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2019 Top DC Characters 45-41

After nearly 1,100 ballots were cast, YOU the reader ranked your favorite comic book characters from 1-10. I assigned point totals to each ranking and then tabulated it all into a Top 50 list. We're revealing that list throughout the rest of the month. The countdown continues now...

In the past, I've typically done sort of "biographies" for each of the characters on the list, but you know what, they're on the Top 100 DC and Marvel characters list, I think we should be working under the assumption that you all pretty much know the basic information about these characters. Instead, I'll just write about whatever interests me about the character in question, including a notable comic book moment featuring the character.

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45. Green Lantern (John Stewart) - 258 points (5 first place votes)

Introduced in the early 1970s (created by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams) as an alternate Green Lantern, John Stewart eventually took over the role full time for a while during the 1980s and even when Hal Jordan returned, John continued to be a major player in the Green Lantern comics. While, as noted, he was the lead Green Lantern for a little while during Steve Englehasrt's run on the series, Stewart's first solo book did not occur until the 1990s, when he starred in a book called Green Lantern: Mosaic, where John served as the main protector of a so-called "Mosaic" world made of various cities from around the universe. It was a nice, thoughtful approach to a character who had gone through a lot of turmoil in the late 1980s, from his wife being murdered in the launch of the Green Lantern feature in Action Comics Weekly to his arrogance being responsible for the death of a planet in Cosmic Odyssey (John dealing with the guilt of the planet that was destroyed was, like, his main character trait for YEARS). The comic spotlighted his role as an architect in a big way.

John Stewart was a supporting character in the Green Lantern comics after Kyle Rayner took over the role but his biggest spotlight came when he was made a member of the Justice League in the animated series adaptation of the comics. This John Stewart was a Marine and that approach was eventually adapted to the comics version of John.

It's fascinating to see how John's characterization has slowly evolved to fit in the Marine background from the cartoon. Even Geoff Johns, at first, continued to use the architect angle with John...

but then the Marines angle began to creep in (even while revisiting John's greatest failure, from Cosmic Odyssey)...

Until, during Blackest Night, it became John's defining trait...

And it's been that way ever since, as his Marine background gets worked into most every story featuring him now.

44. Mera - 277 points (1 first place vote)

It's interesting to look back on an era of comic books where there clearly was no general oversight over most of the titles being published. Sure, the big books like Superman and Batman had some rules that you had to follow, because they were the major iconic characters that were being licensed up the wazoo. But when it came to the tier below those heroes, the freedom that the creative teams had back in the day were pretty much unlimited. So if Jack Miller and George Kashdan, writer and editor of Aquaman, respectively, wanted to have Aquaman get married, no one was going to tell them "No." First, in Aquaman #11, they (and artist Nick Cardy) introduced a new love interest for Aquaman in the interdimensional being known as Mera, who actually gave up her crown in her dimension to remain on Earth to be with Aquaman.

Seven issues later, Aquaman was crowned the king of Atlantis (again, this was just stuff that you could introduce whenever you felt like it back in the day) and he learned that he had to marry an Atlantean woman and so Mera was off limits. She did not take it well...

However, when she is given the opportunity to team up with a bad guy to take Aquaman down, she can't help but still give her true aid to the man that she loves, despite being passed over as his possible queen. This gives Aquaman an idea...

If you're wondering why, of all people, Martian Manhunter gets a speaking line at Aquaman's wedding (how weird is it seeing Superman just refer to Martian Manhunter by his last name?), just note that the writer of Martian Manhunter's adventures at the time also happened to be Jack Miller.

Soon, things went a step further and Mera actually had a baby with Aquaman! Their marriage was a stable force throughout the years, as they were one of the first superhero couples to marry. The late 1970s, though, was the introduction of an era of darkness and as part of this era, Aquababy was killed by Black Manta. Aquaman did not have that many regular features in the early 1980s, so his relationship with Mera was a bit unsettled. Eventually, we learned that the death of her son had caused her to become unstable and during a 1989 miniseries, Keith Giffen even planned to have her killed off to get her out of the book. Instead, she leaves this dimension period. She returned during Peter David's Aquaman run in the 1990s, but for the most part, Mera was out of the picture for most of the 1990s, brought back only for the end of that run of Aquaman. Then she was once again mostly written out of the picture when she was transported into the past during Our Worlds At War. When she returned, she had aged a lot. Aquaman, of course, was also killed during this period and replaced by a different Arthur Curry.

It was not until Geoff Johns brought Aquaman back to life in Blackest Night that the Mera/Aquaman relationship began again, as it was a major feature in Brightest Day, the follow-up maxiseries to Blackest Night. Then the New 52 occurred and Johns continued the Aquaman/Mera relationship into this new continuity, with them no longer married, of course, and Mera trying to adjust to life on Earth so that she can be with Aquaman. She goes to the local grocery store to get some dog food and it doesn't go well, after a shopkeeper accosts her, she breaks his arm and all heck breaks loose...

Obviously, Mera was most recently a major player in the Aquaman movie and her newfound popularity outside of the traditional world of superhero comics was reflected in her being the star of DC's first book in a line of graphic novels for middle schoolers...

