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CSBG Archive

2011 Top DC Characters #20-18

After nearly 1,400 ballots were cast, YOU the reader ranked your favorite comic book characters from 1-10. I assigned point totals to each ranking and then tabulated it all into a Top 50 list. We’re now revealing that list throughout September. Here is the master list of all the characters revealed so far. The countdown continues…

20. Rorschach – 809 points (10 first place votes)

Rorschach was created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in their classic mini-series, Watchmen. It is a clear sign of the greatness of their series that a character that only appeared in the twelve issues of Watchmen is popular enough to make this list.

Based on Steve Ditko’s The Question, Rorschach was a ruthless investigator who believed in absolutism and objectivism, and also was probably more than a little bit insane (in fact, his particular brand of insanity is so powerful that it practically destroys his prison psychologist). It is Rorschach who leads the drive of the murder mystery in Watchmen, as he attempts to discover who killed the former superhero, The Comedian. His absolutist ideas come into clear conflict with Ozymandias’ theories of how the world can be saved via the sacrifice of a few million people. As we eventually find out, Rorschach’s view of the world has become so absolute that he would rather die than to break from his views.

Rorschach is known for his mask, which is based on the Rorschach psychological test.

19. Black Canary – 835 points (10 first place votes)

Black Canary debuted during the Golden Age, created by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino. Dinah Lance, like a lot of her soon-to-be Justice Society of America teammates, was basically just a brawler. When the Justice Society began showing up again in the 60s, and teaming up with the Justice League, Black Canary (Dinah Lance)’s husband was killed by the villain Aquarius. Distraught, Canary decided to leave Earth-2, where the Justice Society resided, and move to Earth-1, where the Justice League was.

While there initially an attraction between Dinah and Batman, she eventually began a long-term romantic relationship with Green Arrow. The two stayed in the Justice League for years, until Green Arrow quit the League, and Canary ultimately joined him.

Along the way, we learned that Canary had a superpower – the ability to emit a piercing sonic scream. We ALSO learned, through a pretty convoluted way, that Canary was actually in the body of the DAUGHTER of the first Canary. Yep, they moved her memories into the mind of her secret daughter no one knew about.

After Crisis, they just made it so that there were ALWAYS two Canaries. One was the mother, and she was in the JSA. The daughter had the superpower, and was in the JLA. Amusingly, Green Arrow went from being the May part of the relationship to being the December part!

After Dinah left the Jusrice league (shorty after the Justice League International version started), she was captured and tortured by some bad guys, leaving her without her sonic scream. After Green Arrow was presumed dead for awhile, Canary became an operative for Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl. Dinah stayed with Barbara for quite awhile, even when Green Arrow returned. Eventually, though, Canary left Barbara to become a member (and then the chairwoman) of a newly re-formed Justice League of America.

Recently, she separated from Green Arrow and re-joined Barbara and the Birds of Prey.

With the “new 52″ reboot drastically changing Green Arrow, it will be interesting to see what (if any) of Canary’s past relationship with Green Arrow will survive when the Birds of Prey re-launches this month.

18. Power Girl – 909 points (14 first place votes)

Kara Zor-L, created by Gerry Conway, is the cousin of the Earth-2 Superman. She traveled to Earth at the same time of her cousin, but her ship landed much later, as she had already grown to be a young woman.

Entering the hero scene, Kara quickly joined the Justice Society of America, where she stayed for a number of years until the Crisis on Infinite Earths. After the events of Crisis, Kara was misled into believing that she was not of Earth-2, something that she only recently learned was not the truth.

Kara was a member of the Justice League International for a number of years, and more recently became re-involved with the post-Crisis version of the Justice Society of America, where she eventually became the team chairwoman.

She then had her own ongoing series that brought together a lot of the Post-Crisis alterations to the character (her Karen Starr alter-ego had been in disuse for quite awhile, as had her pet cat). It was a really fun series. It ended with the “New 52″ reboot, and time will tell where we will see Power Girl next.

21 Comments

Ahh, Canary and Rorschach: Two of my favorite characters. (Although to be clear: I don’t admire Rorschach’s world view or most of his methods; I just think he’s a great character. He wouldn’t work nearly as well without the back story Moore provides halfway through the story, in the issue pictured here.)

Given how aggressively mediocre the new Green Arrow is, I’m more than happy for Canary to steer clear of that title. If she’s not in the League after five-years-later origin, though, that will be sooo lame.

The Crazed Spruce

September 14, 2011 at 5:42 am

Let me guess. Three a day ’til we get down to the final 5, then one at a time ’til the end, right?

Watchmen is easily the best comic book ever written, but I didn’t even consider voting for anyone from that story. Not even Rorschach

Both Black Canary and Power Girl finished just outside of my Top 25 list.

In one three character batch we get a Question stand-in, a Supergirl stand-in and a legacy character – though I guess Canary isn’t a legacy character any more.

