Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What Your Favorite Comic-Book Super-Hero Says About You

Welcome to 2011. Reading comic books no longer relegates you to a
life in your parents’ basement.  You’re the toast of Hollywood and
the lords and ladies of La-La-Land flock to your Comic-Con to sell
you on their latest movies.  It’s a dream world come true for your
older brethren, those of us who didn’t know any cute girls who read
comics, much less dressed up like Wonder Woman and Poison Ivy just
for the fun of it.  But lest your euphoria cloud your mind to the
downside of comic-book paradise, your personal super-hero whisperer
is here to bare the sometimes shocking truth about what your comic-
book choices say about you.

Super-heroes, especially those who’ve been around for decades, have
more faces than Eve.  If Superman is your favorite and you started
reading him before World War II, then, like him, you might just be
a rebellious social activist who mocked authority with a big shit-
eating grin on his face and wasn’t above flying a crooked mayor out
of town on a rail.  Okay, you probably aren’t like that guy, but I
bet you wish you were.

Superman was a big blue Boy Scout in the 1950s and 1960s, dabbled
with social issues in the 1970s and 1980s, looked like he was on
steroids during the 1990s, and renounced his American citizenship
this year.  If you approve that last bit of character definition,
you might just be on the government’s “No-Fly” list.  Which is more
of a problem for you than it would be for Supes.

Batman’s your guy? Then you’re a textbook list of mental and social
disorders and outright crimes. Abandonment and anger issues because
your parents were gunned down in front of you.  Child endangerment,
even without considering the meaning of having a young sidekick who
wore short pants into his teens. A superiority complex that led you
to devise plans to take out any Justice League member you deemed a
potential threat.  Superman changes with the times, but Batman gets
crazier every year.

Green Lantern? You proclaim your individuality by being one of 7200
other Green Lanterns with the same shtick.  Your ring can create
anything your mind conceives, which would be totally sweet if that
stuff wasn’t green and nothing but. Even Kermit the Frog likes to
see some blues and pinks occasionally.

If you like the Fantastic Four, you’re probably a family man.  Sex
with your adaptable Mister Fantastic body and your hot wife allows
for maneuvers that would sober Charlie Sheen.  You also have that
live-in best friend - the Thing - to watch your kids while you and
the missus perform those “scientific experiments.”

Ghost Rider? Let’s run down the list. Leather. Motorcycle. Dabbles
in Satanism.  Flaming skull. You are clearly a heavy metal stoner.

Your self-esteem needs some work if Aquaman is your favorite super-
hero. The other heroes make fun of him.  Which isn’t fair when you
consider his turf is bigger than a hundred Gotham Cities.  Aquaman
should let go of that repressed anger and smack Green Arrow with a
whale.  That might even catch Wonder Woman’s attention.

There’s nothing unmanly about having Wonder Woman as your favorite
super-hero. She comes from an island of beautiful strong women and
she shares with her Amazon sisters. A man’s reach should exceed his
grasp, or what’s a heaven for?

If Captain America is your favorite super-hero, you’re a patriotic
liberal.  Sorry, conservatives, but the shield-slinger was an FDR
Democrat.  He has championed civil liberties and equal rights for
African-Americans, gays and independent super-heroes.  He has acted
against illegal government acts.  Indeed, he once tracked a right-
wing conspiracy right into the Nixon White House.

If your favorite super-hero is the most iconic version of Spider-
Man, you’re probably the typical middle-class guy next door and God
bless you for it. You relate to young Peter Parker struggling to
make ends meet and be accepted by the cool kids. You do the right
thing, even when it complicates your life.  You’re what America is,
or, at least, should, be about.

Thor? You’re a fraternity boy with a good heart and a hammer that
is the envy of all.  You like a good party, you like a good fight,
and you’re so buff women swoon when they see you.  But you’re never
a dick about it.  Yeah, you’ve got some daddy issues with Odin, but
you’ll work it out.  You’re a good guy and a good son.

If the X-Men are your favorite super-heroes - and I’m talking about
the group as a whole - then you’ve a large capacity for tolerance.
You’re more concerned about the things we all have in common than
the things that make us different.  You’re more about understanding
than fear.  You’d make a heck of a leader, if you could get elected
in this era of crazy partisanship and poorly disguised bigotry.  On
the other hand, you’d lock up the mutant vote and, really, aren’t
we all some kind of mutant?

