The question we were asked is who are your top ten celebrities in comics? It’s easy to assume that most super-heroes would be celebrities in the worlds they inhabit, although very little has been done in mainstream comics to explore the effects of that said celebrity on a hero’s lifestyle. Perhaps it’s because most super-heroes live in New York, and New Yorkers are famously immune to the allure of fame? Even still, you’d think most of them would be getting book deals and talk show invites galore….
What follows are my top ten (in no particular order) characters who are famous in their universes for reasons other than super powers, or who have used those abilities to seek fame and fortune instead of unpaid do-gooding.
Youngblood – In Joe Casey’s recent, abortive run (I’m really glad Rob Liefeld pulled the plug on Casey’s take on things, so he can put out his monthly Barack Obama/Youngblood team-up series of which I think he’s hoping to put out one issue for every term Obama serves) he took a solid look at the concept of a super-hero team as reality TV show stars. It was interesting and unique, even if the concept was done before (New Warriors) and after, by Casey himself again in Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance. You know if there were super heroes in our world, tons of the B-listers would be living in Beach House dormitories for a season or two.
Lois Lane – Quick: Name five world famous print journalists! Can’t do it? That’s because you don’t live in the DC Universe, where journalists don’t so much follow a beat as write whatever they feel like, and somehow have the phone number of every person on the planet. It’s really kind of absurd that she’s as famous as she is.
Booster Gold – I never got the concept of superhero as corporate shill, but then, I only ever read a couple of the original Dan Jurgens series, and the classic Justice League run that he was such an integral part of didn’t address this part of his career at all. I doubt he’s more famous in the DCU than that Vince guy that sells the SlapChop is here.
Lila Cheney – She has to be one of the coolest celebrities in the Marvel Universe. Not only is she an mutant with the ability to teleport across vast distances, she’s also a rock star! An intergalactic rock star! The fact that Alison Blaire, the Dazzler herself, was playing back-up for her gives us some idea of her superstar cachet. But what made her really special is the fact that, with all the universe at her feet, it’s a big-eared Deep South mutant teenager that gets to call her his girlfriend, giving hope to ugly duckling comics readers everywhere. Man, the New Mutants were strange when Sienkiewicz was drawing them….
Dazzler – Dazzler is a superstar recording artist with two mutant powers – to change sound into light, and to make most every comic she appears in kind of boring (except for her first stint as an X-Men in the Claremont/Silvestri days). Is she a huge celebrity now though? She’s not even Lila Cheney’s back-up singer any more. What would a Dazzler record sound like, when her whole shtick has to do with her using her powers during live shows.
Alicia Masters – I love the concept here. The prudish blind daughter of a mind-controlling villain makes realistic sculptures of super-heroes and becomes feted as a talented artist around the Marvel Universe. These are sculpted without irony or insight, yet they still become sensations in Warhol’s New York. So what happens to an artist with this level of fame? Why she keeps flitting back and forth between an emotionally unavailable man made out of rock and a boy slut who can turn into flame. What else?
Zatanna – This is the obvious choice, as we’ve known for years that Z is the biggest stage magician in the DCU. Of course, just like with Lois Lane, it’s only in the DCU that such a profession puts you in the realm of the super-famous. Fishnets are good though…
Wonder Man – Even better question – what would a Simon Williams movie be like? Does anyone think this guy can actually act? I imagine he’d be more typecast than Arnold Schwarzenegger before Twins. Of course, his movies might be better than most of his comic appearances, as the guy is always a bit of a buzzkill. But how do you hate on a guy who wears a red leather safari jacket?
Tony Stark – You don’t get much more A-list than the Iron Man himself. He runs a big company and hangs out with starlets all the time, while also flying around in a metal suit. For proof of his out-of-control celebrity, you only need to read the latest issue of Invincible Iron Man, where Matt Fraction has him describe a three-day party at the Playboy Mansion that happened back in his drinking days. Easily the biggest celebrity on this list, at least until you consider our…
Grand Prize Winner:
Mr. T – I can’t really comment on how his celebrity worked for him in his own comic, but with a cover like this, you know it was the most amazing comic of the 90s.
Is that an old-school movie camera, or is it a weird Liefeldian gun he has hovering under his elbow?
I pity the fool!