Every week in 2018, the plan is that my friend Rod is going to ask me some geeky question that will answer in a post. This week is Week #21, and following on last week’s question, is…
Who are five comic book heroes that I don’t like and why?
So this is similar to the post about comic book creators I wrote about a while ago, except that overall there’s less to say about each one.
Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond / Martin Stein, and others)
Created by Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom
First Appearance: Firestorm, the Nuclear Man – March 1978
I’ve never been a big fan of Firestorm, I’m not really sure why. I think the concept is interesting–two people fused together by a strange atomic accident. The power set is cool–atomic transmutation (none of this weakling version who appeared on Legends of Tomorrow who could barely shoot a fireball) And the visual look is distinctive–a guy with fire coming out of his head.
Still, the whole thing never really gelled for me, even though I really enjoyed other books by creator Gerry Conway at the time, in particular his Justice League of America (where Firestorm served as the joking new guy). Maybe if he’d featured in Grant Morrison’s JLA, and had inherited the general awesomeness inherent in everyone in that series, I would have been won over. But as it is the attempts to make him a distinct personality–the more light-hearted guy who likes to joke around–just never engaged me, and in the end I can do without the character and I’d not really miss him.
Hawkman (Carter Hall / Katar Hol)
Created by Gardner Fox & Dennis Neville – January 1940
First Appearance: Flash Comics – January 1940
There are lots of different versions of Hawkman out there, but really I could be talking about any of them. The main ones were the golden-age, reincarnated Egyptian prince who was also known as Carter Hall and the silver-age space-faring alien police officer known as Katar Hol (but who called himself Carter Hall on earth), and neither of them appealed to me. And the versions since have generally been amalgamations of these previous two.
My main exposure to Hawkman comes from old Justice League comics, where he was the resident alien stick-in-the-mud. I mostly found his presence kind of annoying, and saw his funny bird-head costume as more off-putting than cool. And now, it’s hard to imagine what the character adds to DC’s major-player line-up that we don’t have elsewhere: the space-cop is Green Lantern, the alien is better found in Martian Manhunter, the flying thing is found in Superman, and so on. And so it’s no surprise that DC has focused more on the reincarnated Egyptian prince version in recent years, but even with that his major contribution is that he’s an awesome hand-to-hand warrior using old-style weapons…a role that Wonder Woman has managed to lock herself into in recent years.
Having said all that, I kind of liked Hawkman during the brief period that I read of John Ostrander’s run on the character, back when the book was called Hawkworld, and I liked the animated version of Hawkgirl who was one of the major players of the animated Justice League.
Namor, the Sub-Mariner
Created by Bill Everett
First Appearance: Motion Picture Funnies Weekly – April 1939
Let’s jump over to Marvel for character I’ve never liked, the self-righteous, self-important Sub-Mariner. The general deal with Namor is to keep him unique amongst Marvel’s bigwigs by having him really only are about his aquatic people, meaning that he is as often a villain as he is a hero, depending on what’s going on. I admit that’s potentially interesting, but it’s not enough to make me actually like the character. I don’t read nearly as much Marvel as I do DC but I never look forward to Namor playing a role in things. His visual look is generally unappealing to me as well, and the fact that he’s so often played up as being so ridiculously strong just makes things worse.
Created by Jerry Ordway & Mike Manley
First Appearance: Power of Shazam Annual – 1996
I thought I’d include one Legion of Super-Heroes character here. Even though the title is my favorite comic book series, there are still plenty of things that didn’t do so well, and one of them is Thunder.
The problem with Thunder, really, is not so much the character herself–a cheerfully optimistic future member of the Captain Marvel (Shazam) family. The concept could have worked, I supposed, even as XS was successful as a future member of the Flash family. The real problem comes with the context in which she joined the Legion.
The Reboot, as it is generally known, is a period of Legion history from about 1994 to 2006, when DC decided it was time to do a full restart on their Legion concept, reimagining them as teenagers at the start of their heroic careers, and allowing that to develop naturally, often revisiting key storybeats from the past but not being locked into them. It started off very strongly with a writing team of Mark Waid, Tom McCraw and Tom Peyer. Mark Waid left after a year and Roger Stern was brought in to keep the team sizable and strong. I like Roger Stern but somehow the stories that came out after he came on board struggled to gel. There was good stuff from time to time but by and large it seemed like the team were not able to work effectively with the series’ large cast, with lots of characters being lost or underserved in the shuffle. Overall, ass it went along, stories became more listless, rarely drawing out the series’ heroes in a way that was genuinely engaging and satisfying.
And so at a time where we desperately needed to focus in our characters and tell tales that drew out their relevance, the creators decided they needed to spend a bunch of time introducing Thunder, attempting, I suppose, to “breathe new life” into the series. The result, though, was to add another hero to a cast that seemed overwhelming, not to the readers but to the writers, giving even less time to the figures that I was actually coming back tot he book to read. In a nutshell, she was a very unwelcome addition, and the following creative team, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, must have thought so too because they wrote her out of the series early in their run with basically a silent page, in a move that none of the other heroes ever acknowledge. And yet, it still felt like one of the character’s best moments.
Created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein & John Romita Sr.
First Appearance: The Incredible Hulk – October 1974
There you go. I’ve said it. I don’t like Wolverine. I don’t like his attitude, I don’t like his arrogance, and (similar to Namor), I don’t like how powerful he is. I can see that that might seem inconsistent…after all, I just last week talked about how much I like Superman, and he’s way more powerful, isn’t he?
Well, not always, because Wolverine’s power, perhaps more than any other character, is directly related to his popularity. And for whatever reason, Wolverine is crazy popular–something about the amoral animalistic warrior with claws on his hands who can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ just resonates with modern readers. But not me. For me, it’s an irritating quality whose nigh-ubiquitous prominence leads to an overall dislike (even if I don’t mind Hugh Jackman’s performance in the role).