From 2005-2006, writer Grant Morrison had an interesting narrative experiment going on at DC Comics. He took the old concept of the “Seven Soldiers of Victory” story from Silver Age JLA/JSA team-ups, and did a new version. Original foe of the team the Nebula Man was back, though not as the main villain. Other hallmarks of the original group were brought up, but the main idea was Morrison would take seven DC heroes of varying levels of obscurity and put them on a team that needed to save the world. To make things more interesting, the seven heroes would never meet. Yes, aside from one or two brief run-ins between a couple members of the group in the last chapter of the story, the Seven Soldiers Morrison was using would be off doing their own things, each of which would add up to ultimate victory against the evil Sheeda and their queen Gloriana.
One of the Seven was a new hero named Bulleteer. She would have preferred not to get involved.
Kid sidekicks are a thing for many heroes. Usually they’re supposed to be someone for the young reader to identify with. And while not every superhero has had a kid sidekick, on the DC most of the major ones did. In fact, the Justice League had one once for some reason.
His name was Snapper Carr. And oh man, was he painful to read about.
The Legacy Hero is a longstanding DC tradition. The idea is to take an old character name and concept and rework the character into a new character who may or may not be related to the older one. There’s a bit less of that with the “new 52” today, but when someone opted to rework the Flash from Golden Age Jay Garrick to Silver Age Barry Allen, everything went from there. Furthermore, when Barry met Jay, a character most of Barry’s readers would have never heard of given their age and the collectability of old comics back then, the idea of connecting these old heroes took root and hasn’t really gone anywhere since.
One of the more prolific superhero names for DC has been Starman. Originally, Starman was Ted Knight, an astrophysicist who discovered a way to channel starlight into a small wand he called a cosmic rod (stop giggling, Watson) that allowed him to fly and do stuff with stellar energy (mostly fire energy blasts). Starman was, like many of his contemporaries, a member of the Justice Society and disappeared when the Golden Age of comics ended. Unlike many of his contemporaries, the various attempts to create other Starman characters wasn’t as cut-and-dried as, say, Flash or Green Lantern. There were many Starmen, all with different abilities and few with any relationship whatsoever to Ted Knight.
Post Zero Hour, DC produced another new Starman, this one the son of Ted Knight. Jack Knight had no desire to be a superhero. He was into collectables and ran a small knick-knack shop out of his home town of Opal City. Circumstances pushed him into superheroing, and he probably became the single most memorable Starman of them all.
DC’s Hawkman has a history that is, to be kind, really screwy. Which Hawkman is who is confusing to long time readers and in the grand scheme of things, Donna “Wonder Girl” Troy is probably the only noteworthy character in DC’s stable that rivals Hawkman for confusing backstories.
But then you get to Hawkgirl Kendra Saunders, and it gets just as weird.
This ongoing series of mine has focused largely on forgotten or little-used heroes. Today’s entry is nothing like that, since the Spectre has been a DC staple since his creation in 1940.
He’s just been a markedly different sort of character any time he appears anywhere. At least with someone like Superman, you know what the guy is and where he stands. With the Spectre, he’s more or less what the story needs. He really is a deus ex machina, sometimes rather literally.
I’ve always thought it must be tough being an atheist superhero in one of those big superhero universes. Think about it. Many heroes have firsthand knowledge of the presence of gods, angels, the afterlife, and demons. And while many superhero characters are rarely identified as belonging to any particular faith or lack thereof, the only atheist hero I can think of is the Michael Holt version of Mr. Terrific, and he was an atheist because he couldn’t believe God would let his wife die as opposed to the idea of just not believing in God. Holt was also as a member of the Justice Society, where he spent time with the Spectre, the embodiment of the Wrath of God, and probably had some encounters with Zauriel the angel on the Justice League.
But if we really want to see how not accepting something despite it being right in front of his face works, we really need to discuss Dr. Terrance Thirteen.