Tag Archives: DC Comics

A Survey of Psychic Powers Found in Fiction and History

Type of Psychic Table Resized

INTRODUCTION

Psychics have various mental powers including telepathy and clairvoyance.  Psychics are one of the few categories of characters of fiction that also seemingly appear in real life.  For example, people who fly would only appear on a list of fictional characters.  Whether or not historical psychics really had psychic powers is not within the scope of this article.  The focus on this investigation is to compare and contrast the sort of psychic powers one encounters dealing with psychics in history versus fiction.  Almost any power imaginable can be duplicated and given a psionic explanation.  This tendency to call just about any super powered hero a psychic because the term is “cool” is especially overdone in Japanese fiction. There needs to be some sort of system for determining what powers constitute psychic powers.  This article will focus on the five powers traditionally associated with psychics including mediumship, precognition, retrocognitiontelekinesis. and telepathy

ANIME

 

One of the most famous “comic book” psychics does come from Japan and is the anime titled Akira that in turn was based on a Manga series from Katsuhiro Otomo.  Akira is a powerful telekinetic who in turn evolves into a reality warper.  Elfen Lied is another anime telekinetic.  The following anime series deal with psychics with various powers: Psychic Academy, Telepathy Shōjo Ran, and Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha. The following anime characters have various powers: Almayce, Eva-Beatrice, Genocyber, Hiroto Sakurai, Mai Kuju, and Rion SteinerPokemon has several psychic creatures including: Cresselia, Deoxys, Misty’s Psyduck, Misty’s TogeticPorygonMai Taniyama has the power of retrocognition.  The following anime deal with mediumship: Ghost Hound, Ghost Hunt, Mokke, Natsume’s Book of Friends, and XxxHOLIC for a total of five.  Overall, there seem to be more psychics with the power of mediumship than in American comic books.  Arael is one of the few anime psychics that is only a telepath.  Probably the most famous computer game with psychics and an anime style is Psychic Force.  There is a tendency to label various superpowers such as magic and control of electricity as “psychic” in anime and these examples are not listed since I think this is a misuse of the term psychic.

AMERICAN COMIC BOOKS

There is a general perception that there are more psychic characters in comic books than in any other medium.  This investigation focused on comic book heroes in titles published by DC Comics and Marvel Comics.  This study did not look at Japanese comic books in depth which are generally referred to as Manga.  I am an avid reader of both American and Japanese comic books and do suspect psychics are more prominent in Japanese than American comic books and perhaps this would be a good subject of a future study.

However, the Manga industry is fragmented into dozens of large and small publishing companies unlike American comic books that are dominated by DC Comics and Marvel Comics.  Some Manga publishers can only be described as cottage industries in which the writer, artist and publisher are one person working out of an office.  Listing all the psychics in Manga would be a task only the most dedicated otaku would attempt.

The following 22 comic book characters in DC and Marvel comics have telepathy: Aqualad (DC), Aquaman (DC), Black Bolt (Marvel), Blindfold (Marvel), Cable (Marvel), Chamber (Marvel), Charles Xavier/Professor X (Marvel), Emma Frost/White Queen (Marvel), Jean Grey/Phoenix (Marvel), M.O.D.O.K. (Marvel), Martian Manhunter/J’onn J’onzz (DC), Miss Martian/M’gann M’orzz (DC), Nate Gray/X-Man (Marvel), Psimon (DC), Psylocke (Marvel), Rachel Summers/Marvel Girl/Phoenix (Marvel), Sage (Marvel), Saturn Girl (DC), Stepford Cuckoos (Marvel), Tempest (DC), The Goblin Queen (Marvel), Tomorrow Woman (DC).  The two most important telepaths in the DC universe are the Martian Manhunter and Saturn Girl.  The two most important telepaths in the Marvel universe are Professor X and Jean Grey.

The following five comic book characters in DC and Marvel comics have precognition: Ben Reilly (Marvel), Blindfold (Marvel), Clock King II (DC), Destiny (Marvel), Dream Girl (DC) and Midnighter (DC).  The most important character with precognition in the DC universe is Dream Girl.  The most important character with precognition in the Marvel universe is Destiny.

The following three DC and Marvel characters with the power of mediumship include Deadpool (Marvel), John Constantine (DC) and Wicked (Marvel).  John Constantine is by far the most important character in comic books with this power.  Mediumship may be more widespread as a super power in Japanese comic books that in general have a greater preoccupation with ghosts.

The following 13 comic book characters in DC and Marvel comics with the power of telekinesis include Cable (Marvel), Debrii (Marvel), Franklin Richards (Marvel), Hellion (Marvel), Jean Grey (Marvel), Justice (Marvel), Maxima (DC Comics), Nate Grey (Marvel), Psylocke (Marvel), Rachel Summers (Marvel), Raven (DC), Superboy, Kon-El version (DC), and Tomorrow Woman (DC).

Superboy is the most important telekinetic in the DC universe.  Jean Grey is the most important telekinetic in the Marvel universe.  The Kon-El version of Superboy is a good example how even the varied powers of Superman can be duplicated via a psionic mechanism and over the time the border between psionic, none psionic and magically based powers becomes meaningless and comic book fiction suffers as believability suffers.  In the opinion of the author, superpowers and their own internal logic is one of the foundations of creating a suspension of belief in the medium of comic books.

I think this is a good a juncture as any to mention my one giant peeve about telekinesis as a superpower.  The following formula describes how kinetic energy works:

kinetic energy formula

In the above formula, “m” equals mass and “v” equals velocity.  The above formula means that a small object traveling a very high speed can do a lot more damage than a large object traveling at a low speed because velocity is squared.  This is one of the principles behind martial arts which I have studied (see Fox Martial Arts Taxonomy).  If you can learn the increase the speed of your kick or punch then you can increase the force of your kick or punch exponentially.  Also if you can put a lot of energy into a small area of your fist, two or three knuckles rather than all your knuckles, then the pounds per inch increase dramatically and you break bone in a small area rather than hitting a large area with insufficient force to break/penetrate bone and tissue.  The basic principles of kinetic energy and martial arts have a special relevance to telekinetic combat!

Invariably comic book characters are shown using great effort to move a single large object while able to throw small objects at great speed without effort.  This suggests that telekinesis, unlike muscle energy, allow the user to take advantage of the loop holes of the laws of kinetic energy more efficiently.  You cannot easily double the speed of your muscle action, this takes years of practice, but in a telekinetic world this is entirely possible with little practice.  Therefore, instead of throwing boulders at your opponent, a telekinetic would be better of throwing small rocks or better yet, super sharp barbed needles made out of adamantium towards vital organs. Needles are hard to block and at sufficient speeds can penetrate deeply into hard to kill super heroes that are partially invulnerable. Barbed needles with poisons on them, Green Kryptonite for Superman for example, would make even more sense.  I am waiting for a supervillain that uses his or her telekinesis in an intelligent manner. I guess the superhero can coat his/her needles with a tranquilizer and aim for none vital organs.

Also, any comic book character with any brains with telekinesis would sign up to study the use of trick arrows with Hawkeye (Marvel) or Green Arrow (DC) immediately since you could make your trick arrows go faster and more accurately with telekinesis and would be a superhero archer on steroids with telekinesis.  Hawkeye has been known to go up against Iron Man.  Green Arrow has been known to go up against Superman albeit with arrows that released Green Kryptonite in the Dark Knight series.

The following nine comic book characters in DC and Marvel comics with the power of retrocognition include Blindfold (Marvel), Captain Comet (DC), Dream Girl (DC), Magik (Marvel), Saturn Girl (DC), Silver Surfer (Marvel), Talisman (Marvel), Tarot (Marvel) and Terror Inc. (Marvel).  Dream Girl and Saturn Girl are important psychics in the DC universe but rarely use retrocognition.  Terror Inc. in the Marvel universe absorbs the memories and skills of other via the grafting of body parts and retrocognition is a central power this character uses in an interesting manner.

The following three American comic book characters that are clearly psychics have various psychic powers: Professor X, Jean Grey and Saturn Girl.  There is a history of psychics in Marvel comic books progressing towards reality warping.  Psychics can at first throw boulders around and then as they evolve can control the very nature of reality.  The following characters, not all clearly psychics, Jean Grey, Onslaught, Proteus and Franklin Richards over at Marvel Comics have all gone through this evolution.  The big exception to the psychic path to reality warping at Marvel would be the Beyonder.  Beings with the power cosmic can also warp reality but generally not to the same extent as a psychic that has evolved to the level of reality warping.  Why does Marvel turn psychics into reality warpers?  Perhaps wavy lines showing telepathy or telekinesis are not very impressive visually.  A five spread page of character warping the very nature of reality is interesting visually and easily done in a comic book.  Psychic powers do not lend themselves to an over the top visual display that is the forte of the comic book as a medium.  Ironically, the best reality warping visual display was done at DC not at Marvel.  The Joker becomes Emperor Joker by stealing the powers of Mr. Mxyzptlk and the miniseries based on this premise is a visual delight if not a logical delight.  DC Comics is more likely to use magic and/or mystic origins rather than psychic powers to explain the reality warping superpower (Bat-Mite, Mr. Mxyzptlk, and the Spectre).

HISTORICAL

Allison DuBois

Allison DuBois Historical

Psychic Power: Mediumship

Cassandra of Troy

Cassandra of Troy

Psychic Power: Precognition

Edgar Cayce

Edgar Cayce

Psychic Power: Retrocognition

Grigori Rasputin

Grigori Rasputin

Psychic Power: Precogntion

Jeane Dixon

Jeane Dixon

Psychic Power: Precognition

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Psychic Power: Precognition

Miss Cleo

Miss Cleo

Psychic Power: Precognition

Nostradamus

Nostradamus

Psychic Power: Precognition

Paul the Octopus

Paul the Octopus

Psychic Power: Precognition

Pythia (The Oracle of Delphi)

The Oracle at Delphi

Psychic Power: Precognition

Uri Geller

Uri Geller

Psychic Power: Telekinesis

MOVIES

Carl Jenkins in Starship Troopers

Carl Jenkins in Starship Troopers

Psychic Power: Telepathy

Carrie White in Carrie

Carrie White in Carrie

Psychic Power: Telekinesis

Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense

Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense

Psychic Power: Mediumship

Cris Johnson in Next

Cris Johnson in Next

Psychic Power: Precognition

Darryl Revok in Scanners

Darryl Revok in Scanners

Psychic Power: Telekinesis

Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class

Emma Frost in X-Men

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Mind Control

Fiver in Watership Down

Fiver in Watership Down

Psychic Power: Precognition

Inspector Frederick Abberline in From Hell

Inspector Frederick Abberline in From Hell

Psychic Power: Precognition

Jean Grey in X-Men Film Series

Jean Grey in X-Men

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Telekinesis

Jeremy “Powder” Reed in Powder

Jeremy Powder Reed in Powder

Psychic Power: Telepathy

Joan of Arc in Several Movies

There have been almost 40 movies about Joan of Arc!  For the purposes of this survey, Joan of Arc has only been counted once.

