Most Underrated Heroes Vol.5 – Daredevil

This month for my underrated Hero I decided to take a step back from anti-heroes and their magical kin and focus more on one of the most tortured heroes in Marvel comics, Daredevil.

Daredevil shot to popularity with his introduction in and starting off the Marvel Netflix universe. While the series does a great job of explaining the character’s origins and motivations they really skimp on some of his greatest stories. It still stands at the top of my list for Netflix shows even with the inclusion of the Punisher, which is saying something considering my love of anti-heroes.

Time to dive into the background of the Man Without Fear!!

HISTORY

*There are SEVERAL retcons of Daredevil’s Origin. This will be an amalgamation of all the important aspects*

Daredevil first appeared in Daredevil #1 (April,1964) and was created by Stan Lee, artist Bill Everett with some notable input from Jack Kirby.

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Matthew Michael Murdock was born to his father Jack “Battlin” Murdock a washed up boxer living in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. It is not revealed who Matt’s mother is until much later in the comics, all he knew was that she didn’t want him. From a young age Matt’s dad urged him towards schooling and being a good student so that he could make something of himself and not end up like he did. Eventually Jack is forced back into the ring as a way to make money for them to survive, when he returns home Matt stitches up his wound after every fight.

When Matt was 9 years old he saved an elderly man, who had stepped out into the street, from getting run over by a RAND Oil & Chemicals truck; which in turn caused an accident. Some of the chemicals splashed into his eyes and the last thing he ever saw was his father comforting him as his vision blurred until he was blind. When he awoke in the hospital after the accident he was amazed that he could hear everything in the world around him. It became to much and started causing him pain. His father attempted to calm him down by allowing Matt to run his hands over his face letting him know that his dad was there for him. Matt learned to read braille and dove into this studies. He kept his new found senses from everyone including his dad for fear of being outcast even more.

While his father continued to train at Fogwell’s gym, Matt studied ringside. He overheard his father being offered a large sum of money to lose his upcoming fight with Carl Creel. Matt’s father had taken the money given to him to throw the fight and bet it on himself to win. When he emerged victorious he put a plan in place to ensure that Matt would have the money for when he went to school before he was murdered by the mobsters who paid him to throw the fight. Matt found his father beaten to death in the street in front of Fogwell’s gym. Matt was sent to Saint Agnes orphanage where he was found by Stick and trained to become a warrior. Matt quickly mastered his blindness and began using his other senses to aid him in battle.

Enraged by the legal system’s inadequacies in bringing his father’s killers to justice, Matt donned a costume made from his father’s boxing robe and attacked the Fixer (man responsible for his father’s death) and his goons. Matt savagely beat the goons and frightened the Fixer to death under the guise of Daredevil.

Matt then proceeded to open a law firm with his long time friend Franklin “Foggy” Nelson whom he had met, studied and roomed with at Columbia Law. It was during his studies at Columbia Law that he met and became enamoured with Elektra Natchios. Elektra encouraged Matt to “break the rules” which almost cost him some credits he needed to graduate.

Nelson & Murdock opened in Hell’s Kitchen and began serving the working class citizens to hopefully get them the justice they deserve.  Matt vowed to fight for the people and get the justice they deserve during the day but at night he would fight as Daredevil to take down those beyond the grasp of the law.

SHADOWLAND

Shadowland

One of Daredevil’s biggest stories in the last 20 years was the 9 issue run titled Shadowland. Matt had journeyed to Japan in hopes of learning the secret of the Hand and form them into a force for good. When he gains control of the Hand he returns to New York with his army of undead ninjas and erects a temple/prison in the middle of the demolished Hell’s Kitchen. During the Dark Reign arc Bullseye had leveled much of Hell’s Kitchen in an attempt to kill Daredevil, obviously it didn’t work.

