Saturday, February 17, 2007

18. The Justice League

The Justice League, sometimes called the Justice League of America or JLA for short, is a fictional DC Universe superhero team. In most incarnations, its roster includes DC's most popular characters. The original line-up is Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter. The team has also included Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Captain Marvel, Plastic Man, Zatanna and dozens of others.

The team first appears in The Brave and the Bold #28 (1960). Although series featuring the League occasionally have garnered low sales, the team has been fairly popular with comic book fans since inception. The Justice League concept was loosely adapted into the Super Friends animated series (1972-1985) and more directly into the series Justice League (2001-2004) and Justice League Unlimited (2004-2006).

Throughout the years, the team, or segments of it, are called Justice League America, Justice League Europe, Justice League International, Justice League Task Force, and Justice League Elite.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

17. Green Arrow

Green Arrow is a fictional character, a DC Comics superhero. Created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp, he first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 in 1941. His secret identity is Oliver Queen, billionaire and Mayor of fictional Star City, he is best known to his associates as Ollie.

Dressed like Robin Hood, Green Arrow is an archer, who invents arrows with various special functions, such as a glue arrow, a net arrow, or a boxing-glove arrow.

Throughout his first twenty-five years, Green Arrow was not a significant hero. In the late 1960s, however, writers chose to have him lose his fortune, giving him the then-unique role of streetwise crusader for the working class and the underprivileged. In 1970, he was paired with the more law-and-order-oriented hero Green Lantern in a groundbreaking, socially conscious comic book series. Since then, he has been popular among comic book fans and most writers have taken an urban, gritty approach to the character.

His son Connor Hawke also used the moniker Green Arrow for a time while Oliver Queen was deceased.

Connor Hawke and Oliver Queen

After believing he killed supervillain Parallax, Oliver Queen flees to a meditational retreat in Star City. There, he meets a young monk named Connor Hawke, created by writer Kelley Puckett and artist Jim Aparo, who teams up with Green Arrow and mercenary Eddie Fyers. Hawke is later revealed to be Oliver Queen's son, conceived during Queen's stay at the retreat. In a 1995 storyline, Queen dies in Green Arrow vol. 1, #100-101. This occurs when Queen infiltrates a group of eco-terrorrists known as the Eden Corps, climaxing with him defeating their leader on an airplane over Metropolis. In his attempt to prevent a bomb from being dropped, his arm is trapped, and Superman is unable to save him when the bomb explodes (safely over the city). After his death, Hawke takes over the role of Green Arrow. Connor Hawke starred in the series, taking up his fathers name and mantle, from issue #102 until issue #137, when it was canceled in 1998. Since the resurrection of Oliver Queen, he is now a recurring supporting character in the restarted series. He still retains the title dually with his father.

In 2000, Oliver Queen is revived in a new Green Arrow series, written by Kevin Smith and illustrated by Phil Hester and Ande Parks. Smith's storyline returns the character to life from a point before the Mike Grell period, although the world around him still reflects the changes that have taken place. Smith's fifteen issues are followed by Brad Meltzer's story arc "The Archer's Quest," who in 2002, handed the title over to Judd Winick. Hester and Parks remained as the art team throughout.

In the story, the soul of Oliver Queen is contacted by Hal Jordan during his incarnation as the Spectre, who wants to bring Queen back to life because he regrets not having been there to save him. Queen refuses, preferring the peace of Heaven, but finally allows Jordan to resurrect his body. Oliver returns to crimefighting, but is evidently traumatized by the experience of resurrection. He lives as a vagabond in the back alleys of Star City, creating a costume and weapons from garbage and castoff material. Oliver is found, confused and delirious by Stanley Dover, who takes him to his home to recuperate. Dover, while appearing altruistic, is a praticioner of black magic, and recognizes Oliver's body as lacking a soul. Dover soon realizes that Oliver believes it to be several years earlier, and decorates his home appropriately (old computers, etc) to ease Oliver back into reality. In the meanwhile, Oliver is being attacked by monsters. The Demon Etrigan attempts to destroy Queen, and finally explains that his soulless body acts as a gateway for demons wishing to enter the world. In addition, his lack of a soul makes him a target for Stanley Dover's calling of "The Beast with no name." Dover had earlier summoned the Beast, but it escaped his control, and he is unable to find it. He intends to transfer himself into Queen's younger, healthier body as part of his overall plan for power and immortality, and search for the Beast from the Justice League watch tower. Conner Hawke locates Oliver, but is caught in the fight for Oliver's body. Queen's soul finally makes the decision to return to Earth to help his son Connor Hawke fight a mass of demons. Dover is defeated and actually consumed by the Beast, who then leaves of his own accord. Queen also finds himself independently wealthy again, as Dover had transferred all his financial assets to Queen in anticipation of taking over his body.

Following Smith's run, Brad Meltzer takes Oliver Queen and Roy Harper, his former sidekick, on a trip across the country recovering old possessions (including a Green Lantern power ring entrusted to him by Hal Jordan many years earlier). At the end of the arc, an old photo and Queen's inner monologue reveal that he had been present at Connor's birth, but later ran from the responsibility of being a father.

