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Your Top DC Heroes part 16

Written by Chris Mitchell on Friday, January 08 2010 and posted in Features
The last bunch for the day...


143. Catman (16 points)

catman.jpg"Catman is Batman with a chip and I love him. He is a great character who keeps a hard team of lunatics in line."

Proof that any shitty character can be turned into something completely awesome. Amiright or amiright?

Tom Blake used to be a world-famous trapper of jungle cats who turned to a life of crime because he had grown bored with hunting and had depleted most of his fortune. He became a burglar who committed his crimes in a catsuit made out of an ancient African cloth he believed gave him a cat's nine lives. His costume was modeled after Catwoman's disguise. Catwoman helped Batman catch the criminal because she was not pleased with him copying her costume. The two costumed criminals would have a competitive, love/hate relationship for many years afterward which included Selina Kyle being wrongly accused for Catman's crimes at least once. His weapon of choice was a cat-o-nine-tails (a multi-tailed whip).

Unfortunately for him, this rivalry was mostly one-sided. His exploits often met with humiliating failure at the hands of Batman. His only reputation became that of a joke. Eventually, he just gave up and made a deal with the federal government to testify to information he had on Monsieur Mallah. In return, he was set up with a new life in San Francisco under witness protection. He lived the easy and somewhat pathetic life, letting himself go physically and sitting around in his own costume.

Years later, Thomas was hired by the Shade, a friend from baccarat games, to attend the funeral of Oliver Queen to ensure certain funeral instructions were carried out as the request of the departed. This led to Thomas being tracked down by the recently resurrected Ollie due to pictures surfacing of his presence at the funeral. Thomas was interrogated by Ollie and Roy Harper for the reasons why until the Shade appeared to explain.

This last humiliation was the final straw. He returned to Africa to regain his confidence and pride by living among a pride of lions. Living like this put him back in prime physical shape and reawakened the formidable abilities he had let wane. He would have gladly spent his entire life living in the jungle amongst his feline family, but Dr. Psycho and Talia al Ghul found him with an offer of membership to the Secret Society. He turned them down. For the insult of that, he became their enemy. He found his pride of lions dead four days later.

When Scandal and Deadshot came to him with an offer to join a group opposing the Secret Society, Thomas readily accepted. He was after vengeance now, and the Secret Six could deliver that to him. He didn't care about much else, though he was suspicious of their mysterious benefactor, Mockingbird. He participated in the missions the Secret Six were given and surprised everyone by proving to be more capable and dangerous than he had ever been before. During all this, he mistook Cheshire's advances and after sleeping with her, discovered what she really wanted was for him to impregnate her. She did give him something in return, and that was the secret that it was really Deadshot who killed his lions. Catman nearly killed Deadshot for this, only to be interrupted by the Secret Society's attack and Cheshire's betrayal.

Catman survived the assault and stuck with the remaining members of the Secret Six, who decided to continue on as mercenaries. They were given one more opportunity to cause problems for the Secret Society by taking part in the Battle of Metropolis. One look at the carnage happening there was all it took for Catman to pass on it. The fight didn't involve them, and they weren't going to help clean up the Justice League's mess.

While Catman was recruiting Mad Hatter as the group's new sixth, the others were each attacked by assassin's. It was discovered that they came from Cheshire, who was apparently still alive. When they tracked her down to a temple in the Himalayas, Catman was introduced to his new son, Thomas Jr. That was the only thing that kept Cheshire alive, because with the price on his head, he would likely be dead soon anyway. He left both Cheshire and the baby alone. It turned out the one responsible for the assassin's was Vandal Savage, and the only reason that none came after Thomas was that Savage wanted him to give a son to his daughter Scandal. The Secret Six took the fight to Savage and left him for dead. At the very least, Savage let go of the notion of Catman fathering a child.

Later, while working a protection job for a general in Azerbaijani, Thomas met and developed an attraction to Helena Bertinelli. However, the Secret Six and the Birds of Prey would come down on opposite sides of the general's plans. This led to Catman and Huntress fighting it out, and Huntress stabbing him in the leg. There were still no hard feelings, even after the Secret Six's job went south and they didn't get paid.

After murdering some poachers in Africa, Catman came back to the Secret Six feeling unsettled with how much killing and hurting people didn't bother him. The Secret Six had been hired to retrieve a stolen item along with the thief, Tarantula, and bring both to Gotham City. Just before taking the job, Catman was called by Huntress, who warned that the job was a trap meant to set them all up for death. He didn't take her warning and came to Gotham City to confront Batman about it. This confrontation was really a distraction for Batman while the rest of the Secret Six proceeded with the first part of their job. He fought well against Batman and left, having made his point that Batman and everyone else is wrong to worry about him. But he soon finds out the danger was very real when they all discovered that what had been stolen was a Get Out of Hell Free card created by Neron. Like everyone else, Catman was tempted to have the card for himself, since he was so sure he was bound for Hell himself. This issue was put to rest when the card was seemingly destroyed along with Tarantula and Junior in a big battle on the bridge leading into Gotham City.

He was last seen defending Gotham city against evildoers together with Ragdoll and Bane. He and the rest seemed surprised when the civilians referred to them as heroes.

