Friday, September 14, 2007

DC Comics: My Top Ten

As mentioned in this space three weeks ago, Brian Cronin over at Comics Should Be Good! (and yes, they should be, doggonit!) conducted a reader poll to find out who are fans' all-time favorite DC and Marvel Comics characters (not superheroes, necessarily — supporting cast count also). Participants submitted lists of their top 10 faves from each publisher's roster, ranked in order of preference. Beginning on Wednesday, Brian began counting down the top 50 characters in each poll.

Thinking — perhaps foolishly — that regular perusers of Comic Art Friday would be interested in knowing how I voted, I'll give you a sneak peek at my ballot. We'll start with my DC Top Ten this week, and come back with my Marvel list next Friday. Where I can, I'll include representations from my art collection.

So, in reverse order, here are Uncle Swan's Ten Favorite DC Comics Characters:

10. The Metal Men. The rules for Brian's poll specifically excluded groups as a single entry, with only a few exceptions permitted. The Metal Men were one of those exceptions, and thus landed a spot on my list. I can still remember the first Metal Men comic I ever purchased, at Snider's IGA Grocery in Poplar Bluff, Missouri way back when. Since I don't have any Metal Men commissions in my collection, here's the cover that first made me a fan of Dr. Will Magnus's motley crew of squabbling robots.

9. Mister Terrific II (Michael Holt). Mr. T. is a relatively new character that I've really grown to enjoy. He's Batman, only without all the dark psychosis and sexual innuendo. If I were the third-smartest man on Earth and as buff as all get-out, Mister Terrific is the hero I'd be.

8. Saturn Girl. Since I couldn't vote for the Silver Age Legion of Super-Heroes collectively, I chose my favorite original Legionnaire to stand in for the whole group. With their silly names and often sillier superpowers (Bouncing Boy? Matter-Eater Lad?), the 1960s Adventure Comics Legion represented all that was charming and fun about comics. Even when Lightning Lad died. (Or so we thought.)

7. Booster Gold. Self-possessed, semi-serious, and slyly antiheroic, Booster was my favorite "new" (as in, created since I was a kid) DC superhero, until he was bumped from that position quite recently. (See Number Five, below.) I'm glad Booster's back in his own monthly series now, with his creator Dan Jurgens writing his adventures.

6. Vixen. I *heart* Mari McCabe, and have since her Suicide Squad days. DC's first black superheroine, her true potential as a character remains untapped, although I'm thrilled to see her given newfound prominence on the current Justice League of America roster. DC needs to hire me to write a Vixen miniseries. And yes, I do have an awesome pitch for one.

5. Blue Beetle III (Jaime Reyes). The most intriguing new character to debut in mainstream comics so far this millennium is a Latino teen from El Paso who inherits incredible powers granted by a mysterious alien scarab. Blue Beetle, written by John Rogers and illustrated at the present moment by newcomer Rafael Albuquerque (after enjoyable stints by co-creator Cully Hamner and new Metal Men writer-artist Duncan Rouleau), is one of the best comic books almost no one is reading. (I don't have a Blue Beetle commission yet, so here's some concept art by Cully.)

4. Mary Marvel. Allow me to specify the pre-Countdown Mary Marvel, as opposed to the travesty now appearing in that DC series. Man, I hate what head writer Paul Dini and company are doing to my girl Mary. She's supposed to be the paragon of innocence and virtue, not a borderline wacko sexpot. But how I loved the way Jeff Smith handled her in his recent miniseries, Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil.

3. Green Arrow. This was the character who at last convinced this diehard Marvelite that DC could actually tell real, substantive stories, back in the Denny O'Neil-Neal Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow days, through the era in which his adventures were chronicled by writer-artist Mike Grell. The recent Green Arrow: Year One miniseries by writer Andy Diggle and the artist known as Jock was awfully tasty, too.

2. Supergirl. I was never a Superman fan, but I always grokked Kara Zor-El. Yes, she had all of the Kryptonian powers that made Superman seem impossibly boring to me, but her stories back in the day were more about her as a character, and less about the fact that she could do practically anything.

1. Wonder Woman. Big surprise, right? If you've learned nothing else by reading Comic Art Friday every week — you have, haven't you? — you've learned that your Uncle Swan loves him some Princess Diana. The first great superheroine in comics, and still the greatest.

Who narrowly missed my DC Top Ten? Number 11 on my list would have been Jack Kirby's Mister Miracle. Other near misses: The Silver/Bronze Age Flash (Barry Allen); Adam Strange; Black Lightning.

Drop around next week, you'll discover who made the cut on my Marvel hot-list.

And that's your Comic Art Friday.

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3 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger mike weber/fairportfan offered these pearls of wisdom...

I have not read anoy of the new "Blue Beetle"'s adventures, and prolly won't

I was very fond of the Ted Kord BB (having been reading his adventures since his creation at Charlton) and, quite simply, saw no reason for his pathetic (in the sense of "pathetic story telling") death.

The one Charlton property DC had been doing right all along, blown off to create a character intended to appeal to a "niche" market.


OTOH, speaking of "Charlton characters done right" - they handles the Question pretty well in "52", and Rene Montoya as the new Question looks interesting...

And i understand that Aragones and Evanier are going to take over the DC "Spirit" book, which ought to move it from Very Good to Supremely Excellent.

7:29 PM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Mike: I agree with you about Ted Kord. I liked him very much also, at least when the writers weren't making him look like an idiot — as was all too often the case in recent years. His death was indeed handled shabbily.

The new Blue Beetle, however, is an excellent character in his own right. Although they share some backstory in common, Jaime isn't Ted, and isn't meant to be. He's reminiscent of the early Lee/Ditko-era Spider-Man, with a hip modern sensibility.

(Aren't all comics these days appealing to a niche market? I can't think of a single one that isn't.)

I like the new Question, too. I was never a huge fan of Vic Sage (the original Question), but as regular SSTOL readers know, I loves me some female superheroes. We'll see how Renée grows into her new role over time.

Great move by DC to replace Darwyn Cooke on The Spirit with Aragonés and Evanier. I was prepared to drop the book at the end of Cooke's run, until I heard that news. I'm interested to see who the artist(s) will be.

Thanks for dropping by, Mike!

10:45 AM  
Blogger Nathan offered these pearls of wisdom...

Yes, those muscled DC babes (you should see my wife and daughter for halloween!)! I'm not much of a DC guy since collecting Legion of SH as a kid. Still, my favorite 3 DC are always Green Arrow (good choice!), Green Lantern (Hal), and Flash (Barry or Wally). However, I do love to watch the DC animated series with my 5 year old son! (My 7yo girl likes them too!). nice Grell artwork!
Nathan S.

2:17 PM  

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