Psychic Power: Precognition

Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone

Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone

Psychic Power: Precognition, Retrocognition, Telepathy

Lyn Cassady in Men Who Stare at Goats

Lyn Cassady in Men Who Stare at Goats

Psychic Power: Telekinesis, Remote Sensing

Nick Marshall in What Women Want

Nick Marshall in What Women Want

Psychic Power: Telepathy (women only)

Oda Mae Brown in Ghost

Oda Mae Brown in Ghost

Psychic Power: Mediumship

Professor X in X-Men

Professor X in X-Men

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Mind Control

River Tam in Serenity

River Tam in Serenity

Psychic Power:

Tangina Barrons in Poltergeist

Tangina Barrons in Poltergeist

Psychic Power: Mediumship

The Oracle in The Matrix

The Oracle in The Matrix

Psychic Power: Precognition

Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean

Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Carribean

Psychic Power: Precognition

Zoltar in Big

Zoltar in Big

Psychic Power: Precognition, Reality Warping

TV

Allison DuBois in Medium

Allison DuBois in Medium

Psychic Power: Mediumship, Retrocogntion, Precognition

Carl Jenkins in Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles

Psychic Power: Telepathy

The Champions

The Champions

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Precognition

Rose Red

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Telekinesis, Retrocognition, Remote Viewing, Psychometry, Automatic Writing

Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone

Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone

Psychic Power: Precognition, Retrocognition, Telepathy

Matt Parkman in Heroes

Matt Parkman in Heroes

Psychic Power: Telepathy

Melinda Gordon in Ghost Whisperer

Melinda Gordon in Ghost Whisperer

Psychic Power: Mediumship

Professor X in X-Men

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Mind Control

River Tam in Firefly

Psychic Power: Telepathy, Precognition

Time Prophet in Lexx

Time Prophet Lexx

Psychic Power: The Time Prophet believes time is cyclical so by seeing the last Big Bang cycle, she can see the “future”.  This means her power is retrocognition but manifests itself as precognition.

CONCLUSION

Fictional psychics are much more likely to display psychometry, telepathy and telekinesis than historical psychics. Historically, most psychics have visions of a clairvoyant nature.  A skeptic might argue that this is true because clairvoyance is an easier power to fake than other psychic powers.  There is something called the Jeane Dixon effect.  People tend to remember a few correct predictions and forget many wrong predictions.

Movies (21 psychics) appear to use psychics as a plot device lot more than TV (9 psychics).  The movies Carrie and Scanner, and X-Men: The Last Stand used telekinesis to create huge extended visual spectacles. Presumably the more limited budgets of TV shows means such spectacles are less likely.

The total number of psychics in American comic books (52) dwarfs the number in the other categories.  One explanation is that the sheer volume of material in comic books is so much larger than movies and TV that more psychics would follow.  The X-Men were a comic book that introduced psychic superheroes in an important ongoing series.  Professor X and Jean Grey were both psychics in the X-Men series and soon psychic superheroes began to become a regular part of the American comic book landscape.  American comic books generally copy Hollywood movies and American TV but this might be one case in which movies and TV took their cues from comic books and the X-Men comic book in particular.  Comic books and anime regularly make use of telekinetic/reality altering fight scenes that would be very costly on film but are relatively easy and cheap to do in the comic book media.  Akira is a Japanese anime adapted from a comic book that is probably the best example of over the top telekinetic scenes that would be too expensive to do using live action film.

Hugh Fox III - Black Hole

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

You can also download my autobiography of my struggle with a bipolar condition on  Am I Kitsune on my Google Drive.

WereVerse Universe Baby!

Alan Moore’s Novel Use of Point of View

“Superman/Swamp Thing: The Jungle Line, 2000 AD, a Mister Mxyzptlk, A Small Killing, A1#1, Abby Arcane, Alan Moore, Anthony Lilliman, antiheros, “Pog”, Big Numbers, daughter of Miracleman, Dazzle Comics, DC Comics Presents #85, Delia Surredige, deus ex machina, Dr. Manhattan, E.T., Eric Finch, Ethan Crane, Evey, Ghost Dance, Great Britain, Hallucinogenic POV, hippie, Intelligent ethically ambiguous POV, Kryptonian fungus, Larkhill, LSD, Marvelman, metafictional, Milo, Miracleman, Miracleman #13, Miracleman #14, Miracleman #16, narrative. Alien POV, Norsefire, Omniman, peyote, Pog comic strip, Pogo, point of view, POV, Qys, rebooted. Supreme #53, Skizz, Story within a story POV, Stream of consciousness POV, superhero universe reboots, Supreme, Survivor guilt, Swamp Thing, Swamp Thing v2, Szazs, Tales of the Black Freighter, the Comedian, The Green, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Punisher, V is for Vendetta, V is for Vendetta #5, v2, Vertigo, Walt Kelly, Warpsmiths. Qys, Watchmen, Watchmen #12, Watchmen #4, Watchmen #9, Wolverine, WW III

Alan Moore is one of the top comic book writers of all time.  Alan Moore uses many specialized techniques to entertain the reader including superhero universe reboots but another technique he uses to make his stories especially engrossing is the novel use of point of view (POV) in his narrative.  Moore uses alien POV, hallucinogenic POV, intelligent ethically ambiguous POV, stream of consciousness POV, and a story within a story POV in order to make his fiction more interesting.

Alien POV

Doctor Manhattan is Superman type character in the series Watchmen.  Doctor Manhattan has the ability to see the past, present and the future at the same time.  This is power 256 in my Superpower List (250+).  Doctor Manhattan may have been human at one point but due to an accident became a being that is growing distant from humanity.  Ozymandias on Doctor Manhattan, “If there’s one thing in this cosmos that that man isn’t capable of doing it’s having a political bias. Believe me… you have to meet him to understand. I mean, which do you prefer, red ants or black ants?” Doctor Manhattan can also make multiple versions of himself and does this for practical purposes but also because this is a point of view that he finds interesting.  Doctor Manhattan can perceive subatomic particles that exist for nanoseconds.  Doctor Manhattan has developed a nihilistic view of reality due to his superhuman perceptions that is shared by very few human beings but The Comedian is one of them (see Figure 1 below).

1-Watchmen #4 (of 12) - Page 20

Figure 1- Watchmen #4 (of 12) – Page 20

Doctor Manhattan is so removed from the human POV that he almost does not intervene to save the world from WW III (see Figure 2)!below

2-Watchmen #9 (of 12) - Page 11

Figure 2 – Watchmen #9 (of 12) – Page 11

And true love does not change his mind but instead he has some sort of eureka experience related to human individuality relative to probability (see Figure 3 below) and this insight causes him to try to stop WW III.

3-Watchmen #9 (of 12) - Page 28

Figure 3 – Watchmen #9 (of 12) – Page 28

The Swamp Thing discovers in Swamp Thing, v2, #21, the first issue of this character that Alan Moore wrote, that he is actually a plant not a human and this knowledge causes him to change how he views  humanity and temporarily flip out and commit his first murder.  Alan Moore decides to turn a superhero that was a man with plant features into a plant period with a plant POV!  This story is aptly titled “The Anatomy Lesson” and is a POV driven plot (see Figure 4 below).

4 Swamp Thing V2 #21 - Page 13

Figure 4 – Swamp Thing V2 #21 – Page 13

Alan Moore decided a superhero even more removed from humanity would be more interesting.  The Swamp Thing can also perceive and move through “The Green” which is some sort of dimension that contains the consciousness of all plant life.  As a plant and later an elemental, the Swamp Thing sees the human struggle between good and evil in a larger transhuman context.  Humans are one of many species and the welfare of humans at the expense of the environment is not acceptable.

In a two issue story arc, the story is told from the POV of an alien that happens to be an Earthling!  In “Mysteries in Space”, Swamp Thing, v2, #57 and “Exiles” Swamp Thing, v2, #58, Adam Strange is the hero of planet Rann.  The inhabitants are more advanced than Earthlings and have difficulty doing “primitive” things like fighting and procreating.  Adam Strange has slowly become aware that the Rannians see him as an ape-man errand boy and the statute erected in his honor as the hero of Rann is a façade to flatter him into doing their bidding.  There is plenty of action in the story but Adam Strange’s internal dialogue about he is perceived in the Rannians is actually more interesting.  In the end his relatively, to Earthlings, Rannian girlfriend, Alanna Strange, is found to be pregnant and this is the first pregnancy in quite some time on Rann.  The Earthling “alien” has done the “job” he was probably recruited and manipulated for in the first place (see Figure 5 below)!

5-Swamp Thing V2 #58 - Page 23

Figure 5 – Swamp Thing V2 #58 – Page 23

Another story of Swamp Thing tells the story totally from the point of view of an alien!  In “Loving the Alien”, Swamp Thing, v2, #60, an alien that is a planet made of biomechanical material is telling the story of her courtship of the Swamp Thing.  I guess alien biomechanical planets have a hard time finding suitable mates and all prior attempts at failed and often caused the death of the potential mate.  Swamp Thing tried to escape but she used a “chronofracture” which reverses time to get a second chance at catching the Swamp Thing and she has her way with him.  She transfers all the information biological and otherwise into her reproductive system and voila little baby aliens that want to hear the story of their mothers courtship and mom wonders if dad would love his children if he had gotten to know them (see Figure 6 below)!

6- Swamp Thing V2 #60 - Page 19

Figure 6 – Swamp Thing V2 #60 – Page 19

Miracleman is another Superman type character radically rebooted by Alan Moore who reflects on his superhuman condition has changed how he views the world.  Even his “father” who is a genius by human standards cannot understand the perspective of Miracleman in the opinion of Miracleman (see Figure 7 below).

7-Miracleman 07 #1440 - Page 16

Figure 7 – Miracleman 07 #1440 – Page 16

Miracleman’s perceptions evolve and he recognizes his superhuman condition probably distances him from humanity and he sees this as a negative (see Figure 8 below).

8-Miracleman 16 #1440 - Page 29

Figure 8 – Miracleman 16 #1440 – Page 29

The Miracleman’s universe includes two alien empires including the Qys and the Warpsmiths. The Qys can change bodies the way we change clothes and this radically changes their sense of self.  This ability changes the aesthetic of the Qys so radically that they are ruled by what to a human would seem like a giant monster (see Figure 9 below).

