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Top 50 DC Characters #25-21

Now it is DC’s turn….

25. Green Lantern (Guy Gardner) – 303 points (4 first place votes)

guy gardner.jpg

Created by John Broome and Gil Kane, Guy Gardner could have been the greatest Green Lantern of them all…except Hal Jordan was closer.

That right there should basically explain to you Guy’s basic outlook on life, as he was among a number of Earthlings who would have qualified to be Green Lantern, but Hal Jordan was the closest to qualify, and thereby becoming the most famous Green Lantern of all time. Guy eventually became his alternative.

And, for a time, Guy was pretty much the default Green Lantern on Earth, when Guy ended up joining the newly reformed Justice League after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

It was on the Justice League that Guy grew to his greatest prominence, eventually becoming popular enough to support his own title for a significant run (almost four years!).

Guy was stripped of his Green Lantern ring for a time, leading him to first use Sinestro’s yellow ring, and later, discover that he secretly had been part-alien all this time, and had access to alien abilities to turn his body into weapons.

Recently, Guy lost his alien powers, and once again became a Green Lantern. Now, Guy is one of the highest-ranking Green Lanterns, and with Hal Jordan and John Stewart assigned to Earth, Guy is basically the number one Green Lantern in space. Finally – Guy actually is the tops.

Except, of course, if you consider Kyle Rayner higher…

Here is Matt Bloom explaining why he had Guy at #1 (note – Matt uses a few cuss words):

Your average superhero, particularly in the DC Universe, is the world’s nicest guy. People say Superman is the world’s biggest boy scout, but let’s face it – the JLA is pretty much the rest of the troop. Sure, you get the occasional Batman who takes a darker and meaner approach to fighting evil, but beneath the exterior he’s still someone you wouldn’t mind hanging out with (you know, as part of a group. In daytime). But then there’s Guy Gardner. Guy’s an asshole. Invite him to a party and he’ll show up drunk, grope your sister, and then probably set fire to your garage. Guy is the person in your group of friends that everybody hates but who refuses to take the hint and leave. That is why I love Guy Gardner.

Guy started off as a generic Silver Age boy scout, and it wasn’t until the mid-80s that he became a character worth noting. Giffen and DeMatteis ran with Guy’s recent portrayal in the Green Lantern book, casting him as the JLI’s resident antagonist. He was arrogant, obnoxious, loud, boorish, and seemingly dedicated to pissing off every single person he met. He was the
ultimate personification of the character that you love to hate, and it was always a blast to see what kind of mess he’d create next.

It’s hard to say what Guy’s best moment was with the JLI. His disastrous handling of post-Invasion clean-up duty was a riot, his ultra-PC “Nice Guy” period was hilarious, and the “one punch” is a classic. Personally, I always loved the development of Guy and Ice’s relationship. Ice, the sweetest and kindest woman in the DCU and the bombastic jerk Guy were by all appearances a terrible match, and it didn’t help matters that Guy’s idea of a date was catching a skin flick. Their second date with the giant ice-skating mascot version of Guy was even more hilarious, as was the version of their future together shown in Armageddon 2001. Somehow Ice brought out the sensitive side of Guy, allowing the genuinely decent person buried inside to come out on occasion. These moments were rare, but they added a lot of dimension to the character.

Guy went through a bad period during most of the 90s and faded into obscurity for awhile. If Rebirth did at least one thing right, it was bringing Guy back to the DCU’s main stage. He’s more prominent now than he has been since the JLI days. He’s mellowed since his JLI days, but the
arrogance and obnoxiousness are still there (who else would moon the JLA from outside their Watchtower?).

Guy Gardner is an asshole, yes, but he’s an endearing asshole.

Thanks, Matt!

24. Zatanna – 307 points (3 first place votes)

zatanna.jpg

Created by Gardner Fox and artist Murphy Anderson, Zatanna first appeared in a cool storyline where she visited a number of DC books looking for her lost father, Zatara. Zatara was a famous magician, and his daughter followed suit.

