Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Here’s DC’s next group…
15. Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) – 370 points (6 first place votes)
A Steve Ditko creation, Ted Kord was a student of the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett. When Garrett was killed, he asked Ted to carry on the name. The problem was, Ted did not have any powers.
However, Ted was so awesome – that when he needed to take over for a hero while not having any powers of himself, he went out and trained himself to becoming a World Class fighter, and he then spent his money (and his technological know-how) on building weapons to fight crime, including a giant flying bug ship.
Ted was an inaugural member of Justice League International, where he served for many years.
Ted had been mostly retired recently, until he discovered a sinister plot. None of the major heroes would take him seriously, so he investigated it himself, leading to his tragic murder at the hands of Maxwell Lord, a man Ted thought was his friend.
Since his death, now all the heroes who ignored him then are constantly talking about how awesome he was. It is kinda funny. I liked him a lot BEFORE they killed him off.
Here is why my pal Gene had him #1…
Ted Kord is the best Marvel character DC ever published. In a world where heroes represent a level of perfection that normal people could never attain, Ted always stood out because of his flaws. He was just a regular guy doing his best in the shadow of men of steel, dark detectives and Amazonian princesses. He was even third string as a millionaire when you compared him to Bruce Wayne or Lex Luthor. His personal life was always a mess, his company was always getting blown up and he was the guy Batman always told to stay behind on the ship when he was with the JLI. Ted could never catch a break. Out of every character DC has published, Ted Kord was the guy most similar to you and me, and he’s helped a lot of people view the DC Universe through a set of eyes they can relate to.
And while waiting for Gene’s, here’s why Alanna had him #1 on HER list…
Why is Blue Beetle so awesome?
He’s this guy, you know? He was accepted into Justice League without any powers, just on his smarts. He’s an everyman sort of character, who takes himself to the top. His last mission showed us all what a hero is: someone who doesn’t give up no matter what anyone says. He was dismissed by most of the Justice League, but he saw that something was wrong, and he followed it straight to the source alone. Not only were the readers reminded that this is what heroes do, but when he is killed after being dismissed, the other characters get a lesson in the dangers of ignoring what “c-list” characters have to say. And a reminder that you don’t have to be Superman to be a hero in the DC universe.
With no cool powers, the popularity of this character has to come straight from personality. And he had it in abundance. Ted showed us that not all characters have to be made from the same angst mold that so many of the iconic guys come from. Ted Kord was a character that readers could laugh with (and often at), from his kooky schemes beside his best friend Booster Gold (like Kooey Kooey Kooey), to driving the Martian Manhunter insane with witty banter and oreo thievery. Funny comic books seem so rare these days, that the books who do it, and do it successfully, can really pop out at us as something different and special.
Thanks Gene and Alanna!
14. Starman (Jack Knight) – 376 points (12 first place votes)
Jack Knight was created by James Robinson and Tony Harris as the unlikely wielder of the name Starman and the famous cosmic rod of Starman.
When Ted Knight chose to retire, his son David was the clear choice. He WANTED to be a hero. Jack did not.
But when David was murdered, Jack had to step up and become the new Starman, which he acquitted himself mightily at for many years, before recently (upon becoming a father) deciding to retire and pass his cosmic rod on to a new wielder.
