Monday, August 29, 2011

C3C1 5 - Second-Tier Comic Characters

Welcome to as personal of a look at me as you’re going to get here.

“C3C1 5” is a series of lists detailing my personal favorite...whatever topic I happen to choose. I am trying to make these a weekly ongoing feature. Of course, my reputation for regularity isn’t the greatest in the world and even I realize that, but we shall see.

The reasons for this feature are threefold. One, I get to talk about stuff that I like. Two, you get an idea of how my tastes and philosophy in doing this site are shaped. Three, I understand lists are all the rage because the average internet peruser has the attention span of a hummingbird, so why not use that to my advantage?

Oh and for any “I can’t believe you didn’t include so-and-so” comments that may arise? Go play in a hurricane. The reason that “so-and-so wasn’t included” is because these are lists of personal tastes, not All-Time Greatest, Most Significant or anything of the like. These are simply my picks, and...hell, we’ll go with an oldie but goodie...

The views and opinions expressed herein are those solely of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of the rest of the human race.

Welcome to the first installment of C3C1 5. This week’s list of five is:

Five Fave Second-Tier Superhero Comic Characters

Yeah, I know - what a weird place to start, right? That’s because thinking of the very list you’re about to read is what inspired the idea of doing this feature in the first place.

That’s kind of a long title and I understand there’s some explanation of criteria to be had, so here it is. These are characters that have appeared in mainstream superhero comics, but are not, by any means, mainstream characters.

Only one of the below has appeared in a movie and one is about to get his own TV show, but overall these are characters that mainstream audiences would hear the names of and go, “who?” Yet, at the same time, these are characters that have helped shape my love of comics since I was a kid.

And this was tougher than I thought it would be, because there were quite a few characters that shaped my comic tastes back then. Off of this list, I had to carefully consider and painfully eliminate a few "Honorable mentions" such as Warlord, Vigilante (Adrian Chase), Etrigan, and a couple others. After mulling it over for several days, the list below represents the "Final Cut".

Speaking of the top five...

05: Blue Devil

This series was such a blast when it first came out - and off the norm of what DC was offering. That’s why I initially read it - to see something different. What I wound up with was a wisecracking “average guy” who worked in Hollywood - stuntman Dan Cassidy, who has the super-techno-advanced Blue Devil suit used for a movie fused to him during an attack on the set by a real demon. Cassidy remained a guy trying to live as normal of a life as he could while being stuck inside this suit - oh, and fighting bad guys who would keep showing up thinking he was something other than what he was. The comedy of errors blended with more of a real sense of someone being a reluctant hero put Blue Devil over for me. Now I only hope, during the reboot coming up in a few days, they decide to do something worthwhile with him other than making him a real demon (which removes most of the basis for his entire character) and so depressingly grim.

04: Kamandi

Strangely enough, one of the Jack Kirby creations that stands out to me the most is probably the least known of all of his works. Kamandi is "The Last Boy on Earth", and the first "post-apocalyptic" story/character I came in contact with. Of course, as a kid, the idea of an Earth with nothing/no one left was mind-blowing in and of itself, but the sole survivor was my age? Kirby did a great job with telling Kamandi's story and portraying the "animals" (or beasts mutated in to humanoid form by "The Great Disaster") around him. Come to think of it, One of the reasons I took to ThunderCats so well - both as a kid and now - could be due to the fact that, all things considered, ThunderCats looks a lot like Kamandi, only without the human boy.

03: Sebastian Shaw

This is the one people are probably the most familiar with now on this, having seen Kevin Bacon portray him in X-Men: First Class. Bacon did a good job with what he was presented as the character, but it wasn’t 100% right - and I don’t just mean his powerset. Shaw can only absorb and re-direct kinetic energy; or, as he puts it, “the harder he’s hit, the stronger he becomes.” So, how does a guy with what could be considered limited abilities become leader of the Hellfire Club alongside powerhouses like Mastermind and the White Queen, Emma frost? For the same reason I dig him as much as I do - for being a cunning and conniving SOB.

P.S. I totally had no idea that the actor that played the unmasked Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi has the same name until I went looking up pictures of the character. That’s rather interesting.

02: Legion

One of the most fascinating characters I’ve seen in any comic at any given time. (In fact, if a project I’ve been working ever gets off the ground, you’ll see a character inspired by him.) Legion is David Charles Haller, son of Professor Charles Xavier. He’s been referred to as autistic and schzophrenic, so his actual condition isn’t clear, but its effect is - Legion employs a variety of powers determined which of his personalities is in control if his mind at that moment. At heart, he is a good person who cannot control the harm he has caused. Sympathetic and why hasn’t Marvel done more with him again? And don’t feed me that “Age of Apocalypse” crap, either - that was so 90s.

01: Deadman

Boston Brand went from cocky, self-centered trapeze performer to a wandering spirit in search of atonement and his killer with a hook for a right hand. All it took was a bullet through the chest during one of his performances and a long fall from the big top. The stories told with him and walking a fine line between the supernatural and realism hooked me ever since I first saw him. He’s about to become the CW’s follow-up to Smallville, and that should make for good television. Someone described the concept as a supernatural version of “Quantum Leap”, and I suppose that’s rather accurate, if not simplifying the character a bit. There’s a rich history and story potential that follows Boston Brand, and I’ve always been a fan of that.

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