Strange Brouhaha

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Superheroes at Topical Tuesday

Ahhhh, an excellent question for Topical Tuesday. Eliza asks...

Time for an amusing topic I think. So tell me, who do you consider to be the greatest superhero creation of all time? Does Spider Man fit rather nicely into your web? Is Superman just a man with his knickers on the outside and a penchant for tights?

I can't remember a time when I haven't been reading comics. I still read them to this day--all sorts of comics, from supers to indies to "American Splendor," which is really in a class all by itself. A lot of older comics readers, in order to maintain "street cred" with the indie world, have taken to dismissing superheroes in a variety of different ways, but not me.

It all comes down to storytelling. If you are a good storyteller, your comics will be good. If you are not a good storyteller, your comics will not be good. It doesn't matter if your story is about a guy in tights or an angst-ridden teenager.

Anyway, "the greatest superhero creation of all time" is an interesting label to hang on any hero, and an interesting topic to think about. As a matter of fact, in some sort of cosmic propinquity, I was thinking about it earlier this evening when I got home from work. Here are my thoughts on a couple of runners-up.

  • Cyclops from the X-Men. Cyclops was my favorite X-Man, hands down: always willing to do good for its own sake. He was a great leader, and was able to put his own feelings aside for the good of the team. Yes, he did leave the team after Jean died...but then we got Uncanny X-Men #144, which showed us exactly the kind of man Scott really was. (Hint: awesome.) I love Cyke...but all in all, probably too angsty and unpopular to really be the greatest.

  • Mark Waid's Captain America was awesome. His run on Cap redefined the character and was, for me, one of the watershed moments in comics history. Then Marvel pulled him from the title, and Cap started to suck again. Defining panel: Cap has jumped out of an airplane, with no parachute, to save Sharon Carter, who I think is strapped into an ejection seat whose parachute has malfunctioned. As they're plummeting through the sky, she yells at him, "Are you CRAZY?" He says, "No. Just loyal." I loved Waid's Cap, but I don't think that one year on a character can't qualify that character for greatest of all time.

  • Rorschach from Watchmen. Hey, it said "greatest creation," not "greatest hero." Nutbar little shrimpy Rorschach, with his ever-changing mask and utterly psychopathic willingness to destroy his enemies, is for me the most compelling part of Watchmen. I bet he was for Alan Moore, too; Rorschach really drives the entire story. Shoot, even straight-arrow Nite-Owl can't bring himself to cut the guy loose.

Those are the runners-up. For me, this question really only has one definitive answer.


With no superpowers except a keen intellect and a phenomenal will, Batman can stand toe-to-toe with the most extremely powerful individuals in comics. Think about it: a guy who can laugh off a bullet to the chest accepts the Bat as an equal. A woman whose strength is that of multiple GODS accepts the Bat as an equal. Heroes whose powers derive from sources magical, cosmic, or divine accept the Bat as an equal...

...or even as a superior. There was a time, and I don't know if this is true now, when a Superman-level threat was considered no big deal. But if the bad guys take out Batman, then we start worrying. There was a time, and I don't know if this is true now, when you could play the "who wins?" game and be utterly certain that if Batman was one of the choices, he would ALWAYS be the right choice. (Batman vs. Superman? Batman wins. Batman vs. The Hulk? Batman. Batman vs. God? I'll put two-to-one on the Bat.)

Driven, dedicated, doing the right thing at any cost, Batman is easily the greatest superhero creation ever.


  • It's been intimated in a number of stories that Superman is immortal. That trumps everything as far as I'm concerned.

    By Anonymous FrankieCrisp, at 2:10 PM  

  • I will agree with frankiecrisp but I do get a kick out of the whole Batman & Robin jokes. :)

    By Anonymous Colin Brooks, at 3:14 PM  

  • So are you excited or worried about the Watchmen movie?

    By Anonymous Josh, at 3:01 PM  

  • Worried. The story is so deep that they'll be forced to cut a bunch of stuff, and it worries me that they'll turn it into a standard punch-fest.

    With nipples in the Owl-suit. :)

    By Blogger Robert, at 6:08 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home