I read a list recently of the ten greatest superhero characters of all time in Marvel and DC Comics. I had some major issues with this particular list, well two really major issues. First, I don’t like trying to compare Marvel and DC Comics and including both in the same top ten list just seems impossible and weird in my mind. In a lot of ways, it really is like comparing apples and oranges. My other major issue was where the ranked some of the characters. In particular, I did not like where they had Superman ranked. He clocked in at number seven, simply because the person writing the piece does not like Superman. I get that, but he deserves a higher spot than seven simply because he’s kind of the original superhero. He deserves higher than seven. I get that these kinds of writings are all subjective, but I think most would agree that seven for Superman is too low. So, I decided to remedy this list by putting together my own TWO lists, one for Marvel and one for DC Comics. We will start with DC Comics this month since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens in just over a week. Next month I will publish my Marvel list. So, here we go:
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone. This is the holiday if you like the color green. You will see it everywhere today, of course, from shirts to tie to hats to a river, if you happen to be in Chicago. So, in honor of this annual obsession with green, I thought I would compile a list of 10 comic book characters who are famously green. It’s not a “top ten” where I am counting them down, but simply a list of 10 characters, in no particular order.
Brainiac is one of Superman’s big bad guys- right up there with Darkseid and Lex Luthor (who is obsessed with green too, but didn’t make the list). He is most commonly depicted with green skin, and an unpleasant demeanor. Not a happy way to start our list, but he is also not the last baddy on the list either.
The quirky, lovable shape shifter from the Teen Titans, both in comics and animated TV. What’s not to like about Beast Boy? I know I used to enjoy watching him on Teen Titans because he reminded me of myself as a teenager, and every other teenage boy I have ever met.
The stoic, ultra powerful psychic from the Justice League, the Martian Manhunter is a personal favorite of mine. I know, he fits the stereotypical picture of a martian with green skin tone, and that almost seems racist and unoriginal, but he is still pretty awesome. And, obviously, he was the World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion on Mars in his former life. I mean look at the guy’s outfit. It’s like he came straight from the ring.
Riddle me this: Who is the Bat Villain who is always dressed appropriately for St. Patrick’s Day? Easy, it’s the Riddler. He also wins the prize for being the character on this list that most resembles a leprechaun. Congratulations, Mr. Nigma.
The Swamp Thing
Made famous by Alan Moore, Swamp Thing has been around for a while. He may look like a creature from some black lagoon, but he is the good guy. I mean, as long as you’re not attacking nature. He first appeared in 1971, which makes sense, he seems to be a character that only makes sense in the 70s and 80s, but somehow he has endured all this time.
The original android (sorry Data). The Vision was created by Ultron to infiltrate the Avengers and get at Hank Pym, who created Ultron. Eventually, the Avengers turn Vision to their side, and he becomes a member of the team. Eventually he falls in love with Scarlet Witch, and they get married. How much of this will play out in the Age of Ultron movie? Probably just the Vision showing up, the rest will happen with time in the MCU. Unfortunately, Vision is dropping his green attire in favor of grey in the new movie.
Doctor Doom is one of the most feared villains in the Marvel Universe. He’s right up there with Thanos or Ultron or Galactus. One of the biggest tragedies with the whole split of Marvel characters amongst studios is that Doctor Doom is in with the Fantastic Four deal with Fox, and they have totally ruined him on film. I have always thought of him as the classic, essential Marvel Villain and would love to see him square off against the Avengers on the big screen someday.
What list of green comic book characters would be complete without everyone’s favorite giant green rage monster? He is a fan favorite for sure. He hasn’t always been green and there is now a red Hulk as well, but the most famous version of the Hulk is by far the green version. I can’t wait to see this guy smashing stuff up again on the big screen.
Green Lantern is probably the most well-known “green” superhero. There’s not just one green lantern, though. This is an intergalactic police force, each member wielding a ring that harnesses the green light of will power. With that ring they can form constructs out of the green light. The limit is only their imagination. Hal Jordan was the first in the DC universe to wield this power (I know Alan Scott was the first Green Lantern, but his was a different power), but he has been followed by Guy Gardner and Jon Stewart.
Green Arrow was originally conceived as an answer to Batman. He was wealthy, just like Batman, and he used that wealth to turn himself into the Green Arrow. He obviously may have been influenced a little bit by Robin Hood as well. Now, Oliver Queen exists in the same world as Batman. With the CW series Arrow, Green Arrow has never been more popular or more mainstream. And now he is on my list. Who knows how much that will boost his popularity. I mean, the sky’s the limit there.
