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My Favorite Superhero

I know this is something the world has been worried about. But I've finally picked a favorite superhero.

It's been on mind. Between playing a lot of Vs. with daogre and scottgardner, and being gifted by a vast raft of digital-form comics from The Hobbit, I've been rediscovering the comic-book geekiness of my youth. Comics are an expensive habit, so I've never been anything but a desultory collector - except for the heyday of the 80's, when I was a pretty avid nerd. But one thing that always set me apart from the serious comic book nerds was that I never had a favorite. I tried various favorites on for size - for a while I thought maybe Wolverine..but then, everyone liked Wolverine back then. Then maybe Batman...but nah, same deal - too common. Besides, Bats has issues. Spider-Man definitely a contendor - a skinny nerd who can't talk to girls? With superpowers? Awesome! But something just didn't click there. Green Lantern? Hawkman? Superman? (Definitely not - Supes is just booooring.) It's a dilemma. So I turned to an expert.

If you haven't read Chris's Invincible Super-blog you're really missing out. It's your daily shot of karate bearfighting. No really, check it out. So I wrote to Chris, and he sent an incredibly detailed answer - and finally came up with an answer. I'll cut for your sanity's sake - but our back-and-forth is below.



Dear Chris;

I read the Invincible Super Blog more or less daily. I cackle like
unto some sort of crazed hyena at your antics, and am awed by your
encyclopedic knowledge of comics and supeheroes. Therefore, I pose to
you a particular dilemma with the hope that you can assist. Help me,
Obi-Chris, you're my only hope.

I'm a lifelong fan of comics, superheroes, and comic-book movies. But
I don't have a favorite superhero. This makes me shockingly lame
amongst the comic community - and it's a burden I can no longer bear.
Therefore I ask you -- who should my favorite superhero be? All I know
is who it can't be - it can't be Batman, because Frank Gallagher loves
Batman, and he's a jerk. It can't be Wolverine because I'm not fifteen
(I'm 34) and I'm so over that. And not Superman, because he's just too
darned super, and not very interesting. I generally, though not
universally prefer Marvel over DC, but I'm open to anything. Some of
my favorite titles are X-Men, Avengers, Hellblazer, New Mutants,
Punisher, The Tick, and any of the great graphic novels like Watchmen,
From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, etc.

So who's the awesomest of them all? I await your judgement.

Davy Krieger


Davy,

I can't think of anything to write tonight, so while I'm putting thatoff to the last possible minute (or possibly half an hour after that), let's have a look at your conundrum.

Are you sure it can't be Batman?  I mean, that guy's myfavorite character, and for good reason:  He's awesome.  Hethrows car batteries at thugs, and he once kicked the hell out of abear while he was de-aged to ten years old.  That's totally badass!

Interestingly enough, one of my good friends names Moon Knight as hisfavorite character, largely because "He's exactly like Batman, except crazier." Which you're going to get with your ex-mercenaries who build theirfortunes on stolen art and then become schizophrenic vigilantes whoworship forgotten gods.  So he makes a pretty good case forit.  He also calls me lazy for having Batman, Spider-Man, andSuperman as my favorite characters, but those guys are pretty darnviable.

And really, if your favorite character is going to be one of the X-Men,then we might as well be honest with ourselves and just go ahead andmake it Wolverine.  Yeah, he may be a walking, talking, sniktingcliche these days as he wanders around in five ongoing monthly titles,but back in the day, he wasthe guy that popped up out of the sewer after the Hellfire Club hadtaken out the rest of the X-Men and told them that they'd had theirchance, and now it's his turn,right before going on one of the all-time great comic bookrampages.  That single panel is so awesome and badass that itchanged comics forever:  Before that, Wolverine was just one ofthe X-Men, a pretty-cool player in an ensemble cast, but really nodifferent from Nightcrawler or Collossus.  After?  They mightas well have just called the book "Wolverine and the rest of theX-Men." 

So I feel no shame in liking Wolverine.  If he's written well, he's everybody's favorite.

But let's see what else you've got here...

If you like the Avengers, you could do a lot worse than to claim Thoras your favorite, since he's got all the fun of Superman, but withconvoluted language and a giant hammer.  I'll be honest with you,though:  Once you get past Thor, Cap, and Iron Man, the rest ofthe Avengers sort of blend together for me. 