Here’s Jack Greene on why he had Jack Knight #1…
When they first introduced Jack Knight during Zero Hour back in 1994 I was actually pretty non-plussed by the character. If he was supposed to be a superhero, why didn’t he wear a costume? Also, he didn’t even really want to be a hero. As I’m older now, these qualities would probably make me more inclined to check out the character, but back when I was a teenager in 1994, I had never seen a comic book hero like that up to that point, one that was a reluctant hero. After reading the first few issues, it became apparent that these qualities were major strengths for the character and I really started to love Robinson’s Starman. I also loved the way that Robinson tied Jack Knight into the history of all of the Starman characters that DC had introduced prior to Jack Knight, and made him part of a cosmic brethren of sorts. Jack Knight was a brand new character, but Robinson enriched his book by giving him deep ties into DC’s past. The really great part was that he didn’t restrict these ties to just the Starman mythos, but that he also gave him ties to pretty much the entire DC universe. By making him the son of Ted Knight, you wind up with a vital ties to the Golden Age DC universe and the JSA. You have wonderful supporting characters in Ted Knight, the Mist and the Shade, with guest appearances from former JSAers. By sending Jack Knight into space, you got to see the great, but neglected sci-fi characters from 1950s & 60s DC books like Adam Strange, Space Cabbie and Space Ranger. Plus, Robinson was also able to make good use of the Omega Men, and tie Jack Knight into Superman’s origin. Another reason that I loved the Jack Knight version of Starman was Robinson’s creation of Opal City. Gotham City and Metropolis have been the staple fictional DC universe cities for decades, but Robinson was able to introduce Opal City to the book, give it an interesting history and make it a character in of itself. The addition of Opal City allowed for additional ties into the rest of the DC universe with connections to Scalphunter, the Balloon Buster, and Charity from the old Dark Mansions anthology.
Anyway, to summarize, here are the reasons on why Jack Knight is my favorite DC character.
1. Reluctant hero, no costume, his occupation as a collectibles dealer defined him as much as being a hero did.
2. Excellent use of past Starman stories gave Jack Knight a great connection to numerous parts of the DC universe, and actually made him somewhat of a central character in the DC universe mythos, even if he was somewhat of a minor hero.
3. Jack’s environs of Opal City were a brilliant creation and added immeasurably to the character.
4. Robinson’s creation of Jack Knight paved the way for the reintroduction of the JSA
13. The Question (Vic Sage) – 395 points (4 first place votes)
Also a Steve Ditko original, Vic Sage was a reporter who , while doing an investigation, discovered a method of creating artificial skin. Sage used a model to make it appear as though his face was blank.
As the Question, he became a force for good in Hub City, as a believer in Objectivism, the Question was one of the more philosophical heroes.
When he came to DC Comics, writer Denny O’Neil took a shine to the character, and wrote a notable series (with Denys Cowan artwork) where Sage took a more Zen approach to life.
More recently, Sage fell ill, and died, passing on the Question mantle to Renee Montoya.
12. Booster Gold – 428 points (7 first place votes)
Created by Dan Jurgens, Michael Jon Carter was living a dead-end life in the future when he decided to steal some artifacts from a museum he was working at and travel back in time to the 20th century to become a superhero.
Using the artifacts, Carter fashioned himself a superhero suit, complete with a force field, flight and laser beams. Originally meaning to name himself Goldstar, he accidentally answered his nickname Booster (from when he played football) and while trying to change it to Goldstar, instead got tagged with the name Booster Gold.
Booster was obsessed with wealth and fame, using his superhero powers to make him money.
He eventually joined Justice League International, where he became good friends with Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle. The two men had a number of money-making schemes.
Recently, when Kord was investigating some bad events, Booster went to help his friend, but was incapacitated, so was unable to be there when his friend, Ted, was murdered by Maxwell Lord, a man that Ted and Booster thought was their friend (and the organizer of Justice League International).
Even more recently, Booster helped Rip Hunter basically save the entire multiverse, but is now tasked with becoming a watchdog over famous superheroes, traveling through time to make sure that no bad guys kill heroes before they BECOME heroes. To do so, Booster must remain anonymous, so no one will know what he is doing (and thereby draw attention to it). As a result, Booster Gold – the man who loves fame, can tell no one that he is one of the greatest heroes on Earth.
Here is why Fred Berowski had Booster #1…
I guess my love for the character goes back to when I got back into comics (for the second time in my life). I am 30 years old and my first experience in comics ended just before Booster came on the scene. I didn’t pick up a comic again until about 4 or 5 years ago, when my eldest son got into comic books and superheroes.
The first one I picked up was the Death of Superman where Booster was one of the first heroes to race into action against the Doomsday. Shortly thereafter I saw the Booster Gold episode of Justice League Unlimited (ironically where Booster saved the world and nobody knew it) and largely because of those 2 appearances I really began developing a like of the character.
