Or – “I Decided Not To Call It “Top Ten Characters Who Can Go $&@$ Themselves…”

There are a couple of tenets that I try to always observe in my work for Major Spoilers…

Rule #1 – Don’t assume that you’re right.
Rule #2 – At the end of the day, it’s just lines on paper.
Rule #3 – Your mileage, and everyone’s, may vary.
Rule #4 – Try to keep it positive.

Still, I truly believe that everybody needs to break the rules once in a while.  Recently, my growing rage at a certain comic book character has led me to rant and rave and break three of the four rules all at once, and I figured, why not get it off my chest?  They say catharsis is good for the something or other, right?  Unbridled Nerd Rage in Three…  Two…  One!

Earth-Man

Dance with the one what brung ya, I always say, and since the Hero Histories of the Legion are what brought me to the table, I had to ante up this loser immediately.  Earth-Man’s entire raison d’etre is flawed for me by the fact that he was the villain in the issue where Tyroc (the first black character to join the Legion of Super-Heroes) joins.  In 1976, DC was only able to hint that he was a racist, but Geoff Johns turned the former Absorbancy Boy into a full-blown psychopath with immense powers and a grudge against anything non-human.  Here’s my problem with that:  Nearly every alien in the LSH is a pink-skinned humanoid who wouldn’t look out of place in a Safeway in Brainerd, MN.  Much as with Jean Grey’s lamenting her mutant nature and the prejudice that comes with it, Earth-Man’s silly crusade SHOULDN’T have worked, and the existence of his xenophobic silliness is now serving as a core concept behind the relaunched Legion series.  Earth-Man himself was front and center in the first issue and promises to be around for awhile, but there’s just no meat behind him other than “rejection makes awkward teen mean.”  Of all the characters to dislike in the 31st Century, Earth-Man hits the coveted hat trick of over-powered, unconceptualized, and obnoxious without motivation…

Edward Cullen

Speaking of awkward teenagers and rejection…  Of all the entrants on this list, I wrestled most with this one, for a couple of reasons.  I am NOT the target audience for his story, and moreover, Twilight hatred is pretty much old hat.  Then I went to Burger King and my French Fries wanted me to choose Team Edward or Team Jacob, and I figured if I was going to give in to the power of the Dark Side of the Intardwebz, I might as well go all the way.  Here’s the simplest reason of all to hate Mr. Cullen, simpler than his stalkery nature, the fact that his stalkery nature was aimed at an emotionally immature little girl, the vapid emptiness in his high-cheekboned face, even the fact that his existence made Robert Pattinson a celebrity…  Even if we ignore all the unsavory connotations and psychological perversities in his romance, Edward is little more than a defanged version of Buffy’s paramour Angel.  The upshot of it all is this:  You can be a horrible cardboard Mary Sue boyfriend, you can be the spearhead of the most annoying cultural revolution since Pikachu shot lightning out of his ass, you can even be portrayed by an actor more wooden than Gepetto’s boy, but if you’re a blatant case of plagiarism?  $&@# you.

The Haunt

Robert Kirkman is a very talented writer, and has a lot of good ideas.  Invincible is the kind of comic that makes you want to believe it’s tagline of “The Best Superhero Comic in the Universe.”  But Kirkman is as human as anybody, and since he grew up in the 90’s, has a soft spot for Sleepwalker, for Darkhawk, and for Todd McFarlane’s Spawn and Spider-Man work.  I love the chutzpah it took for Bob to stand up at Comicon and challenge Todd to draw a book that he would write, but did it have to be so on-the-nose?  No matter how wonderful the interiors on this comic are, no matter if the story is William Shakespeare returning from the dead, there’s no getting past the fact that this character is the Amazing Spider-Spawn…  Stupid comics written with love I can understand and condone, but something this derivative is lucky to have ever made it through the copyrighting process.

