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Top Five Italian-American Superheroes

In honor of Columbus Day, here’s the Top Five Italian-American superheroes!!

Enjoy!

HONORABLE MENTION

The Punisher

I’ve decided not to count him as a superhero. If I did count him, he’d be #1 easily, as Garth Ennis’ run on The Punisher was amazing.

5. Argent

Toni Monetti, Argent, was a member of Dan Jurgens’ Teen Titans line of a bunch of teenagers who found out they all shared alien heritages and had powers.

Her father was an Italian mobster.

When Devin Grayson did her Titans run, she insisted on taking one member of each Titans run, and Argent was her pick from Jurgens run. Jay Faerber, who followed Grayson, did some good work with Argent, but really, she was a pretty blah character.

4. Rockslide

Santo Vaccarro was a minor character in New Mutants, as a member of the “bad” other team of students at Xavier’s, the Hellions. He was a fan-favorite, and when Chris Yost and Craig Kyle shook up the New X-Men, he ended up as a member of the new team.

Currently, he’s on the Young X-Men, one of the few remaining members of the New X-Men still in the book.

He is sort of like Rob Liefeld’s Badrock character.

3. Witchblade

It’s weird – Sara Pezzini is Italian-American, and so is Jackie Estacado, the Darkness. That’s kinda weird, no?

In any event, Sara was a decent character, although she had a flash of coolness when Paul Jenkins took over Witchblade for a little while.

And more recently, Ron Marz has been doing some strong work on the character, giving her an interesting romantic relationship and a new baby!

2. Strong Guy

Guido Carosella was the bodyguard to Lila Cheney. He was strictly a background character until he made Peter David’s “leftover mutants” team, X-Factor, and it was there that David made the character a total fan-favorite, with his humorous approach to the superhero lifestyle (like taking the name Strong Guy, because every team has a strong guy!) and his pretty sad background (including the fact that the way his powers work, he is in constant pain).

David recently brought Guido out of limbo as a cast member of X-Factor, where he continues being a cool character.

1. Huntress

Helena Rosa Bertinelli is the post-Crisis take on Huntress, who before Crisis was the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. Joey Cavalieri and Joe Staton introduced this new take on the character in a short-lived (but good) series in the late 80s. She was a short-lived member of Giffen and DeMattei’s JLI, too.

She is an intriguing character – she’s Catholic, but she also is willing to kill people. Her origin is that she was Bruce Wayne, only her parents were part of the mob.

After the Cavalieri series ended, Chuck Dixon rescued her from limbo, and made her part of the Batman universe.

Her interesting dynamic was used well by Greg Rucka, who did some really nice work with in her Huntress: Cry for Blood mini-series. Gail Simone also did nice work with her in Birds of Prey.

That’s the top five!

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

67 Comments

I think the #4 Huntress cover is cooler than the #1 Huntress cover.

Did you intend to put the same cover up for all of them?

Joey: I think that was an error only if you read it through RSS. I was thinking the same thing, but on the site, it’s different.

I had forgotten that Guido started out as Lila’s bodyguard. They should use her more often…

I totally agree with this one, especially #1 and #2. However, I think you should have used this to pimp Ivory Madison’s recent Huntress: Year One, which was one of the best minis of the year!

great list

I forget most of them are italian, especially when I don’t see their last names in their books

Yay, Huntress. I especially like how Gail Simone and Greg Rucka (amongst others) still look back to the Helena Wayne Huntress by giving the current Helena Bertinelli version a father/daughter type relationship with Batman. It still works for me, even if they’re not related by blood anymore.

And that Teen Titans cover…”Dry Hard”? Seriously?

honestly, i can’t disagree because i think these are the ONLY italian-american superheroes (the only character i can think of otherwise – Marc Scarlotti / Blacklash – was a baddie… albeit it a baddie in a sweet neon and ponytailed costume). anyway, it’s nice to finally see a list!!! and btw, i assume that Frank being italian was some kind of retcon, so was it explained why he changed his last name???

Good list. Huntress was one of the first people that came to mind when I saw the post title.

I believe the explanation was that Frank Castiglione changed his name to Castle so that he could illegally re-enter the Marine corps for his third tour in Vietnam.