One of writer Judd Winick's most publicized innovations was to reveal that Mia Dearden, a former prostitute unofficially adopted by Green Arrow during Kevin Smith's run, tested positive for HIV. Winick had published a graphic novel, Pedro and Me, about a gay friend who died of HIV/AIDS, and subsequently wrote a Green Lantern storyline about homophobia, so some critics have pigeonholed him as a writer of social-commentary storylines. In response, Winick noted that socially relevant storylines are part of the Green Arrow tradition, and that he intends to show Mia living a normal life, "living with HIV, as many people do."

During this new series, Queen builds up a Rogues Gallery, including Merlyn the archer, Constantine Drakon the Greek martial artist, the Japanese vigilante archer Shado (infamous for being the mother of Queen's son Robert, after raping Queen while he was wounded and drugged), Danny Brickwell or the Brick the meta-human mob boss, the illusion-casting Count Vertigo, and the enigmatic Onomatopoeia.

The last issue before DC Comic's "One Year Later" depicts Green Arrow in a showdown with Merlyn on the rooftops of Star City. As Green Arrow is about to win, Dr. Light detonates a series of explosions destroying a large portion of the city while a horrified Green Arrow looks on. This gives Merlyn the opportunity to throw Green Arrow on his back, who is then pierced through the chest by arrows previously embedded in his quiver.

Queen survives Merlyn's attack, but remained in critical condition. He is transported to a remote island along with Connor and Mia for treatment, and uses his recuperation time to retrain with several expert instructors, including a sensei known as Natas, one of the people who initially trained Deathstroke.

In the 2006 "One Year Later" jump after the events in Infinite Crisis, Oliver Queen is the newly elected mayor of Star City, continuing his fight on the streets and through the system. At the onset, it seems Mayor Queen is most interested in the "shock value" of his office, although his controversial decisions and statements are actually meant to draw attention to and benefit the devastated Star City. He uses an open interpretation of the town charter to perform same-sex marriages in Star City as a both a political statement and a way to boost the local tourist economy. He also exercises the power of his office to do things such as blackmail corrupt businessmen, or have the Star City SWAT unit back up his actions as Green Arrow while publicly condemning his alter ego. (He also used his connections to enable his longtime friend and former lover Black Canary to bring a young Vietnamese girl, Sin, into the country to be raised by Canary.)

During the year long hiatus, Queen also amassed a quite large personal fortune by manipluating stocks of companies he sees as unscrupulous. While never stated outright, it appears Oliver Queen is now worth billions. The former gangster Brick now fights crime in Star City and allies himself with Green Arrow, although he evidently still traffics in drugs and prostitution. Deathstroke returns as well, looking for a rematch from the events in Identity Crisis. Deathstroke loses the rematch and makes the observation that during the one year absence, Green Arrow has become a much better fighter and now carries a sword which he wields proficiently.

He also has a new costume, which appears to be a combination of the classic Neal Adams costume and the Mike Grell Longbow Hunters costume.

Green Arrow is considered one of the best archers in the world. He has the ability to shoot 29 arrows per minute (he stated this himself, in the Sound of Violence story arc, when he corrected Black Canary for saying 26). He has a wide-variety of trick arrows, ranging from bola arrows to time-bomb arrows to his infamous boxing-glove arrow. In recent years he has used these arrows sparingly, preferring the time-tested simple arrow. Green Arrow has shown the ability to shoot an arrow down the barrel of a gun, pierce a drop of water as it leaves a tap and shoot almost any part of the human body; although he aims only to wound and not kill when he shoots.

Severely injured as a result of a defeat suffered just before the One Year Later event began, he decided just being an archer (even one of his caliber) was no longer enough in the world he lived in. Between issues #66 and #68, while he was recovering from said injuries on an island, he hired some of the best martial arts (among other disciplines) instructors in the world to come and train him and his companions. He is proficient in several forms of hand-to-hand combat including judo, kickboxing and karate. Proclaimed as a martial arts master, he has shown the ability to take on seven people at once. He is also very proficient with a sword, as evidenced by a battle with Deathstroke in issue #62. Under his alias, Oliver Queen, Green Arrow sports a fortune in the billions of dollars, though the exact amount is unknown.

16. Aquaman

Aquaman is a fictional character, a superhero in DC Comics. Created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, the character debuted in More Fun Comics # 73 (November 1941). Aquaman, also known as Arthur Curry, is an undersea hero from Atlantis. Born to a Atlantean wizard and an Atlantean Queen, he was raised by a human lighthouse keeper. In the most well-known version of his origin, Arthur Curry grows up slowly learning about his powers and origins and vows to defend the oceans and their inhabitants as Aquaman, becoming the ruler of Atlantis and the undersea world. Aquaman possesses the abilities to breathe underwater, telepathically communicate with and control all forms of sea life, and swim at fast speeds. He also possesses superhuman levels of strength, speed, endurance and durability, all by-products of his body being adapted to survive unprotected in the tremendous pressures of the ocean depths.

During the Golden and Silver Ages of comic books Aquaman was a minor but durable hero, appearing in back-up stories of comic book series which headlined other characters. As one of the few superheroes extant in the late 1950s in DC Comics publications, he was made a founding member of the Justice League of America, which granted the character further longevity. The modern Aquaman has become a darker and more powerful character, often portrayed as angry and righteous. Aquaman's first animated appearance was alongside his sidekick Aqualad in Filmation's 1967 animated series The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. In the 1970s, he was included in the lineup of the animated Super Friends, helping him become somewhat of a household name. However, perhaps because of his place among such giants as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, Aquaman has often been the subject of mockery for having limited and seemingly useless powers.