I read more on the history of Booster Gold and to me it seemed that he really had a troubled “everyman” type quality to him (albeit most of us don’t have flight rings, super suits and a little robotic sidekick). I mean who of us wouldn’t want the fame, fortune and adoration of millions that one would expect could come with being a superhero (if they really existed)? He wants all this but also has a good heart which most of his fellow heroes really never saw in him. It has also become quite clear especially in recent issues, that Booster comes from quite a dysfunctional family from his father (whom it appears Booster actually gambled/threw games to help) to his sister to his great- great- great (however many greats that is) grandfather Daniel. I mean, really who of us comes from a family with parents like Ma and Pa Kent?
I really like the conflict that seems to be going on inside him, especially as it was depicted in the OMAC Project and his interactions with Ted Kord.
Booster’s resurgence in the Infinite Crisis, 52 and his own new title have done more to foster my love of the character.
He is clearly fallible, and his banter with Skeets can be quite amusing. I just loved the most recent issue (Booster Gold #2) where he inadvertently lays the ground for the Sinestro Corps War!
My take on Booster is that he has developed into someone who is like all of us. He wants the fame, fortune, women and adoration of millions- he wants to be a celebrity- but he can’t achieve those things and still do what is necessary for him to be the hero he needs to be- he is in a catch -22- and that leads to lots of internal (and external) conflict (and some great banter with Skeets, and now, to an extent, with Rip Hunter). He is clearly fallible, but has a good heart, and he seems to usually try and do the right thing (although he is only human so even when his intentions are noble it ends up blowing up in his face sometimes). I also think its great to see how he ends up kicking himself for doing the right thing sometimes, instead of taking a path that seems to be the way to fame and glory.
11. Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) – 438 points (5 first place votes)
Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa, J’onn J’onnz was brought to Earth by a scientist who was attempting to communicate with Mars. Tragically, the scientist died soon after J’onnz arrived here, so J’onnz was stranded on Earth. That was not THAT big of a deal, as J’onnz was actually the last survivor of his Martian race.
He quickly acclimated to Earth, and used his power of shapeshifting to appear as an Earthling. Going by the name John Jones, he became a detective. He would also shape shift into a form of his actual alien form (although more human in appearance) and use his other Martian powers (flight, telepathy, strength, heat vision and more) to help fight crime.
J’onnz, as the Martian Manhunter, co-founded the Justice League of America.
He took a good deal of time off from the League, but returned and was a stalwart member of the League, seeing it through the dissolution of Justice League of America and the formation of Justice League International.
More recently, J’onnz has become a bit more wary of Earthlings, and has taken a form that appears more alien-like.
I do not like the new form. It irritates me greatly (as it did a good deal of the voters, as I had more than a few “Before Infinite Crisis” votes for J’onn).
J’onn is currently a member of Batman’s Outsiders group.
Since no one else was willing to write one, here’s a bit by Gabriel Suiter, who has a Martian Manhunter-centered blog, giving us Five Reasons To Love the Manhunter from Mars:
He’s not the best. In an idealized universe like the one found at DC Comics, every major hero has to embody some conception of perfection. This is the American Way, as this nation adores winners, be they Ãœbermenschen or underdogs. J’Onn J’Onzz, despite often being described as “more powerful than Superman,” plainly isn’t. He’s been beaten through the overwhelming force of super-villains and fellow heroes, on to the most minor of thugs armed only with a matchbox. The character makes no pretense about being omnipotent, either. It’s refreshing to see a hero who’s constantly knocked down get right back up again and keep chugging along with the full knowledge he’ll be getting knocked right back down again and again. He’s heroic in a very European fashion, fully conscious of his faults and limitations, without the slightest hint of self-pity, and braced to take on whatever comes his way to the best of his abilities.