142. Christopher Kent and Jean-Paul Valley (16 points each)

Christopher Kent

chriskent.jpgWhile imprisoned inside the Phantom Zone, the Kryptonian known as General Zod and his mate, Ursa, gave birth to a child named Lor-Zod. While living inside of a transported Kryptonian prison cell. Arriving on Earth, Clark Kent and Lois Lane decided to adopt him to protect the Kryptonian child from the government. They named him Christopher Kent. Soon his father, General Zod arrived to reclaim his son.

With the arrival of Kandor on Earth, Chris has served as the new Nightwing of Kandor along with Thara Ak-Var, using the identity of Flamebird. Both are secretly acting unbeknownst to either governments to protect the Earth during the "New Krypton" arc.

When the populace of Kandor was released on Earth, among them were 600 soldiers loyal to General Zod. Two of those soldiers, Lieutenant Mur and Commander Gor, after traveling to Earth for a time, decided that it's in Kandor's best interests to free General Zod. They are stopped by a new duo of Nightwing and Flamebird. The two heroes have apparently been waiting in Kal-El's Fortress of Solitude for Zod loyalists to attempt to free him.

When the Commander and his companion pull weapons on the two caped crusaders, Nightwing is unfazed. Using "Natural Tactile Telekinesis" he dismantles their weapons. He then lays the Lieutenant out with one punch. He and Flamebird then make it clear that if any of Zod's other followers attempt to free him, they'll suffer the same fate.

Nightwing and Flamebird soon depart from Kandor to explore Earth. They travel to Gotham where they see the Bat signal in the sky, Nightwing is surprised to find that Batman isn't responding to the signal. Flamebird then admonishes him, saying Batman wouldn't know how to deal with Gotham's newest problems, and to land. Nightwing didn't understand why she wanted him to land, and she admonished him that they had secrets of their own to keep.

As Chris and Thara prepared for their mission they reached out to others in the super hero community. Using his time and position as Kal's son, Nightwing and Flamebird reached out to Jay Garrick and other's. Setting up their base in the Fortress of Solitude, they put the final touches on their mission. Due to the new International laws banning Kryptonians from Earth, Chris and Thara created power-suits to give a reasonable excuse for their powers.

Jean-Paul Valley

jeanpaulvalley.jpgSeveral centuries ago, the Templar knight Dumas left his group to found his own Order of St. Dumas. They pillaged villages for their wealth, and came upon the fabled treasure of King Solomon. Using this capital, this secret society began collecting information for its personal agenda and researching technology that would advance beyond the rest of the known world. To guard this, the Order created Azrael, a legacy type agent coached to believe it is an actual Biblical angel of vengeance passed on from father to son.

Jean-Paul Valley, a university student in Gotham City, was unaware that he was the latest in a line of assassin-enforcers for "The Sacred Order of Saint Dumas", a sinister secret society, and had received training and mental conditioning to prepare him for his role since before he was born. He is a test tube baby, and his genes have been spliced with those of animals.

When Ludovic Valley had impregnated a woman, the Order of St. Dumas retrieved the fetus to develop it on its own which would grow to be Jean-Paul Valley. For most of his life, he has been brainwashed with " The System", a deep level of psychological conditioning. The details of The System are never fully explained, but it is understood that training begins before birth and includes genetic modification, prenatal electric shock, and the use of gorillas as surrogate mothers. When he was sent by the Order to kill a weapons dealer who had killed his father (the last Azrael), Carlton LeHah who believed himself to be the idealistic opposite to Saint Dumas, his path crossed with Batman. After saving Wayne from an explosion set up by LeHah, Valley was shown the error of his ways, and he decided to fight with Batman against the criminals of Gotham, rejecting his "birthright" and seeking Batman's help in breaking his conditioning to forge a new destiny of his own choice.

Following this, Valley became a homeless drifter in the streets of Gotham, unaware or unwilling to adopt his identity as Azrael once again. After being contacted by Bruce Wayne, Valley soon dons his Azrael costume once again and searches for clues to his past in the Order of St. Dumas, and ancient organization which had engineered Azraels throughout the ages. This was done through the use of deep hypnosis and genetic experiments.

Upon discovering The Order in Europe, Valley found he had been replaced by another man claiming to be Azrael, whom was quickly defeated by Valley. Eventually, after multiple contacts with the high-priests of the organization, soldiers and the impostor -Azrael, Ra's Al Ghul and the development of a relationship with a former priestess of the Order, Lily, Valley was able to largely destroy the Order. During the No Man's Land saga, Azrael assisted Batman in the earthquake torn Gotham and eventually by attempting to contact a US Senator who would have been key to federal funding for Gotham.

The Senator was killed by a man known as Nicholas Scratch, a rock-star who was also involved with many terrorist ideals and attacks. Scratch was eventually involved in the apparent death of Valley when he disguised himself as Azrael and was confronted by Valley. LeHah reappeared and fired on Valley with an armor piercing bullet. LeHah and Valley toppled over a balcony; LeHah survived, Scratch was arrested and Azrael's body was never found.

A panel of the comic showing Batman holding an image of Azrael, sans mask, is meant to lead readers to believe he is dead (and he was, cuz he came back as a Black Lantern).


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