander took over the title and had Professor Stein decide that, since he was terminally ill, he would have the US and the USSR get rid of all their nuclear weapons. Both countries did not like this, and after an explosion, Firestorm added a new person for Ronnie to merge with, a Russian superhero named Mikhail Arkadin. He and Ronnie would merge together to form Firestorm, but Stein was now in control.

Eventually, he became a Fire Elemental, and left Arkadin and Ronnie behind.

Then Ronnie became Firestorm again, but by himself.

Sadly, Ronnie was murdered during Identity Crisis. A new hero, Jason Rusch, is Firestorm now.

Here is why JR voted him #1 overall…

There are a couple of things that come to mind as to why he’s my pick for favorite. For one, Firestorm has always had this level of kitsch and weirdness to him that I find appealing; in his look, character concept and series itself. These two guys who, through the magic of comic book pseudoscience, fused to form this outlandish flame-headed, puffy-sleeved superhero who would turn tires into donuts and carried on conversations with a floating head only he (and the readers) could “see”. But what I really like about him, and what sticks out in mind most is Firestorm’s enthusiasm, the sense that he really enjoyed being a superhero in a way that most characters would be punished for nowadays. There’s just something infectious about watching someone who’s really enjoying what they’re doing to the point where you end wanting to do it too or at least come along for the ride.

That’s pretty much the same reason Superman gave for putting him on the Justice League, now that I think about it.

Thanks, JR!

That’s it for today!

More on Monday!

20 Comments

One quick correction:

Alan Scott was a *civil* engineer. He was aboard that train to test the trestle he’d designed for his then-employer, the Hall Company (cf. All-American Comics #17).

Good choices (although I’m not crazy about Deathstroke), and props to Sean for the great explanation on Alan Scott. He was so close to making my top ten. And while I’d agree that he’s definitely more serious and revered than Jay, I think that difference allows the two to complement each other perfectly. If Jay is the warm grandfather of the DCU (I know, I used that in my bit yesterday, but that’s how I think of him), Alan is the sterner father figure. They’re my favorite double act in the DCU, rivaled only by Booster and Beetle.

It’s funny–for me, 52 basically took all of the gray out of Black Adam. He was built up fantastically in JSA. Black Reign was a fascinating storyline because despite his methods, Black Adam clearly seemed to be in the right, while the JSA–so sure of their own righteousness–became the villains in their own book. Black Adam liberated his homeland, just like any superhero would do for America if there was a bloody military dictatorship, and his people justly loved him for it.

But post-52, Black Adam is just a genocidal madman who wouldn’t even surprise me if he went into an orpanage and ate all the children.

I didn’t have room in my top ten, but I’m relieved to see both Jay Garrick and Alan Scott make the list. Good to see Yorick in the top 40 too.

“Later on, under Jerry Ordway, we learned that when Adam says “Shazam,” he is getting power from Egyptian gods, gaining the stamina of Shu, the swiftness of Heru (Horus), the strength of Amon, the wisdom of Zehuti, the power of Aton, and the courage of Mehen.”

I’m pretty sure it was E. Nelson Bridwell who came up with Adam’s god-list, back in the ’70s SHAZAM series.

Alan Scott almost made my list, but ultimately got bumped in favor of one of my favorite Legionnaires. Good to see he still made the list.

All great characters. I had forgotten about Deathstroke. He still wouldn’t have made my top 10 but he’s a power hitter.

Firestorm Jason Rausch is at least more interesting than Ronnie Raymond.

I like the whole Namor / Black Adam thing. It suddenly occured to me a few months back that the two were fairly similar and then I enjoyed him even more.

GL – Great write up ! Gives me new perspective on a great Golden Age character. Guess I hadn’t realized he had seniority on Bruce. Would that have been Earth-2 Bruce ?

I find it interesting that there are two characters (Deathstroke and Black Adam) on the list that were once fascinating “grey area” characters, but are at present rather boringly one-dimensional bad guys. I wouldn’t vote for either in their present states, but both have been pretty fascinating characters.

