Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"What is the sound of one hero vibrating?"

Everyone keeps egging me on to mix it up with Steve Englehart for this statement from his recent interview with the esteemed blogger and all-around good guy Brian Cronin at Comic Book Resources:
Steve Englehart: Upcoming projects - I did a "JLA: Classified," and am now doing a "JSA: Classified" that ties into it.
Interviewer: Can you hint which JSA characters are featured?
Steve Englehart: JLA/JSA - well, the JLA run, four parts, features the worst JLA members ever: Steel, Vixen, Gypsy, and Vibe.
Now, I'm not going to savage Steve for dissing Vibe this way. I'm well aware that Vibe is ... underappreciated. Just as all but the most enlightened fail to grasp the wisdom of Bodidharma (though "Action Philosophers" #1 helps a lot!), so too not every mind is suited to perceiving the rarefied glory of a breakdancin' boriqueno in red and yellow grapesmugglers. Vibesters like myself have come to accept this; it is the way of things.

And face it, Steel, Vixen, and Gypsy do suck.

I shall content myself with putting the matter to the internet jury. Are Steel, Vixen, Gypsy, and Vibe the worst JLA members ever, when the JLA has included:

Tomorrow Woman
Red Tornado
Manitou Raven
Bloodwynd
Black Condor II
Nuklon
Obsidian
Triumph
Mystek
Aztek
Antaeus
Faith
Zauriel
Rocket Red
The Elongated Man


And that's WITHOUT mentioning Crimson Fox and Amazing Man from JLE or anyone from JL Antarctica.

30 comments:

Jeff R. said...

Actually, I was expecting you to be happy about Vibe's return to comics (and getting an 'epic') rather than mixing it up...

Anyhow, why not include the JLE-ers if you're going to include JLTF-only members?

As to the question:
Steel: definately in the bottom four.
Vixen: sort of sucked in the JLA, but was okay in her Suicide Squad appearances. Has she been a Bird of Prey yet? Not bad enough to make the cut.
Gypsy: I always sort of liked Gypsy. So no.
Vibe: Maybe. In the low area. But are there three more worse than he? Probably.

Tomorrow woman doesn't count; she's a one-story character. And wasn't Bloodwynd just an alias, not an actual character?

Blue Jay: definately worse than Vibe.
Rocket "In Soviet Russia, Suit Wears You" Red: definately worse than Vibe.
and Triumph the Insult(ing) comic(book) do-, sorry, living retcon is definately worse than Vibe. So only one of those four is in the bottom four.

H said...

Although arguments that get past the bar could be made for many of the characters you listed, I give you the following argument:

1) Firestorm was the first "worst" member of the JLA;
2) Elongated Man was more unnecessary than "worst;
3) Don't badmouth Red Tornado because I like him and concede that is a character flaw on my part and don't want the public humiliation of a prolonged debate on his merits;
4) The other characters you mention came along to the JLA long after Vibe, Vixen, Gypsy and Steel. The Detroit JLAers were the first group of "worst" characters to join at once. Once they lowered the standards for character worthiness the damage was done. Firestorm was an isolated mistake. JLA Detroit shattered the exclusivity of the JLA. Without the Detroit JLA, clowns like Black Condor II, Rocket Red and Manitou Raven could never have gotten in and we wouldn't be having this debate. Heck, without the Detroit JLA, those other clowns wouldn't even qualify to read an issue of JLA let alone join it; and
5) Steve Englehart is the man. If he says they are the "worst", he is right. After all, the man wrote the best albeit far too brief, run of the JLA ever.

Elephantine Room said...

Are Steel, Vixen, Gypsy, and Vibe the worst JLA members ever

Yes, absolutely. They're all worse than all of the people you've just listed. You've just got a thing for breakdancing stereotypes. It's alright to admit it - everyone has a kink or three.

Scipio said...

H, all I have to say is

"Green Arrow".

Elephantine Room said...

Green Arrow never integrated Hammer Pants into his costume.

Chris Griswold said...

I like Manitou Raven. Surprisingly, Joe Kelly's run on JLA may be my favorite of the current series.

Tomorrow Woman isn't a member so much as a trivia question.

The rest can "suck" "it".

And Aztek is the most overrated hidden gem of the 90s. Millar and Morrison, two writers whom I usually enjoy - used to, at least, in Millar's case - and love in Morrison's - collide in an unpleasant way and then try to wrap up the character's storyline by putting him in the JLA.

Ashtur said...

There is nothing worse than Nuklon... in any of his incarnations. I doubt it will happen, but I'd be more than happy to see the big lug stay in the can a good long time... like 271 issues.

Anonymous said...

Aw. I liked the Crimson Fox.

ostrakos said...

Triumph was lame. Wasn't Bloodwynd revealed to be Martian Manhunter? I hate Crimson Fox, and I alsso though the addition of Fire/Green Flame/Green Fury and Ice/Icemaiden was retahhhhded.

But just think...if Steel, Gypsy, Vibe and Vixne hadn't been JLAers, we never would've gotten the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire revamp, and that was worth whatever it took.

Anonymous said...

I hear Vibe was originally going to be called 'Double Dutch', with powers related to jump ropes.

Martin said...

Hey, Elongated Man is great, and allows for a JLA without Batman in it.
Which is a good thing. Plus, how can you say anything bad about Ralph after reading his appearances in James Robinson's Starman?
Still, overly-defensive Vibe-boosting aside, is it not cool that Engleheart will add a wicked cool coda to Vibe's career, making him both look cooler and his death seem more tragic?

