Saturday, November 5, 2011

Loving On Our Favorite Characters

Doug: I was reading the article on the death of the Flash in Back Issue! #48 the other day. In that story the writer was discussing the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths #'s 7 and 8 -- the deaths of Supergirl and the Flash, respectively. The author mentioned that fans of each character, for whom said character was their favorite, were quite upset about this chain of events. And that got me to thinking -- why would Supergirl or the Flash be anyone's favorite character? And who is my favorite character, and why do I like him/her over all others? For some folks, is a villain their one-and-only? Or maybe some second-stringer gets 'em all giddy?

Doug: So this weekend we're tossing this out to you, the faithful readers of this small repository of Bronze Age goodness: who's your favorite character, all-time, all-companies, and what is it about that character that you really, really like? I guess I should add in "when did you like them", as we've certainly seen the desecration of a host or two in recent years. Thanks for sharing!


Rip Jagger said...

You'd think it would be Judomaster, and you'd be close. But my all-time favorite character is another Charlton creation...


Joe Staton's and Nicola Cuti's wonderful superhero is one of the true originals of the Bronze Age, and a hero who absolutely refuses to die.

After his demise at Charlton, he and the luscious Nova Kane surfaced again at First, Comico, Alpha, Digital Webbing, and elsewhere. He's now showing up again at the revived First with the Charlton stories getting reprinted in a great looking trade.

I just bought the first issue of the long-delayed War of the Independents just because Alec Tronn shows up on the cover and on the double page spread inside the comic. I am a completist of the first order when it comes to E-Man.

Staring at me right now as I type these words is the promotional poster by Staton for the series done so many decades ago. I wrangled up one a few months ago. It's a gem!

Rip Off

Rip Jagger said...

Let me continue...

What I love about E-Man is the great blend of true adventure and humor in the series, the most perfectly balanced of any I've encountered. It's funny enough to make you laugh, but still serious enough to make you care. Great, great, great!

A few months ago I did a series of reports on E-Man at my blog. Here's a link which I hope takes you to them.

Rip Off Again

J.A. Morris said...

Spider-Man is easily my favorite character. Yes, part of it is the fact that he's one of the first superheroes I ever heard of because of marketing/promotional materials.

And the fact that he was on The Electric Company didn't hurt either.

As I grew up and didn't become part of the popular crowd, I realized I had a little bit of "Peter Parker" in me, like a lot of comic fans.

Steve Does Comics said...

When it come to all-time favourites, I find it hard to look beyond Benjamin J Grimm.

As for who'd like Supergirl? I must confess to being a Supergirl fan - at least the original Supergirl. She managed to elevate wholesomeness to such a level that it became positively unwholesome and not a little disturbing. Who could forget the tale where she fell in love with her horse? Or the one where she tried to fix her cousin Superman up with a woman who looked exactly like herself?

david_b said...

Hmmm. Another toughie. Marvel had so many juicy, multi-dimensional characters in the early 70s (my heyday of collecting..), the universe seeming exploding before my eyes when I discovered more and more titles at the local grocery store, having just moved into town from living on a farm..

First ones, Captain America, Reed Richards and Spidey. Fully and unwaiveringly. By '75/76 both had faded due to art (Robbins) and storylines (Gwen Clone Story..). Loved their strength, secondary characters, but mostly the art and writing of Romita, the Buscemas, Thomas, Englehart, etc..

From these sprung the love of FF, Avengers, DD, and other titles. Loved how Marvel interwove these characters, like the tremendous Avengers/Defenders summer clash, and.. even Captain Marvel in the pages of DD..?!? Jeez, what a storyline.

I loved Hawkeye for the seemingly boundless versatility, fun and sarcasm from both current and reprint Avengers ishs. I even loved the tragic Swordsman, again killed way too early.

So again, the fav characters were many, but it was the art/writing and the Bullpen pages that made all the MU leap off the pages.

Kid A said...

For me, it would definitely have to be Iron Man. That was the first real comic I bought on my own when I was like 11 or so(#242, I believe). I loved the fact that he was an ordinary, flawed guy(with tons of money and chicks), who created his own armor to do a little T.C.O.B. I've since gone on to buy every issue of the original series, and some of the Tales of Suspense.

Dougie said...

Since I've always prefered team book,this turned out to be fiendishly difficult!

Top five from Marvel: The Thing; Cyclops; Nightcrawler; the Vision. This is based on a combination of character design and personality. And Captain Britain: because he's ours and he'll be 35 in a couple of weeks.