So Daredevil brings the Hand to New York but not before the leaders of the Hand (Snakeroot) infect Daredevil with the essence of the Beast (yes, just go with it). Daredevil and his army begin by policing the kitchen and taking the criminals down to the prison beneath Shadowland. As the beast begins taking Daredevil over more and more, he begins allowing more  brutal tactics until his ninjas are straight up murdering people in the streets. Bullseye escaped from his transport to the Raft (prison) and decided to kill Daredevil once and for all. When Bullseye challenges Daredevil we see the new suit that Daredevil is sporting which is all black, with a red “DD” symbol on the chest and blades on his wrists. They fight for some time before Luke Cage and Iron Fist stumble upon them. The Heroes for Hire offer to help but Daredevil asks them ” Are you prepared to swear allegiance to the Hand for all of eternity?”. When they respond with a resounding “No” Daredevil tells them to stay out of his way and then proceeds to break both of Bullseye’s arms before stabbing him through the chest with his own sai (a homage to how Bullseye murdered Elektra).

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Several of the street level heroes band together and raid the temple of Shadowland to hopefully bring Daredevil to justice. The raid team consists of: Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Moon Knight, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider (eventually), Punisher (eventually), Shang Chi, Misty Knight, and Silver Sable. The battle does not go the way the heroes want and when Ghost Rider arrives (after bring summoned by Kingpin and Lady Bullseye to fight the beast) things really go haywire. With the heroes backed against the wall and the Hand closing in Punisher blows an exit and tells everyone to move out while he opens up with a M240 LMG.

The heroes resolve to try again while the Thunderbolts are occupying most of the Hand underneath Shadowland. This time they are accompanied by Elektra and Wolverine. When the heroes are able to subdue Daredevil, Elektra tries to reason with Murdock, but the voice that comes from his mouth isn’t Matt’s and it proclaims “There is no Murdock! Only the Beast!”. He then breaks out of the webbing covering him and lays a serious beat down on the heroes. Foggy arrives and tries to reason with Matt, when the Demon decides to kill Foggy (the power of the Beast having caused Daredevil to take on a more demonic shape), Iron Fist focuses his Chi and hits Daredevil with a massive blast. This allows Matt to temporarily regain control of his body and reflect on everything he has done in his life and everything the beast has caused him to do. Before the Beast regains control, Daredevil kills himself breaking the spell and killing the Beast once again.  As the heroes gather themselves they realize that Daredevil’s body is gone and Kingpin uses Typhoid Mary to take over the Hand and become it’s new leader.

A man enters a confessional in a Catholic church claiming that he is lost and Black Panther has claimed Hell’s Kitchen as his turf. Murdock is shown getting off a bus in rural America and begins walking.

DAREDEVIL: REBORN

Following Shadowland, Murdock has ventured into Mexico and ends up at a diner outside of a small Mexican town where a young boy is being bullied for being blind. Matt takes pity o the boy and helps him to fend off his bullies while offering him some wisdom about coping with his disability. When the local police show up and are hostile towards Matt, his curiosity is piqued.

Matt follows the police to the outskirts of town and discovers a mass grave filled with locals and crates of weapons. Upon further investigation Murdock discovers that the police are working with a drug smuggler name Calavera. Murdock decides to interrupt their operations and dons his classic Man in black outfit.

Calavera is a metahuman with the ability to telepathically draw out and exploit anything that a person feels guilty for or; as they explain in the comic, exploit their sins. With Murdock being forced to relive every sin he has ever committed he becomes resolute that his actions were necessary. He becomes reassured in his beliefs and his responsibilities to the people of the Kitchen and upon defeating Calavera decides to return to New York and rebuild his law practice as well as his life as Daredevil.

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POWERS & ABILITIES

Daredevil is blind. He was blinded at the age of 9 when the chemicals from the Rand truck spilled in his eyes.

Due to the chemicals he developed a radar sense (echolocation). In addition to his radar sense his other remaining senses now function at superhuman levels and accuracy.  His radar sense is strong enough that fabrics and most walls do not stop him from being able to see through them. He also has omnidirectional vision because of his radar sense.

He is able to use his hearing as a polygraph which helps him to determine if a person is lying, this ability can be fooled and is not 100% accurate.

He is able to detect environmental changes created by teleporters making him able to react to a person’s teleporting ability before they can get the drop on him.