9-Miracleman 13 #1440 - Page 5

Figure 9 – Miracleman 13 #1440 – Page 5

The Warpsmiths have the power of teleportation and with this power also perceive time very differently than humans.  There are hints that this power changes how they perceive the universe and their role in the universe (See Figure 10 below).

10-A1 Ghost Dance Warpsmiths

Figure 10 – A1 Ghost Dance Warpsmiths

For Alan Moore, superpowers are not just tools for fighting crime but create sensibilities that change POV radically.  The daughter of Miracleman realizes that Miracleman’s perspective is too human for her growth and development as a superhuman and leaves her father to go live with the Qys despite being a newborn (see Figure 11 below).

11-Miracleman 14 #1440 - Page 7

Figure 11 – Miracleman 14 #1440 – Page 7

Skizz is a character that Alan Moore created for 2000 AD.  Skizz resembles an E.T. the movie sort of alien and one biker actually refers to Skizz as being like E.T. in the movie.  Skizz is an interpreter and not very formidable physically and we get to see Earth from the point of view of an alien that finds us barbaric (see Figure 12 below).

12-Skizz - Page 14

Figure 12 – Skizz – Page 14

More than any other comic book that I am familiar with, the story of Skizz revolves around the POV of an alien rather than relying on action for plot delivery.

In Swamp Thing v2, #32, “Pog”,  Alan Moore treats us to an alien that in a manner similar to Skizz provides an alien point of view in which we are seen as barbarian but even more than that a savage planet.  On the planet of Pog, even different species of animals coexist but in our planet a cartoonish crocodile will be eaten real crocodiles (see Figure 13 below).

13-Swamp Thing V2 #32 - Page 17

Figure 13 – Swamp Thing V2 #32 – Page 17

There is a metafictional aspect to Pog since Moore is comparing two types of comic book universe not just aliens and Earthlings.  The comic strip Pogo universe of Walt Kelly is being compared with the grittier Vertigo universe that Swamp Thing inhabits.

In Swamp Thing v2, #61, “All Flesh is Grass”, Swamp Thing meets a Green Lantern (Medphyll) on his alien home world in which plant life is sentient.  The title “All Flesh is Grass” is from the Bible and refers to the transitory nature of existence.  The story is told from the POV of Medphyll and the reader is treated to a description of an alien world of sentient plants and the art, religion and plant based architecture of the planet are described in detail.  The Green Lantern oath reflects the plant POV of the ring bearer:

“In forest dark or glade beferned,
No blade of grass shall go unturned.
Let those that have the daylight spurned,
Tread not where this green lamp has burned.”

The Swamp Thing is the horror from the stars in this story and we are reminded that what is a hero or a monster is a matter of perspective.  The Swamp Thing inhabits the form of Medphyll’s deceased and beloved teacher Jothra and the Swamp Thing and the reader are given a tour of this very interesting planet (See figure 14 below).

14 Swamp Thing V2 #61 - Page 18

Figure 14 – Swamp Thing V2 #61 – Page 18

Aliens like Dr. Manhattan, the Swamp Thing, Miracleman, Skizz and Pog view the world in a radically different way that in turn change how they think.  Super powers do not just let the character smash mountains but change how the characters perceive mountains and this is actually often more interesting.

Alan Moore wrote three stories about the Green Lantern Corps for DC Comics.  In the story “In Blackest Story”, Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #3 (1987), the Green Lantern Katma Tui has a very difficult time explaining the whole concept of the bright light of Green Lanterns fighting darkness because the alien, Rot Lop Fan,  Katman Tui is talking to cannot see and has no concept of light (see Figure 15 below).

15- "In Blackest Night" Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #3- Page 4

Figure 15 – “In Blackest Night” Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #3

In “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize”, Green Lantern, v2, #188, the bad guy cannot find the Green Lantern until he realizes the Green Lantern Mogo is not an inhabitant of the planet but the planet itself (see Figure 16 below)!

16-Mogo Doesn't Socialize Green Lantern #188, v2 - Page 6

Figure 16 – “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize”, Green Lantern #188, v2 – Page 6

In “Tygers”, Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2 (1986), a hyper rational Green Lantern, Abin Sur, fails to understand how a demon of the Empire of Tears, Qull of the Five Inversions,  can use his perceptual abilities that combine clairvoyance, cunning and an understanding of mortal psychological weaknesses in order to create a death trap with words alone.  Abin Sur feels protected by his scientific world view but in fact the supremely evil POV of the demon allows the demon to murder Abin Sur even though the demon is imprisoned and should be helpless (see Figure 17 below).

17 -Tygers Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2 - Page 12

Figure 17 – “Tygers”, Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2 – Page 12

In all three Green Lantern Corps stories, there are two aliens that have such radically different states of being that their POV makes mutual understanding difficult.  The Green Lantern Corps are aliens.  Moore realized the rich potential in exploring the alien side of the Green Lantern Corps rather than treating them like Earth based super humans that happen to look funny due to a third eye or some other cosmetic difference between the alien and us.  The Green Lantern Corps stories are even more POV centric than the other superhero stories mentioned previously.

Alan Moore develops the Alien POV idea even further in the Omega Men series.  The Omega Men are a team of extraterrestrial superheroes in a solar system other than that of Earth called the Vegan system.  Alan Moore did two back stories for the series that take place in the Vegan system but do not involve the Omega Men directly.  In “Brief Lives”, Omega Men #26, the Spider Guild, giant intelligent spiders, try to conquer giant aliens in the planet Ogyptu that live for millennia and move, think and perceive the world at a glacial pace, literally.  The entire invasion by the Spider Guild over a thirty year period is barely perceived by the giants.  The invasion fails because the POV of the giants is so radically different than that of the Spider Guild that the invasion cannot even be perceived and therefore cannot be successful (see figure 18 below).

18- Brief Lives Omega Men #26 - Page 27

Figure 18 – “Brief Lives”, Omega Men #26 – Page 27

In “A Man’s World”, Omega Men #27, a female xenobiologist, or possibly an anthropologist since she mentions the rules of inter-system anthropology, studies a tribe called the Culacaons that reproduce minus women.  The female alien named Leelyo pays the ultimate price for not understanding the POV of the males in the tribe.  After probably three rereads, the reader figures out that the males of the Culacaons stab giant snails and plant their babies into the giant snails. The reader can infer that the Culcaon male stabs
poor Leelyo and probably deposits the children in her body after stabbing with
her with his Gamugha stick. Apparently, the male tribesman sees the female alien not as a fellow humanoid but as more similar to the giant snails and deserving similar treatment.  From the POV of the male Culacaon Leelyo is more like the giant snails than like him!  This story is widely dismissed as a very poor story.  However, if you reread the story then the horrible truth of the story becomes apparent and the true meaning of the title, “A Man’s World” becomes horrifyingly apparent (see Figure 19 below)!

19- A Mans World Omega Men #27 - Page 24

Figure 19 – “A Mans World”, Omega Men #27 – Page 24

Hallucinogenic POV

Swamp Thing was radically changed during his tenure under Alan Moore.  The Alan Moore Swamp Thing has tubers growing from his body that more or less has the same effects as peyote.  In “Rite of Spring”, Swamp Thing v2, #34, the Swamp Thing gives his girlfriend Abby Arcane a tuber in order to educate her about his perception of the Earth via The Green (see Figure 20 below).

20 Swamp Thing V2 #34 - Page 12

Figure 20 – Swamp Thing V2 #34 – Page 12

In “The Return of the Good Gumbo”, Swamp Thing v2, #64, the Swamp Thing again gives his soon to be wife Abby Arcane a tuber to eat since nothing says love like hallucinogenic tubers.  Abby is literally eating a part of her lover and has hallucinations that help her understand how the Swamp Thing perceives the world and they also have really good sex (see Figure 21 below)!

21-Swamp Thing V2 #64 - Page 14

Figure 21 – Swamp Thing V2 #64 – Page 14

In “Windfall”, Swamp Thing v2, # 43 a hippie named Chester found a tuber lying around the swamp and brought it to Baton Rouge.  Pieces of the tuber end up in a woman named Sandy painfully dying of cancer and she hallucinates a luminous body free of pain and is transported to a radiant heaven like garden in which she dies in the arms of her husband (see Figure 22 below).

22-Swamp Thing V2 #43 - Page 19

Figure 22 – Swamp Thing V2 #43 – Page 19

A sleazy drug pusher named Milo has a really bad trip and hallucinates some of the very ugly and evil villains the Swamp Thing has encountered.  The tubers as parts of the Swamp Thing apparently contain the memories of the Swamp Thing at some level (see Figure 23 below).

23-Swamp Thing V2 #43 - Page 18

Figure 23 – Swamp Thing V2 #43 – Page 18

When Chester finds out what happened to Sandy and Milo he theorizes that the tubers bring out what is in your as a person.  Good people have good trips.  Bad people have bad trips.  Chester ponders whether or not to take what is left of the tuber and decides not to.

In V is for Vendetta, the lead detective, Eric Finch takes LSD at the shut down concentration camp Larkhill.  The psychedelic imagery used is disturbing and unnerves the reader.  Finch hallucinates the naked torsos of a man and a woman perched on barbed wire (see Figure 24 below).

24-V For Vendetta #9 - Page 4

Figure 24 – V For Vendetta #9 – Page 4

Finch hallucinates wearing the striped garb of a prisoner.  Finch has a hallucination about a crowd of black people, presumably killed at the camp and they are friendly towards him but ultimately move away from him and disappear into a wall.  Finch is then transported in to his middle class house but this is also a hallucination.  Finally, Finch takes off all his clothes and experiences freedom from social constraints in the center of Stonehenge.  Stonehenge may or may not be a hallucination.  Eric Finch is using the LSD experience to help him understand how V thinks and to some extent succeeds.  V is an anarchist and Finch does develop an understanding of freedom that helps him in turn understand V.

In DC Comics Presents #85: “Superman/Swamp Thing: The Jungle Line”. Superman is hallucinating due to an infection by a Kryptonian fungus and has flash backs about Krypton that reveal a great deal to the reader about how Superman handles his Kryptonian heritage.  Swamp Thing is perceived as an enemy due to the hallucinations and is almost destroyed.  Some of the more interesting hallucinations Superman has are talking with his empty Clark Kent clothes and the empty suit explains to Superman that he is dying and furthermore that he is nothing special.  Superman seems to suffer from Survivor guilt which manifests in his hallucinations (see Figure 25 below).

25-DC Comics Presents #85 - Page 13

Figure 25 – DC Comics Presents #85 – Page 13

Swamp Thing can enter the hallucinatory world of Superman because this world is in part generated by a “plant”, strictly speaking a fungus is not a plant, and the Swamp Thing takes Superman into “The Green” which breaks contact with the scarlet jungle of the fungus Superman was dying in.  In this plant dimension the Swamp Thing soothes Superman so he can sleep and this allows Superman to recover.

