Greetings from the Odinson,
Way back in 1938, in Action Comics #1, the Man of Steel burst onto the scene and started the super hero craze that is still going strong to this day. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, not only was Superman the first, but he was the inspiration for countless numbers of copycat supermen. He is the ultimate super hero archetype with super strength, speed, ability to fly, chiseled features, broad shoulders, and a long flowing cape, Superman not only sets the standard with his heroic actions for all other heroes to follow, but his creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, set the standard for a lot of creators that followed them.
The worlds of comic books are flooded with Superman-inspired heroes. When teenager Bill Batson utters the word SHAZAM, he is transformed into the adult super hero Captain Marvel, a mighty champion for justice with a cape who has super strength, speed, and the ability to fly. Then there’s Gladiator, an alien hero with a cape, super human strength, speed and the ability to fly who also has heat vision. Hyperion, Supreme, Mister Majestic, The High, and Sentry are all thinly veiled Superman-inspired creations. And they all have, you guessed it, super strength, speed, the ability to fly, and (wait for it) a cape. Superman gets his powers from the golden rays of Earth’s yellow sun. Hmmmm. Seems to me like there’s another super man flying around out there with a very similar set up. Oh yeah, StormWatch’s resident super man Apollo.
Another character that inspired a plethora of knock off characters is none other than Wolverine. It’s easy to forget that when the Avengers and X-Men’s feral little berserker first jumped onto the scene way back in Incredible Hulk #180-181 that he was one of the most unique super heroes ever created. He was the quintessential bad boy/loner/rebel with an eye for the ladies and a list of vices as long as your arm. In his very first appearance, this furry little mutant proved he was, without a doubt, one of the toughest men alive by surviving an all out brawl with both the mighty Hulk and the cannibalistic Wendigo. What makes him tough is the fact that his bones are laced with Adamantium, the world’s strongest steel, making his bones virtually unbreakable. What makes him nearly un-killable is his mutant healing factor, a super power that allows Wolverine to recover from mortal wounds as fast as a normal man can get over the sniffles. His five senses are sharp and heightened to superhuman levels. He’s a trained assassin who has mastered most forms of armed and unarmed combat. And on top of it all, he has six razor-sharp foot-long blades made of Adamantium that can cut steel like a hot knife through butter that retract from the back of his hands.
Now let’s see, berserker rage, bad boy attitude, claws, and a healing factor, who else does this remind me of? Oh, I don’t know – Sabretooth, Ripclaw, Warblade, Wild Child, Dingo, Feral, Bloodwulf, Cougar, X-23, Lady Deathstrike, Deadlock, Daken and Romulus, just to name a few. When we were first learning about Wolverine, one of the coolest and most unique things about him was his super human ability to heal. Nowadays, not only does every name on the above list of knockoffs have a “healing factor” but everyone from Savage Dragon to Deadpool to Deathstroke has a “healing factor.” Modern day comic creators have turned one of the coolest ideas for a super power ever into a cliché. Like Superman did with super strength, speed, flight and the cape, Wolverine has almost made the healing factor a prerequisite for the modern day super hero.
Once upon a time, Superman and Wolverine were the most unique ideas for a super hero ever conceived. Now they are the most imitated. It’s said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. There’s a reason why Superman and Wolverine are two of the most popular super heroes in the history of comics. They were the first and are the most original of their kind.
Here’s a list of some of the Odinson’s picks for Most Unique Comic Characters.
Absorbing Man – Crusher Creel was a small time hood who was empowered by Asgardian black magic and given the ability to absorb the properties and power of anything, and I do mean anything, he comes in contact with. That “anything” description puts him on a level above other power absorbers like Amazo, the Super-Adaptoid, Parasite, and Mimic, because not only can Creel absorb powers, he can absorb literally anything. His ability, if not his brains, make him an A-Class super villain that has gone toe-to-toe with the Hulk, Thor, and the Avengers. He even once stormed the gates of Asgard and challenged the nigh omnipotent power of Odin himself.
There are seemingly no limits to Creel’s ability to absorb. He can take on the properties and power of fire, concrete and steel; he’s even absorbed the strength Captain America’s nigh indestructible shield, Thor’s invincible hammer and the Hulk’s immeasurable strength. His only limitation is his lack of intelligence. He is routinely outsmarted by his foes. But make no mistake, every time this Big Bad shows up, the Odinson is front and center because I can’t wait to see what unique way the Absorbing Man will be using his power this time.
Spawn – What I find so unique about this Todd McFarlane (Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man) creation is not so much his powers, which as far as I can tell Spawn can do anything he thinks of because he deals in magic, but it’s the story behind the character. Al Simmons was an elite Black Ops agent that worked secretly for the government. He was a world class assassin that over the course of his highly successful career racked up embarrassingly large number of kills. Suffice it to say, he was not your quintessential “good guy.” One day he was betrayed by those he worked for and murdered. But Simmons was not ready to leave this mortal coil behind.
Al Simmons was a murderer, so he went to where all bad men go when he died, to hell. There he made a deal with the reigning devil to be able to see his beloved wife, Wanda, one last time. The beast agreed, and sent Simmons back to the mortal world as a Hellspawn, a supernatural agent of hell. Simmons got his wish; problem is now his face is burned beyond recognition and his new form is so other worldly that he dare not approach anyone less they run from him in terror. And the cherry on top of the devil’s little ruse? Simmons had been gone a long time, and in that time Wanda had remarried and had a baby with Simmon’s best friend, Terry Fitzgerald. Aw, the pathos.