Having been trained by Stick he is a master of most martial arts and close combat techniques. He doesn’t focus on one discipline to fight, instead he uses various disciplines at once including: Ninjitsu, Aiki, Jujutsu, Aikido, Judo, Karate, Kung Fu, Silat, Capoeira, wrestling, stick fighting, and American Style boxing.

Daredevil’s main weapon is his billy club. It disguises as his walking stick during the day but it also conceals a grappling hook and can be separated into two pieces for combat. He is an expert marksman and can throw almost anything with 100% accuracy.

REASONS THEY’RE UNDERRATED

Where do I even start… well how about with HE IS A BLIND SUPERHERO! In a world filled with people getting powers from aliens, literal Gods fighting beside you, and Super soldier experiments leading the charge, Daredevil has a disability. He is not able to see like everyone else. Yes, his radar sense actually let’s him see better than some people can normally, but there are not many heroes that were given their powers while losing something that most people take for granted.

When Stan Lee first created him, he was worried that Marvel would receive backlash from how far he had said Daredevil’s other senses were enhanced. He received a great amount of support from people writing him telling him how much they loved Daredevil, and he even received a letter from The Lighthouse For the Blind which stated that the blind people they helped loved having Daredevil read to them. Daredevil helped to show the masses that just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you can’t be whoever you want to be.

Most characters in the Marvel Universe overlook Daredevil because in their eyes he has no real powers, but this is a guy who has fought and beat Iron fist, Shang Chi and Black Widow; all of whom are reputed to be some of the BEST fighters in Marvel Comics.

Mostly though the reason Daredevil is underrated is because he is one of the more human characters. There are obviously human characters in Marvel comics but Daredevil is one of the few who is actually unsure about his place in the world. He is probably the most conflicted and tortured character in Marvel comics, with both his resounding catholic faith and his job as a Lawyer. For someone who is as religious as he is and who constantly goes to confession, wearing a red devil suit and beating on people at night seems pretty contradictory. The Netflix show illustrates this conflict really well especially in the first season. He has quite a few good discussions with the local priest about what he does and whether or not it is God’s work. During season 2 though, is when he has the infamous philosophical debate with Frank Castle. That episode really illustrated how sometimes there is no black or white and there is only a big muddy grey.

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I really think Daredevil should get some bigger roles in the events that take place in Marvel comics. He had a small part in the Civil War story wherein he called Tony “Judas” before being incarcerated in 42 (the negative zone prison for super powered beings). Like I said his biggest event was that of Shadowland, and that wasn’t the most well received story arc for him. He really deserves a better chance to sine and show that he is just as capable as any other hero to fight the good fight.

This concludes another week of Underrated Heroes! Let me know what you think! See you all next week.

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Most Underrated Heroes Vol.4 – Constantine

This month for the most underrated hero I decided to give the spotlight to someone that I think was robbed of their chance at a solid television series, that would be none other than John Constantine. I personally was a huge fan of the Constantine television show starring Matt Ryan, and I was even happier when he made a guest appearance in Arrow during their horrible fourth season… Keanu Reeves did an awesome job capturing the essence of Constantine during the 2005 film, but Matt Ryan is the physical incarnation of Constantine right down to his sarcastic wit.

That being said let’s move onto Constantine’s rich backstory…

HISTORY

John was born in Liverpool, Lancashire on May 10, 1953 to Mary Anne and Thomas. Mary Anne died in childbirth as did John’s still born brother; Thomas blamed John for their deaths which caused a severe strain on their relationship growing up. In later publications it is revealed that John had actually strangled his twin in the womb with his umbilical cord. John and his older sister, Cheryl, lived with their aunt and uncle in Northampton briefly while their father was in prison.  When their father was released they moved back to Liverpool where John learned of his lineage. John’s family comes from a long line of powerful mages known as the Laughing Magicians, mages of great power known for bluffing and tricking Gods. John decided to follow in his bloodline’s footsteps and become a magician and his first act was to lock away his chilhood innocence and vulnerability in a box so he would be rid of them. In his teen years he botched a curse which left his father withered and frail, John subsequently ran away from home to London where he roomed with his oldest friend Francis Chandler a.k.a. Chas.