My DC choices are a bit left-field: Deadman, one of the best-dressed heroes in comics and one of the grittiest; a similar character,Mr. Miracle, who blends the cosmic with showbusiness, dressed like a Mardi Gras Pharoah; The Huntress,an alluring and tragic iteration of Batman; Timber Wolf (the Cockrum/Grell version): a great design and a mould-breaker for the bland, often peronality-free Legion of the early 70s; and Plastic Man, a surreal and subversive trailblazer- the character Deadpool wants to be.

Inkstained Wretch said...

I love the golden age versions of the Green Lantern, the Flash and the rest of the Justice Society members.

I have a complete run of the bronze age revival of All-Star Comics, the entire run of Roy Thomas's All-Star Squadron, all of the Bronze Age JSA/JLA crossovers, all of the Secret Origins issues that feature them, pretty much every other guest appearance they made at that time, and the two post-Crisis JSA series, up to the final Mike Parobeck-drawn (Is that how you spell his name?) issue.

Something about the retro vibe of the characters just really appeals to me. Maybe it is because they represent an earlier, more idealized notion of heroism.

I also just loved their old-school costumes. The Flash just wore a red rugby shirt with a lightning bolt on it and what appeared to be a WWI infantry helmet. Green Lantern's costume should never have worked: red shirt, green pants, purple opera cape and a domino mask - and yet it looked so cool.

The best artist for these heroes was Jerry Ordway, who drew them like the historic icons they were.

Finally, I dug the fact that in the 80s the original heroes of the 1940s were still kicking ass and saving the world. I loved the idea of a community of heroes where everyone wasn't eternally 25.

Edo Bosnar said...

Can't really say that I currently have a favorite character - I just like a lot of various characters in good stories. But back in the mid-70s it was Spider-man that drew me into comics reading, and he remained my favorite character for the longest time. In fact, even when X-men became far and away my favorite title, I don't think there was a single X-man that I liked better than Spidey (although I guess Cyclops came close).
By the way, I have to second Rip on all the E-man love, especially his observation on that perfect balance of satire and straight-up super-hero adventuring - that's particularly true of the original 10-issue Charlton run.

The Lassiter said...

When I was a kid, it was Ultra Boy from the LSH. He had all the powers of Superboy, but only one at a time.

Later it was Iron Man during the Demon in a Bottle days.

Ben Grimm, especially in Marvel two in One. That shouldn't have worked, but it hit the right note.

And always the JSA Earth-2 crowd. I agree with everything that Inkstained Wretch said about the Golden Age characters.

Ted Kord Blue Beetle too. Iron Man without the suit. Batman without the attitude. Spiderman without the powers. Loved it.

Garett said...

As a kid, it was Flash and Green Lantern. I liked their powers, and their costumes, and their Earth2 couterparts. JLA by Dillin was a favorite, especially the JSA crossovers. I never thought their own comics were as interesting or well done, so the JLA comic had it all.

As a teen my taste went to Daredevil and Jon Sable, darker characters by Miller and Grell. Loved the art and stories. It seemed more grown up and dangerous.

As my teens went on I got into Conan, the novels and comics. One step more into dangerous territory, and sexier with exotic women. Barry Smith's version was reprinted in the '80s, Red Nails, so it was new to me. I caught many '70s greats in the reprints that came out then--Neal Adams, Wrightson, Smith, Chaykin's Iron Wolf, Simonson's Manhunter, etc--excellent quality and there's no way I would've found these at the time without the reprints.

At the moment, I'm back enjoying Green Lantern.

smacky said...

Starman (the currently retired father of two version), just because the 80 issue arc was so wonderful, with such a great ending (though, darn it, I really want the new Mist to show up again. Someone bring her back!)

Redartz said...

No contest; Spider-man is tops for me. Ever since I first was introduced to comics way back in '67, his stories grabbed me like no other. The first storyline I ever read was when Doc Ock convinced him to join forces, as Peter was then suffering amnesia ( Amazing Spiderman 53-56). The drama really caught me up, and the Lee/Romita team kept me reading for years.

Later, when I discovered Ditko's work, my love for the character only grew. Over the years he has had many awful stories, but overall his record is stellar. And what a Rogue's Gallery!

By the way, I also agree with Rip and Edo regarding E-Man. Great reading; loved the First run in the 80's.

Dougie said...

Yesterday's post seems to have been lost in the Negative Zone.

The Thing, for a unique visual, pathos and humour.
Nightcrawler for the same reasons.
Cyclops, again for a strikingly simple visual and self-sacrifice (until the 80s)
The Vision, a much cooler and more complex take on the Silver Surfer.
Superman, for majesty, humour, pathos and potency
Batman for majesty, mystery, pathos and potency.
Plastic Man, for being a trailblazer in the surreal and subversive. The hero Deadpool would like to be.
The Helena Wayne Huntress,(Staton) for being the third E-2 legacy character but the most tragic and yet alluring. The most unfortunate loss of the Crisis.
Timber Wolf (Cockrum/Grell), for being one of the coolest Legionnaires, both visually and in terms of personality.

