Archive for the ‘High Five! Top Five/Ten/Whatever!’ Category
In 1977, Marvel came up with a pretty fantastical (and most likely drug-induced) idea. Comic books are always talking about their multiverses, where somebody at some point did something drastically different and changed that universe’s reality forever. Essentially, the writers wanted to nerd out and ask the big, cringe-worthy-fan-fiction-inducing question: “What if?”
With Uatu the Watcher playing narrator, the writers told tales of what might have been which, considering the breadth of what could be asked with this concept, had a tone that ranged anywhere from goddamn ridiculous to downright grim. Even so, it seems like a huge chunk of issues were dedicated to what would happen if Character X had/had not killed Character Y. Over the years there have been two regular volumes (followed by many, many series of one-shots, most being event tie-ins), a parody series titled What the–?!, and (although they’d probably deny it outright) inspired the DC Comics Elseworlds imprint.
Considering the almost 200 issues of the series, most of which are pretty terrible (I think there’s a reason nobody who wrote any of the 90′s What If? issues were ever heard from again), it’s hard to figure out what’s actually decent. Man, good thing you got me here to force my opinion on you. TOP FIVE TIME, Y’ALL.
7. What If? Vol 1 #10 (…Jane Foster Had Found the Hammer of Thor?) – Originally, in Journey Into Mystery #83 Donald Blake went on vacation to Norway by himself. Here, he instead takes Jane Foster and she’s with him when he gets attacked by those weird aliens from Saturn. She beats him to finding Mjolnir and transforms into Thordis (which, considering that who Donald Blake is has no bearing on who Thor is, makes no sense). She goes around fighting Loki and more aliens in typical Thor fashion. While Thordis is off creating the Avengers, Blake saves the drowning Sif and falls in love with her. Odin realizes that this is all wrong and gives Mjolnir it to Donald, turning him into Thor. And then this gets all daytime soap opera on us. Poor Jane is now crazy-bummed, losing both the powers of Mjolnir and the man she loves to the Asgardians. Odin decides to fix this by granting Jane goddess status and marrying her, making Jane Foster the stepmother to the man she used to love (seriously, that’s like Lois Lane ending up boning Pa Kent). Yeah, gross.
6. What If? Vol 1 #13 (…Conan the Barbarian Walked the Earth Today?) – Okay, I’ll admit that the only stuff I know about Robert E. Howard’s Conan franchise I learned from that movie where he punches a camel in the face (in other words, I don’t know jack shit). There are three things that make this issue of What If? great to me. First, Roy Thomas and John Buscema, the regular writer and artist on the more mature Savage Sword of Conan title, handle this issue. Second, everybody in the present either mistakes Conan for Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger (a full four years before the movie, mind you). And lastly, Conan spends his one day in the present beating the shit out of a lady cab driver’s car with his sword, immediately going back to her apartment and fucking her, and foiling an art heist at the Guggenheim. That’s one hell of a day, Conan.
5. What If? Vol 2 #24 (…Wolverine Was Lord of the Vampires?) – Most of the second volume of What If? is just so terribly, terribly 90′s. Every issue seems to either deal with Wolverine or the Punisher and, well, this issue is pretty much about both of ‘em. During the fight with Count Dracula from Uncanny X-Men #159, Dracula ends up biting Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Colossus who go out and start turning all of the heroes and villains into vampires. Realizing that Doctor Strange is the only one who has the power to stop his horde, Wolverine sets out to kill him and succeeds. Apparently death doesn’t really stall Strange, whose spirit launches Plan B: possessing Frank Castle, giving him the Eye of Agamotto and Cloak of Levitation, and going crazy with garlic grenades and a Super Soaker full of Holy Water. To top off the ridiculousness, this issue got it’s own What If? treatment 13 issues later in the story “…Wolverine Was Lord of the Vampires During Inferno?”
4. What If? Vol 1 #26 (…Captain America Had Been Elected President?) – In Captain America #250, the New Populist Party offered Cap the chance to run for president as a third party candidate and he declined. But what if he’d have run against Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election and won? After Cap reveals his secret identity to the world, President Rogers spearheads a massive movement to replace America’s dependency on foreign oil with solar power. He then supplies solar powered weapons to the some revolutionaries in the South American country of San Pedro, hoping to free them from some oppression or whatever. After accepting an invitation by the revolutionaries, it is revealed that their leader is actually Red Skull, who has hacked into the solar energy collecting satellites and turned them into giant laser beams. Cap manages to smash the Red Skull’s controls causing the laser beams to blow them both to bits. Okay, yeah, Captain America’s dead, but look on the bright side! In this reality there was never a President Reagan!
3. What If Jessica Jones Had Joined the Avengers? #1 – Now, this one is just terribly depressing. With Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, the men behind ALIAS, handling this issue you know it’s gonna be good. Following her horrific eight months as a slave to the Purple Man, Jessica Jones is asked to join the Avengers, to which she agrees. Rather than working for The Daily Bugle and having a child out of wedlock with Luke Cage, Jessica winds up marrying Captain America and bringing Wanda’s mental breakdown to light before House of M can ever happen. However, what really makes this story great is that instead of being narrated by Uatu, those duties are given to Bendis himself, drawn conversing with a random patron at a diner in New York City while a forlorn looking Jessica Jones dines behind them.
2. What If? Vol 1 #14 (…Sgt. Fury Fought World War Two in Outer Space?) – In this dimension, it turns out that Leonardo DaVinci’s flying machine actually worked and, therefore, humans were waaay more advanced in the field of flight by the time 1941 rolled around. December 7, 1941, Space Station Pearl is attacked by a bunch of kamikaze lizard men. Later on, Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan host a conference in the Space Station Midway where it turns out that Baron Strucker has been the admiral of the fleet of space stations the whole time, trying to promote Space Nazism while working with the lizard men. It’s cool though, because Sgt. Fury gets rid of Strucker the same way every badguy in any fight on a spaceship has died: getting flushed out of an airlock. The best part of the story has to be the tagline on the cover: “First Star Wars– Then Battlestar Galactica– And now!!!”
