Wednesday, May 23, 2018 • Morning Edition • "We put the lotion in the basket."

Your Top DC Heroes part 62

Written by Chris Mitchell on Wednesday, February 03 2010 and posted in Features
Welcome to the Top 10 everyone! Yes, that’s right it’s finally here. This is what is comes down too. Will Batman be in the first place slot, or will there be a major upset? How did the rest of the Trinity fare on this list of ours? And will the Johns-ians be happy with our his characters ended up? Would this be the perfect lineup for the JLA? Find out now.


10. Zatanna (259 points - 3 first place slots)

zatanna.jpg"Zatanna is just a fun, fun character. I was introduced to her in the fourth issue of the Hawkman series back in the 80s, and was an instant fan. Something about her just talking backwards and always seeming like she was on stage made her stand out from the rest of the hero crowd. She is a showgirl, and she is always on. Of course, she is also one of the most powerful beings in the DCU with her control and restraint of her powers showing just all that more how powerful she is.

Of course, she is only as good as the writers or the direction. I hate it when lazy writers try to “goth” her up. She’s not a douchebag, worship the night while listening to Morrissey wannabe Wiccan - DO NOT WRITE HER THAT WAY! She was the “Young” one in the JLA. She is beautiful, happy, vibrant and full of life. She is not Goth!

I will always check out a comic with Zatanna since she always has the potential to steal the show."

"Her powers are one of the best gimmicks in comics. She's a fun, flirty character and one of the few females who has not been turned into a prude or slut. She's also a multidimensional character, working as both a superhero to a supernatural hero. "

"One of the coolest powers in comics, one of the best looks (so fucking simple!), and a wonderfully fun character."

"The best female in the DCU."

Zatanna Zatara is the daughter of famed magician Giovanni “John” Zatara and Sindella, a member of the mystical Homo Magi race. Zatanna is a direct descendant of the artist and magician Leonardo da Vinci, and is related to Nostradamus; Alessandro Cagliostro; the noted alchemists Nicholas Flamel and Evan Fulcanelli; and Lord Arion of Atlantis. Her cousin, Zachary Zatara, is also a magician.

Zatanna was a successful stage illusionist before she discovered her true magical powers while investigating the disappearance of her father. With the help of Batman, The Atom, Elongated Man and others, she was successfully reunited with him. Their time together was short, and unfortunately, both of her parents were killed on separate occasions while saving her life.

Zatanna assisted the Justice League of America on a number of cases before being elected to full membership. During her tenure with the group her power levels diminished briefly, so that she could only control the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. It should be noted that this limitation was only temporary and that her magical ability was fully restored. Later Zatanna was worried about her lack of focus while using magic. She decided that her father's style of magic was wrong for her, and explored her mother's mystical heritage.

While Zatanna was a member of the Justice League, the villain Dr. Light stole aboard the Watch Tower and raped the Elongated Man's wife Sue Dibny. When Zatanna and several others Leaguers returned, they saw what Dr. Light had done. A fight broke out and when they finally managed to subdue him, he began to threaten them and their families. Zatanna was prepared to erase Light's memories of the incident, but his terrible brutality and his promises to do it again sparked a debate amongst the present League members on whether or not to tamper with his personality and prevent him from repeating his crime. Zatanna, Hawkman, and The Atom voted for such action, while Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Green Lantern voted against. The Flash broke the tie and voted to tamper with Light's mind. Zatanna used her magic to do so, but the difficulty of the process resulted in her accidentally lowering his intellect. In the midst of her spell, Batman appeared and tried to stop them. Zatanna froze him, and they voted to have her erase his memories of the incident as well.

Zatanna's mind-wipe of Dr. Light was not an isolated occurrence. Catwoman discovered that her journey from villain to hero and her resulting efforts to lead a moral life were caused by Zatanna's mental intervention. Selina came to distrust her memories, motives, and choices she’d made since that incident. In a fit of rage, Catwoman ties Zatanna up and pushes her through a window. Despite this, Zatanna helps Catwoman and, at Selina's behest, mind-wipes petty villains Film Freak and Angle Man, because they had deduced Catwoman's secret identity.

Zatanna and Batman’s friendship degraded once Batman discovered what she had done. He began to distrust her and his other friends in the super hero community. When Zatanna helped Batman with reconnaissance at a Lazarus Pit, she asks him why he came to her. "I needed someone I can trust," Batman said, "but I had to settle for you." This must have been especially hard for her to hear, seeing that she and Bruce Wayne had been close friends since childhood.