Kai Winn

As an old-school Trekkie (every Sunday morning on Channel 41, and I loved the weeks that we got ‘Mudd’s Women’) there is no way that I could compile this list without putting SOMEONE related to Roddenberry’s masterwork on it.  But, whom to choose?  Wesley Crusher? Been done.  William Shatner’s toupee?  Too obvious.  First season William Riker?  I wouldn’t mind punching him, but he did mellow into a fine Captain with age.  I even considered Q, but then I remembered him in a bellman’s uniform, lisping “Is there a Jeen-Luck Pickerd here?”  As someone who watched every episode of Deep Space Nine straight through three times in order as a Master Control operator at a local television station, no character in the world is more in need of a knuckle sandwich than Kai Winn of the Bajoran Order.  Initially drawn as a religious zealot who wouldn’ t hear of questioning the Prophets, Winn eventually revealed herself to be a vain, petty, venal, and jealous woman, who resented Captain Benjamin Sisko’s appointment to the post of Emissary.  In later seasons, just the sound of Louise Fletcher’s honeyed tones raises my blood pressure…  She’s the epitome of every smarmy television manager, every salesperson, every two-faced assclown who acted as though butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth before pushing you under a bus.  Sure, it’s an exhilarating kind of hatred, but it’s a hatred that burns as hot as the plasma generators I would push our fine Kai into after embedding my carpals in her face…

X-Pac

Oh, come on, you knew this was coming.  In deference to those who whine that professional wrestling isn’t real, I’d like to point out that I have never met Sean Waltman, the man who portrayed X-Pac (aka Six-Pack, Sixx, The One-Two-Three Kid, and ‘Him, Again?’) and so have little opinion about him other than what I’ve seen on the Surreal Life.  No, I’m interested in the character he plays, seemingly a drugged-out proto-hippie punk who likes to point at his crotch and hop as though being electrocuted.  ‘Pac even coined a piece of wrestling jargon (kayfabe, in industry speak) called “X-Pac Heat.”  In the parlance, ‘heat’ is what a villain wrestler (a ‘heel’) generates from the audience with his actions.   A good heel (think Triple H, or Ric Flair, or even Randy Savage when feuding with Hulk Hogan in the 80’s) is booed because the audience wants them to lose the match and get their comeuppance.  X-Pac Heat is when the audience boos because they hate you, because your act is stale, because they just want you to GO AWAY.  The fact that X-Pac has recently returned to the spotlight in TNA Wrestling reminds me that just because something is indefensible, doesn’t mean it won’t come back to infuriate you again.  The saddest part is that I’d punch him and he’d probably no-sell my shot…

Comic Sans

Does this really need an explanation?  Some people don’t understand the X-Pac Heat (see, you’re learning things already!) aimed at poor little Comic Sans, but here’s the real steel deal:  It’s offensive to me in the same way that the inevitable “Pow!  Biff!   Bam!  Comics Aren’t For Kids Anymore!” articles that follow every Hollywood superhero outing are offensive to me.  They marginalize and mock an industry that is far more mature than most will give it credit for.  Comic Sans is shorthand for “superheroey!” in the same way a man screaming “Our prices are insaaane!” is short-hand for small-market commercial voice-over.  As someone who likes a nice Serif on his fonts anyway, the bloopiness of Comic Sans is offensive to the eye, it’s offensive to me as a comic reader, and there’s no reason for it to be so ubiquitous.  There are a lot of fonts that I dislike (Edwardian Script, I’m lookin’ at you, b!+c#) but Comic Sans is now specifically being overused BECAUSE pretentious font-haters hate it.  I’ll say this once:  If you use Comic Sans, the terrorists win.

Delirium

Oooh, a curve-ball!  Neil Gaiman’ Sandman is one of the few damn-near-perfect complete series out there, with so few flat notes or breakdowns as to make the listing of them a one-hand affair (kind of like Stephen’s internet browser history.)  Dream and his family are truly awesome, once-in-a-lifetime concepts, developed with care, with skill, and with great affection.  That’s what makes Delirium such a disappointment.  Perhaps it’s that, going to college in the 90’s, I knew far too many girls who wanted to be her, maybe it’s the fact that I’ve now had comic-shop visitors breathily inform me that, oh my god, she’s based on Tori Amos, did you know???  Maybe it’s the fact that she has the fewest amazing bad-ass godlike moments among her family, or maybe it’s just the whole “Tee hee, I’m CRAAAAZEEE!” motif getting to me, but Delirium works best in small doses.  Her child-like demeanor is probably the reason people love her so much, but since she’s not really a confused sixteen year old, I feel safe in quietly mentioning that I want her to hand me my leather, so I can wrap it around my fist for more impact…

Ultimate Captain America

There are many theories as to what makes Steve Rogers a long-lasting character, what makes him tick, what makes him awesome.  Nowhere on that list would I list jingoism, racism, the ability to kick a defeated foe in the face to show off how badass he is, or a casual sense of his own (and his country’s) superiority swinging in your face like testicles off the back of a redneck’s pickup truck.  Nearly everything that I like about Captain America (his timeless appeal, his leadership, his understanding of humanity, his innate sense of fairness, the big ol’ wings stickin’ out of his hat, his corsair boots) are missing in this iteration of the character, replaced with bravado and crudeness, as well as dialogue that sounds like a cross between an old man whining about what’s wrong with kids today and Bill O’Reilly putting someone on notice.  Whatever your political stance, I think it’s safe to say that that A on his head clearly stands for @$$hole.