John then began travelling the occult circles in London and even ventured into the United States where he met and became enamored with Zatanna Zatara. He also formed a punk rock band called Mucous Membrane of which he was front man. The band toured London while John became a famous stage magician on the side. During a trip to Newcastle to play at the Casanova Club, the proprietor had been having a magical orgy and his abused daughter, Astra Logue, had accidentally conjured a monster to take revenge on her father and the other club patrons for their torment, but the monster refused to leave. John convinced some of the band members and some of his occultist friends to summon their own demon to destroy the monster. When they summoned their own demon, it killed the monster, but then it taunted the group and dragged the little girl screaming to hell. When conducting the summoning spell John hadn’t used the demon’s true name, Nergal, and thus it was not bound to obey his commands. John suffered from a mental breakdown after this and was committed to Ravenscar institute where he drifted in and out for many years. John eventually used some magic and con-artistry to rescue Astra from Hell along with any of the other children being held there. The rest of the “Newcastle” crew remained both physically and psychologically scarred.

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John has many adventures over the years since he was broken out of Ravenscar by a group of mobsters looking for him to resurrect their boss’ dead son, and threatening to kill his sister if he doesn’t. He summons a demon and convinces it to take the boy’s place which ends bloody for him the long run. He has quite the friendship with Swamp Thing, both of them helping the other out every now and then with John even inviting Swamp Thing to his birthday.

John was diagnosed with lung cancer and was told it was terminal. He sought the help of a dying friend Brendan, who had sold his soul to the most powerful Lord of Hell, the First of the Fallen. When the First of the Fallen arrived to take Brendan’s soul, John tricked him into drinking Holy Water which rendered him powerless and unable to collect Brendan’s soul, which then went to heaven. In retaliation for this act the First promised John unprecedented torture and agony when he finally died and came to Hell. To stop this John secretly sold his soul to the other two Lords of Hell. Since they didn’t want to go to war over a soul,and take each other out, they resigned to cure John of his cancer which would allow them more time to come up with a plan. The first did not like this and set a trap which resulted in many of John’s friends dying.  John then blackmailed God to help him because he stated “…If I go to Hell, I will take the whole damn thing over and close the gates leaving nowhere for the damned to go”.

To keep the sob train moving… John loses his memory, and to get it back is then forced to father three demon children which then go out and massacre anyone associated with him. Among these is his sister Cheryl, who was killed when one of the demon spawn caused her overtly religious husband to see her as a witch, and thus someone to kill. When John finally gets to Hell, he tries to convince a demon to kill him and trade his soul for Cheryl’s, because Cheryl doesn’t belong there. The First kills the demon and tells John his soul is his ” by right of insult”. Before he releases Cheryl the First of the Fallen informs her that her husband, who had killed her, became so distraught over what he had done he had killed himself, making him twice damned. The First agreed to split his punishment between Cheryl and her husband’s soul if she agreed to stay on her own free will. Cheryl agreed and John was cast out of Hell.

John has various other adventures until he fakes his death in the Three Fates storyline. The end of that storyline sees his niece Gemma attempt to shoot him to save herself future torment and pain. She closes her eyes and pulls the trigger of the revolver she had pointed at him, only to open her eyes and see that he was gone.

POWERS & ABILITIES

Constantine is well verse in many forms of both magical arts and “Stage magic”. He is adept at hypnosis, sleight of hand, pickpocketing, escapology, and is an adequate hand to hand fighter. His magical skills range from spells to rituals and curses. He is proficient in evocation, necromancy, illusions and invisibility. Constantine’s most prominent magical ability is synchronicity wave travelling, which is a fancy way of saying he is able to make his own luck.  Whether it’s just narrowly avoiding harm, finding the right spell at the right time, or turning the battle in his favour, Constantine’s luck making has kept him alive more times than anything else.

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He is also proficient in  counter spells, teleportation, elemental magic, telekinesis, and immobilisation magic. He is also able to resist telepathy, possessions, mind control and is even able to avoid omnipresence.

His blood is demonically tainted, causing him some healing abilities and an age-managing ability. It is also highly corrosive and poisonous to the King of Vampires.

