Greetings from the Odinson,
“When criminals in this world appear – and break the laws that they should fear – and frighten all who see or hear – the cry goes up both far and near for Underdog…!”
Nobody doubts for one second that the Man of Steel won’t save the falling damsel or that the thunder god’s mighty hammer won’t vanquish the monstrous frost giant. The Flash is supposed to win the race, he’s the Fastest Man Alive. Mister Fantastic is supposed to have the answer, he’s the smartest man alive. And, the Incredible Hulk is supposed to be able to support the weight of the world on his broad Gamma-powered shoulders, because Hulk is the strongest one there is! These are titans and they are all expected to save the day, but what about the little guy, the underdog.
Nobody expected David to slay the giant, Goliath. Nobody expected Rocky to go the distance with Apollo Creed. Everybody loves the underdog. Remember the Alamo! Throughout history and pop culture there are examples of a few brave souls overachieving and accomplishing feats that seemed impossible and make the myths.
In Conan the Barbarian, right before the climactic battle of the film, the mighty Cimmerian prays to his god, Crom, and during his appeal he says “…all that matters is that two stood against many….” And there among those monolithic stones, outnumbered twenty to two, one barbarian and one thief triumphed over impossible odds and toppled the forces of Thulsa Doom!
In the pages of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, the Marvel Universe’s mightiest heroes are pitted in a no holds barred death match against their deadliest adversaries. When the question of leadership came up there was only one man for the job. However, when a much brasher, pre-House of M/Origins Wolverine (it was after these events that Logan regained his lost memories and became a more civil and rounded hero) refused to follow Captain America’s command, stating that with no super human powers that he was the least of them all. The Mighty Thor stymied that line of thinking and made it a moot point when he stepped forward and declared that he “would follow [Captain America] through the gates of Hades!” Thus, Steve Rogers, a simple man from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, would go on to lead the galaxy’s greatest heroes into battle against the forces of Doom!
Sometimes it’s the one least likely that makes the biggest difference.
The Odinson’s Top 5 Underdog Stories
5 – Green Arrow in “Imaginary Stories!” – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and the Flash – these are some of the most legendary names in the history of comics. Together there is no foe they can’t defeat, no odds they can’t overcome, right? But, what happens when the World’s Greatest Super Heroes are defeated by the diabolical Key? This arch fiend has enslaved these titans for justice in prisons of their own minds and the only thing left standing in his way and total victory is the son of Oliver Queen. Armed with only a bow and a handful of his dad’s old trick arrows, Connor Hawke pulls off the impossible and singlehandedly takes down one of the Justice League’s oldest and most dangerous foes.
4 – Marvel Universe vs. the Punisher – Frank Castle treks warily through a post-Apocalyptic Manhattan fighting blood-thirsty creatures that were once heroes as he searches for Patient Zero, the first infected that started all the madness, the former hero once known as Spider-Man. In a world where every single person with super powers has been transformed into flesh-eating maniacs, how fitting that the only man left standing to save the world is a man without any super powers. This isn’t the first time the Punisher was the last man standing in a world of heroes-turned-monsters. In What If Wolverine Had Become Lord of Vampire?, an alternate ending to Uncanny X-Men #159 sees Wolverine and the Children of the Atom transformed into super powered, blood-sucking Children of the Night and the only one left standing in their way is Frank Castle, Vampire-Hunter!
3 – Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: A New Hope – For nearly twenty years, through military force and the sheer power of the Dark Side, Emperor Palpatine and his galactic empire ruled a galaxy far, far away. His powerful clone army subjugated entire star systems, his menacing apprentice, Darth Vader, hunted down and destroyed the Jedi Order, and he unleashed his ultimate weapon upon the galaxy, the Death Star, a moon-size space station with enough fire-power to destroy an entire planet. Then along comes a young farm boy from a backwater planet with an affinity for the Force who makes an impossible bombing run down a narrow trench under heavy fire and destroys the most formidable weapon of mass destruction ever known.
2 – Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings – Middle Earth is on the verge of falling into war, chaos, and disorder as the numberless legions of monsters, goblins, and orcs under the command of the villain Sauron are amassing and threatening to cut a swath of death and destruction across the land that no lawful creature can hope to survive. The only thing that can stop the end of days is the destruction of the MacGuffin known as the Ring of Power. Of all the good races in the realms, no one could possibly dare to possess the Ring for fear of falling prey to its seductive power. Not the wisest of elf, not the mightiest of dwarf, not the most stalwart of man. No, only one among them all could possibly bear the burden of the task at hand. The most unassuming, the most pure of heart, the bravest soul, a simple Hobbit named Frodo Baggins.
1 – Green Arrow and the Atom in Rock of Ages – In the not too distant future, the heroes of Earth have failed and the dark gods of Apokolips have conquered the world. Mankind is enslaved and all worship at the feet of the one true god – Darkseid. In one last desperate attempt for salvation, a ragtag team of Justice League members comprised of disjointed members from the past locked inside their crippled old bodies of the future, Wonder Woman, a nearly broken Batman, and a malfunctioning Amazo robot, take the fight right to the dark god’s doorstep. As the world around them rockets toward oblivion, one by one the heroes fall before the nigh omnipotent power of the dark lord. Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and all the heroes of the DCU are dead and gone. Only Green Arrow and the Atom remain. An acrobat with a bow and a scientist who shrinks are all that remains standing in the way of a dark god and his ultimate victory. Connor Hawke and Ray Palmer stun the reader, stun the world, nay, they stun the cosmos by pulling off the impossible. Green Arrow and the Atom take down Darkseid for good!
America loves the underdog. Maybe that’s because in 1776, America was the underdog when we decided to declare our independence from the Throne of England. Hawkeye, the absolutely most underappreciated member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes put the plight of the underdog into stark perspective in Avengers: Age of Ultron when he said “The city is flying and we’re fighting an army of robots and I have a bow and arrow. Nothing makes sense.”
So, here’s to the Underdog!
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell