They say youth is wasted on the young, and that’s never more true than when it comes to superhuman powers. With a few rare exceptions (like that Parker kid), a teenager with super-powers tends to get sidelined as a sidekick or wannabe, and even the far-flung future heroes of the Legion get flack for their characteristic idealism and impulsiveness, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of the New Warriors, the Teen Titans, and even Generation X from fighting their respective good fights. So it was, some years ago, that a headstrong young man assembled his own league of justice in the hopes of overcoming evil and maybe getting famous along the way. As with many things in the 90s, they never quite lived up to their potential, but like the man said, it’s better to burn out than fade away. This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Bonfire, Frostbite, Hard Drive, Junior, Monstergirl, Off-Ramp, Thunderhead and Zip-Kid, collectively known as… The Young Heroes!
Or – “Power And Responsibility Transcending Time And Space…”
The modern Heroic Age of the modern universe gave rise to legends that have endured for decades, both in-universe and out. Among those is the legend of Spider-Man, a colorful hero whose battles against foes large and small taught everyone a lesson involving the responsibilities of having super-powers. About a century later (depending on comic-book time, of course) a new hero rose, taking his name as a tribute to the old and heralding, like his predecessor, a new heroic age. And, like Peter Parker, he was considered an unlikely hero, but one who quickly came to embody the best that his generation had to offer. This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Miguel O’Hara of the year 2099, who took up the mantle of a fallen legend to become Spider-Man 2099!
It’s a strange thing to be first. Many times, the first iteration of something isn’t the most iconic, the best or even the most well-known, but today’s Hero History entrant puts the lie to that expectation. After years of nearly no super-heroic representation of anyone who wasn’t Caucasian (and even that one green kid had blonde hair) the streets of Metropolis gave birth to a hero whose mettle and courage are the equal of any who came before, and whose feats of power quickly made him one of the most respected heroes around. An multiple-time Olympic champion as well as a teacher, he has trained both mind and body to peak of perfection, and you can’t begrudge the man his unique style. This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Jefferson Pierce, Olympic Gold Medalist and all-around badass, known to the world as… BLACK LIGHTNING!
Or – “SWEEET CHRISTMAS!”
The Marvel Universe is a strange and occasionally terrible place. At any moment, a building could collapse because of rogue Hulks, or your entire neighborhood could get utterly annihilated by alien space bugs. Even back in the day, before the X-Men outnumbered the combined population of every town I lived in before the age of 17, it was a difficult place to live, where a random prison guard with a grudge could change your life forever (and that’s AFTER you were betrayed by your oldest friend and your first love murdered before your eyes.) Not everyone could bounce back from that kind of tragedy. Coming back from a situation that untenable takes the kind of person with steel-hard resolve to keep punching, to fight for justice even when everything falls apart around you. This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Carl Lucas, known to some as the Hero For Hire, to others as Power Man, but best known as… LUKE CAGE!
Or – “It Takes A Real Man To Be A Superhero AND Host The Daily Show!”
In a way, it’s kind of astonishing that in an industry that started in the mid-1930s, there were virtually no superheroes of color until the 1970s. Though today’s Hero History entrant wasn’t the first black superhero (that place is held by The Black Panther, circa 1966) nor the first African-American character to headline his own book (that honor goes to Dell Comics’ Lobo, a cowboy type who will probably make for a fine Retro Review soon enough), but John Stewart predates either Luke Cage or Black Lightning, and his backstory is considerably less embarrassing than that of The Falcon. Chosen for his strength of will, his fearlessness, his honesty and character, he also brought a new attitude to the role of Earth’s protector, and never failed to do the right thing, regardless of what anyone thought of his methods. Indeed, his heroic example eventually led the immortal Guardians of the Universe (not known for changing their minds) to alter their “one Lantern per sector” rule for the first time in eons, and overcame one of the greatest tragedies that any superhero has ever had to bear. This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of John Stewart of Earth, the third man from his world to patrol sector 2814 as Earth’s Green Lantern!
Or – “The Amazing 9-In-1 Superhero!”
When I was a kid, there was no filter between toys, cartoons, comics and movies, nor would we have wanted one. We could watch the cartoon adventures of the same characters in our comics (though their adventures were often tonally different) and buy the appropriate tie-in toys at the local TG&Y store when we were done. Of course, this isn’t a Facebook post about how things were better when we were younger, this is all about the comics. When evil rears its ugly head, sometimes you need a hero with versatility, one who isn’t merely one man with a mission. In some extreme cases, you need a man who is actually more than a dozen heroes all at the same time! This, then, is your Major Spoilers hero history of Doctor Clive Arno, Captain Miles Drake and Cole Drake, each known in turn as… CAPTAIN ACTION!
Or – “An Epic Hero’s Journey Through Time, Space & Dimension!”
