LinkExchange FORWARD

by editor Michael Hutchison
and the contributors and fans of Fanzing

We all have our favorite characters, and the reasons we love them are as diverse and intriguing as the array of characters in the DCU itself.

World's Finest…by Lou
The World's Finest Team by Lou Douzepis

As I typically like a character that has a bit of the rogue in them, most of my favorite superheroes are not always heroic. There are a few exceptions to this, though, which includes my choice of Ice/Tora Olafsdotter. Ice to me was the quintessential hero, who was typically run over roughshod by creative staff trying to make an 'event' in the decline of the last Justice League title.

Paladin in principle, she was the heart of the JLA as J'onn observed. Originally the only child of the rulers of an isolationist Nordic tribe, she left everything she knew behind in her late teens to venture out into the outside world. Drawn by curiosity and an urge to get away from her parent's choice of spouse for her (whom we never saw, but as he was named after a frost giant who ate his children he sounded like not an auspicious choice); she joined the Global Guardians to learn about the outside world while helping it become a better place. From there, she and her new friend Fire joined the Justice League after the Global Guardians disbanded after losing funding.

As a member of the Justice League, she was the one who seemed to hold together part of the League. Her calming influence was exerted over both Fire and Guy Gardner; both of whom probably would have left a much wider swath of damage in their hotheadedness without Ice being there. Hey, I really like Guy & Fire too, but sometimes they do need to think before they react - of course, sometimes Ice needed to act instead of thinking as she kept on getting knocked out near the start of the fighting.

I miss the character of Ice, and how she could be used to help draw members of a team together with her caring and probity. Hopefully she will be brought back eventually by a writer that truly understands her character. There are many ways this could be done, including some function of her own ice demigoddess powers or from the powers she absorbed from her battle with her brother which were never fully explored. Also, Ice went from being an only child to having a full-grown brother - so could even do an alternate timeline where in one she is an only child & in the other had a younger sibling.

Melissa Wilson

The Flash III - Wally West … There's nothing this guy can't do! With superspeed, you can do anything (as long as your mind can keep up, and in Wally's case it can). In my opinion, The Flash could beat any super-powered being, no matter who they are, unless they are actually faster than he is. Yes, Superman could be defeated by The Flash. Doomsday? Down in nanoseconds (ignore the lame-o "Doomsday Wars" mini-series. Justice was not done to the Scarlet Speedster!). Batman is the only possible adversary that could take down good ol' Fleet-Feet, only due to his extreme wit. But you ask, "Why, then, do Wally's storylines seem to last six issues each?" Well, Mark Waid is such a fine writer that he doesn't let Wally realize his true power. If The Flash took down a non-speedster villain in the length of two or three panels, that wouldn't be very exciting. Waid keeps the excitement flowing out of every page! The super-extreme writing, combined with the ultimate cosmic powers held by the Fastest Man Alive, makes The Flash my favorite character -- not just in the DCU, but of every comic book universe of any time.

Mark Gillins

I don't read comics anymore, but when I did, Jericho of the New Titans was my favorite character.

Aside from being drop-dead gorgeous (those eyes!), he wasn't the typical macho jerk that too many male comic-book characters are. He had a more sensitive side and wasn't afraid to show it. Not that he couldn't kick ass with the best of them, but it wasn't his first choice of problem resolution, and that kind of balance needs to be present more often, particularly in books that lean toward non-stop fights anyway (Titans wasn't one of those books, which is partly why I liked it). His inability to speak only made you want to know even more strongly what he was thinking.

And what can I say, I have a thing for guys who can do high-kicks -- Misha Baryshnikov and Jackie Chan are also big faves of mine.

I hate the way Wolfman ignored Jericho in nearly every story, I hate what was done to his character toward the end (making him shallow and promiscuous), and there wasn't any good reason to kill him other than for the cheap thrills of the few vocal readers who didn't like him. It makes me wish I was an artist, so I could draw my own comic books of the Titans, where Jericho wouldn't be left as an attractive piece of background art while two-dimensional nothing characters like Danny Chase take center stage.

