The world of comic-dom has an almost endless supply of characters, so many that we tend to forget some. It doesn’t help especially now that technology has shortened our attention spans to unprecedented levels. Sometimes even worse than underusing a character though, is misusing a popular one. So here is my list of Top 5 underused or misused comic book characters:
5) Hawkman (DC): Few characters have had as difficult a history as Hawkman. From a publication standpoint alone, the poor guy has seen no fewer than 5 character reboots since his creation in 1940. But whether he’s a reincarnated Egyptian prince turned archaeologist or alien space cop, one thing is certain, the poor guy is underutilized.
Call me old fashioned but I like watching a dude with bird wings beat up bad guys with medieval weapons. The New52 certainly helped by giving Hawky his own 22-issue series. Rebirth sought to remedy this by immediately killing the character off. In the miniseries (co-starring Adam Strange) in the Death of Hawkman, Hawkman went and died on us (shock and awe!); I think it is a positive step for the character though as it can set up a return and we can see more of our winged hero.
4) Metamorpho (DC): This tragic hero hasn’t had a really good run since Justice League Europe way back in 1989. He’s got cool powers (shapeshifting, bodily transmutation, etc.) and he’s ugly as sin which should make him a frontrunner for a good team book of outcasts. I’m not saying reboot the Outsiders, but I think Rebirth could benefit from creating a new team of misfits and tossing Metamorpho in the mix.
3) Ares (Marvel): Originally a sparsely used Thor/Hercules villain, Ares became a hit hero after his 2006 self-titled miniseries. After that he was a big part of the main Marvel U, being a part of Tony Stark’s Mighty Avengers and later Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. He was selected as an Avenger because Tony saw him as a hero that was part Thor and part Wolverine; in other words a total badass.
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After being killed by the Sentry during the Siege event, we haven’t seen much of him. Recently he’s been resurrected by the Maestro in Contest of Champions, so hoping we’ll soon see more of the God of War soon.
2) Hercules (Marvel): Staying on the topic of the Greek Pantheon, let’s talk about Hercules. Not so much underused currently, but in my opinion he is being misused. I miss my old Herc. The womanizing, alcoholic hero with the heart of gold. He’s kept his gilded heart, but lost all of his fun aspects since Marvel’s All-New, All-Different phase.
Hipstercles now sports a manbun and has sworn off the devil’s brew, and though it’s made for an interesting character arc (and given me pause to look into my own lacking character) it’s also succeeded in making the character less fun. I’m nothing like the misogynistic and alcoholic Hercules, but that doesn’t make his stories less funny, especially when he’s called out for being an oaf. I guess I just want “muh hercules” back.
1) Martian Manhunter (DC): This is a character treated like the #1 B-List celebrity of DC. Manhunter has a really cool origin and versatile powers and is in all of DC’s animated features (in regards to the Justice League) so that everyone knows about his existence. He’s just used sparingly in the comics. His last solo title was a miniseries during the DCYou, and, like most of the DCYou, it was really something. But seriously, there’s a lot you can do with that character especially with the Rebirth event, so make it happen DC.
While they’re not technically characters I wanted to throw in three teams that aren’t seeing a lot of love lately from publishers. With so many “team” books selling well and so many “team” movies coming out, it’s a real shame.
3) The New Gods (DC): With Rebirth in full swing and Darkseid’s daughter on the run with her infant father in tow, now is the time to give the world a peek into “what’s doin” in the Fourth World. We haven’t seen them since they fought with the Green Lanterns in 2014. It could serve to add a little cosmic variety to DC’s lineup.
2) Ultraforce (Malibu/Marvel): In a world where nostalgia is selling like hotcakes, where is my dang Ultraforce reboot? As a fan of the terrible 1995 animated series, I would love to see Marvel recreate this team and do something really cool with them. A miniseries in the same vein as Squadron Supreme from the 80’s would be great! At least feature them in a parallel universe of a Fantastic Four book.
1) Fantastic Four (Marvel): Speaking of the Fantastic Four, it’s time for Marvel to bring their first family back. April 29 marks two years that have passed us by without a Fantastic Four book. This makes for a perfect opportunity to bring our heroes back together! Ben has been hanging out with the Guardians of the Galaxy and Johnny with the Inhumans while Reed, Sue, and the kids have been off camera building universes. I think enough time has passed to unite the 4 and force Jonathan Hickman to write it (at gunpoint, if necessary).
There are so many characters that I would love to see appear more, but maybe using them sparingly might be a good thing. We don’t want a situation like the Borg in Star Trek Voyager, and it’s just like they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.