Alternate Takes 5.03.14: Top 50 DC Comics Superheroes (#30 - 21)
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 05.03.2014
From Catwoman and Wally West as the Flash to Guy Gardner as Green Lantern, Supergirl, Swamp Thing and more, 411's Shawn Lealos continues his look at the top 50 DC comics heroes of all time with #30 through 21!
Welcome to Week 299 of Alternate Takes, my name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.
34. Elongated Man
41. Black Canary
42. The Phantom Stranger
44. Power Girl
47. Beast Boy
48. Red Tornado
49. Adam Strange
50. Plastic Man
30. Swamp Thing
He isn't a superhero by choice really, and he isn't really even human at all anymore if you think about it, but Swamp Thing is damn well iconic. Alan Moore made Swamp Thing awesome during his run on the book, maybe the best the character has ever been written. He also showed back up before the New DC 52 reboot as the "bad guy" in Brightest Day, and it was there that we saw how powerful he is, as Superman couldn't even hold a candle in a fight with him. Honestly, only John Constantine stands a chance when it comes to battling the protector of the environment. One question that I don't think has ever been honestly answered is if Swamp Thing is Alec Holland turned into a monster, or a monster who just thinks he used to be Alec Holland. Either way, he is a great character.
29. The Question
OK, I am not really talking about Vic Sage, the original Question. He first appeared in 1967 in the pages of Blue Beetle, but was really nothing to write home about until he got his own series in 1987. However, the character became VERY interesting in the "52" storyline where Sage has lung cancer and recruits former Gotham City cop Renee Montoya to be the new Question. After he dies, Montoya decides to take over his role as The Question. It was an amazing story and one that makes this one of my favorite characters. She was also one of the first open lesbian characters and was at one time in a relationship with Kate Kane –Batwoman. She is another character who has yet to appear in the New 52.
28. The Suicide Squad
I wanted to include Harley Quinn, but she is not really a hero at all. But, at the moment I am reading the Joker "Death of the Family" trade and Harley's story is amazing in there as she battles The Joker, who she is still dangerously addicted to. This takes place shortly after her new lover, Deadshot, died in the pages of the Suicide Squad. So, one thing leads to another, and I am listing The Suicide Squad as a team here. Fans of TV's "Arrow" are meeting that version of The Suicide Squad now, but in the comics they are villains recruited to go on deadly missions for the U.S. government. The books are pretty good and this is something that should become a movie.
27. John Stewart
Just like Wally West was an entire generations version of The Flash, John Stewart was who an entire generation grew up with as The Green Lantern. He wasn't the first, second, third or even fourth Green Lantern to serve on earth, but he was the one that was the star of The Justice League animated series that ran from 2001 to 2004. He was actually a founding member of that team, using him instead of Hal Jordan or Kyle Raynor. That makes him a big deal to a lot of DC Comics fans. In the original DC Comics, Stewart replaced Guy Gardner as Jordan's backup, to take over the fight if anything happened to him. He became the main Green Lantern on earth after Jordan retired in the late 80s and served the role for a long time. When Hal finally came back, Stewart left for space continuing to serve as a member of the Corps. He is still a Lantern in the DC 52.
26. The Flash (Wally West)
A ton of you who are younger than me would probably have Wally West much higher than I do. Honestly, there is a generation of comic book fans who believe Wally West is the definitive Flash. I am not of that generation, although Wally West was a great replacement for Barry Allen. After Barry died to save everyone in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Kid Flash became The Flash and took over the mantle, and did it well. For 20 years, Wally West was the main Flash and became a member of the Justice League, eventually filling in the speedster's shoes well. When Flash returned, alive and well, there were two Flashes and one of the biggest holes in the New 52 is that there is no Wally West there. Honestly, he is not "my Flash," but he deserves to be a Flash.
25. Hawkman / Hawkgirl
I really didn't understand much about Hawkman and Hawkgirl until the Brightest Day run when I finally learned that there were many, many Hawkman and Hawkgirls over time, and when they died, they later regenerated later as heroes once again. Honestly, it is all confusing because his origin has been told and retold so many times that there is no telling what is canon and what has been pushed aside. What I do know is that Hawkman is pretty much a badass with his "Nth metal" that allows him to fly and gives him superhuman strength. Honestly, the origin told in Brightest Day was pretty interesting, if confusing. As for Hawkgirl, she is pretty badass as well and might be more popular than Hawkman now with her appearance in the Justice League Unlimited animated series.
I'm not going with Kal-El as a kid. That character always bored me. However, I really liked the character of Conner Kent that appeared in the early 90s. He had an arrogance and anger that really made him unique, someone with the powers of Superman, but not burdened by Superman's high moral ethics. Connor was a clone, but he really worked in the comics as a young, often aggressive, Superboy. Over the years he became a member of the Teen Titans and Young Justice, the later giving him his most publicity as he was a huge part of that animated series as well (one of the best superhero animated series ever made, in my opinion). He even had a perfect death, saving the world by sacrificing his life in Infinite Crisis.
A lot of people like to crap on the New DC 52, but I will be honest – there is a lot I like about it. Scott Snyder's work in the Batman universe was especially awesome, and I put it above Grant Morrison's work on the title honestly. It is just so smartly written. Anyway, Catwoman in the DC 52 is pretty damn good as well, as Selina Kyle is not a hero, but she is not really a villain. Plus, what always made Catwoman iconic was the fact that she never could kick her infatuation with Batman, knowing that she needed him but could never be with him – because she knew she could hurt him worse than anyone else. Plus, she is smart, cunning, sexy and deadly.
22. Guy Gardner
The second of four Green Lanterns on this countdown, Guy Gardner was the first backup for Hal Jordan in the Green Lantern Corps. Guy Gardner was, in the beginning, just as level headed and heroic as Hal Jordan. However, he suffered partial brain damage when he was hit by a bus. He later had the power lantern explode in his face, and was trapped in the Phantom Zone, where General Zod and others tortured him. When he finally got out, he was comatose for many years. When he came to, the brain damage changed him into an arrogant, aggressive and violent man, and that is when he became the most popular with fans of DC Comics because he was a Green Lantern with a hair trigger temper who often infuriated heroes like Superman and Batman. In the New 52, Gardner is still a Green Lantern.
Supergirl is a hard character to like. Very few people have every written her well. But there are two cases where she is amazing, and that is why she ranks so high. First, there is the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Honestly, Barry Allen giving up his life to save everyone is what is spoken of the most, but Supergirl's sacrifice in that fight is the death that meant the most and was the most emotional. It was Superman's cousin's finest moment. The next moments of greatness came from the pen of writer Sterling Gates who actually made Supergirl one of the most interesting characters in the DC Comics universe for the first time in over two decades. This started during the New Krypton storyline and Gates actually made Supergirl interesting all on her own, without having to bother with her just being the cousin of Superman.