September 21, 2003
My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes of All TimeWritten by: Randy Jackson
Everyone has their own list of characters, characters that for one reason or another become favorites. Here's my list--although it could change next week.
Oh, and by the way, the order is meaningless. Number 1 isn't necessarily number 1 in my opinion.
- Dick Grayson
When I was around 6 or 7, I read my first Batman story. I don't remember what it was, and I don't remember much else about it, but I remember one thing that made a huge impression on me.
Here was the classic kid sidekick, the counterpoint to Batman, and more importantly, here was a kid that could hold his own with the adults, and save Batman's hash from time to time as well. True, it was much more likely that Batman was saving him, but every once in a while...
Over the years, Dick Grayson is a character that has aged tremendously well; for over 40 years, operating quite successfully as Robin (indeed, many people are unaware that there has ever been anyone else carrying that mantle), then even more successfully graduating into his own identity as Nightwing. With his own self-titled comic nearing one hundred issues, Dick Grayson has become a classic character.
As a child, one of my favorite books was called Follow the Leader. It was the story of a young boy who is blinded, and his friendship with his seeing eye dog, Leader. For whatever reason, that story stuck with me a great deal (maybe because of my own astigmatism. I must confess, my eyesight has always been horrendous). In fact, I've always identified well with blind characters, and their heightened senses.
Sure, the idea of a blind superhero was ridiculous, but so is the idea of any superhero when you get right down to brass tacks. For me, Daredevil was perfect. I liked Matt Murdock from the get-go, and even though I recognize that he was something of a Spider-Man knock off at one time, I didn't care. When Frank Miller reinvented and reinvigorated the character back in the 80's, well, that was gravy. Since that time, I've been terribly enamored of the blind man, and it's highly likely that no matter how bad his comics get, I'll continue to read.
- The Falcon
Once again, going back to my childhood, I never would have liked Captain America, except for one thing.
I realize this isn't the greatest reason to like a character, but at the time I was unaware of any other Black superheroes (indeed, I believe the only DC black superhero at that point was Mal Duncan, if he'd been introduced). Not only that, the Falcon was emphatically not a sidekick, but an equal partner. He was just as likely to save Cap's bacon as Cap was to save his, plus he had his own identity without the good Captain.
When he got his wings, I felt he took an even greater step towards independence; unfortunately, he's never been given a chance at an ongoing series (I could be wrong, as there was a good ten year period where I didn't read comics, but as far as I know, there was only a mini-series or two). In fact, I believe he's currently dead, which is a shame (although I imagine he'll “get better” at some point).
- Blue Devil
As I rediscovered comics in the mid 80's, one of the titles I began collecting was Blue Devil. The thing I loved about the title, and about the character, was that his adventures were weird and fun, plus he was fairly reluctant to be a superhero in the first place.
Unfortunately, Blue Devil, and the way he fit into the DC universe, fell victim to the Crisis. Fun and goofy were no longer in style, and neither was Blue Devil.
These days, he's a third banana character occasionally seen in group shots during crossovers, but he's not doing a whole lot, which is truly a shame.
- Tony Stark
Tony Stark is just plain cool.
He's tremendously smart, he's got a way with the ladies, and he's very, very human. Here's a character that's been through a great deal; being one step away from death, battling and defeating alcholism, losing and gaining his fortune many times over, and not always making the greatest decisions in his personal life.
For whatever reason, he's rarely ever been written as well in his own comic as he has in others, but he's still a great character. Just the simple idea that anyone could be Iron Man also makes him special as well.
- Captain Marvel
I liked Superman when I was a kid, but I liked Captain Marvel even more. I think the main difference was that I enjoyed the utter silliness and goofiness of the Big Red Cheese's adventures, plus he had two great arch villains to face off against in Sivana and Mr. Mind.
Much like Blue Devil, he's also been a victim of the Crisis, as his entire mythology just doesn't seem to fit within the current DC universe. It's a shame too, as his older adventures are always a treat.
I know, you're all asking, who the heck is Batman?
It's impossible to ever imagine being Superman, or Thor or the Flash, or any other super-powered character. However, it's definitely possible to imagine training yourself to be the best possible human you can be.
He's also got the “World's Greatest Detective” thing working, and I am an absolute sucker for a mystery. When he's written well, he is the Dark Knight, someone you'd love to have on your side, and someone you'd hate to have going against you.
He's also got one of the best supporting casts ever created and the best villains as well. Just great stuff. There's a reason why he's a classic character.
- Wally West
I always liked the idea of the Flash, and speedsters in general for that matter of fact, but I never really liked Barry Allen. I don't know why, but I thought he was a little dull. However, Kid Flash had, in my mind, the cooler costume, a better personality, and I was a sucker for kid heroes at that time as well.
As he has grown into his role as the Flash, he still retains a great deal of appeal to me, especially as a character who has grown into an extremely successful bearer of the Flash legacy.
- Alan Scott
The first ever Green Lantern I encountered was not Hal Jordan, but Alan Scott. I didn't think much about him then, but after encountering Jordan, I felt he was a much cooler character, most likely because I preferred his costume (yeah, I know a lot of people don't like his costume, but I do and always have). Plus, there just seemed to be more of a larger than life aspect to Scott, one that Hal Jordan just didn't seem to have, at least not in my opinion.
These days, I think Scott has enjoyed a renaissance as an old school hero. In my mind, he's become a standard bearer for what a superhero should be; larger than life, heroic in ways that others just aren't in this day of the grim and gritty, and fallible. He's simply a great hero.
I think it's impossible not to like Spider-Man. He's an everyman, a character with real life issues and problems, but still trying to do the right thing. Despite everything life has tossed his way, despite all the problems his dual identity have caused, you know he'll always try to do his best, no matter what. In my mind, that's what makes a hero.