Monday, August 22, 2011
Top 10: DC Comics' Characters
The DC Universe completely reboots come August 31st, with Justice League #1 ushering in a total of 52 New Number One Issues! DC is hoping to reinvigorate their line of comics by taking many of their heroes back to the beginning, changing a few things about their stories, while keeping certain things the same. The events of the past few years, like Bruce Wayne's death still happened, same goes with Superman's death, but Superman and Lois are not going to be married anymore come the reboot in September (which I'm not sure how I feel about, but we'll see). Whether or not this massive, Universe wide reboot does the trick for some of DC's more struggling books, I don't know, but as a comic book fan this is one of the more intriguing things I've ever experienced, and a portion of me is excited, so I decided to do this list of my 10 Favorite Characters in DC Comics. From villains, to supporting players, all the way to the heroes themselves, these are my favorites. As it is, there is a ton of favoritism from my favorite books here, with Batman heavily represented here, same for Superman, but hey, I'm a fanboy. Without any further ado, let's go:
10. Ra's Al Ghul
The Demon's Head as he is known, Ra's Al Ghul is what Bruce Wayne would become if he ever completely fell into the abyss. Ra's is a smart detective, like Batman, who believes in saving the world from criminality and evil, however what makes Ra's a villain is that his methods are more extreme than Batman. Ra's leads his clan of ninja assassins (The League of Shadows) to perform acts of eco-terrorism, feeling that the only way to combat evil is just to start humanity back over from scratch. This is what makes Ra's so dangerous and one of Batman's finer enemies. He's as as smart as Bruce, as good of a fighter, and did I mention that he cannot die as long as he takes a dip in a Lazarus Pit (a rejuvenation chamber), making Ra's immortal.
9. Kyle Rayner
Hal Jordan is the most celebrated Green Lantern, but Kyle Rayner is my personal favorite, partly because Kyle was the Green Lantern in the comics as I grew up, but also because of his character's selflessness and compassion. An artist, who uses the purity of himself to create immaculate constructs that are pure extensions of his imagination, Kyle got the last Green Lantern power ring in the universe, and when he first took up the mantle of Green Lantern, the Corps. was no more (destroyed by Parallax). Unlike the GLs of the past, Kyle was not traversing space and time, he was simply dealing with crime and villainy on Earth. Kyle was a more stripped down take on Green Lantern when he first entered the comics, which also makes him the most humanized take still to date. While he eventually joins the Corps. when Hal Jordan returns and rebuilds Oa, there is still a soft spot for Kyle Rayner, as you can see in such event comics like "Rebirth" and "Blackest Night," and it's the simplicity and straight forward nature of his character that I love so much.
8. Lex Luthor
Clark Kent's best friend he ever knew became his ultimate enemy. That is what makes Lex Luthor the most emotionally complex villain in the DC Universe. Lex is not a mad man, not a psychopath in the sense of the Joker, he is a slick businessman with a brotherly hatred of Superman, always wanting to prove to everyone that he is better than the favored Son of Metropolis. What makes the battles between Lex and Superman so engaging, is knowing that the two both came from Smallville, were best friends, and now mortal enemies, taking their battles from simple brawls and mind games to an elevated form of tragedy.
7. Dick Grayson
Dick Grayson is by far one of the best characters DC has to offer. As he grew from the Boy Wonder to the Teen Wonder, readers saw how, even though he shared similar origins to Bruce, he had a more positive outlook on life. Dick is not afraid to hope, and that is what makes him such a dynamic character. When he became an adult, he stepped out from Bruce's shadow and became Nightwing, but Dick still maintained the similarities to Batman, hiding in the shadows to fight crime, but cracking jokes like Spider-man. Then, when Bruce Wayne died, Dick took on the cape and cowl and became Batman himself, presenting a Batman that was not Nightwing nor Bruce's Batman, but a Batman his own. The thing is, Dick is not brooding, he doesn't fight crime because he needs to avenge his parent's murders, like Bruce, Dicks fights crime because he thinks it is the right thing to do. This is why I think it is an utter shame Dick is being demoted come September from Batman back to Nightwing. While I will still read, these past two years with Dick in the cape and cowl has been some of the best Batman stories I've ever read, and I will miss it.