HWP said...

Man, I like Zauriel...

Anonymous said...

Four lamer JLA members? Huntress, Manitou Raven, Crimson Fox and Amazing Man. Done.

Derek B. Haas said...

Tomorrow Woman: Used for one story; plot point, not character. Doesn't count.
Red Tornado: Paved the way for his appearances in YOUNG JUSTICE. Acceptable.
Manitou Raven: I really like the guy.
Bloodwynd: Jurgens era; let's quietly ignore.
Black Condor II: That was post-G/JMD, right? Anything in the v.2 League that happened post-Giffen is automatically disqualified from consideration. It's just a bad time.
Nuklon: See above.
Obsidian: Giffen can do no wrong!
Triumph: Living plot point. Doesn't count.
Mystek: Post-G/JMD v.2 era. See above.
Aztek: Introduced and quickly shoved into the background, re-introduced in WW3 to resolve his plot dangler. Acceptable.
Antaeus: Living plot point. Doesn't count.
Faith: I liked her. Maybe I'm just a sucker for Joe Kelly.
Zauriel: Morrison wanted Hawkman! This is a creative substitute.
Rocket Red: GCDNW.
The Elongated Man: No real place in the satellite era, but GCDNW.

Scipio said...

"making him both look cooler and his death seem more tragic?"

The glory of Vibe does NOT come from being cool.

And nothing but nothing could make Vibe's death seem more tragic.

Certainly not Englehart.

Jhunt said...

I still maintain that Steel is no lamer than any other hero of the time, and could in fact be made interesting today. He's a 2nd-generation (or 3rd) superhero with serious family issues (his grandpa's a bats**t crazy control freak).

He could be cool!! I'm serious!

*sigh*

Jeff R. said...

I dispute that Firestorm was a bad league member at all, but if he's a bad one, then so is Zatanna, who, by virtue of having joined earlier, would be the first bad leaguer.

[Although Aquaman back when he was written as the anti-Hourman with his catastrophic needs for regular showering is probably both earlier and worse. But better versions of Art have prevailed since.]

Andy said...

"Plus, how can you say anything bad about Ralph after reading his appearances in James Robinson's Starman?"

Giffen may have made me like Ralph & Sue, but Robinson made me *love* them.

And then, a week after reading Starman, Identity Crisis came out...

k26dp said...

My bottom four:

Steel
General Glory
Manitou Raven (did he die?)
Triumph

But Steel/Vibe/Vixen/Gypsy was probably the worst foursome to be in the JLA at the same time.

Des said...

Hey...JLAntarctica was the best comic published that year...that decade even!

Derek B. Haas said...

Why all of the loathing for Manitou Raven?

Interesting Confirmation Word: ozayazzw

Jeff R. said...

Because Manitou Raven is Apache Chief. And from there it's just a short hop to League Membership for Black Vulcan, Samurai, El Dorado, Rima, Jann, Zayna, Wendy, and Marvin. A line in the sand must be drawn.

Mike Loughlin said...

Manitou Raven never developed much personality beyond "noble savage fish out of water" in JLA; I liked him cuz I liked his character design (at least when Manke drew him).

I don't think the Joe Kelly issues will ever be recognized as "good," outside of those few of us who liked them. "Obsidian Age" dragged, but I liked the substitute League with Jason Blood.

Worst Leaguer ever: Can Yaz count?
I have maybe one comic featuring that annoying lizard, and he is way lamer than anyone on Scipio's list(even Triumph).

On the other hand "worse Leaguer" could mean "worst service within the League" rather than worst character. If so: Antaeus went crazy and killed, Tomorrow Woman died on one of her first missions, Aztek stood around not doing much, Triumph went bad, Zatanna mindwiped people, Martian Manhunter (my favorite) got possessed and caused much mayhem, Guy Gardner was inept, Batman's a prick no one likes...

Marionette said...

I'll always hate Crimson Fox for having one of the worst costumes ever, and for translating "rouge" as crimson because they accidentily gave her the name of an existing comic character and decided to cover it up with a lame mistranslation rather than admit the mistake.

Jon said...

Aztek disarmed a couple dozen nukes in the Watchtower once, thereby saving it to be blown up two or three times since.

That's... kind of useful.

And, Hell, I like Zauriel, too.

But I'm a total sucker for Morrison's JLA run, so my opinion's biased as Hell.

N said...

It's a list of shame, all right, but those three panels you reproduced pretty much seal the deal: Vibe's the absolute worst.

I mean come on. Look at him. That's not a super hero. That's an extra from "Thriller."

Martin Wisse said...

And what's wrong with being an extra from "Thriller"?

Did Robert Loren Fleming died for our sins for nothing?

Scipio said...

Vibe did NOT look like an extra from "Thriller".

Although he does NOW...

Greg McElhatton said...

For those asking--while the Bloodwynd in the Jurgens-era run was indeed really Martian Manhunter, there was also a "real" Bloodwynd that ran around in the early issues of the Dan Vado JLA. (I didn't even read the book at that point, so why do I remember this???)

Black Condor, like Agent Liberty, was only a "member" for one four-issue storyline; I'm not really sure that counts. (The Ray and Wonder Woman who joined at the same time actually stuck around so I think that's the big difference.)

Bill Reed said...

Elongated Man is my favorite comic character ever. He was the spirit of the JLE.