18. Hawkman (203 points - 5 first place slots)
"Easily my favorite comic book character of all time. My favorite version of the character has been the recent one where Geoff Johns wove so many disparate versions into one seamless fabric. Hawkman was once described by Kurt Busiek as the balance between Superman and Conan. He is the Noble Savage; he is the hero of myth. Hawkman is seen by some as brutal, but he is a product of a different time – in fact, of many different times. Many mistake his gruff nature as being a jerk of sorts, but in reality he simply sees everyone as children – even his friends in the Justice Society. He has experienced all life has to offer, and he’s experienced it time and time again. In his eyes the people who are just now being formed by life experience, whether it is Alan Scott or Courtney Whitmore are essentially the same age. They are all children of limited experience to him; therefore he feels no need to explain himself, or to justify his actions to them. Most see him as just being a brute, but he has always been defined by love, which is being proven in the recent events of Blackest Night.
Visually he is one of the most impressive designs in comics. He is the ultimate hero for history buffs like me; and his story does not end in death – just that chapter."
"I love a man with a hairy chest."
"Best badass character ever."
"The partner of the lady above is my favorite interpretation of Hawkman. I liked everything that was done with him from the first issue of the Hawkworld mini til the last issue of his follow up series (even the Zero Hour nonsense was cool to me at the time!) Geoff Johns revival was awesome as well, and seeing as how I came to terms with the fact I'd never see "my" Hawkman again, Johns (and later Palmiotti & Gray's) stuff was more than an acceptable replacement. Too bad OYL had to destroy that as well..."
"I like the medieval thing. That's just the cool hook for me."
"The elements of Katar Hol pretty much dominates everything we love about Hawkman today."
Prince Khufu lived during the reign of Ramses II in the 19th dynasty of ancient Egypt. Khufu believed that his ka, or soul, would not journey on to the land of the afterlife. Rather, his soul and that of his betrothed, Chay-Ara, were fated to remain in the mortal world.
As prophesied by the wizard Nabu, a space ship landed in Egypt. Prince Khufu, Nabu, and the champion Teth-Adam search the desert, finally coming across the remains of a Thanagarian ship styled with a hawk-like motif. Nabu casts a spell translating the strange language of the female space traveler. Just before dying, she whispers the words, "Nth Metal", the name of the substance that powered the downed ship.
Teth-Adam lifted the ship back to Khufu's palace, where it was studied inside the Temple of Horus at Erdu. The remaining Nth metal was examined, and its most obvious property proves to be its ability to negate gravity. The remaining sample from the ship is melted and used to create several remarkable devices, including a scarab which allows Khufu to fly, a deadly knife, and a battle glove referred to as the Claw of Horus. However, the metal also strengthens the souls of Khufu and Chay-Ara, binding them together in their love and imprinting them with the collective knowledge of Thanagar. Although the villainous priest Hath-Set murders the two with the knife of Nth metal, their souls live on in the mortal plane. They are reincarnated over many lifetimes, always finding true love in each other. However, they are cursed to be repeatedly killed at the hands of a reincarnated Hath-Set.
After his death, Khufu's soul is reincarnated countless times in markedly different eras and locations. Some of his known reincarnated identities have included:
-Brian Kent (also known as the Silent Knight), alive during 5th century Britain, love of Lady Celia Penbrook;
-Koenrad Von Grimm, the son of a blacksmith in 14th century Germany;
-Captain John Smith of the 16th century English colony in Virginia;
-Hannibal Hawkes, the Nighthawk, a gun-fighter in the American Old West, love of Cinnamon;
-Detective James Wright, a Pinkerton detective in the early 20th century, love of Sheila Carr.
-Eventually, the soul of Prince Khufu is reborn as Carter Hall, an archaeologist active during the 1940s. After regaining the memories of his first life in Egypt, Hall uses the hawk motif of the Egyptian God Horus to inspire his role as the original Hawkman.
During the same period, his love Chay-Ara is reborn as archaeologist Shiera Saunders. After the two meet and marry, she becomes Hawkgirl, fighting at Carter's side. They become founding members of the Justice Society of America, and Hawkman takes the role of chairman. The pair reduce their activities in the early 1950s but became fully active again in the early 1980s when Hall briefly joins the Justice League of America as a mentor. The two have a son, Hector Hall, who later becomes an incarnation of Doctor Fate. Just following the Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series, Hawkman and the JSA become trapped in a battle in an ever-repeating Ragnarok. Odin tries unsuccessfully to give this repeating Ragnarok to Dream as a trade, knowing that Dream had by this time selected Carter's grandson, Daniel Hall, as his successor.