6. Lois Lane
If you think Lois Lane is simply Superman's gal pal, stop reading this now and pick up a good Superman comic to learn otherwise. Lois is an integral character to the overall fabric of Superman. She is not just the Damsel in Distress, but the anchor for Superman's humanity. Lois believes in Superman, she doesn't simply romanticize him and change her mind when Superman fails, no, Lois deep down believes in Superman's pursuit of Truth, Justice, and the American Way (after all, that is what Lois pursues as a reporter). I think it is this idea that makes Lois so endearing.
5. Commissioner James Gordon
Commissioner Gordon is the one character aside from Bruce Wayne himself that has appeared in Batman comics since Batman's first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. The one good cop in a city of slimy, double crossing coppers. Commissioner Gordon is Batman's loyal confidant on the Gotham City Police Force, often having to meet with Batman in secret and look the other way at Batman's acts. Not only this, but Gordon is a character who is as richly textured as any regular American guy. He is not perfect at his job, or at being a family man. He often botches cases, he cheats on his wife, and even ignores his son for nearly half of his life as his son lives in Chicago with his mom. Even through all of his personal struggles, Gordon is a model of how the good man must continue to always try and bounce back and rectify past mistakes, while still believing in the good of humanity. Add on top of that, the surrogate father connection that Bruce feels with Gordon, and you have one heck of a character.
4. Alfred Pennyworth
Anyone who knows anything about Batman, know a little something about his faithful butler, Alfred. Alfred is Bruce Wayne's trusted assistant. Bruce doesn't see Alfred as a servant, but a member of his family, like an Uncle or surrogate father (similar to Gordon), seeing as how Alfred essentially raised Bruce. Alfred is that guiding light for Bruce, whenever things get too dark, Alfred must always bring Bruce back from the edge. This is what makes Alfred so special, not to mention the fact that Alfred can also be a pretty cool man of action himself, having ties to British secret service and other such great exploits in his past before he became the Wayne family butler. There is no Batman without Alfred.
3. The Joker
Alias unknown, there is no official origin story for the Joker, which is why I think he is the best comic book villain of all-time. It's that mystique of the character: Who is he? Where does he come from? What is underneath that make-up? This is what drives us readers to continue reading tales of one of the most sadistically enjoyable psychopaths to read. The Joker, written through a clever blend of creepiness and dark humor, is one of the few characters in the history of storytelling that can make you laugh while squirming in your seat. A true feat of the imagination, the Joker deserves his slot as Batman's archnemesis.
2. Bruce Wayne
Parents gun downed before his child eyes, Bruce made a vow on his parent's grave to avenge their murders. The billionaire traveled the world, becoming the World's Greatest Detective, and a master of nearly every form of martial arts, to become the source of his own fear, Batman, stalking the cowardly and superstitious lot known as criminals. What more does one need to know. Bruce is always haunted by the guilt of his past, a character who often focuses so much on what needs to be done, that he forgoes his own identity to fully become the Batman. Even still, Bruce is a man that loves and cares deeply, as is seen in his constant desire to grow his own family. Alfred, Dick, Tim Drake, Damian Wayne, Barbara Gordon, Bruce has crafted a family of adopted sons and daughters (one biological) and a surrogate father. Bruce is a passionate man who believes in doing what's right, even if that means breaking the law to do so, and that is what makes him so engaging as a character. Now if anyone can figure out how a man like this and Superman are best friends, you get a cookie?
1. Clark Kent
The ultimate American immigrant. Rocketed to Earth from the impending destruction of his home planet of Krypton, Clark was raised by Kansas farmers, instilled with Midwestern values, and grew up to protect humanity as Superman, the Man of Steel. Superman is strong, fast, and nigh invulnerable, but it's the character beneath all of that brawn that makes Clark Kent so engaging. He is a pure hearted man who believes in fighting for what's right, in his case: Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Even so, Clark Kent also feels alienated on Earth, away from his true people. Superman is an ideal of what every person should be and could be. He is the American ideal. What we wish America was like. He is not a poster board figure for America, but rather the symbol as to the greatness that humanity can reach and aspire to, which is why so many people still, to this day, immigrate to the United States. If everyone was a little more like Clark Kent, the world would be a better place, but then again, there would be no need for superheroes if we were all that fantastic.