1. What If? Vol 1 #11 (…The Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become the Fantastic Four?) – This is by far one of the goofiest issues of any comic I’ve ever seen, made even stranger considering it was written and drawn by Jack Kirby. A mysterious box shows up at the door of Marvel HQ and is opened by Stan Lee, believing it to be a box of cigars. Instead, it’s a small gamma bomb that douses the whole of the staff with radiation, giving Stan super-stretchy powers, Kirby the rocky skin of the Thing, Sol Brodsky the ability to control fire and fly, and Flo Steinberg (at the time Stan Lee’s secretary, later publisher of Big Apple Comix) the powers of invisiblity. After finding another of the boxes, the foursome meets Namor and discover that the boxes were planted by the Skrulls who plan to take over the world from their new undersea base. Kirby and Namor punch a hole in the base’s hull, defeat the Skrulls, and THE END. So, I guess the big question is how the hell did Jack Kirby draw this with those new big, orange sausage-fingers of his?
It’s December, and we all know what that means. STUPID OVERPRICED CHRISTMAS COMICS! And with the random holiday specials comes the totally awkward stories where Santa rolls around with your favorite superheroes. They’re generally throwaway stories that nobody buys and, well, really hold no bearing on continuity. So what’s the point? Well, occasionally, you strike gold. SO MUCH GOLD. Here are my top five Santa Claus comic cameos. And, um, apologies to your childhood.
(5) Bloom County: In 1981, PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) went on strike demanding better wages and a shorter work week, prompting Ronald Reagan to fire and/or imprison over half of them. Apparently, Santa’s elves were inspired. In newspaper comic Bloom County (dated 12/15/81 – 12/24/81), after Santa rejects the demands of PETCO (Professional Elves Toy-Making and Craft Organization) for higher wages, a hot tub in the locker room, and “short broads,” the elves go on strike. Once again, Reagan steps in, fires all of Santa’s helpers, and replaces them with out-of-work air traffic controllers. Yeah, it’s dated political humor, but it’s still pretty fucking funny.
(4) The Special Edition Warrior Winter Wonderland Pin-Up Book: After getting fired from the WWF in mid-1996, the Ultimate Warrior didn’t have much. How the hell was he supposed to make money as a ranting, painted idiot if he wasn’t on TV? Enter his company, Ultimate Creations, and its terrible pseudo-philosophical 4-issue comic series, Warrior, written by the Warrior himself. After it’s cancellation, Ultimate Creations decided to release one last book, The Special Edition Warrior Winter Wonderland Pin-Up Book. Good lord, is this thing bizarre. Essentially, it’s two pages of Warrior-style rambling (“nobody fucks with a Santa savior”) followed by page after page of your least favorite 90′s artists drawing the Ultimate Warrior in Santa garb (including a Joe Quesada/Jimmy Palmiotti cover). This book is most infamous for it’s final pin-up by Jim Callahan of the Ultimate Warrior putting on Santa’s pants while a half-naked Saint Nick lies passed out next to a bottle of whiskey with… Wait. Holy shit, what is that splattered across Santa’s chest?
(3) Sandman #7 (er, sort of): To be fair, this story almost never even was. Originally slated to be Sandman #7, the series got cancelled just after the release of #6. Then, this story was supposed to end up as the second half of Kamandi #61, except that series got cancelled after the release of issue #59. Finally, this story was released in 1978′s legendary black-and-white photocopied Cancelled Comics Cavalcade #2, a full two years after the last Sandman story was published.
Anyways, yeah. The Silver Age Sandman’s best pal, Jed Walker (the Earth-1 counterpart of Kamandi), has been challenged to prove to Titus Gotrox, an old millionaire, that Santa is real. If he succeeds, the man will donate $1,000,000 to charity in Jed’s name. With the help of Sandman, Jed is whisked away to the Dream Stream to meet Santa. Unfortunately, the old man’s nephew, Rodney, doesn’t want to get screwed out of a million busks worth of inheritance and follows. Upon arrival, Sandman discovers that Santa has been kidnapped by the Seal-Men, a race of half-seal/half-human creatures, who are pissed off that Santa gave them gloves for Christmas the previous year, even though their race has flippers. Santa says “sorry” and everything is fixed (that was easy). They get back to Santa’s workshop to discover Rodney pointing a gun at Mrs. Claus. Sandman hits him with some sleep dust (that was also easy) and everybody goes home.
(2) Hellblazer #247: I know that John Constantine isn’t one to shy away from trying a new drug, but this is just fucking weird. In October 2008′s Hellblazer #247, while attempting to prevent a cannibalistic mystic named Mako from obtaining some super-evil artifact called the Hell Mirror, Constantine travels to Bari, Italy, breaks into the Basilica di San Nichola, digs up the skeletal remains of ol’ Saint Nick, and has it ground into bone meal. After using the ground up icon in some weird thaumaturgical incantation ritual, he decides to hang onto it for a bit. And when he gets back to his apartment, what does he decide to do with the Santa dust? Same thing you or I would do, obviously. Roll up a Coca-Cola advertisement, snort Saint Nick like cocaine, and make the obligatory “white Christmas” joke! Classy, Andy Diggle. Classy.
