Most Underrated Heroes Vol. 9 – Wolverine

This installment of underrated heroes may seem to be a little ironic considering I am going to be talking about probably THE most popular member of the X-Men, Wolverine. Wolverine was already a popular character in Marvel comics for decades before Hugh Jackman brought him to the silver screen with his iconic portrayal. While there have been 5 different Batman actors, 3 Spider-Man, 2 Hulk, 2 Captain America and 2 Superman… there has only ever been 1 Wolverine. While Jackman’s run with the character finally came to an end last year with James Mangold’s Logan, his run in the comics recently got revived to bring back the classic character. Following the iconic story arc of The Death of Wolverine, Logan was put on ice while his cloned daughter, Laura Kinney (X-23), took the mantle over for several years.  Logan’s history has spanned decades from his first inclusion in Marvel Comics in The Incredible Hulk #180 from October 1974 to his recent return in 2017.

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Let’s dive into everyone’s favourite Canadian…

*This is a brief overview of the important aspects of his history, not a complete recount*

HISTORY

Wolverine was born James Howlett in Northern Alberta Canada (rumoured to be Cold Lake) in the late 1880’s to wealthy landowners John and Elizabeth Howlett. He was born very small and frail, often getting sick for extended periods of time. During his early years, it is revealed that his father is not John Howlett as he thought, but actually Thomas Logan, the groundskeeper of the Howlett Estate. One day after Thomas’ older son, Dog, attempted to rape James’ young friend Rose O’Hara, James told his father John Howlett what had happened getting Dog in trouble. In retaliation for James telling Mr. Howlett what had happened, Dog murdered Jame’s puppy which resulted in him and his father being expelled from the Howlett grounds. Thomas returned later that night with Dog in tow, in order to take his former lover, Elizabeth Howlett, away with him. There was a scuffle and Thomas shot John in the head with his shotgun. James, who had entered the room to see what the commotion was, witnessed his father’s murder and his mutation manifested. He sprouted three bone claws out of each hand and attacked the Logan’s with the ferocity of a wild animal. After killing Thomas Logan  and scarring Dog’s face, Elizabeth suffered a mental break and drove James away before taking her own life with the shotgun.

Rose and James fled the estate and hid in a shed where Jame’s powers continued to manifest even more granting him his heightened senses and healing factor. Rose and James attempted to return to James’ grandfather for help but were turned away and told to get on a train and leave town. With his newly discovered powers and the trauma he suffered, Jame buried the memories of that night under deep layers of psychosis and became a partial amnesiac. James and Rose ended up working in a stone quarry in British Columbia under the guise of cousins to avoid suspicion, it was also during this time that James adopted the name of Logan, to hide his true identity. As the months wore on James became more and more ferocious and his senses continued to heighten until they reached the superhuman level he would continue with for decades. As he grew up, he earned the respect of the other miners because of his work and his ethics but as he grew older he became to resemble Thomas Logan in appearance rather than his birth father, proving that John Howlett was not his father.

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As he continued to work in the quarry he became a favourite of the foreman, Smitty, who took a liking to Logan for his work ethic and efficiency. This brought him into conflict with another miner, Cookie, who had been the foreman’s favourite before Logan arrived. Cookie saw to make things difficult for Logan by bullying him, cutting his and Rose’s rations and even shortening a fuse on an explosive Logan was using resulting in the deaths of five men. Logan took this in stride and hunted deer in the woods, sharing the rest with the neighbours making him even more popular than Cookie. Finally, during a cage match night, Cookie fought Logan. It was during this fight that Logan earned the name “The Wolverine” due to his ferocity while fighting. Rose and Smitty became engaged and Logan, who had developed feelings for Rose, put his feelings aside for Rose’s happiness.

Old Man Howlett (Logan’s grandfather) hired Dog to track and find Rose and James so he could reconcile with them on his deathbed. Dog tracked Logan to the small town outside of the Quarry and fought him in the street. Besides being the physically stronger and larger combatant, Dog was defeated by Logan. As Logan unsheathed his claws to kill Dog and end the memory of his past, Rose jumped between them and was killed by accident. Logan fled the town and ended up living with a pack of wolves for several years.

In 1907, Logan was away hunting for his pack when a genetically modified polar bear was released into the Southern Canadian wilderness by Nathaniel Essex (Mr. Sinister). The bear overwhelmed Logan’s pack, killing them all and feasting on their bodies. When Logan returned, he went to battle with the bear and emerged victorious.  A circus promoter and his trackers eventually captured Logan and promoted him as “the missing link between man and beast” during their circus. While one of the trackers, Clara, believed Logan had a soul, Logan refused to acknowledge her and accepted his new life as penance for killing Rose and failing his pack. Eventually Nathaniel Essex convinced the Circus promoter to being Logan to his lab so he could authenticate “the specimen”. Once at the lab, Essex killed the promoter and began experimenting on Logan to test his healing factor. The two trackers Clara and her brother Saul, eventually helped Logan escape and Clara began teaching him to be a human again. Saul grew jealous of their bond and sold their location to Essex. Clara is apparently killed in the attack and Logan allies with Saul to take down Essex’s men. It is revealed that Clara and Saul are mutants with their own healing factors and that Clara wasn’t dead but had learned of Saul’s betrayal. Enraged at Saul, Logan drowned him in a vat of chemicals. Clara rejected Logan saying ” the man inside wasn’t worth as much as an animal” and left him alone. It is later revealed that Clara’s last named was Creed and she informed her older brother Victor Creed (Sabertooth) of what Logan had done.

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Logan moved around North America working odd jobs and eventually made his way to the fruit orchards in California. It was here that he had a brief romance with a Mexican migrant worker. They made love in a fruit orchard before she left, never revealing her name and never seeing Logan again.

Logan had many romances with many women and fathered a lot of children. One of which, Romulus, the immortal mastermind of the Lupine, began to erase and alter Logan’s memories with his telepathic powers to make him suitable for Romulus’ needs. As he traveled the world, Logan came into contact with the Hand and Sabertooth. He fought Sabertooth and believed to have killed him unaware of Sabertooth’s healing factor. Logan then returned to Canada and fell in love with a Blackfoot native woman named Silver Fox. On his birthday, under Romulus’ orders, Sabertooth attacked and raped Silver Fox leaving her for dead. Logan confronted Sabertooth at the local bar and attacked him. Logan was beaten and in his rage reverted to his mindless feral state. Sabertooth convinced Logan that the local people didn’t want him there and thus hired him to kill Silver Fox because “she was the only thing keeping him there”. Logan proceeded to murder the whole down before he snapped out of his rage and realized what he had done.