In addition to all these abilities John also controls the House of Mystery. which allows him to transport to different dimensions and across the universe. It also allows him to control anyone who he invites into it and accepts.  His trademark trench coat also has been imbued with some demonic powers.

Regardless of his magic abilities Constantine is also the world’s greatest Con man, He has  duped the First of the Fallen, Superman, and even Batman at various points in his comic run.

 

REASONS HE’S UNDERRATED

Constantine is one of the major players in the DC magic universe that seems to be underplayed a lot. Dr. Fate, Zatanna, even Zatara are more widely recognized than he is; although, that might be in part to their affiliation with the Justice League, whereas Constantine has always been more of a lone wolf. In the New 52 Justice League Dark, Constantine was actually the leader of the squad which also included Black Orchid, Deadman and Frankenstein.

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Constantine’s lone wolf tendencies as well as his overtly closed off and sarcastic persona have put him at ends with several members of the Justice League on more than one occasion, Batman and Superman included. He likes to cast an air of superiority wherever he goes and that can sometimes get him into hot water, especially if he is grandstanding for a new ally. The main problem with Constantine is that he always looks out for himself and his, and that doesn’t include anyone else unless he says so. This approach has led to MANY allies of his either ending up dead or broken (both physically and mentally). Mostly the reason he is underrated is because he has shown on multiple occasions to have bluffed some of, if not THE most powerful magical beings in the universe, not to mention two of the pillars of the Justice League (Batman and Superman). He bluffed God, freaking GOD! He pitted the Lords of Hell against each other and convinced them to cure his cancer! He might be a dirty and selfish con-man but you gotta admit, he is good at what he does.

I really want Constantine to make more live action appearances in the Arrowverse. I think Matt Ryan was robbed of his time in the sun and he should be given more time to shine. How awesome would it be for him to be added to the roster of Legends of Tomorrow? I think he would fit in there perfectly.

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This concludes another edition of Most Underrated Heroes! See you next week!

 

 

Most Underrated Heroes Vol.3 – Hawkeye

This month for the most underrated hero inclusion I decided to go with someone that a lot of people know but very few know anything about, that hero is Hawkeye.  Hawkeye shot to stardom with his inclusion in the MCU, first appearing as a backdoor cameo in the first Thor, he didn’t appear again until Avengers. Clint Barton aka. Hawkeye, is an agent of SHIELD, former circus performer and full-time Avenger.

Side bar, Hawkeye is the only person in all of comics to belong to both the Justice League and the Avengers.

Let’s take a look at his background…

HISTORY

Clint Barton was created by none other than Stan the man Lee and artist Don Heck, and in his first appearance Hawkeye was the villain of the story. His first appearance was in Tales of Suspense #57 in September of 1964; it wasn’t until May 1965 that he became a member of the Avengers.

Clint was born in Waverly Iowa, but lost both of his parents in a tragic car accident when he was young. After spending over six years in an orphanage Clint and his brother Barney ran away to join the Carson Carnival of Travelling Wonders. Impressed with Clint, Swordsman took him under his wing and with the help of Trick Shot, they trained Clint to become a master archer. When Clint discovered his mentor and father figure, Swordsman was embezzling money from the Carnival he resigned to turn him in, but before he could accomplish this, he was beaten and left for dead. Clint bounced from circus to circus and eventually adopted the title of Hawkeye the World’s Greatest Marksman. When he witnessed Iron Man in action he decided to become a costumed superhero himself, but was mistaken for a thief on his first outing. He ran into Black Widow (who was spying for the Soviet union at the time) and fell in love with her going so far as to aid her in stealing tech from Stark Industries. After a battle with Iron Man, in which Widow was seriously injured, Hawkeye broke off the battle to help her only to find she had disappeared, it was at this time that he decided to be a “Straight Shooter”.

After saving Edwin Jarvis and his mother from a mugger, Hawkeye was invited back to Avengers mansion to force a confrontation to allow him to clear his name. He was eventually invited to join the Avengers along with new recruits Scarlet With and Quicksilver, the latter of which he clashed with constantly.

