Archive for Crazy Jane

5 If by C

So Kalinara proposed a little meme-game called the “Five Characters” meme, which I’ve decided to play around with. Here are the rules:

1. Comment on this post.
2. I will give you a letter.
3. Think of 5 fictional characters and post their names and your comments on these characters in your blog or Livejournal. Or even here in the comments.

You’ll note it says “fictional characters” — you don’t have to include any comics characters if you want… but hey, I run a comic book blog, so I went with all super-people.

Anyway, the letter I was assigned was “C“… and here are the characters I picked.

1. Captain America – I’ve only recently started reading any “Captain America” comics, and it used to be that I didn’t even understand the appeal of the character. But in the last few years, I think I’ve started to catch on to why Cap is so much fun.

Granted, back in the day, he didn’t do much but wave the flag, fight Nazis, and be patriotic. But for the past several decades, lots of writers have realized that Cap is a perfect vehicle for exploring topics like the nature of patriotism and America’s strong and weak points. Heck, the guy’s basically a big living flag, and he’s just about the closest thing any comic companies have to an actual symbol of America — with that pedigree, he’s tailor-made for storylines dealing with the times when America hasn’t lived up to its idealistic promises.

There’ve been Cap stories dealing with the War on Terror, the dangers of knee-jerk nationalism and jingoism, national dissent over the Vietnam War, fascism, racism, and just about every other important national issue. Even the current storyline focuses on an attempt to destroy America by tearing it down from the inside, using a collapsing economy, an out-of-control security apparatus, and collusions between corporate and governmental conspirators. Talk about “ripped from the headlines!”

2. Captain Carrot – Aww, how could I resist! The lead character of my favorite funny-animal comic ever! Originally a mild-mannered cartoonist named, believe it or not, Roger Rabbit (DC changed his name to Rodney when Disney started working on their movie), he got his abilities of super-strength and super-leaping by eating “Cosmic Carrots.”

Actually, Captain Carrot may have been my least favorite character out of the entire Zoo Crew. Fastback, Pig-Iron, and Rubberduck had the powers I wanted, Alley-Kat-Abra and Yankee Poodle were easier on the eyes, and even Little Cheese had a more interesting backstory. But Cap was the glue that held them all together — without him, you just couldn’t see any of the rest of the Zoo Crew working as a team or even getting along that well.

In a way, that’s what leaders do best, at least in fiction — they may not be the most interesting characters, but they exist to make sure the other characters stay linked together and interacting with each other. Or maybe I’m over-thinking that. Cap is just a cartoon rabbit who makes a “SPROING” noise when he jumps…

3. Changeling – No, not “Beast Boy.” I always hated that name. I still don’t know why they went back to it, other than stupid Silver Age nostalgia. Gar Logan’s gotta be in his 20s by now — why would he want to be called a boy? I definitely preferred the “Changeling” name he went by during the Wolfman/Perez “Teen Titans” series in the ’80s.

Anyway, I’ve always liked shapeshifters and stretchers, because they can physically change their own identities. I guess I’ve always wanted to be different people, so I tend to gravitate to shapeshifters, like Changeling, Plastic Man, Chameleon Boy, Warlock, and Morph. I think it’s even why I enjoy werewolf movies so much. But Changeling was always one of my favorites. I liked his juvenile/goofball attitude, for one thing, and I think I’ve always liked comics characters with green skin. Heck, you should see my “City of Heroes” characters — you’ve never seen so many green-skinned freaks in yer life, I promise.

So yeah, I’m a complete fan of Changeling, and I can’t wait ’til they change his name back like it oughtta be.

4. Citizen Steel – So you got Nate Heywood, former football star, now drug-addicted, whiny amputee, and he gets superpowers that give him his leg back and give him superstrength. His powers have taken away most of his ability to feel anything, and he’s too strong to touch anything without causing damage. His costume is designed to slow him down and reduce his strength. I was not expecting to like this guy at all, but he’s turned out to be one of my favorite characters in the new “Justice Society of America” series.

What’s he got that makes him appealing? Personality. The guy is absolutely devoted to the surviving kids in his family, and it seems like half of his appearances have featured him hanging out his numerous cousins, just letting them crawl all over him while he makes them pancakes or something crazy like that. In the current JSA storyline, he’s clearly jonesing hard for Gog to grant his wish of being able to hug his cousins without injuring or killing them. It’s that strong attachment to his family that really makes Nate unique and cool.

5. Crazy Jane – And finally, there’s Kay Challis, from Grant Morrison’s late-80s/early-90s “Doom Patrol” series. Kay suffers from multiple personality disorder, and each of her 64 personalities has its own superpowers. The hyper-aggressive and super-scary Black Annis has claws, the Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter creates psychically-active paintings, Flit can teleport, Lucy Fugue has radioactive bones, Sun Daddy has a sun for a head.

Robotman is the best superhero, Rebis seems to know the answers to everything, but Crazy Jane was the heart and soul of the Doom Patrol. Her madness was the perfect mirror for everything Morrison was doing in this comic. And she was actually better at holding the entire team together — Rebis always seemed about to vanish somewhere to contemplate his/her radioactive navel, and Cliff Steele tended to want to stay home and avoid trouble. Jane motivated Cliff to act, and Rebis usually tagged along for the ride. And she still turned out to be a pretty good superhero — she often lasted longer against the Doom Patrol’s weird bad guys than either Rebis or Robotman.

I wish they’d bring her back. I don’t know if she’d be as good if someone other than Morrison was writing her, but I still think it’d be cool.

So there are my five characters. Gimme a shout in comments if you wanna play, and I’ll assign you your letter.

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