Yesterday, I was having a conversation with Chris Piers–artist and letterer of the Action Age’s upcoming Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N.–and we got into a discussion of comics characters that share our name, and frankly, the pickings there are pretty slim.
I mean sure, there might only be a couple of Bruces and Clarks in the world of comics, but those few are all you really need, and if you’re a Matt, you’ve got Daredevil, Two-Gun Kid, heck, you’ve even got Mrs. Swamp Thing’s first husband. Meanwhile, we members of the noble Brotherhood of Christophers are stuck with what is, at best, a pretty Motley Crue.
So tonight, the ISB puts ’em all on the line for what might be our flimsiest premise ever, as we decide who’s the best Chris in comics!
On the one hand, the patriarch of the Summers clan seems pretty cool. I mean, he’s a space pirate who regularly bags a hot alien girl, and he looks like Burt Reynolds would’ve if they’d set Smokey and the Bandit II in outer space. Every time he shows up, he’s either shooting guys with lasers or space-swordfighting, he always acts like he’s been drinking since noon, and his ship is called the Starjammer, presumably because the name Spacecock was already taken. In short, he is rad.
On the other hand, he accomplished all this by bailing on his kids–leaving them to be raised by a paraplegic schoolmaster whose questionable educational techniques include something called The Danger Room–in favor of shacking up with a cat-girl, which means he’s both a deadbeat dad and a furry. Thanks to his absence during their formative years, his kids grew up sucking their way through the ’90s (Cyclops), continuing to suck to this day (Havok), and being intentionally hated, thus becoming a complete success (Vulcan). Heck, he wasn’t even around to teach his son how to stop his girlfriend from occasionally running off to make out with a guy who smelled like he spent the past week sleeping in the woods.
So yes: Space piracy and awesome moustaches may look cool, but when they’re the product of an outer-space mid-life crisis, it sort of taints the whole thing.
What’s that? Sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of DC Editorial jerking off to the first two Superman movies.
Okay, now we’re talking. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, here’s this guy’s deal: If someone’s trying to kill you, you can pay Christopher Chance–a badass karate expert marksman master of disguise–to take your place, luring the assassins out so that they not only don’t kill you, but he kills them, all while dressed (and occasionally plastic surgeried) as a priest or a middle-aged film executive. Thus, he is essentially Zartan, but with the color-change action feature replaced with snappy suits. As you might expect, this is awesome, and was the basis for one of the best comics of the past ten years.
The only problem is that Chance so thoroughly becomes his clients that his own personality is almost completely subsumed, forcing him to live his life on the perpetual brink of a complete multiple-personality breakdown. But really, all that just means that his biggest flaw is that he’s amazingly good at his job.
Which, just to reiterate, is being a karate expert marksman master of disguise.
I’m not sure that this one counts, but according to Piers, it was either this guy or Crystal from the Inhumans.
Anyway, Crystar here was part of the same attempt by Marvel to cash in on the lucrative early-80s toy market that also included GI Joe, ROM: Spaceknight and some crappy robot comic. Beyond that, I don’t really know too much about Crystar, but to be honest, it seems pretty half-assed.
I mean sure, the idea of beings made of rock fighting Demon Lords in something called “the Chaos War” with the wizard Zardeth and the powers of lava sounds like a toy line cobbled together from leftover bits of Manowar songs, and that’s kind of cool, but it doesn’t look like they go far enough with it, possibly because it got the axe after eleven issues. Still, it’s got Crystar fighting his evil twin brother Moltar–presumably before he got the job directing Space Ghost Coast to Coast–and according to Wikipedia, Michael Golden’s cover for #8 was later adapted by Glenn Danzig, and those are both pretty awesome achievements.
Then again, there’s a guy called Feldspar.
All right, I don’t care what any of you think: Darkhawk is fucking awesome.
I may have mentioned this before, but I’ve got a theory that Marvel tries to reinvent Spider-Man every decade. In the ’70s, it was Nova, in the ’80s, it was Speedball, and in the ’90s, it was Darkhawk and his face that was so ugly that he could use it as a weapon. (In the 2000s, as Mark Hale pointed out to me when I was stumped, the reinvention of Spider-Man was Ultimate Spider-Man).
In the intervening years since the height of his popularity, however, Darkhawk has become a sort of poster boy for the excesses of the early ’90s, and you know what? Darkhawk deserves better than that. That’s a crown that should rightfully be laid on the head of Cable, the demi-Chris from an alternate future whose super-power was that he could hold a giant gun, but that’s another story entirely.
What matters here is that I’ve read Darkhawk #1-50 as recently as 2007, and I’ve gotta say: It’s not bad. Not great, mind you, but compared to a lot of other books that hit the shelves in 1991, the saga of Chris Powell and the amulet that turned him into an armored warrior from space with a mug so ugly he could use it as a weapon and his battles with characters like Evilhawk (who was recently revealed to be a figment of Powell’s imagination created after he couldn’t handle the unbearable radness of being Darkhawk) was a work of art. Plus, there are a bunch of scenes in the series that take place in the future, where scholars would look back and discuss the heroism of “The Powell,” who was “the greatest hero of his age,” and even if you give the creators the benefit of the doubt, that’s still clearly untrue to the point of hilarity, which somehow loops around and becomes even more awesome because they had the stones to stand there and go “Fuck yes Darkhawk’s better than Spider-Man, and history will bear me out on this.”
So suck it haters: Darkhawk rules.