Now simply known as Spawn, Al Simmons roams the seemingly endless back alleys of the city, protecting his territory and the homeless people society has forgotten about against mobsters, monsters, demons, cyborgs, avenging angels and anything else that dares venture here unwanted. As the story further unfolds, Spawn learns that he is to play a major role in the final battle between Heaven and Hell. What role that is yet is unclear. And both sides, good and evil, will pull at him to ensure that when Armageddon does go down, his power will be on their side. But all will soon learn that this Hellspawn is a very different breed, and Al Simmons walks a path all his own.
Jack Hawksmoor – Easily my favorite character from the pages of StormWatch and later Authority, Jack Hawksmoor is one of the most unique heroes ever conceived. He is reported to be the “God of Cities.” Genetically altered by a sophisticated super race from the future, Hawksmoor is in complete empathic link with all the cities of the world. He draws his powers from the city itself. His abilities present themselves in many different forms including super human strength, speed, agility, the ability to manipulate matter and heal infrastructure with his mind. He can communicate with cities as if they were sentient beings. They can warn him of imminent danger and provide Intel on events occurring around the world. Hawksmoor can travel from city to city anywhere in the world by going to sleep in one place and waking up in another location.
However, he does have an Achilles Heel. Like Aquaman when it comes to water, Hawksmoor cannot long survive outside the city limits of an urban setting. He is psychically and physically connected to cities and to leave them behind altogether would destroy him. He does not wear shoes because the soles of his feet have adapted into the most effective urban footwear. Because of its great size, Hawksmoor is able to live onboard the space ship the Authority call home. It is large enough to be a city, so his powers can cope with him being there. Jack Hawksmoor is a natural born leader. He abhors violence but is not afraid to take a life if it means saving others. He’s smart, collected and cool under fire, and his distinctive power set always brings a unique aspect to the adventures of the Authority (now, once again, called StormWatch).
The Vision – The Vision is truly a masterpiece of a comic book creation. Not only his powers, like Jack Hawksmoor, but his story, like Spawn, make him unique. It all starts with Hank Pym (a.k.a. Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket). Pym is a founding member of the Avengers and a brilliant scientist. One day, in his lab, he created Ultron, an artificial intelligence in the form of a robot. However, a flaw in Ultron caused the robot to turn on his creator and seek out the extermination of the human race. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes assembled and defeated the mechanical threat.
Ultron proved to be every bit as creative as his own creator though. By using the deactivated body of the World War II android hero the Human Torch and combining it with brain patterns based on the deceased Wonder Man, Ultron brought his ultimate creation into the world – the Vision. The Vision was designed to destroy the Avengers, so Ultron armed him with the powers and abilities to be able to do just that.
The Vision has complete control over his body’s mass. With a thought he can become as hard as diamond or as intangible as air. In his diamond-hard state, the Vision is extremely heavy and nearly immovable. He has super human strength and is nearly impervious to harm. In his intangible state, the Vision can fly and pass through solid objects. This allows him to walk through walls like a ghost. On the Vision’s forehead is a jewel which absorbs solar radiation and allows him to project beams of intense heat. One of the Vision’s most devastating attacks is to reach his intangible hand into an opponent’s chest then slowly solidify it, causing his adversary to suffer uncontrollable seizures.
The Vision’s unique power set almost proved too much for the Avengers to handle, but when the super android discovered just how cruel his creator actually was, he turned on him. The Vision helped the Avengers to defeat Ultron, and for his bravery was offered a spot in the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. On that day the world learned “Even an Android Can Cry.” The Vision’s unique story does not stop there. He would go on not only to become one of the most stalwart members of the Avengers but he would also develop a romantic relationship with the Scarlet Witch. The Vision and Scarlet Witch for years made the most unlikeliest of couples, for she was a mutant and he was an android. Both started out on the wrong side of the law but through their trials and tribulations somehow found each other.
Talk about unique, get a load of this family tree. Ant-Man created Ultron. Ultron created the Vision using parts from the original Human Torch and Wonder Man. The Scarlet Witch’s brother is Quicksilver and her sister is Polaris. The Scarlet Witch’s father is Magneto. Quicksilver was married to Crystal, a member of the Inhumans Royal Family, and they have a daughter together named Luna. Polaris is romantically tied to Havok, whose brother is Cyclops, who with Madelyne Pryor, a clone of Jean Grey, are the parents of Cable. Rachel Summers is the daughter of a future incarnation of Cyclops and Jean Grey. Ant-Man was married to the Wasp. Ultron, Pym’s “son”, created the robot Jocasta, the Vision’s “sister”, in the image of the Wasp. The Grim Reaper is the deranged brother of Wonder Man. The Young Avengers Speed and Wiccan are the improbable offspring of the Vision and Scarlet Witch, made possible somehow by her chaos magic. The Scarlet Witch studied magic under the tutelage of Agatha Harkness, who at one time also served as nanny for the Fantastic Four. Crystal, Quicksilver’s ex-wife, served for a time in the FF and was romantically linked with Johnny Storm, the second Human Torch.
And you thought your family tree was complicated. I bet there are some real fireworks going on at this family reunion. It’s all just pieces to the puzzle that make the Vision one of the most unique characters in all of comics. All of this plus his costume just so happens to be one of the coolest designs ever.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell