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Top 50 DC Characters #50-46

by  in Comic News Comment
Top 50 DC Characters #50-46

Here goes! The countdown begins….now!

50. The Huntress (Helena Rosa Bertinelli – 115 points, Helena Wayne – 29 points, they split 2 first place votes) – 144 points (2 first place votes)

The Huntress was created by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton and Bob Layton. She was the daughter of the Earth-2 Batman and the Earth-2 Catwoman, who had a child who, naturally enough, became a gifted athlete, and later a crimefighter (not to mention a lawyer) when her mother was killed by some bad guys.

The Huntress joined up with the Justice Society of America, but died during Crisis on Infinite Earths.

After Crisis, a new version of the Huntress was introduced, in a series by Joey Cavalieri and Joe Station, where we meet Helena Bertinelli, the daughter of a mafia crime boss, who was murdered along with Helena’s mother when Helena was a child.

She vowed revenge, and when she grown up (and a schoolteacher), she began taking her revenge.

She worked in New York City for awhile (and even was a member of the Justice League for a little bit!) before moving to Gotham City, where she took up her war on crime once again, putting her into conflict, though, with the Batman. The two had an uneasy relationship, with Batman never really giving her his blessing, even as he eventually sponsored her for membership in a newer incarnation of the Justice League (which he withdrew when she almost killed the villain, Prometheus).

Huntress eventually became an operative of Oracle, becoming one of her “Birds of Prey,” which is where she currently appears.

Here is what Andrew Collins (who her #1 on his ballot) has to say about her:

How could I not love the kickass offspring of Batman and Catwoman? Growing up, I loved her adventures in the pages of Wonder Woman, thanks mostly to her intriguing back story and fantastic costume design. The modern redo of her origin takes away that special element of who her parents were, but I feel like she has remained a compelling character thanks to the work of writers like Greg Rucka and Gail Simone. Her costumes and designs have gotten even better over the years, too.

Thanks, Andrew!

49. Mister Miracle (Scott Free) – 147 points

Mister Miracle was a creation of Jack Kirby, as part of his Fourth World line of comic books.

Scott Free was the son of Highfather, the leader of New Genesis, but as a part of a truce, was swapped with the son of evil Darkseid, leader of Apokolips. Scott grew up on the wretched planet, Apokolips, with his heritage unknown to him. He eventually grew to despise Darkseid, and began to rebel against the tyrant’s regime (it was here that he met his future bride, Big Barda).

Free escaped to Earth (which nullified the truce, just as Darkseid had planned it all along), where he apprenticed to an escape artist named Mister Miracle (Thaddeus Brown). Brown was murdered, leaving Scott to take up the name and the costume (although refitted with technology from New Genesis).

Eventually, Barda escaped as well, and the two were married.

Scott was a member of the Justice League for a number of years, and became a world-famous escape artist.

Since then, Scott has basically just been living married life on Earth with his bride, Barda, who has been working as a “Bird of Prey” for Oracle.

Here is what Luke Z. had to say about Scott Free (Luke had Scott second on his list, Scott’s highest placing):

The first time I ever heard of Mr. Miracle was when I saw his action figure in the Super Powers toy line in the ’80s. They had little bios of the characters on the back of the packages, and when I saw that his power was that he was the world’s greatest escape artist, I just thought it was so cool. I think it was the first time I’d seen a superhero character whose unique abilities were non-combat-based, and from then on whenever I made up my own characters, there would always be one who was more useful out of a fight than in, so I’ll always have a soft spot for him for getting my young imagination going in my formative years. Plus, if Batman was the hero that showed kids that you didn’t have to have powers to be a hero, Mr. Miracle was the one that showed us that you didn’t have to be filthy rich and able to kick everyone’s butt either – just find the one thing you’re really good at and you too can be a superhero!

The next time I saw him was on the Giffen-DeMattheis Justice League – the first DC comic I ever followed regularly after being a Marvel fan for a few years – where he was always portrayed as being such a nice guy that he and the Martian Manhunter were the only members of the team that everyone else always got along with. The great thing about him was that he was probably the most hopeful character in comics – he had an origin every bit as grim as Batman or Wolverine, but he turned out as the nicest guy you could ever meet. Even being raised by Darkseid couldn’t beat him down, and he so longed for freedom that he learned to escape from literally anything. Properly written, Scott Free is like hope given concrete form.

All that is enough to make me like him a lot, but there’s also that fact that he’s the only hero I can think of off the top of my head who’s both stayed happily married for the entire time I’ve known him but had a wife who was actually the more powerful of the pair. Scott and Barda Free are like Ralph and Sue Dibny if Sue could beat Ralph in a fight, or Reed and Sue Richards if they
weren’t constantly breaking up and getting back together. It may sound weird, but, to me, it makes him seem more mature and secure in his own self-worth that he married a woman who’s his equal (in and many ways his superior).