Well, we all can dream.

Rachel Ehrlich

My favorite hero is, bar none, the Batman. There are some basic reasons, of course. He's dark, he always intimidates criminals, and he has a fantastic costume. But there are more complex reasons too. He's everything we all want to be. He's brilliant with tactics, planning for every contingency, leaving nothing to chance. He's always calm and collected, never letting his emotions get the better of him. He always knows what he's doing. Forget the fact that he's the best fighter in the world and has money and technology to make Bill Gates cry. It's his personality. That calmness and confidence, the confidence that doesn't equal egotism. That's what makes him so great in my eyes. He's everything I'd like to be.

Alan Kistler

I'm gonna talk about MY HERO!…. The Big Blue Boy Scout….. SUPERMAN!

As a little child I used to show an unusual interests in any written material, so I've enjoyed a lot of stories from so many sources that would took so long to mention here. But the comic books got my attention heavily. When I was a kid there were a plenty of them, and I began to notice that I liked some of them more than others.

As long I can make memory I noticed that Superman always was there as part of my life. I started to like their stories more than anything, and then suddenly one day a radio show begin to broadcast here in La Paz (Bolivia.) That show was in spanish of course, but I really like to hear about the origins of the Man of Steel with those (for that time) amazing sound effects. My father was a Super-fan (not a die-hard one) and he told me about what he currently knows about Superman.

But the time for high school come, comics were on disgrace here, because of the arriving of the TV in Bolivia (1969,) and they were slowly losing their long termed reign. I myself believing that I'm not interested in them at all. Then the movies came. I just watched "Superman II" with my father and that is one of my best memories, because that was the time that both father and son were sharing memories from our respective childhood

Why Supes is my hero? I've thinking a lot about this. What can I say that others haven't told before… That he stands for the Good, the Light, and the best of the humankind (despite he is not a fully terrestrial.) That he is what he is because of his moral code about not to take a life (despite the fact he already has killed.) That is not super for the powers he has instead that for the brain and heart he carry.

But overall I think he is my hero because in nowadays he represents those ancient archetypes of strong men dedicated to do the well to other people and those who stands as a real role model (Remember Samson & Hercules?) I think that Superman/Clark Kent fills that need very well and that's one of the reasons why he has been so enduring, while other characters are being faded by time.

He is our modern archetype of the strong man, of the good will man and of the hope in future. I was, I'm and I'll be amazed that even very little kids, (some of them starting to talk) don't ever fail to recognize him or at least his fabulous "S" shield. Just a couple of days ago a little kid looks at my computer desktop (at my workplace), and instantly says "Superman!" and after that his father told me that he barely could speak more than ten words!

Yes, I've used to get a lot of fantasies about having the powers of Superman (mostly, super strength and the flying ability,) but sooner I realized that the use I will give to these powers won't be good in many cases. And that's the better way I realized that is not the powers at all what makes him… MY HERO!

Gary A. Valenzuela (a.k.a. GEVALHER)

Batman and Robin were always heroes to me in my more carefree days… back when I was at the age when you can watch an old Adam West Batman TV show and not groan at the campy acting. Every Halloween I can remember, I always dressed as Batman or Robin. I got made fun of in my Robin costume one year: the infamous year when Robin (Jason Todd) died. I wasn’t an avid comics reader then, but the story was big enough to make all the major news and somehow my dressing as a “dead” hero made me an object of ridicule. I never thought about it much, but looking back, I can guess vaguely what attracted me to Batman. For one thing, he was just a guy. A rich guy with a lot of toys, but still… just one guy. No powers. No flying. Nothing that made him any different from anyone else. Nothing to protect him from all the villians he fought on a nightly basis… nothing except his strong body and his even stronger mind. As cliched as it may sound, the possibility occured to almost every youngster…”Someday, if I work hard enough….study hard enough… that could be me.” Heck, even as adults they think “Someday… if I lose 50 lbs… study hard enough….”