What? No love for Omerta? ; )

Really, I always did figure Frank was Italian. I’m not sure about what was established before it, but in the original War Journal, issues #25 – 27, he goes to Italy and finds out about his family. His father, an immigrant, changed his last name when he came to the country.

Oh and it’s a shame this is only heroes because Unus is probably the greatest character ever.

What about Francesco Totti?

Dave and C Snail – thanks. both explanations make sense to me. especially the changing the name when coming over to the US.

Wow, what a sad crop of has-beens and never weres. Should have just said “The Huntress, plus the Punisher except he’s not a superhero”.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

October 13, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Hello, am I missing something or are you guys? No mention of Giovanni “John” Zatara and, by extension, his daughter Zatanna. They can both trace their lineage back to Da Vinci!

I’d remove Argent and Rockslie. And renumber them thus …

1. Zatanna
2. The Huntress
3. Zatara (he really should be #1 but his daughter and Helena are both hot chicks so there’s no way anyone would back me up)
4. Strong Guy
5. Witchblade

[…] form of goodie in honor of Columbus Day, Brian Cronin of Comics Should Be Good!, has released his list of the top five Italian-American […]

I didn’t like Argent until Grant Morrison got a hold of her for the Rock of Ages arc in JLA. After that, all I was able to see was potential for the character.

I thought that Argent got points off for the cliched “father is a mob boss” backstory, but there Huntress is, in the number one spot.

The Witchblade and Darkness thing isn’t that weird, is it? I’m assuming Marc Silvestri is Italian-American, and he had a big hand in creating both of them. That assumption might be wrong, though.

If this was really in honor of Columbus Day it’d be Top 5 Superheroes Who’ve Killed Indians

Or people who take HUGE leaps of faith in finding new lands

speaking of Native Americans, I was rereading mid-80’s X-stuff and found if weird there were 3 Native American characters (Thunderbird, Dani, and Forge) and only one major black character at the time (Storm…unless I’m forgetting someone). sorry for the off topic thought.

He’s not a superhero, but I’d still like to give a shout-out to Jake “Bobo” Benetti of Starman fame.

I was trying to think who the five were before I clicked on the link, but only came up with two candidates: Huntress and Blue Shield. I should have thought of Zatanna, though. The four who did make the list behind Huntress, well… I’ve never actually read a comic with any of them in it.

Luigi.

Thank the almighty meatball that you didn’t pimp Ivory Madison’s grease-stained Huntress mini.

speaking of Native Americans, I was rereading mid-80’s X-stuff and found if weird there were 3 Native American characters (Thunderbird, Dani, and Forge)…

Has there been a Top 5 Native American Characters list yet? If not, there should be.

There’s quite a selection: Warpath, Moonstar, Forge, American Eagle, Dawnstar, Echo, Manitou Raven, Puma, Owlwoman, Rainmaker, Ripclaw, Silver Fox, Shaman, Talisman, Wyatt Wingfoot, Turok…

Sheesh, yeah, I’d bump Argent for Zatanna no question.

Zatara is not even human, so I don’t count him as Italian-American.

However, I think you should have used this to pimp Ivory Madison’s recent Huntress: Year One, which was one of the best minis of the year!

The sooner we all forget “I baptize myself. I am….the Huntress!,” the better.

I’d have listed Huntress as #1 as well–but no version of Helena Bertinelli has been as good as the original Cavalieri/Staton run.

> “Zatara is not even human, so I don’t count him as Italian-American.”

Since when? Are you referring to his being descended from Homo Magi? You would have to consider EVERY magic user in the DC Universe nonhuman, then. Plus: He’s descended from freakin’ LEONARDO DA VINCI.

You would have to consider EVERY magic user in the DC Universe nonhuman, then.

Not all, just the ones that are homo magi, which is a surprisingly small list.

In what sense are Homo magi not human? They are obviously a subespecies of Homo sapiens, to the point of actually breeding freely with each other. The offspring isn’t always Homo magi itself, but it is fertile, and that’s enough from a biological standpoint.

I thought it was Zatanna’s mother that was Homo Magi, not Zatara.