As part of DC Comics' "One Year Later" event, Aquaman's series has been renamed Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis with issue #40 (May 2006). The new developments include a new lead character, a new supporting cast, and the inclusion of sword and sorcery-type fantasy elements in the series.

While awaiting transport to Miami, Florida, a young man named Arthur Joseph Curry is washed out into the sea when a storm ruptures the tank he was in. This Arthur Curry, whose origin closely resembles that of the Golden Age Aquaman as well as that of Neptune Perkins, is the son of oceanobiologist Dr. Phillip Curry. Arthur's mother, Elaine, died in childbirth, and Dr. Curry was forced to use a mutagenic serum on his son when he was born three months premature. Arthur has lived his whole life in the main tank of his father's research facility at Avalon Cay — with the exception of a few brief visits to the ocean — his only window to the outside world being television.

Shortly after his arrival in the sea, Arthur is mentally contacted by the mysterious "Dweller of the Depths", a deformed humanoid with tentacles where his hair and beard should be and a right hand made of water which he writes with, who tells Arthur to help King Shark fend off a gang of marauders. After doing so, the pair together go to meet the Dweller, who gives Arthur an Aquaman-like costume and believes Arthur to be the original Aquaman. This enrages King Shark, who still bears scars from a previous battle with Aquaman during the recent Crisis.

The Dweller, still confusing Arthur for Aquaman and calling him his "charge," tells Arthur and King Shark of a prophecy regarding Arthur's future, a prophecy which seems to be a distorted version of the original Aquaman's history. Arthur tells the Dweller that he is crazy, but King Shark points out the resemblance between the prophecy and the previous Aquaman's history, and that Aquaman disappeared some time ago. The Dweller replies that the original Aquaman was "transformed into one akin to a great and terrible enemy of your people and become the vessel of power strange, ancient and terrible."

After Arthur and King Shark leave, the Dweller updates his diary, recording that the events about which he told Arthur must be true, feeling as if he experienced them himself. He writes with his own hand, which is made of hard-water, as was Orin's.

Arthur's first trip causes him to meet many people familiar of the "old" Aquaman, including Mera (cured and now leading a group of Atlantean refugees), the Sea Devils, Vulko (now a ghost) and eventually Ocean Master.

During this adventure, the Dweller progressively realizes that he is Orin, despite having no memory of his former life. When the new Aquaman is critically wounded while fighting Ocean Master, the Dweller uses all his forces to heal him, and we discover at this moment that half of his body is hard-water now. After the battle, he has a discussion with Mera, who has also realised that the Dweller is Orin, in which he says "I hear your concern, and I thank you. But the great powers--they have a purpose for me, one I do not fully know. They have taken whatever I once was, and made me this. And this, for now, is what I must be. (...) Whatever regard you have for me, I beg you. Let me do what I must do." Mera reluctantly agrees but adds that she will contact Vulko and try to find out all she can about the reason for Orin's current state. She then tells young Arthur to take care of her former husband.

Meanwhile, we discover that young Arthur's presumed dead father (he was reported killed by sharks) is still alive and being held prisoner by unknown people in a company named Tri-Dent Industries.

15. Green Lantern

Green Lantern is the name of several fictional superheroes in the DC Comics universe. The first was created by writer Bill Finger and artist Martin Nodell in All-American Comics #16 (July 1940). The best-known is Hal Jordan, created by John Broome and Gil Kane in Showcase #22 (Oct. 1959).

Each Green Lantern possesses a "power ring" that gives the user great control over the physical world as long as the wielder has sufficient willpower. While the ring of the Golden Age Green Lantern (Alan Scott) was magically powered, the rings worn by all subsequent Lanterns were the creations of the Guardians of the Universe, who granted such rings to worthy candidates. These individuals made up the intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps.

After World War II, when sales of superhero comic books generally declined, DC ceased publishing new adventures of the Alan Scott Green Lantern. At the beginning of the Silver Age of Comic Books, DC editor Julius Schwartz had writer Broome and artist Kane revive Green Lantern as a new character, test pilot Hal Jordan, who became a founding member of the Justice League of America. In the early 1970s, writer Denny O'Neil and artist Neal Adams teamed Green Lantern with archer Green Arrow in groundbreaking, socially conscious, and award-winning stories that pitted the sensibilities of the law-and-order-oriented Lantern with the populist Green Arrow. Several cosmically themed series followed, as did occasional different individuals in the role of Earth's Green Lantern. Most prominent of these are John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and Kyle Rayner.

Green Lantern has proven to be one of DC's most popular superheroes. Each Green Lantern was a member of the Justice Society of America or the Justice League, and John Stewart was featured in the Justice League Unlimited animated series.

Alan Scott

Thousands of years ago, a mystical "green flame" fell to Earth. The voice of the flame prophesied that it would act three times: Once to bring death, once to bring life, and once to bring power. By 1940, the flame had been fashioned into a metal lantern, which fell into the hands of Alan Scott, a young engineer. Following a railroad bridge collapse, the flame instructed Scott how to fashion a ring from its metal, to give him fantastic powers as the superhero Green Lantern. He adopted a colorful costume and became a crimefighter. Alan was a founding member of the Justice Society of America. He is also an honorary member of the Green Lantern Corps.