Hal Jordan was also a favorite of mine. I mean, how could you NOT like this guy? He too was basically just a man. A man who had a magic ring, but who was a decent ordinary guy in spite of it. Hal’s whole power came from whatever his mind could think of… something that was very cool to me as a kid. And not only did he have a great power that depended on how fast he could think, he was powerful too. On the Superfriends cartoons, Hal was always the first person Superman asked for help whenever he faced something even he couldn’t deal with… either cutting him free from a Kryptonite ball-and-chain or helping penetrate a massive forcefield surrounding the Earth. Hal even managed to single-handedly save the entire Justice League after they were captured by aliens and imprisoned in a bubble that could resist all of their powers. Hal knew his ring couldn’t effect the yellow-tinted bubble, but he could use it to make them all invisible. Thinking the Justice League somehow escaped the aliens deactivated the bubble, allowing the JLA a chance to escape.

Thinking further, I’ve noticed that I've always taken a liking to heroes who used smarts over strength, brain over brawn, finesse over fisticuffs and so forth. That still applies today. Probably my favorite hero at the moment is Kyle Rayner- the new Green Lantern. Like Hal, Kyle’s gift is that his power is totally dependent on his smarts: on what he can think up. I also like Kyle because I can relate a little bit better to him than Hal. Writers, like artists, know what it’s like to have to rush to meet a deadline and know what it is like to have a problem come up that distracts from your work… and what we wouldn’t give for that problem to be a bank robbery that requires us to slip on the ring and save the day, rather than an angry parent or spouse asking you for the twelth time that day to go take out the garbage.

Matt Morrison

Kole, Raven and Azrael

Raven of the Titans: Raven is my hero because she HEALS people. Of all powers to have, that would be the one. If I had that ability, I would go around healing every last person I could. I'd go to hospitals and spend every waking second going from patient to patient healing them. Since Raven has the ability to sense things, and to teleport, that ability would allow the bearer to shift to the people needing it most, and though not everyone would get healed in time, so many people would. Imagine a child's misery suffering from a life-threatening ailment, and a parent who is powerless to fix it… Imagine the joy such a healing touch would bring; not only to the victim, but to their loved ones, too.

Raven has been treated poorly in her career as a Titan. I would like to see her treated with the respect she deserves.

Azrael of the Titans: Azrael could very well be a heavenly being. His past was never delved into. What's so appealing about him is his enigmatic presence… whenever he happens to be around. He's one of the most intense mysteries of the DCU, right alongside Harlequin and Terra II. He's been around much longer than the Batman character, but how much more do we know about him?

Azrael is a hero because he loves. It's as if his super power is the ability to love to a fault. Sure, some people think he's whiny and sappy, but the romantics envy him. Wouldn't ANY girl be swept off her feet by a talk, handsome man who speaks in the poetry of love… with ANGELIC wings??

Ryand'r of the Omega Men: Ryand'r is the underdog of the And'r family of Tamaran. He's been ignored most of his life -- overshadowed by his sisters' greatness or infamous behavior. He's been tortured by Queen Komand'r. He joined up with the Omega Men to escape his life, only to be experimented on by the Psions (much like Komand'r and Koriand'r), which gave him similar abilities.

What is so admirable about Ryand'r is his nature as a friend. Though he has every right to be bitter and spiteful, he has a strong, long-distance relationship with his sister Starfire, he has a strong friendship with Elu, and he loved Ynda dearly. He never took advantage of his status as royalty, although it was later stripped from him. Unfortunately, not much has been seen of Ryand'r in the DCU… other than a brief mention of him in Kingdom: Nightstar, and only in reference that he and Starfire are staying with each other somewhere in the Vegan System.

