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Alternate Takes 4.19.14: Top 50 DC Comics Superheroes (#50 - 41)
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 04.19.2014

Welcome to Week 297 of Alternate Takes, my name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.

Last week, David S. Goyer said that DC Comics movies were not ready to create a fully formed universe like Marvel has yet. One comment I heard from someone was that there are not enough good superheroes in DC Comics to even care about making a universe around. Well, with that in mind I decided to start a new list, counting down the Top 50 DC Comics superheroes of all time. Here is a look at part 1 of that list, with #50-41.

Top 50 DC Comics Superheroes, 50-41

50. Plastic Man

A lot of people just consider Plastic Man a goofy, comedy character. Well, he is a goofy, comedy character, but when written right, he is a fantastic character. Now, when I was a kid, I had bad memories of the Plastic Man cartoon, something that made him seem like nothing more than a little kid's favorite superhero. But, honestly, in the right hands, Plastic Man is hilarious in comic books and is really, really powerful as well.

There are a lot of people who don't know any better who compare Plastic Man to Elongated Man, but they have completely different powers. Elongated Man is just like Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four in that he can stretch his body in any way his chooses. However, Plastic Man is not a "stretching" character. He can morph his body into any shape he wants, which adds to the humor. Basically Plastic Man is a shape shifter who is also invulnerable and practically immortal. Did you know he had his heart ripped out of his chest and didn't die? A story that heads into the future of DC Comics found that he was not only still alive but barely aged. The guy is an immortal, invulnerable superhero with a wicked sense of humor.

By the way, I hear a lot of people call Plastic Man a "rip-off" of Mr. Fantastic. Plastic Man first appeared in 1941, 20 years before Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Reed Richards.

49. Adam Strange

Adam Strange is the DC Comics character for people who love sci-fi in the Buck Rogers sense of the genre. In the start, he was just an adventurer type of character, living on Earth and then zapped into outer space where he would have to battle a threat and then get zapped back to Earth. Over time, he started working with other characters such as Hawkman and The Justice League.

However, he really became something special (to no surprise) at the hands of Alan Moore in the pages of his critically acclaimed Swamp Thing series. Of course, Moore, being Moore, changed a lot about Strange and made him an evolutionary throwback to the Thanagarians that he was fighting. There was also a great re-invention of him in the "52" comic book series, which actually had my favorite versions of a number of other characters such as The Question, Batwoman and Black Adam.

48. Red Tornado

Is it wrong that my best memories of Red Tornado are not from the comic books when I was a kid but from the recent cartoon Young Justice? Red Tornado was an android created by supervillain T.O. Morrow and then placed within the Justice Society of America to infiltrate the group. He was created from two entities (Ulthoon the Tornado Tyrant and the Tornado Champion). He was able to withstand the evil Tornado and ended up a great hero who served alongside the JSA and later the JLA. For the people who think his origin is possibly a "rip-off" of The Vision from The Avengers, Red Tornado first appeared in August 1968 and Vision first appeared two months AFTER that.

47. Beast Boy

I have always been a huge fan of the Teen Titans, so you will see most of the core members on this list. I would say that my favorite character when I was a kid was Beast Boy, mainly because he reminded me somewhat of Spider-Man when it came to his one-liners and refusal to take anything seriously. Now that I am watching the recently cancelled Teen Titans cartoon and one of my son's favorites now, Teen Titans Go, I see that he hasn't changed after all these years.

Anyway, before he was in the Teen Titans, Gar was a member of the Doom Patrol. He got his superpowers when his geneticist parents were studying a rare type of green monkey and one of them bit Gar. He ended up with a serious illness and his parents developed a serum to save him, but that gave him the power to shape shift. It also made him green. After he left the Doom Patrol, he met some new friends and was a founding member of the Teen Titans. As for his constant joking? His parents died when he was a child, his foster mother was a member of Doom Patrol and was killed and the woman he loved (Terra) turned out to be a super villain. The joking is his way of dealing.

46. Atom

Atom is Ray Palmer, a scientist who develops the ability to shrink himself to any size (and was created by DC Comics one year before Marvel created Ant-Man). He was the rebooted version of the character from the Golden Age (created in 1940), which was Al Pratt, a hero with superhuman strength but no shrinking abilities.

One of his more heartbreaking stories was Identity Crisis, where his wife, Jean Loring, went insane and murdered Sue Dibny (the wife of the Elongated Man). It drove him to a depression so great, that he shrunk to a size where he left the real world altogether. In the DC New 52, he is a scientist working for the research group SHADE and still has the ability to shrink, but is working more as a scientist than a superhero.

45. Starfire

The second member of the Teen Titans on my countdown is Starfire. Starfire is a unique character, and one that is more risqué than almost any other character in comic books. In the comics, she was always known to me, as a pre-pubescent boy, as the superhero that was almost completely naked in every comic. Well, in the Red Hood series I read, it became obvious that she was very sexual as well because, on her world, sex was not anything personal and this was obvious as she jumped from Jason Todd to Roy Harper without any concerns.

Anyway, Kori is an alien from Tamaran and she has the power to absorb solar energy and convert it into power. Also, the real reason she wore almost no clothes is because she absorbs the solar power through her skin and the more that shows, the more she can use. She is flamboyant, flirtatious and very deadly.

44. Power Girl

First appearing in 1976, Power Girl was a member of the Justice Society on Earth 2 and was one of the few heroes from Earth 2 to end up on the combined worlds after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. She is Kryptonian and her story on Earth 2 is the same as Superman's story on our Earth, her father rocketing her to Earth as Krypton is about to explode, although it arrived years after Superman's ship arrived and she was grown by the time it landed. On that world she was a relative of Superman and Supergirl.

The New DC 52 has kept the story that she is an Earth-2 hero who ended up on Earth Prime along with The Huntress.

43. Steel

Steel is John Henry Irons, a weapons engineer who became a hero after the Death of Superman, inspired by the fallen hero to become a new protector of Metropolis. While he has no superpowers, he developed the technology to replicate Superman's powers, including bullet proof armor, and an exoskeleton which gives him superhuman strength. He showed up about the same time as other replacement, including Superboy, but Steel became the most loyal to Superman when the Man of Steel returned.

Shaquille O'Neal played Steel in a movie that everyone should forget ever existed.

42. The Phantom Stranger

Phantom Stranger is a hero that only shows up on very dire occasions, when the world is in a predicament that needs his assistance. He first appeared in 1952 and no one really knows his origin (although there are four stories told of his origin which could be true, three Biblical and one cosmological). The one that was believed true before was that he was a Fallen Angel from Heaven who chose not to side with Heaven or Hell and is condemned to Earth. The second, which is from the New DC 52 is that he is part of the "trinity of sin" and is actually Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, condemned to walk the Earth forever. He has incredible mystical powers.

41. Black Canary

The Black Canary is more than just Green Arrow's girl. Dinah Laurel Lance grew up with heroes and trained for years before taking on the role of her mother, who was the original The Black Canary. In the original DC Universe, Black Canary was on Earth 2 as part of the Justice Society, but after Crisis on Infinite Earths, she still existed but had a daughter who eventually took over the role.

Early on, she developed a relationship with Green Arrow and after her mother's death, she quit the JLA and went to Seattle with Arrow to start over. However, the character became much more interesting when she joined up with the Birds of Prey and they became one of the best female based teams in the history of comics.


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