Classic Hawkeye

During a pitched battle with the Avengers, Hawkeye’s bow was broken. He adopted a new costume and identity and succeeded Hank Pym as Goliath. Several adventures occur involving Clint’s brother Barney (who turns out to be an undercover FBI agent) and Swordsman in which Swordsman is captured bringing Clint justice for his brother’s death. At the end of Kree/Skrull War Vision and Hawkeye butt heads over their affections for Scarlet Witch causing Clint to return to his original costume and go solo.

LOSS OF HEARING

Clint held many positions in his many years of comic publications from Avenger to solo hero, Head of Security of Cross Technological Enterprises, It was during his time as the head of security for Cross Technological that he met and fell in love with Barbara “Bobbi” Morse aka Mokingbird. When the two of them battle Crossfire to save the superhero community Hawkeye was rendered deaf by a combination of a sonic arrow and the sonic weapon being used by Crossfire. They briefly established the West Coast Avengers, and battle Mephisto and Satannish. During the battle with Satannish and Mephisto Mockingbird is killed and dies in Hawkeye’s arms. Hawkeye leaves the West Coast Avengers and disbands the team. He rejoins the original Avengers right before the Onslaught event and has his hearing restored by Franklin Richards because when Franklin remade the Avengers he remade them how he remembered them, which was when Hawkeye wasn’t deaf.

DEATH + RESURRECTION

He leaves to head up the first iteration of the Thunderbolts, but quickly returns to the team in time for the House of M. During the House of M he sacrifices himself to save his fellow Avengers only to be reborn by Scarlet Witch’s powers with no memory of his previous death. When he is given the ability to remember he is horrified at what Wanda has done and during the final confrontation shoots her in the back with an arrow. In retaliation one of Wanda’s children wipes Hawkeye from existence killing him once more. When House of M is fixed and reality re-written Hawkeye is still presumed dead.

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Death of Hawkeye #2

Unknown to the rest of the Avengers Hawkeye was resurrected when Wanda fixed reality. he traveled the Earth for several months, finding a Wanda with no memory of her life as Scarlet Witch and no powers. The two get it on and then Hawkeye leaves and returns to New York when he hears of the assassination of Captain America. He joins the New Avengers as Ronin and keeps this identity for several months until the Secret Invasion story line where Mockingbird is revealed to have been alive for years as a captive of the Skrulls.

So many things happen since Secret Invasion it’s hard to list them all, he begins losing his sight, his brother is alive, he kills Bruce Banner in Civil War II. Yes.. he kills Bruce Banner and is found not guilty during a full criminal trial.

Let’s move onto his powers..

POWERS AND ABILITIES

Hawkeye is a human man with exceptional aim.

He is trained to the peak of human conditioning and is bale to battle many meta-human foes with just his body and his bow with trick arrows.

He is an exceptional fencer, acrobat and has considerable strength for someone who is not meta.

It is revealed that Hawkeye’s bow has a 250lb draw weight which is considerable when you take into account the average long bow has a 75-100lb weight draw.

As I said before he uses a variety of trick arrows much like Green Arrow from DC comics. Some of these arrows include: sonic arrows, explosive arrows, shock arrows, disruptor arrows, EMP arrows, and good old fashioned broadtipped.

During his tenure as Ronin he was also proficient with several melee weapons including the Katana.

He is also shown to have the ability to turn any object into a weapon by throwing it.

REASONS HE’S UNDERRATED

Hawkeye is vastly underrated because on a team that boasts a demi-god, a hulk, a tech genius, immortal warrior with metal claws, spider-man, and Captain America… he is just a guy with a bow an arrows.

There is a scene from Avengers Age of Ultron wherein Hawkeye tells Scarlet Witch that “there is an army of evil robots attacking the city, the city is flying, and I have a bow and arrow… none of this makes sense. But if you step out that door you are an Avenger…” This scene shows Hawkeye’s true power and that is to inspire his fellow teammates. When the super human teammates are down and feeling like they can’t win Hawkeye is there to bring them back into the fight. Most of the time it consists of him saying “…how can you be down and I’m not?! Get up!”.