Kole of the Titans: Kole is the classic poster child of the dysfunctional family. Kole is my hero because in her weakness she was strong, and in her ignorance she was wise. She had no carnal knowledge to spoil her innocence, and acted and probably thought much like a child. Marv Wolfman delved masterfully into her characterization -- when she asked Jericho to make love to her -- and created for us a character that was both pitiable and loveable. Sure, she was just created so that Titans would have a casualty during the Crisis on Infinite Earths… but she has since reappeared in a ghostly form in the Team Titans. Who knows if she's still around… a being of scattered crystals diffused in the atmosphere and mixed up in the time-space continuum when the infinite earths were fused into one? Maybe she still exists in some special way.

Ryand'r, Prism and Risk

Risk and Prysm of the Titans: Risk and Prysm have to be my favorite Titans, by far. Both of them were such polar opposites. Prysm was the spoiled princess of a fantasy realm based on classical literature and sixties TV sitcoms. In her black and white world, she was the center. Everything revolved around her, yet she remained a sweet and innocent child. Risk grew up in a trailer park. Some people have called him "trailer trash," and he seemed perfectly aware of his insignificance. Perhaps that is why he always tried so hard to take drastic risks… to get the attention that he so desperately needed. In the Titans, Risk was always showing off, and was truly grateful for his newfound abilities. Prysm was always subdued, and never wanted to be the center of attention; as she was in her now-lost little world. The two began their careers despising each other, but soon overcame their differences. As Prysm learned to be self-reliant and strong, Risk learned to be kind and caring, and to let go of his need for attention. The two fell in love with each other. But can they ever heed that calling? Does their shared heritage make them somehow siblings? I love these characters so much because of the turmoil that they have, and the feelings they have for each other, which in itself is another great DCU mystery.

Marcus Mebes (words and pictures)

When asked who my favorite DC Comics super-hero is, there are several answers that come to my mind. The book I currently most enjoy reading is Starman, and I really like the character of Jack Knight. I'm also a collector of (as anyone who's been reading my fiction work knows) the old DC sci-fi characters, but that's more of an interest than an admiration. And a sentimental favorite is Star Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes, because his last name is "Kallor," and thus, similar to mine.

But when it comes down to it, there's really only one character who I can call my favorite, and that's Kallor's fellow Legionnaire, Brainiac 5. The guy was born on a super-scientific world, with great intelligence genes, and raised to maximize his intelligence output, but was deprived of any socialization and love. Out of this background comes a good young man who thinks he knows the answers to everything, and can be sarcastic and cutting when he wants to, but is at a loss over how to deal with people he actually likes and wants to please.

I cheer when he achieves a scientific triumph. I sympathize when he's trying to do so, but fails. I laugh when he gets what's coming to him and my heart goes out to him when he's at a loss for words. I liked his character before the Legion re-boot…suave self-assurance combined with absent-mindedness…and I love his character after the re-boot. Watching him grow as he interacts with the Legion and with his pet monkey, Koko (who is a total riot) has been a delight. My favorite hero, Brainiac 5 (I don't care if he calls himself "5.1" now; he'll always be "5" to me)…the more I see of him, the better I like him.

Chaim Mattis Keller

Question and Green Arrow

Question This year, as in the three years past, I found myself wandering around the fan-filled floors of the Heroes Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was purposefully wandering near the DC booth because I'd just heard that Bob Layton and Dick Giordano were going to be making an appearance. When they got there, I found myself standing in a big crowd around the table. Layton seemed to be drawing in people's sketch books, while Giordano was sketching something of his own. I walked over and asked Giordano if he did sketches too, and he asked what I wanted. I asked for the Question. He said, "Whatever you want, you're getting a Batman head." Layton laughed and stopped pencilling for a moment. "Dick, he wants the Question," he said. The slightly hard-of-hearing Giordano replied with a "No question about it, he's getting a Batman head. It's simple and quick." Layton pointed to the black and white previews of the L.A.W. book that he and Giordano were working on. "No, Dick…The Question, from our book. He has no face, he's the simplest guy to draw in the world!" Giordano Oh!ed with realization, and sure enough, I got my picture. I got back in line to get a picture from Layton, and again, I asked for the Question. He asked if I wouldn't rather have something else, and I told him no thanks, but the Question was my favorite. We talked as he drew on the back of the scratch paper I stole from the CBG booth, and I told him about my webpage. "Oh, you're the guy who does the Question page. It's in my bookmarks," he replied. I left that day, happy on three counts. I had two awesome Question sketches by two awesome artists, and the knowledge that Bob Layton himself had been to my humble little Geocities website.
Question and Batman