Dougie said...

Forgot Captain Britain! All ours and 35 this year (and as the captcha almost says, a mensch.)

William said...

This is an easy one… SPIDER-MAN! Of course! Why do I love him? Because he does whatever a spider can. Duh.

Seriously though, Spider-Man has been my favorite character ever since I first discovered him. When I was really, really young (and for various reasons) I liked characters such as SHAZAM, Aquaman, Batman and Plastic Man. But once I discovered Marvel Comics and Spider-Man that all changed. I actually can't really recall the first Spider-Man comic I ever read, but I remember I was instantly hooked. I loved his sense of humor, his "realness" and his powers and costume, of course. For me he was always the perfect super hero. And being a comic-book nerd, I identified strongly with Peter Parker growing up.

Once I discovered him, I started rabidly collecting back issues of Amazing Spider-Man (and any other comic with him in it that I could get my hands on). One day long ago (sometime in the early 80's), I was at my LCS and I was flipping through the ASM back issue box and I came across a good/very good copy of ASM #17. It was priced at $4.50. I asked the owner if it was a mistake, and he said no. So, I asked if it was a reprint, and again he said no. So, of course I bought it. I had read reprints of Lee/Ditko Spider-Man comics before through Marvel Tales and early trade paperbacks, etc., but this was the first original Ditko issue I ever owned. I was so stoked over that comic (I still have it, BTW) that I started looking for more old Ditko issues. I found an ASM #1 in solid "good condition" for $110.00 and my parents got it for me for Christmas. I found ASM #2 for $45.00, #3 for $65.00, #4 and #5 for $25.00 each, etc. When I went to my very first Comic Convention (I think I was around 18 years old), I got "very good" copy of ASM #10 for $8.00. However, I never thought I'd be able to afford an Amazing Fantasy #15 at all. Then one day the guy from my LCS (who knew I was a big Sidey collector) called me up and said he had a "very good" copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 that had been restored to "fine" condition, and he could let me have it for $600.00. I went straight over and gave him $100.00 to hold it for me. I planned to pay it off over time, but I was in the Coast Guard then and I didn't have very many expenses, so when I got my next paycheck, I just went ahead and paid off the whole $500.00 balance all at once. It was actually pretty tough to part with that much cash at one time for something so old and fragile, but to me, it was worth it. I'll never forget how nervous I was the first time I took it out to examine it.

Eventually I managed to track down and obtain every single issue of Amazing Spider-Man (and pretty much every issue of every other Spider-Man title as well). I've always loved the character, so you can imagine how hard it was for me to recently quit collecting the new issues of his comics. I stuck around through the marriage, the "Clone Sage" and through the terrible, dark years of the JMS era. After "Civil War", I pretty much gave up buying Marvel Comics altogether, but I still kept reading Spider-Man (I just couldn't stop). So, I stuck around through "One More Day" and "Brand New Day", and every other bad and tired angst ridden storyline. But eventually even I couldn't take it anymore. We now had Spider-Man in the Avengers, Spider-Man in the FF, Spider-Man in a different costume every month (neon green piping… really???). It just got to be too much. I couldn't stand to see my all-time favorite super-hero being so badly handled anymore.

However, Spider-Man is still my favorite super-hero and probably always will be. But not the version being published in the comics today. This "modern" Peter Parker/Spider-Man is a character I barely recognize and is a far cry (and pale imitation) of the friendly neighborhood, wall-crawling, web-slinging, Amazing Spider-Man I grew up with. Nuff said.

Doug said...

William --

THAT was a great story! Thanks for sharing that!


Karen said...

My three favorites from childhood:

1) Spider-Man: just so human and so easy to relate to, plus an awesome costume.
2) Captain America: the hero's hero, a guy you would follow through the gates of Hell.
3) The Thing: I liked the way his monstrous appearance hid a man with a heart of gold.


johnlindwall said...

Nova. Yeah his shtick smacks of Green Lantern crossbreed with Spider-man, but I think that just adds to his charm. A goofy rogue's gallery just adds to the fun. Thei costume cannot be beat. I just loved his bronze age incarnation regardless of the Infantino art.

Anonymous said...

I’m really shocked that everyone has gone for heroes. If I HAVE to pick a hero, it will be Doc Strange....but if we’re talking ALL characters, including the baddies, then my first place goes to another Doctor with mystical tendencies.


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