(1) The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special: As much as I love Keith Giffen, I can’t stand the Lobo character. Even so, when I discovered he had a Christmas-themed one-shot in 1991, my morbid curiosity got the better of me and I had to check it out. Good god. Lobo is hired by the Easter Bunny to assassinate Kris “Crusher” Kringle after all of the holiday mascots decide that Christmas is overshadowing their respective holidays. Lobo takes the job and books it to the North Pole, only to be attacked by the elves. After they are all massacred by “The Naughtiest One,” he faces Santa (armed with a pair of razor sharp shivs) and his gorilla sidekick, Kong. Lobo ends up decapitating Santa, shooting Rudolph (who is apparently a mutant now), and is about to leave when he discovers Santa’s list. The comic then ends with Lobo dropping atomic bombs down the chimneys of everybody labeled “nice.”
Normally I wouldn’t give a number one spot to something that’s just so, well, 90s. But this gets better. In 2002, some guy named Scott Leberecht, a student working on a project for his American Film Institute director’s studies program, decided to do a $2,400 live-action adaptation of this comic starring Butterfinger from Hudson Hawk and the guy who voices Shikamaru on Naruto. And, fuck, it is horrible. How horrible you ask?
BEHOLD! THE LIVE-ACTION LOBO CHRISTMAS SPECIAL STUDENT FILM!
Partner. Young ward. Faithful chum. Whatever you want to call them, sidekicks got the backs of pretty much all of your favorite comic book characters. Without them, who will your villain kidnap and use as bait to lure you into a deathtrap and then pull your ass out of said deathtrap just in the overdramatic nick of time? Nobody, that’s who. Besides, it’s the dynamic between hero and sidekick that sometimes makes or breaks a book. After much consideration, I present to you, the best of the best’s best sidekicks.
(10) Zook – Oh, Zook. He was one of those unfortunate weird Silver Age cutesy characters that kept popping up in everybody’s books. Glued to the side of Martian Manhunter for a while, Zook was an orange monkey-dog hybrid with antennae and Pete Wentz’s haircut (which I will from here on out dub the Zook). He could change his temperature, read minds, shape-shift (sort of), and speak in annoying baby talk. And then he was gone. Not killed off, not really written out of continuity, just gone. And, you know, maybe that was for the better.
(9) Kid Marvelman/Miracleman – Kid Marvelman fought bravely alongside Marvelman and Young Marvelman during the old Fawcett Comics runs from 1954 to 1963, one of the greatest Golden Age sidekicks of all. You know, until Alan Moore got his hands on him, made all of the previous adventures virtual reality scenarios, had Kid Marvelman become a crazed business tycoon, and had him pretty much destroy the United Kingdom.
(8) Dum Dum Dugan – Nick Fury’s right hand man (and pretty much the only person on this list old enough to grow facial hair), Dum Dum was a force to be reckoned with. When he isn’t heading S.H.I.E.L.D.’s anti-Godzilla squad (yes, that Godzilla), he helps keep track of mutant affairs. Even after Fury left S.H.I.E.L.D. and Dugan had to serve under Maria Hill, he ended up helping out Fury’s Secret Warriors. Now, that’s dedication.
(7) Snapper Carr – Before being a Checkmate big shot and being able to teleport, “Snapper” Carr was just a kid who talked funny and snapped his fingers a lot. Then, after he helped the JLA figure out that you could beat Starro with lime, he became the little mascot around the Happy Harbor HQ. He even got his own one-shot in the form of Final Crisis: Resist, was the hero of this year’s Justice League of America annual, and fucked Cheetah. A lot.
(6) Rick Jones – Marvel’s answer to Snapper, Rick was the teenager who drove out into the New Mexico bomb range and, albeit inadvertantly, created the Incredible Hulk. Realizing that his acting like a little shithead was the cause of it all, he stuck to Bruce Banner’s side. Later, he created a ham radio ring called the Teen Brigade that, through a ridiculous series of events, helped create the first-generation Avengers. He ended up taking the Bucky mantle for a time and also being the teenage sidekick to Captain Marvel until, in a delicious twist of irony, he was dumped into a bunch of chemicals and became what I call a were-Hulk (human in the daytime, Hulk after dark).
(5) Fallout Boy – Wait a minute, does this character even count? Hell yeah, he does. Backing up the hilariously inept Radioactive Man in both the Simpson’s universe and his real life eponymous Bongo Comics title, Fallout Boy runs around Zenith City protecting it from parodies of DC and Marvel supervillains. Plus, I still can’t help but laugh every time I think of Mickey Rooney rocking Milhouse’s costume. Jiminy jillickers!
(4) Wendy, Marvin, and Wonderdog – Man, I remember plopping down in front of the TV when I was a kid and watching old episodes of the Superfriends. Thing was, they didn’t really serve a purpose aside from comic relief, so they were promptly replaced by the Wonder Twins. But fear not! In Geoff Johns’ run on Teen Titans, he brought all three of them back to mind the Titans Tower! Except, you know, Wonderdog was possessed by a demon and ripped out Marvin’s throat and put Wendy in a coma. Comic relief, indeed!
(3) Armor – The aptly named Armor got promoted to full X-Man when the team found itself hijacked and well on it’s way to the Breakworld with Abigail Brand. Sure, Armor’s part of the team as a whole, but what are the X-Men without a teen girl sidekick for Wolverine? (Which sounds really screwy now that I think about it…) First there was Rogue, then Jubilee, X-23, and now, Armor. She back-sasses Mister Logan just enough, and to date, the only substance that can penetrate Armor’s mutant armor-stuff is adamantium. Which ALSO sounds wrong. She’s a good sidekick, OK? He’s a surprisingly good teacher, OK? STOP BEING RUINERS.
