The basic concept of the Silver Age Green Lantern was that the Guardians of the Universe created an intergalactic police force that would patrol various sectors of space, armed with a ring that could do more or less anything the wearer wanted it to with sufficient willpower. All the energy in the ring came out looking green, and that was that. Originally, a single yellow ring was worn by former Green Lantern turned bad guy Sinestro. Writer Geoff Johns explored that concept, and came up first with the idea of another Lantern Corps armed with yellow rings like Sinestro’s. And hey, if you’re going to have rings that work off green (willpower) or yellow (fear), why not try some other colors?
That’s where Dex-Starr comes in, one of the most tragic anti-heroes in recent comics. Yes, it is tragic.
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.
The Golden Age of comics was a screwy time. All manner of publishers put out all manner of characters, and many superheroes, the ones that weren’t blatant rip-offs of other superheroes, had some really bizarre powers that they used mostly to fight Nazis and homegrown criminals.
Once upon a time, Marvel Comics got the comic book rights to, of all things, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Anyone who’s seen that movie knows it’s, well, an odd choice for any sort of adaptation for younger readers, but it still happened. It was also an ongoing series. Where do you take a story like that once you’ve recounted the story from the movie? This wasn’t Star Wars with the promise of ongoing adventures for the characters. Part of the answer for writer/artist Jack Kirby was to create a new character that would cross over to the main Marvel Universe, namely Machine Man.
That was not the only time a licensed character got into the main universe. That also happened with Bug.
When Brian Michael Bendis took over the Avengers titles, he decided to blow up the team. That was literal in more than a few cases, like Jack of Hearts. Hawkeye, who Bendis claimed was his favorite character, died in another massive explosion but emerged later thanks to House of M. These things happen.
But Bendis then brought in a new team that he saw as a chance to do an all-star team like the original Avengers line-up was, but with the all-stars that existed then. Not all of them made sense, and some of them were questionable picks. But among the promotional art was a “new” character called Ronin. Who was Ronin? Well, that depended on what comic you were reading.
The comedic superhero is a time-honored tradition. Sometimes its just a hero like Spider-Man who cracks wise during any given fight. Other times you get a hero like Plastic Man, who may or may not be the straight man in his own adventures but has goofy powers and kooky adventures to compensate.
Then there’s Slapstick. He didn’t fight crime. He played cruel jokes on it.
Babies are many things. They can be cute, gooey, smelly, and the apple of their parents’ eyes. They also tend to be fragile. Babies are the things that we may want to protect the most in any given situation.
So, what if the baby in question actually somehow becomes a superhero? To answer that question, we come to Baby Wildebeest.
In 1993, DC Comics tried an experiment. They created a line of comics dedicated to giving minority writers and artists a chance to create their own superheroes. Dubbed “Milestone,” the initial comics had some success, the most noteworthy being Static, a teenage boy with electro-magnetic powers that managed to gain his own animated TV series and has been popping up around the DC Universe ever since.
Think about it: Casper the Friendly Ghost is really creepy. Not for the whole “wanting to be friends with people” thing, or even how the guys on Cheers observed that Casper must somehow lose all his friends between cartoons, or that one really warped episode where Casper befriends a fox pup that gets killed, only to have the fox’s ghost show up to immediately pick up where it left off with Casper (that’s some demented stuff right there). No, the fact is Casper is a kid, always will be a kid, and he’s a ghost hanging around for some reason. That’s some prime potential horror right there.
That sort of thing was realized a bit better with Secret.
There once was a time when various comics companies would just toss random characters out there and see what stuck. While the Silver Age version of characters like the Flash and Green Lantern first appeared in DC Comics’ Showcase, that particular comic was initially intended as an anthology to introduce new characters. In point of fact, the first character to be featured in Showcase was a firefighter named Fireman Farrell. He got three short stories in that issue and as near as I can make out was never seen again.
As a digression, Farrell’s last story featured a national news TV crew following Farrell and his company around as they fought a fire, but that was to cover a story about a local (and apparently unpopular) ballot initiative to give the firemen a raise so they could do stuff like send their kids to camp (that was treated as a tragedy). One woman interviewed said the teachers deserved a raise first, and a home viewer decried that woman as “stupid”. I sure would like to know why wanting a raise for a nation’s educators is stupid. Or why a local ballot initiative was national news. I guess the point is I don’t miss Fireman Farrell.
But that “let’s see what works” approach is my best explanation for the Sea Devils.