Hal Jordan

The next Green Lantern to see publication was Harold "Hal" Jordan, who in 1959 comics was a second-generation test pilot, having followed in the footsteps of his father, Martin Jordan. He was given the power ring and battery (lantern) by a dying alien named Abin Sur, whose spaceship crashed on Earth. Abin Sur used his ring to seek out an individual who was "utterly honest and born without fear" to take his place as Green Lantern. Jordan became a founding member of the Justice League of America and as of the mid-2000s is, along with John Stewart, one of the two active-duty Lanterns in Earth's sector of space.

John Stewart

In the early 1970s, John Stewart, an unemployed architect, was selected by the Guardians to replace Guy Gardner as the backup Green Lantern for Jordan. When Jordan resigned from the Corps for an extended period of time, Stewart served as the regular Lantern for that period. Since then, Stewart was in and out of action due to various circumstances, but by the 2000s began serving with Jordan as one of his sector's two designated regular-duty Lanterns.

Guy Gardner

In the late 1960s, Guy Gardner appeared as the second choice to replace Abin Sur as Green Lantern of sector 2814. This placed him as the "backup" Green Lantern for Jordan. During Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Guardians split into factions, one of which appointed Gardner their champion. He has gone through many changes, including wielding Sinestro's Qwardian power ring, the gaining and losing Vuldarian powers, and readmission to the Corps during Green Lantern: Rebirth. He later became part of the Green Lantern Honor Guard, and oversees new Green Lanterns' training.

Kyle Rayner

Kyle Rayner was a struggling freelance artist when he was approached by the last Guardian of the Universe, Ganthet, to become a new Green Lantern with the last power ring. Ganthet's reasons for choosing Rayner is unrevealed. Despite not being cut from the same cloth of bravery and fearlessness as Hal Jordan — or perhaps because of that — Rayner proved to be popular with readers and his fellow characters. Having continually proven himself on his own and with the JLA, he became known amongst the Oans as "The Torch Bearer". He was responsible for the rebirth of the Guardians and the re-ignition of the Central Power Battery, essentially restoring all that Jordan had destroyed as Parallax. Rayner later began operating as the Green Lantern known as Ion.

When Jenny-Lynn Hayden, the superhero known as Jade, was stripped of her powers, Kyle Rayner bestowed her with a copy of Hal Jordan's power ring. When Rayner left to restart the Green Lantern corps, Jade donned the classic Green Lantern uniform and served as Earth's Green Lantern until losing the ring during a battle with the villain Fatality. When the ring was later returned to her, she changed to a modified version of Rayner's Green Lantern uniform. Jade continued to function as a Green Lantern until Rayner used his Ion powers to restore her original powers. Upon her death, Jade gave all her powers to Rayner.

14. The Flash

The Flash is a title given to a series of DC Comics superheroes. Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert, the original Flash first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (1940).

Once nicknamed the Scarlet Speedster, the Flash possesses "super-speed", which includes the ability to run and move extremely fast, use superhuman reflexes and violate certain laws of physics. Thus far, four different characters, each of whom somehow gained the power of "super-speed", have assumed the identity of the Flash: Jay Garrick (1940-1986), Barry Allen (1956-1986), Wally West (1986-2006), and Bart Allen (2006-present).

The second incarnation of the Flash is generally considered the first hero of the Silver Age of comic books and the superhero has remained one of DC‘s most popular ever since. Each version of the Flash has been a key member of either the Justice Society of America or the Justice League, DC’s all-star teams, although it has yet to be seen what kind of role Bart Allen will play in either the Justice League or Justice Society, given how recently he assumed his role as the current Flash, alongside Jay Garrick.

The Barry Allen version of the character was featured in a live action television series in 1990, starring John Wesley Shipp. The Wally West version of the Flash is featured in the animated series Justice League, voiced by Michael Rosenbaum, who also portrays Lex Luthor on Smallville.

The Bart Allen version appeared on the television show, Smallville, on January 18, 2007, as the crimefighter, Impulse.

While several other individuals have used the name Flash, these have lived either on other parallel worlds, or in the future. Garrick, Allen and West are the best-known exemplars of the identity.

Jay Garrick

Jay Garrick was a college student in January 1940 who accidentally inhaled heavy water vapors after falling asleep in his laboratory where he had been smoking. As a result, he found that he could run at superhuman speed and had similarly fast reflexes. After a brief career as a college football star, he donned a red shirt with a lightning bolt and a stylized metal helmet with wings (based on images of the Roman god Mercury), and began to fight crime as the Flash. His first case involved battling the "Faultless Four", a group of blackmailers. Jay kept his identity secret for years without a mask by continually vibrating his body while in public so that any photograph of his face would be blurred. He is still active as the Flash, and operates out of Keystone City.

Barry Allen

Barry Allen was a police scientist with a reputation for being very slow, deliberate, and frequently late, which frustrated his fiancée, Iris West. One night, as he was preparing to leave work, a lightning bolt shattered a case full of chemicals and spilled them all over Allen. As a result, Allen found that he could run extremely fast and had matching reflexes. He donned a set of red tights sporting a lightning bolt (reminiscent of the original Captain Marvel), dubbed himself the Flash (after his childhood hero in the comic books, Jay Garrick), and became a crimefighter. In his civilian identity, he stored the costume in his ring, which could eject the compressed clothing when Allen needed it and suck it back in with the aid of a special gas that shrinks the suit.