(2) Jackdaw – He’s an elf sent from another dimension sent by Merlin (yes, that Merlin) to assist Captain Britain as he fights to save an alternate reality Britain from the all powerful member of Parliament, Mad Jim Jaspers. He’s able to jump between realities, but unfortunately ends up getting blown in half by the Fury and dies in Captain Britain’s arms. In life, he spent most of his time running around drunk as hell, a concept High Five! can definitely get behind.
(1) Bucky Barnes – Ignore his ridiculous name, Bucky is a total badass. After punching Nazis in the face during World War II, Bucky was presumed dead after a plane he was on exploded. His death was pretty much the one thing that influenced other Marvel heroes not to get kid sidekicks, since dead kids are kinda depressing. He stayed dead for almost 40 years until he was brought back as a Russian spy, went crazy, and took over the Captain America mantle after Steve Rogers was gunned down. As to what he will do after Captain America: Reborn finishes, time will tell.
Sometimes comics make us cry. Here are the top ten comic moments that made Maggie sob, Jonny bleary-eyed, and set ole Rob a-drinkin. These are pretty much ranked in order of how hard Maggie cried. Except one, but she’ll never admit which one.
(10) Archie & Veronica’s Wedding – Maggie: SHUT UP. This issue will make 99% of women cry like babies, so just -HEY! SHUT UP!
(9) Beak Beats Beast – Maggie: Cassandra Nova, that twisted, sick bitch, mind controls poor, confused Beak into beating the shit out of his mentor and bestest buddy, Beast. WITH A BASEBALL BAT. No matter how hard he tries, Beak can’t stop beating the good doctor, apologizing to him and crying the whole time. Man, imagine being forced to beat the shit out of your childhood hero.
(8) Astounding Wolf Man’s Wife, Murdered – Maggie: The weeping moment here was less the murder itself than the fact that Gary was blamed for the murder. Frak, the ONE GUY you trust to help you deal with your lycanthropy (who happens to be a vampire) up and chomps your wife. Then you get framed for it and your ONLY daughter hates you. You also lose your fortune and your home. But man, when Gary didn’t even de-wolf and cradled his dead wife in his arms and shrieked, jeez.
(7) Reddy Loses His Arm – Maggie: The Red Tornado becomes human, makes real hot sexytime with his wife, truly hugs his kid for the first time – it’s great. Then he gets into a fight with Solomon Grundy, who rips off his arm, practically killing him. While this is going on, his wife has to watch helplessly through an unbreachable portal. I didn’t know what my worst nightmare was until I read this. (Well, until I saw that one episode of Battlestar where Boomer, well, you know, with Helo.)
(6) Tim Drake’s Father, Murdered – Rob: Pretty much the entirety of Identity Crisis could fit in this post (Ronnie & Sue!) but, when you think about it, nothing is as tragic as the death of Jack Drake. Tim was the only Robin who actually had some family left and that was all taken away from him when Jean Loring sent the original Captain Boomerang to attack. Despite getting shot numerous times, Captain Boomerang managed to throw a boomerang straight into Jacks’ chest, killing him. All the while, Tim is listening in on his dad over Oracle’s frequency, unable to get there in time. OOF.
(5) Black Canary, Tortured – Rob: Oliver Queen had never killed anybody before. That was before he and Dinah moved up to Seattle, Washington and ended up taking up their own little projects, hers being trying to break up a drug ring. That’s before Ollie happens to hear that the head of the drug cartel was found dead and that he still hadn’t seen from Dinah. When he tracks her down, he finds her strung up, beaten to a pulp, bleeding profusely, nearly naked, and being threatened by a man with a knife. If that image isn’t heartbreaking enough, the only thing she can say to him while Ollie holds her near lifeless body? “Oliver, sorry I missed your birthday.”
(4) Buddy Finds His Family, Murdered – Jonny: As a man there are certain survival instincts that nature puts in us (by the way I’m a man). Call it God, call it nature; we’re hardwired to protect our “zone” with our lives. Obviously women do this too, but for them it’s a much more holistic experience. Men, we want to fucking DOMINATE and OBLITERATE any perceived threat. We won’t get into the psychology of this. If you’re a dude you know what I’m talking about, and if you’re a woman you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Buddy Baker. He is one of the few, if any, super heroes who had a family integral to his story rather than some minor aspect of his background. Ellen, Cliff, Maxine. I still know the names of Buddy’s family, and as a man who was months away from getting married when I read this comic it was completely devastating to see Buddy’s family sprawled on the ground of his own home and lying in their own blood. This was all the more poignant because this wasn’t just a casualty of some war or what have you. This represented a fundamental failure on Buddy’s part. He chose to follow his dream and be a superhero, and while he was out with HIS dream, the family that he was supposed to protect with his LIFE was butchered in his OWN HOME. As a man I cannot possibly think of a more horrific scene to come home to, and this was the most gut-wrenching piece of literature I’ve ever read.
(3) Kitty & Colussus in Astonishing X-Men – Maggie: So Kitty phases through about a million feet of metal to find presumed-dead for years Peter Rasputin captured like a lab rat. Imagine finding your long dead first love alive and well. She lands right in front of him when she drops into the sub-basement, he runs through her, she puts her hand to her heart. And then! They get together and it’s adorable. But then Kitty phases a giant bullet through the Earth, saving the world, and Peter loses her again. Fuck. I’m getting upset just typing this.
(2) Snow Sends Ghost Away – Maggie: Snow & Bigby’s zephyr of a seventh child is a bit, um, special needs. Snow didn’t even know Ghost existed until Frau Totenkinder dropped the hint, but by the time Snow figured it out, it was too late, Ghost was wanted for murder. Snow sits alone speaking to her immaterial child, tells him to go, far, far from here and find his exiled Daddy. She bursts into tears. *I* burst into tears.