John Constantine ain't no joke, and that's real.  I sort of wishthat he was portrayed closer to Alan Moore's original version (the guywho wore three-piece suits, white gloves, and smoked silk-cutcigarettes), but I can't say that I don't love the hell out of therumpled, unshaven, trenchcoated man-on-the-street mage that he'sevolved into over the years.  The Mike Carey run that just wrappedup recently has a lot in his favor, with an almost perfect blend ofJohn being in the know and keeping all his secrets to himself, andgetting in way too deep and having to dig himself out againstimpossible odds at great, great sacrifice.  He's probably the mostflawed character that you mentioned, and while that's an enjoyable lookto take, you might want someone you could actually look up to asyour  favorite character,and after all:  Anybody who looks up to John Constantine isusually three pages from a quick and bloody death at the hands of someNameless Creature Beyond the Ken of Mortals.

The New Mutants, I really don't know much about, but Karma's a lesbian,and that's pretty hot.  Also, Cannonball's accent is hard to deal with.  Anyone whose "I"s are written as "Ah"s should not be a candidate for favorite anything.

The Punisher, on the other hand... If you read the ISB regularly,you're probably hip tp the fact that he's one of my all-time favorites,but it wasn't always like that.  Aside from the Garth Ennis run,I'd never really given him much thought, but one day last year Idecided--purely on a whim--to read every single issue, starting with Essential Punisher and working my way forward, and man:  That's a lotof crappy comics.  They tend to straddle the line betweenhilariously bad and just plain wretched, but as weird as this maysound, I actually came out of it feeling pretty good about theguy.  314 comics in three weeks is an experience that'll buildsome affection, apparently.

One caveat, though:  If you think Wolverine is the fifteenyear-old's favorite, then look the heck out for the Punisher. This guy came into the store one time asking us who could win in afight between the Punisher--a normal man with a vendetta and somepretty neat guns--and THE SILVER SURFER, WHO WIELDS THE POWER COSMICITSELF.

And then he was surprised at our answer.  No reasoning with some people, I tell you.

The Tick's a pretty good choice all around.  He's a joke character, sure, but they're excellent jokes. 

With Watchmen, it's hard to pick anyone as your favorite character,because none of them are really likeable.  I like Rorschach a hellof a lot, mostly because I see a lot of myself in his black-and-whiteworldview that leaves no room for compromise whatsoever (which, byextension, comes into a lot of what I like about the Question), but thewhole point of the story is that Ozymandias is the one who'sright.  Rorschach's willing to destroy the world to save it, andwhile that's a beautiful metaphor, he's inherently wrong. 

For the record, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is also one of myall-time favorites, although if you're going to cite, say, AlanQuatermain as your favorite comics character, I'm not sure if thatentails having a detailed knowledge of H. Rider Haggard's adventurestories or not.

This has been, most likely, no help to you at all, but I will say this:

If you like Marvel Comics, then it might help you to know that I thinkthat the single greatest comic book character of all time is Spider-Man

He's not my favorite, but as close to being objective about this as Ican, I think he gets the honor.  He changed comics every bit asmuch as Superman did, and I defy you--DEFY YOU--to read AmazingSpider-Man #33 (The Final Chapter!) and not FLIP OUT when he's beingcrushed under the wreckage of the Master Planner's base at the bottomof the Hudson River, beat half to death and struggling against a weightthat THOR couldn't lift!  That the HULK couldn't lift!

AND THEN, BY GOD, SPIDER-MAN LIFTS IT!

That one moment--and the rest of the issue, which may well go down asthe best single comic book of all time--when Peter Parker is layingthere realizing how easy it would be to just give in and die when hethinks about everyone who's depending on him to get his shit togetherand do the impossible definesthe character better than any story before or since (especially if theyhappen to include sprouting bone-claws and eating a vampire's headbefore growing a new body or whatever).  It probably helps that Iread it when I was eleven, but even going back today and reading it,it's an amazing story, and it does a hell of a lot for him on everylevel:  He's the super-hero beating the odds, he's the everymanrising to the challenge, he's all of us overcoming something we thoughtwas impossible.

And it's also ridiculously badass.  If you've never read that story, check it out.  It's awesome.

Anyway, I hope this was of some help to you (or at least that it didn't ramble on too much). 