Rorschach is the only one I really like here. Black Canary is fine, but I just don’t get the Power Girl love.

i’m amused that Rorshach scored higher than the original(s). :-)

But it makes sense, as Rorschach is indeed a better character than the Question. Just like Manhattan is more interesting than Cap Atom, the Comedian is a better character than Peacemaker, and so on. Demented or not, in-continuity or not, the fact remains that Rorschach captures the reader’s imagination in a way that none of the Charlton characters ever did.

nice to see Rorshach make the list for if any of the watchman characters showed up was hoping he at least would be one. and black canary nice figured she would be either in the top twenty or close to that ranking.

Wait, so DC characters include the Watchmen? I didn’t know. I assumed (yea, yea, no jokes) that we were talking about the main DC Universe. I had no idea.

“After Dinah left the Jusrice league (shorty after the Justice League International version started), she was captured and tortured by some bad guys, leaving her without her sonic scream. ”

My recollection is that she was still a member of the team, then Longbow Hunters happened, then we see a sad Oberon taking a call from her, hanging up, saying “damn,” and removing her from the roster. That is, I don’t think she had left the team before being injured.

48 pages, every week, for $1.50. (Action Comics Weekly)
My wallet cries with nostalgia.

“Wait, so DC characters include the Watchmen? I didn’t know. I assumed (yea, yea, no jokes) that we were talking about the main DC Universe. I had no idea.”

I think all character in comics published by DC were fair game. Basically Scott McCloud could show up on the list, because Reinventing Comics was published by Paradox Press, imprint of DC.

@ AS:

If i had know, i would have voted him my #1 [Scott McCloud of course!]

And we’ve had a few Vertigo characters show up so far, too–though no Wildstorm characters, unless I’m forgetting something.

I hadn’t had anyone on the list since (or except ftm) Huntress. But two of these three made mine.

It was a pretty close call but Canary finished runner up for me. Behind only Barbara Gordon. Dinah’s been a longtime favorite and is one of the highest quality and most consistently enjoyable heroines in comics to me. Gail’s take on her in Birds was awesome too.

PeeGee has been an up and downer for me. I liked most of her pre crisis material. Disliked most of her material from beginning post crisis through the 90′s, and even into the early 00′s. But her solo series really reignited my interest in her. I hope DC regains her character momentum after the settle down of the reboot.

>> Black Canary is fine, but I just don’t get the Power Girl love. <<

She has big breasts.

Ronald Jay Kearschner

September 14, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Well played, Rob Schmidt.

Nooo, Dinah! The costume you’re burning is so, so, *so* much better than the one you’re wearing… xP

@Flypaper – No it isn’t! :P

Interesting three! PeeGee has come a long way – love it!

The Crazed Spruce

September 15, 2011 at 6:02 am

Well, with 17 characters left to go, and 9 left in my Top 10 (with a whopping 21 left in my Top 25 list), I kinda get the impression that a few of my choices didn’t make the cut. Especially once you consider that such heavy hitters as Wonder Woman, Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, Barbara Gordon, and Dick Grayson didn’t make it onto my list. (I’ve still got my fingers crossed that Ambush Bug, Firestorm, Captain Boomerang, and Brainiac 5 crack the Top 15, though.)

[...] 2011 Top DC Characters #20-18 Black Canary debuted during the Golden Age, created by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino. Dinah Lance, like a lot of her soon-to-be Justice Society of America teammates, was basically just a brawler. When the Justice Society began showing up again … Read more on Comic Book Resources [...]

Rorschach: It feels a bit like comparing apples and oranges to have a character from a graphic novel measured against characters that appear in monthly comics. It is almost like comparing a character in a movie with one from a TV show. That quibble aside, it is always fascinating to see how much higher he ranks than the other characters from WATCHMEN and The Question (either version).

Black Canary: I have always had a soft spot for Dinah. Her back-story is a little sketchy and her age is inscrutable, since Black Canary I was replaced by Black Canary II “off camera”. Her primary costume is best described as a vintage cocktail waitress uniform (and, yet, no one seems to know how to improve upon it). Even her name peaked in the 1950s.

Still … she is a terrific character. It is partly her attitude, which the Bolland cover really shows off. You believe that Dinah has all the best stories. She would be the Justice Leaguer that you wanted to sit next to at the party.

Power Girl: Under an earlier post, I wrote about elements that every successful superhero needs. That included a gimmick. PG is really a case study in the minimum effective gimmick (M.E.G.). Her breasts function like Spidey’s web-shooters, or the Batmobile. It is a visual cue as to who this character is (and isn’t). Clearly, it works.

I wish that DC would do a better job filling in the elements around her M.E.G. Even in her often charming solo series, she never really developed a modus operandi, a supporting cast, any unique settings or even very many antagonists. The one real masterstroke was dusting off Vartox.

Ha, man I think I commented a couple of spots back about Rorschach probably not being in the countdown. Man was I wrong. Even if I voted him for number 2, I’m still happy he got this high on the list!

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