(1) Coast City Solidarity – Maggie: So at the behest of Cyborg Superman, Mongul completely destroyed the place, along with nearly all of it’s seven million residents. As if that weren’t bad enough, it’s champion, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, freaks out in the wake of the destruction, gets possesed by Parallax AND the Spectre and then (mostly) dies. But once he comes back to life, he wants his city back. Coast City is rebuilt, but after the destruction, no one wants to live there. During the Sinestro Corps War, Coast City is under threat yet again but just when the worst is about to happen and Hal himself has almost given up? Thousands of tiny green lights (shit, I’m getting choked up) start shining through the sparsely populated Coast City. Hal ends up kicking Sinestro’s ass over the rooftops of Coast City, which is reborn as “The City Without Fear.” Aaand I’m officially verklempt again.
Add yours in the comments!
I’d go fucking crazy if I didn’t have friends to rely on. So, really, why should superheroes be any different? As it turns out, a lot of comic characters have a super-buddy that they can sort of relax with and confide in outside of costume heroics (although that doesn’t necessarily mean they take the costumes off). So, who are the best besties to ever be best besties?
(5) Daredevil and Spider-Man – It should pretty much be a given that two superheroes who fight the same criminals in the same city will hang out at some point. The thing about these two, though, is that they always seem to meet under the shittiest, angstiest of circumstances. They are more of a shoulder for each other than drinking buddies. Case in point, when Karen Page got shanked by Bullseye, Spidey brought Daredevil to the spot on the George Washington Bridge where Gwen Stacy got killed. Maybe there’s a reason the soundtracks to their movies were full of Dashboard Confessional and Evanescence (yet there’s still no excuse for the Nickelback).
4. Boy Blue, Flycatcher, and Pinocchio – If there’s one thing I can attest to, it’s this: boys love hanging out on stoops readin’ comics and eatin junk food. And seriously, when they weren’t out fighting in epic battles or reigning over their own kingdoms, Boy Blue, Pinocchio, and Ambrose could pretty much always be found on the steps of the Woodlands, listening to Blue’s trumpet and shooting the shit (until, you know, Fabletown got all imploded and Boy Blue got all dead). They were kind of like the Three Musketeers of Fabletown, except the Three Musketeers might actually live in Fabletown. Great, now I’m all nostalgic for my old stoop days.
3. Hal Jordan and Barry Allen – Both are original members of the Justice League of America, so it makes sense that they’d be cool with one another despite their differences in personality. But to the extent of going on camping trips on other planets together? Dang, dudes, you guys are such best friends. And now that Barry’s back from cruising the Speedforce for 23 years, he can go back to hanging out with Hal Jordan and doing the stuff they love together (I mean, I assume they love getting the shit kicked out of them by undead J’onn J’onnz).
2. Ted Kord and Michael Carter – Oh man, the bond these two had between them was off the fucking chart. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold met, befriended, and eventually bro-crushed each other hard when they both joined Justice League International. After watching Kord take a punch from Doomsday, it turned into full on mutual respect. Later on they formed the Super Buddies and worked together in a fast food restaurant in Hell (really, don’t ask). This duo took one tragic fucking turn after Maxwell Lord shot Kord in the face during “the OMAC Project,” causing Booster and Wonder Woman to investigate the murder which led to Maxwell Lord’s death which led to “Infinite Crisis” which led to the DCU as we currently know it. Didn’t realize that the Booster/Beetle pairing was so fucking important, did ya?
1. Erik Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier – “Foul!” cried the readers. “Boo this man! Boooo!” But, wait! Think about it! After meeting each other at the Holocaust survivor clinic in Israel, they TOTALLY became best buds! Which of you don’t ever have little squabbles with your closest friends over ideology? Honestly, the only real difference is that you don’t grow up to try to defend those opinions to the death (usually, I mean). Also, look at the admiration Erik has for the dead-in-this-reality Charles in “Age of Apocalypse.” It borders on being totally get-a-room-you-two creepy! Plus, these two haven’t really ever killed each other. What’s stopping them? Maybe remembering back to when they sailed the S.S. Friendship together?
Comic book villains are notoriously ridiculous, see: the Batman rogues gallery. Honestly, one of the scariest villains in all comic-dom is a psychotic clown. When we think about these things too hard, it hurts our brains. But we suffer for our art, so here’s High Five!’s Top Ten! Most Ridiculous Villains We Could Think Of!
(10) Starro the Conquerer – Allright, Starro is actually a bit scary. I mean, he’s got mind control probes and he can use them to take over a planet which was STILL pretty scary when TNG did it. But at the end of the day, we’re talking about a giant starfish. Seriously. A giant star fish was the Justice League’s first big foe (not timeline-wise, appearance-wise, nitpickers). Starro’s greatest power is that he is integral in every telling and re-telling of the Justice League’s origin, which is pretty impressive for an echinoderm. This is why people look at me weird when I try to explain comics to them.
(9) Sugar Man – Sugar Man showed up acting like a total creeper in Age of Apocalypse, which might be one of the greatest examples of convoluted nineties Marvel storylines, but it’s also one of my favorites so I forgive it. Sugar Man is a four armed blob of evil from another dimension. He can shrink and grow at will, he’s got a razor sharp tongue, and he can put himself back together again – which is convenient if you look like a twisted psycho Humpty Dumpty.
(8) The Turtle / Turtle Man – The best thing about the Turtle is that there were TWO of them. Jay Garrick had his Turtle (whose slowness gimmick was meticulous planning) while Barry fought the Turtle Man (who had slowness-themed weapons). When the two Flashes met, so did their two Turtles, forming the worlds slowest alliance. After Wally showed up, the two Turtles tried to kidnap him. They forgot that he had friends in high places (liiiiike, the JLA Watchtower). The Turtleses were easily defeated and sent to jail. Occasionally, they still dig these lame characters out DC Comics Limbo and have them try to slow down all of Keystone City (in what must be the most lackluster issues EVER).