Best,
Chris


Dear Chris;
I apologize for my long, long time before replying. I was fighting
crime, I swear. Okay no, not true - i was working and then on vacation
with a twenty year old russian stripper i picked up in New York.
Before that, while sitting in a machine room in North Jersey for a
couple of weeks waiting for someone in LA to need a change to our
network, I had ample opportunity to read comics. In fact, I read the
entirety of all the Marvel "ultimate" series, the House of "M", a lot
of Thor, Avengers, Civil War, Green Lantern - basically a stupid
amount of comics. It was great. I even re-read the original "Secret
War" series which was much dumber than I remember. You know, I'm of
two minds about comic book babes - on one hand, the busty pr0n-star
wannabes of today are a little too sex-tastic.. but on the other hand,
"Secret Wars" era Rogue and Wasp are so dowdy as to look like
someone's PTA mom or something. But I digress!

The point is this - I thought about your strong case for Spider-man
being the best superhero and a great pick as a favorite, and of
course, I agree. Spider-man does lots of heroic things - and then when
he's being Peter Parker he's a clumsy nerd who can never catch a
break. Stan Lee migh thave done a lot of really overblown, hyperbolic
stuff in his day - but creating a superhero that every comic fanboy
could identify with strongly was a stroke of brilliance. That, and
Spidey is just plain likeable - especially with his wise-cracking
ways. But still, this guy I went to high school with was a Spider-man
fanatic, and I just can't let go of that. It's petty, I know. But
we're talking about comic books here, not theology, you know?

And yes, Wolverine is a fine choice, too- and this weekend at
WorldCon, I actually met the guy who invented Wolverine, apparently.
Or so he said. But it's an odd way to introduce yourself, you know?
"Hi, I created Wolverine!" "Well, how do you do? I created noxious
odors just a few minutes ago!" But anyway - Wolverine ... well I
dunno. His anti-hero loner thing was so 80's ... great in Reagan's
America, but these days if he's going to keep up with the times, he
ought to hate commies AND love Jesus, you know? So ... no Wolvie.

And then when I was reading the Ultimates, it really hit me. It's
gotta be Cap. I mean, Cap gets no love because he's such a square. But
you know, he's an absolutely authentic square - he's the real deal not
just a Disnified poser. And he makes a point of punching anything he
meets that wears a Swastika. That's pretty awesome. But what clinched
it for me was this  - Captain America took down the Hulk, by himself.
By kicking him in the ghoulies. (after dropping a tank on him.) Chris,
tell me now - when have you ever seen anything half as ball-acious as
that? The man is locked up in a freakin' tank with the Hulk, who takes
up 90% of the available breathing space - and he gives him a
double-booted jolt to the janglies. And it works! That my man, is
flat-out awesome.

Other factors - Cap is U.S. Army veteran, and I am too. Cap was a
weaselly skinny teen-ager, and I was too. Cap is a Freemason, and I am
too. Cap is a patriot, and I am too! Ok, the similarities end there, I
suppose - I've never (that I know) punched a Nazi or been frozen in
ice. Still, Cap has no superpowers at all - but he routinely goes
toe-to-toe (or toe-to-testicle, apparently) with massively overpowered
foes, and never gives up, never gives an inch, and never compromises.
The man is a living testament to indomitable spirit, intestinal
fortitude, and the American way. Huah! (Army speak. It's kind of like
"smurfy" in that means  pretty much anything in context.)

Now, I know Cap isn't snarky or "cool" like Spider-man or Wolverine,
but he certainly  has his own inimitable style. Surely, "Surrender? Do
you think the "A" on my helmet stands for FRANCE??" is one of the
great lines to bellow before commencing with a yankee-doodle
ass-whupping! That it was a super-powered space-nazi that was on the
receiving end of said Beatdown Heard Round the World is only that much
better.

So, I just wanted to thank you very much for your thoughtful reply,
even if it was nearly a month ago. And of course to also thank you for
the excellent Invincible Superblog, which my friends and I frequently
compare notes on, like teen-age girls with this month's ish of Teen
Beat.

I'd really like your permission, if I may, to post this exchange on my
own blog (which is neither invincible nor super, I'm afraid - entirely
quotidian... http://aghrivaine.livejournal.com ) though if you'd
rather I not, of course I won't.

Regards, and thanks again.

Davy
Sgt; U.S. Army, ret.



Davy,

Cap is certainly a fine choice of favorite character, mostly because heis totally freaking awesome.  You seem to be leaning heavilytowards Ultimate Cap, but don't forget that the regular version onceshit-talked an omnipotent Thanos AND competed in a deadly roller-derbyon a razor-sharp skateboard against a large, fearsome woman namedTinkerbell to get his shield back.

And sure, feel free to post it.