He’s not popular. Yeah, he made it to the 11th place in this year’s “Comics Should Be Good” ranking of DC characters, but the guy not only doesn’t have his own book, but often doesn’t appear in any book on a given month. He’s delightfully underexposed. You will never be forced to buy weekly installments of a Manhunter comic written by committee using often underwhelming “talent.” You will never be subjected to an obligatory, undercooked crossover event starring the Alien Atlas where he proves how great he is by making other characters seem comparatively lame. You will not be exposed to a silly live action television series centering on the adventures of the Martian Marvel when he was a mopey teenager, nor a series of overproduced but underwhelming feature films. You will rarely even meet anyone who knows that J’Onn J’Onzz ever had nicknames like “Martian Marvel” or “Alien Atlas.” Urban youths will not begin to carve the Martian “pie” into their hair, and you will never be cut off in traffic by some jerk with a Manhunter symbol bumper sticker. Writers can go places with J’Onn J’Onzz prohibited for “popular” characters, and artists need not cleave their representations of him to a rigid style guide. The Manhunter from Mars doesn’t belong to licensors and middling tastes, but to fans and creators.
He’s a geek. His “girlfriend” really wasn’t. He not only doesn’t get babes, but doesn’t even seem to want them. He’s way more into science, religion, and philosophy. He pays lip service to “normal” life, but he’s obviously all about his “campaigns,” even when hidden among the mundane. He’s awkward and freaky looking, prone to wearing ill-fitting and poorly considered costumes that too often expose parts of his body better kept under wraps. His kid sidekick was a naked toddler with antennae. You’ve never heard of his rogue’s gallery, but it consists of a mad scientist, a fat spy, and a knick-knack. While he’s worked with all the big names, he’s just as prone to spend time with the biggest losers in comics. He’s got a tons of squandered potential. He’s one. of. us.
He could be worse. He’s a telepath, but he had nothing to do with those League mindwipes, and wouldn’t even invade the sanctity of Maxwell Lord’s villainous mind to know there was a serpent in his midst. He can turn invisible and intangible, but still takes a beating in every battle so that other heroes can claim all the glory. He can stretch and assume the form of any object, but abstains so that guys like Elongated Man and Plastic Man aren’t rendered redundant as teammates. He can fire laser beams from his eyes, but will not kill a living soul, not even his worst enemy. J’Onn J’Onzz has so many powers, that every time he chooses not to abuse them, he’s all the more heroic in his restraint and respect for others.
He’s a Communist. Seriously, the guy believes that everyone is equal, and that they should work to the best of their ability while taking only what they need. If you’re a thieving fourteen-year-old runaway and you want to be a super-hero, he’ll let you join the Justice League of America. If you’re a murderous scheming running dog capitalist who pretends to have a change of heart and support super-heroes while really plotting against them, J’Onn will take your money and give you a say in defending the planet. If you’re his nemesis, a world-conquering tyrant who’d gleefully level cities while draped in the U.N. flag, but now want to become a young hero in training, J’Onn will take you under his wing. The Manhunter would prefer to work with dregs like Vibe than the self-aggrandizing Guy Gardner, who feels he’s better than other heroes and deserves more for his efforts. J’Onn J’Onzz does not discriminate according to age, race, faith, or any other distinction aside from those who wish to take more than they give or assume power over others. Most of all though, he gives of himself entirely, regardless of the consequences, for the common good. While he had a tragic circumstances tacked on to his origin in the late 80’s, his motivation isn’t based around any personal loss. While he didn’t choose to come to Earth, once here his choice was made clear from his very first appearance. “Earth is far behind Mars in many ways– but this is natural, since it’s a younger planet! But this evil they have– called crime… Mars once had crime– centuries ago! Until the Great Evolution, we had wicked men who preyed on the good. But our enlightened science made crime obsolete! There seems to be much crime here– so perhaps, while I am stranded on Earth, I can help the Earthlings by fighting this crime!” The Martian Manhunter isn’t out there fighting the good fight due to some obsessive fixation, but out of a sense of social justice and moral
It’s textbook socialism of a type humans can’t muster because hey, we’re only human…
That’s it for today!
More on Monday!
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