In 1914, WWI had broken out in Europe, and Logan enlisted in the Canadian Army. He was assigned to the Devil’s Brigade, a special forces unit often used by Romulus. Logan fought and defeated a man named Lazaer, on the battlefield of Ypres in 1915. Lazaer was actually the Angel of Death, Azrael, who thought he had killed Logan by stabbing him in the chest with his sword before Logan turned the table stabbing Lazaer with the sword he pulled out of his chest. Logan was launched into a depression as ‘punishment’ for denying the natural order of things with his healing factor. For several years after the war, Logan roamed the earth as he saw fit and under the unknown guidance of Romulus. He partook in conflicts throughout the Middle East and Asia before returning to Canada before WWII.

In 1939 when WWII engulfed Europe, Logan once again enlisted in the Devil’s Brigade under his former commander Silas Burr. Burr was working for Romulus during both World Wars to influence Logan to Romulus’ will. Unaware of Burr’s connection to Romulus, Logan joined his company again and partook in D-Day and the liberation of the Netherlands. He aided Captain America during several mission to disrupt an alliance between Hydra and the Hand, joined Sgt. Fury’s Howling Commandos, and stopped a young Black Widow from killing the Jonin (Leader of the Hand). In 1942 Logan was captured by Japanese forces and taken to a prison camp outside of Nagasaki. Logan and another soldier escaped the camp and Logan fell in love with a Japanese woman named Atsuko. Lt. Warren (the other soldier Logan escaped with) attacked him and murdered Atsuko, as Logan and Warren fought, the atomic bomb was dropped leaving Logan as the only survivor.

Following the war, Logan took refuge in Japan and engaged in Bando Saburo, in order to learn to be a man again and not the animal he had been before. He fell in love and married Itsu Akihiro, the two of them conceived a child unknown to Logan. After being banned form the village for accidentally stabbing someone, Logan returned to his house to find his wife murdered by Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier). While Bucky was working for the USSR, Romulus had ordered him to kill Itsu and remove the unborn child from her womb. The Child was given to a Japanese family and raised without Logan knowing. The child was named Akihiro but eventually took the name Daken and fell to Romulus’ manipulations. Logan believing his child had died, moved back to the United States for a few years before returning to Canada for the Weapon X program.

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During the Weapon X program, Logan was experimented on by several doctors under the leadership of Dr. Abraham Cornelius, and had Adamantium (an indestructible metal) grafted to his skeleton; it also coated his bone claws with the metal making them razor sharp adamantium claws. To test his efficiency in combat, he was released on the nearby town of Roanoke with brutal efficiency. In order to turn him into a mindless killing machine Logan was hypnotized and told he was nothing but a mindless killing machine and that being a man disgusted him; eventually, Logan broke free of this programming and escaped the facility with the help of the Winter Soldier. On his way out of the facility he slaughtered nearly everyone in the complex having once again reverted to his animalistic berserker state. He wandered for many months potentially years before he was discovered by James Hudson ( to whom he was related on his mother’s side), founder of Department H. He was brought back to sanity and joined Department H, a superhuman division of the Canadian government. He worked for years on spy missions and assassinations before being set to take control of Alpha Flight (the Canadian Government’s superhuman team). Wolverine fought the Hulk and was then approached by Charles Xavier and asked to help him rescue the X-Men from an island being named Krakoa. During the flight to Krakoa, Romulus instructed Wolverine via telepathic link to assassinate Charles Xavier, before he could finish the task, Xavier cleansed Romulus’ control of Wolverine’s mind leaving him 100% in control of himself for the first time in a long time.  Wolverine saved the X-Men and decided to stay on with the team, formerly resigning from Department H and the Alpha Flight.

Logan remained on the X-Men for years going through many events and even losing his healing factor until his death in 2014 during the event titled The Death of Wolverine.

DEATH

The Death of Wolverine began when he met with Mr. Fantastic. Reed assured him that while he would be able to reactivate Logan’s healing factor it would take him time and not to fight while he did it as using his claws could kill him. Logan promised not to use his claws and departed from the Baxter Building to return to Canada. When he returned to British Columbia, Logan was attacked by AIM agents, mercs and ninjas all trying to collect a bounty that had been placed on his head. The various bounty hunters mostly took each other out with Wolverine mopping up the rest. He left a note with a local bartender that if anyone is looking for him they could find him on the island where he has fought the other bounty hunters. Nuke and several of his mercs showed up to collect the bounty and Wolverine but failed in their attempt. After dispatching the underlings it was just Nuke and Logan left for a final fight. When Nuke got the upper hand, Logan headbutted him with his adamantium skull until Nuke gave in. Wolverine then interrogated Nuke and found out the bounty was for him to be brought in alive had been placed on his head by Viper, the Queen of Madripoor, Logan’s ex wife and former lover.

Wolverine disguised himself as an arms dealer and traveled to Madripoor to get an audience with Viper to find out why she put the bounty on him. When they met, Viper saw through his disguise right away and ordered her guards to take him down. Logan defeated the guards with ease and then demanded an answer as to why she had put the bounty on him. Viper explained that she had put the contract out for a third party and told him she would reveal the name if he could beat her “pet”, a chained up Sabertooth. Logan and Sabertooth fought with Sabertooth landing a lucky slash on Logans eye severely injuring it in the process. Lady Deathstrike showed up and nearly killed Sabertooth before Logan stopped her. When he found out the bounty wasn’t just on him but anyone from the Weapon X program, Kitty Pryde arrived and phased her hand through Lady Deathstrike’s chest, threatening to kill her. As Logan passed out from his wounds, Kitty let Lady Deathstrike go injected him a regen serum that healed his injuries and brought him back to fighting strength.

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Wolverine and Kitty then travel to Japan under the instruction of Deathstrike who had mentioned Lord Ogun had taken up the contract. Upon arrival in Japan, Logan is beset upon by Kitty who was under the control of Lord Ogun. Kitty/Ogun fought Logan and ended up throwing Logan through a house during the fight. This allowed Logan the time to don some samurai armour and grab a sword to even up the fight. Eventually Ogun was defeated by Logan taunting him and Kitty was released from his control. After Kitty regained consciousness  she told Logan that she heard the name of the man who put the contract on him, Abraham Cornelius. Logan tracked Ogun to a factory complex where he was melting the body of Cyber (Silas Burr) because Cornelius was paying a hefty price for his adamantium skin. Ogun offered to provide Logan with the location of Dr. Cornelius and more regen serum if Logan left him alone. Logan responded saying he was done living forever and to tell Cornelius he was coming. Ogun revealed the location of Cornelius’ lab in Paradise Valley Nevada, and Logan set off to confront the doctor.