(7) Gentleman Ghost – The Gentleman Ghost doesn’t seem too threatening. Essentially, he’s got the exact same powers as Casper. And the best part? He’s so easy to take down! Find a virgin (try your local comic shop, OH DAMN!) and give them anything made out of Thanagarian Nth metal. Then tell said virgin to hit Gentleman Ghost with it repeatedly. Turns out that ghosts can’t touch virgins or pass through Nth metal. Hooray! The day is saved! I vote Devon Sawa plays him in the Hawkman movie, which probably isn’t in development. Yet.
(6) Double Down – OK, so if you lose all your money at Texas Hold ‘Em, what do you do? Duh, you shoot the guy who beat you and then the razor sharp (for whatever reason) playing cards will replace your skin. You can pluck them off and toss them at people! You can control them with your MIND! Best part? Double Down isn’t a freakish Silver Age holdover – he first appeared in 2001 in Geoff Johns’ Flash: Iron Heights. He’s a really gross evil Gambit. Think about it, he’s throwing his mutant ripped off skin at you. The Flash Rogues are nothing if not ridicu-larious, but ewwww.
(5) Blue Snowman – So the Blue Snowman is neither a man nor made of snow. No, she’s a bitter orphaned daughter of a scientist who invented a freezing beam to help humanity. Yeah, you read that right. So Blue Snowman threw on some dude clothes and decided she’d use the freezing beam for villainy, because really – are freezing beams actually good for anything else? Blue Snowman debuted fighting Wonder Woman in 1946, before anyone realized that the blue lady in the newsboy hat was probably into girls. She was probably into Wonder Woman, which is cool. But unmasked, Blue looked exactly like Wonder Woman. Creepy. God, Wonder Woman comics were so fucked up back in the day.
(4) Polka Dot Man – Polka Dot Man first appeared in 1962 wearing a suit with Polka Dots that he could pluck off and turn into pretty much whatever. Guns, cannons, a pink fluffy bunny. No one ever really explained why this guy felt the need to commit polka dot themed crimes, but did Batman’s rogues ever need a reason to be batshit crazy? He showed up again a billion years later, hit a cop, got the shit beat out of him, sued Gotham city, and got the cops sent to psychotherapy. And honestly, the Gotham cops should probably be going once a week anyway, so maybe Polka Dot Man served a greater purpose in the end.
(3) Spider Girl - DC’s Spider-Girl didn’t get bitten by a radioactive anything. She can just grow her hair at will like a fucking Play-Doh accessory. Let that simmer. Plus, she is also able to control her hair and move it like an extra limb. She has the power of being that dude with the beard from that creepy Skittles commercial. Seriously, her whole backstory is that she tried out for the Legion of Super Heroes, but really only to hit on the guys. She didn’t make it, so like all rejects, she went villain. She doesn’t scare me at all, I’m pretty sure I had a doll with that power. Raise her arm! Her hair REALLY grows! Wow!
(2) Turner D. Century – Turner D. Century has a sorta Robin-esque background. After his father kicked the bucket, he was taken in by an old multi-millionaire. The only difference was that this millionaire was pissed off at society for letting their manners go to shit. Solution? Raise young Turner D. Century as if it were 1900, down to the sweet handlebar moustache. Eventually, he took it as his mission to revert all social mores back to what they were pre-World War I (take THAT, minorities and women!) but he was defeated by Spider-Man and eventually killed by Scourge in the Bar With No Name purge. The best part about this totally lame Golden Age-like villain? He first appeared in 1980!
(1) Big Wheel – “Big Wheel?” Really, anything named “Big Wheel” should never be evil. Childhood: ruined. Apparently Big Wheel was a failed businessman who got caught sticking his hand a bit too deep in the company cookie jar. One blackmail led to another and he wound up the proud owner of a wall-climbing wheel. With guns. He dies, but this is comics so NOT REALLY, comes back to life (like you do) and decides to try to be one of the good guys by helping Spider-Man. Turns out crooked businessmen with big, gunny wheels don’t make good heroes. Who’da thunk? Also, now we know where Mr Garrison got the idea for his, um, dildo-powered monowheel.
Here’s a list of our favorite second string couples (when we say second string, we mean lower tier at Marvel or DC, or not from Marvel & DC at all. Mostly we just didn’t want to deal with Lois Lane or MJ or Cyclops & Jean. We pretty much made up the parameters and we’re using the term loosely. Shut up. Who pays for the domain name, you or me?)
When it comes to couples in comic books, it seems like the phrase “opposites attract” is a huge fucking understatement. Despite the fact that getting involved with a superhero is bad news (see: Kyle Rayner and Matt Murdock), they seem to manage to endure through thick and thin, and death after death after death. As a matter of fact, we need to make a game out of this. Every time one half or more of a relationship is dead (or presumed dead), take a shot!
(10) Invincible and Atom Eve – This pair went through the required will they/won’t they for about EVER, complete with Invincible’s hot blond jealous non-superhero girlfriend. Invincible goes to the future one day and Future!Eve gets emo and tells him she loves him. When he gets back to the present, Invincible starts mackin’ on Eve, but she gets mad. “You only love me because Future me told you I love you!” which is a pretty stupid reason to bail, but she’s made up for it more than once by pulling a move that most women her age just can’t pull off. Almost every time she starts getting angry at him over something stupid, she takes five and cuts it the fuck out. Invincible will probably be able to punch through a PLANET one day. And then Eve can completely rearrange the molecules like nothing ever happened. Hell yeah, these two! They’re at number 10 though, because they can’t even legally drink yet and this shit could fall apart at any moment.