Zatanna is a world famous stage magician, but that belies her real power, which is as one of the most powerful magicians on Earth. She casts spells by saying words backwards.

Zatanna spent most of her time in this state – doing stage work and occasionally doing some hero work, but that changed when she joined the Justice League for a long stretch (almost 100 issues worth!).

After she left the League, Zatanna basically went back to relative obscurity, which is where she exists now, although recently, due to revelations that Zatanna had mind-wiped some bad guys years ago, she shows up a lot more frequently than she used to, as that storyline gets referenced a LOT nowadays.

She was also one of the Seven Soldiers in Grant Morrison’s awesome Seven Soldiers crossover!

Here is Stephen DeMent, with his thoughts on why he had Zatanna at the top of his list…

There are very few characters that I get absolutely fanboy irrational over – Zatanna is one of them. Growing up, I was really big on all things occult and mysterious. There was this place down the street from us that hosted magic acts (It’s called the Magic Island – it’s still there in Houston, but not nearly as cool as it used to be), and as a teenager I worked there as a waiter. I was reading the Vertigo series The Books of Magic, and when Zatanna showed up, she immediately connected with me. She was part of the world of magic and mystery that I got such of a kick out of, and I started looking for more and more of her. I started getting sketches of her whenever I went to conventions, and I’ve been slowly building an entire sketchbook of Zatanna themed artwork. I even have the little DC bust that Adam Hughes did of her. I really dig that one of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe is this unassuming, beautiful brunette in a top hat and fishnets.

I can’t stand that weird purple outfit she wore in JLA for so long. I much prefer her in the top hat and tails.

My favourite stories of her are the Zatanna Seven Soldiers mini, the appearances in Books Of Magic, and her recent appearance in Catwoman. I am currently trying to get my hands on the Paul Dini graphic novel (Everyday Magic) from a couple of years ago. Not sure how I missed that, but I’m kicking myself trying to win it for a decent price on E-Bay.

Thanks, Stephen!

23. Dream/Morpheus – 322 points (2 first place votes)

dream.jpg

Dream or Morpheus, of the comic series, Sandman, was created by Neil Gaiman and artists Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg. He is one of the Endless, a group of powerful siblings who are personifications of aspects of the universe. Dream is the lord of, what else, but dreams (and stories, for that matter).

Dream lives in a castle at the heart of his world, which is called the Dreaming.

He basically busies himself with the world of the Dreaming.

At the end of the Sandman series, Morpheus “dies” and is replaced by a new Dream – Daniel.

Here is why my pal Jed had him high on his list…

Why do I love the character of Morpheus? The Sandman. The lord of the Dreaming.

Because he’s a bit of all of us. He’s noble. He’s vengeful. He’s tragic. He’s thoughtful. He’s loyal. He’s awkward. He’s fair. He’s Cruel. He’s sad. He’s stuck. He’s flawed. He’s all of us and none of us. He’s powerful and he’s weak. He loves and hates his family. He loves and hates his lot in life. He loves and hates his responsibilities. He’s admirable and he’s detestable and all that’s in between.

From the moment my eyes touched on his strange alien mask, I knew I was in for a wild ride. Morpheus’s tale is epic. I am just grateful for having been on the trip.

Inevitably, he’s undone by his inability to change. And who can’t relate to that?

Thanks, Jed!

21 (tie). Hawkman (Katar Hol – 47 (2), Carter Hall – 278 (4)) – 325 points (6 first place votes)

hawkman.jpg

Hawkman is a tricky one. I have decided to treat votes for Katar Hol as the same for votes for Carter Hall, especially as the current stance at DC is that they’re the same person, basically.

Carter Hall was created by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville, while Katar was created by Fox and Joe Kubert.

The former was an archaeologist who discovered an ancient metal that allowed him to fly, and discovered that he was the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian prince. Hall used weapons from his museum to help fight bad guys. He was in the Justice Society of America, but later also became a member of the Justice League, as a sort of senior advisor.