When Logan arrived at the laboratory complex, he used improvised fake claws to kill the guards and stormed the lab. When he entered the lab proper, he was greeted with Cornelius experimenting on innocent people claiming he was “getting it right”. Logan demanded to know why he was doing this and Cornelius responded with ” I want to be known for more than making a killer unkillable”. Cornelius stated that his creations were perfect and all he needed was Logan’s healing factor to make them unstoppable. Logan then cut his hand with a knife showing Cornelius that he had lost his healing factor. Cornelius ordered one of his test subjects, Sharp, to kill Logan while he taunted him from behind protective glass. During the fight with Sharp, Logan tricked him into breaking the protective barrier between him and Cornelius before knocking him out and crushing his armour. In fear of his life, Cornelius activated the Adamantium bonding process on the rest of the patients and attempted to flee the facility. In a desperate attempt to save the other patients Logan unsheathed his claws and sliced the leads from the Adamantium vat to the patients, coating himself in molten Adamantium. He injected the patients with doses of the regen serum, which had been created by Dr. Cornelius to supplement Logan’s healing factor, before heading off after the doctor. Logan caught up to the doctor on the roof of the complex and stabbed him through the chest with his claws as he asked Cornelius “…what he ever did besides killing?” With Cornelius dead and the lab destroyed, along with all the research data, Logan knelt down on top of the complex in the sunset and contemplated his life as the Adamantium hardened before he finally died of suffocation.

RESURRECTION

In Marvel Legacy #1, Logan is somehow resurrected and broken out of his Adamantium coffin. It is unclear how this happened, and even Logan himself is unsure. It is revealed that he is also the keeper of the Space Stone;which he defends from Loki, Frost Giants, and Ultron infected aliens.

Wolverine and Space Stone

POWERS & ABILITIES

Almost everyone on the planet knows Wolverine’s powers and abilities, but some people might not know all of them…

  • Regenerative Healing Factor – Capable of healing almost all damage done in mere seconds
  • Contaminant Immunity – Immunity from almost all poisons, sicknesses, diseases, medicines and alcohol
  • Decelerated Aging – Wolverine is Well over a hundred years old but retains the appearance and physicality of someone in their mid 20’s
  • Telepathic Resistance
  • Superhuman Strength – able to hold the weight of a dozen men with a single arm and lift a 955lb bear over his head and throw it
  • Superhuman Speed – Able to move at speeds capable of blitzing oppenents before they can pull their trigger fingers, able to keep up in a fight with Spider-Man
  • Superhuman Durability – Due to his healing factor and Adamantium skeleton he is virtually indestructible
  • Superhuman Stamina – Due to his healing factor he is able to fight at peak performance for over 24 hours straight, able to hold his breath for extended periods of time for combat underwater
  • Superhuman Reflexes – On par with Captain America, able to dodge bullet fire at close range, able to dodge Cyclops’ optic blasts with ease
  • Superhuman Agility – Able to dodge bullets and jump over 30ft in the air with a running start
  • Insulated Weather Adaptation – Immunity to climate and weather conditions, able to sleep nude in arctic temperatures with no damage
  • Animal Empathy – Able to sense basic emotions of animals and communicate with them
  • Superhuman Acute Senses – able to see incredibly great distances with clarity, perfect nightvision, enhanced hearing, incredible sense of smell akin to that of a wolf, able to track enemies over great distances by scent alone, able to detect lies being told by someone from the chemical change in their scent when lying
  • Retractable Bone Claws – 3, foot long retractable claws on each hand that extend through the skin between his knuckles. Dense enough to cut through woods, metals and some rock. Coated with Adamantium during his time in the Weapon X program to made them virtually indestructible.
  • Adamantium Poisoning Immunity – Due to the fact that Adamantium is a heavy metal, anyone using it without a healing factor will suffer from heavy metal poisoning.

In addition to his powers Wolverine is also: a Master Tactician, Master Martial Artist, Expert Marksman, Master Swordsman, Expert Acrobat, Master of Advanced Covert Ops, Skilled Mechanic, and Multilingual ( fluent in English, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Cheyenne, Lakota, and Spanish. He is also proficient in French, German, Thai, Vietnamese, Farsi, and Portuguese)

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His only weaknesses are: Sensory overload from his heightened senses, Decapitation or severe spinal damage inhibiting his brains ability to trigger his healing factor, Adamantium Allotropes, and Drowning.

WHY THEY’RE UNDERRATED

So Wolverine isn’t exactly that underrated in the classical sense, but when he is compared to literal Gods and beings with universal level power, he tends to be put on the back burner. Logan has seen his fair share of combat and use throughout his comic career.  During his most popular time in publication he was in January of 2009 where he appeared in 24 different issues of Marvel publications ranging from X-Men to Avengers and even Alpha Flight. The Death of Wolverine story line sold incredibly well and brought one of the most recognizable faces of Marvel comics to a close, at least for the time being.

Wolverine is one of the most popular characters in comics the world over. While Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man retain the top three spots, Wolverine would be at least number 5. He is by far the most popular X-Men character and I for one, really enjoy every time he’s included in the Avengers story arcs.

Mostly, Logan has shown time and time again that regardless of what the Joker from DC Comics says, it takes more than one bad day to turn the sanest man alive into a complete psychopath. I’m not saying Logan was a poster boy for pinnacle mental health his whole life, he definitely had lapses, but he always managed to bring himself back. Also, make no mistake Logan is definitely not opposed to killing but despite a few moments in his history, he didn’t enjoy doing it. In Punisher:War Zone from 2012 by Greg Rucka, Logan was shown the be sympathetic to Frank and his crusade. So much so, that when it came time for the final battle he was asked to sit out by Captain America. While Logan obeyed Cap, due to the respect Logan had for Steve, he did make a point of saying that sometimes the only way to stop bad people is to kill them.  Logan also starred alongside 2 of my favourite characters, Punisher and Ghost Rider, in a one off story called Hearts of Darkness. It’s a brutally violent comic that pits the three heroes against Blackheart and an army of demons to save the soul of a little girl.

Hugh Jackman did an amazing job bringing the character to the big screen, and helped to make fans out of some people who might otherwise have never read a comic book. While his over 6 foot frame was a little much, for most people it wasn’t a big issue. As I said before, while many other heroes got cast and re cast, there was only ever one Wolverine and that was because of how awesome a job Hugh Jackman did. He brought the tortured nature of ol ‘canucklehead as well as his ferocity to the screen in a manner that was completely unique.

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I really do think Logan should get more solo adventures and team ups with various other heroes. While I did enjoy X-23 (Laura Kinney) as the Wolverine following the death of Logan, she never had quite the same air of badassery as Logan himself. Logan represented the level of animalistic nature in all of us that sometimes can come to the forefront if pushed enough. He dealt with his consequences and never tried to hide what he did from anybody. This got him into some hot water a couple of times, but you can’t always please everyone. I am very happy that he was brought back and that we are also keeping X-23 as Wolverine so that we can hopefully get a bit of a mentor mentoree relationship.

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Most Underrated Heroes Vol. 8 – Martian Manhunter

This month, for the inclusion of underrated hero I decided to include the Manhunter himself, J’onn J’onzz of Mars. Martian Manhunter was originally created as a DC analogue to Superman that could be substituted if the Man of Steel was being used too much. That being said, over the years he has grown into hero status in his own right and became known as “the heart and soul of the Justice League”. Manhunter has grown to be one of my more favourite classic superheroes. I say classic because most of my favourites are anti-heroes or heroes so close to anti-hero status, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. Martian Manhunter had a brief stint in the DC drama Smallville where he was portrayed by Phil Morris as well as his current stint on Supergirl where he is portrayed by David Harewood.

Martian Manhunter was first introduced in Detective Comics #225 from November 1955, he was created by Joseph Samachson and Joe Certa.

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HISTORY

Martian Manhunter was born to two green skinned Martians on Mars (go figure!). He was one of twins that were born to his parents, he was named J’onn J’onzz which in the Martian language means “Light of Light”; his brother, who was born without Martian telepathic ability was named Ma’alefa’ak which literally translates to “Darkness of Heart”.  It’s honestly a wonder as to why the brother turned out to be an evil twin given a name like that by the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally… So J’onn grew up to become a Manhunter ( Martian Police Officer) while his brother grew to hate and resent Martian culture.

Ma’alefa’ak eventually developed a virus, the virus was called H’ronmeers Curse. This virus was transferred by Martian psychic link; which would cause each Martian affected to suffer such a psychosomatic trauma that their minds and bodies would burst into flames. J’onn attempted to stop his wife and daughter from using their psychic abilities but he was unsuccessful and he was forced to watched as his family burned in front of his eyes. The virus was responsible for the mass genocide of the green Martian population and left J’onn to be the “sole survivor” of Mars.

This all happened centuries before his arrival on Earth.

On Earth, centuries after the Martian genocide, a scientist named Saul Erdel had discovered some ancient Martian technology buried on Earth, and was attempting to reverse engineer it to communicate with alien life. He activated his contraption and aimed it at the surface of Mars. The beam traveled through both space and time grabbing J’onn shortly after the genocide and bringing him to the surface of the Earth centuries later. Erdel discovered J’onn outside of his laboratory and brought him inside. J’onn was near insanity after having just witnessed his entire species burn themselves to death and because of the trauma forged a psychic link between himself and Dr. Erdel, the only living being within several miles. When they linked their minds, Dr. Erdel saw what had happened to J’onn and attempted to help him my mentally fabricating a different history of the tragedy of Mars. Erdel took inspiration from various science fiction writers and was eventually able to put J’onn at ease. Erdel also instilled in J’onn the belief that he should be a champion of the people and thus, J’onn took on the persona of Martian Manhunter.

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Martians have several powers along with their psychic abilities which I will get into later, but one of their most prominent abilities is shape shifting. Before venturing out of the lab, J’onn adopted a more humanoid appearance while still maintaining his green skin. Dr. Erdel was so surprised by this ability that he suffered a fatal heart attack. As he was dying, Dr. Erdel asked J’onn for forgiveness, due to him inadvertently trapping J’onn on Earth. J’onn provided the closure the doctor needed before passing away. J’onn used his shape shifting powers to take on an African American appearance and joined the local police department (Middletown U.S.A) under the identity of John Jones.

J’onn fought crime under many aliases before he helped to form the Justice League of America. He fought as Marcus Xavier to take down the international criminal syndicate VULTURE, he fought with Justice Experience as the Bronze Wraith, as well as with the League under his Martian Manhunter title and his alternate identity of Bloodwynd.

He briefly becomes the evil Fernus when he attempted to conquer his own fear of fire. It took the combined might of the entire League as well as several new recruits and a couple of Lanterns to stop him.

J’onn was thought to have perished during the explosion of the Watchtower prior to Infinite Crisis, but that was false. During Infinite Crisis, he was discovered to be attached Alexander Luthor’s tower along with several other heroes and villains. It took the combined effort of the Titans to separate him and the others from the tower. Upon being released from the tower, he telepathically coordinated the defense of Metropolis against the evil, Superboy Prime.

Following Infinite Crisis, he took on the identity of William Dyer to infiltrate Checkmate. Checkmate apparently had been holding several green Martians who had crash landed on the Earth. He rescued them with only one of the new Martians, Roh’kar dying in the process.

DEATH

During an undercover assignment wherein he pretended to be Blockbuster to spy on a Supervillain prison. Catwoman outed J’onn after deducing who he really was ; J’onn was left in his cell after being tortured when the rest of the villains broke out. Libra, a new member of the Society of Supervillains, “rescues” J’onn and brings him back to Earth via a Boom Tube. Using the staff of the Human Flame, Libra stabs J’onn through the chest and lights him on fire. As he is burning he telepathically sends a message to several League members in their sleep requesting they record a portion of his life’s story. Upon discovery of his body, the heroes all said his name and recorded their portion of his history.

J’onn was interred on Mars at the base of a pyramid that had been moved to red planet to serve as his headstone. Many heroes both Leaguers and not attended his funeral where Superman delivered a eulogy in his honour.

BLACKEST NIGHT & RESURRECTION

Black Lantern Martian Manhunter

During the crossover even Blackest Night, J’onn, along with several other deceased heroes and villains, was resurrected into the Black Lantern Corps. While Flash (Barry Allen) and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) were standing over Batman’s grave site which appeared to have been pillaged, J’onn attacked them saying “You should be dead”. J’onn is soon joined by the Black Lantern resurrected versions of Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Elongated Man, Sue Dibny, and Firestorm. The Atom arrives to help but the heroes are unable to defeat the advancing zombified versions of their friends. With their backs literally against a wall, the heroes are eventually saved by two Indigo Lanterns that drive the black lanterns off. Following the final battle and the defeat of Nekron, the Entity resurrected several heroes and villains, J’onn being one of them.

BRIGHTEST DAY

Following his resurrection, J’onn noticed that something was off. Whenever he was around plant life, it would mysteriously die. He went to visit his niece M’gann M’orzz (Miss Martian) who was doing a meditation quest in the outback of Australia. When he arrived to her hut he discovered her badly beaten and tied up. When he asked her who did this to her she replied saying an unknown Green Martian had attacked her. As he is helping M’gann, J’onn receives a telepathic communication from the Entity (the being that defeated Nekron and resurrected him) telling him to burn down the newly formed forest. Knowing the devastation that had befallen Star City and the new forest that had mysteriously grown in its place, J’onn believed the forest he needed to burn was in Star City. after coming into conflict with Green Arrow and attempting to start the blaze, J’onn is again contacted by the Entity, and told the forest he needed to burn was on Mars. J’onn takes off for his home planet leaving the new Star City alone.

On Mars, J’onn confronts the rogue green Martian that had attacked M’gann. She reveals her name to be D’kay D’razz and wishes to take J’onn as her mate. When J’onn refuses she telepathically attacks him and forces him to see visions of the Mars that could be with the power of the Entity to resurrect everything. J’onn sees through the ruse and wrings her neck, and throws her into the sun, killing her. Upon completion of his task the Entity asks J’onn to choose between Earth and Mars, when J’onn chooses Earth he is absorbed by the Entity.  When the “Dark Avatar” (Black Lantern Swamp Thing) attacks, J’onn who has been deemed to be an Elemental along with several other heroes (Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman,Firestorm); combine with the body of Alex Holland (Swamp Thing) to fight the Dark Avatar. Upon defeat of the Dark Avatar, the Entity with the help of Swamp Thing restores the Elementals to normal.

