underappreciated superhero station: now with more Power Man!

superheros seem to be a fairly common topic around here (and by “here,” i mean “the internet”), but sadly, for every 1000 words describing how Glen Danzig should have played Wolverine in the movies (no) or just how dreamy Wolverine is generally (i mean, i guess he’s okay, but he’s still CANADIAN), there’s less than 1.5 words talking about the excellent of some of the more overlooked (as in, overlooked compared to Wolverine) heroes of my generation. i don’t know about the heroes of YOUR generation, because frankly, my generation is the best. go generation X! tell the “greatest generation” where to get off! feel entitled!

but ANYWAY, while i obviously have many comic book favorites who DO get press (Batman, Nightcrawler, the Punisher, Hellboy, maybe even Spawn), let’s take a moment to appreciate those that get less, shall we?

Image Comics alumni:

welcome to the world of AIDS patients crippling criminals and… uh…some confusing things that i think involved rabbits somehow.

everyone likes gritty superheros that have no superpowers, right? well, you claim to do so with Batman and the Punisher, and since i do so as well, i think we should all take a moment to celebrate Shadowhawk: he has AIDS (or had, since he died), there was a brief mystery as to his identity, and he broke criminals’ spines. true, many of his early comic book covers were the definition of 1990s cover ridicularity (though still actually awesome) and he did proceed a) get nicer, b) get weirder in terms of story line(s) and c) eventually die, but despite his short run and later appearance as a robot, he deserves a little love. this is an old Image book that i don’t feel ashamed about owning a batch of (and fuck you, i still treasure my Spawn collection).

the Maxx
so, i really can’t explain what the Maxx is about. i just don’t get it. and i bought and read this comic AND had all this shit explained to me afterwards… but i still don’t get it. it’s just that fucking crazy, and also, maybe awesome as well. it’s lavishly drawn, which makes sense in that it’s Sam Kieth’s labor of love (some of these guys really came to Image to do that kind of thing), and it’s also completely ridiculous … though not in the completely ridiculous way that Liefield draws women whose images have no proper relation to time, space or human anatomy. it even had an animated show, though this gets overshadowed by the animated Spawn program, which, in fairness, DID feature Keith David. i’m rambling but this comic was crazy awesome. the Maxx is apparently some massive homeless guy who may or may not be a rabbit (not) and who wails on random weird stuff. and i don’t even think he gets a lot of love in the comic, let ALONE from real people. damn.

Marvel Comics alumni:

basically, Luke Cage made the smartest superhero move of all time by getting rid of that old outfit (though the chain belt WAS kind of cool).

Luke Cage/Power Man (Carl Lucas)
okay, let’s forget all the “sweet Christmas” and the crazy 1970s afro: Luke Cage is awesome. sure, the name “Power Man” wasn’t exactly the baddest name around, but then again, it defies the “all black superheroes must have the word ‘Black’ as part of their alias” stereotype. and, hey, Luke Cage isn’t a great leap from Carl Lucas, but it still kicks as much ass as Luke Cage personally does. plus, while he beats ass, he has pretty reasonable powers (awesome strength and impregnable skin) and can fairly wear the title of “the world’s first and foremost black superhero of the seventies.” incidentally, i’d like that to be written on my tombstone, but i think i’m going to have to settle for “man’s best friend.” anyway, you can also get those sweet $12 Marvel Essentials books that give you a ton of old Power Man action. on the plus side, he’s getting a movie soon, so maybe he’ll get SOME appreciation, though you know how optimistic i am about comic book movies.

…i don’t have anyone else for Marvel. i blame all those X-Men and Spider-Man and Fantastic Four movies. though Captain America probably doesn’t get the love he deserves. do you think the A on his head stands for France?

DC Comics alumni:

the Manhunter from Mars takes no shit; Aquaman, on the other hand, may want to hold up a moment on that declaration of appreciation.

Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz)
so when we talk about our favorite DC superhero, while i love Batman to death, i always go with the Martian Manhunter, to which everyone says “who?” the fucking Martian Manhunter, that’s who! i first got some comics of his as a gift when i was small, and the whole concept of who this dude was confused me, so i get that you may be confused by him as well, so let me just tell you what J’onn can do: intangibility, invisibility, telepathy, shape-shifting, flight, “Martian vision” (a combination of heat and X-ray vision), super-strength, super-speed and super-stamina. exactly. who the fuck needs Superman when the Martian Manhunter is on board? i think his flaw is that he’s not very photogenic, but that’s where the shape-shifting comes in. hell, in the Liberty Files he was a more bad-ass version of Superman than Superman was in the same comics.

i feel bad for Aquaman. and not in the way that everyone does before they add “because he sucks,” because that’s just mean. hell, you don’t even have to try very hard to find panels where he’s getting insulted by the rest of his super “friends.” he even insults himself (see above). and there’s no one that gets constant re-workings of his image in his own comics to try and try to capture a serious new fanbase like Aquaman does. still, fuck the haters, that crazy orange scale shirt is awesome, as is the 1950s haircut. and also – and this is a tangent – some people seem to confuse him with the Submariner and think it’s “super nerdy” if you can tell them apart. idiots, don’t you want to know who you’re sassing?

so there you go. appreciate these comic book icons, mere humans! and please stop laughing at Aquaman. he has feelings too, you know.

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