*Note to readers: These are in no particular order. Not that it matters, however. This is based entirely off of my own opinion.
Hi, fans! I'm back from my brief hiatus for the most exiting contest yet.
You can call me many things. A musician, a writer, an intellectual. And I might call you a suck up, but that wouldn't make you a liar. Of all things, however, I am first and foremost a fan. Not just any kind of fan, but a full-blown super-fan of comic books. When I heard that this contest was happening, I pulled strings to make sure that my schedule was cleared enough to write up this bad boy.
I tried pretty darn hard for a while to narrow down my favorite comic book characters. And I couldn't do it. So, I decided to narrow down the requirements a little bit. I'm using this challenge to shed a little light on not simply my favorite superheroes, but my favorite kind of superhero: The Underdog.
No, not that underdog.
I'm talking about all of the great characters out there that get overshadowed by the bigger characters. These characters are in no way inferior, just less well known.
Sure, everybody love's Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and so on. But the real back bone of the comic book community are those more obscure characters that don't find themselves in the spot light quite as often as the A-Listers do.
It's these characters that keep many of the fans at my level interested after getting past the bulk of your well known "Big Seven" Justice Leaguers and movie star Avengers.
I'll start off my list with a real doozy, but don't worry. I promise... it's not a conspiracy.
1.) The Question
The Question got his start as a property of the ill-fated Charlton Comics (eh hem, foreshadowing). He was originally created by Steve Ditko, a man most commonly known for his co-creation of Spider-Man.
When Charlton Comics went out of business in 1985, The Question, along with several other characters (we'll get to some of them later), were bought by DC Comics. In the 30 years since DC bought The Question, he has been given what some would call a fair amount of attention. He has had solo titles, animated universe appearances, and even a spot in the New 52 (which isn't something that every character got).
Why I Love Him The Most:
One of The Question's most intriguing factors is his lack of a a face. This, I believe, makes him a unique character. Many say he is just another digit in the system of street level fighter/detectives, but I believe that the faceless look has taken him to the next level. With this quirk, The Question sets himself apart from characters such as Mr. A or The Spirit (or even Sherlock Holmes). With this lack of facial features, he sets a boundary between him and the common man, and more importantly, the common criminal. To add icing to the awesome cake, he is also a raging lunatic/conspiracy theorist.
One thing that many of you may not know, and probably the largest factor in The Question's inclusion on this list is the fact that Alan Moore requested to use The Question in the Watchmen (along with Blue Beetles One and Two, Captain Atom, Nightshade, Thunderbolt, and Peacemaker). When DC denied Moore of these characters (all recently acquired from Charlton), he had to use these characters as inspiration for his Watchmen. So, from the ashes of an empty hope of using The Question, an icon was born.
Rorschach is probably one of the greatest characters ever to appear on the page, and the screen. Without The Question, we would never have Rorschach, which is just another reason why The Question deserves my unrequited love.
In the early nineties, Marvel thought they had a hit with their new hero, Darkhawk. Unfortunately for them, and for me currently, Darkhawk didn't really stay around long, for he fell into obscurity. Over the years since his creation, Darkhawk has made a few appearances here and there, but he's never really made a dent (or a buck for that matter).
His origin story is cool, though. It's kind've a mesh of Spider-Man, Green Lantern, and Doctor Fate. If you haven't era any of his stuff, I highly recommend you check him out.
I, personally, don't see why Darkhawk wasn't as popular as he could have been. He had all of the components of a good comic book character; relatability, good powers, a cool look, etc. But, such is the existence of an underdog.
3.) The Justice League International
Wel, some of them, at least.
I know, it doesn't really count to put an entire team on the list. But, it's like a tie of sorts. And, not all of them make the cut, only a selected few. Let's count them:
- Blue Beetle
- Doctor Fate
- Captain Atom
- Booster Gold
- Guy Gardner
These five characters are five of the greatest characters in the DCU. However, they are widely considered as B-Listers. Every one of them deserves a huge amount of credit for what they have brought to the table at DC. Unfortunately, the average pedestrian could probably couldn't name one of these guys.
Blue Beetle, like the Question, was used as the inspiration for a character in The Watchmen. Well, technically, the first two Blue Beetle's each served as the inspirations for two generations of Nite Owl. Also like The Question, Blue Beetle earns a lot of love for this, however, he does not get as much simply due to the fact that Rorschach is a lot more iconic (and frankly, more awesome) than Nite Owl. Anyhow, Blue Beetle is still awesome, especially the newest incarnation, Jamie Reyes.
Captain Atom is yet another analog to a Watchmen character (or is it the other way around). Serving as the blueprints for the character, Dr. Manhattan, Cap Atom deserves credit just as did Blue Beetle and The Question. Something particularly awesome because of his sheer power. His access to the endless power source known as the Quantum Field gives him powers rivaling that of Superman himself.
Doctor Fate is one of the most powerful beings in the DC universe. One of his most appealing factors is his Helm Of Nabu. This artifact that gave him his powers is kind've a curse more than it is a blessing. It possesses the spirit of the ancient egyptian wizard, Nabu. When a subject dons the helmet, Nabu basically takes over their body as a new host, acting as sort've a tragic plot point for Dr. Fate. This tragedy can best experienced in the show, Young Justice. In the past few years, Dr. Fate has grown to be one of my favorite characters that the comic book world has to offer. Unfortunately, he can't be found in many books these days. Fortunately, he has been on the rise recently. Doctor Fate had a supporting role in Earth 2 (New 52). The Helm of Nabu served as a fricken amazing easter egg in the first episode of the Ill Fated, but entertaining, Constantine last year. And now, DC has announce that Dr. Fate will have his own title come June this year! Maybe, Dr. Fate will rise from obscurity and become as popular as he should be.