Alan Moore returns to the use of a hallucinogenic plant as a central plot device a third time in “For the Man Who Has Everything”, Superman Annual #11.  This is of course the second time Moore has Superman hallucinating due to a “plant” (see figure 26 below).

26-Annual Superman V1 #11 - Page 12

Figure 26 – Annual Superman V1 #11 – Page 12

A large alien plant called the Black Mercy has Superman trapped in a coherent hallucinated world on the planet Krypton and this is supposed to be his deepest desire.  This is the Krypton that would have happened if Krypton had not blown up.  Superman has never been Superman and has a Kryptonian brother and a niece.  This alternate world is supposed to be what the person really wants but soon turns ugly due to Kryptonian xenophobia and presumably this is the unconscious of Superman trying to free himself from the grip of the Black Mercy.  Batman also ends up with the plant on his chest and in his hallucination he is in a world in which his parents were not killed.  Finally, the bad guy, Mongul, ends up with the plant on his chest due to Robin.  Mongol has a hallucination of a world of endless conquest and Superman’s head on a pike.

In all the stories examined, the person hallucinating does gain insight that is often helpful.  The hallucinations are not always pleasant but generally reveal truths rather than being random and meaningless.

Intelligent Ethically Ambiguous POV

Generally in comic books the hero is simplistically good and the villain is simplistically bad.  Alan Moore departs from this practice and presents antiheros.  Comic books have any number of muscular tough guy antiheros like The Punisher and Wolverine but generally ruthless intelligent characters are invariably super villains.  Alan Moore uses intelligent antiheroes that present a compelling argument for ruthless action.

Ozymandias is a major character in Moore series Watchmen.  Ozymandias is considered the smartest man in the world. This very intelligence forces him to see the world differently than his fellow superheroes that are not as intelligent.  Ozymandias is at the upper limits of human intelligence but probably does not possess super intelligence.  The only Watchmen superhero to really agree with the actions of Ozymandias to save the world is Dr. Manhattan who probably possesses out and out super intelligence.  Ozymandias manages to save the world from WW III but kills millions in New York do accomplish this task.  The reader is allowed to share the triumph of Ozymandias directly and the background picture of Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian Knot is intentional (See Figure 27 below).

27-Watchmen #12 (of 12) - Page 20

Figure 27 – Watchmen #12 (of 12) – Page 20

V in V is for Vendetta is an antihero and is a powerful fighter but what makes him really dangerous is his super intelligence.  V uses strategy to take apart the fascist party Norsefire that rules Great Britain.  V commits various acts that may be considered unethical.  V kills a Bishop, Anthony Lilliman.   However, the bishop is also a pedophile so that’s probably ok.  V kills a doctor, Delia Surredige.  Dr. Surredige has clearly repented for her sins in the concentration camp V was in.  Killing a woman is generally not done by heroes.  Killing someone who has reformed is also not generally done by comic book characters.  V also kills the hired help of Norsefire that happens to be in the way.  V doesn’t do comic book things like use stun guns, non lethal Karate chops, or shoot their pistols out of the hands of henchmen.  Generally V throws knives into the hearts of the henchmen.  Killing the hired help is something the Punisher and Wolverine also do so this is not new ground for a comic book antihero.  V does imprison and torture Evey, a girl he had saved previously, and even used as a side kick.   Evey is clearly an innocent.  V tortures her to set her free by toughening her up!  V does provide the reader with a very eloquent defense of his actions (See Figure 28 below).

28-V For Vendetta #5 - Page 9

Figure 28 – V For Vendetta #5 – Page 9

V and Ozymandias are intelligent men that employ ruthless means to accomplish noble ends and we are privy to their thought processes which generally is the POV of a super villain like Doctor Doom not a hero and this use of POV forces the reader to go beyond the simple structures of good and evil normally associated with comic books even comic books with antiheros.

Stream of Consciousness POV

Comic book writers did not employ stream of consciousness in early comic books.  The use of stream of consciousness is a narrative technique that is employed more and more in comic books in the present.  Alan Moore makes extreme use of an interior monologue in all of his comic books.  Rorschach’s internal monologue is used extensively in Watchmen.  However, Alan Moore pushes the comic book envelope of stream of consciousness in A Small Killing.

Alan Moore has used a stream of consciousness POV exclusively in A Small Killing and the narrative the use of images from the inner world of the protagonist.  There is very little action in A Small Killing and we follow the protagonist as he is haunted by a ghost like child that is presumably a hallucination of himself as a child.  However, there is a hint that the child might be an actual ghost rather than a hallucination (see Figure 29 below).

29 Alan Moore - A Small Killing - Page 11

Figure 29 – A Small Killing – Page 11

Incredibly I didn’t care about the nature of the child because the protagonist is an unlikeable whiner and I am sad that the “ghost” child did not succeed in killing the protagonist.  A slow read that is POV technique driven to the point that reading pleasure is sacrificed for art.  The favorite device for exploring stream of consciousness for Moore seems to be via the use of hallucinogens by the characters in his stories which is already discussed in detail in the prior section of this essay.

Story within a Story POV

Alan Moore often employs the metafictional device of a story within a story in order to give his narrative added depth and complexity.  In Watchmen, one of the children is reading a comic book about pirates called the Tales of the Black Freighter and the bleakness of the story makes the already “real” story of the Watchmen even more nihilistic and acts a plot juxtaposition device.

Miracleman was programmed in a reality that resembled a superhero comic book.  The adventures of the Miracleman family in this virtual reality can in turn be self contained stories.  There was a Marvelman comic book published in Great Britain in the fifties and from the perspective of the Moore series, those adventures took place in a virtual reality which explains the lack of “reality” in those adventures.  Miracleman is also a comic book fan and comic books are part of the narrative but this device was exploited more by other writers after Moore such as Neil Gaiman in Miracleman: Apocrypha.

Alan Moore’s Supreme has many metafictional layers but I will stick to the story within a story elements.  In the Supreme comic book, Moore’s Supreme has the secret identity of Ethan Crane who works Dazzle Comics on a character named Omniman that is being rebooted.  In reality, Supreme is a Superman character that is being rebooted by Alan Moore.  The comic book within a comic book is a parallel story! Eventually Supreme even has a fight with his own comic book creation in Supreme #53.  Supreme becomes a character in a comic book that fights Omniman (see Figure 30 below) but of course there is a “logical” explanation and a Szazs, a Mister Mxyzptlk,  clone, is the cause.

30-Supreme #53 - Page 6

Figure 30 – Supreme #53 – Page 6

In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Moore creates an entire universe made up of fictional characters from novels.  This is not exactly a story within a story device but is a metafictional device.  Basically Moore’s League invention is a pastiche of prior stories!

Conclusion

Alan Moore uses certain novel POV techniques with different characters in different comic book series in order to consistently make his stories more interesting.  There is a synergistic effect created by using so many POV techniques within a single narrative.  The combination of POV techniques causes the reader to feel transported to an unnerving and alien reality and upon reflection the cause of this feeling is hard to pin point but I would argue the POV techniques are a major cause.  POV drives plot in many instances.  How the character perceives reality not only explains the behavior of the character but often acts as the deus ex machina of an Alan Moore story.  The character must behave a certain way because of their perceptions.

Alan Moore uses caption boxes instead of thought bubbles to show the thoughts of the character.  This allows for lot more information to be expressed.  Alan Moore uses a lot of caption boxes relative to speech bubbles compared to other writers and this shows that POV is more important to Alan Moore than other writers.

Many of Alan Moore’s comic books have been made into movies including some discussed here (Watchmen, V is for Vendetta).  The art and text attempting to show the POV of Dr. Manhattan is one of the high points of this series that was not really explored in the movie and this lack of the comic book POV devices made the movie less interesting in many ways than the comic book series the film was derived from.

Document at:

You can also download my autobiography of my struggle with a bipolar condition on  Am I Kitsune on my Google Drive.

WereVerse Universe Baby!

 

Hugh Fox III - Brazil Soccer

DC vs. Marvel: Sidekicks

This post will compare sidekicks of the DC and Marvel universes. Which universe has the best sidekicks?  First of all, what is a sidekick?  Wikipedia provides the following definition “A sidekick is a close companion who is generally regarded as subordinate to the one he accompanies”.  Wikipedia in the same article expands on the functions of a sidekick “Sidekicks can provide one or multiple functions, such as a counterpoint to the hero, an alternate point of view, or knowledge, skills, or anything else the hero doesn’t have. They often function as comic relief, and/or the straight man to the hero’s comedic actions. A sidekick can also act as someone more relatable to the audience than the hero, or whom the audience can imagine themselves as being (such as teen sidekicks). And by asking questions of the hero, or giving the hero someone to talk to, the sidekick provides an opportunity for the author to provide exposition, thereby filling the same role as a Greek chorus”.  A sidekick is not a villain’s henchmen or the romantic interest of a hero which is generally referred to as a companion.

The picture above got me thinking about sidekicks.  The picture is from page 199 of the graphic novel Bizzaro Comics (2001).  Bizzaro Comics is a hilarious collection of indie writers and artist’s parodies of DC comic titles.  This picture is from the story titled Without You I’m Nothing and follows the travails of obscure discarded sidekicks.  I am a comic book historian and do get a kick out of stories that use obscure characters like this story does.  I was not able to identify all the side kicks in the picture but have a partial answer key at the end of this post.  This post also attempts to provide definitive lists of sidekicks in the DC and Marvel universes and the Wikipedia definition was strictly adhered to.  Many obscure characters that have not been included in prior lists of this nature have been included in this post.  Below is a definitive list of DC sidekicks that will be discussed later.

