The Decade-By-Decade Superteam Fantasy Draft: Day Three
We're looking back at the long and weird history of superhero comics by picking our favorite heroes from each decade in our latest fantasy draft. Each team must include one character who debuted before 1950, one character that debuted in each decade from the '50s to the '90s, and one character that debuted in 2000 or beyond, plus two wildcard picks from before and after 1980, for a total team of nine characters.
Our writers have each picked five characters so far. Today they pick another member of the Batfamily, a romance heroine, a handful of X-women, and one of the Green Lanterns. But which one?
Tara Marie: I’m going to go ahead and break my own rule of going decade by decade. The '90s are great, but I’m just going to go ahead and skip the decade of my birth for now. (God, Tom, you and me are such babies. Is Spawn older than us?)
For my sixth pick, I want someone who is good at technology --- I was considering Will Magnus for this role earlier, but decided to go with Animal Man as my character from the '60s. But I still need a techy, so here to fill that role is another member of the Batfamily, perhaps the one that’s closest to my heart, the bisexual, blue-haired Bluebird (2011, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo).
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, but Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s New 52 Batman series was the first comic series I ever kept up with, and honestly, Harper is a huge part of that. After the ending of "Court of Owls," I almost dropped it, but this mysterious, tech savvy, blue-haired girl got me to stick around, and I’m glad I did. Harper Row is undoubtedly the best thing to come out of the New 52, and I’m glad she’s on my team.
Andrew: I think the cover date for Batman vol 2 #1 means you’ve just pipped America Chavez for the most recently created character in this draft. And I think you also have the oldest character in the draft! Good job, Tara Marie!
Tom: Sticking to the DC Universe, I’m going with the most-published and --- among our crew, anyway, the least-liked --- Green Lantern of all, Hal Jordan (1959, Gil Kane and John Broome). He’s mostly a huge jerk now, but when his hero-switch is on, Hal is a pretty shining example. He also has enormous creative possibilities with the power of his ring, which comes in handy in battle.
Tara Marie: Hiss.
Tom: Hey, we said there weren't very many interesting heroes from this decade, didn't we?
Elle: Now I’m ready to make my ‘80s pick. But I’m not going to be completely predictable and choose Boom Boom. Instead, I’m going with the other great ‘80s mallrat of the X-Men, Jubilee (1989, Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri). She came in at the tail end of the 1980s, but with her particular relationship to fashion, slang, and of course malls, she still feels like the epitome of that decade.
I can still enjoy her as a vampire with an adopted baby, but my Jubilee, and certainly the one I want for this team I’m putting together, is the classic version --- yellow coat, jean shorts, great big sunglasses and earrings, and plasma powers. She’s a good kid, but she hasn’t developed much of a sense of responsibility, although she makes up for it most of the time with the loyalty she has to her team.
Kieran: Rats, foiled again. Jubilee was going to be my ‘80s pick!
Andrew: I seem to have settled into an accidental "history of Marvel superheroes" theme for my team, so let's follow that impulse and see where it takes us. I'm going to make my first wildcard pick, from the early end of the timeline, and it’s Patsy Walker, aka Hellcat (1944, Otto Binder and Ruth Atkinson).
She debuted in the Timely era, when superheroes didn't quite seem a sure thing, and romance, horror, Westerns and war stories were still major preoccupations for the industry. Many of the surviving characters from those genres have since been folded into superhero universes in weird and interesting ways, and teen romance hero Patsy Walker is one of the most fascinating examples of that. Long before Archie Andrews went on unlikely diversions into other genres, Patsy Walker was teaming up with wizards and fighting devils in hell.
Elle: Patsy’s great! Since I mostly knew her as Hellcat, it still feels weird to me that she debuted in 1944, but you’re totally right that her long weird history is a great example of what makes Marvel so interesting.
Tom: Patsy was co-created by Otto Binder? Wow! Learn something new every day!
Emma: Aw man, I totally wanted Patsy too! Sigh. Well, I’m going to hop into the ‘80s for my next pick and also choose one of the X-Men. It seems wrong to choose anyone but a member of the X-Men from the 1980s! I’m going to pick Rogue (1981, Chris Claremont and Michael Golden). I have such fond memories of Rogue from the X-Men animated series in the ‘90s. She was so self assured but she also considered her powers to be a curse, keeping her from physical contact with other people. I found that duality fascinating. She’s also a gorgeous Southern belle with a white streak that I wish I had in my own hair. Maybe not quite as stylish as my gal Jubilee, but as glam as one can be in an X-Men uniform!
Kieran: Okay, so Elle managed to nab Jubilee before me, so I need to readjust a bit. For my ‘80s pick, I’m going to go with someone who isn’t quite an icon known to the public like the rest of my team but 1) should be and 2) carried the mantle of an icon originally, and that’s Spectrum aka Monica Rambeau (1982, Roger Stern and John Romita, Jr.).
Monica once went by Captain Marvel, and later Photon, Pulsar and sans-codename for a bit before settling on Spectrum, which I like quite a lot as a codename. She was great in Nextwave, and has been kicking butt in Ultimates, and she’s a character that could be an icon if given a chance.
Elle: All of these choices are so good! Spectrum and Rogue are definitely characters I considered for my ‘80s pick. Actually all the heroes in round six are great, except for Hal Jordan, who’s the worst. Sorry, Tom!
Emma: I’m not sorry, Tom’s the one who should be sorry for picking him!
Tom: Look, when you own two Hal Jordan toys, you've kinda backed yourself into a corner.
Andrew: It’s interesting to me that all our ‘80s picks thus far have been women --- and I had no men on my shortlist for that decade. I’ve never thought about it before, but I’m wondering if the ‘80s were a similar period of progressive correction to the imbalances in the genre to the one we’re experiencing now, with the creation and elevation of characters like Kamala, Miles, Harper, Duke, etc., but specifically with regard to gender balance.