Katar Hol was a tough space cop from Thanagar, a world where people fly around with fake wings using basically the same metal. Hol was a member of the Justice League of America.

After some confusing continuity, Carter and Katar merged together – forming one Hawkman.

But this was kinda weird, so he literally went into limbo at the end of his series.

When he returned, in the pages of JSA, Hawkman was just Carter Hall. Katar was dead, and it was just Carter Hall controlling the body (while sharing the memories of Katar and Carter). So Hawkman is now back to basics – archeology, flying, museums, and big maces.

Here is why Hawkman was tops on Wayne Vermeire’s list…

Hawkman is just pure heart and passion. He’s got a few powers from the Nth metal, but even without them his passion for justice would make him a hero anyway. He gets the job done in the quickest most effective way he can. And he’s not a pussy like Batman and will kill his enemy if it’s for the greater good. Plus he hits people with a big ass mace. I only wish I could get away with that.

Thanks, Wayne!

21 (tie). Animal Man – 325 points (7 first place votes)

animal man.jpg

Due to some alien visitors, Buddy Baker gained the ability to borrow the abilities of animals, like flying like a nearby bird, running like a nearby cheetah, etc. This led to Buddy becoming the hero, Animal Man (created by Dave Wood and Carmine Infantino).

Eventually, Buddy grew tired of the hero game, and settled down with his wife and his two young children. He popped up occasionally with a few other mostly retired heroes in the Forgotten Heroes. After Crisis, though, he was back to being retired. However, eventually he got restless and became Animal Man again, even joining the Justice League!!

It was during this time that Grant Morrison wrote Buddy’s first (and only, so far) ongoing title, where Morrison used Buddy to explore both animal rights and also metafictive concepts about comic books, like acknowledging Crisis and how the series had changed “continuity.” Morrison even appeared in the comic, as “The Writer.”

After Morrison’s departure, Buddy’s book became more and more surreal, until its cancellation when, after being absent for a few years, Buddy just basically went back to the way he was at the end of Morrison’s run.

Recently, he has made a bit of a return to comics, as one of the stars of DC’s year-long series, 52, and also now co-starring in the new mini-series, Countdown to Adventure.

That’s it for today! More tomorrow!

40 Comments

suddenly 3 of my top 10 make it onto the list- Zatanna, Hawkman and Morpheus. I thought Morpheus would have been higher, though. However my main comment on this selection is OH MY GOD!!! I forgot Animal Man!
Its good to see that a lot of people have an affection for him.

Glad to see Guy Gardner, although I would have put him at number one of course. But still, he’s in darned good company!

I have Hawkman at #5.

The Joe Kubert work, to this day, is some of the best comics illustration I’ve ever gazed upon.
Hawkman has one of the greatest masks and costumes in the business. It’s elemental. It’s scary. All of the other trappings, the flight, medieval weapons, and museum settings, are like mana from art heaven.

I had Sandman at 4 and the Ostrander run on Hawkman at 8.

Guy is a great antoginist hero. He’s good enough to have him on your team, but not good enough to be really outstanding. He gets the job done, and he’ll remind you, so you don’t want him around, but you can’t cut him loose because he DOES get the job done. He’s one of those guys (no pun intended) that you love to hate.

No green lantern’s better than Guy.

That’s just the way it is.
That’s just the way it should be.
That’s just the way it always has been.

;-)

Okay, Brainiac Five cracked the top twenty? Because I simply refuse to believe he didn’t make top fifty.