List of DC Sidekicks

Superhero Sidekick First Appearance
Aquaman Aquagirl 1 (Lisa Morel) Adventure Comics #266 (November, 1959)
Aquaman Aquagirl 2 (Tula) Aquaman (vol. 1) #33 (May-June 1967)
Aquaman Aqualad  (Garth) Adventure Comics #269 (February 1960)
Aquaman Topo (Octopus) Adventure Comics #229 (October 1956)
Aquaman Qwsp Aquaman (vol. 1) #1 (January-February 1962)
Batman Ace the Bat Hound Batman #92, June 1955
Batman Alfred Pennyworth (Butler) Batman #16 (April-May 1943
Batman Bat-Girl (Bette Kane) Batman #139 (April 1961)
Batman Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) Detective Comics #359 (January 1967)
Batman Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) Legends of the Dark Knight # 120 (August 1999)
Batman Robin 1 (Dick Grayson) Detective Comics #38 (April 1940)
Batman Robin 2 (Jason Todd) Batman #357 (March 1983)
Batman Robin 3 (Tim Drake) Batman #436 (August 1989)
Batman Robin 4, Spoiler, Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) Detective Comics #647 (August 1992)
Batman Robin 5 (Damian Wayne) Batman #655 (September 2006)
Batman Robin Earth II (Richard Grayson) Detective Comics #38 (April, 1940)
Blackhawk Lady Blackhawk (Zinda) Blackhawk # 133 (February 1959)
Blue Devil Kid Devil Blue Devil #14 (July 1985)
Booster Gold Goldstar Lobo #5 (May ’94)
Booster Gold Skeets Booster Gold (vol. 1) #1 (1986)
Captain Marvel Captain Marvel Jr. Whiz Comics #25 (December 1941)
Captain Marvel Lieutenant Marvels Whiz Comics #21 (1941)
Captain Marvel Mr. Tawky Tawny (Anthropomorphic Tiger) Captain Marvel Adventures #79
Captain Marvel Uncle Marvel Wow Comics #18 (October 1943)
Captain Mid-Nite Hooty the Owl All-American Comics #25 (April, 1941)
Chameleon Boy Proty I Adventure Comics #308 (May 1963)
Chameleon Boy Proty II Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #72 (October 1963)
Crimson Avenger Wing How Detective Comics #20 (October 1938)
Flash Impulse (Bart Allen) Flash (vol. 2) #92 (June 1994)
Flash Kid Flash I (Wally West) The Flash  (vol. 1) #110 (December 1959)
Flash Kid Flash II (Iris West) Kingdom Come #3 (July 1996)
Flash Kid Flash III (Bart Allen) Teen Titans (vol. 3) #4 (December 2003)
Flash S’kidd Flash Flash vol 2 #235 (February, 2008)
General Glory Ernie the Battling Boy Justice League America # 46 (January 1991)
Green Arrow Amber Archer (Connor Hawke) Green Arrow vol 2 #0 (October, 1994)
Green Arrow Arrowette World’s Finest Comics #113 (November 1960)
Green Arrow Speedy  I (Roy Harper) More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941)
Green Arrow Speedy II (Mia Dearden) Green Arrow (vol. 3) #44 (January 2005)
Green Lantern Gen’ma Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #6
Green Lantern Doiby Dickles All-American Comics #27 (June 1941)
Green Lantern Terry Berg Green Lantern (vol. 3) #129 (October 2000)
Green Lantern Thomas Kalmaku (Pieface) Green Lantern (Vol. 2) #2 (September-October 1960)
Icon Rocket Icon #1 (May 1993)
Johnny Thunder Black Lightning the Horse Flash Comics #1 (January 1940)
Joker Harley Quinn The Batman Adventures #12 (September 1993)
Justice League of America Snapper Carr The Brave and the Bold #28 (February-March 1960)
Justice League International G’nort (Green Lantern, Humanoid Dog) Justice League International #10 (February, 1988)
Knight Squire (Cyril) Batman #62,(December 1950)
Little Boy Blue Tubby, Toughy Sensation Comics #1 (January, 1942)
Martian Manhunter Zook Detective Comics #311 (January, 1963).
Mr. Scarlet Pinky the Whiz Kid Wow Comics #4 (1940)
Owlman Talon Teen Titans vol. 3 #38 (September 2006)
Plastic Man Woozy Winks Police Comics #13 (November 1942)
Robin Flamebird (Mary Elizabeth Kane) Teen Titans #50 (October, 1977)
Tomahawk Dan Hunter Star-Spangled Comics #69 (June 1947)
Sandman Brute The Sandman #1 (May 1974)
Sandman Glob The Sandman #1 (May 1974)
Sandman Sandy the Golden Boy (Sandy Hawkins) Adventure Comics # 69 (December 1941)
Space Ranger Cyrll Showcase #15, (July 1958)
Star Hawkins Ilda (Robot) Strange Adventures #114 (March 1960)
Star-Spangled Kid Stripsey (Pat Dugan) Action Comics #40 (September, 1941).
Superboy Pete Ross Superboy #86 (January 1961)
Super-Girl Comet the Super-Horse (Biron) Action Comics #292 (1962)
Super-Girl Streaky the Super-Cat Action Comics #292 (1962)
Superman Bo “Bibbo” Bibbowski Adventures of Superman #428 (May 1987)
Superman Jimmy Olsen Action Comics #6 (November 1938)
Superman Krypto Adventure Comics #210 (March 1955)
Superman Super-Girl Superman #123 (August 1958)
TNT Dan the Dyna-Mite (Daniel Dunbar) World’s Finest Comics #5 (Spring 1942)
Vigilante Stuff the Chinatown Kid Action Comics #45 (February 1942)
Wonder Woman Etta Candy Sensation Comics #2 (Feb. 1942)
Wonder Woman Wonder Girl 1 (Wonder Woman as a teenager) All-Star Comics #8 (December 1941),
Wonder Woman Wonder Girl 2 (Donna Troy) The Brave and the Bold vol. 1 #60 (July 1965)
Wonder Woman Wonder Tot Wonder Woman #105 (April, 1959)

Robin wins the best DC sidekick prize easily.  Robin is the first teenage super hero sidekick and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Robin has been flattered to death.  DC went ahead and created an army of teenage sidekicks.  Eventually the teenage sidekicks of the major superheroes founded a teenage sidekick version of the Justice League called the Teen Titans.  The original Teen Titans included Aqualad, Kid Flash, Robin and Wondergirl.  Later still, Young Justice is created.  The Teen Titans and Young Justice meet in a giant sidekick crossover between their two groups.

The obvious absurdity of Robin is that crime fighting is dangerous work even for an adult like Batman and introducing a minor to crime fighting makes no sense whatsoever except as a plot device.  Batman’s villains were obviously very aware that Robin was the weak link and Two-Face even referred to Robin as the boy hostage.  The psychologist Fredric Wertham decided there was a homosexual subtext in the Batman and Robin relationship and wrote about this in Seduction of the Innocent.  Batman goes through a whole slew of Robins and eventually one gets killed brutally by the Joker with a crow bar in a Death in the Family.  Jason Todd is the lucky Robin to suffer death and the best part is that readers entered a poll to decide if he lived or died.  Truly a low point in comic book history but a lot of Batman issues were sold so all in all the project was a success.  Later Robin 4 (Stephanie Brown) in the identity of the Spoiler is even more brutally killed by the Black Mask with a power drill.

Of course no one really dies in comic books so Jason Todd return as the Red Hood and wants some payback from Batman for letting him die and secondly, and probably more importantly letting the Joker live.  The five Robins all get starring roles after Batman “dies”.  The ex-Robins have all become heroes in their own right.  I would argue that the Red Hood is an antihero not a villain.  Robin 1, Dick Grayson, has become Nightwing.  Robin 3, Tim Drake, becomes Red Robin.  Stephanie brown is resurrected from her power drill death and becomes Batgirl.  The male Robins are all potential impersonators of the dead Batman. The Red Hood gets in the act and kind of forces Dick Grayson to become the new Batman because if he doesn’t then the Red Hood will assume the role.  The potential heirs to Batman agree that the death of Batman should be hidden and one of them should pretend to be the original Batman.  This is similar to the Phantom, the ghost who walks that has the son of the prior Phantom assume the role of the Phantom so as to give the illusion that the Phantom never dies.  The Robins are basically sons of Batman but unfortunately there is more than one son i.e. more than one Robin and succession is not clear.  This jockeying between the Robins is largely covered in the Batman miniseries Battle for the Cowl but this power struggle affected all Batman related titles of the last year.  Dick Grayson does a good job impersonating Batman but doesn’t fool Commissioner Gordon.  The new Batman of course needs a new Robin and gets a psychopath kid, due to being trained by the League of Assassins since childhood.   This new Robin is the long lost son of Bruce Wayne and called Damian Wayne.  Confused?  Everyone is confused so don’t feel bad.  I am sure the writers of the Batman lines have cheat cards on their desks.  Will the barnacles of Batman history eventually sink the line?  Maybe!

Robin and his teenage copies at DC and even Marvel have so dominated the sidekick market in comic books that readers tend not to look at the broader literary concept of a sidekick when looking at comic books.  Another Batman sidekick is Alfred Pennyworth.  Alfred provides an alternate point of view to the audience as well as the ability to aid Batman when he is hurt.  Alfred has surgical skills gained when Alfred was an army medic.  Alfred was also in the theater and can pretend to be Batman when needed.  This is a rarely used skill of Alfred that is nevertheless crucial when someone is too close to discovering Batman’s identity.  Robin is presumably too small to provide a similar function and anyway Robin needs to be by Batman’s side so people don’t think Robin is pretending to be Batman.  Alfred Pennyworth can be extremely critical and sarcastic with Batman unlike the army of Robins.  Alfred provides an “adult” perspective about Batman to the reader.  Alfred has known Batman since he was a child. Alfred is aware of the how the killing of Batman’s parents made Batman a great crime fighter at the expense of a normal life.  The Red Hood has argued with Batman that most of his hard core rogues gallery only fear death and the fact that Batman does not kill and the fact that the villains know this limits the effectiveness of Batman as a crime fighter.  Batman may be able to instill fear in common criminals but provides more challenge than fear to the likes of the Joker.  In Batman #647, Alfred actually agrees with the Red Hood mentally but does not express his views to Batman verbally.

Batman is a serial teenage sidekick mentor and there is something very creepy about this.  Any “normal” person would not expose even one minor to extreme violence and certainly would not continue this behavior after the death of Jason Todd much less the subsequent death of Stephanie Brown.  Alfred has expressed dismay about the use of teenage sidekicks many times to Batman.  However, Alfred in the end is the dutiful butler who does what his master wishes despite any misgivings about such a course of action.  Alfred’s subordination to Batman’s wishes despite sarcastic remarks is what makes Alfred a sidekick rather than an equal partner.  Batman is not the only member of the Batman story line with a sidekick.

The Joker, Batman’s archenemy, has a sidekick!  Villains generally do not have sidekicks but henchmen, minions or lackeys.  Villains are generally egomaniacs and incapable of having long lasting meaningful relationships or so the theory goes. Villains see their henchmen as disposable cannon fodder.  The Joker generally treats those around him in precisely this manner but there is one exception and that is Harley Quinn.  Harley Quinn was a female psychiatrist that treated the Joker at Arkham Asylum and turned to the dark side rather than curing the Joker.  Harley Quinn is in love with the Joker but the relationship has clearly never been consummated.  The Joker obviously sees Harley Quinn as a capable sidekick even if Harley Quinn wants more.  Harley Quinn is a near superhuman gymnast who uses her skill with great combat effectiveness.  Harley Quinn wears a Jester outfit and became friends with Poison Ivy at Arkham were she ironically resided after her break down.  Harley Quinn provides comic relief to Joker stories that despite the name of the Joker were not very funny before Harley Quinn showed up.