NEW 52

During the DC Comics re-launch under the New 52 banner, Martian Manhunter was removed as a member of the League and placed in the covert team called Stormwatch. It is teased that he tried to join the League but came to blows with the other members and was cast out, it’s unclear what caused the rift between the heroes. J’onn is recruited by Amanda Waller into the Justice League of America as the counter agent to Superman. The Justice League of America was recruited to specifically counteract individual members of the Justice League should they ever go rogue.

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During the Trinity War crossover J’onn was investigating the Secret Society of Supervillains and their new leader, the Outsider. When they discovered the Outsider was Alfred Pennyworth of Earth-3, it was too late and the Crime Syndicate arrived on Earth-1. The heroes were soundly defeated and imprisoned inside the Firestorm matrix until Forever Evil, when Batman freed them with the help of Luthor and several villains. Following the release from the Matrix, J’onn along with fellow JLA members Green Arrow and Stargirl went on to form the Justice League United Team based out of Canada.

REBIRTH

J’onn arrived in the Dark Metal event stating he had been on Thanagar looking for answers.

POWERS & ABILITIES

All Martians share the same powers as Martian Manhunter to a degree. While they all have the genetic ability to utilize these powers, they may not have mastered the techniques and thus don’t use it. The powers of the Martian people are as follows:

  • Shapeshifting
  • Corporeal Form Manipulation – Malleability, Elasticity, Plasticity and Elongation of his form and extremities.
  • Invisibility
  • Phasing
  • Superhuman Durability
  • Superhuman Strength
  • Superhuman Stamina
  • Regeneration
  • Flight
  • Superhuman Speed
  • Extrasensory Input
  • Longevity
  • Super-Hearing
  • Super-Breath
  • Enhanced Senses
  • Martian Vision – Able to see Electro-magnetic Spectrum, Infrared Spectrum, Telescopic Vision, Microscopic Vision and Heat Vision similar to Superman.
  • Telepathy – Able to conjure Illusions, Astral Prjection, Possession, Mind Control, Telepathic Relay (connect multiple minds together to “speak”), Telepathic Assault, Thought Sensing, Mayavana (ability to create a mental reality as real as any other reality, can only be used once in a lifetime. J’onn used his during Despero’s attack on the JL Headquarters to stop the assault and save his friends/teammates)
  •  Telekinesis
  • Meditate instead of sleep

In addition to all his powers listed J’onn J’onzz also has: Genius Level Intellect, adept firearms skills, incredible detective skills and the ability to understand any language.

A Martian’s only documented weakness is to fire. Which stems from the H’ronmeers Curse and the psychosomatic trauma it caused.

J’onn is known to be very fond of the Earth snack Chocos, so much to the point of borderline addiction.

WHY THEY’RE UNDERRATED

Martian Manhunter is widely underrated because of how much he is underused. This is a being that was able to solo the Justice League on more than one occasion. He has shown time and time again that he is the willing to take the hit in order to save another teammate from getting hurt, and he believes that while Mars was his origin planet, that Earth is his home. As I stated before he has been called the “Heart and Soul of the Justice League” and he wears this title proudly. When all the other heroes falter and become lost they can always look to J’onn to help put them back on the right track.

During the Injustice comic run, J’onn came into conflict with Superman and his regime. He openly stood against the tyranny and was murdered as a result. He does help to deliver one of the best lines of the whole series. The panel is directly below.

wonder-woman-vs-manhunter

J’onn has gone to star in several films and live action series, more so than the Dark Knight himself, which begs to question as to why he isn’t a more popular hero? Superman himself has said that J’onn is the one of the very few beings that he is afraid to engage in open combat because he is the most dangerous man on the planet.

Supes Scared

J’onn J’onzz has so much potential and he is always wasted by being relegated to a back up character. I’m not saying his inclusion in the Justice League film would’ve saved it, but it couldn’t have been any worse than what we got right? DC needs to give some of their other great properties a chance instead of sticking with the same heroes. Yes, they’ve branched out with some out there inclusions like Justice League Dark and Cyborg, but looking at how many batman and Superman imprints there are… they could easily drop a couple of those and bring in someone like Manhunter for his own series. I just hope for J’onn J’onzz to one day become a household name like the characters he helps to keep on the right path.

 

Most Underrated Heroes Vol. 7 – Blade

This week for my most underrated hero, I decided to focus on someone that is vastly underused and under-appreciated, Blade.

Blade first came to prominence during the late 90’s & early 2000’s when the Daywalker was given his own trilogy of movies starring Wesley Snipes in the titular role. Following the film trilogy, a Television series was ordered with Kirk Jones, in the role of Blade. The live action show lasted only one season before being cancelled by Spike TV (the network it aired on) due to budget limitations. a limited but successful anime show was also released starring Blade.

Snipes Blade

Blade has been a secondary character for most Marvel publications and has never really been given his time in the spotlight. His lack of use is definitely linked to the mature themes his comics are made with; focusing on a Dhampir who hunts vampires and their familiars, often with brutal efficiency.

Blade was created in July of 1973 by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan as a supporting character in the title The Tomb of Dracula. 

HISTORY

Blade was born in 1929 in Madam Vanity’s Brothel in the Soho neighbourhood in London England. He was born Eric Brooks, to his mother Tara Brooks and (at the time) an unknown father. Due to complications experienced during labour, Tara was forced to seek medical help from a local doctor. The doctor is question was a vampire named Deacon Frost. Frost began to feed on Tara during her childbirth and as such passed along some enzymes to her unborn/being born child. Tara was killed in the process and before Frost could kill Eric, he was driven off by the other workers of the whorehouse. Eric was then gifted some vampiric abilities such as the ability to: sense supernatural creatures, immunity to complete vampirism, and an extremely prolonged lifespan.

Eric grew up calling Madam Vanity’s home, but one night while walking home, he stumbled upon an elderly man being attacked by three assailants. Despite only being 9 years old, Eric decided to help the elderly man and ran to his aide. It wasn’t until he had joined the fray that Eric realized the assailants were vampires. The elderly man used a silver sword which was hidden in his cane to dispatch the vampires and save them both. After the ordeal the old man introduced himself to Eric as Jamal Afari, a famed jazz musician and vampire hunter. Jamal moved into Madam Vanity’s and began to instruct Eric in vampire hunting, hand to hand combat and music. Blade became very proficient in hand to hand combat techniques and the use of edged and bladed weapons. He trained himself to Olympic level fitness and was soon proficient in dispatching most younger vampires by himself. He was soon given the nickname of “Blade” by his fellow vampire hunters and the vampires that he would hunt. After several successful solo hunts, he believed he was untouchable and that he could take down any vampire he wanted. In his hubris, he joined a street gang that was headed by a very powerful vampire named Lamia. The battle with Lamia was grueling and cost Blade his then girlfriend, Glory.