My adventures with the hero known as the Question began a year earlier, at the same comics convention. It was Sunday night, and prices had dropped substantially. I was helping my father fill a long box when I found a complete DC run of the Question (1-36) and two annuals. I stuck 'em in, planning to read them that summer. When I got around to it, I couldn't stop reading, and finished them all in one afternoon. It was that afternoon that the Question became my favorite comic character.

I'd had a few run-ins with the guy before. My dad had a couple of issues of the ol' Charlton Blue Beetle series, in which the Question was a backup feature. At the time, he was just a hero without a face.

If you've read up to this point without a previous knowledge of the Question…yes, that's right, he's a hero who has no face. He was the creation of Steve Ditko, most likely based on the writings of objectivist Ayn Rand, a hard-hitting news reporter named Vic Sage who followed up on his stories through use of a special mask created by his friend and associate Professor Aristotle "Tot" Rodor. The mask, stored in his belt buckle, in combination with a special gas that also changed the color of his clothes, sealed the pseudoderm to his face to create a featureless visage. Throughout the five issues of Blue Beetle, Sage took his black and white brand of justice to the streets, charging that those who allowed the criminals to maintain their grip on the city were just as guilty.

Question    The series was canceled, and Vic only made three more Charlton appearances, a one-shot called Mysterious Suspense that is hailed by Ditko fans as one of his finest works (which, sadly to say, I don't own), an issue of Layton's Charlton Bullseye in a story drawn by Alex Toth, and a later non-Layton issue of Bullseye, written by George Wildman and drawn by Dan Reed. He also appeared as part of a team called the Sentinels of Justice (along with Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and Nightshade) in AC Comics Special.

Then, the Crisis happened. Charlton editor Dick Giordano had orchestrated the purchasing of Charlton's first generation characters by his new employer DC Comics. The Charlton characters were incorporated into the DC Universe in the big Crisis she-bang, and after guest-starring in 3 issues of DC's new Blue Beetle series, Vic got his own book. Written by the renowed Denny O'Neil and drawn by the up-and-coming Denys Cowan, the book really clicked. In the first issue, Vic seemingly died. In the second issue, he was revived, and through the tutelage of Richard Dragon, was completely transformed.

The next 34 issues, two annuals, five quarterlies, and one-shot were amazing. O'Neil situated the Question in the dark and corrupt Hub City, gave him a solid set of background characters, a driving curiousity, an unsure set of morals, and let him go. The result was one of the best comic series I've ever read.

Question and Huntress I knew that after reading it, I had to do something. That something turned out to be the webpage, which I'm quite proud of. It's connected me with Vic Sage fans from all across the Internet, and also brought me in touch with industry pros like Greg Rucka, Layton and Denny O'Neil himself. I've drawn multiple pictures of the Question, thought up and written several storylines featuring him, and roleplayed as the Question through text-based virtual realities known as MUSH/MUXes. My current projects include my first jump into real fanfic and the creation of my Question guitar (third layer of lacquer curing as I type this). I own every comic the Question's ever appeared in except for three of his early appearances (Charlton Bullseye #5, and Blue Beetle #'s 2 and 4).

Could you say that the Question was my favorite comic character? Well it sure ain't Prez.

Eric Newsom (words and pictures)

All characters are ™ DC Comics
This column is © 1999 by Michael Hutchison
and the contributors and readers of Fanzing.
All artwork is © 1999 by their respective artists.