Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Let's make some Justice Leagues, part 8

(Continued from part 7)

            When it comes to superhero work there are many opportunities to interact with dangerous technology.  Shrink rays, robots, hacking computer terminals because people think that hacking involves a lot of fast typing rather than just looking up a person's facebook profile and using their personal information to brute force password possibilities in hopes that one of them sticks... I digress.
            The point is you need and want someone on the team who knows technology, not in the goofy weird science sort of way (Atom) and not in the vaguely believable sort of way (Batman), but it a very shiny tech kind of way.  Unfortunately there seems to be some sort of trend I have noticed in DC comics and I feel the need to point it out cause I find it to be a strange coincidence.

7) The Tech Savvy
            I do not know how this became a thing, but it is a thing.  Cyborg, Steel, and Mr. Terrific, three of the most prominent black characters in DC (mostly thru their involvement with the "Justice League Unlimited" and "Teen Titans" cartoons) are all very technology oriented, and all in very different ways.  They are not the only black characters, I have pointed out Jon Stewart and Icon in these blogs, but they are (to my knowledge) the 3 most prominent black characters in the current New 52 DC universe, and they are all based around very slick chrome technology that is actually a rather distinct appearance.
            I haven't seen any other superheroes with that sort of distinct look (maybe the Rocket Reds, Russian super cops who use power armor that looks deliberately cheesy, and while Adam Strange deals with alien technology, he's an archaeologist and is not tech savvy at all).  And when I went look for alternative characters to fill the more tech oriented roll for the group I only came across Hardware an obscure hero from the 90's publisher Milestone, invented by one of my favorite creators, Dwayne McDuffie... Hardware is a black man with a distinctly chrome technology appearance.  So this will be the first category I put in whose entire pool of candidates is African American... I guess that just stands out to me because all the prior categories I felt like I had to stretch a bit to not just have a bunch of white guys.
            The first candidate is Cyborg, or as he used to be known, Victor Stone.  Victor was harmed in an accident and his father used strange technology as a prosthesis to save Victor's life.  Cyborg is a genius in his own right who previously liked playing football, now he focuses on becoming the ultimate living machine and helping other heroes who use technology like his to become more powerful and effective.


            Steel, or John Henry Irons uses power armor.  Designed to emulate the powers of Superman so that he could follow in that heroic tradition after Superman had ostensibly been killed in the 90's (Superman was once dead, and that was considered a big deal) Steel is one of the most stalwart and heroic figures in comics, actually standing in contrast to Iron Man his closest counterpoint in Marvel.
            I also love him because of his involvement in my favorite "52" in which he fights off a plan by Lex Luthor to create an army of superheroes who suck at being superheroes and keep getting killed in action.  There is actually another Steel, John's niece, Natasha Irons who is a more headstrong and youthful character.  She is also a tech genius but more rash and impulsive, she tends to take on the mantel of Steel when John is too busy working on his company.

John Henry was a Steel driving man.
Unfortunately Nat has some notoriously bad power armor designs.  This is the best.

            Mr. Terrific, aka Michael Holt is a super genius who uses gadgets and his wealth to be more Batman than Batman.  His family died in a car accident and overcome with grief he nearly committed suicide before discovering and taking on the legacy of the original Mr. Terrific (a white guy with no gadgets).  He actually had his own title at the launch of the New 52 and it quickly tanked, but I still love the character because he was the thinker/leader of the Justice Society of America comic from the late 90's and early 2000's that I really got into.

He also got one of the worst costumes of the New 52.  Put him on the League for no other reason than he can get a new suit.

            Hardware I think should also be considered, though I do not think he should get the seat at the table, mostly because he has not appeared in a cartoon or other media for the last 20 years.  Curtis Metcalf was a child prodigy who grew up to use his fantastic intelligence and the backing of a business icon to fight against organized crime... Only to find out the person running organized crime was his financier.  While I do think that he is an interesting character, he does not have the presence to be on a Justice League, I would hope that they would give him his own series to try and grab some audience and if he proves to be well liked then have him join a team, but as of right now he is so obscure that even I had to look him up.

His costume is part of 90's comics commitment to pure insanity and his modern look is still rather silly.

            Mr. Terrific, Cyborg, and either Natasha or John would be great additions to a Justice League.  They are all are fun, interesting, and flawed in their own ways and are far more than their race, even though their inclusion in much of the work they appear in always itched me as a form of tokenism (for instance, in the early 2000's when Steel decided to leave the League, Plastic Man out-n-out states, "the one black guy can't quit", which bothered me then and it bothers me now even though it was a joke).  I would really like to include each of them because I like all of them and want them to continue to be cool characters beyond the demographic appeal.

(Continued in part 9)

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