Years after they vanish, Hawkman and the JSA return to the modern day when a primitive but super powered tribe volunteer to substitute themselves in the Ragnarok cycle. Soon after, however, death finds Carter once again during the events of Zero Hour. He and his wife Shiera merge with Katar Hol in a new version of Hawkman, which briefly creates the "hawk god" creature. This individual is active for a brief time but soon loses his sanity and is banished to limbo.
Years later, JSA member Kendra Saunders is transported to a ravaged Thanagar by the High Priests of the Downsiders. Seeking a champion to stop the evil Onimar Synn from enslaving the planet, the priests use Kendra's centuries-old connection to Carter to bring him back to the mortal plain. Following this unorthodox resurrection, Hall retains all the memories of his past lives, as well as those of Katar Hol, the Thanagarian Hawkman.
After defeating Onimar Synn, Hall once again becomes a member of the JSA. Operating both with the JSA as well as with Hawkgirl, Hall embarks on a wide variety of exotic adventures. His quest as a hero takes him from the streets of St. Roch to exotic dimensions and even into outer space as he fights in the Rann-Thanagar War. Following this event Carter stays in space to help mediate the truce on Rann and avenge the murder of Hawkwoman.
As a result, Hawkman is absent during DC Comics' "One Year Later" event. Hawkgirl is left by herself to patrol and protect St. Roch.
Hawkman is currently a member of the Justice Society of America.
Since then, it has been stated that Katar Hol's soul has passed on from the realm of limbo, as have his memories that existed in Carter's mind. Despite this, Carter still exists in a reconstructed version of Katar Hol's body.
To add a further matter of confusion, Carter, returning to space to help during the Rann-Thanagar Holy War, is approached by the Demiurge, a nameless god who inspired Plato into describing his namesake. The Demiurge denounces the cycle of incarnation and rebirths of Khufu and Chay-Ara as lies, simple grafts of the alternate version of Carter and Shiera residing in the different worlds of the multiverse that existed before the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He tells Carter that there are "Six Aberrations" in total, including Hawkman, whose origins are muddled and damaged by the destruction and recreation of the universe. Carter is moderately impressed, until the Demiurge starts addressing to him as Katar Hol, turning his suspicions into fear: maybe Katar is the core personality, and Carter only an echo from the former Earth-Two.
17. Scott Free (214 points - 3 first place slots)
"A super escape artist in a classic Kirby costume? How could that not make for a great character?"
"No list of superheroes is complete without at least on King Kirby Kreation and Scott Free is the best of his DC contributions. Which is not to say Scott is inferior in anyway. He's an amazing character that has a really cool concept. I love his look, his relationship with Barda, his skills etc. Absolutely the best New Gods character not named Darkseid."
"Greatest name in fiction ever. Fact. I've never liked the good New Gods much...while I thought Kirby's bad guys like Darkseid, DeSaad, Kalibak, and the rest were awesome, I just didn't care about their counterparts, with two notable exceptions: Scott and his lovely bride Barda. Scott Free mixes a great name, a funkadelicly cool costume, with one of the coolest gigs ever: universe's greatest escape artist. Add in a great origin (switched at birth to be trained by Granny and escape from Apokolips), his Mother Box, his sense of fun, his time with the JLI, etc. and Mr. Miracle makes my list of 10 top heroes."
Mister Miracle was Scott Free, the god of escape in the New Gods mythology. Originally, the boy Scott Free was the son of Highfather Izaya, the ruler of New Genesis. However, as part of a diplomatic move to stop a destructive war against the planet Apokolips, Highfather agreed to an exchange of children with his enemy Darkseid. In doing so, he surrendered Scott Free to the care of his enemy while he received his enemy's son, Orion.
For years, Scott Free grew up in the care of Granny Goodness, a sadistic minion of Darkseid who oversaw the training of Darkseid's forces with inhuman intensity. As he matured, Scott learned that he had a natural talent for escaping and overcoming seemingly impossible traps. His talent and his love for freedom were furthered by Himon, a natural troublemaker and the one god whom Darkseid's forces weren't able to capture. Scott refused to be hardened by the planet's cruel abuse and kept his innocence and hope in the midst of such darkness. He fell in love with Big Barda, a warrior who was leader of an elite squad of woman warriors known as the Female Furies; she in turn was won over by his innocence and goodness, and later married him.