Recently, however, their relationship appears to have warmed; sometime later he called her for information on a card-counter involved in scamming the Penguin. He makes no mention of their conflict, and casually calls her by her nickname, "Zee".

After departing from the League, Zatanna continues her stage career and her vocation as a defender against mystical threats, becoming a member of the Sentinels of Magic. She is also the author of the hugely successful Hex Appeal: The Modern Girl's Guide to Magic.

At a superhero support group run by Etta Candy, she recounted how during a failed magical ritual to search for her father's tomes, one of her past ill-casted spells summoned a shape-shifter named Gwydion, who kills her companions. The trauma of this, combined with her guilt from her mind-wipes, caused her to lose confidence in herself and she lost her powers. With the help of her new apprentice Misty Kilgore, she was able to capture Gwydion to use as her own. She eventually regained her confidence and powers, and used them to defeat Zor, a rogue Time Tailor who released the Sheeda as a plague to infect and degrade the entire universe. As a reward, the other Time Tailors allowed her one last meeting with her father, who reveals that his books were written in her, his greatest spell and gift to the world. In the final battle against the Sheeda, Zatanna cast a spell to move time and space, retroactively positioning the Seven Soldiers to overthrow the Sheeda.

Zatanna is currently a reserve member of the Justice League, aiding them from time to time when her magical expertise is needed, although she declined an offer for full membership, stating her need to take a break from heroics. She is still a regular guardian against mystical threats.

9. Dick Grayson (286 points - 9 first place slots)

dickgrayson.jpg"He grew up in the community of super heroes and is destined to lead the next generation of heroes because he grew up not only learning from Batman but from Superman, Wonder Woman, Hal Jordan, and Barry Allen. Batman did not train Dick to be as good as Bruce he trained him to be better."

"OK, so that other comic I got that day was Tales of the New Teen Titans #51. I was just as drawn in by these characters as I was the Legion, but for different reasons. While the Legion was so fantastic, these characters were just so…normal (an odd comment considering there was a green kid, and orange woman and a cyborg). It was obvious that the central focus of this team was the guy in the outlandish disco collar. I didn’t know that he used to be Robin until a little while later, but he was the leader and the team was awesome.

Yeah, sometimes a character becomes a lifelong favorite for so simple a reason."

"He is the yin of Batman, tempered with the yang of Superman. The first of the second generation of DC heroes and the best. As a bonus, he has also been the leader of more teams of heroes than anyone else in DC (or maybe all of comics)."

"Nightwing needs to get out of Batman's shadow and Dick should be a fixture on the JLA."

"Love him as Batman, but cannot wait for him to be his own hero again."

"The Boy Wonder. His transition from little boy, to leader of the Titans to Nightwing is just awesome."

"Do I need a reason?"

"Batman but more likable."

"It doesn't matter what costume he is in. Or what name he is going by, Richard is the shit."

"This guy is DC evolution right here and like I said in the Top Teens, He has been around since the forties and still is not dead. Who else can stay that, Batman, not the Bruce Wayne Batman, Superman, no not superman, Wonder Woman, you better believe she's died. Not Mr. Grayson."

"Batman, Nightwing, or Robin. I do not care, this guy is awesome."

"Naturally my first pick. If you had to name one hero who is truly the heart of the DCU, if you look at it objectively, Dick is the guy. Through growing up with Batman as a "father figure", he has not only learned about how to be a hero, but he's always been the adopted son or kid brother of the old guard, the leader of his generation, and the big brother of the next generation. Dick fits in, is respected by, and gets along with EVERYBODY. Heroes respect him nor only for what he's learned from Batman, but the stuff he hasn't learned from Batman as well.

But of course, you also have to add to that the fact that Dick's just cool: in the DCU's top ten in fighting, detective skills, escape artistry, disguise, tactics. He's indisputably the greatest acrobat and IMO the greatest team leader. He's good-looking, funny, smart, charismatic, self-assured, confident, but never puts anyone around him ill at ease because of that. Despite being the "son" of the Bat, Dick remains the most likable hero in the DCU."

You now, I honestly didn't think he was going to be in the Top 10. Should he be in the Top 10? Yes, he should. But up until the last week of submissions, he was sitting around 13-14th slot really. Why were all the Dick fans being lazy? Tsk tsk tsk. For shame on you. For shame.

The name "Robin the Boy Wonder" and the medieval look of the original costume were inspired by the legendary hero Robin Hood, as well as the red-breasted American Robin, which continued the "flying animal" motif of Batman.

Young Dick Grayson was born on the first day of spring. His mother nicknamed him "little Robin". Little did she know how prophetic this term of endearment would be in her son's life.