Modern Hawkeye

Not only does Hawkeye provide the pick me up that some of the heroes need in the fight but he also doesn’t back down from a challenge. Hawkeye is a man, a man with a bow and arrow who never misses, but still just a man. Yet, he fights people like Ultron, Thanos and even Hulk on occasion without batting an eye because he knows he has to. Hawkeye will take on whoever is challenging him because as an Avenger you don’t get to pick your enemies, he knows he might not make it but he believes in himself and his team that they will win in the end.

Currently Hawkeye is portrayed by Jeremy Renner in the MCU and he does a fantastic job. In Age of Ultron we were introduced to his family which is a sad point as well. The Russo brothers confirmed that Hawkeye will be in Avengers 4 but he will adopt the persona of Ronin, this means there’s probably a good chance that his family is going to die in the third Avengers.

This concludes the third issue of Most underrated heroes. Let me know who you think an underrated hero is!

 

Most Underrated Heroes: Vol. 1 – Ghost Rider

I’ve decided to add a segment to my blog wherein once a month I will outline a hero that I believe to be woefully underrated by most people. These are my own personal opinions and don’t reflect on any of the companies in one way or another. I had to restrain myself from talking about Moon Knight first because it would more than likely become an angry rant at the Marvel Netflix universe for not including him (yet… I have hopes!).

The first hero that I have chosen to talk about is none other than the spirit of Vengeance himself, Ghost Rider.

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The first Ghost Rider in publication, not in Marvel history, is stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze. Blaze is arguably the best known Ghost Rider right behind Danny Ketch and now Robbie Reyes.  Blaze was portrayed by Nicholas Cage in the 2007 film titled Ghost Rider and in the 2012 sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. I will be the first one to say those movies are terrible, absolutely horrible. But because of my love for ‘ol Flamehead, I watch them over and over again. Recently in Agents of SHIELD Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider appeared as an antagonist and then ally of the team. Let’s start off with a little bit of background on the character.

BACKGROUND

Blaze was a stunt motorcyclist with his father in the Quentin Carnival alongside Craig “Crash” Simpson. His mother walked out on his father when Johnny was young taking his two other siblings Danny and Barbara with her. Johnny’s father was killed in a stunt and he was adopted by Crash Simpson and his wife Mona. The Simpson’s fabricated a story as to help shield him the pain of coming from a broken family. Johnny and the Simpson’s daughter Roxanne grew close as kids and as they grew older their friendship turned to romance. The Simpson’s began their own stunt show of which Johnny was a part, when Johnny found out Crash had life threatening cancer he was devastated. Johnny turned to the occult in an effort to save Crash. One night Johnny recited a spell and summoned who he thought was the devil, really it was the arch demon Mephistocles (Mephisto). Johnny sold his soul to Mephisto in an effort to stop Crash dying of cancer. Crash awoke the next day cured of cancer, but he died performing in the stunt show a few days later. Johnny confronted Mephisto and declared that he had cheated him. Mephisto said he had stopped him dying of cancer, not dying any other way and thus the deal stood. Roxanne arrived in time to save Johnny’s soul by declaring her love for him which drove Mephisto away. Mephisto, out of rage of not being able to collect Blaze’s soul because of Roxanne’s love, bonded Johnny’s soul with the demon Zarathos making him the Ghost Rider. A leather clad being that controlled Hellfire to punish at Mephisto’s bidding, but due to the fact that he still retained his soul, Blaze would also help the innocent whenever he could.

POWERS & ABILITIES

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In addition to controlling Hellfire and being impervious to damage as Ghost Rider, Blaze also has the ability to control hell chains with his mind. He utilizes a shotgun imbued with Hell energy to fire mystic blasts at his foes that can incinerate instantly. He is strong enough to be able to fight toe to toe with Green Scar Hulk (World War Hulk), and uses the penance stare. The penance Stare is a Ghost Rider’s most powerful weapon. When using the penance stare the Ghost Rider can force you to feel the pain of all the hurt you caused to other and burn your soul inside your body. If you have dealt enough pain to others than the penance stare will fry your whole body from the inside out. There are very few people in the Marvel Universe that the penance stare doesn’t work on, those being Punisher, Deadpool, Venom and Mr. Hyde. Punisher doesn’t regret any of his kills, Deadpool’s biggest victim is himself, Venom is immune from the symbiote and Mr. Hyde is immune because of his transformation.  In addition to controlling hell chains with his mind Ghost Rider also keeps a length of chain which he can use as a whip or he ignites it on fire and can spin it fast enough to create a flame vortex.