The Joker had been jealous of Batman having Robin as a sidekick in the silver age and got his own one-shot sidekick in Batman #186 called Gaggy.  The main function of Gaggy was to provide comic relief to then Joker since such comic relief led to the Joker having great crime ideas.  Gaggy rather simplistically hated Robin and managed to knock Robin out with a head butt to the stomach.  Gaggy was never heard of after that one issue.  I think an issue in which Gaggy, embittered by being discarded by the Joker, targets Harley Quinn for assassination might be interesting.  Harley Quinn turns to Batman to figure out who is trying to kill her and clues are left that the culprit is a dwarf with a penchant for practical joke paraphernalia.  Since not an awful lot of characters fit that description, Batman deduces that the culprit is Gaggy!  Did I mention I like obscure comic book characters?  Batman’s sidekicks on the whole do not provide comic relief.  This is not the case of Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel also has an army of sidekicks but largely for comic relief.  Mr. Tawky Tawny is an anthropomorphic tiger i.e. a funny animal that gets into all sorts of silly trouble Captain Marvel can save the tiger from.  Uncle Marvel is an older bumbling version of Captain Marvel.  Captain Marvel was always a sillier line than his doppelganger Superman.

Flash is another serial sidekick character that has gone through three Kid Flash characters.  Kid Flash was clearly inspired by Robin.  Super speed is a major power that is very much underestimated in comic books.  Basically you can hit the bad guy a hundred times and dodge whatever the bad guy tosses at you.  “Realistically” the foes of the Flash should stand no chance against the Flash.  Captain Cold has a freeze gun.  The Flash should be able to dodge anything the cold gun can come up with.  A teenager with super speed is still incredibly powerful despite being a teenager unlike Robin who has no super powers and even the inferior strength of someone who is younger.  Maybe a Kid Flash can only punch with half the power of an adult but a hundred punches later and even the toughest boxer is going down.

Green Arrow has had two teenage sidekicks named Speedy.  The first Speedy grows up to become a heroin addict, but recovers, and there is some suggestion that maybe crime fighting as a teenager might not be all that healthy psychologically and contributed to the heroin addiction.

Superman only has one teenage sidekick and that is Jimmy Olsen.  In the silver age, Jimmy Olsen was officially Superman’s best pal and again very creepy if you think about it.  Superman is perennially in his early thirties and if I saw some thirty year old hanging around a teen rather than a guy his own age then I would wonder exactly what function this teenager serves.  Jimmy even has a watch with an ultrasonic signal that allows him to call Superman when he is in danger.  Lois Lane does not have such a watch!  Teenage guy gets the watch but not the gal?  Maybe the silver age Superman had reasons for not marrying Lois Lane that had more to do with subconscious gender preference than any other reason.

Superman has a dog called Krypto.  In the silver age, Batman got a dog called Ace but there is no comparison with Krypto and Ace in terms of importance.  Superman in the silver age was Superboy and Krypto and Superboy were constant companions.  This is one of the healthier sidekick relationships in comic books.  Krypto cannot talk but can communicate to the reader via thought balloons that show what Krypto is thinking.  Krypto’s attempts to understand Superboy’s behavior using canine logic were pretty cute and comical and one of the few things that made the otherwise lame Superboy title work.

The current Supergirl has no hyphen between “Super” and “Girl” in her name.  The current Supergirl is a hot babe in a half shirt who has fled to the 31st century to avoid being a sidekick!  The silver age Super-Girl, on the other hand, was very much a sidekick.  She was teenager attending high school and was kept as a secret weapon for much of her silver age career.  Super-Girl was Superman’s cousin so no fear of hanky-panky that would make her a companion.  However, Super-Girl does try to match Superman up with an adult version of her on another planet!

Super-Girl has sidekicks in her own right!  Super-Girl has a super cat named Streaky and a super horse named Comet.  Somewhere in the Superman family there is a super monkey named Beppo but I am not really sure who he belongs to.  All the super animals unite with Proty to create the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st century.  Years later Marvel will make its own group of superhero animal sidekicks.  Proty is the sidekick of Chameleon Boy who is a member of the Legion of Super Heroes of the 31st century.  Proty I sacrificed himself to revive the dead Lighting Lad but a Proty II soon shows up.  Proty I and II are aliens that look like blobs and can mimic just about any form.

That leaves us with Wonder Women’s sidekicks.  The silver age Woman had several sidekicks.  Etta Candy was a fat rather stupid college student who was supposed to be used for comic relief but was more obnoxious than funny.  The silver age Wonder Woman went through a rather silly phase in which she had adventures with herself as a Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot!  Wonder Woman used Amazonian technology to create films of herself that showed “what if” adventures with her younger versions.  I have to tell you I was maybe seven when a lot of these adventures came out originally and I was totally confused.  I assumed Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot were sisters of Wonder Woman and didn’t find out the “truth” until I was in my thirties.  Wonder Woman is probably one of those silver age titles that is really hard for modern readers to digest but the title had a fantasy quality that was very different from the more sci-fi quality of most silver age stuff and appealed to my young imagination.  Wonder Woman may go down in literary history as the only character that had two versions of herself as her own sidekicks. The graphic novel Bizzaro Comics (2001) does have a story with Wonder Tot and Wonder Girl racing to sit next to Wonder Woman during lunch and destroying half the Amazon city in the process.  Later, a more Robin like Wonder Girl was created as a sidekick.

Below is a list of Marvel sidekicks that will be discussed at the end of this list:

List of Marvel Sidekicks

Superhero Sidekick First Appearance
Avengers, Iron Man Edwin Jarvis (Butler) Tales of Suspense #59 (Nov 1964)
Captain America Bucky I Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941)
Captain America Bucky II (Rick Jones)  
Captain America Free Spirit Captain America vol. 1 #431 (September 1994)
Captain America Jack Flag (Jack Harrison) Captain America #434, (December 1994)
Captain Britain Jackdaw The Incredible Hulk Weekly #57 (April 1980)
Captain Marvel Falcon (Sam “Snap” Wilson) Captain America #117 (Sept. 1969)
Daredevil Foggy Nelson Daredevil v1 #1 (April 1964)
Deadpool Weasel Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1 (August 1993)
Deadpool Blind Al Deadpool #1 (Jan. 1997)
Deadpool Bob, Agent of HYDRA Cable & Deadpool #38 (May 2007)
Doc Samson Geiger Captain America vol. 1 #431 (September 1994)
Doctor Strange Wong Strange Tales #110 (Jul 1963)
Falcon Redwing (Hawk) Captain America #117 (Sept. 1969)
Franklin Richards H.E.R.B.I.E. (Robot) Fantastic Four #209 (August 1979)
Hulk Jim Wilson Incredible Hulk  v1 #131 (September, 1970)
Hulk Teen Brigade Incredible Hulk v1 #6 (March 1963)
Hulk, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Avengers Rick Jones Incredible Hulk v1 #1 (May 1962)
Human Torch Toro Human Torch Comics #2 (Fall 1940)
Inhumans Lockjaw (Dog) Fantastic Four #45, (December 1965)
Ka-Zar Zabu (Sabertooth Tiger) X-Men #10 (Mar 1965)
Fantastic Four Franklin Richards (Son of Reed Richards & Susan Storm) Fantastic Four Annual #6 (November 1968)
Fantastic Four, Franklin Richards Valeria Richards (Daughter of Reed Richards & Susan Storm) Fantastic Four vol. 3 #54 (June 2002)
Fantastic Four Lockjaw Puppy (Dog) Fantastic Four vol.3 #9.
Nick Fury Dum Dum Dugan Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1 (May 1963)
Shadowcat Lockheed (Small Dragon) Uncanny X-Men #166 (Feb 1983)
Speedball Niels, Hairball (Cat) Speedball #1
Spider-Man Jackpot Free Comic Book Day Spider-Man: Swing Shift (May 2007)
Spider-Man Ms. Lion (Dog) Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends #1
Spider Girl Scarlet Spider 3 (Felicity Hardy) Spider-Girl # 46
Taskmaster, Agent X Sandi Brandenberg Taskmaster Mini-Series (2002)
Thing, Captain America Demolition Man aka D-Man Captain America #328 (April 1987)
Wolverine Jubilee Uncanny X-Men #244 (May, 1989)
Young Allies Whitewash Jones Young Allies Comics 1941

The first sidekick on the list is Edwin Jarvis who is a butler at Avengers Mansion that in turn is owned and operated by Tony Stark.  Tony Stark is of course Iron Man.  Jarvis is an obvious clone of Alfred, Batman’s butler, but is much more one dimensional and provides comic relief rather than insight into the super heroes he deals with unlike Alfred.  Alfred was a medic during a time of war and may be old but is obviously tough and handles sensitive Batman impersonation missions.  Alfred would beat the crap out of Jarvis in any altercation.

Bucky is probably the most famous sidekick in the Marvel universe.  Bucky is Captain America’s sidekick from the golden age that was killed in the golden age.  In 2010, Bucky was resurrected after more than forty years just to make sure whatever faith readers had in comic book continuity was crushed once and for all so that suspension of disbelief via continuity would be rendered impossible once and for all.  Comic sales are down way down.  The recession and competition with other media are to blame but decisions like the Bucky resurrection don’t help.  Anyway, Captain America is put into suspended animation minutes after Bucky is “blown up” and the guilt Captain America feels upon reawakening in the silver age is a major part of the Captain America story line.  Captain America over the last forty years continually demonstrated how the trauma for the death of Bucky affected him mostly in the form of nightmares.  Batman has never shown this level of trauma about the deaths of his Robins.

In the first silver age appearance of Captain America (Avengers vol. 1, #1) Captain America runs into a teenager he mistakes for Bucky, Rick Jones.  Rick Jones is the side kick of the Hulk but this doesn’t stop him from later becoming Bucky II.  The Hulk is not too pleased with this and this leads to altercations between Captain America and the Hulk.  The Hulk has a point.  Bruce Banner was exposed to gamma ray radiation while saving Rick Jones and became the monster called the Hulk because of Rick Jones.  Yeah, Rick Jones owes his life to the Hulk’s alter ego but heck Captain America has wavy blonde hair and also is not a monster, literally, so Rick Jones decides to become Bucky II.  Rick Jones is not a very loyal sidekick and becomes Captain Marvel’s sidekick later on.  I guess Captain Marvel’s wavy silver hair beat Captain America’s wavy blonde hair.  Rick Jones is currently a Hulk type called A-Bomb and is really digging not being a sidekick anymore despite having Hulk monster type problems.  Captain America has had other sidekicks beside Bucky I and II including Jack Flag and Jackdraw.  Heroes in both the DC and Marvel universe seem to either have slews of sidekicks or no sidekicks. Are sidekicks addictive?  For the records there have been several Captain Americas with their Bucky sidekicks but I am only dealing with the Steve Rogers Captain America.

