Opposite characters are sometimes said to be as different as night and day. Other times, it’s a question of night or not? Welcome to Ten Things: Ten “Night Or Not” Supers!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with An Amateur Comics Historian and the streets of Gotham City, Presents:
TEN THINGS: NIGHT OR NOT!
A humanoid insect from New Genesis, The Forager (real name unrevealed and likely night impossible to pronounce) comes from a hive of similar beings. Sadly, even New Genesis isn’t immune to its prejudices, and most of the New Gods, including Orion himself, treated him like a mere “Bug.” During the cosmic odyssey known as… umm… Cosmic Odyssey, Forager teamed with Batman himself and gave his life to stop the Anti-Life Equation from destroying the Earth. He was later resurrected by unusual means, but at least we’ll always have Batman decking Orion as hard as he could.
I mean, it was Batman, hitting Orion, so he barely noticed, but it was dramatic as all hell.
Through a complicated series of events, Bebop & Rocksteady (the mutated rhinoceros and warthog foes of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) teamed up with their unmutated selves from another reality. Together they ran rampant across the multiverse, including a run-in with an alternate version of April O’Neil who was exposed to a dose of mutagen. Turned into a human/dragonfly hybrid, this April was sent back in time with the robot called The Fugitoid, becoming a superhero in 1960s New York.
Debuting as a supervillain during the 1940s, Dickie Swift was an immortal, able to tap into a strange dimension of shadows, manipulating it to do his bidding. The Shade found himself constantly at war with the extended Ludlow family, as well as another shadow-manipulator known as Culp, whose influence caused him to flip back and forth from moral to evil almost at random. An ally of Starman Jack Knight, The Shade agreed to be the protector of Opal City when the hero retired, finally admitting to himself that he isn’t the cad and bounder that he posed as.
Returning home from the Korean War, Dr. Desmond Powell found his home in Central City overrun by crime and corruption. Rather than accept it as inevitable or move away from his home, Powell donned a mask and overcoat, becoming the vigilante called Nightshade. More than thirty years later, he came out of retirement to team with The Flash to stop one of his old villains. Since all this took place on Earth-90, the home of the first TV Flash, Nightshade likely died when his world was consumed by The Monitor, assuming he hadn’t already passed away due to age.
A rookie police officer who was orphaned at a young age, Jim Harper was trained by a former boxing champion to be a fighter. He gave up his shot at stardom when he found that his old neighborhood was besieged by crime. Taking to the streets with a golden shield, The Guardian quickly became entangled with a gang known as The Newsboy Legion, acting as their protector and literal guardian. Years later, the kids of the Legion were successful scientists and harvested his DNA to clone a new Guardian who served as head of security for The DNA Project aka Project Cadmus.
A jerk vigilante who cheated his way through a wrestling match and cost a promising grappler his high-profile job, The Night Guardian (real name unknown) continued his obnoxious ways after the match, leading to his death. That demise was the catalyst for four supervillains (Snowglobe, Bimara, The Enforcer, and Glider Hench #4) to unite as The Disasters in order to survive the heroes who would avenge their idiot colleague.
A Batman-analogue character from Marvel Comics Earth-4290001, Wayne (full name unrevealed) was a member of The Great Society, a league dedicated to the cause of justice. When his world threatened to collide with prime Marvel Earth-616, The Rider and his team had to face down with The Illuminati, with the victors surviving with their world intact. Sadly, being a super-rich ninja/detective/crusader in a cape is no match for full-scale magic, and The Rider was killed when Doctor Strange unleashed a literal demon that killed him and most of his team.
Growing up in Transylvania, Dagon (full name unknown) was
a lone crusader in a dangerous world captured and taken to Castle Dracula during a night of mystic significance. Thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime cosmic convergence, Dagon didn’t become a blood-sucking monster, but instead kept his mind and morality. He eventually joined The Team Titans, battling against would-be dictator Lord Chaos in a world just slightly in our future. He and his team traveled back in time to the present of the DCU, only to have their reality wiped out by the Zero Hour crisis. His current whereabouts are unknown.
After the death of her superhero sister, Miranda Turner took up her mantle to become the nocturnal vigilante known as The Cat. Guided by the spirit of her sister (Lindy Turner, clearly based on the Golden Age Harvey Comics Black Cat, Linda Turner), The Cat seeks to unravel the story behind Lindy’s murder using her wits and her fists.
That’s when the demons show up…
Forbidden from becoming a singer by her overbearing dad, Jacqueline Tavarez donned a wig and costume to audition, plying her musical trade under the alias Nightcat. She became famous, but saw her father murdered and was injected with a strange cocktail of drugs that gave her superhuman powers that she used to seek vengeance on his murderers.
In the real world, Jacqueline Tavarez was an aspiring singer who teamed with her record label and Marvel Comics to create a crossover star from comic books to pop music. Neither her music nor the comic was particularly well-received, and Nightcat was last seen in a Joey Buttafuoco music video.