FEATS

Ghost Rider has performed many great feats over his long career in publication. Due to the nature of the character they haven’t always been Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider, but for the most part they have been. One of the best feats he accomplished was during the World War hulk story arc.

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During World War Hulk the Green Goliath returned to Earth rather pissed after having been banished to a distant planet by the Illuminati. The Illuminati are a secret group of the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe (Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Dr. Strange, Charles Xavier, etc). The save the Earth from having to deal with another Hulk catastrophe the Illuminati tricked Bruce Banner onto a satellite and then launched him into deep space.  Hulk crash landed on the planet Sakaar and fought in the gladiatorial ring until he eventually was crowned king. He ventured back to Earth pissed off and ready to make the Illuminati pay for what they had done to him. Hulk had claimed a battleground in downtown New York where he waited for the group to show. Ghost Rider was hunting down pieces of Lucifer that he had inadvertently let loose from hell. He encountered the Hulk and they began to fight, a very destructive fight through the NY battleground. Hulk punched Ghost Rider through several buildings and dropped another one on top of him. Ghost Rider then grappled on hulks back and nearly choked him out with his hell chain. The fight ended in a stalemate when Ghost Rider attempted to use his penance stare and was shown that the Hulk was the victim and the Illuminati were the guilty ones.

In the early 90’s Fantastic Four cartoon there was an episode where Galactus attacked the earth. The Fantastic Four had tried everything they could to stop him but nothing was working. The Fantastic Four had run out of options and were trying to think of a plan to get rid of Galactus. In rides Ghost Rider, and tells the Fantastic Four that he will help. He rides up Galactus’ body and delivers the penance stare right to him. Galactus being a world eater, had consumed a lot of people and had a lot of guilt and pain stored up. This act was enough to banish Galactus at least for the time being while he healed from his wounds.

Circling back to why Ghost Rider ran into the Hulk in World War Hulk, he was in the process of hunting down and killing Lucifer.  Long story short is that Satan had trapped Ghost Rider in Hell (go figure!). Lucifer disguised himself as a worm helping Johnny to break the barrier between Hell and the normal world. When Johnny broke through Lucifer split into 666 pieces and fell to the Earth. Each piece took on a persona/possessed someone and began wreaking havoc.  Angels were dispatched to help Johnny but slowly one by one, Johnny killed all the pieces of Lucifer until only 1 remained. The trick was that with each piece Johnny killed the remaining pieces would get stronger. The two Angels that were sent to help Johnny ended up sacrificing themselves to provide Ghost Rider with the power he needed to destroy Lucifer and banish him back to hell.

REASONS HE IS UNDERRATED

There really is no definitive answer here besides the fact that he is a dark character. When people think of Marvel comics they think of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, X-Men, etc; all very colourful and for the most part family friendly characters. Ghost Rider isn’t a hero, he’s an anti-hero; one of those guys like Deadpool, and Punisher and Wolverine who are willing to kill to make sure their mission is accomplished. Not only that but once a Rider uses the penance stare there is no going back. it will inflict the maximum amount of damage to you that you deserve. There is no settings knob on the penance stare just like there is no setting knob on Ghost Rider’s morality. Ghost Rider like Punisher is very black and white, they both punish evil doers. Will they kill you for stealing a candy bar from a convenience store? absolutely not. Will they put the fear of God in you? absolutely.  The rider knows when it’s true evil like a serial killer or just minor evil like a vandal spray painting a building, and can adjust accordingly.

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Ghost Rider has a high kill count, not as high as say Deadpool or Wolverine, but he definitely is not a nice guy. Ghost Rider is very much a character aimed at an older audience. The humour and content of the Ghost rider comics tends to lean towards a mature audience and some of the content can be rather gruesome. In the family friendly MCU there really isn’t a place for someone like Ghost Rider. The Netflix universe however… that’s a whole different story, but in all fairness he wouldn’t be my first choice for that… my first choice would wear more white.