Monday, January 31, 2011

Heroes and Villains of the Spectrum - Red

I thought it would be fun (and a personal challenge) to try and make a few lists of the characters out there who insist on putting a color in their names. Sometimes it's painfully obvious and unnecessary, and sometimes it's a little weird (Red Skull). Let's kick it off with the color red...

Red Tornado

He's the android who became human who became an android again.

He was originally part of the Justice Society for a brief time before a crossover event caused him to come to our universe to enlist the aid of the JLA in saving the JSA.

He's one of those characters whose backgrounds are so convoluted it's hard to keep up with what really happened or where he really came from. Still, it's a pretty safe bet that he'll be back in the JLA books someday. He's sort of like a standard, like the Martian Manhunter.

Red Robin

This particular hero has been three versions of Robin: Dick Grayson (in "Kingdom Come"), Jason Todd (during "Countdown"), and most recently Tim Drake (in his own series). 

It's hard to say who did the best job of playing the part, mainly because Dick Grayson's version was relegated to roughly two pages of action in the miniseries. If we had to cast a vote, however, I think Jason Todd's version held the most promise. Unfortunately, as soon as "Countdown" ended, the writers threw him out of the costume as soon as possible with no explanation as to why.

Red Hood

The first Red Hood became the Joker, but Jason Todd (who was killed by the Joker) decided to use the moniker when he came back from the dead for some reason. He became this brutal Punisher type character, killing criminals before eventually trying to force Batman to kill the Joker himself.

Jason has long been the loose cannon of the DC Universe, finding meaning and direction during his trips through the multiverse in search of Ray Palmer. As Red Robin, he avenged his own death and that of one of the multiverse's Batman versions by killing a version of the Joker. Now he's back to being the Red Hood and just showing up as needed. He was supposedly killed during the Battle for the Cowl fight with Dick Grayson, but there's no doubt he'll be back one day soon.

Rocket Red

Russia's knight in shining armor, this character is more of a team rather than a single unit. 

For a while, he was a member of the Justice League International, and helped out on a lot of missions.

Lately, the character has been relegated to second-tier status with a few menacing appearances in Green Lantern, and a guest shot or two in the old "Justice League Unlimited" cartoon series.

Red Guardian

Another hero whose choice of color in his name was due more to political leanings than anything else, Red Guardian was supposed to be like Russia's answer to Captain America. While he was a rather acrobatic character, he didn't initially have a shield and the fin on his head was a little weird.

Eventually he was killed off and his girlfriend took his place. She actually managed to get a pretty cool power set with flight and energy beams, while the original had nothing more than skill and luck to keep him alive for as long as it did.

He even got an action figure several years back. Quite an accomplishment for such an almost-forgotten character.

Red Skull

Slated to become the bad guy in the newest Captain America film (did you forget he was the bad guy in the 90's movie as well?), this guy has been around forever and a day.

For some reason, he's pretty much been relegated to little more than Captain America's version of the Joker. He's out there coming up with master plan after master plan and failing each time. He dies, he comes back. He dies again, he comes back again. For some reason, Marvel just believes this man is vital to keeping Captain America stories relevant and alive...even though the Red Skull hasn't succeeded in anything in decades.

Red Arrow

Decades after running with the name "Speedy" for some reason, Roy Harper finally took the name he was meant to have: Red Arrow. Giving everyone a taste of what we saw in "Kingdom Come", Red Arrow's creation was a nod to that great graphic novel and a welcome addition to the Justice League. He even surprised Green Arrow when they asked Roy to the team instead.

He's gone back to being Arsenal now (and he's lost his arm, which isn't good for any archer), but for a time he carried the bow. Who knows...the way comic books go he may return there again.

Honorable Mention: Crimson Avenger

Lee Travis fought crime sort of like a cross between the Shadow, the Green Hornet, and the Spider. He was around in the 40's and was even included as one of the original Seven Soldiers of Victory.

Unfortunately, he left this understated costume for a weird fin-on-his-head thing (what is up with that look? Who decided that looked normal?) and took on a teen sidekick.

This is another character who made a guest shot in the Justice League Unlimited series, with his own full-length story in the comic book.

Next week, we take a look at another color in the spectrum! By the way, the only "Lantern" who will count is Green Lantern. It's not fair when you have one of every color out there.


Anonymous said...

Every time you do one of these things I find something wrong its frustrating! But keep them coming :)

Red Hood came back after Battle for the Cowl with new sidekick Scarlet and was taken away to Arkham at the end in Morrison's Batman and Robin.

Anonymous said...

Also Rocket Red died during the Omac Project storyline and a new Rocket Red is one of the stars of Justice League: Generation Lost

Brian Reaves said...

I recently read the new Batman and Robin HC collecting the first six issues and completely forgot about Red Hood making a return appearance. Thanks, antididio!

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