Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Top 11 Worst Bloodlines Characters

A few weeks back, Brian Cronin of Comics Should Be Good published his list of The Top Five Bloodlines Characters. As usual, I disagreed, and especially in light of running a blog named from the silly DC Annuals event from the '90s, I drafted my own selection of the Top 10 Bloodlines Characters. I also promised to cover the flip side, so here's what I feel are the Top 11 Worst Bloodlines Characters

11 & 10 (tie) Krag & Slingshot (Not Pictured)
As if there weren’t enough characters to juggle already between the established DCU heroes and the individual New Bloods from each book, the Justice League America annual went and added four more to the mix. Shadowstryke had a ‘90s kewl name and costume (complete with purple skull bandanna mask,) and he did stuff in the story, which puts him ahead of a number of New Bloods with annuals devoted entirely to them. On the other hand, there was Krag (a generic rocky monster guy) and Slingshot (a black chick in purple armor with kinetic propulsion abilities) who appeared just long enough to get their names and powers checked off. They were so lame, I forgot they had previously appeared before their panel or so walk-on in the issue of Bloodbath I used to refresh my memory of the rolls. Hell, you'll have to follow the links to see them, because they were beneath Comicvine's notice, and I'm sure not going to bother hosting the pictures myself.

9 & 8 (tie) Cardinal Sin & Samaritan
I've said many times that Denny O'Neil was terribly overrated in the '60s & '70s, to the post where I have trouble reading a lot of his much ballyhooed output from that period. The '80s was the decade where O'Neil finally earned the accolades, and he remained solid through the '90s. However, all I remember about this annual was that it sucked, and the characters were so forgettable they didn't even make it to Bloodbath. None of the Batman related Bloodlines were allowed to be in the Bloodlines card set, but there was no sin in omitting these two. They make Rodney James, the completely forgotten second New Blood from the Detective Comics Annual that debuted Geist, look like the best new character find of 1993.

7) Slodd
Art Adams went to the trouble of designing seven deadly sin monsters for this event, and Slodd really lived up to his name as the alien parasite representative for sloth. Slodd turned up in the very first Bloodlines annual, and was killed in a matter of panels by a grenade. Knowing full well that there were several dozen annuals to fill with spine-sucking villainy... that these creeps needed to be impressive... and the obvious intention to have a themed alien team: Slodd lays down and dies the first time out. His human form never even made an appearance.

6) Razorsharp
I appreciate that the world needs original super-heroines, but giving terrible ideas like this their own mini-series and additional appearances is sung to the tune of “Springtime for Hitler.” A computer hacker who literally hacks with arms that turn into T-2000 metal scythes? Plus, her I.T. support team were known as the Psyba-Rats, and got titular second billing? Does she battle a megalomaniacal Fisher Stevens as well?

5) Myriad
I’ll be picking on the Bloodlines women a lot, not out of misogyny, but simple revulsion. Myriad is like trying to underline feminists themes in I Spit On Your Grave. She was Lex Luthor’s karate instructor, whom he choked to death with his bare hands after she proved his better at sparring. He didn’t shoot her or send goons, so how did that even work? She beat him in unarmed combat, but she couldn’t break a forward two-handed choke? Next, the murder happened in a standard Superman comic, which makes it both a) inappropriate for the context & b) a betrayal of the premise that all the New Bloods would be introduced in their annuals. Finally, Myriad had memory loss, and her power was to possess people until they died, or something. So Lex Luthor kills her, strips her very identity, is immune from prosecution, and Myriad herself is empowered by not only her own victimization, but a cycle of violence she perpetrates against others. Let’s not even get into the part where her nude corpse was partially drained by a parasite.

4) Mongrel
Mongrel was always pissed off about the racism he faced over his mixed heritage, so when he gained some boring ass energy manipulation super-power, he took out his aggression on society. That wouldn’t be so bad if he were an outright villain, but he was your typical ‘90s anti-hero with a trench coat, ripped jeans and fingerless gloves. That meant he was constantly getting into fights with actual super-heroes, and generally being a total jerk, then playing the race card to get out of jail free. I’m not sure which is more galling: that Mongrel was able to make several races look bad at once (prominent stereotype: angry injun, although he was actually African-Vietnamese-American,) or that I think the little bastard is still kicking around.

3) Chimera
It isn’t so much that there’s anything inherent wrong with Chimera as a character (an East Indian who can manifest mythological beasts,) but that every story she has ever appeared in for more than a few panels has been mind-numbingly dull and ugly to look at. The thought of reading a Chimera story gives me physical pain. I expect this is due to co-creator Phil Jimenez's writing’s being such a slog, that he was the creator who finally got me to stop reading Wonder Woman after having already endured the runs of John Byrne, Eric Luke, and so very many terrible scribes behind related side projects. I somehow made it to the bitter end of Team Titans, along with Chimera, and the colossal cosmic ennui they instilled haunts me to this day. Plus, c'mon, she's a little too Indian, y'know? Like, Global Guardians/Manjula Nahasapeemapetilon Indian.

2) Joe Public
I think perhaps Joe Public was some sort of metacommentary on the lameness of the Bloodlines project. He was a gym teacher whose brother O.D.’d or something, so he figured he could parlay his expansive knowledge of dodgeball and flag football into urban vigilantism. Armed only with a dangerously impractical jacket, his rat-tailed mullet, and reflective sunglasses so outsized they looked like they were eating his face, Joe Public was promptly killed by an alien parasite while battling his archnemesis, an elderly dope-peddling midget. Upon resurrection, he could draw power from whoever surrounded him to embody the collective suck of entire neighborhoods. Not even the Blood Pack would take him, and they took Mongrel, so J.P. only wrangled a handful of guest appearances before getting his hands chopped off in a Prometheus special. By the way, nothing shows how un-formidable a super-villain is like having him kill characters best known for having been killed (sometimes repeatedly, because DC really needs a Handbook of the Dead these days to keep up with the body count.)

