This morning’s post returns to DC comics for super-heroes who first appeared in November:
Vigilante: I have given Marv Wolfman a bashing in my blogs before; here we go again. The second version of Vigilante was introduced in New Teen Titans and is, essentially, a Punisher clone.
Part of DC’s response to the “grim and gritty” era ushered in by Frank Miller’s Daredevil and Wolverine, DA Adrian Chase was an amoral character revenging himself on mobsters. Guilt and paranoia, however, led to Chase’s suicide. Comics!
A female Vigilante was involved romantically with Wolfman’s Deathstroke and a third – the brother of Adrian Chase- did horrible things to nutty Titan Jericho.
True story: I once harangued Alan Moore to his wizardly face for writing such a morally-reprehensible character. However, I was a twenty-something.
Looker: a generally-reviled heroine from the 80s, Looker debuted in Batman and the Outsiders. She was the centre of an Ugly Duckling storyline which drew upon She and Doc Savage. With telepathic and hypnotic powers, Emily Briggs was a free-spirited and self-centred character who caused modish tensions in a rather “vanilla” team book.
In the 90s, this scion of a lost race- turned – supermodel succumbed to the vampire curse. Comics! Despite the revulsion inspired by her original costume, Looker is still around today; given a rather Sixties-inspired look, she’s had cameos in Batman Inc. as his undercover agent. The vampire iteration of Looker also appeared in a one-shot comic in August 2012.
5YL Legion: the late-80s Giffen/Bierbaum version of the Legion of Super-Heroes owes much to two products earlier in the decade. Firstly, the Crisis which, in revamping or deleting Superman, Superboy and Supergirl, unpicked the original history of the LSH. Secondly, The Big Chill, a movie that contrasted adolescent idealism with adult priorities.
These elements forged a mature Legion, pitted against implacable political and social forces in a dystopian 30th century, five years after a (literally) magical event cause technology to collapse.
On some levels, it was painful to see childhood favourites traumatised, maimed or killed. Yet, despite the fashionable darkness, there were positive themes of family and friendship. However, the sophisticated storytelling approach was hampered by attempts to consolidate a workable history without the Kryptonians. Two tamperings with time within the narrative made the book very hard to follow and, arguably, to invest in.
New characters introduced to the team included Celeste, a poor little rich girl turned private eye, imbued with Green Lantern powers; her partner Bounty ( the secret i.d. of the tracker Dawnstar); Devlin O’Ryan, a reporter who might have become Reflecto; Kono, a pirate urchin with powers recalling Kitty Pryde; Furball, a mutated Timber Wolf; and Kent Shakespeare, a medic and proxy for Clark Kent.
The 5YL character with the most lasting impact was probably Laurel Gand. A blend of Supergirl, Power Girl and Superboy’s spurious descendant, Laurel Kent, the statuesque Andromeda represented a trope new to the Legion: the tough Amazonian broad. However, comics seems to find such heroines emasculating so by the late 90s. Laurel was a xenophobic space nun.
Get an ‘aircut, Geo-Force!
Faust, Technocrat & Wylde: When the Outsiders went Extreeeme!! in the 90s, three new members were added to replace Halo, Black Lightning and Metamorpho.
Faust is the offspring of antique JLA baddie Felix Faust and a maladjusted young sorcerer. Technocrat was a black Tony Stark and Wylde was his Happy Hogan: a pulpish chauffeur/bodyguard-but also a magically merged werebear. Dear God. This was a depressing period for a comic which had been a pleasure in the 80s. Faust is still a minor nuisance in DC comics but those other guys haven’t been heard from in a while.
Tempest: formerly Aquaman‘s frog-faced sidekick, Aqualad, whiny Garth grew out his 80s perm in the Nineties and acquired some “wicked cool” tribal markings. Under the auspices of Perez- fan Phil Jimenez, he also gained magical powers to control water temperature; a version of Aquaman’s 80s camo suit; and the i.d. of a murdered Doom Patroller. A D-list undersea magic-user, Tempest was killed off in DC’s zombie apocalypse Blackest Night.
Hawk and Dove: Mike Baron’s late-90s version of Ditko’s battling duo. This time, the girl is the angry, violent one, while the boy is a slacker dude (shades of Rico Richards!) They made a handful of appearances then flapped off into oblivion.
Coming soon: More Marvel Treasury Editions!
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