Patterned on the Green Hornet’s sidekick Kato, Wing How assisted The Crimson Avenger in battle. Originally a non-costumed chauffeur, Wing made up for his derivative nature by doubling down on the racist parts of the character, with a truly horrifying accent and stereotypical cartoony face. How racist was it?
When they revived the Seven Soldiers of Victory in the ’70s, he was already deceased, as he was considered too racist for the era where a bright orange Shang-Chi fought a lemon yellow Fu Manchu in best-selling comics every month.
Long before Dick Grayson retired his red vest, Kal-El took to the skies of Kandor in a rocket belt, inspired by his close personal friend, Batman. With Jimmy Olsen serving as his partner, Flamebird, and a colleague of his father’s as their science guy, Nightwing protected Kandor occasionally throughout the Silver Age, eventually turning the role over to the Kryptonian Van-Zee, who is a near perfect double for Superman.
For my money, you cannot beat that rocket belt.
A private detective by trade, Nick Terry grew tired of watching criminals escape the police and get away scot-free. Donning a cape and mask, The Owl used a number of gadgets (including a black-light ray) to bring justice to the streets. By 1943, Terry has disappeared, but was revived in the ’60s as Owl-Man, written by Superman creator Jerry Siegel. Sadly, he didn’t last that time, either, but made it long enough to get an Alex Ross-designed revamp from Dynamite Comics a few years ago.
A member of the Free Force, the official security team of an artificial island called Atlantis, Night Owl (real name unrevealed) and his cohorts were prone to mind-control and manipulation. Frenemies of The Justice Machine, heroes from the planet Georwell, The Free Force popped up rarely, mostly in crowd shots, during the team’s ’90s revival at Comico Comics.
Venturing into the night wearing his official All-Might hoodie, Koichi Haimawari can use his Quirk (the wonderfully named Slide and Glide) to slide across, over, and even UP any surface. He can also emit repeller blasts from his hands, eventually graduating to full-on energy bursts. Initially a vigilante, he has since graduated to the official sidekick of Pro Hero Captain Celebrity, changing his name to The Skycrawler, which is a pretty amazing alias.
A young man from Germany, Kurt Wagner was saved from being stoned to death by frightened villagers and recruited into the ranks of the X-Men. One of the few ardently religious superheroes in the Marvel Universe, Nightcrawler even became a priest for a while, which was pretty ironic when he discovered that his father was a literal demon. Or not, it was a nonsensical story that was begging to be retconned away. Still, his striking blue-black fur, three-pronged appendages, prehensile tail, and fangs make him one of the most visually striking mutants in any of Marvel’s myriad realities.
Predating the Teen Titan of the same name by a full forty years, Danny Dartin’s origin is exactly the same as that of The Owl: Frustration at criminals running rampant, put on a cloak, punch evil, lather, rinse, repeat. He even shared a similar tenure, debuting in 1940 and appearing in Ace Comics through 1942 or so. He, too, was revived in the pages of Project Superpowers from Dynamite Entertainment, with a name change to Mister Raven for his troubles.
An orphan born at the turn of the 20th century, real name unrevealed, Night Raven eventually settled in New York City and terrified the underworld throughout the 1920s. By 1941, though, he was half-mad, his body and mind infected with a strange bio-weapon that made him immortal, but at away at his sanity and deformed his body. By the fifties, he was nothing more than an urban legend, his mask traded back and forth by obsessed collectors, when he discovered the cure for his madness. The immortal Night Raven was last seen in Siberia, fighting alongside the Black Widow, still active at nearly one century old.
After his brother was killed by gang violence, Bruce Corbet learned the secrets of meditation and transformed into The Mask, a top-hatted dynamo of righteous anger and furious vengeance. The detail that his brother was killed by a grenade seems out of place until you realize that The Mask was a second-hand hero, redrawn and altered from a one-shot character called The Grenade. His 1951 appearances (both reprinting the same story) were mostly memorable for seeing the sloppy additions of a tuxedo and tales to the Grenade’s purple-and-yellow uniform.
The third character to bear the name and costume of Nightmask (actually a revival of Centaur Comics’ Masked Marvel, one of the earliest costumed heroes in comic books), Marcia Beckworth’s excessive décolletage was explained in-universe as the costume being designed for the son of the original hero. Marcia herself joined The Protectors to honor him, even gaining superhuman powers, which the first two Nightmasks lacked. Sadly, she and everyone on her world perished when a villain actually succeeded in destroying the world, ending The Protectors’ run at Malibu Comics.
I don’t know about you guys, but I find the fact that Malibu avoided using the word “Marvel” by swiping the name of one of their disavowed New Universe characters to be amusingly petty.
Once again, this week’s topic, Ten “Night Or Not” Supers, is all me, but feel free to follow along @MightyKingCobra to suggest a topic of your own! There’s always more Ten Things madness on my Twitter or check out the full Twitter archive here! As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, if only because the influence of Batman means that Night-Something will likely always be a shortcut to superhero swagger. Either way, the comments section is below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!