Wally West

Wally West was the nephew of Iris West and Barry Allen by marriage, and was introduced in The Flash #110 (1959). When West was about ten years old, he was visiting his uncle's police laboratory, and the freak accident that gave Allen his powers repeated itself, bathing West in electrically charged chemicals. Now possessing the same powers as his uncle, West donned a copy of his uncle's outfit and became the young crimefighter Kid Flash. After the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, where Barry Allen was killed, Wally took over as the fastest man alive. Following the events of Infinite Crisis, Wally, his wife Linda, and their twins left Earth for an unknown dimension.

Bart Allen

Bart Allen was the grandson of Barry Allen and his wife Iris. Bart suffered from accelerated aging and, as a result, was raised in a virtual reality machine until Iris took him back in time in order to get help from the then current Flash, Wally West. With Wally's help, Bart's aging slowed and he took the name Impulse. After his kneecap was shot while working with the Teen Titans, Bart changed both his attitude and his costume, taking the mantle of Kid Flash. During the events of Infinite Crisis, the Speed Force vanished, taking with it all the speedsters save Jay Garrick. Bart returned, four years older, and for a year claimed that he was depowered from the event. However, the Speed Force had not disappeared completely, and was absorbed into Bart's body, making it such that Bart contains all of the Speed Force. Bart's costume is Barry Allen's Flash suit. Bart Allen is the Flash who guests on the television series, Smallville in 2004, and again in 2007.

13. Mighty Thor

Thor (often called The Mighty Thor) is a fictional character and a superhero appearing in the Marvel Universe. Based on the god of the same name from Norse mythology and created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby, he first appeared in Journey into Mystery # 83 (Aug. 1962). The uncredited initial inker was Joe Sinnott.

The Marvel version of Thor is noble and very self-assured, sometimes to the point of arrogance. Odin decides his son needs to be taught humility and consequently places Thor (without memories of godhood) into the body and memories of an existing, partially disabled human medical student, Donald Blake. After becoming a doctor and thoroughly believing himself to be the young surgeon Blake, he later discovers Thor's disguised hammer and learns to change back and forth into the Thunder God. The real Blake's persona remains elsewhere until many years later, after Odin becomes satisfied of Thor's humility and lifts the spell, thereby removing the need for a mortal alter ego. The mortal experience, however, shapes Thor into an honorable and courteous individual, who is loyal to all comrades.

Being the son of the Elder Goddess Gaea, Thor has a natural affinity for Earth and feels obliged to protect the mortals that occupy it. Thor's time on Earth is marked by constant battles against super villains, monsters, cosmic beings and even other gods. Thor's principal foe is his adopted brother Loki, who has hated Thor since childhood. While a master of magic with power that dwarfs even that of Earth's Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Strange, Loki prefers to employ the use of minions in his battle against Thor. Ever the schemer, Loki is cautious not to be seen to be directly involved for fear of angering Odin. To that end, Loki creates two long-lasting foes — the Absorbing Man and the Wrecker. Loki also tricks others into fighting on his behalf, such as the giant Asgardian troll Ulik, the dragon Fafnir and the Silver Surfer.

Sometimes, however, Loki overreaches himself and faces disaster. Guiding a mortal to the shrine of the Asgardian Destroyer — which then absorbs the mortal's essence and battles Thor — almost proves fatal for Loki, as Odin became aware of the conflict and promises that should Thor perish, the trickster god would quickly follow. On another occasion, Loki uses the Hulk as a lure to draw Thor out; while this proved successful, it resulted in the formation of superhero team the Avengers, of which Thor is a founding and longstanding member.

Thor's other mortal foes include the Wrecking Crew and the Grey Gargoyle, but among his most powerful foes are the Asgardian monsters as Mangog, the Frost Giants, the Enchanters Three, the Midgard Serpent and the fire-demon Surtur. Thor's gallery of mystical/cosmic rogues extends to Mephisto, Thanos, the God Eater, the Dark Gods, the Sh'iar Praetor Gladiator, and the god-slayer Desak. Thor has even fought against the combined might of the Celestials, when their Fourth Host arrived to judge Earth.

Monday, January 29, 2007

12. Daredevil

Daredevil (Matthew Murdock) is a fictional character, a superhero in the Marvel Comics Universe. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett[1] in Daredevil vol. 1, #1 (April 1964), he is notable as being among the few superheroes with a disability. Blinded during his youth, his other four senses developed to compensate, and he obtained a sonar-like ability to perceive objects.

An Irish-American raised by single father and fading boxer "Battling Jack" Murdock moved in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. Jack instills in Matt the importance of education and non-violence with the aim of seeing his son become a better man than himself. Though Jack's intentions were noble, Matt was left unprepared to handle the bullying he received at school, and was branded with the sarcastic nickname, "Daredevil". Matt vented his frustration and anger by training in secret.