Blade_7

This  loss and the subsequent loss of Jamal to Dracula, hardened Blade’s resolve to rid the world of vampires. Jamal was resurrected by Dracula as a vampire, forcing Blade to battle and kill his mentor and father figure.  Blade then tracked Dracula across Europe and Asia even allying with several other hunters who called themselves Ogun Strong’s Vampire Hunters. Dracula murdered most of the hunters except for Blade and one other before they were able to stake him. In memory of one of his fallen comrades, Blade adopted the use of Teakwood daggers as his preferred weapon.

After tracking a resurrected Dracula to Paris, Blade crossed paths with Quincy Harker the son of Johnathan Harker, and his vampire hunters: Rachel Van Helsing (daughter of Abraham Van Helsing), Taj Nital, and Frank Drake. Reluctantly, Blade allied with these hunters on several occasions and even took on Dracula once more with their help. When Dracula defeated the hunters, Blade became aware that he was immune to a vampire’s bite. After coming to this realization, he decided to hunt down Deacon Frost alone and get revenge on him for the murder of his mother. During his solo career, Blade fought Dracula, Morbius the Living Vampire, and the Legion of the Dead.  While tracking Frost, his target fled to the United States and thus, Blade ventured into the underbelly of Boston, Massachusetts. It was during this solo career in the USA that Blade encountered notable Private Detective, Hanibal King. Blade allied with King due to a mutual hate for Deacon Frost (the man who had turned King into a vampire) and they hunted Frost together. Eventually they caught up to Frost and put him down for good, disbanding his supporters in the process.

King and Blade would go on to team up with previous Blade ally, Frank Drake and assist Dr. Strange in combating many threats, most notable the Darkholders.  They also assisted Dr. Strange in the casting of the Montesi Formula which was meant to destroy all Vampires on Earth. While the spell worked for a time it eventually dissipated and his former ally now turned vampire Taj Nital attacked him, forcing Blade to kill him. The vampire Lord Varnae rose to power, causing Blade and his allies to stop him. During the ensuing battle, King and Drake appeared to have been killed, before Blade killed Lord Varnae. Blade drifted around the USA hunting vampires and allying with various other hunters before he ended up in Louisiana, where he discovered an alive Hannibal King. The two once again, allied together to take down a resurrected Deacon Frost and Ulysses Soujourner, the latter of which had Morbius under his mental control.

Blade tracked Morbius to New York city where he allied with Spider-Manto take him down. During the battle, Blade was bitten by Morbius. Due to Morbius being a biological lab accident, his unique form of vampirism reacted with the enzymes in Blade’s blood. This reaction provided him with all the strengths of a vampire except sunlight did not affect him. It was after this that he was given the title “Daywalker”.

SHIELD attempted to use Blade’s blood to clone vampire operatives with UN support. The project was title Project: Silvereye and was shut down by Blade and a couple of allies. Blade and several hunters then all banded together to stop Dracula from becoming a God-like vampire Lord before Blade returned to New Orleans. Blade was once again forced to battle a resurrected Dracula (he just never dies) and put him down apparently, for good. After his most recent battle with Dracula it was revealed his father, Lucas Cross, was responsible for the latest Dracula resurrection. Cross kidnapped Blade and tried to force him to feed on a virgin girl to fulfill a prophecy. Blade bit his own hand off to get out of his restraints and rescued the girl before fleeing the SHIELD Helicarrier, Pericles V, where they were being held.  Blade would eventually begin the prophecy by feeding on a virgin girl after biting an evil vampire priest.

Blade was then hired by Dr. Doom to perform a task which involved travelling through time. During his adventure, Blade freed his captive father and fulfilled another part of the prophecy his father was trying to get him to start. Upon completion of the mission for Dr. Doom, Blade was given an elixir that Doom claimed would cure a Vampire of their need to feed but would also remove the blood lust hunters receive for killing vampires. Blade decided to give the elixir to Hannibal King and continue on his mission alone.

Blade Anime

During the first Civil War story line, Blade became allied with SHIELD which allowed him access to their technology. He used this tech to aid him in his hunt for vampires and even gave himself a “gun hand” to replace the one he was force to gnaw off. During his tenure as an operative of SHIELD, Blade fulfills a prophecy he believes will restore the souls to the extant vampires. He was wrong. In reality, the prophecy returned all vampires ever killed to life, bringing the world into peril. Following the conclusion of Civil War, Blade was recruited into Vanguard ( a superhuman black ops team run by the US government). Having been forced to return his “gun hand” after leaving SHIELD, Blade was given a cybernetic hand when he joined Vanguard. The team did not last for long before it was disbanded and Blade returned to England and joined MI-13, to combat supernatural threats. One of the members of his MI-13 team was named Spitfire, a vampire. When Blade tries to kill her, the two fight and eventually end up working together. After a mission together, Blade is trying to apologize for attempting to kill her, she kisses him; beginning a brief romance for the two of them.

Blade assisted the X-Men during the Curse of the Mutants arc when Dracula’s son and his vampires appeared in San Francisco and turned Jubilee. He butted heads with the mutant leader Cyclops, when the latter planned to resurrect Dracula to assist as well. Blade was quoted as saying “You don’t dig up Hitler to help get rid of Saddam Hussein”; however, Cyclops was not deterred and raised Dracula anyways. Blade was knocked unconscious by Cyclops when he tried to kill Dracula during the final battle. After the victory, Dracula returned Jubilee to the X-Men; however, Jubilee was still a vampire. When Blade went to “end her misery”, Wolverine stood between them and told Blade that it wasn’t going to happen. Blade left saying that sooner or later, someone is going to have to kill her and it will be harder for one of them to do it than it would be for him.

Not long after the end of the story arc, Blade was invited to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning to teach a class on killing vampires.

Prior to the Secret Empire event, Blade actually joined the Mighty Avengers by using Hawkeye’s identity of Ronin. Once he was discovered, he was kicked off the team for his methods and violent tendencies.

During Secret Empire, Blade was trapped in New York when it was isolated by a Dark Force dome. Due to the fact that the sunlight can’t get through the dome, the vampires living in New York declared open season and began attacking the human population indiscriminately. Blade went to war with vampires inside the dome to protect the citizens of New York. Following the event, Blade’s whereabouts are unknown.

 

POWERS & ABILITIES

Blade is not fully human. Due to his mother being fed on by Deacon Frost while she was giving birth to him, Blade is a Dhampir. A Dhampir is the term given to an offspring of a male vampire and human woman. While this isn’t 100% the case, it makes the most sense given the mutation Blade underwent while being born.