Eventually, Scott Free escaped and fled to Earth. Once there, he became the protégé of a circus escape artist, Thaddeus Brown, whose stage name was Mister Miracle. Brown was impressed with Scott's skills (especially as supplemented with various advanced devices he had taken from his previous home). Scott also befriended Brown's assistant, a dwarf named Oberon. When Thaddeus Brown was murdered, Scott Free assumed the identity of Mister Miracle. Barda later followed Scott, and the two used their powers, equipment, and skills in the war against Darkseid, who was still interested in recapturing both of them. Unknown to Darkseid, Scott eventually acquired the complete Anti-Life Equation, Darkseid's ultimate desire. However, his will was strong enough to resist the temptation to use it.
Following the murder of Barda, Scott became increasingly unstable. Changing his uniform to a darker version, he flung himself into the investigation conducted by Superman and Orion, briefly considering that Orion was responsible. Discovering the corpses of the Forever People, Scott used the Anti-Life Equation to resurrect their soulless bodies to try to determine their murderer, but they dissolved their bodies rather than tell. Finally, when Superman and Scott confronted Orion, Scott allowed the Anti-Life Equation to take over, trying to kill Orion, only for Orion to reveal that he was attempting to draw the murderer out.
Finally, Superman and Scott traveled to the Source Wall, where they found a second composed of the dead New Gods. Superman revealed that the murderer, posing as Himon, was actually the Infinity-Man. Scott unleashed the equation to try and destroy the Infinity-Man, only for the Infinity Man to reveal that he was an agent of the Source, attempting to reunite with the Anti-Life and create a fifth world. Broken by the knowledge that he had violated every one of his principles to avenge his wife, only to discover that the murderer was the god he had worshipped for so long, Scott Free allowed the Source/Anti-Life entity to kill him.
16. Plastic Man (217 points - 5 first place slots)
"He reminds me the most of myself"
"Comic relief and powerful to boot, how can you not love him?"
"Took a lame power and made it awesome."
"If you don't have Plastic Man on your list, you are not an American! Yeah, I said it."
"If I had stretchy powers, I'd probably do the same things he does."
"Improves the quality of every book he appears in!"
In Pre-Crisis DC, a crook named Patrick "Eel" O'Brian was shot by a security guard and struck by a falling drum full of an unidentified acid, some of which entered Eel's wound. He was saved by a mysterious order of monks whose example cured his penchant for crime. The acid bath gave him the ability to change his shape. He wore dark glasses and a red and yellow costume as flexible as his body. Whatever shape he took, the colors remained the same, so there would be a red-and-yellow chandelier over a table full of plotting gangsters, or a red-and-yellow abstract painting hanging on the wall, but the villains never caught on until it was too late.
Plastic Man later acquired a sidekick called Woozy Winks, a doofus who was originally magically endowed with the power that nature itself would protect him from harm. That eventually was forgotten and Woozy became simply a dumb but loyal friend of Plastic Man.
Post Crisis, Eel O'Brian, abandoned by his criminal gang after being shot and exposed to the acid, wandered the streets as his new powers developed, frightening others and bringing the police and National Guard down on him as a dangerous monster. Eel was at first oblivious to the changes to his body, but after realizing that he was the monster everyone was going on about, he used his new abilities to escape his pursuers, but soon became so despondent over his new condition that he attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge.
Fortunately, he was interrupted by Woozy Winks, a former mental patient who was kicked out of an institution due to lack of funding (or as Woozy put it, "something called Reaganomics"), who desired nothing more than to return to the warm safety of a straitjacket and padded room. Eel and Woozy decided to work together and capitalize on Eel's new powers to make their fortunes (Eel wanting to get rich quick, Woozy just wanting his "old room" back), but couldn't decide whether there was more money in crime or crime-fighting, and resorted to flipping a coin to choose serving the law (though Woozy had his doubts early on). Eel, ending up with the name "Plastic Man" after a reporter misinterpreted his first choice, "Elastic Man", and Woozy set up a detective agency in New York City and had various misadventures.
The alteration that Plas was initially in the superhero business for the money has had an effect on his character development post-Crisis, notably in a JLA storyline by Mark Waid where he, along with other Justice League members, was separated into two people, his normal "civilian" identity and his superhero persona. While Plastic Man devolved from a person with a sense of humor into a constantly wisecracking and almost ineffectual idiot, the now "normal" Eel O'Brian struggled with the criminal tendencies he had suppressed as he had become comfortable with his role as a superhero, and wondered if he had actually changed for the better or if it had all been part of the super-hero "act". Ultimately, Eel was the driving force behind the other transformed Leaguers banding together to re-join with their superheroic selves.