In the course of saving a blind man from the path of an oncoming truck, Matt is blinded by a radioactive substance that falls from the vehicle. Though the act of heroism robs him of sight, the radioactive exposure heightens his remaining senses beyond normal human thresholds, enabling him to detect the shape and location of objects around him. A mysterious man, Stick, becomes his mentor, and teaches him to control his new abilities while honing his natural aptitude in acrobatics and martial arts. Stick, also blind, teaches Matt how to form a mental image of the objects around him, and Matt develops a "radar sense" to make up for his sight. Still in school, Matt continues to honor his father's wishes by excelling in his studies, and ultimately enrolled in the Columbia School of Law.
In College, Matt meets and falls in love with Elektra Natchios, the daughter of a Greek diplomat. When Elektra and her father are kidnapped by terrorists, Matt dons a mask for the first time and fights to save the two. In the mayhem that follows, Elektra's father is killed. Overcome with grief, Elektra breaks Murdock's heart by leaving Columbia behind and returning to the study of martial arts.

Back in Hell's Kitchen, Jack struggles and becomes an enforcer for small-time crook and boxing manager, the Fixer. In exchange for his services, the Fixer rigs a series of matches and provides "Battling Jack" a late-life boxing renaissance, resulting in the once near-destitute fighter becoming a title contender. On the night of the title fight, with his son in the crowd, Jack ignores the Fixer's demands to take a dive and wins by knockout. For his disobedience, the Fixer has him murdered.

Matt is devastated by the loss of his father and the judicial system's failure to convict the men responsible. Mindful of the childhood promise he made to his father not to lead a violent life, Matt dons a new identity for providing justice. Adorned in a yellow and black costume made from his father's boxing robes, renamed with the moniker of his childhood derision, and using his superhuman abilities, Matt confronts the killers and avenged his father as the superhero Daredevil.

11. Iron Man

Iron Man (Anthony Edward Stark) is a fictional comic book superhero in the Marvel Comics universe. He was created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963).

Iron Man's premiere was a collaboration among editor and story-plotter Lee, scripter Lieber, story-artist Heck, who would illustrate most of the early Iron Man tales, and Kirby, who provided the cover pencils and designed the first Iron Man armor. Heck created the look of characters including protagonist Tony Stark and his secretary, Pepper Potts.

Iron Man starred in generally 13-page but occasionally 18-page adventures, with the rest of Tales of Suspense devoted to anthology science fiction and supernatural stories. After debuting with bulky grey armor, Iron Man was redesigned with similar but golden armor in his second story (issue #40, April 1963), with the first iteration of his familiar, sleek red-and-golden armor appearing in issue #48 (Dec. 1963), drawn by Steve Ditko (though whether he or Kirby, singly or in collaboration, designed it, is uncertain).

Beginning with issue #59 (Nov. 1964), Iron Man began sharing the now "split book" Tales of Suspense with Captain America. After the final issue, #99 (March 1968), the book became Captain America; Iron Man appeared in the one-shot Iron Man and Sub-Mariner #1 (April 1968), and then debuted in his own title with Iron Man #1 (May 1968).

Iron Man possesses powered armor that gives him superhuman strength, virtual invulnerability, flight, and an array of weapons. The armor was invented and, with occasional short-term exceptions, worn by Tony Stark, an American industrialist billionaire and military contractor known not only for his lifestyle, but also for his incredible ingenuity and inventive genius.

10. X-men

The X-Men are fictitious mutants who, as a result of a sudden leap in evolution, are born with latent superhuman abilities which generally manifest themselves at puberty. Many ordinary humans harbor an intense fear and/or distrust of mutants (often referred to as Homo superior), who are regarded by a number of scientists as the next step in human evolution and are thus widely viewed as a threat to human society.

The tensions between mutants and the rest of humanity are exacerbated by the many instances in which mutants including such X-Men archenemies as

Magneto and Apocalypse have used their powers to criminal or violent ends. The X-Men alliance was formed by the benevolent Professor Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X, a wealthy mutant who founded an academy to train young mutants to protect themselves and the world from Magneto, the Brotherhood of Mutants and other mutant threats.

The X-Men comic book series was one of comicdom's earliest and most influential trendsetters in adopting a multicultural central cast; during the 1970s, the roster was diversified, adding characters from Germany, Ireland, Canada, the Soviet Union, Kenya and Japan. Characters representing many other ethnicities and cultural backgrounds have subsequently been added. The stories themselves often touch upon themes relating to the status of minorities, including assimilation, tolerance, and beliefs regarding a "superior race."

The team's name is widely said to be derived from the fact that mutants have "extra" powers due to their "X-Factor" gene (a word which was coined by Professor X). Co-creator Stan Lee recalled in his book Son of Origins of Marvel Comics and elsewhere that he devised the series title after Marvel publisher Martin Goodman turned down the initial name, "The Mutants." In addition to this "official" explanation, the X-Men are widely regarded (both within the Marvel Universe as well as by the readers of the series) to have been named after Xavier himself. In Uncanny X-Men #309, Xavier claimed that the name "X-Men" was never intended to be a self-tribute.

9. The Phantom

The Phantom is an American adventure comic strip created by Lee Falk, also creator of Mandrake the Magician. A popular feature adapted into many forms of media, including television and film, it stars a costumed crimefighter operating in the African jungle. The series began with a daily newspaper strip on February 17, 1936, followed by a color Sunday strip in May 1939; both are still running as of 2007.

