Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ben's Top Ten Super Heroes of the 90's pt. 1

They say you can tell a lot about a person from the stuff they liked as a kid, don't they? If they don't I just did, and I'm sticking by it. Since I'm a comic book fan/professional/commentator, it stands to reason you'd be interested in who my favorite characters were when I was growing up, right?

Don't answer that.

Since I grew up in the 90's (well I guess technically I grew up in the 80's, but I grew up in comics in the 90's, if that makes sense), possibly the weirdest and wildest comic book decade of them all, and I was primarily a super hero reader, I read a pretty wide range of stuff and enjoyed a fairly eclectic crew of characters. I've narrowed my favorite down to a top ten and you may be surprised by who they are...or you may not be. Let's find out!

10. Live Wire
You'll see the start of a pattern here real quick as my favorite characters tended to be the brash loudmouth male heroes who also had a romantic streak. I was a bit of a sarcastic punk as a kid (fortunately I've grown up into a suave, sophisticate gentleman), so there was an appeal to these guys who acted a bit like me but were considered heroes and (of course) got the girl. Live Wire fit the bill and I got huge into the two Legion books after they rebooted with Zero Hour, so I took to him. He also had electricity powers, which, aside from super speed, may be my favorite (clearly I dig the lightning bolt motif).

9. Iron Man
I had been a fan of the design of Iron Man from a visual standpoint since I was too young to really read as I noted here. The 90's were a pretty wretched time creatively speaking for Iron Man, but I was buying pretty much everything Marvel put out anyways, and I still dug the armor (and I kinda liked the "Crash and Burn" storyline from around issue #300 where a bunch of random guest stars like Deathlok and Venom thought Stark Enterprises had gone corrupt). Even though the stories weren't the best, I liked the trappings of a rich guy who was tortured by the demons of success and fought to be a better man than he seemed to be; I always preferred Tony Stark to Bruce Wayne as my fictional billionaire of choice.

8. Namorita
Yeah, I was a pre-teenage boy and I thought a two-dimensional stacked blond in a green bikini was hot--sue me. Namorita was totally the comic book crush du jour of my childhood and her flirty relationship with Nova was just another reason I thought he was awesome. However, I also liked Nita because she was a strong female character and not just another tabula rasa who filled the chick quotient on the team. She led the New Warriors for a period and was actually pretty terrible at it, but that just intrigued me further, as it was her headstrong nature that made her fail and I liked that Fabian Nicieza didn't feel the need to idealize her.

7. Iceman
The X-Men were my primo comic drug of choice growing up and I liked pretty much all of them in some quirky way (except for Archangel; never took to him for whatever reason), but I needed to have a favorite, and Iceman was it. Age was a big factor, as I always pictured the X-Men as being at the youngest in their late 20's (amazing how old that seemed to me at the time), but figured Bobby Drake was somewhere in the neighborhood of 22, so I felt like he was more relatable. Another part, again, was the visual; Iceman had a very unique, very sleek look and I was a kid very into aesthetics. Also, great powers (that to this day have never been fully explored). Of course the wit and attitude helped, as always, but probably the biggest reason I went with Iceman over Wolverine or Gambit was simply because he was nobody else's favorite; I always liked feeling like I had some sort of propietary ownership of my favorite characters.

6. Robin
Tim Drake definitely did not fit my typical wiseass mold, but it was like you always have that one friend who is nothing like the rest of your group, and that's why he fascinates you. In fact, I can't think of many characters who were less like my idealized version of myself, but ironically more like my real self than Robin. All the things that were thought of way back in the Golden Age when the original Robin was created to attract younger readers definitely worked in hooking me, from the fact that he got to live out that most childlike of fantasies of getting the slickest dude in the world as a mentor to the bright contrast he brought to the dark world of Batman's Gotham City. However, I also liked that Tim got his edge more from being intelligent and resourceful than natural athletic skills. There was a great Zero Hour crossover issue where Tim meets a time-displaced Dick Grayson and is frustrated by how naturally he seemed to succeed at everything only to realize having to work at everything ultimately made him perhaps a better Robin; I dug that.

Next time: The guys you expect!


TJ said...

I still like that Iron Man armor. It feels newer to me than the ones he's been wearing lately. Plus, the Iron Man cartoon was rad. Force Works!

Ben Morse said...

For whatever reason, it always bothered me that that armor didn't have a mouth.

KP said...

I love Bobby Drake, which is weird because I can't ever recall him playing a major role in any X-Men story I've ever read outside that time he had to share his body with Emma Frost for some reason (and that wasn't very good from what I remember).

Also: I loved teenage Tony Stark for about five minutes until I realized it was Jimmy Cheung's art I dug so much and not the story.

My best guesses for who appears in part 2:

Nova (duh)
Marvel Boy
Wally West (super duh)
And you know what...I'ma go with Superboy

TJ said...

My guesses for the top 5:

Hal Jordan Green Lantern
Azrael Batman
Scarlet Spider

Ben Morse said...

TJ, you only know for sure that two of those characters won't be on the list. You're playing a dangerous game, my friend.

I'm curious to hear more guesses now.

Vincetastic said...

Hey Ben, this is a really great top ten list. Iceman is one of my favorite, I had almost every comic he appeared in, which wasn't that many, but I thought it was quite impressive. I can't wait to see Part 2. When you're done, you can post this to our site and then link back to your site. We are looking for top ten lists and our users can track back to your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

Corey said...

Nice call on Namorita!

She was one of my favorites, too. In addition to what you said, I also liked her activist spirit. Despite her sometimes cynical sarcasm, she truly wanted to change the world.