Carol Danvers

Carol Danvers in her original series, as written by Chris Claremont, was pretty awesome.  Her resurgence in the current Marvel Universe pretty much ruined that for me, giving her a drinking problem that made her whiny in Avengers Volume Three, and eventually leading to her being the head stormtrooper of Tony Stark de facto Gestapo of SHIELD.  Of all the heroes who currently number themselves Avengers, she’s the only one whose actions haven’t really been examined or accounted for, and it’s telling that I started being interested in Ms. Marvel again when Karla Sofen (who is, in her way, a much bigger and more strident bitch) took over the title near the end of it’s run.  Carol Danvers has worn a lot of hats in her time in the Marvel Universe, but recently we’ve been beaten over the head with her military background.  Nick Fury pulls off ex-military well, as does Batwoman, but Ms. Marvel’s channeling of her Air Force days reminds me of nothin so much as Napoleon Dynamite talking about his karate skills.  All it would take to make me stop hating her is for her to say, just once, “That came out bitchier than I intended…”  Until then, I’ll just quietly white her out of my New Avengers issues and attribute all her dialogue to the much-more-likable Thing.

Hal Jordan

The man.  The myth.  The legend.  The reason why this list even exists…  When I started reading comics, Hal Jordan wasn’t Green Lantern.  He was just a guy who gave up power for love, and let John Stewart act as GL while he courted Carol Ferris.  He got old, had three or four series cancelled out from under him, was turned into a villain and finally killed off in the 90’s, leading to him actually being interesting again as the host of The Spectre.  Then, Geoff Johns had the brilliant idea of how to revitalize the character and bring him back to relevance, and it WORKED!  Even better, it sold comics, getting Big Hal back his own book and making for some good stories.  Then, the malaise set in.  Flyboy cock-jockey posing started standing in for character, and Hal’s more obnoxious tendencies again came to the forefront.  When partnered with Green Arrow in JLA, Hal was insufferable, but the return of Barry Allen was the true nail in the coffin of any sympathy or love I have for Hal.  The return of the quiet, steady one allowed Hal’s characterization to go further afield into brash and arrogant, and when he told Carol Ferris, “I would shoot myself in the head if we were married with kids” he reached a nadir of jerk from which it will be hard to redeem him.  The only hope he really has for regaining my love is the posibility of Van Wilder’s performance being a revelation that pushes him back from the brink of jackassery to a somewhat more balanced portrayal…

Dishonorable Mention: Anakin Skywalker

Since we’re squarely in the realm of Andy-Rooney-if-he-knew-what-the-internet-was, have y’ever noticed how much you hate Anakin throughout the entire prequel?  Seriously, for all the talk about unintentional racism, dumbing-down of concepts and Jar-Jar Binks, the torpedo that sinks the trilogy is the cutesy, then whiny, character who we are supposed to believe grows up to be Darth Vader.  The honest truth is, no matter how awful the dialogue or the lovey-dovey crap could ever have gotten, it might have worked, if only the character had guts enough to act decisively rather than spend the all three movies being blown about like chaff.  His motivation is the most Freudian statement since Oedipus (though Spider-Man has it worse these days.)  It’s telling that his dismemberment scene got cheers in the theatre I was in, hoping that Dooku would go for the head next and we’d discover that Darth Vader was really somebody cooler, somebody who deserves to look that good as a cyborg…  And while I’m ranting about last decade, what’s the deal with airline food?

*Deep Breath*  There.  Now I feel better, and I can return to my usual position as Only-Guy-Who-Remembers-Which-Hero-Is-Really-Named-Dan-Cassidy-And-Wants-Nachos.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled Major Spoilers.

And, as always, your mileage may vary…

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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20 Comments

  1. Snap Wilson
    June 24, 2010 at 2:16 pm — Reply

    Agreed on Earth-Man. I couldn’t imagine a lousier centerpiece for a Legion relaunch.