Foggy Nelson is a sidekick of Daredevil.  Foggy Nelson is the law partner of Matt Murdock the alter ego of Daredevil.  Foggy provided a great deal of comic belief in the beginning but has matured into a more competent brilliant lawyer that is an asset to Matt Murdock.  Foggy has an incredible case law memory and might even superior to Matt Murdock as a lawyer but does not have the confidence of Matt and is therefore generally not the lead lawyer.  Without Foggy, the law practice of Matt Murdock would have gone down the toilet during his many, Daredevil caused, MIA stints.  Foggy Nelson has a paunch and food related jokes are his comic relief contribution.

Deadpool is a hilarious anti-hero that has had several equally hilarious sidekicks including Weasel, Blind Al and Bob, Agent of Hydra.  My favorite is Bob, Agent of Hydra.  Bob is a parody of henchmen and the number one lesson he learned from Hydra was “hiding behind each other”.  Under pressure, Bob tends to shout “Hail Hydra”.

Doctor Strange has and adult Asian manservant from Tibet named Wong.  Wong may not know much magic but he is a master martial artist.  Wong is fairly subservient compared to other comic book sidekicks.  If you do visit Doctor Strange at his Sanctum Santorum in New York then you have to get past Wong first.  His role as a literal gatekeeper gives him some power that a lesser servant would not have.

Marvel decided to transform the son Reed Richards and Susan Storm from a typical omega level angst driven mutant to a Calvin type character, as in Calvin and Hobbes, character with great success.  Franklin is a side kick to the Fantastic Four that provides a child’s perspective of the Fantastic Four as well as comic relief.  Franklin is also a scientific genius who can modify his dad’s super science gadgets but generally his attempts to improve dad’s gadgets lead to disaster.  Franklin has his own sidekick, H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot. H.E.R.B.I.E. provides a logical to the point of absurdity perspective to the childish antics of Franklin. H.E.R.B.I.E.  constantly tries to convince Franklin H.E.R.B.I.E. to leave his dad’s lab alone but he is ultimately a subordinate that is then forced to try to clean up the mess created by Franklin.

The Hulk got over the loss of Rick Jones and adopted Jim Wilson.  Jim Wilson was an inner city, Black teenager that very poignantly died of cancer later.  Doctor Strange has an Asian sidekick.  The Hulk has an African-American sidekick.  The Lone Ranger has a Native American sidekick, Tonto.  Does anyone see a pattern here?  My next post will be titled DC vs. Marvel: Multicultural Heroes and I will examine the issue of race in the DC and Marvel universes in detail.

In 2009, Marvel untied all the animal sidekicks into a team called the Pet Avengers.  The Pet Avengers are a rip off of the Legion of Super Animals over at DC.  The Legion of Super Pets was played straight and this was probably a bad decision given the absurdity of the concept.  The Pet Avengers is a silly title with lots of comic relief and one of my favorite current titles.  I am not sure how far you can go with this concept but so far so good.  The members of the Pet Avengers include Redwing a hawk of Falcon, Lockjaw a giant dog that can teleport of the Inhumans,  Zabu a saber tooth tiger of Ka-Zar, Lockheed a small dragon that is a sidekick of Shadowcat, Hairball a cat belonging to Speedball and Ms. Lion a dog belonging to Spider-Man.  The team includes Throg is a frog with lesser versions of Thor’s powers and is not a sidekick of Thor but a hero among his frog tribe in his own right.  The interplay between the animals is what really makes the team work.  Krypto and Streaky were a dog and a cat in the same legion but the fact that dogs and cats don’t get along was never really explored.  Hairball the cat thinks Ms. Lion is an absolute idiot and worse, a dog!  Ms. Lion is the only one on the team that doesn’t have super powers is very much the pampered house dog of Spiderman’s Aunt May.  Ms. Lion claims the right to membership based on her sidekick status alone.

The sidekick status of the members is highlighted in one story of Tails of the Pet Avengers: The Dogs of Summer #1.  In the story titled“Garbage Grief”, Franklin Richards teams up with the Pet Avengers flanked with his own sidekicks H.E.R.B.I.E. and Puppy.  Puppy is a miniature version of Lockjaw complete with his powers of teleportation.   In this story Puppy does manage to teleport the Pet Avengers to deal with a giant humanoid garbage creature that Franklin created more or less accidentally. So this is a sidekick crossover albeit on a much smaller scale than the DC Teen Titans/Young Justice crossover.  Another treat of this particular issue, is that the origin of Puppy is finally dealt with.  Puppy has been a fixture of the Fantastic Four for a while but his origin has not been dealt with until this issue.  Turns out Puppy is the grand pup of Lockjaw and is a present of Franklin’s future self to himself in the past.  In another issue, Tails of the Pet Avengers #1 has an adventure with Redwing the hawk titled “Birds of a Different Feather”.  Redwing the sidekick of Falcon is chased by a pigeon that wants to be a sidekick of Redwing.  Redwing refuses this offer at first but the pigeon pulls a masterful guilt trip to change the mind of Redwing.

I also have to mention the Incredible Hercules that ran from 2008 to 2010.  Hercules is teamed up with Amadeus Cho.  Amadeus Cho is really smart, mutant level smart but Hercules is Hercules!  Normally Amadeus Cho, the brainy, sixteen year old, nerdy teenager, would be the sidekick but an argument can be made that Hercules is the sidekick even if Hercules would smash anyone who suggested as much.  In one issue Hercules is up against his old enemies the Amazons.  Amadeus Cho is captured by the Amazonians.  Amadeus Cho is referred to as the eromenos of Hercules (Incredible Hercules #121, 2008) by the Amazons during his captivity.  Amadeus Cho is not happy with this appellation at all.  This is one of the few issues that points out the obvious, when older men have sixteen year old guys as buddies then there is usually one sort of relationship at work going back to Greek times.  This is an intelligent comic book line that turns the sidekick conventions upside down in an extremely funny manner.

The most famous teenage sidekick of Marvel is Bucky but Bucky is not nearly as important to comic book history as Robin.  Probably getting killed in the golden age for plus forty years didn’t help the career of Bucky at all.  Marvel has other teenage sidekicks like the golden age Toro but all and all Marvel does not have the rooster of well known teenage sidekicks that DC has. DC also wins in terms of teenage sidekick teams.  DC has the aforementioned Teen Titans and Young Justice.  Marvel has teenage teams including the Young Avengers and the Runaways but they are not sidekick teams but teams of teenage heroes.  In many ways Marvel sidestepped the need for teenage sidekicks by making more teenage heroes than DC.  Spiderman began his career in high school.  The X-Men operate out of Xavier’s Academy which trains teenagers.  The New Mutants are teenagers that go to Xavier’s Academy and are not sidekicks.  I think overall Marvel may have been smart to make teenage heroes to fulfill many of the teen identification functions of teenage sidekicks.

DC just has a lot more sidekicks than Marvel period.  DC has 71 sidekicks on their list.  Marvel has 34 sidekicks on their list.  Beyond numbers, DC has a rooster of more famous sidekicks especially in the teenage sidekick category.  DC and Marvel have pursued different strategic approaches to the use of teenage sidekicks in their respective universes.  Marvel, however, is doing great things with animal sidekicks with the Pet Avengers and funny sidekicks like Franklin Richards and H.E.R.B.I.E.  Unfortunately, a two year trend does not negate the fact that DC has historically had the most and best sidekicks.

DC wins the sidekick wars!

Answer to DC Sidekick Quiz

1. Stripsey

2. Proty

3. Doiby Dickles

4. ?

5. Streaky?

6. Brute

7. Qwsp

8. Glob

9. Cyrll

10. Mr. Twaky Tawny

11. Zook

12. Ace the Bat Hound

13. Wing

14. ?

15. ?

16. Ilda

17. Skeets

18. ?

19. ?

20. ?

I do wonder if some of the sidekicks I can’t figure out are actual sidekicks in DC comics.  Number 5 might be Streaky the Super Cat but looks more like a mouse than a cat.

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

Other DC vs. Marvel Posts

Big Monsters

Fourth Wall Heroes

Funny Animals

Horror Hosts

Kids

Robots

Sidekicks

Spacemen

Super pets

Teenagers

Transportation

War Heroes

Weapons

WesternHeroes

Women in Refrigerators

WorkingWomen

WereVerse Universe Baby!

DC vs. Marvel Western Heroes

marvel-westerns

This is the first in a series of posts that compare DC versus Marvel non-superheroes.  The second post compared war heroes (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/dc-vs-marvel-war-heroes/).  The third post compared working women (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/dc-vs-marvel-working-women/) What if DC cowboys and Native American heroes took on the Marvel cowboys and Native American heroes?  First, who are they?  The following is a list of major DC Western heroes: Arak, Ballon Buster, Bat Lash, Big Anvil, Black Bison, Brass Buttons, Captain Fear, Cinnamon, Dan Hunter, Don Caballero, El Castigo, El Diablo, El Papagayo, Firehair, Frenchie, Hawk, Son of Tomahawk, Healer Randolph, Johnny Cloud, Jonah Hex, Kaintuck Jones, Long Rifle, Lord Shilling, Madame 44, Miss Liberty, Nighthawk, Pow-wow Smith, Roving Ranger, Scalphunter, Serifan, Silver Deer, Stovepipe, Strong Bow, Super-Chief, Terra-Man, Tomahawk, Trigger Twins, Vigilante, Whip, Wildcat, Wyoming Kid. 

 

The Marvel list is a lot shorter and includes American Eagle, Annie Oakley, Apache Kid, Arizona Kid, Ghost Rider, Gunhawk, Kid Colt, Matt Slade, Phantom Rider (Modern West), Outlaw Kid, Rawhide Kid, Red Warrior, Red Wolf, Ringo Kid, Shooting Star, Tex Morgan, Tex Taylor, Texas Kid, Texas Twister, Two-Gun Kid, Western Kid, and Wyatt Earp.  When the two lists are put side by side we notice a couple of interesting differences between these two universes.

 

DC has some superhero type cowboys and Native Americans.  Super-Chief is basically a superman type Native American.  Terra-Man fights Superman.  Some Marvel Western heroes that are more superheroes than Western heroes and include American Eagle, Texas Twister, Red Wolf and Shooting Star.  The “Western superheroes” would absolutely destory the more traditional Western heroes with their superpowers so they are going to be kept off the contest roll call.

