Friday, February 13, 2015

Who's the Best... Wings?

Doug: Almost four years ago we did one of our Dressed for Success posts featuring Hawkman and the Angel. But today we'll broaden it to any character sportin' a set o' wings. Whose wings are the best looking? Who has the best overall color scheme? Are there winged characters you really like, and others you loathe? Just a thought before I leave it to you -- give me the Beetle as pictured, sans all that armor junk he eventually sported. Love those wonky fingers!


William said...

I was always partial to the Falcon, because I thought he looked cool, and I had a Mego action figure of him when I was a kid.

Edo Bosnar said...

I think winged characters always look cool. Also, for shame in not picturing the absolutely best-looking winged hero, Dawnstar.
However, besides looking good, they don't seem too useful, and often require some additional gear or gadgets to make them so (case in point: Hawkman, also the Beetle). In that sense, I tend to agree with William about Falcon. He not only has a cool look (I prefer the red-and-white costume you've posted here), he was also generally effective.

Martinex1 said...

I like Falcon also. I think red and white winged characters look best, including Angel and Stingray. I like Nighthawk's costume as well. I think for the most part the better winged character costumes are those whose wings are more practical and devolve into capes rather than those that have feathers. I also like the Wasp. Her insect wings are one of a kind.

J.A. Morris said...

I vote for Sam Wilson, for similar reasons that William stated. One of the best Megos ever, even if his hands were problematic at best. And he was a good co-star in Cap's book during the Bronze Age. I was glad to learn recently that the whole "Snap Wilson" BS has been retconned away.

Not a big DC fan, but I've always thought Hawkman was pretty cool. Angel is a jerk, a rich kid who has never been very interesting to me, even after he was given wings that shot razor blades. But his best costume in my book was the blue and white one he wore a few times late in the Roy Thomas era.

Speaking of the Beetle, I was reading a story that featured him last night and was thinking he's one of the dumbest looking characters that was ever designed and created (at least partially) by Jack Kirby. His costume looks like something out of bad 1940s movie serial, and not in a good way. His 1980s costume (designed by Byrne, I think) made him one of the coolest B-grade villains in the Marvel Universe.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the fake wings of characters like the Falcon and Nighthawk because real wings on a human being is anatomically impossible - you'd need hollow bones and a gigantic chest like a bird. Talking of wings - does anybody look at the Billboard Hot 100 ? Because Paul McCartney is at #6 from #15 last week. It's a song called 'FourFive Seconds' by Rhianna and Kanye West - McCartney doesn't sing and only plays guitar but he's credited as one of the artists and appears in the video.

Doug said...

J.A. -- your reservations about the Beetle are exactly what I like about him. I think one of my favorite appearances by the Beetle is Avengers #28 (longtime readers will recall that comic as my all-time fave).

Edo, good call on Dawnstar. But as I've said, time doesn't always allow for exhaustive thinking when crafting these posts.


Humanbelly said...

Like Colin, I could never, ever fully surrender to the idea that any human character-- even a mutant-- could have organic wings sprouting from their back that enabled them to fly. Not at all sure what the artists from the 4th century were thinkin' of with that. Sure, it's artistically cool & all-- but I'm pretty sure even yer average dawn-of-time taxidermist would laugh at the anatomical impossibility of birds' wings sprouting, unsupported, from any vertabrate's back.

Hey, do well-known ornamental wings fit into this conversation? I'm thinkin' of Cap's helmet wings first, which ALWAYS look kinda cool on the page-- and then look just hilarious when adapted to anything live action.

Thor's helmet wings were also a hoot (since they normally appeared to be some sort of "real" wing of an unknown fowl for many years). How in the world did those things stay intact-??

My favorite, though, would be Subby's adorable, long-lost ankle wings! Part of Bill Everett's original design for the character, yes? Such a dainty little physical affectation for such a testosterone-exuding character! And I believe fans even in the earliest days of the Silver Age found them to be amusingly impossible, and were happy to poke fun at them at any opportunity.


Humanbelly said...

Ooh- in the "artificial wings" category, I've also always been kinda fond of Banshee's striped glider apparatus-- which makes him into a sort of sonic-powered flying squirrel. I think they look good, and I "get" how they're supposed to work.

[Although points tend to be lost over time with exactly what Sean's flight limitations were supposed to be-- how can he talk and fly, for instance??]

HB- again

david_b said...

Whew..., before I saw the pics, I was going to say Laurence Juber, from the last Wings line-up. GREAT jazz guitarist.

On to characters.., Falcon and Nighthawk for me. Nighthawk had such a mundane, boring outfit overall, but Sal Buscema made it look awesome, as he did Sam Wilson. Matched with Steve Englehart's gift for meaningful, building story arcs and dialog..? Best of the best.

J.A., THANKS for mentioning the dismissal of the 'Snap Wilson' stuff. Just s terrible besmirchment of Englehart's otherwise-landmark tenure on Bronze CA&F.

I know Angel's always been looked down upon for his less-than-glamorous power set, but hey, he's a mutant with wings.., he doesn't have to be Thor, ok..?

Humanbelly said...

Oh man, DavidB-- "LJ Plays the Beatles"--- what a great, GREAT album that is. It's a go-to for stressful mornings when I have more things to fix than time to fix them in. . .


Doug said...

Martinex --

I like your suggestion of the Wasp, which bring to mind a couple of thoughts: I hated the era when she morphed into a "bug lady"; I also didn't really see the relevance of her only shrinking to 4 feet tall and still being able to fly.

And I never ever understood how Yellowjacket's "wings" worked. Or how he could see peripherally in that costume.


The Prowler said...