    Delirium didn’t bother me so much as the whole goth trappings of the Endless, which makes about as much sense as them wearing Members Only jackets, stirrup pants and leg warmers. Don’t get me wrong, Sandman was terrific, but that was nothing more than pandering to his audience.

    As bad as Hal Jordan seemingly is now, the DC universe has never had a bigger asshat than Roy Harper, who has been punch-worthy throughout his entire history.

    • brainypirate
      June 24, 2010 at 2:50 pm — Reply

      RE: Earth-Man

      Doesn’t someone in yesterday’s issue of Legion actually make a comment that the Titanians share 99% of Earth DNA? Seems to me that Levitz is trying to foreground the silliness of his (and many other pro-Earthers’) xenophobia. At the same time, I work on ethnic/racial issues, and this attitude remains extremely common in our own “enlightened” time. People don’t need to see different skin color to make them hate other people. For a time in U.S. history, the most hated ethnic groups were the Irish and the Germans. Then came the North/South conflict. Now we see politicians marginalizing whole cities as being “un-American” and dividing the country along ideological lines–no racial difference needed.

      I agree that Earth Man is annoying. But I also see that his crusade, silly though it be, relies on our very-human ability to form irrational prejudices against others.

      • Young
        June 24, 2010 at 4:02 pm — Reply

        Totally agree with you. Humans have an innate tribal nature, which we have relied on for survival for ages. Unfortunately, as we have progressed technologically, our own emotional development has lagged behind, and those baser instincts that served us so well in our early development hinder us as we achieve the status of chief banana of the planet.

        Just like the “fight or flight” instinct causes untold stress in our boardroom and corporate battlefields, our need to identify with a group and distinguish said group from outsiders (i.e. enemies) creates racism, jingoism, ethnocentrism, and a bunch of other sad and destructive isms. Even if everyone had the same skin color, we would still have prejudice based on eye color, hair color, accent, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, what have you. Sad truth.

  2. Lee Goldberg
    June 24, 2010 at 2:26 pm — Reply

    Agree with everything but Delirium (and Carol Danvers, who is interesting if you think about the fact that she serves as the Marvel universe’s Wonderwoman [in role]). She’s just to cute and silly to need a punchinnaface, plus she has some truly great moments in brief lives.

  3. June 24, 2010 at 2:27 pm — Reply

    I think Frodo belongs in this list.

  4. Ivdar
    June 24, 2010 at 2:28 pm — Reply

    I would have selected Bella instead of Edward, but your argument about Angel is more than valid.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know most of these offenders. I remember Ultimate Cap very well, and I must confess that I liked this portrayal. Probably because I didn’t know 616 Cap at the time and because I’m a French master of self-deprecation…

    Of course, I fully agree on Anakin, but he’s old news.

    Finally, Hal Jordan…gotta agree on the whole “shootin’ meself innahead”, but these days Hal seems more shallow than infuriating to me.

    Nice list ; not only do I loves me some nerdrage once in a while, but it introduced me to terrible characters I didn’t even know existed.

  5. Ming
    June 24, 2010 at 2:47 pm — Reply

    Out of sheer curiosity, who was this certain comic character that caused you to unleash your rage in this essay?

  6. brainypirate
    June 24, 2010 at 2:53 pm — Reply
  7. Bryan
    June 24, 2010 at 3:04 pm — Reply

    Ah yes, Kai Wynn is definitely worthy of a good punchinnaface. Edward deserves it too, but not for being a bad Angel clone, but for what he does in the end of the series. Angel might have gone evil and tried to kill Buffy a few times, but he never did that.

    As much as Anakin was a poorly written mess, I’d punch Jar Jar… he’s a horrible character in Phantom Menace, but in Attack of the Clones he pretty much started the whole downward spiral of the Republic by giving Palpatine the power he so completely misuses for the rest of the Star Wars Saga. Way to go, genius.

  8. Eye-Roller Lass
    June 24, 2010 at 3:13 pm — Reply

    This is my favorite Top Ten so far.
    You know it’s new Legion issue day at my house by the sound of a no-longer-mint rolled up comic banging against a desk, thanks to Earth Man. He’s the anti-Brainiac5: Brainy has no obvious superpower beyond his intelligence, while Earthdouche can be as powerful as he wants, but being too dumb to know what to do with it, he’s ineffective, lame, a poo-face and I hate him.