God, I hope that doesn’t mean we have to relive the ‘90s next. (I don’t think it’s pure happenstance that more of us have made ‘00s/10s picks than ‘90s picks at this point.)
Emma: The ‘90s were a bad decade both in comics and in real life.
Elle: I don’t actually agree with either part of that statement (Starman! Early Vertigo! Morrison JLA! New Queer Cinema! Post-Reagan Era hope for the future!), but that’s a whole can of worms. Easy for me to say though, I was a teenager in the ‘90s and also the first person to pick a ‘90s hero in this draft.
Emma: Okay, fair point! I was in my tweens and early teens, so I probably have some bad memories from that. But it was when I discovered comics, starting with those early Vertigo comics!
Tom: I mean I was a literal child born two months after Batman The Animated Series debuted, and grew up reading collected Calvin & Hobbes, so the ‘90s did alright by me.
Andrew: Whether the ‘90s were bad or good in other ways, I feel like they weren’t great for superhero comics, unless you’re really into boobs and pouches.
Tara Marie: I’m jumping back to the '90s for one of my favorite characters who is, sadly, not around as much as he should be. While he started out as a Milestone Comic character, he was eventually brought into the DC Universe where he was promptly shelved and is now gathering dust, despite being one of the coolest characters out there. I gotta say, my favorite version of the character is from the Batman Beyond crossover where you see his future self, who is one of the most powerful members of the Justice League. In case you haven’t guessed it, my next choice is Static (1993, Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle, Michael Davis).
Kieran: My plans have been foiled once again!
Tara Marie: Fun fact: Static is the reason I like Young Justice.
Tom: Jumping to the '70s, and probably my favorite decade in superhero history, I'm going with Johnny Blaze, Ghost Rider (1972, Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog). I don't think I need to explain the appeal of a dude who turns into a fiery skeleton biker and has a sweet ride that is also on fire, but the thing about my team so far is there's no true wild card among them. Blaze --- who the Internet tells me also had an alias by the truly incredible name of Frank Ryder --- can be that guy who whoops villain ass as hard as it needs to get whooped and then some.
Elle: I’ve given a lot of thought to my Golden Age pick. I want each of my heroes to kind of embody the decade of their origin, and as I see it there are two ways to go with the first era of superheroes: The characters who are vastly powerful and bizarre because there were no established rules, or the two-fisted humans who put on outfits to fight crime because they developed directly out of the pulp magazines.
Eventually I decided that including someone like the Spectre or Stardust the Super-Wizard would unbalance my team, so I’ve chosen the other direction. I’m picking Black Canary (1947, Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino). Long before she met Green Arrow or Batgirl, before she had a sonic scream or ninja training, Black Canary was Dinah Drake, a florist who fought crime in a Veronica Lake wig, fishnets, and a bolero jacket. In other words, she was the coolest from her very first appearance.
Andrew: My last two decades to pick from are the '50s and the '90s, and as you can imagine I find both of those to be less inspiring than the other periods we get to choose from. So I'm going to go ahead and make my second wildcard pick, and it's a pretty leftfield choice from the 2000s; U-Go Girl (2001, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred). The mutant teleporter Edie Sawyer was with us all too briefly, but her brash, brazen, and stylish celebrity persona made her the perfect superhero for our time, and I am ready for her to make a comeback.
Full disclosure: Stardust the Super-Wizard was absolutely on my shortlist for the Golden Age before I decided to doggedly pursue a relentlessly Marvel agenda.
Emma: I’m just going to go ahead and pick my 2000s hero; I need to do some more thinking about my wildcards. I’ve realized my team is pretty white so far --- even Krypto has white fur --- so I’m thankful there are so many rad female superheroes of color created from 2000 on. Kamala and America were already snatched up, so I’m going to go with Silk (2014, Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos).
Cindy Moon was bit by the same radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker, but ends up with a very different life from Spider-Man. She’s locked up for years, loses her family, and ends up with a bucketload of trauma, but she’s arguably a better spider superhero than Peter.
Tara Marie: She’s an awesome, awesome choice. Is it bad I did a double take at Slott and Ramos being her creators? Her main series is so good, I kinda forgot she wasn’t created by Robbie Thompson and Stacy Lee.
Kieran: Foiled again! I actually considered abandoning my chronological checklist last round to make sure I got Silk, but alas.
Emma: I’m surprised she lasted so long, honestly!
Andrew: Your method seems to be working against your luck here, Kieran.
Kieran: It’s forcing me to think on my feet, I’m having fun! So, sticking with my timeline, I’m up to the '90s now, and things aren’t looking too good. I’ve had a big long think about who to choose, and then it jumped out me.
It’s a character that didn’t become a superhero until the 2000s. She debuted in the comics first, but was created for Batman: The Animated Series. That’s right, my pick is The Question, aka Renee Montoya (1992, created for the screen by Paul Dini, Tom Ruegger, Michael Reaves, Sean Catherine Derek, Lauren Bright, and Mitch Brian). I’m a huge fan of Renee and I’m glad that I got sniped in a few different rounds, because it means I had to expand where I was looking and got to have her on my team. She’s awesome, and you’re all suddenly jealous you didn’t choose her.
Tara Marie: That is highly accurate.
Andrew: I’ve already used up all my wildcards, so I’m really intrigued to see how everyone else uses theirs in these final two rounds, and whether the choices cluster around any particular periods.
In the final day of our fantasy draft, our writers pick a spy, a magician, a feminist icon, and another Green Lantern, plus our writers move away from Marvel and DC to pick some great heroes from beyond the Big Two. Come back tomorrow for the big finish!