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Alternate Takes 4.26.14: Top 50 DC Comics Superheroes (#40 - 31)
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 04.26.2014

Welcome to Week 298 of Alternate Takes, my name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.

Top 50 DC Comics Superheroes, 50-41

The list so far…

41. Black Canary
42. The Phantom Stranger
43. Steel
44. Power Girl
45. Starfire
46. Atom
47. Beast Boy
48. Red Tornado
49. Adam Strange
50. Plastic Man

40. Raven

Yes, I am a Teen Titans fan, as I mentioned last week, and all core members made my Top 50. So, here we have Raven. Yes, I like Beast Boy more when it comes to their personalities, but damn if Raven isn't a very interesting character with a great back story. Her mother is a human but her father is a demon named Trigon who wants to enslave the planet. The demon powers inside her are strong, but she has to keep her emotions intact or she can be overcome with the evil of her father. As a result, she can't be happy, sad or angry, and can never show her true feelings, or else she can destroy the world. That makes her one of the most powerful, and dangerous characters in the DC Universe.

39. Huntress

The Huntress has recently become a lot more popular thanks to the TV show Arrow. Huntress, in the comics, was Batman's daughter from Earth-2. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Huntress and Power Girl were two of the bigger characters to transfer to the combined world, but she was no longer the daughter of Batman and was the daughter of a mafia boss, and is even more violent than Batman. I really like her better recently with her teaming in Birds of Prey because that was a really interesting team. Even now, in the New DC 52, Huntress is still from Earth-2 and is now on Earth Prime, once again the daughter of Batman and Catwoman.

38. Zatanna

Zatanna is the daughter of a golden age hero from the Golden Age of DC Comics, Zatara. She is a mystical character and has strong ties to both the Justice League from the pre-DC 52 world, and with the Justice League Dark – a group of mystical characters who deals with the magical dangers in the DC Universe. As a matter of fact, and this was not intended, there are three characters from Justice League Dark in this week's group of DC Comics heroes. Zatanna has also bounced around a lot, including appearances in the Vertigo series where she had a romantic relationship with John Constantine, and appearances in Neil Gaiman's Books of Magic.

In one of the most controversial moves in Justice League history, Zatanna was who mind wiped Batman when he tried to stop them from punishing Dr. Light after they learned he raped Sue Dibney.

37. Deadman

I have always loved Deadman, all the way back to when I was reading the comics as a kid. He is Boston Brand, a former trapeze artist who is murdered and comes back as a ghost. As a ghost, Deadman has the power given to him by a goddess to possess any living being so he can find the person who murdered him and seek justice. While the Deadman story ended when Deadman found the man who killed him, they used an artist's error to bring Deadman back, claiming that the person he thought killed him was not the right person, a way to keep the character around longer. He was just kind of a drifting hero, and I'm sure that my fandom was not as wide spread as it was with other characters.

However, in Blackest Night, Deadman played a huge role since he couldn't be raised as a Black Lantern, and his power to possess beings was a strong weapon for the heroes. In Brightest Day, he continued to play a large role with the power to bring people back to life and he was responsible for many heroes legitimately rising from the dead. This was really the most interesting Deadman stories in years, and things kept going strong when he was part of the Justice League Dark in the New DC 52.

36. Cyborg

Cyborg is the next Teen Titans member on the list, although in today's New DC 52 world, he is a founding member of the Justice League instead. In the original DC Universe, Victor was attacked and mutilated by a monster that attacked STAR Labs, but his parents saved him by replacing his severed body parts with robotic parts. He soon joins the Teen Titans and becomes best friends with Beast Boy, a relationship that is one of the highlights of the Teen Titans cartoons.

Things changed in the New DC 52. Here, in this world, Victor is a high school football star who is arguing with his father, a scientist at STAR Labs. While they are arguing, there is an explosion and Victor is almost killed. His father is able to save him using robotic technology and nanites that allows Victor to control technology. Instead of joining the Teen Titans in this world, he helps fend off an attacking Darkseid and becomes a founding member of the Justice League.

