I was asked a while back on Twitter to name my five favorite superheroes, along with some other comic-related stuff. I declined, saying that it was too complicated to discuss on Twitter, but promised to blog about it. And so here I am.
First off, I was asked if I still dabble in comics. The answer is yes. I still check in on some of my favorites and I try to keep abreast of the cool stuff going on. It isn’t as easy as it once was, but fortunately, I have friends who are in the industry who help keep me up-to-date.
Then, I was asked about my thoughts on a “novel comic mashup.” I’m not sure if that means a novel with some comic book pages in it or vice-versa, but I’m generally in favor of anything that makes interesting use of ink on paper. In fact, a number of years ago I began working on an illustrated novella that would have contained both full-page and comic-panel artwork in it. So, yeah.
Now for the favorites.
I feel a little weird doing this. Because, well, why should anyone care who my five favorite superheroes are? But I actually get asked this question (and variations thereof) quite a bit, so here goes (bearing in mind that these are the top five, and that I could babble about cool superheroes all day and all night)…
In no particular order:
Superboy: That’s right. Superboy. Not Superman. And not the jumped-up, cloned-up pretender who’s been running around under the Superboy moniker for the past (eep!) twenty years. I mean the original, classic Superboy: Kal-El from Krypton before he grew up and became the world’s greatest hero.
Why Superboy and not Superman? Probably because I was a huge Legion of Super-Heroes fan, and Superboy was a member of the Legion, for one. For another, I guess at a young age, I more readily identified with Superboy than with the grown-up version. And, of course, there’s this: Superboy was learning. He was imperfect. He was figuring out his powers, arguing with his parents, learning how to be both human and godlike at once. That’s a lot cooler, in my book, than the guy who’s already got it all sussed out.
There is, by the way, some terrific YA territory to plow in the Superboy mythos. DC Comics, whenever you want a genuine YA take on the character, you know how to reach me!
Ferro Lad: Odds are you’ve never heard of him. And that’s cool. But Ferro Lad (a.k.a. Andrew Nolan) was a member of the aforementioned Legion of Super-Heroes, a teen with the ability to turn his body into a living, indestructible isotope of iron (hence “Ferro”). Did I say “indestructible?” Well, I should have said “indestructible to everything except the massively powerful bomb that was the only thing that could destroy the Sun-Eater before it devoured earth’s sun and killed everyone on the planet, a bomb which Ferro Lad bravely and without a second thought snatched up and then proceeded to dive into the center of the Sun-Eater and detonate it, saving the planet and possibly the galaxy.”
Yeah, that’s what I meant to say.
That story? One of the first times in comics a hero died for reals. I loved it. Written by a kid (literally — he was like 14 at the time) named Jim Shooter. He wrote a friggin’ classic super-hero story at 14. I hate him more than you can possibly imagine.
The Flash: When I was a kid, I loved the Flash for two reasons: One, he could run really fast (like, light-speed fast). And two, his secret identity was Barry Allen. In the 1970s, there weren’t a lot of role models out there named Barry (Barry Manilow was too lame and Barry White was beyond my level of cool), so I glommed onto the Flash. When he died in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was in the fine spirit of sacrifice first established by Ferro Lad (see above; why do my faves die???). I was crushed, but Barry’s sacrifice made so much sense that I couldn’t be too devastated. Years later, Mark Waid did a great job turning Barry’s protege, Wally West, into the Flash. Such a great job, in fact, that when DC decided to resurrect Barry a couple of years ago, I was disappointed, not happy. Let Barry stay dead, DC. He did his job — let Wally take over.
Superman: Yeah, yeah, I know: I listed Superboy already, but I consider Superman a separate character. I may not like him as much as his teen self, but I still like him a hell of a lot!
Captain Universe: The only Marvel character in the Top Five. Captain Universe isn’t so much a character as a concept. The elevator pitch is this: An extraterrestrial energy force roams the earth, occasionally “possessing” worthy individuals and bestowing upon them incredible super-powers, for a limited period of time. I love this concept so much that I want to have babies with it. A number of years ago, I blocked out a cool series based on Captain Universe. Hey, Marvel Comics! Gimme a call!
So how about you? What are your five favorite super-heroes? And why do you hate mine?