My vote would be for Janet "The Wasp" Van Dyne!

And I have to second david_b, I was thinking the same thing!!! Actually, I was thinking, wasn't there only one Wings??

As I sat here pondering, I took a gander at the masthead picture and the only, ONLY, character with wings is Namor. And those are hard to see. I guess not everyone is the fan we are.

Oh, and Doug, from what I've heard from Hank about YJ's wings, it's very scientific and technical and really hard for the layman to understand..... from what I've heard.

Didn't Nighthawk have jet packs or belt packs and his wings for just for show or to hide the packs or something like that?

(So you call her on the phone
To talk about the teachers that you hate
And she says she's all alone
And her parents won't be coming home till late
There's a ringing in your brain
'Cause you could've swore you thought you heard her saying

Good girls don't
Good girls don't
But she'll be telling you
Good girls don't, but I do).

Doug said...

Prowler --

You don't think Howard the Duck has wing-thingies for hands?

Also, Hey Martinex! You posted a comment for this conversation in yesterday's conversation (I think).


Karen said...

Hermes is to blame for some of these weird wings, like Namor's ankle wings, or the wings on Cap's helmet, or the original Flash's helmet. Dang Greek gods.

How about Man-Bat? There's a different look for you. And I can't believe you guys are going to balk at winged humans. We're talking about comics! If you have no problem with a skinny scientist suddenly growing into a 800 pound green behemoth, surely wings is not an issue!

Martinex1 said...

Doug, I was typing a message on YJ when your thoughts appeared. I totally agree with you. Hank needs a rear view mirror for his blind spot. And he has even less aerodynamic opportunity than any of the feather winged characters. But on the other hand YJ has absolutely my favorite all time costume (despite its impracticality).

I also want to mention Guardian of the Galaxy's Starhawk. I really like his gliders. Sleek and cool.

And the Micronauts all strapped on glider wings (mechanical flight extended flight packs). I thought those were very clever and allowed all of the characters to take part in aerial battle.

And Doug, the Wasp creature's appearance was right near the end of my Avengers collecting. It was so over the top and weird. That was just goofy and very 90's. I couldn't bear to read any more in the fear that they were going to have her nest and lay eggs and be finally taken down by Silverclaw and a can of Raid.

Martinex1 said...

Prowler, thanks for letting me know where that message went. I thought it flew away. I reposted my thoughts again. Sorry about that.

Martinex1 said...

I mean "Thanks Doug" for pointing that out. Boy my mind and hands are not working today. Too caught up in the topic.

One more note... Stingray could fly and I still think his design is top notch, but never understood how his wings were not a hindrance under water.

Anonymous said...

Hah, only on this blog do we get a discussion on the anatomical impossibility of a man with wings! Colin, you must have been a physics major in college! I'll go with Angel, Hawkman and Namor.

David_b, it's funny you mentioned Angel is 'looked down' on his limited power set. Hmm, having no superpowers never seemed to hinder Batman! I think the real issue is not his power set but his snobby character. Warren Worthington has always been the Reggie Mantle of the Marvel Universe.

Prowler, you got it right - Nighthawk did have a jet pack on his back when he was flying.

- Mike 'I'd choose super strength over flight' from Trinidad & Tobago.

pfgavigan said...


The best conversation stopper I ever experienced was the result of just this precise question being asked in the dawned mists of antiquity, or in other words, when I was a kid.

Several comic book aficionados and myself were gathered around a pile of comics featuring these winged heroes and arguing about who's wings were the best. Lacking any true artistic senses, we were a gaggle of young boys, we decided that the term 'best' would depend on which pair of wings stood the best chance of actually working.

My older brother listened to our arguments wax back and forth as we debated each hero and how their wings worked. It should be mentioned that, as we were intellectually inquisitive lads, we did actually have some knowledge regarding flight dynamics, and each hero suffered greatly from the application of logic to their preferred means of locomotion.

Finally, one of us in the spirit of true anguish muttered the phrase, "Well, how do they fly anyway?."

My brother, his patience rewarded, looked up from his book and said, "They can fly because they are in comic books."

Thus endeth the debate.

Thank you for your indulgence


Phil said...

Hawkman. Hands down. But then he had the best artists. Moldoff in the 40s and Murphy Anderson in the 60s.

R. Lloyd said...

I have to agree with William. The Falcon is my first choice. I have lots of memories of him in Kirby's run on Captain America in the mid-1970's. Sure it wasn't written by Steve Englehart, who had great political commentary at the time of Nixon's impeachment. However I was fully aware of Jack Kirby's World War II era mindset. I knew it was more than likely that he wouldn't be writing or drawing anything for Marvel for a sustained period of time. His writing may have been heavy handed, however it always had a moral and message to young folks like myself at the time. The Falcon was more of an equal team member than a sidekick like Bucky.

Hawk Man comes as a close second. However I could never get into the Hawk Man mythology or stories. They seemed too silly for me...even at 10 years old. I was also more of a Marvel fan than a DC one. My Marvel purchases at the time were 90 percent with only a small portion of my comics buying going to DC books at the time.

Also I must add:
I did have a Mego Falcon action figure and I'd recreate all the Jack Kirby written adventures with my Mego Captain America action figures at the time.

J.A. Morris said...

I don't know if anyone is still looking in. But I was mistaken about the Beetle, he was first drawn by Carl Burgos, not Jack Kirby.

Doug said...

J.A. --

You are a brother operating in the realm of "full disclosure"! Love it!

And by the way, the Falcon was indeed one of the coolest Megos, in spite of Mego's horribly racist decision (whether that was the intent or not -- most likely "not") to use hands from their Planet of the Apes line on Sam Wilson.


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