1) Jamm
Jamm isn’t just the worst New Blood, but one of the worst characters, period. Bitter Andrew can explain. Go With It. Jamm ain’t too a-much to me.


PyroTwilight said...

I have to admit seeing your posts about who your favorites and worsts from the Bloodlines event is amusing. I couldn't make a list for sure but so many of my favorites and yours are reversed. Still I am very happy to see you post stuff about it. I've been searching Bloodlines stuff more recently I'm also posting about the event issue by issue over on scans daily.

Diabolu Frank said...

Allow me to use deductive reasoning to work this out:

Krag, Slingshot and Slodd were total nonentities, so I'll set them aside immediately.

Jamm was objectively bad. No one can like Jamm outside some hipster b.s. "everybody hates him, so I'll be the one person who says I like him" pseudo-ironic nonsense.

Cardinal Sin, Samaritan and Joe Public didn't get around much, and I can't see them inspiring strong feelings either way.

I refuse to believe someone read those terrible last issues of Team Titans and gave Chimera the thumbs up.

That leaves badboy Mongrel, the surprisingly prolific (for a New Blood) Razorsharp and maybe Myriad as a wild card. Close?

I'll throw up a link list to your posts tomorrow, and I appreciate hearing from you!

PyroTwilight said...

Actually I am a fan of Myriad, Razorsharp, Chimera, Samaritan and Joe Public. Though I should also point out in your list you seem to have confused a bit of Joe Publics story with Gunfire and Hook from the Prometheus special. He didn't appear in the Prometheus special. Hook was killed in it and Gunfire lost his hands in it. And a slight error is that you say Mongrel's still kicking around when he was one of the New Blods killed by Superboy-Prime in the two panel killfest.

Myriad: I found her interesting just because I largely like her story dynamic. She'd make an interesting Luthor villain if she were to ever show back up. Perhaps have her not regain her memory but have her instinctively hate Luthor and going after him or stopping things he's put together than Superman doesn't discover.

Razorsharp: While the whole Paybarats thing was a bit silly the teen super thieves/hackers was an interesting idea and while they could seem fully criminal the fact they had Robin as a honorary Psybarat seemed like a fun idea. I often considered her like Robin's Catwoman but without the romantic link and Rae having bladed arms did seem pretty cool to me.

Chimera: I really liked her both because her dress was visually distinctive and as a whole her powers were very formidable and since I'm a fan of the Team Titans and of Redwing her being Redwing's friend was pretty awesome too. Though it's interesting to point out her last name was never made really clear. In her annual it seemed to be Rey. The cards from Skybox had it as Gupta and in Team Titans 22 or 23 they had her say her last name was Bharut or somesuch.

Samaritan was a nice idea because all in all a former criminal trying to do good was a great idea and I'd like to see more of how his healing powers worked.

Joe Public I'm also a fan of as I actually loved his overly patriotic outfit. And his powers made him pretty awesome in a team setting potentially since hes quite a powerhouse even when only drawing energy from normal humans so it'd be an interesting idea to see how it works if he were to draw from super powered folks as well.

Diabolu Frank said...

See, this is why I'm glad someone with much fresher memories than mine is around. Winging it + middle age + distance = cock-up. I might have named the blog "Bloodlines," but it was more about the themes of history/legacy and obscurity (and a passing nod to racial diversity) than a literal focus.

I bought the Prometheus special recently, but only thumbed through it. I thought Gunfire was maimed in Hitman already, not that DC couldn't have done it twice over (see also: Argus.)

Mongrel is dead? Some good came out of that, then.

I don't have a visceral dislike of Myriad. It's more an objective ("That's so wrong!") objection. Her story was pretty alright in the surface reading, but the subtext was dire.

Razorsharp has her fans, so you've got points.

I was mostly kidding/venting about Chimera. I just really, REALLY hated the last six months or so of Team Titans (specifically, most anything Jimenez didn't draw.)

I haven't read the Samaritan annual since it was first published, so maybe I need to try again.

Joe Public? No. Just no.

PyroTwilight said...

Gunfire 1,000,000, in the Himtan #1,000,000 issue, some random guy who found an item belonging to the original Gunfire in the 853rd century (as part of the DC One Million event) self maimed himself (turning his buttocks into a grenade I believe), which might be what you're thinking of.

Aww, I really do like Joe. He has a clearly overly patriotic outfit but I love that he's not some walking AMERICA! stereotype like others who might wear something like it.

Diabolu Frank said...

The thing about patriotic heroes is that they usually have a timelessness and representational value that glosses over their garish excess. I can't really tell you what Joe Public stands for. The average American circa 1992? Once the wall was down and the Gulf War was over, we were about the most apolitical, adrift generation on record. We didn't so much stand for things as sit in front of their MTV weekend long marathon presentations. Maybe Joe stood for union labor? As a mulleted gym teacher waging a one man effort against drugs, he could have maybe been "Community Spirit" or "Mr. D.A.R.E.," but I think that ship sailed with Nancy Reagan. In his first appearance, I was more excited about Pagan, and she was an even more outdated and unnecessary stereotype.

So that's what happened with Gunfire! I stopped reading Hitman before DC One Million, so I went off half-remembered internet info. Bad on me. Thank you!