    Also, even none of us being the target demographics [no matter what the twimoms tell you, women in their thirties aren’t], Edward is, objectively speaking, a bad character, lacking any qualities other than the ones Stephenie Meyer informs us that he has. He’s more of a template for the readers to project whatever fantasies they have about their ideal love interest, and that’s just lazy writing.

  9. TaZ
    June 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm — Reply

    Matthew, if you’ve seen Sean Waltman’s gimmick…you’ve pretty much seen Sean Waltman. Fortunately for all of us old marks and workers out there both Sean and Scott Hall drank themselves out of a job with TNA, leaving Kevin Nash hobbling around with poor Eric Young taking all the bumps for him.

    To your list I would humbly add:

    Crispus Allen – INFINITE POWER…teeny weeny comprehension

    Peter Parker – GROW UP AND GET A SET YOU BIG WUSS! You hang out with the most powerful beings in the Universe and then you go home and whine.

    Vince Russo – Simply because he exists.

    Charles Xaiver – Never has such a self-centered egotistical prick existed in comics for so many years in the guise of a kind and loving teacher.

    Black Canary – Guess for better or worse doesn’t include offing the @$$hole that killed a child in your family and half of your town. Not only that, your secret identity just got splashed all over the TV. Why are you still wearing a blonde wig?

    Red Sonja – You walk into a bar of barbarians wearing a bikini made of dimes and you expect to get left alone?

    Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr. version) – Because nobody should be that rich, cool, funny, smart or have that much fun stuff.

    and finally …

    Steve Jobs – Just because you come up with a new idea does not mean that I will be pressured into purchasing one of your damn “i” gadgets.

    Thank you, Matthew. That was fun!

  10. Irving Forbush
    June 24, 2010 at 5:50 pm — Reply

    Blue Devil wants nachos?

    Great list. Crossing streams with “Who’s the biggest whiner”

  11. SpiderLover
    June 24, 2010 at 7:00 pm — Reply

    I have to agree with your list every person on it just made me want to punch them in the face. Thank you Matthew.

  12. June 25, 2010 at 2:35 am — Reply

    such negativity, man, I’d recommend relaxing with a nice strawberry milkshake, maybe reading some poetry.

  13. June 25, 2010 at 11:46 am — Reply

    The best part about this article is Kai Winn is the only person on this list who deserves a punchinnaface that’s entirely intentional. She almost gets disqualified because Louise Fletcher did such a good job making you hate her. The rest are due to poor acting/poor writing.

    Oh, and speaking of X-Pac Heat:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XPacHeat?from=Main.X-PacHeat

    It’s a trope now.

  14. Obsidian
    June 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm — Reply

    Excellent list and well argued throughout regardless of the utter rage and rant. I even understand your views on Ultimate Cap even though I don’t share them. In fact, I’m on the other side of the camp wiith Ultimate Cap. Don’t get me wrong. I love 616 Cap and have been following it since the latest relaunch. But Ultimate Cap is a perfect foil to 616. 616 is everything someone who represents the USA should be while Ultimate Cap is what many Americans are PERCEIVED to be from people residing outside of the US. And, oddly, I like that because, I think, it’s supposed to provoke the response that you have. Readers are supposed to say, “hey, whoa… that’s NOT what I want my USA to stand for and he does NOT speak for me.” He’s purposely MIS-representative of the USA while still representing an element of American psyche.

    Don’t get me wrong. I still agree that he’s an utter @$$hole–I just don’t think that’s an accident.

  15. Discount Lad
    June 25, 2010 at 11:07 pm — Reply

    Part of what redeems Hal in my eyes is that he isn’t as great as his posturing leads. Much like his later characterizations, he’s a punch first and ask questions kind of that needs others to cover his ass so the world doesn’t fall apart due to his fuck up. It’s enough to put his machismo into perspective, knowing that it could fall flat on his ass at any time. Although lately his hind quarters haven’t touched the pavement in a good while.

  16. Crash
    June 26, 2010 at 9:34 pm — Reply

    Ugh, I detest Ultimate Cap and most everything in the Ultimate Universe outside of Hawkeye/Bullseye and a few other fun characters. Kudos on that one.

  17. James
    June 28, 2010 at 1:37 pm — Reply

    Skywalker was written so bad they had to create a tv series to show how he could be as cool as he is as darth vader.

  18. Stefanie
    August 15, 2010 at 4:59 pm — Reply

    I know who Dan Cassidy is!

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