Dick Grayson was a twelve-year-old Romanian circus acrobat, the youngest of a family act called The Flying Graysons of The Haly Circus. Dick joined the act at a very young age, having been trained in acrobatics from birth. Before one appearance in Gotham, in which The Flying Graysons were the main attraction, they were asked to pose for a photo opportunity with the Drake Family, including their young son Tim Drake. From that time on Tim's one and only hero in the world was Dick.

While on tour in Gotham City, he overheard "Boss" Tony Zucco, a well-known and feared crime-lord, threaten the performers unless the circus's owner paid extortion money. The owner refused, and that night Dick watched in horror as his parents' high wire snapped, sending his parents hurtling to their deaths, all while many of Gotham's elite watched on. Young Dick felt responsible, because he didn't warn his parents in time.

Shortly after the tragedy, as shown in Batman: Year Three and Year One Annual: Robin, Dick was placed in an uncaring juvenile services system, on the grounds that social services was full. He got beaten up by a number of the inmates, and he was later sent to a Catholic orphanage. Bruce Wayne rescued Dick by adopting him as his ward, because the boy did not want to replace his deceased father with the billionaire. Frustrated by the lack of attention from his new guardian and the mystery still surrounding his parents' death, Dick sneaked out of Wayne Manor one evening to solve the crime on his own - only to stumble into Batman, who was also investigating the murder. After waking up in the Batcave, he is shocked to learn that Bruce is really the Batman. They succeed in revealing Zucco's complicity, but he supposedly dies of a heart attack before his arrest. Seeing a reflection of himself in Dick; that he could temper compassion with a thirst for justice, Batman made the young orphan the offer of a lifetime; the chance to become his crime-fighting partner. Dick chose the name Robin, and his training began.

Robin's origin had a typological connection to Batman's in that both witnessed the crime-related deaths of their parents, creating an urge to battle the criminal underworld. This provided a bond and understanding between the two.

Bruce taught Dick fighting techniques and detective skills for a grueling 6 months. Finally, Dick had to pass a final test - "the Gauntlet". Dick had to elude the Dark Knight on the streets of Gotham for one night - from sundown to sunset - without any outside help. Dick succeeded, simultaneously bringing Gotham gangster Joe Minette to justice. Dick took to the streets as Batman's full-fledged partner in crime-fighting: Robin, the Boy Wonder.

Dick enjoyed his first year as Robin, regarding the job as an adventure until a confrontation with Two-Face served as a rude awakening for the young hero. Two-Face had captured the new District Attorney and Batman, and had each suspended from a hangman's noose in a 'double gallows death-trap'. Robin, in trying to save the D.A., used a batarang to cut the rope of the noose. It worked, but Robin didn't account for Dent's obsession with the number two -- it was a two-fold trap, and the floor gave way, dropping the D.A. into the water, where the man drowned. Robin was unable to prevent his death, and received a beating at the hands of Two-Face. A beating witnessed by Batman, still tied up on the platform trying to free himself. Eventually, Batman was able to free himself and apprehend Two-Face. This event, however, scarred the young crime-fighter, and haunts him even today. Rather than see Dick be further endangered, Batman "fires" his partner, sidelining the Boy Wonder for a time.

The formation of the Teen Titans mainly happened due to the sidekick's mentor's making them feel lesser of themselves. Which they quickly knew wasn't right about their mentors. Dick with Wally West, at the time Kid Flash, and Garth, then Aqualad teamed-up and later on Donna Troy, the then Wonder Girl joined the team along with Speedy, at this time was Roy Harper.

They cured their mentor's from their mind control and their mentors (Batman, Flash, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman) supported the teens to become the Teen Titans! Dick became the leader of this team.

Eventually, the team would disband when they grew older. Dick continued his adventures with Batman, and began attending college at Hudson University. Robin started to take on solo missions as well, and found himself to be a capable crime-fighter in his own right. Shortly afterward, the mysterious Raven summoned Dick Grayson, and several other young heroes, to form a new group of Titans. Robin again resumed leadership, and moved out of the shadow of the Batman.

When Robin was 17, he was shot in the shoulder by the Joker, and this scared Batman into ending his career for good. Dick realized at that point that he had grown up: he no longer relied on Batman and, in fact, he and the Dark Knight disagreed on crime-fighting methodology. His newfound independence and Titans' duties in New York left less time for his former commitments in Gotham City. He also dropped out of Hudson after only one semester.