And tecnically Argent is Italian American by name only, as her genetic father was H’San Natall.

What about Captain Hammer from Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog?

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

October 14, 2008 at 4:09 am

Zatara’s family lived in Italy (actually the city-states that would one day become Italy) for centuries where they inter-married with humans. Seems to me, the designation Italian-American is at least as accurate for them as it is for Argent.

>>she’s Catholic, but she also is willing to kill people.

Not sure I get the juxtaposition (probably not the right word, but I’m still waking up) here. Are Catholics any less (or more) likely to kill people than, I dunno, Protestants? Jews?

Let us not forget the Inquisition

I have no idea why I thought Santo was hispanic.

No one expects the Inquisition.

Matt, I assumed Santo was Latino as well, so you’re not alone.

I also would have guessed that Tony Stark is of Italian descent, but I can’t prove it. His mother was Maria Carbonell, which sure sounds like an Americanization of Carbonelli to me.

As a half-Italian-American, maybe it should annoy me that two out of five are connected to the mafia. But that’s often a major reason why you decide to make a character Italian.

>>>Not sure I get the juxtaposition (probably not the right word, but I’m still waking up) here. Are Catholics any less (or more) likely to kill people than, I dunno, Protestants? Jews?

Not completely sure here, but I think the point was that Helena being Catholic was very much a part of her origin and her identity. The idea is that she makes a big deal about her religion, yet still kills, which should be against that religion. We know that people of all faiths can kill, but if one calls themself a devout [insert religion here], you’d think they would not kill.

This puts me in mind of another potential column or list here: Specific storylines or moments in mainstream comics where a characters’ religion is focused on.

Santo’s on the Wikipedia list of Italian Americans, but I always thought he was Hispanic as well.

Saying that Mirage from the Titans is on the Wikipedia lis of Native Americans, despite being Brazilian a very non-Native American name (Miriam Delgado)

Zatanna’s one of ours, no discussion necessary. All of our people are descended from Homo Magi.

I was particularly fond of the Alpha-Centurion. Sure, he was a dick, but he was interesting.

Both DC & Marvel has Contessas (Luthor’s ex-wife, Nick Fury’s gal), both are Italian.

And of course, who can forget Pumaman? Say what you will about his flying ability, but you wish you had Donald Pleasance in your rogue’s gallery.

ALL of DC’s magic users are descended from Homo Magi. Check Wikipedia for details.

Besides, saying that Homo Magi are not human is like saying the X-Men aren’t human because they are “Homo Superior.”

Of course, maybe you meant that in a cultural sense: after all being ‘Italian’ is not a genetic thing. Some “pureblooded” Homo Magi life in their own hidden civilization, and Zatanna’s mother Sindella comes from it. However, Sindella did not raise Zatanna, so neither she (nor Zatara) can be considered to be culturally “Homo Magi” either.

>>Not completely sure here, but I think the point was that Helena being Catholic was very much a part of her origin and her identity. The idea is that she makes a big deal about her religion, yet still kills, which should be against that religion. We know that people of all faiths can kill, but if one calls themself a devout [insert religion here], you’d think they would not kill.<<

One would hope so, indeed, but of course all of the major religions (that I know of, anyway) have blood on their hands, as it were, at least historically. Now, if Helena adhered to a religion that emphasizes the sanctity of all life — like, say, Jainism — that’d be different …

(No, I don’t follow Jainism. I don’t follow *anything*, for better or worse.)

ALL of DC’s magic users are descended from Homo Magi. Check Wikipedia for details.

If you want to accept Wikipedia as the authority, check out their Homo Magi page, they list tons of magic users who aren’t Homo Magi.

Actually what’s going on here with Zatara is the somewhat common mixing up of species, race, and ethnicity/nationality.

Homo Maji is supposed to represent a species separate from Homo Sapiens, which the rest of us are. It really isn’t separate as someone else stated above since fertile offspring between the two is possible. It’s really more of a race such as black, Asian, and Caucasion. Most people are some mix of the three. Nationality/Ethnicity is really based on what location your ancestors lived in and is heavily tied to culture. The majority of Zatara’s ancestors were born in and lived their lives in Italy. I can’t say for sure they were citizens since I don’t know the history of Italian citizenship laws, but many countries used to require property ownership to qualify as a citizen, so it really doesn’t matter here.