Thanks, Luke!

48. The Spectre (Jim Corrigan) – 149 points (1 first place vote)

Jim Corrigan, the Spectre, first appeared in More Fun Comics #51, created by created by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily.

Corrigan was a cop who was murdered, then refused entry into heaven, and instead became the host body for the Spirit of Vengeance, the Spectre.

The Spectre is essentially a super-powerful ghost who gets vengeance upon bad guys.

Corrigan was the host for the Spectre for decades, until in the last issue of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake’s acclaimed 1990s series, The Spectre, Corrigan was finally admitted into heaven.

The current host for the Spectre is Crispus Allen, a murdered Gotham City cop.

I asked my pal, Kristen, why she had Spectre as her favorite character. Here is what she had to say:

My two favourite types of comic characters are mystical and vigilantes. Spectre is both. He also gives writers an opportunity for some pretty in-depth ideas about right and wrong, good and evil, responsibility for your actions, appropriate punishments, etc. You then have the classic 30s noir flawed hero in Corrigan. Finally, the Ostrander/Mandrake run (although I already liked the character) was just stunningly good.

Thanks, Kristen!

47. The Elongated Man (Ralph Dibny) (16 points for Ralph and Sue as a couple) – 153 points (1 first place vote)

Here is our own Bill Reed, from his 200th Reason to Love Comics, which was the Elongated Man (Bill was also responsible for Ralph’s first place vote):

Ralph Dibny, the World Famous Elongated Man, first appeared in Flash #112 from May, 1960. Yep, he’s been around for 47 years. He is older than Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four and older than Spider-Man. He’s been around a while. His origin is thus: fascinated by contortionists, Ralph tracks down their secret- they all drink Gingold soda. Ralph scrounges up the rare Gingo fruit and makes his own super-extract. As these comic things tend to go, he was gifted with super-stretching abilities! Naturally, it led him to a career as a superhero, which was a perfect fit with his astonishing detective skills. Yes, Ralph is considered one of the DCU’s greatest detectives, after Batman, and can literally smell a mystery- his nose twitches at even the slightest hint of something sleuthable. In the original story, he was a rival for the Flash, but they became fast friends (no pun intended. Well, maybe a little) and teamed up on numerous occasions afterward, before Ralph graduated to his own solo back-up series in Detective Comics.

Except, by that time- in fact, by his second appearance- he wasn’t flying solo. Nope, Ralph was married to Sue Dibny, nee Dearbon, a wealthy socialite who allowed herself to be swept off her feet by the kooky Ralph. She was sharp as a tack, smarter than she let on, and easily Ralph’s equal in terms of wits and banter. They were a bit like Blondie and Dagwood and a lot like Nick and Nora Charles, the famous detecting couple from the Thin Man novel and films. Thin Man, Elongated Man… see? It was brilliant. Ralph and Sue became comics’ finest couple, proving that marriage could be cool and that love conquered all.

I’ve been a fan of Elongated Man for a long time, and was never quite sure why. But I know now, of course, and it’s quite simple: he was an optimist. Solving mysteries were fun for him, he had cool stretchy powers, and he was married to the best woman in the world. Ralph and Sue were the best hero team in the DC Universe, and I can’t wait to see them again. The future holds infinite potential.

Thanks, Bill!

46. Ambush Bug – 157 points (5 first place votes)

Irwin Schwab, Ambush Bug, was first created by Keith Giffen as the foil for Superman in an issue of DC Comics Presents.

Schwab had a suit where he could teleport to various places where he had “bugs” placed, and he was a minor nuisance. He showed up a few more times, and soon became a popular character.

Giffen then had him become strictly a nuisance, and no longer a villain, and he eventually was considered popular enough to be given a mini-series, which was a huge hit.

Giffen used the character to basically make fun of comics as a whole, as the character was aware of his being a fictional character.

Ambush Bug had a number of mini-series and one-shots, but has not been seen much since 1992’s “Nothing Special.”

Here is why Sam Hurwitt had Ambush Bug #1 on his list…

With no disrespect intended to She-Hulk or Animal Man, Giffen & Fleming’s Ambush Bug is one of the few instances where breaking the Fourth Wall really works. Because he’s like a Warner Bros. cartoon popping around the DC Universe (and completely bonkers), it seems perfectly consistent for the Bug to run around parodying comic-book cliches — and it certainly helps that the writing was always funny as hell. I’m not sure I’d ever want any other writers bringing him back, but it does my heard good to know that Ambush Bug’s still somewhere out there in the DCU and hasn’t yet been eviscerated by Hoppy the Marvel Bunny.or something.

Thanks, Sam!

That’s it for today!

Check back tomorrow for #45-41!!

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