43. Big Barda - 281 points (7 first place votes)

One of the interesting approaches that Jack Kirby did in his Fourth World saga of books that he did for DC Comics in the early 1970s is that he would often use contrasting personalities to highlight the various personality traits of his main leads. For instance, in the New Gods, you have Highfather of New Genesis, to contrast against the pure evil that is Darkseid of Apokolips. You have Lightray, the sweet, beacon of light, to pair with the moribund Orion, son of Darkseid raised by the New Gods to be a hero.

Similarly, over in Mister Miracle, the lead character was a lighthearted, slight of frame hero who got by with brains over brawn. So as a contrast, Kirby introduced his love interest, Big Barda of Apokolips, who is essentially Scott Free's exact opposite...

However, she is just as much of a hero as Mister Miracle is, just coming at things from a much different angle, as we see when they reunite later in the issue...

And, of course, Kirby wasn't opposed to playing up Barda's sex appeal, as well...

There's a funny story about Mister Miracle #6, where Kirby accidentally found himself short a page, so he had to add a page into the middle of an otherwise completed story. Since Barda mentioned she was going to take a bath earlier in the story, it became a page of Barda bathing!

Over the years, that contrasting personality between the couple (who got married later on has been a major appeal of stories featuring them, making them almost a paired character. Tom King and Mitch Gerads played up their contrasting personalities really well in the recent critically acclaimed Mister Miracle maxiseries...

42. Green Lantern (Guy Gardner) - 283 points (4 first place votes)

Created by John Broome and Gil Kane, Guy Gardner could have been the greatest Green Lantern of them all...except Hal Jordan was closer.

That right there should basically explain to you Guy's basic outlook on life, as he was among a number of Earthlings who would have qualified to be Green Lantern, but Hal Jordan was the closest to qualify, and thereby becoming the most famous Green Lantern of all time. Guy eventually became his alternative.

And, for a time, Guy was pretty much the default Green Lantern on Earth, when Guy ended up joining the newly reformed Justice League after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths (after Steve Englehart and Joe Staton used a brain injury to explain why Guy's personality was now much more aggressive. Honestly, the character had changed so much that Englehart and Staton probably should have just introduced a new character, as that way they'd be getting royalties from his use nowadays).

It was on the Justice League that Guy grew to his greatest prominence, eventually becoming popular enough to support his own title for a significant run (almost four years!).

Guy was stripped of his Green Lantern ring for a time, leading him to first use Sinestro's yellow ring, which actually led to one of my favorite Guy sequences. He has traveled to Oa to get Sinestro's ring and John Stewart tries to stop him, but unbeknownst to either of them, Sinestro had taken possession of John and thus, Guy was in battle with Sinestro himself!

Awesome. Anyhow, later on, when Hal Jordan destroyed the Green Lantern Corps (and thereby ruined Guy's ring, as well, as Sinestro's ring was also powered by the Green Lantern, as sort of an opposing force type deal), Guy discovered that he secretly had been part-alien all this time, and had access to alien abilities to turn his body into weapons. This allowed him to continue on with his own series despite the loss of the Green Lantern connection (as all the other Green Lantern tie-in titles, like Mosaic and Green Lantern Corps Quarterly, were canceled). Beau Smith, the writer of the series, wanted to just keep Guy powerless, but DC insisted on superpowers and since the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers were big at the time, it was determined that Guy would have "morphing" powers, as well. Smith really did make the most of the concept. During that period, he also introduced Warriors, a bar for superheroes run by Guy. It was a novel introduction into the DC Universe.

Eventually, Guy lost his alien powers, and once again became a Green Lantern. One of the "Honor Guard," Guy had the ability to patrol wherever he wanted to go and not just be assigned to a single planet. He also had a stint as the leader of the Red Lanterns, being one of the rare beings who could be both a Red Lantern AND a Green Lantern!

41. Superboy (Kon-El/Conner Kent) - 285 points (3 first place votes)

After the Death of Superman, four being showed up that people confused for being the return of Superman. One of those beings turned out to be the CLONE of Superman, only taken out of his development before maturation finished, so the clone was still a teenager. Eventually going by the name Superboy (he was created by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett), this clone was a brasher version of Superman, with powers that worked more based on telekinesis than actual Kryptonian powers (the clone was cloned from half Superman DNA and half human DNA).

After an impressive solo career on the island state of Hawaii (while also forming the original Young Justice with Robin and Impulse), this young hero (who had long been given the Kryptonian name of Kon-El by Superman) moved to Smallville and began living with Superman’s adopted parents, the Kents. Here he adapted Kon-El to Conner Kent, and began wearing a new costume (originally he wore a leather jacket – now it was a black T-shirt with a Red S on it and blue jeans). He became a member of a newly reformed Teen Titans and developed a relationship with Wonder Girl. However, he soon discovered that the human half of his DNA was from Lex Luthor!!!

Luthor then showed that he had put in some failsafes in Superboy’s DNA, and he was able to turn Superboy against his teammates. Superboy eventually fought this off. However, it was only in time to sacrifice himself to help save the world from an insane version of Superboy from another universe. Luckily, he was able to return to life in an adventure involving the Legion of Super-Heroes, and he returned to Smallville as a local hero (in the tradition of Superman as a teen hero named Superboy in Smallville).

Then the New 52 happened and Superboy went through so much nonsense that it basically took Brian Michael Bendis recently just deciding to ignore all of those other stories and concentrate on the classic version of Conner/Kon-El (and I guess let continuity work itself out later) to bring the character back to prominence again in Young Justice.

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