Dick rediscovered his self-worth among the Teen Titans. Batman, however, was less than pleased. He informed Dick that if he no longer wanted to be his partner, then Dick would have to retire as Robin. Dick left Wayne Manor after this fallout. Helping him through this difficult time was his fellow Titans, including Starfire, a beautiful alien Dick had fallen in love with. Dick handed over leadership of the Titans to Wonder Girl.

Uncertain what to do, he turned to someone he knew would understand: Superman. Very briefly, Dick had considered giving up the whole crime fighting gig, but he couldn't imagine his life any other way; but if he couldn't be Robin, who would he be? Superman had the answer. Long ago on Krypton, a man was cast out by his family - just as Dick had been. He dreamed of a world ruled by justice, and set out to protect the helpless of Krypton. His true identity was never revealed. He was known only as Nightwing.

8. Black Canary (291 points - 5 first place slots)

blackcanary.jpg"Strong female character that kicks ass. Married to Ollie Queen who as stated above my favorite character."

"Once again I’m going with potential. Black Canary is the character that bridges the gap between the Golden and Modern ages. She is the daughter of the Justice Society of America, and is as much a part of them as she is a part of the JLA. Of all comic characters, she is the true “Student,” even more so than Batman. Batman sought to make himself the ultimate fighter, badass, blah blah blah….Black Canary learned how to be a hero from heroes, and she adopted the identity of a hero (her mother), while being inspired by the death of another hero (her father). She is more ingrained in the “superhero community” than any other character out there.

That said, she’s as good as those writing her. When she’s written as “Appendage Lass” to Green Arrow with no personality of her own beyond “stand by your man,” then she’s annoying as hell. However, when she’s written independently then she is one of the best. One of that many, many, many (many) colossal fuck ups of DC during the “Countdown” unpleasantness was marrying the two as it really went against both of their characters. Dinah still rocks, tho, and hopefully the best is yet to come."

"When she's with the Birds she's kick butt. When she's with her husband she's not. Still, she deserves a top 10 spot."

"Maybe it's because I've been so nostalgic for the 80's/90's in general lately, but does everyone really hate Mike Grell's interpretation of BC? Because I don't. Once again, the run that made me a fan of a character is one that's generally disliked by many fans. They say Grell neutered Dinah and made her a housewife/damsel in distress. I found his BC to be pretty "believable" as heroines go. Is it really that far fetched that a seasoned veteran would eventually want to hang her fishnets up and have a go at a normal life? I don't think so, and neither did Grell. The Dinah who ran Sherwood Florist all those years is one of the most endearing aspects of his classic Green Arrow run. That said, I also love the current BC. Although I do wish they wouldn't have de-aged her in the Lazarus Pit; it adds some realism to think that not all heroes are perpetually 29."

"I loved her before, but more so since Gail built her up in Birds of Prey."

"Sexy, strong and independent, the premiere martial artist in the DCU."

This one kind of shocked me as well, much love for this female character. Not only did she make the Top 10, but she beat many of my favorite characters as well and popular fav. ie: Dick Grayson. Bizarre little world we live in, very bizarre indeed. Anywho, In the 1960s, the Justice Society of America and Black Canary were revived and put on an alternate universe dubbed Earth-Two. When Dinah returned, it was explained that since the time she had been gone, she went on to marry Larry Lance. Dinah along with the JSA teamed up with the Justice League Of America on several adventures, regaining her status as JSA member. When a mission pitted the team against an alien creature named Aquarius, Larry Lance was killed in an attempt to save Dinah’s life. After they defeated the alien, Dinah was in mourning and decided to leave Earth-Two and move to Earth-One to start a new life. She started by joining the Justice League of America, and she soon began dating JLA teammate Green Arrow. Also during this time she discovered that she mysteriously gained the ability to do an ultrasonic scream, she would call it the “Canary Cry.” Canary would then join the Justice League of America, becoming the only Golden Age and Silver Age hero to have been on the JLA and JSA roster.

When Roy Harper became addicted to heroine, Green Arrow abused him and threw him out on the streets. Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, would discover this and bring Roy over into the care of Dinah. Dinah stayed by his side, helping him with the pain of quitting cold turkey. Roy appreciated the help and support Dinah offered him, and later on looked at her in a way that was part sibling, part friend, and part parent.