 

Marvel also has a couple of real life Western heroes in their universe unlike DC, mainly Annie Oakley and Wyatt Earp.  What both companies share is a list of very obscure characters.  Marvel Westerns are described as having a big three that include the Rawhide Kid, Two-Gun Kid and Kid Colt.  The three kids were united in the title Mighty Marvel Western that ran from 1968-76 and perhaps this was an attempt at some sort of genre synergy.

 

So a logical contest would be the big three of Marvel versus the big three of DC.  Number one on the DC list has to be Jonah Hex due to critical acclaim, popularity and longevity. 

Jonah Hex

Jonah Hex first appeared in the seventies, not the fifties and sixties like most comic book Westerns, and has managed to survive to the present.  This is largely because Jonah Hex is an anti-hero and has had more interesting plot lines and superior artists and writers than other comic book heroes.  I have written about Jonah Hex in another post (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/the-lone-ranger-vs-other-fictional-gun-slingers/).

 

Number two in the DC pantheon would be Tomahawk due to longevity.  I was born in 1957 and first started reading comic books in 1964 as detailed in my Comic Book Autobiography (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/about/comic-book-autobiography/).  I remember Tomahawk fondly.  As a kid I always saw Tomahawk as a Davey Crockett/Daniel Boone copy because he wore a coon skin hat.  The series was set interestingly in the revolutionary war rather than the Wild West but when I was young I noticed the coon skin hat more than historical details.  I actually owned an imitation Davey Crokett coon skin cap so of course I would read a series with someone with such a hat on the cover!  Daniel Boone, the Disney TV series, was also very popular when I became aware of Tomahawk.  I was surprised to find out while researching this post that the Tomahawk series lasted from 1950 to 1972 for a total of 140 issues!  This may be some sort of record for a Western comic book.  This means Tomahawk came before the Disney movies and TV series, to my surprise.  Tomahawk even appeared the 2008 series The War that Time Forgot

Bat Lash

 

Number three on the DC list is Bat Lash due to critical acclaim but not longevity.  Bat Lash won the Alley Awards in 1968 and 1969 for best Best Western Titles. Bat Lash only lasted eight issues.  I also picked Bat Lash because he actually appeared on an episode of Justice League Unlimited alongside Johan Hex in “The Once and Future Thing”.  This means Bat Lash has not totally joined the ranks of Westerns in comic book limbo.   Bat Lash was inspired in part by spaghetti Westerns of the time and I love spaghetti Westerns and this is my list!  Last but not least I have some vague memories of the issues I read as a kid and the same cannot be said of other Western fare I read when I was young.  Bat Lash is the weak link of my DC selection and I welcome comments.

 

The DC heroes face off against the kids of Marvel but Jonah Hex is missing.  The Marvel kids outnumber Bat Lash and Tomahawk, brought to the Wild West via a cave that allows time traveling or whatever, and manage to send them running for cover and they are pinned down.  Suddenly a stick of dynamite is tossed from a second story window and lands right in the middle of the Marvel kids and blows them into little pieces.  Jonah Hex is no fool.  He does not fight great gunfighters like the Marvel kids head on.  Bat Lash and Tomahawk are sickened by this dishonorable victory and ride away vowing to never associate with Jonah Hex again!  Jonah Hex could care less.

Another interesting contest would be between two supernatural Western heroes.  DC has El Diablo.  There is more than one reincarnation of Diablo but the Wild West version is host to a minor demon. El Diablo showed up alongside Bat Lash and Jonah Hex in the afore mentioned  Justice League Unlimited episode “The Once and Future Thing”. El Diablo could actually be the third most significant DC Western hero rather than Bat Lash.  The host of the demon is in a coma and the body only moves around when the demon roams the West seeking vengance. 

Phantom Rider

Marvel’s supernatural Western hero is the Ghost Rider, not the one with the bike, but the one with a horse.  The horsey Ghost Rider was retroactively renamed the Phantom Rider by Marvel but sorry the name on the comic book cover is the correct name no matter what Marvel decides later on.  The Ghost Rider wore a phosphorescent costume and was not a ghost at all.  Even minor demons can defeat fake ghosts so that match goes to El Diablo.  Now try to keep this straight, the story plot device of El Diablo is very similar to the Ghost Rider that rides a bike.  The modern Ghost Rider is also possesed by a demon.  The bike Ghost Rider is about a thousand times more famous and relevant than the horsy one but the horsey one does make an appearance of sorts in the Ghost Rider movie as the caretaker (Sam Elliot) who was a Western version of the Ghost Rider.

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

 Other DC vs. Marvel Posts

Big Monsters

Fourth Wall Heroes

Funny Animals

Horror Hosts

Kids

Robots

Sidekicks

Spacemen

Superpets

Teenagers

Transportation

War Heroes

Weapons

Western Heroes

Women in Refrigerators

Working Women

WereVerse Universe Baby!

 

DC vs. Valiant Universe 5: Eternal Warrior vs. Batman

The Eternal Warrior (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_Warrior) is an immortal and DC has its version of an immortal warrior called appropriately the Immortal Man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immortal_Man).  The problem is that Immortal Man was a third rate super hero that even die hard DC fans often forget.  You don’t pit third raters against Olympians.

 

The Eternal Warrior is an immortal but above all else is the foremost martial arts hero of the Valiant Universe.  The foremost martial arts hero of the DC universe is Batman.  After having kicked his brother’s butt (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2008/05/22/dc-vs-valiant-universe-1-archer-armstrong-vs-batman-robin/), the Eternal Warrior is ready for a fight with Batman.  Also, Batman and the Eternal Warrior are both strategic fighters so expect a lot of attacks and retreats and counter attacks.  Traps using the local terrain can be expected from both sides. 

 

Batman has his utility belt and a lot more toys.  The Eternal Warrior has just one toy and that is a leather jacket that has studs on one side for offense and metal plates on the other side for defense.  I like the jacket so much I got an imitation made in Thailand.  Let’s hope I never have to use it.  The Eternal Warrior is a master of every weapon and martial art of the last three thousand plus years. He does not carry toys because he has outgrown the need for them as would Batman if he was thousands of years old.  Batman once turned down a Green Lantern power ring in the Justice League International because he said it would slow him down.  The Eternal Warrior has carried this minimalism to the next level. 

 

Batman throws a batarang at the Eternal Warrior.  The Eternal warrior grabs a book from the pocket of his jacket and uses the book as a shield.  The Eternal Warrior then moves in on Batman and hits him repeatedly with the book until Batman is knocked out.  The Eternal Warrior had seen the Bourne Supremacy at a movie theater last week and like what he saw and has been itching for a chance to use those moves.  The Eternal Warrior is an old dog who can learn new tricks.  The Eternal Warrior wins because he knows what Batman is thinking and then some.

 

 

WereVerse Universe Baby!

DC vs. Valiant Universe 3: Bloodshot vs. Cyborg

Bloodshot (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloodshot_%28comics%29) has nanites in his blood stream that give him enhanced strength, speed, healing and technopathy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_comic_book_superpowers#Technopathy). Bloodshot is a cyborg.  A cyborg is generally a human who has been enhanced through the addition of technology.  Some would argue that a person with heart pacer is a cyborg but no someone wearing glasses because the enhancement must be fairly permanent in nature.  Bloodshot does not look like a cyborg but like a vampire.  He has white skin, giant red circle in his chest and eyes lacking pupils.  Compared to his opponent, Bloodshot is a cyborg beauty queen.  Bloodshot also has some hard wired programming that allows him to fight in a super efficient manner.  Bloodshot does not have any built in weapons but generally carries firearms.

 

Cyborg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyborg_(comics)) is also a cyborg but a more traditional cyborg.  Cyborg has big pieces of shiny metal stuck all over his body.  One of his eyes looks like a camera and kind of is a camera.  Cyborg looks like a cyborg and he does not like the way he looks.  Dad made Cyborg into a cyborg to save his son’s life.  Dad had never watched the Six Million Dollar man, yet another cyborg and had thought of making the prosthetics more cosmetically appealing by coating them with flesh colored plastic and using thinner pieces of metal.  This never occurs to Cyborg either and mostly he sulks about looking like a monster.  Cyborg has super strength as opposed to enhanced strength i.e. he is stronger than Blood Shot but not as fast and agile and all those big pieces of metal probably even slow him down a bit.  Cyborg has any number of built in weapons and gadgets unlike Bloodshot.  One of his many gadgets is a device that enables him to control most computer systems.  An old fashioned version of technopathy compared to Bloodshot’s.  Most of Cyborg is covered with promethium, an exotic metal.  Promethum is pretty much indestructible but Cyborgs human innards are still vulnerable.

 

Bloodshot and Cyborg are both shopping at Cyborg R US the trendy new chain of clothing stores for the burgeoning cyborg population.  Both spot a really cool limited edition T-Shirt by Polo.  The T-Shirt has “Cyborgs Make Better Lovers” as its motto.   This is the T-Shirt every upscale cyborg must have but there is only one left!  This is a limited edition T-Shirt and both parties realize there probably isn’t another one on sale anywhere.  Cyborg needs every fashion break he can get and really hates how the fact that Bloodshot is a cyborg and actually looks pretty cool rather than looking like a monster.  Bloodshot is actually a better lover since becoming a cyborg since the nanites give him enhanced stamina and control of every part of his body.  Cyborg hasn’t had any good loving since becoming a cyborg despite having a gadget just for such a purpose.  Bloodshot does not care for Cyborg’s hostile attitude.  After some arguing and attempts to use their technopathy on each other, which fails, they square off to fight for the T-Shirt.

 

Bloodshot is more agile than Cyborg and gets the first shot.  Blooshot shoots Cyborg with a machine gun but the bullets just bounce off Cyborg’s promethium.  Cyborg then aims his sonic scrambler at Bloodshot and stuns Bloodshot.  A normal person would have been knocked out but Bloodshot has enhanced regeneration.  The sonic scrambler affects everything in front of it so there is not much in the way of aiming or much possibility of dodging the beam. 

 

Bloodshot could have leapt over Cyborg and hit Cyborg from behind but Bloodshot is not that sort of fighter.  This is despite probably having the ability to pull of this move.  If I had enhanced strength and agility this would be my standard move since it routinely gets you out of the way of whatever they can toss at you and gets you behind them.  Basically apply dog fight logic to hand to hand combat.

 

Cyborg closes in a punches Bloodshot.  In theory a punch from the likes of someone with super strength should take the head right off of someone lacking Superman style invulnerablity as is the case with Bloodshot but this never happens in comic books since this would upset the six children that still read comic books.  Bloodshot is conked out and Cyborg wins!

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

WereVerse Universe Baby!