These days, it’s kind of hard to remember that there were companies other than the Big Two (or Big Four, if you’re so inclined.) DC’s pedigree goes back to the dawn of comics Golden Age, while Marvel was kinda-sorta there, in spirit. But in those heady days, hundreds of other companies came and went, with names like Standard, Fawcett, Nedor, Fox Features, Quality, Chesler, Frog and the far-flung Isles of Langerhans! But publishing is a mug’s game, one that just as often leads to a late night exodus with your $#!+ in the trunk and the creditor’s on your tail, and many of those companies (as well as countless others) have come and gone in the ensuing 7 decades. Today’s Hero History entrant carries the somewhat dubious honor of outlasting many a publisher, and stretching the length and breadth of the history of comics (and the inner mind.) Born out of obscurity, eventually rising to slightly-less-obscure obscurity, his name has become synonymous with ‘multi-syllabic placeholder word.’ With hammering fists of justice, and the wind of truth at his back, he never falters from battle, never cowers from combat, never forgets the rule of three!!! This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Ulysses Montgomery Bronson, also called Balam-Uss of the lost planet Omicron XII, known to the masses as… KABLAMMAKUS!
Or – “The Best There Is At What He Does!!!”
May I just start by saying that, MAN, these Hero Histories take forever. On average, I’m dealing with a couple hundred issues, sometimes spanning decades, trying to boil down a character to their essence (or, in some cases, their various differentiated essences) and find what makes them really tick, in my subjective opinion. When a particularly busy character comes along, it gets doubly annoying. This week’s Hero History entrant initially appeared as a mystery, his backstory unplumbed, and we only learned about him in fits and starts as his teammates pried whatever truths they could out of him. Contradictions abounded, but during his tenure as a hero and his training under Professor X, the mysterious badass clearly established himself as the star of his team and a force to be reckoned with. This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of the greatest mutant in Marvel Comics history…
Or – “Bahamut says ‘WHAT?’ “
In the 8 or so decades since Siegel and Shuster got shafted over the rights for the guy in the blue tights, there have been literally THOUSANDS of heroes from hundreds of companies, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. For ever Batman, you have Skateman. For every Green Lantern, you have a Blue Rajah. For every Marvel Girl, you have a Great And Powerful Turtle. And for every Captain Marvel, you have… another Captain Marvel. My rather limited research strongly implies that the first hero to stick a military rank in front of a random word was a Captain Marvel, giving the name serious Golden Age cache. Given that there are roughly ninety-seven different Captain Marvels extant, though, the question becomes: WHICH CAPTAIN GETS THE NOD?
Or – “Fire BAD!!”
During the month of October, I set off on a plan to do weekly Hero Histories on Halloween-appropriate heroes, starting with Dracula, and ending with a secret character. Seein’ as how we’re about two weeks short of Christmas, you can see how well that worked. Nonethless, I think we’re still holiday appropriate, seein’ as how we’re working with a hero who wears red and green (or atleast wears red and IS green.) Though a product of possibly evil intentions, he nonetheless overcame his creation to transform into something strongly resembling Superman. Like the original Man of Steel, the Man of Science (SCIENCE!) was not himself human, but still strove to protect the weak from natural disasters, crazed lunatics and the occasional killer gorilla. Striding forth out of his castle to fight crime in all it’s forms, today’s entrant had a short career at a time where superheroes were crawling out of the woodwork, and his uniqueness added to his legend. This, then, is your Major Spoiler Hero History of the creature who called himself Frank Stone, known publically by the name of his “father…” FRANKENSTEIN!
Or – “He Doesn’t Even Drink… Wine.”
In the years since 1938 (technically even earlier, given the existence of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Zorro, the Green Hornet and others who predate the technical era of the Superman) there have been hundreds upon hundreds of publishers that create comic book adventures, with hundreds of THOUSANDS of characters involved. In all that time, there have been more than a few heroes whose existence is due mostly to bad ideas, high concept or some sort of drugs. In the case of today’s Hero History entrant, a strong case can be made for all three. His powers are unique, to say the least, his costume not-so-very fearsome, and his code-name? Well, it’s a long story. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages… sit right back and you’ll hear a tale of a man fighting to overcome his family’s legacy of evil and forge a new path to greatness. This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Aloyisius Ulysses Card of Transylvania, who took his ancestor’s name in his heroic identity of… DRACULA!
Or – “It’s An Old-School Hero History! That Is To Say, Several Weeks Later Than I Intended To Put It Up…”
As with any project, there are inherent problems when one undertakes a Hero History. The utilization of images on paper, some decades old, causes one to spend a lot of time balancing colors, adjusting white levels, saturation and blah blah blahs. With today’s entrants, an additional question arose, debating whether or not I needed to try and colorize their original black and white adventures. I tried a couple of things, none entirely successful, before deciding that it’s actually cooler to stay with the original. Indeed, black and white kind of adds to the street-level back alley mystique of this week’s entrants. Born out of the martial arts craze spawned by Bruce Lee (the flames of which were only fanned by Lee’s somewhat mysterious death) today’s entrants occupy a special place in the hearts of old-school Marvel magazine fans. When their mentor was killed by mysterious forces, three men from different backgrounds gave up their regular lives for a mission of vengeance. In their travels through the outskirts of the Marvel Universe, they encountered forces beyond their comprehension but still fought on using only their spirit, their bare hands and sheer determination. Though never as high profile as a Wolverine or a Spider-Man, their heroism was just as important in the greater scheme of things. This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Lin Sun, late of Chinatown; Bob Diamond of Hollywood; and Abraham Brown of Harlem, known collectively as the Sons Of The Tiger!