35. Firestorm

I liked Firestorm back in the old DC world. I thought the idea that Firestorm was two different people (high school student Ronnie and Noble-prize winning physicist Martin) was just a great concept. Having two people, with very different personalities, sharing the body of a hero that could legitimately destroy the entire world was great. There was also a period right about the time I stopped reading comics where a third person was added to the Firestorm persona, in Russian nuclear technician Mikhail.

I personally think things got better with the new Firestorm (at the time) of Jason Rusch. Rusch combined at one point with Ronnie, but that didn't last very long before Ronnie dissipated again. He then paired with Stein later, which brought back the original dynamic of teenage exuberance and brilliant scientist. In the New 52, it reboots the origin of Firestorm with two high school students, the jock Ronnie and the smart Jason.

34. Elongated Man

While a lot of people like to compare Plastic Man to Reed Richards, the truth is that Elongated Man is more like Reed than Plastic Man was. Plastic Man could shape shift while Elongated Man was a stretcher like Reed is. However, unlike Plastic Man, Ralph Dibney has been a more serious character, and honestly has a more tragic story than almost any other hero. He first appeared in the pages of Flash and quickly became one of the most popular supporting characters in comics, leading to his own series. He can stretch thanks to a soda called Gingold, became one of the first superheroes to ever reveal his secret identity, actually married his girlfriend (Sue) and the two became detectives. What made him awesome was that he solved mysteries, like Batman, but rarely used gizmos and weapons, making it a true detective story.

Over time, he became less important and was almost a forgotten hero until Identity Crisis. It was in this story that Sue was murdered, right before she could surprise Ralph with the fact that she was pregnant with their first child. The killer turned out to not be a super villain, but The Atom's wife, and this sent Ralph into a very long depression that culminated in the series 52 where he gives up his life to be reunited with his wife. Ralph might be the most heartbreaking hero in all of comics.

33. Lobo

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson calls Lobo one of his favorite superheroes. Honestly, Lobo was made as an over-the-top DC Comics version of Wolverine, a cigar smoking, foul mouthed, bounty hunter who really can't be killed. He is a brawler who likes getting drunk and fighting. He is, more than almost any other hero, a character of the 90s. He also has the quirky love of space dolphins. Needless to say, Lobo is a "character" and his quirkiness accounts for his popularity. While a lot of his stories are just over-the-top and needlessly violent, his character arc in 52 was really good, as was most the stories in that series.

32. Etrigan

In the beginning, he was created by Jack Kirby as a violent demon from hell who fights for good because of his alliance with Jason Blood, a human to which Etrigan was bound to by Merlin. Etrigan is one of the most powerful demons and is actually strong enough to fight on even ground with Superman. He also is almost completely resistant to injuries and can blow hellfire through his mouth. His weakness is that, the longer he stays on Earth, the weaker he becomes. He has to return to hell to replenish his powers.

While Guillermo Del Toro has been talking about making a Justice League Dark movie, he has mentioned using Etrigan in his story, but Etrigan was never part of Justice League Dark. Instead, his New DC 52 character appeared in Demon Knights where his origin was re-told.

31. Starman

The original Starman appeared in the classic DC Comics world with Ted Knight as Starman. However, the character I am ranking here is his son Jack Knight, the Starman introduced in the AMAZING comic book series by James Robinson. Jack was a birth of fresh air in a stale period in comics when he appeared, a reluctant hero who inherited his dad's mission. As a matter of fact, Jack went from admiring his dad to rebelling against him and wanted nothing to do with the legacy. However, his brother David took over the role as Starman, and was murdered by the son of one of Ted's old enemies. Jack took over the powers, partially to protect his dad, and set out to stop The Mist and his son.

After this, Jack agrees to become the new Starman if his dad promised to use his scientific knowledge to help mankind. The new Starman also refused to wear an actual superhero costume. The best part of Jack Knight's story is his road from a reluctant hero into a truly noble one. James Robinson is one of the best writers working and he did an amazing job with a previously ignored hero.


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