Good to see Alan Scott make it–I listed him in my top ten so in that way his placin seems a bit low–but I was also expecting him to be lower or miss the list once everybody voted…

You didn’t mention how cool Deathstroke was on the Teen Titans cartoon. He was one of the best things about it.

These lists are making me realize just how much more I love the Marvel characters than DC’s.

I mean the Flashes? The Green Lanterns? Cool iconic costumes, interesting enough powers, but completely uninteresting as characters (outside of Guy). Far too cookie cutter, by the numbers stuff that no writer has yet been able to push most of these characters into the sublime for me.

Alan Scott/Green Lantern just missed my list. I really like the character and even drew him (along with Batman in Detective Comics) for a few months. What appeals to me is that same thing posted in the some of the other comments, his gentlemanly nature. There’s a sense of class and respect for the character, without snobbery– like the superhero version of a classic Hollywood movie star.
Still, it’s probably some of the archaic conventions surrounding Alan Scott that slipped him into that 11 to 20 instead of 1 to 10 list of personal faves. Primarily that damn susceptibility to wood.

Hmm, interesting. The first Vertigo character (and second Vaughn creation after Molly) to make the list.

Yay! Yorick was on my list, and I am happy to see him here. He is such a great POV character for his strange world, and he always thinks of the clever thing that I wish I was smart enough to come up with under pressure. Plus, he’s just so darn likeable.

Thank guys! i really like alan alot, that explaination was straight from the heart

“I mean the Flashes? The Green Lanterns? Cool iconic costumes, interesting enough powers, but completely uninteresting as characters (outside of Guy). Far too cookie cutter, by the numbers stuff that no writer has yet been able to push most of these characters into the sublime for me.”

Hal Jordan I’ll give you, but seriously? Did you just entirely miss Waid’s run on The Flash? Marz’s run on Green Lantern? Geoff Johns’ runs on both?

The idea that Wally West is in any way “cookie cutter” baffles me. If I had voted for this poll, West, Kyle Rayner, and John Stewart would all be in the top 10.

Glad to see two more people I voted for(Black Adam & Slade Wilson)made it.

I think they’re two of the most consistently well written villains of DC Comics.And interesting emotional characters,to boot.With material like Adam & his wife.And Slade and his children.

While I agree post 52 Black Adam has moved much more to the black side, it was his greyness before the end which put him so high on my list (#2 behind the Joker).

The other thing I did not mention in my write up on why I selected him is while, yes, he is not as in between as he was previously, I like the fact that how they sent him over the edge makes him basically heartbroken and insane. He dared to love and create a family, complete himself… and lost it all. I could write all day long on Black Adam and the Supremeverse. Thanks for including my view on Black Adam Brian!

Three minor corrections on Black Adam. First, the artist who created him was Pete Costanza, not Beck. Second, it was in the 70′s SHAZAM series (# 28, written by E. Nelson Bridwell and drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger) where it was revealed that Adam’s powers came from Egyptian gods. His powers were as follows:

Shu – Stamina
Hershef – Strength. Hershef was the Egyptian version of Hercules.
Amon – Power. Served the same capacity as Zeus.
Zehuti (Thoth) – Wisdom
Anpu – Speed. Anpu was the god’s name before Alexander the Great changed it.
Menthu – Courage. Menthu was Egypt’s war god.

And third, it was Geoff Johns who changed the gods Adam got his powers from, not Jerry Ordway.

I voted for Ronnie Raymond Firestorm. Great to see him make the list, especially since he practically disappeared for so many years before he was unceremoniously killed off and replaced. (People complain about the Dibnies, but Ronnie’s murder was the one event that shook my enjoyment of Identity Crisis. I feel there was nothing gained there.) His brief return in the Jason Roush series further reminded me just how much I loved Firestorm. Jason’s series was a fun enough read for most of the time I read it, at least after the slow start of the first five issues or so, but the only times I truly enjoyed him was in bouncing his character off Gehenna (if I remember the name), who was a quicker hit for me, and his struggles to face Ronnie’s old enemies.

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