(9) Bruce Banner and Betty Ross – Not as second string as the rest of the list, but Hulk and his lady-friend were never quite as in the spotlight as the other Marvel couples, so we snuck them in anyway. Bruce and Betty pretty much had everything going against them. First off, Betty is the daughter of General Ross, one of Bruce’s biggest enemies. After the world found out that Bruce Banner was the Hulk, she freaked out and married Glenn Talbot, leader of the Hulkbusters. After that marriage didn’t work (and years and year of “COME ON, GET ON WITH IT”), Betty and Bruce FINALLY got together and got married. Then Abomination poisoned her with his blood, framing the Hulk, and she died (as comic book wives are wont to do). But she was always the only one who could soothe the Hulk, which made her pretty badass. You know, until she croaked.
(8) Clint Barton and Barbara Morse – It only really took one mission for Hawkeye and Mockingbird to fall in love. They teamed up, defeated Crossfire, eloped, and started the West Coast Avengers. Then everything totally went to shit. Time travel, cowboys, and Satan (can’t make this shit up) interfered with their lives and the two of them drifted apart. Over time, Mockingbird and Hawkeye split up. She was replaced by a Skrull, he made out with Moonstone, died, and came back. It wasn’t until a Skrull ship with the Real Mockingbird aboard crashed to earth that the two of them were able to come face-to-face and get back that ol’ spark the way that comic book heroes do: beating the snot out of aliens.
(7) Ralph and Sue Dibny – No list of comic couples would be complete without this tragic pairing. An inseparable item since the early 60s (that’s a lonnnng time, I wonder how they kept it fresh? [insert elongated man joke here!]), Ralph & Sue were Justice League staples. Then Identity Crisis happened, Sue got raped by Doctor Light and killed by Jean Loring. Eventually, Ralph Dibny sacrificed himself to Neron in 52 in order to reunite with his wife (albeit in spirit form). They didn’t stay spirits for long though, they can currently be found running around ripping out Thanagarian hearts in the name of the Black Lantern (aw, how cute). FLESH!
(6) Swamp Thing and Abby Arcane – After her husband got possessed and Abby ended up dead, it seemed as if this relationship was put to an end before it really started. Pffft, fuck that. Swamp Thing was serious about this one. He went into the afterlife and dealt with the Spectre and Etrigan to get Abby back. Once he does, she drops her coma-hubby and eats a weird hallucinogenic tuber growing out of Swamp Thing (which apparently means they’re married?). Later still (in a very beautiful story arc), Swamp Thing had to go to Gotham City to bust Abby out of jail after she was arrested for fucking a plant-man, both confronting and eventually getting help from the Batman.
(5) Barry Allen and Iris West – Iris West is the most tolerant woman on the planet. For being married to the fastest man alive, she sure does have to put up with him being late all the fucking time. Hell, she even waited for him for twenty years after he got sucked into the Speed Force and everybody thought he was dead. But it’s totally cool, because when Barry fucks something up, he makes it priority number one to make it up to his beloved Iris. Honorable Mentions? Jay & Joan Garrick. Wally West & Linda Park. The Flashes have remarkably healthy marriages. You know, for superheroes.
(4) Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance – Whenever anything seems to be going right for this pairing, something goes horribly, horribly wrong. Dinah gets kidnapped and tortured in The Longbow Hunters, Ollie makes out with the ONLY other employee at Dinah’s flower shop, Ollie has illegitimate kid after illegitimate kid (including Connor Hawke) come out of the woodwork, Ollie dies, Ollie comes back, and Dinah accidentally marries and kills an impostor Ollie while real Oliver is trapped with the Amazons. Finally, when they do get married, the ceremony is attacked by a ton of villains trying to kill all the heroes at once. Man, I’m pretty sure these two are fucking cursed.
(3) Snow White and Bigby Wolf – Snow and the Big Bad Wolf of Fables started sniping at each other pretty much in the first panel of the series, which is how you knew they would hook up. After they got brainwashed and date raped each other, Snow White wound up knocked up with a bunch of wolf/wind/fable babies. Then Bigby and Snow basically saved the world even though they weren’t technically in charge of anything anymore. Snow and Bigby are arguably smarter and more versatile than all of the other Fables (excluding maybe Flycatcher.) I guess they’ll be fighting the Boogeyman now, but they’ve got that killer zephyr of a seventh child, so I’m thinkin’ they’ll be jussst fine.
(2) Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) and Peter Rasputin – Shadowcat and Collosus always had a mutual crush on one another, there was just one problem: she was 14, he was 19, and I guess the X-Men take statutory rape seriously. When Peter’s sister, Illyana (a.k.a. Magik) died of the Legacy virus and Peter sacrificed himself to find a cure, his remains were cremated and that’s the end of that. Case closed. No way, just kidding! Turns out aliens had Peter’s body and he was actually just fine. This gave the pair (now both of age) an opportunity to fuck. Hooray! Together forever! No way, just kidding again, Kitty got shot into space in a giant space-bullet. You know, something tells me these two might not be meant to be together.
(1) Monsieur Mallah and Brain – One of them is a gorilla with a ridiculously high IQ and a machine gun. The other is a French scientist’s brain in a jar. And they’re both dudes. Grant Morrison (who else?) made these two an item in his run on Doom Patrol and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t beyond absurd from the start. Unfortunately for this pair, who finally got together when Brain was transplanted into a Robot body; said robot body was rigged to explode if anyone ever put a brain in it. They kissed and KABOOM. If that ain’t love I don’t know what is.