Due to being a Dhampir and having been bitten by Morbius, the powers Blade presents are as follows:

  • Superhumanly Acute Sense – All of his sense are as acute as those of a regular vampire which is greater than those of Wolverine .
  • Superhuman Strength – Able to lift about 1 ton
  • Superhuman Speed
  • Superhuman Agility
  • Superhuman Stamina
  • Superhuman Durability
  • Regenerative Healing factor – Stated by Wolverine during Civil War to almost be on par with his own. Blade cannot regrow limbs or organs.
  •  Prolonged Lifespan – while not fully immortal he has not aged since his introduction in comics.
  • Immunity to Vampire Vulnerabilities – immune to sunlight, silver, garlic, and religious symbols such as crosses and crucifixes.

In addition to his Powers listed above, Blade also has the following accolades:

  • Master Martial Artist
  • Expert Marksman
  • Expert Swordsman
  • Weapon Proficiency – Proficient with every form of weaponry known to man
  • Multi-lingual
  • Expert Driver
  • Sorcery Skills

In addition to all of his powers and abilities Blade is still plagued by one weakness, the “thirst” aka need to feed. In order to avoid having to feed on human, Blade has developed a serum that provides all the nutrients of blood without him having to attack someone. He keeps this serum on his person at all time. One dose is good for 24 hours of enhanced combat and he can ingest extra as needed to heal from severe wounds. If he is unable to take his serum he will become physically weaker and his self control will strain until he attacks someone to feed on them. Going without feeding or taking his serum for an extended time would prove fatal.

Blade_Marvel

Blade’s normal loadout consists of: Teakwood daggers, Adamantium Stakes, Kevlar body Armour, Automatic Sub-machine guns customized for hollow point garlic filled silver bullets, various UV weapons, garlic and silver injection weapons and his titanium forged acid etched sword.

 

WHY THEY’RE UNDERRATED

Blade is underrated because he brings an entire sub genre to the forefront, vampires. In the Marvel comics with time travelling villains, alien invasions, demons from another plane attacking cities and the bounty hunter of the devil himself riding around on a motorcycle… vampires seem to be left on the back burner. Not only does he include vampires, but he also includes all sorts of horror themed creatures like werewolves and ghosts that could also provide some awesome stories. The biggest factor that keeps Blade from joining the main Marvel heroes is the fact that his stories are very mature themed. I mean, a half vampire slaughtering full vamps as they feast on innocent people? Seems pretty mature themed to me.

I really think Blade is underrated just because a lot of people don’t know about him. Apart from the Wesley Snipes movies, most people probably didn’t know there was a television show or even an anime series dedicated to the character. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Blade movies; Snipes did an amazing job with them. I will confess that I have never seen the live action show, but I did watch the anime and it was pretty awesome.

If they included Blade in more publications or gave him his own run instead of relegating him to secondary character/ supporting character, it would really help to bring him into the mainstream. Blade has all the hallmarks of a great hero if given the chance. He is a half vampire with a drive to eradicate the species because of what they did to his mother. He fits in with the Avengers (powers-wise) and can hold his own against extremely powerful enemies like Lilith.

The mere fact that Blade hasn’t been included in more mainstream events is an issue. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that in a world saturated with white superheroes, he is one of the few prominent African American heroes. The first African American superhero we were given in mainstream media release, was Michael Jai White’s portrayal of Al Simmons “Spawn” in 1997. Blade was next with his first movie in 1998; then after the two subsequent Blade movies, it wasn’t until Hancock in 2008 we were given another African American hero. With the release of Black Panther last month, the world rallied behind the King of Wakanda and made it one of the best movie opening weekends of all time. There is definitely a call for more diverse heroes in mainstream culture and Blade would be a perfect example of a hero that already has an established career with doing well in media releases.

I know the release of the new Marvel Legends figures included the Defenders from the Netflix Marvel releases and… Blade! With Punisher season 2 beginning filming and Jessica Jones season 2 due out in a couple weeks, my fingers are crossed that maybe just maybe they’ll cross paths with the Daywalker himself.

Blade and Punisher

Most Underrated Heroes Vol. 6 – Azrael

This month for underrated hero, I decided to focus on a character that has been traditionally cast as the villain/ anti-hero for the Batman fans, Azrael.  Azrael has been around since the early 90’s and has been a player in several major arcs for the Dark Knight. Most famously, Azrael took up the mantle of the Bat after the events of Knightfall when Batman was healing from his broken back.

Azrael’s first appearance was in the 1992 comic arc titled Batman: Sword of Azrael. The original Azrael (Jean Paul Valley) was created by Denny O’Neil and Joe Quesada. Later on in his publication history, Jean Paul was removed as Azrael and the title was bestowed upon Michael Washington Lane. While Lane did hold the title it was only briefly before Valley reclaimed his proper position as Azrael.

Starting out as a villain, it wasn’t until his own series, which ran for a hundred issues from 1995 -2003, where Azrael transitioned from villain to hero.

 

HISTORY

Azrael is the assassin from the Sacred Order of Saint Dumas, a medieval religious order that splintered from the Knights Templar Order. The Order of Saint Dumas was founded by their leader and Templar Knight, Dumas, during the crusades. Ra’s al Ghul went on an “adventure” with Dumas and described his compatriot as a “vicious man and insane fanatic”.

Jean Paul Valley was not born, he was genetically engineered from DNA harvested from the previous Azrael, his “father”.  His DNA was then combined with several other members of the order that had held the title of Azrael. They then took that genetic mixture and added in some genetic information from certain animals; then he was grown in a tank until he was “born”. He grew up with his father Ludovic Valley, the former Azrael, and attended Gotham University in the computer science program, from which he graduated.  Throughout his life Jean Paul was subjected to deep psychological conditioning which ever so slightly oriented him towards the Order’s goals. When his father died, Jean Paul was activated by the Order and was called upon to take up the mantle of Azrael. It was after his father’s death that Jean Paul came to learn how he was created and who his father actually was.

During his first mission for the Order, Jean Paul was tasked with killing a rogue member of the Order who had killed his father, Ludovic, and was running a weapon smuggling ring. It was during this mission that Valley first crossed paths with Batman, the latter of which had been investigating Ludovic’s death. When the rogue member kidnaps Bruce Wayne, Azrael allies with Alfred to bring down the weapon smuggling ring. Azrael honed his detective skills and tracked the rogue Order member for a final showdown. When Batman is nearly killed in the final confrontation, Azrael risks his life to save him, showing Batman that Azrael was more than just a killing instrument. After the rogue member was brought to justice, Valley requested Batman’s help in breaking the conditioning instilled in him so he can make his own destiny.

Azrael 2

After this Bruce employs him as a security guard at the Wayne Tech headquarters; while Batman and Robin use him as an apprentice crimefighter and begin instructing him on detective work.  As I said before, his real pivotal inclusion comes during the events of Knightfall. When Bane breaks Batman’s back, Valley steps in with his own modified version of the Bat suit to take up Bruce’s war on crime. During his stint as the caped crusader Valley comes to believe that Bruce’s tactics are obsolete, and that to truly beat crime you have to fight on their level. He begins using increasingly brutal tactics and even begins to show little regard for innocent bystanders.