Even if he does have an ancestor or two who were Homo Maji, and they didn’t reside in Italy, the majority of his ancestors did and that’s the culture he comes from. Do we disqualify someone as Italian because their great-great-great-…-great grandmother was French? or even Japanese?

For reference, The Punisher never even had a first name until he got his own limited series in the 80’s. From the first mention they revealed that he changed his name from Castiglione to Castle but didn’t give a reason.

Zatara may be genetically Homo Magi (whatever) but his nation of origin is Italy. Just like Wolverine is Canadian.

Frank Castle changed his name to break into show business.

Here’s my list:

1 – Raphael
2 – Leonardo
3 – Michaelangelo
4 – Donatello
5 – Luigi

I also think it’s silly that Guido (Homo Superior) is considered human, while Zatanna/Zatara (Homo Magi) isn’t.

Doesn’t make any sense to me.

“and it was there that David made the character a total fan-favorite”

An interesting list might be top 5 background/left over characters PAD has made cool.

Funny that this makes it seem as though Rockslide is the first Italian-descended X-Man! Why wasn’t there one sooner?

Stop discriminating against the homo magi, Cronin! Especially when you are such a mutie lover!

>”If you want to accept Wikipedia as the authority, check out their Homo Magi page, they list tons of magic users who aren’t Homo Magi.”

Come on, that’s not the same thing. By magic user, I meant someone who *naturally* has the ability to learn magic. ALL of those are of Magi descent. Of course people can gain magic in other ways, in the same way many heroes and villains gain powers despite not having the metagene. That doesn’t make them true wizards.

And anyway, the original point was that Zatanna is of Italian descent, more so than being Homo Magi.

Given some of the hypotheses floating around that Columbus WASN’T really Italian, think of the alternative lists that could have existed.

1. Top Five BASQUE Superheroes (have there even been 5?)
2. Top Five Superheroes that were secretly Jewish

For the person who made the stupid “Killed Indians” remark….

Maybe one of these days you ought to study real history, and not political propaganda. Native Americans were killing & enslaving each other for thousands of years before the Spaniards arrived. There’s a reason why a lot of tribes are commonly known today by the invectives and slurs OTHER tribes called them (The Apache, The Sioux, etc.). The main thing that white man brought was disease (which killed plenty enough, and frankly it wasn’t too kind to Europeans, either), not to mention a tendency to double-cross (anyone, even each other) that was anethema to the trust-based societies that were common in North America. Central & South America, on the other hand, were full of bloody backstabbers and warmongers that only fell to the Spanish, from having inferior technology – in terms of atrocities pre-Columbus they made the Inquisition seem tame.

“Zatara is not even human, so I don’t count him as Italian-American.”

Surely the same applies to Strong Guy, who’s not homo sapiens either.

I’ve heard some good buzz about Ron Marz’s run on Witchblade. Have any of his issues been collected ito TPBs yet?

By the by, it’s nice to see that, aside from Huntress and Argent, the characters on this list were NOT a relative of a Mafia crime lord. That cliche is so played out.

Nice to see Guido in the list. He is a big favorite of mine.

“Funny that this makes it seem as though Rockslide is the first Italian-descended X-Man! Why wasn’t there one sooner?”

There was. Paul Provenzano was a member of Jean Grey’s ad hoc team right before Morrison’s run started. And Guido was a member of Moria McTaggart’s “Muir Island X-Men” during the Australian period.

EEK!

Brian, I heart you so much for making Helena number one.

I f***ing, love Helena; at the moment, I am currently reading any title that makes even the slightest mention of her.

As for Madison’s Year One, I liked it, though I thought some of the dialogue was corny (particularly the overt religious references.)

In the words of Nek:

Perchè mi piaci
In ogni modo
Da ogni lato o prospettiva tu

Because I like you
In every way
From every side (or perspective of) you

Sei solo tu, Helena and Brian. ;)

♥

isn’t santos latino…im sure ive seen him speaking spanish in the xmen comic books?

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