It was later revealed that Black Canary was actually the daughter of the original Black Canary, on account of writers feeling that Dinah seemed to be much older then Green Arrow and the rest of the Justice League. So now, during the 1950s Dinah and Larry had a child. Unfortunately, the child was cursed by the Wizard, foe of the JSA, which caused the child to have an uncontrollable scream. Dinah asked Johnny Thunder to summon Thunderbolt to help find a cure. They were unsuccessful, and so Dinah asked Thunderbolt to put the child in suspended animation (while slowly growing up) until they could find a cure or a way to control it. Dinah learned that she was poisoned by radiation from her battle with Aquarius, and was slowly starting to die. She made an arrangement with Thunderbolt and Superman of Earth-One to transfer her mind to the body of her now adult daughter

After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Black Canary's origin was changed to become two different characters. Now there was a Black Canary named Dinah Drake Lance, and her daughter, the current Black Canary, named Dinah Laurel Lance. Dinah Drake would marry a private investigator named Larry Lance, acquaintance of James Gordon. A few years later they had a baby girl, named Dinah Laurel Lance. Dinah would grow up surrounded by her mother’s friends from the now disbanded JSA, who acted as her babysitters and surrogate aunts and uncles. Seeing all the good that the JSA was able to do, Dinah desired to become a hero and help the world as well.

However, her mother forbade it because she believed the world was not as nice as the days she worked as a crime fighter, and that Dinah would die. Dinah did not listen to her mother, asking Wildcat to help train her. Dinah also had her “Canary Cry”, but unlike the Silver Age, she was able to control it and it was a result of a meta-gene. After years of intense training, she took the Black Canary mantle and started her vigilantism while also maintaining a day job as owner and operator of Sherwood Florist. Dinah also helped reform the Justice League of America with Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Flash, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman. After she joined the Justice League, she became romantically involved with teammate Green Arrow. The age difference was much different this time, with Green Arrow being a few years older then she was. After her mother’s death caused by radiation poisoning from Aquarius, Dinah decided that she would quit the JLA. She moved with Green Arrow to Seattle to start a new life, opening her own florist shop there. Her move to Seattle, though, began a slow spiral downward in her life. Dinah had decided to join an operation to bust a drug ring, but failed. They kidnapped Dinah and proceeded to torturing her, causing her to lose her fertility and Canary Cry. Eventually Green Arrow would save her but Dinah would not be the same after this. She started to attend extensive counseling, and was able to recover psychologically from the events. Dinah’s relationship with Green Arrow would take a turn too. With years of trust issues having accumulated from being abandoned and walked out on several times by Green Arrow, she broke off their relationship after she walked in on Green Arrow kissing her young florist shop assistant.

Oracle would later ask Black Canary to work as an agent for her, and they would form the Birds Of Prey. When she began working with the Birds of Prey, she decided to get rid of the blond wig and bleach her hair blond. At first Dinah did not get along with Oracle, but eventually the two put their disagreements aside and became best friends, learning that they had so much in common. Later it was revealed during one of the early Birds of Prey issues that Dinah had married when she was very young, but divorced soon after. Her ex-husband made an appearance in a Birds of Prey storyline where he was seeking her help but in fact, wanted her to return to him after he had stolen money from the mob. When Dinah began dating a European man who later turned out to be Ra's al Ghul, she was seriously injured and the only way to save her was to dip her into the Lazarus Pit. The Lazarus Pit would restore her meta-human ability “Canary Cry” and her fertility.

Dinah was trained by the same martial arts master as Lady Shiva. Shiva became impressed with Dinah’s martial arts skills and offered her a chance to sharpen her skills. Dinah declined Shiva’s offer because she believed that it would change her morality and turn her into a cold blooded killer like Shiva, however, Shiva remained an important figure in Dinah's life.

During Infinite Crisis, Alex Luthor revealed that Wonder Woman was originally a founding member of the Justice League. This affects Black Canary because during one of the earlier retcons, Black Canary replaced Wonder Woman as one of the founding members of the Justice League. It has yet to be explained on Dinah’s status in her earlier life with the JLA. In One Year Later after Infinite Crisis, Dinah had traded lives with Lady Shiva. Dinah is now going through the entire training that Lady Shiva went through in her early life. It takes place in a Vietnamese village where Dinah is abused by a gang of warriors and learns more about fighting then she thought she ever could. Lady Shiva took care of Dinah’s role in the Birds of Prey, calling herself the Jade Canary and being prone to excessive violence. Eventually Dinah realizes that the training she is going through would change her morality and decides to end the training and return to America. Dinah also decided to take a little girl with her named Sin, a girl who was supposed to be Lady Shiva’s successor. Dinah did not want such a little girl going through all the horror that was in that village. Leaving the Birds of Prey, Dinah took Sin with her to live a life safe and sound. Then all kinds of crap happened after Infinite Crisis and stuff, I am just happy she is back under Gail's pen and back on Birds of Prey.


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