I think we’re out of luck with Brainiac 5. I’ve been comparing this list to the Great Curve’s list of a few years ago, and Brainy was at #75 on that list. We’ve got twenty slots to go here, and we still haven’t seen:

Superman
Batman
Wonder Woman
Joker
Nightwing

Luthor
Oracle
Wally West
Green Arrow
Lois Lane

J’onn J’onzz
Starman
Hal Jordan
Black Canary
Two-Face

Blue Beetle
Question
Alfred
Commissioner Gordon
Booster Gold

John Constantine
Adam Strange
Ray Palmer
Phantom Stranger
Mr. Terrific

Dr. Fate
Cyborg
Harley Quinn
Donna Troy
Amanda Waller

Wildcat
Creeper
Deadshot
Ra’s al Ghul
Sgt. Rock

Mary Marvel
Changeling
Krypto
Jimmy Olsen
Metamorpho

… all forty of which placed ahead of Brainy on that list. And that’s not counting whichever Vertigo characters muscle their way in.

So, continuing to look at the numbers, we see that DC hits a plateau around 325 while Marvel passed them with Emma Frost and Punisher. In fact, over the last 10 positions while DC’s rate of increase has been about 5.5 points per position, Marvel has gone up to 15 points! Marvel went from 60 points behind to 35 points ahead in those same 10 positions.

Don’t forget that of the roughly 30,000 points available, DC has only used 6,700 and Marvel only 5,800, so we should see some much higher scores yet to come.

Guy gets props from me for the beating he took at Doomsday’s hand in the “death of superman” arc. Boorish and brash, he still wanted to fight the good fight, even when he was beaten and bloodied.

Interesting list, Matthew E. I hadn’t thought of who we have yet to see.
It is a shame that the Legion doesn’t have ONE stand out character; it is an ensemble, so it was hard for me to pick one to vote for out of my Legion love. I think that the entire concept deserves a Top 50 spot, possibly Top 10.

“Their second date with the giant ice-skating mascot version of Guy was even more hilarious”

…one of the funniest, laugh out loud comics I’ve ever read. I think it might have been the *first* comic I ever laughed out loud at, actually.

Damn you DC, collect these issues so I don’t have to keep ruining the originals already!

Damn. There’s 3 of mine right there. I only had one before this.

I had Guy Gardner at #2. Zatanna and Dream were on there somewhere fairly low. I actually wasn’t really expecting to see any of them on the list.

If Dream is on here Death better be too.

I think Death was already on the list.

Finally, one of mine makes it. I’m happy that Zatanna is this high, because she’s interesting and fun, but sad because this means that half my other picks almost certainly didn’t make it. I didn’t even think I was being particularly obscure.

Awesome. With Animal Man on the list, I can cross off another one of my choices that made it.

Full agreement with the Matt’s summation of Guy, especially how endearing his relationship with Ice is. They’re one of my favorite DC couples, and I plan on picking up the most recently solicited issue of GL Corps just to see their reunion.

Animal Man? Really?

Huh.

And I would’ve bet Dream was a top-tenner for sure. But no. Beat by Animal Man.

It’s a pitty to see the Sandman so low on the list… oh well….

Guy…? Ugh.

P.S. “An endearing asshole”? It sounds… wrong. :P

I suspect that Dream and Death would have ranked at least a few ranks higher if this poll had been taken ten years ago (ditto Jesse Custer). Sandman does have an enduring popularity that not many comics can match, but it hasn’t been as much in the public eye recently.

I’ll be curious to see who makes the top fifty with the fewest actual appearances in a comic book. I’m guessing it’s Death. How many issues has she been in total? Fifteen? Twenty? Or am I missing something?

Might be Ambush Bug.

I think Ambush Bug beats Death in fewer appearances. He seems to have about 30, while she seems to have about 40

Dang. Well I can’t see my top fav making the list now I must admit I’m pretty surpised by that, I certainly thought he would have been more popular then some of the earlier chioces. Oh well, at least Zatanna isthere, I’m hoping some of my other fav’s make it.

How is Dream not amongst the top 3 in the DC pantheon. After Batman (1) and then Superman (who I think sucks but deserves to be 2) then it has to be Dream. All else pales compared to him.

Personally, I prefer Lucifer to Dream. At least when he screws you over you know he means it.

Also, Mazikeen is right up there with Debbie Tiegel in the list of scary/awesome girlfriends.

