This morning’s post focuses on DC heroes who made their first appearance in October. I’m afraid it’s not a very inspiring assemblage:
Starman (Will Payton): DC’s fourth Starman was a Roger Stern creation of the late Eighties- but I think the mullet rather gives that away. This Starman was another vanilla hero with a variety of derivative powers and a bland Everyman personality. While he may have been DC’s answer to Nova, Payton also shared many of the qualities of Stern’s Monica Rambeau. JLA membership would have been inevitable had the Satellite Era continued.
As it was, Payton turned down the Bwahaha League. The comic had a reasonable lifespan even after Stern moved on. I prefer Starman’s garish original costume to the more dramatic one he wore latterly.
Azrael: DC’s answer to Moon Knight, an assassin and religious fanatic. Azrael became the Extreme!!! version of the Batman in the interminable Knightfall story arc (which also introduced a panting public to eeeevil luchador Bane) . Azrael is the quintessential Nineties antihero. Not my taste at all.
This Azrael was no relation to the angelic, winged alien of the mid-80s New Teen Titans. That Silver Surfer rip-off with his tears and Pre-Raphaelite hair has to be one of the biggest sissies in comics.
Connor Hawke: a spiritual zen archer and the mixed-race son of Oliver Queen. There seems to have been a lot of speculation that the 90s Green Arrow was gay. Alan Scott and Kate Kane didn’t cause the world to end but it might have been a rather predictable revelation, given his father’s characterisation. I quite liked this legacy hero but the New 52 made him redundant.
Teen Titans 1996: Dan Jurgens (inked by George Perez) was tasked with the revival of the Titans franchise with an all-new line-up. This group were the scions of an alien race and the comic was filled with the silly utilitarian names that were popular then: Risk, Fringe, Prysm, Omen, Pylon, Pencil, Velour, Object. (Only some of these are fake.) The comic ran for two years; a de-aged Atom and Captain Marvel Jr. became Titans. It was pretty but pretty dull.
One Titan, the pampered senator’s daughter Argent survived to the next iteration of the group. Interestingly, the black kid originally called Slagger had to change his name to Hotspot since his interim i.d. Joto is a homophobic Spanish insult.
Harley Quinn: originally developed for tv animation- the ground-breaking Dini/Timm Batman series- this obsessive and disturbed consort to the Joker is a remarkably dark creation. An Arkham psychiatrist who was seduced by the Crown Prince of Crime, there is a startling juxtaposition of her jester image and the themes of manipulation and insanity. Unusually for such a quirky tv character, Harley was folded into the Bat-mythos, probably on the strength of her playful if often violent demeanour. She is a more sinister version of Green Lantern‘s “loving enemy” from the Forties.
Not gratuitous in ANY way
Manhunter: I know only a little about this heroine but I am aware she survived cancellation for a long time , thanks to a faithful fan-following and gay-friendly characters. Kate Spencer was a single mother and a District Attorney using weapons confiscated from various other heroes and villains – a gimmick originally used by minor 90s X-foe, the X-Cutioner. She sounds like a grim and fun-free heroine but oddly enough, one very suited to the sombre New 52.
There was another female Manhunter in the Secret Six, one of the Tangent titles of 1997. She was a typical 90s masked assassin with a robotic dog, which made her considerably less “Extreme!!!”
That’s it for October. Coming soon: more Treasury Editions.
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