Going against Bruce’s orders he defeats Bane using an enhanced battle armour he built while still under the mental conditioning of the Order. As Bruce continues to heal,  Azrael becomes increasingly violent and brutal to the point of allowing criminals to fall to their deaths. He becomes angered at Robin (Tim Drake) nearly strangling him before banning him from the Bat-cave. He also seals the cave off from Both Wayne Manor and Drake Estate before openly bad mouthing Commissioner Gordon and the GCPD.

When Bruce hears of Valley’s tactics and exploits he resolves to take back the mantle and title of Batman. After a long and drawn out fight, which culminates in a final showdown in the Bat-cave, Bruce tricks Valley into taking off his armour. Once he has removed the armour, leaving his helmet on ( due to its enhanced night vision capabilities), Bruce blasts Azrael with direct sunlight. Realizing he has been beaten, he asks Bruce for forgiveness. Bruce declares that Valley is to leave the cave immediately. As Valley leaves, he declares Bruce Wayne as the one true Batman. Bruce keeps tabs on Valley over the following months because he saw the potential in him that Bruce saw in himself at a young age. He also recognized that he himself had a role in Valley’s descent into madness, which hits him with just a little bit of guilt.

Valley lives on the streets with the homeless population of Gotham for several weeks. During his time on the streets Valley befriends a man named Brian, an alcoholic disgraced psychiatrist. With Brian’s help, Jean Paul discovers the secret of the order and their true agenda. The pair also aid a young sister by the name of Lilhy to escape from the Order.

He redeems himself by saving several senators from being assassinated prior to No Man’s Land. After seeing his redemption, Batman sets him after notorious hitman Nicholas Scratch. While in pursuit of Scratch, he was unsuccessful in saving a Senator on Scratch’s hitlist. Scratch strangles the Senator minutes before Azrael arrived and framed Azrael for the murder. During No Man’s Land, Azrael assists Batman in maintaining order throughout the chaotic Gotham City. He is given a new suit designed by Batman and sets to work defending Dr. Leslie Thompkins’ clinic during the chaos of No Man’s Land.  He begins to have hallucinations of his father and St. Dumas himself, Azrael returns to his original costume before being target by supernatural “miracles”.

 

DEATH

In the final issue of his run, Azrael is seemingly killed off. While fighting Scratch and LeHah, Valley is shot by 2 specially coated bullets which allowed the bullets to penetrate his armour with ease. It’s never revealed what the bullets were coated with. While LeHah and Azrael fall into the river, Scratch is arrested for firing the shots that killed Azrael.

While his body was never recovered, there were snippets in various comics that lead readers to believe that Jean Paul Valley had survived his death.

Blackes Night Azrael

During the DC crossover event Blackest Night, Azrael is shown to be a member of the Black Lantern corps and fights along with the other zombified heroes. There was quite a bit of speculation saying that this could’ve been the previous Azrael, Ludovic Valley; however, the tabloid of Blackest Night listed Azrael as none other than Jean Paul Valley, confirming his death at the hands of Scratch.

 

RESURRECTION

While Valley was dead for several years, another was given the mantle of Azrael. He was recruited by a splinter sect of the Order of Saint Dumas called the Order of Purity. This individual was the ex-cop named Michael Washington Lane. Lane was subject to Dr. Hurt’s experiments during the Battle for the Cowl, and appeared as the “third ghost of Batman” in the event. Lane did not remain as Azrael for long, but he was one of the characters to don the identity in the Batman: Arkham game series.

In the New 52 Valley was resurrected during Batman & Robin: Eternal. He worked as an enforcer for the Order but was seen wielding a sword rather than his regular bladed gauntlets. Eventually he rebelled and assisted both Red Hood and Red Robin (Tim Drake) in taking down the Order.

In Rebirth, Valley appeared in detective comics as a supporting character for the first two volumes before become a full fledged member of the team in Vol. 3.

POWERS AND ABILITIES

Azrael is just a man, like many other of my underrated heroes. He is a man that was genetically modified and spliced with animal DNA to become the perfect weapon. He is trained to the peak of human conditioning & physicality and has bested Batman in combat.

Azrael is not a master of combat. He is an adequate fighter but his modified genetic code allows him for inhuman reflexes, metabolism,  speed and strength. As such, he has dueled Deathstroke to a draw, and bested Batman in hand to hand combat.

His suit is called the Suit of Sorrows, which contains an ancient extremely advanced AI which bonds with the wearer of the armour. It provides the perfect synchronicity between movement and thought. It also allows for the suit to predict the most likely action and shows the weakest points on his enemies.

He is shown to use retractable daggers in his gauntlets, and a couple different swords as his main weapons.

The Sword of Sin – When struck by the Sword of Sin, the victim is forced to remember every sin they’ve committed through their life which they must atone for.

The Sword of Salvation – When struck with the Sword of Salvation, the victim is forced to remember every past tragedy they have experienced through their life all at one time.

 

WHY HE’S UNDERRATED

Azrael is a human experiment that was meant to be a weapon. He was genetically designed and conditioned since his creation to be a weapon for the Secret Order of Saint Dumas, and he rebelled. He had a bit of a bumpy road but he was able to pull through with help from Batman and his friends. Mostly though, I think he is underrated because he was able to battle Deathstroke to a draw and beat Batman in hand to hand combat. He is relegated to being a side character and viewed as a broken mind by most of the main continuity heroes. The reason I like him so much is how close his condition resembles Moon Knight. Moon Knight suffers from MPD and Azrael is just a troubled mind, but they still are viewed the same by the superhero community in their respective universes. They are constantly being watched as though they are going to snap at any moment and cause a major problem for the community as a whole.

Azrael 3

Mostly the reason Azrael is underrated is because he is the poster child for redemption. Everyone loves a good redemption story, especially when it involves an assassin for a religious zealot organization rebelling and taking them down. There’s just something poetic about a religious sect getting dismantled by someone they tried to brainwash into service…

I really like Azrael in the Rebirth Detective Comics, I think he brings an interesting dynamic to the team and the conversations between him and Luke Fox are awesome. While Jean Paul still has his faith despite everything that they’ve done to him and he still believes in a higher power, Luke Fox is grounded in science and physics. Luke doesn’t understand how Jean Paul can still have faith after everything that was done to him and Jean Paul is working to show him that faith is not something that just disappears after challenges. He has a line that says his crucible is done and he has come out the other side better for it, and he will use this new life and power to help those in need.  I’m not one generally, for a  faith based character because on my own beliefs, but for some reason I can get behind Azrael and his motives and actions; and really… that’s what makes a character great. If you, as a reader, can get behind them and root for them despite that you might disagree with their beliefs, that means that character is written well.

I really want to see more Azrael in the future of DC comics and hopefully can get him on either the TV screen (properly), or the big screen! His brief inclusion in Season 2 of Gotham was just garbage.

This concludes my monthly post about underrated heroes, see you all next week!

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.

Daredevil-Marvel-Comics-Matt-Murdock-m

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.

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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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!