When Lee Falk died in 1999, he was succeeded by writer Tony DePaul and artists Paul Ryan (daily strip) and Graham Nolan (Sunday strip). Previous artists on the newspaper strip include Ray Moore, Wilson McCoy, Bill Lignante, Sy Barry, George Olesen, Keith Williams and Fred Fredericks.

New Phantom stories are also published in comic books in different parts of the world, among them by Moonstone Books in USA, Egmont in Scandinavia, and Frew in Australia.

While the Phantom is not the first fictional costumed crimefighter, he is the first to wear the skintight costume that has become a hallmark of comic-book superheroes, and the first to wear a mask with no visible pupils, another superhero standard

8. Wolverine

Wolverine, born James Howlett but more commonly known as Logan, is a fictional Marvel Comics superhero and a member of several teams, including the X-Men and the New Avengers. Created by writer Len Wein and artist John Romita Sr. with some input by Incredible Hulk illustrator Herb Trimpe, Wolverine first appeared in Incredible Hulk #180-181(October 1974).

A mutant, Wolverine possesses animal-keen senses and reflexes and a healing factor that allows him to recover from virtually any wound. This healing ability enabled the supersoldier program Weapon X to bond the near unbreakable metal alloy adamantium to his skeletal system that includes razor-sharp retractable claws. He is also a master of hand-to-hand combat.

Wolverine joined the X-Men's "All New, All Different" roster in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975). Wolverine was symbolic of the many tough anti-authority anti-heroes that emerged in American popular culture after the Vietnam War, and his willingness to use deadly force and brooding nature became standard characteristics for comic book anti-heroes by the end of the 1980s. As a result, the character became the clear favorite for fans of the increasingly popular X-Men franchise. He has been featured in his own solo comic since 1988 and he has been a central character in every X-Men adaptation, including animated television series, video games, and the live action 20th Century Fox film series, in which he is played by Hugh Jackman.

7. Fantastic Four

The Fantastic Four is Marvel Comics' first comic book superhero team, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and debuting in The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961).

Although the group's membership has occasionally changed temporarily, it almost always consists of these four core friends and family-members, who gained superpowers after being exposed to cosmic rays during an outer space science mission:

Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards), the leader of the group, a scientific genius who can stretch his body into incredible lengths and shapes.
The Invisible Woman (Susan Richards, née Storm; originally the Invisible Girl), Reed Richards' wife, the team's second-in-command, . Like her codename implies, Sue can render herself invisible at will. As the Invisible Woman she can create force fields and fire invisible power blasts from her hands.
The Human Torch (Johnny Storm), Sue's brother, who can surround himself with flames and fly.
The Thing (Ben Grimm), their grumpy friend with a heart of gold, who possesses superhuman strength and endurance, his skin is monstrous, craggy, orange, and looks as if made of scales or plates (often mistakenly referred to as "rocks").
Since its introduction — in which the groundbreaking team did not even adhere to the convention of superhero costumes in its first two issues — the Fantastic Four have been portrayed as a somewhat dysfunctional yet loving family. Uniquely at the time, and also breaking convention with comic-book archetypes, its members would squabble and even hold animosities both deep and petty toward one another at times, though ultimately truly caring for and supporting each other. Also, unlike many other comic book superheroes, the Fantastic Four have no anonymity, maintaining something of a celebrity status in the public eye.

The team launched the revival of Marvel Comics in the early 1960s, giving it a pivotal place in the history of American comic books. The Fantastic Four has remained more or less popular since, and has been adapted into other media, including four animated television series, an aborted 1990s low-budget film, a major-studio motion picture, Fantastic Four (2005), and a sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007.

The comic-book series, which famously added the hyperbolic tagline "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!" above the title starting with issue #4 (issue # 3 declared itself "The Greatest Comic Magazine in the World!"), dropped the "The" from the cover logo with #16, becoming simply Fantastic Four.

6. The Hulk

The Hulk (Dr. Robert Bruce Banner), sometimes referred to as The Incredible Hulk, is a fictional character, a superhero appearing in the Marvel Comics Universe. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Hulk first appeared in Incredible Hulk # 1 (May 1962). He has since become one of Marvel Comics' most recognized superhero characters.

After nuclear physicist Dr. Robert Bruce Banner is caught in the blast of a gamma bomb he created, he is transformed into the Hulk, a raging monstrosity. The character, both as Banner and the Hulk, is frequently pursued by the police or the armed forces, often as a result of the destruction he causes. While the coloration of the character's skin varies during the course of its publication history, the Hulk is most often depicted as green.

He is featured in a number of animated series, a feature film directed by Ang Lee, and a long-running television series and spin-off television movies starring Bill Bixby as Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk.

5. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is a fictional DC Comics superheroine co-created by William Moulton Marston and wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston. Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 (Dec. 1941). She is among the first — and most famous — comic book superheroines, and is written as a founding member of the Justice League.

In most adaptations, Wonder Woman is Princess Diana of the Amazon warrior tribe of Greek mythology, "Diana" being the Roman name for the Greek goddess Artemis on whom the character is based. The Amazon ambassador to the larger world, Diana was awarded several gifts by the Olympian gods, including the Lasso of Truth (created from the Golden Girdle of Gaea) and indestructible bracelets/gauntlets (formed from the shield Aegis). For several years she was described in the splash page of each story, as "beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, swifter than Mercury, and stronger than Hercules."