Holy shit, were you actually taking shots? Awesome. I counted thirteen drinks and you must be totally fucked up. Gimme your keys, I’m calling you a cab.
Before we get there, I know what complaints I’m gonna get. “Where’s Bruce Wayne? The Spirit? Tony Stark?” Well, not here. Batman and the Spirit are legends in their own right, big enough that I’d consider their legacy to be a power in and of itself. And Tony Stark has weird implants now. TOTALLY COUNTS. Also, he has the power to drink more than ten Winston Churchills.
10. Expert swordfighter, chess-player, and bull-dresser, Seaguy (apparently, also his real name?) wants nothing more that to actually be a superhero. Unfortunately, when you live in some Orwellian acid trip and all you have is a wetsuit and a sidekick like Chubby Da Choona (a floating, cigar-smoking tuna who is afraid of water), this is harder than it seems. Seaguy somehow deals with Xoo (“1/2 an animal on a stick!”), Egyptians on the moon, the Gondolier (aka: Death), and a bizarre parody of Walt Disney and his creations. If you couldn’t tell from that description, this is one of Grant Morrison’s fucking balls-out head trips. He’s written two of three volumes so far and, as weird as the book is, I’m eagerly awaiting the final arc. DA FUG!
9. Frank Castle watched his whole family get murdered by a mob in Central Park. In retaliation, he became the Punisher shot EVERYBODY EVER. Armed to the fucking teeth, this guy took on Bullseye, Spider-Man, and the unfuckwithable Kingpin. And what does he have to show for it? Three movies, all of which Marvel hopes you forget (and none of which where he’s played by Henry Rollins, what gives?). His Archie team up was better than all of his movies. Poor Guy.
8. I’ll let Maggie take this one, here she is: Xander is AWESOME. He is the world’s most adorable weenie, but he’s also the Nick Fury of the Buffyverse. And before I hear a word about Xander’s televised origins, he is in BUFFY SEASON EIGHT. Which is a comic. By Joss Whedon (and friends). The closest Xander ever came to really having powers was being able to remember random military shit from that one time he got turned into a Real Soldier on Halloween. He worked for Dracula. Hell, he was BFF with Count-fucking-Dracula for a minute. Xander can tame vengeance demons, rage-blind witches, and the Slayer herself. He lost his virginity to Faith (hot), and he decapitated the motherfucker who killed his most recent paramour. Do not. Fuck. With Xander.
7. Vic Sage and Renee Montoya are both totally underrated folks. Vic Sage was the Question for-fucking-ever and then Rucka took over. Vic died from lung cancer in Nanda Parbat while talking crazy at Renee Montoya. She ended up taking up the mantle from him and subsequently beat the shit out of the cult of Cain during Final Crisis and is now beating the shit out of inner city thugs while busting up a prostitution ring. Fuck yeah, the Questions. Most underappreciated heroes ever!
6. Between his Twilight of the Superheroes pitch and Rorschach, it seemed like Alan Moore had it out to create the antithesis of the Question. At the start, Rorschach is the only active vigilante left in the Watchmen universe. Keeping in mind that this was written during the Cold War (AND the Reagan administration), Rorschach is intensely right-wing and anti-Communist. Despite being as mentally (and hygienically) fucked up as possible, he manages to do what none of the others would and (SPOILER) die for what he believes.
5. Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson get lumped together. I know, it’s cheating, but it is OK. She is Oracle, he is Robin or Nightwing or Batman or whatever. You already know all about them so whatever. And you know what? Maggie’s right. They need to freaking get it on already. Get on it, Morrison!
4. John Constantine almost seemed like an after thought. He was created by Alan Moore as a sort of guide for Swamp Thing when he was freaking out over his identity. What he ended up being was the DCU’s definitive Fox Mulder-style paranormal detective. Pick an author and it’s more than likely that John Constantine has been featured in one of their stories at some point. One of my favorite things about this character is that he ages in real time. Seriously, how much more human can you get than that?
3. Ollie has a hell of a story. Dude was a Bruce Wayne wannabe who crashes onto an island and learns to make and shoot bows and arrows. He eventually gets off the island, dons a Robin Hood-like costume, and becomes a super-liberal crime fighter. He also becomes mayor of Star City, starred in a weird political series with Green Lantern Hal Jordan (written by Dennis O’Neill), marries Black Canary (arguably one of the most sought after ladies of the DCU), and goes through absolute fucking Hell (both literally in Kevin Smith’s run and figuratively in Mike Grell’s excellent The Longbow Hunters). Here’s just an idea I’d like to throw around, though, DC. Queen in the White House in 2012. You KNOW that’d be awesome.
2. Spider Jerusalem is essentially just Hunter S. Thompson if he’d have lived til the future. As much of a “gonzo journalist” as Hunter was, Spider roams around the City “monstering” with his “filthy assistants,” trying to expose the politicians for the dicks they are. He is not one to sell his soul and certainly not one to just roll over. He is as persistent in accomplishing his goals as some of the capes are and certainly willing to die to achieve them. I’m not usually a fan of Warren Ellis’ stuff (Iron Man: Extremis excluded) but his writing on this character is amazing. I’m eventually going to write an entry about the brilliance of Transmetropolitan once I re-read it (for, like, the fifth time).
1. What? I’m putting a MARVEL character at number one? Damn straight I am… Motherfucking Nick Fury. Dude is pretty much in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D, an organization so powerful that it practically controls the Marvel Universe. Nick Fury has the greatest superpower of all, political power, and is able to pretty much get anything he wants done. Plus, the dude can keep HYDRA at bay, and in the Marvel Universe, that is pretty much the hardest thing EVER. Kudos, Mr. Fury. You win at being the bestest regular human EVER.