Booster Gold gets a spot because of his unique character and backstory. Unlike the average superhero, Michael Jon Carter is admittedly a sellout. From the beginning, Booster has had his eyes set on superhero stardom and fame. His antics include asking heroes and villains alike to join him in his crusade to stir the public's interest by way of television, action figures, and what not. This is not 100% why he belongs here, though. What really gets Booster Gold on this list is the fact that he changed. Booster Gold is perhaps the most dynamic character to ever grace the page and consumer eyeballs. While he may have started off as a fame hungry wannabe, he eventually becomes one of the more noble men that there are on Earth. And, as a plus, he's got the super-awesome robot, Skeets, by his side at all times.
Guy Gardner is a real a-hole... and that's part of his intrigue. Originally, Guy Gardner was the perfect example of an underdog: he was the 'number two' to Hal Jordan's 'number one' Green Lantern of Sector 2814. Gardner's personality is one that many readers haven't really gotten used to. Therefor, many fans of DC, and even Green Lantern comics, may dislike Guy Gardner. However, I recently read the first volume of Green Lantern Corps (New 52), and it really showed me the light (yes, Green Lantern's light, ha ha). Guy Gardner is similar to Booster Gold in that he has a character beyond what you might read in a paragraph long bio on some internet page. He really is a noble guy (yes, that was another pun, I have a serious problem).
All of these characters earned a special spot on my list and in my heart for achieving great things without really breaking into mainstream personas. They have all really spoken to me and changed me personally.
4.) Etrigan The Demon
Etrigan is one of my favorite superheroes for two reasons: 1.) He's got the whole split personality thing going on, one of the two halves being a kick*ss demon, and 2.) HE RHYMES! Automatically better than every other superhero. Ever.
"Change! Change, O' form of man! Release the might from fleshy mire! Boid the blood in heart of fire! Gone! Gone!--- The form of man-! RISE, THE DEMON ETRIGAN!!"
- Etrigan or Tupac, you decide
No, but really. Let's all reflect for a moment on just how cool Etrigan really is. This is a superhero who's story combines one of the greatest epic tales of all time (you know, King Arthur... Round Table... Knights... Wizards) with the undeniable greatest genre of entertainment there is.... comic books!
Okay, maybe somebody else's opinion matters as well. But, comic books are pretty cool.
Cursed by Merlin to live for eternity with a demon inside of him, Jason Blood now roams the earth as an expert in magic and a defender against supernatural threat's everywhere.
If you would like a good taste of Etrigan, I recommend reading some of the tragically cancelled New 52 series, Demon Knights.
5.) Martian Manhunter
Martian Manhunter is probably the worlds greatest underdog superhero. And, somehow, he has remained this way despite being a member of the big seven (until recently, more on that later).
If you asked the average person on the streets of a US city to name every character on the picture above. They'd probably be able to name all of them, except for Martian Manhunter. In fact, I've experienced a similar reaction myself when testing friends of mine on their knowledge of comic book trivia. I usually start out with "Name The Original Seven Justice League Members". They eventually get through the first six: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman..... But most, unless they are avid readers like I am, never get J'onn. Admittedly, some have said "That Green Guy". But, that is even worse than not knowing in my book; knowing who it is, but not caring enough to know the name. Heck, those guys could be talking about the Hulk.
One of the most tragic things ever to happen to Martian Manhunter (not story wise) was his exclusion from the Big Seven in the New 52. That just flat out shows that even the writers and big wigs at DC think that he is expendable. Given, he was put in Stormwatch, and then eased into The Justice League of America, which turned into The Justice League United. While these may have made for great line up's and good runs, Martian Manhunter deserves better. He is one of the greatest in DC.
Now, let's talk about powers/abilities and origin, the superheroes main two components!
Powers: Strength rivaling Superman's. Laser vision. Planetary level Telepathy, probably the strongest in the DCU. Shape shifting capabilities, which also gives him the power of elasticity. Density Control. Phasing (can walk through walls). Super speed, almost rivaling the Flash's. Genius Level Intellect. Master Combatant (weapon and hand to hand). Detective skills.
With all of these powers, one would think that Martian Manhunter is one of the least expendable members of The Justice League. But, his underdog game is still to strong I guess.
Origin: In all origin's J'onn J'onzz ends up on Earth with no way back to his home planet of mars. This makes him a loner on a foreign planet with no friends for a while. Some try to compare him to Superman because of this, but it's almost completely different. While Superman grew up as a human with human parents learning to be a human and how to fit in along with every other human baby, even looking exactly like a human, he at least gets a family and friends and a human upbringing. J'onn has none of that. In some versions, J'onn is the last of his race as well as Superman. So, not only is he literally alone in the universe (and darn sad about it, too), but he is on a planet that doesn't except him as one of them, and shows him.
I believe that J'onn J'onzz has the make up and potential to be way more popular than he actually is. Unfortunately, my opinion doesn't really mean much to the general consensus of over 7 billion human beings, or the big wigs at DC Comics.
Jack Of Hearts
I love all of the above characters as well, but they did not quite make the cut over The Question, Darkhawk, The JLI (partly), Etrigan, and Martian Manhunter.
Who was your favorite from the list?
Thank's for reading, folks! Come back soon for more awesome posts! Don't forget to follow me and share!