--Chris




So there you have it folks. My favorite superhero is Captain America.
Now, to find an appropriate icon.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
aghrivaine
Sep. 13th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC)
He was too busy kickin' the Green Goblin's butt, as I recall. Or rather, sternly lecturing him.
yagathai
Sep. 13th, 2006 06:30 pm (UTC)
I hate to burst your bubble, but while regular-Marvel Universe Cap has no superpowers -- he's Batman-level -- Ultimate Cap does have superpowers, albeit wussy ones. He has a healing factor (not Wolverine-level, but it's ther), can lift small cars and is highly resistant to damage.
aghrivaine
Sep. 13th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)
Ultimate Cap is indeed more potent than classic Cap. He doesn't have a healing factor, though ... he's just stronger than human potential, and only moderately, at that. It's *suggested* that the Super Soldier Serum might have slowed his aging... or maybe it was the iceberg. Science just isn't sure.

Looking at the Guide to the Marvel Universe, though, we see that Cap is the most skilled hand-to-hand fighter in the world, as well as the world's foremost tactical expert. In any iteration, it's Cap's expertise and undying fighting spirit that make him dangerous.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 17th, 2007 05:29 am (UTC)
Actually, depending on who writes him, Cap does have some superpowers. In the Ed Brubaker run--which is going on now--it's been mentioned that he can run a mile in just over a minute and that his vision and reflexes are a lot faster than a normal human's.

Essentially, I like to think of him as hitting the peak of human potential in everything all at once. There's a really good line in Kelly Puckett's run on Batgirl that goes something like: "The human body can run a mile in three minutes or break a cement block with its bare hands. It just can't do it all at the same time," and I like to think that's the limit that the Super-Soldier Serum was designed to overcome.

But really, though, it depends on who's writing.

--Chris Sims

PS: Thanks for the kind words!
aghrivaine
Jan. 19th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)
Chris;
Not very likely you'll see this, since you don't have a livejournal account for responses to be mailed to... but still, I couldn't not reply to the master himself.

I take as the final arbiter of things, Guide to the Marvel Universe. Things are vague enough there to give writers wiggle room, but specific enough to serve as "canon". In it, they specifically say that Captain America is the ultimate expression of human physical and mental perfection - but not superhuman. Hmm, though that was my old one, so maybe it's been updated. The current record for a one mile run is 3:43, and it's stood since 1999. If Cap can run a three minute mile - he's definitely superhuman.

Actually, I have a theory about Marvel Universe physics. The Hulk can lift up a destroyer and chuck it - he can knock people over by clapping his hands. Yet still, he's hauled of and hit Cap with a haymaker that Cap has gotten up from. Cap should be a bag of salty salsa, yet he survives.

My theory is this - in the Marvel universe, lifting strength is different from hitting strength - physics just works different. It's the only thing than can explain the titanic smackdowns that don't result in constant messy deaths - yet super strong individuals chucking freight-trains around.

odiedragon
Sep. 13th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC)
You passed on The Tick??

Heathen.
bakaninja
Sep. 13th, 2006 07:49 pm (UTC)
What a fun conversation. I love that guy!

Oh, and hooray for Versus. My roommate is actually a consultant for the company that makes it, so he has a lot of decks.
aghrivaine
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:25 pm (UTC)
Tell your roommate to give me cards!
bakaninja
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC)
To my dismay and his, he's been moved more into the Yu-Gi-Oh Branch. He got me to play with him, so he could figure out the rules. God Help me, it was silly, unbalanced, and vaguely fun.

So, he hasn't gotten anything new in a while. Alas.
aghrivaine
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:31 pm (UTC)
A pox on his employers, then!
thefrank
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:27 pm (UTC)
But, but, but!
But you're a liberal anti-war, granola-eating pussy who hates America. You can't be Captain America. If you try, it's only to overcompensate for espousing emasculated no blood for oil peacenik policies.

Why do you hate America, Cap?

(I keed! I keed!)
aghrivaine
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC)
Re: But, but, but!
Well, see, it's not that I think I AM Captain America, but rather, that I think he's the coolest hero. Clearly I am compensating for my effeminate and anti-American politics with my choice of superheroes. My own inadequacy and lack of patriotism become the very means by which I escape into a fantasy world where all that I know to be true in my heart-of-hearts is set right by a genuine G.I. American hero.
thefrank
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:43 pm (UTC)
Re: But, but, but!
Ok, as long as we're clear on that. ; )

(I still keed!)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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