If Wolverine is your main man, you’re tough and tough-skinned with
more than a couple anger issues. Romance doesn’t exactly elude you,
but the survival rate of your lovers is pretty close to 0%.  Alas,
not even a mutant healing factor can fix a broken heart.

The Hulk? You have so many anger issues you could open a comic-book
store. People don’t only not like you when you’re angry, but your
girth and ragged appearance discomfits them. Try to mellow out with
some stylish slimming clothes and eat a damn salad once in a while.

If Iron Man is your favorite character, you’re easily impressed by
expensive technological toys, expensive cars, expensive houses, and
expensive women...and who can blame you?  Still, your XBOX’s sweet,
your Honda Civic runs pretty good, your apartment’s nice, and your
girlfriend turns heads whenever you take her out for dinner and a
movie.  You’re the Tony Stark of your world.  You don’t need a suit
of armor to be her hero.  

My favorite super-hero is Black Lightning, who I created when I was
a full-time comic-book writer for Marvel and DC Comics in the ‘70s.
He was a schoolteacher who fought organized crime in the slums of
Superman’s Metropolis.  If I must self-analyze myself, this choice
signifies my gut feeling that we can’t rely on supermen to get us
through the bad stuff.  We have to rely on ourselves and start with
the schools, the streets, the cities, and then our country and the
world.  Which is way too serious a note on which to end this piece.

So I’m going to go with Richie Rich. Okay, not a super-hero in the
traditional sense of the term, but he could buy and sell Tony Stark
and Bruce Wayne. Just imagine the comic books, action figures, and
other geek bling I could buy with his money.  I’d buy the Avengers
Mansion for my New York home, Wonder Woman’s Paradise Island for my
vacation home, and, for my man-cave...the Batcave! Bat-shit crazy
or not, Batman does have the best toys.

© 2011 Tony Isabella


  1. I must've read three full years of your old column; I got a kick out of the comics history you shared. Richie Rich is a good twist at the end. Then, of course, I started working out the Flash in my head. Can't blame you for sticking to the high-profile folks, but who knows what you'd say if your hero was Warlock!

  2. My choices were dictated by the mainstream nature of the website it was originally written for and its largely male audience. So I went with those characters who I figured the audience would know.

  3. A very nice article.
    I've read many pieces from your old column, but confess that I still need to round off the last month or so.
    Will try to get those wrapped up soon so i am up to date.

    MY favorite superheroes?

    How do you parse THAT?

    Actually, fairly easily.

    Since Manny was my first favorite (actually, no, Aquaman was my first favorite when I was a pre-teen kid. Y'see... I had an orange bathing suit, but was afraid of swimming, due to a near-fatal incident in the ocean, and I thought a kinship with Aquaman would help me overcome that fear... but I digress...)
    , my overall nurturing and empathic nature to others has always been paramount to me - that and my preference for solitude whenever I can find it, made Man-Thing the one true avatar of my inner being. I'm also a tree-hugger. So there.

    As for my fan-devotion to Doctor Strange...
    I have a blog dedicated to that obsession (and Manny too) and have written a few "origin" stories detailing my affinity for the character.

    With your kind permission, I will drop some links here:

    A post where I showcase the specific comic book sequence and the philosophy that makes me a Doctor Strange fan:


    A post where I reveal how comics have made me a better person (although, the "heroes" I aspire to in this piece are Peter Parker -not Spider-Man- and Richard Rory - Man-Thing's good-intentioned, born-loser friend):


    And... just for the heck of it, here's a post where I detail how I got started reading and collecting comics in the first place:



    I'll be back for more of Tony's Bloggy Thing.


    Sanctum Sanctorum Comix

  4. LOL, I really HAVE been reading your blog a long time...a decade before, besides. Tony's Tips was the old column! I found the name. I did see a mention of the '76 Marvel Con program- which is also part of my assignment, btw- but I can see the thing to do is see if BAck Issue wants to do a Black Lightning feature- that's where all the love is, these days!