Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Verdammt Amerikaner!

Doug: Most of the comics we love are pretty Americentric, aren't they? The settings, the landmarks, the speech patterns of the characters... Today's a pretty simple question: which non-American characters (heck, they can be off-worlders if you want) do you really like, and why? Is it because they might be from the country in which you live? Do you just like the international (or interstellar) flavor they brought to stories in which they were featured? Are there more untapped potential stories that you feel could have or should have been told?

Thanks for your participation, and welcome to 2012!


david_b said...

As your title suggests, mine would be ol' Red Skull. More of a anachronistic caricature at heart, I never saw much authentic growth in him as a villain in Bronze or Silver Ages, which actually was acceptable. Reading the Bullpen attempts at mixing German and American speech patterns was half the fun.

I'll make no apologies, Natasha gracing the covers of DD kept me on that title for a long period.

Dougie said...

I learned some German from Nightcrawler ("hubsches madchen"- sorry, no umlauts). I miss those little verbal tics that diffentiated accents.

As an adoptive Glaswegian,I used to scorn Claremont's Scots- Moira and Wolfsbane in particular- as inauthentic. Until, that is, I moved to Moray and actually heard myself say " I've nae had time tae read this". I'd been brought up with "I huvnae had time tae read this" but have gone native!

Dougie said...

"differentiated"! The gales in Gaeldom are distracting me!

J.A. Morris said...

My favorite "phonetic" foreign slur was "American peeg", often said by French speaking bad guys.

One reason I was able to quit comics was the arrival of Gambit in 'Uncanny X-men'. I quickly tired of reading his cajun talk.

Inkstained Wretch said...

This is a toughie because there just aren't that many such characters, but I have to go with the Black Widow. She was always pleasing to the eye.

I think a major problem is that foreign characters tend to come off as caricatures.

Roygbiv666 said...

Although the quality of the stories (and art) were variable, for at least sentimental reasons I'd have to say Captain Canuck:


Fred W. Hill said...

Nice drawing of Natasha by Everett there -- any idea who the inker was? Romita? Most striking is that while she's rendered with a typically nice figure, Everett didn't make her so top-heavy as to make the notion of her being a top-notch gymnast absurd. Too many artists in more recent decades draw her to appeal to fanboys' prurient interests, which I suppose might result in greater sales in the short run. Admittedly, I fell in lust with Natasha at about age 9 when I saw Gene Colan's lovely rendering of her in an issue of Amazing Adventures circa 1971. A nifty tale, set on Christmas Eve if I recall correctly.

Garett said...

I agree with Captain Canuck. George Freeman's art was good, and the potential was there. I wish it had kept going as it improved through the run.

It was fun to see Canada referenced in the X-Men.

ChrisPV said...

How could anyone leave out your favorite foot fighter and mine


My wife gets so annoyed at me when I'm reading Cap. Anytime Batroc turns up I have to announce his presence loudly. And it isn't "the leaper" it's always "ze lepair."

I have a sickness.

Edo Bosnar said...

Inkstained hit the nail on the head when he noted that foreign characters often tend to be caricatures. As for Natasha/Black Widow, while I like the character, in most comics I read she is generally portrayed as talking, acting and thinking like an American, rather than a Russian - which is, I suppose, good, because if Marvel's writers had tried to make her more "ethnic" they would have turned her into caricature as well.

Rip Jagger said...

Let me throw into the mix the international teams, like the Blackhawks and the Fightin' 5. These squads offer up very Americanized versions of foreign heroes thrown together for common purpose.

I'm a fan of the superhero period of the Blackhawks, though I understand why many purists loathe that rendition. It's got a kitschy greatness!

Rip Off

Anonymous said...

Regarding ‘home teams’, I remember Captain Britain as being dreadful, which is odd as Claremont wrote it. Maybe I need to re-read.

The Russians were always interesting....Natasha, sure, but also Ivan and their past together, Darkstar, the Red Guardian (the lady doctor one), the Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man, Colossus and Ilyana. Was the Unicorn a Russian? The Red Ghost was, I’m sure.

I guess if we’re talking non American heroes, we’re talking about the All New All Different Xmen (and only our generation would ever use that prefix!!). Banshee was fun. Wolverine’s Canadian-ness aways seemed under-used and under-referenced. Storm was a little better, with references to her childhood and that walkabout she did. Likewise, Kurt occasionally chucked the odd bit of cod-German in.

Elektra was pretty cool. Although she is kind of Natasha-with-knives.

Wanda & Pietro actually had a quite strong European CV, with a fully explored back story.

I guess, if I have to pick one, I’d have to go with that Latverian bloke.

As far as actual books go, one thing that always fascinated with Tomb of Drac is that the whole thing is set outside the US. I haven’t ploughed my through them all yet, but I don’t think we’ve set foot west of Scotland yet. Even American characters like Blade and Hannibal King live in London for some reason. I think that must be unique, apart from books set in other galaxies, and you know...’in the past yet somehow in the future’, as Family Guy put it.


William said...

Hands down, my favorite "non-American" born character from Marvel or DC is Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu. In fact, he's one of my favorite comic-book characters period. However, I am a rabid Kung-Fu movie buff, so it only makes sense. Outside of comics, my heroes growing up were guys like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, etc.. So I've personally never had any problem accepting so-called "foreigners" as the good guys.

Plus I think it's easier to sell a non-American villain to U.S. audiences than it is a hero. (Because we all know that foreign equals bad). What's tougher is to get readers to accept a "good guy" who is not of their nationality. So, I kind of disqualified any villains from my thinking, like Red Skull, Doc Doom, etc.

Fred W. Hill said...

Now that you mention it, William, I'll put in a vote for Shang Chi as well. I wasn't particularly into martial arts flicks, but Moench, particularly with Gulacy but also Zeck and Day, produced some of the best comics ever.
And speaking of Dr. Doom, in his origin story he was shown to be of Gypsy or Romani, to use the term they prefer for themselves. However, to my knowledge no writer has ever really explored his cultural heritage, particularly in light of the attempt by the Nazis to exterminate them, and remembering that originally our pal Victor, along with Reed & Ben, all were in college just before the outbreak of World War II. Of course, by now Marvel is likely to have drastically changed Dr. Doom's origin, perhaps making him an ethnic "Latverian" rather than a Romani and he, Richards and Grimm were classmates in the very early 90s, before the outbreak of, uh, the first Iraq War!

Anonymous said...

I always wished there were more stories with the Global Guardians as introduced in the pages of Super Friends. Not the later incarnation which apparently just had everybody sleeping around and getting killed.

Aside from them, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Aquaman are all foreigners but nobody seems to notice.

I like Puck and Northstar from Alpha Flight (at least the original version).

Hate Wolverine, never enjoyed him.

Love Storm and Nightcrawler. Storm was originally African, but I think maybe they decided to make her American later.

Black Panther is fantastic. A high-profile black superhero who's a scientific genius and has no stereotypical racist trappings like they gave Luke Cage and the Falcon (when they revised his backstory).

Joseph said...

I loved when the Thing (and Alicia) traveled to London in MTIO #29 (and teamed up with Shang-Chi). I've also enjoyed Wolverine, Colossus, and Nightcrawler, though Black Widow and Black Panther are probably my favorite non-American heroes that are heavily identified with their home country.

Though I do give extra points to Shamrock for winning one of the gold prizes in Contest of Champions.

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