I’m amazed that Hawkman finally managed to bounce back from the hopelessly muddled Zero Hour wreckcon to be a viable character for this list. Hooboy is that a story better forgotten for all time.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

September 20, 2007 at 4:37 pm

Another one of my picks – #7 (Hawkman). I’m a Silver / Bronze Age guy so my favorite Hawkman is Katar. Pre-Crisis of course. Hawkworld didn’t really work for me.

And you’re looking at the only person on Earth who preferred Zatanna in the one piece silvery-blue costume with the red cape and elf boots she wore when she first joined the JLoA.

I think it’s the pony-tail. I’m a pony-tail fan.

Regardless, she almost made my list. Defintely woulda made my top 20.

All else pales compared to him.

So to speak.

There better be some Legion love on this list. I’d hate to think my vote for Matter-Eater Lad was wasted.

We still Havent seen Nightwing or Hitman!!

That sure was a large gap between Green Lanturns. And we probably won’t see Hal pop up until we reach the top 10.

Whoo! Buddy!

OTOH, that Baker finally showed up greatly lessens the chance that Grant Morrison made the list all, seeing as how people would likely vote for them in tandem.

Ben, any chance of seeing Morrison’s vote total if he didn’t make it into the top 20?

As for one Legionnaire worth voting for, there is, arguably, one– Rokk Krinn. He ranges from the idealistic heart of the Legion to a scholar of the 20th Century to a powerless but brilliant tactitian to being the Time Trapper. I love a lot of the Legion characters but Krinn, especially pre-reboot, stands out.

Is Animal Man really a great character? He’s okay. Grant Morrison and Peter Milligan’s runs on the title were phenomenal, but I always put that purely down to the quality of the writing rather than him being a particularly good character.

Ah well. I still like the guy. Hawkman surprises me. I never thought anyone particularly liked him.

Guy Gardner’s great though. I thought he might be top 10 (even though he just missed my list)

I think its fascinating that the work of essentially one writer, most of which was years ago, can single handedly bring a character like Animal Man into such a high position.

I liked that JLA Zatanna costume. It’s in the flashbacks in Identity Crisis, too.

Animal Man is a result of great writing. When I first became a comic collector as a teenager Animal Man was one of the first books I picked up. Issue #1 gave me such a rush that I read the whole run of Morrisson and then some. Then I started to grow tired of the comic industry in general and “got out” selling ny whole collection. When I got “back in” a couple of years ago I immediately e-bayed the entire Morrisson run. However, when a character exhibits the potential that was displayed (for example Peter David and Jamie Madrox) the publishers are at fault for not giving a character the proper support. The potential for Animal Man and story possibilities are endless. Basically everyone looks to memorable runs instead of longer less impactful (is that a word) runs.

Dan, yes, Buddy Baker is that good a character. He’s one of the few superheroes written well with a wife and kid, and he’s far more thoughtful and contemplative than most.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

September 22, 2007 at 4:18 pm

Actually Patent Dragon, the costume in the Identity Crisis flashbacks was designed by George Perez to replace the costume I’m talking about. When Zee joined the JLoA they changed her fishnet stage magician garb to the costume I prefer. I can only speculate that DC wanted to make Zee visually distinct from Black Canary who was already a member of the League. Since Dinah wore a dark costume with fishnets, Zee received a new costume that was sort of a light blue / silvery one piece accented by a red cape, elf boots, and vaguely arcane looking jewelry. And that pony-tail. Yum …

Sorry, lost my train of thought there. After Dick Dilon’s untimely death, George Perez became the penciller on JLoA. I guess Perez thought Zee’s then current garb lacked something and he designed the costume you see in IC. Here’s the cover to the issue where Zee originally joined the League:

http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=fullsize&issue=45019795106%20161

See, much different

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

September 22, 2007 at 4:20 pm

That should read “Dick Dillin”. The guy was a great artist and deserves better than some internet putz misspelling his name.

Yikes, that’s half my DC list right there… :)

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