Well, there you have it. My list of green comic book characters. What characters would you include in a list like this? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments. We love hearing from you.
One of the big, if not THE biggest, story lines of the Fall this year is the Death of Wolverine in Marvel Comics. The creators, artists, writers, everybody at Marvel are all saying that this is it for Logan. He is not coming back, his death will be final, no coming back. And everyone who has ever read a super hero death storyline just smiles when they hear Marvel say that, because we all know the truth. We are all sitting here, ready to call “BS” on Marvel. Yeah, right. If there is one thing death isn’t in the comics, it’s permanent, at least for heroes. As a side note, the lovely cover art you see above is a Salt Lake Comic Con exclusive cover for this issue. There will only be 3000 available, and they will only be available at Salt Lake Comic Con, if you’re interested.
Death is a funny thing in the comics. We all know that when a hero dies, it is only a matter of time. I remember being a young lad when Superman “died.” I was shocked. He was always my favorite, and I was shocked to see him go. I wondered what the world would be like without the Man of Steel in it. How would it go on? Even at the age of 10 or 11, I was intrigued to find out. DC did let this play out for a little while, but eventually, Big Blue was back, better than ever. And by eventually, I mean it was about a year. Of course, one of the huge benefits for DC was the number of issues they sold of the “Death of Superman.” This was a pivotal moment in comics. There had been deaths before. Some of the more impactful ones would be the death of The Flash, Barry Allen, the death of Robin, Jason Todd, and the death of Phoenix, Jean Grey. These each had been a big deal, and very meaningful in their respective series, and in the case of the Flash, to the whole DC Multiverse. Up to this point, though, by and large, the heroes had remained dead. We saw how the world moved on after each of these deaths. For example, Wally West stepped in to fill the shoes of the Flash, and became a very popular character in his own right.
Killing off Superman was a big deal, though. This would have greater ramifications than any other super hero would, and where would you find a replacement Superman? You couldn’t. DC tried with 4 different versions, and none of them would have worked out long-term. They knew the issue would be huge, and it was, but they also knew it would be huge when he came back. The Death and Return of Superman basically set up a model for super hero deaths that has been followed again and again. DC may be a slightly worse offender, but it is by a narrow margin. Since Superman died we have seen the death and return of Batman, the Green Lantern (Hal Jordan, a couple of times), and the return of Barry Allen and Jason Todd. Big Blue set the precedent. In Marvel, the biggest name to die and come back has been Captain America, not to mention Jean Grey who came back, and then died and came back and then died again (at least I think she is still dead), a trick she must have learned from Charles Xavier who has also died and returned multiple times. We have even seen the return of Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier. Bucky had been dead so long, that it even became a running joke that all the other heroes come back except Bucky.
Death just doesn’t have any permanence in the comic book world for heroes. This is actually kind of sad, and deprives the fan from a little bit of realism. I write that with a grain of salt, realizing that we are talking about comics, a world where there is not a lot of realism. Death happens in real life. Sometimes it happens to the good guys. In fact it happens a lot to the good guys. It would be nice to see a little bit of that in the comics. See how the world goes on with Batman or Superman. I was intrigued when Batman died a few years back. For the first time in a long time, I picked up a Batman issue (it’s true, I don’t read Batman, not at all. Ask my comic book guy, Greg, at Black Cat Comics, he’ll tell you). I bought it, because I was intrigued by the idea of Dick Grayson taking over for Bruce Wayne. It was a story line that had a lot of potential with time, but DC barely gave it a shot. Batman was back before we knew it. Bucky filled in for Cap, and it was interesting to read his adventures as Captain America, but soon enough Steve Rogers was back. I think comic book companies are really missing out on some great opportunities to tell some great stories and allowing us to get to know these characters in some new ways. But it never really happens. The hero never stays dead.
The strangest part is how pivotal death is to a lot of characters. Some characters are dead and have remained dead and never come back. Uncle Ben and the Waynes are the two best examples. Uncle Ben’s death was the most important event in the history of Spider-Man. Without that happening, Peter Parker would not be the hero he is. Period, end of story. The same thing for Bruce Wayne witnessing the death of his parents. These characters can never come back because that would change everything too much. The truth is, look at how much depth they have added to the characters they have affected. That is what a good death could do. It would add some depth to the characters that are left behind. IT would also leave the door open for some other characters to step up.
I don’t know if Wolverine is going to stay dead (doubt it), but I hope he does. His death would mean more if it was permanent. It might actually matter. Either way, Marvel will sell a ton of this series.