Marston designed Wonder Woman to reflect his conception of an empowered independent female character, with several subsequent writers also working this idea into the character.

In addition to comic books, the character was featured in the popular 1975–79 television adaptation starring Lynda Carter, as well as the Super Friends and Justice League animated series. Plans for a motion picture adaptation are also underway.

4. Captain America

Captain America, the alter ego of Steve Rogers (in some accounts Steven Rogers), is a fictional character, a superhero in the Marvel Comics Universe. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, he first appeared in Timely Comics' Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941).

Rogers in the regular Marvel Universe has no superhuman powers, although as a result of the Super-Soldier serum, he is transformed from a frail young man into a "perfect" specimen of human development and conditioning. Captain America is as intelligent, strong, fast, agile, and durable as it is possible for a human being to be without being considered superhuman. The formula enhances all of his metabolic functions and prevents the build-up of fatigue poisons in his muscles, giving him endurance far in excess of an ordinary human being. This accounts for many of his extraordinary feats, including running a mile in a little more than a minute. Furthermore, his enhancements are the reason why he was able to survive being frozen in suspended animation for decades. Rogers is also unable to become intoxicated by alcohol and is immune to many diseases.

Mentally, Rogers' battle experience and training make him an expert tactician and an excellent field commander, with his teammates frequently deferring to his orders in battle. Rogers' reflexes and senses are also extraordinarily keen. He is a master of multiple martial arts, including boxing, jiu jitsu, and judo, combined with his virtually superhuman gymnastic ability into his own unique fighting style with advanced pressure-point fighting. Years of practice with his indestructible shield make it practically an extension of his own body, and he is able to aim and throw it with almost unerring accuracy and even ricochet the shield to hit multiple targets. He is extremely skilled in hand-to-hand combat, sometimes taking on and defeating foes whose strength, size, or superpowers greatly exceed his. In the comics, he is regarded by other skilled fighters as one of the best hand-to-hand combatant in the Marvel Universe.

Rogers has vast U.S. military knowledge and is often shown to be familiar with ongoing, highly-classified Defense Department operations. Despite his high profile as one of the world's most popular and recognizable superheroes, Rogers also has a broad understanding of the espionage community, largely through his ongoing relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D.. He occasionally makes forays into mundane career fields, including commercial arts, comic book artistry, education (high school history) and law enforcement.

Captain America is revered by a number of other superheroes in the Marvel Universe, filling the "leadership" role which Superman takes on in DC Comics. He is considered a living legend, and many Marvel heroes, particularly Spider-Man, idolize him.

3. Gotham city's Batman

Batman (originally referred to as the Bat-Man and still referred to at times as the Batman) is a DC Comics fictional superhero who first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939. Batman was co-created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, although only Kane receives official credit. Batman has since become one of the world's most recognized superheroes.

Batman's secret identity is Bruce Wayne, a billionaire industrialist, playboy, and philanthropist. Witnessing the murder of his parents as a child leads him to train himself to the peak of physical and intellectual perfection, don a bat-themed costume, and fight crime. Unlike most superheroes, he does not possess superhuman powers or abilities; he makes use of intellect, detective skills, science and technology, wealth, physical prowess, and intimidation in his war on crime.

2. The amazing Spider-man

Spider-Man (Peter Parker) is a character Marvel Comics superhero created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. First appearing in Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962), he has become one of the world's most popular, enduring and recognizable superheroes.

When Spider-Man first saw print in the 1960s, teenage characters in superhero comic books were usually sidekicks. The Spider-Man series broke ground by featuring a hero who himself was an adolescent, to whose "self-obsessions with rejection, inadequacy, and loneliness" young readers could relate. Spider-Man has since appeared in various media including several animated and live-action television series, syndicated newspaper comic strips and a successful series of films.

Marvel has published several Spider-Man comic book series, the first being The Amazing Spider-Man. Over the years, the Peter Parker character has developed from shy high school student to troubled college student to married professional.

1. The man of steel

Superman is a fictional character and one of the most famous and popular comic book superheroes of all time. American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster created Superman in 1932 while both were growing up in Cleveland, Ohio. Siegel and Shuster sold Superman to Detective Comics Inc. in 1938, the same year Superman debuted in Action Comics #1 (June 1938). The character has since appeared in radio serials, television programs, films, comic books, newspaper strips and video games, contributing to his long-standing ubiquity.
Superman is born Kal-El on the alien planet Krypton, and is rocketed to Earth as an infant by his scientist father moments before the planet's destruction. The rocket lands on Earth, where the child is found by passing motorists who adopt him and give him the name Clark Kent. As Clark reaches maturity, he learns that he has superhuman abilities, which he resolves to use to help others, fighting anything from petty crime to universal threats. He becomes Earth's champion, with the media giving him several nicknames including "The Man of Steel", "The Man of Tomorrow", and "The Last Son of Krypton". To keep his identity secret when not fighting evil as Superman, Clark lives among humans as a "mild-mannered reporter" for the Metropolis newspaper The Daily Planet (called the Daily Star in original stories). Clark works alongside reporter Lois Lane, with whom he is romantically involved (and whom he marries in the current mainstream comics continuity).

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