Heroes loved…yet never known

We all have the books and characters that we have somehow always known, somehow always followed–even tangentially, glancing through the trades at the Barnes and Noble, muttering, "When did that happen?"  But there's the opposite characters, too, you know? Those characters that you've always heard about, even read a few times, but never really were able to take in from the cold winds of ignorance and into the warm embrace of familiarity. 

It is not about not liking the characters, or even willingly avoiding the books–there are just some stories and characters that I just always felt like I was just missing, like they just left the party a few minutes before I came and people are still chuckling at a joke he or she made.  Or when someone mentions what happened to so and so and turns to me and says, "You were there, right? Wasn't that awesome?" And I just have to smile and go, "Yeah, I…yeah, I think I was busy that night, but I heard about it, sounds totally cool," and just nod and smile while they continue about whomever's whateverness.

One of the characters I have always liked–from afar–starting from when I was a kid when I had one of those old-school DC Digest Books (Top 12 stories, what was it?–nope–DC's Special Blue Ribbon 18 – The House of Mystery), is Deadman.  Boston Brand, acrobat who died and then somehow…like..what was it again?  Anyway, I know he was an acrobat and there was some kind of murder to avenge? Was that it?  The Phantom Stranger gave him the ability to inhabit living people…see? I just really don't know anything about the character, but I really like him.  He played a pivotal role in Blackest Night: Batman and I was just so pleased to see him kicking ass and taking names again.  I mean, this guy is just rad. I think he had a standalone book for awhile but I remember glancing through it and thinking, "Not sure about the art–maybe I will get the trade…" and wham! Nothing. But he's a great "go-to" character, it seems–he pops up in all kinds of books–and I just love that a few heroes know about him, but no one..I mean, you don't hang out with him, you know?  And what a name.  He's a dead man–Deadman!  A man–once living, now dead!  He doesn't cause death–he's…well, you get the idea.

The second character that came to mind was the always-awesome-but-I-am-still-not-sure-why is Adam Strange. I love Adam Strange. Seriously, what a pimp.  One of the best parts of the whole 52 thing was hanging out with Adam Strange–but he wasn't really all up in his zone Adam Strange, so I don't really count it. Paul Pope did a great Paul Pope version of Adam Strange–and I loved that, I really did, but…like, when I think about it, I don't even know what books represent the ultimate expression of the Adam Strange character.  No idea. I just love the hat, the gun, the whole family on R'ann with occasional forays back to the Earth…and how he seems to be respected, not unlike Deadman, by his friends back at home.  Like Deadman, he pops up from time to time–most recently in Superman: World of New Krypton, which was one of the better issues in my arrogant opinion–and it's always a nice little surprise. I remember that Andy Diggle did a series of Adam Strange and I really remember liking it–but I think it actually stopped abruptly to make way for Final Crisis.  (I will have to do some research on that.)  It is strange–it might just be the old school sci-fi look that he has, the Flash Gordon-retro look that he has, that is the reason why I am so fond of him, because, honestly, I don't really know much about him.  I just like the character, but other than a few books here and there, I don't really…I got nothin' folks. Just respect. Tru' dat.

Those were my top two, and, for awhile I thought what was going to be it, but then wham! It hit me. There was a character that would show up–often never speaking, just in the backgrounds of panels of a variety of books–that just…wow, I was like, "Who is that? – What is going on–like what is going on?  What's that dude's story?"

(Not all at once, but, you know, cumatively)

Anyway, the dude is Wildfire. Like, as far as I can tell, he's just a ton of energy somehow molded in the shape of a guy, who is trapped inside his suit, who talks.
Amazing. Seriously–that's crazy. Anyway, I know nothing about this guy. I did a search just to make sure I had the name right, and there was some picture of some dude who might have been Wildfire before he got into some crazy accident? I didn't even read it. Mostly because it's late and I want to get this piece done, but also because I want to read the issues, someday, that tell his story. I just trip on that guy, his situation, but when I was a kid, it was all about his costume. Good costume.  He was like Cobra Commander–never took his mask off. Big deal when you are a kid and the last time some guy took his mask off it turned out to be Luke's dad. You tend to respect the guys who keep it on. As I get older, I just straight up sympathize. The most recent issue of Adventure Comics had a nice little story featuring him and I felt really badly. He obviously had the hots for the girl with the wings but, like–no way was that going to happen. Of all the heroes that I'll mention, I know the least about him–but dammit, I respect him.  And I like how Gary Frank drew him, too. Nice.

But seriously–he's a bunch energy, right? He concentrating on looking like a muscular dude?

I want someone to do a Wildfire origin story, and by someone, I mean Geoff Johns. Is that too much to ask? (It is, isn't it?)

Last one. It's gotta be Warlord. What is the deal with that guy? (Jeez, I sound like Seinfeld.) No idea, but I like it. He's got a ridiculous outfit, a beard, and he hits thing with an axe. I used to read Warlord as a kid, and much of me wants to think he is some pilot who crashed or got transported to some beasty planet…but that's all I got. I was really stoked when I saw Warlord on the shelves, but the art was so bad (I am sorry to say–it's just my opinion but it was distracting enough for me to stop reading after issue #1), I couldn't deal with it. Given his situation in this land and everything, we don't get to hang out with him as much (where's my Blackest Night: Warlord one shot?), I still was excited when I thought I saw him, really tiny, in Final Crisis.  As far as I know he's stuck there, doing his thing with the jungle and the beasts, and you know what? Right on. How lame would it be if he showed up in Gotham sometime? Stupid. Keep him in that land. With the trees and the ladies that seem to only show up on the covers.

So these are the heroes that come to mind. Heroes that I know are cool, that I assume everyone knows about and has been a fan of forever, but nevertheless, I know jack about but still like. How about you? Surely..surely there are a few!

Mike Romo is an actor in LA and felt the need to apologize for the article being so short but then realized that maybe you guys needed a bit of a break. He's got two auditions tomorrow and is going to go to bed. You can email him here or twitter's afire here.


  1. I highly recommend the Deadman collection. Great art by Neal Adams and crazy stuff mystic stuff going on.

  2. If you have any interest at all is Adam Strange, deninitely pick up the "Planet Heist" maxi-series written by Andy Diggle, with some freakin’ amazing art by Pasqual Ferry. This is probably one of my favorite all-time stories, even though Diggle has admitted that he had to alter the ending a bit to lead into Infinite Crisis.

    Everyone who loved Strange in 52 and whatnot, do yourself a favor and pick this up!

  3. THey just released SHOWCASE PRESENTS: WARLORD a month or two ago. It’s the first 16 or so issues of the classic Grell series.  And I second Casey Justice, Planet Heist is quite good. Even if the storyline makes a random change of story-style after issue 2. 

  4. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    The Warlord Showcase is pretty badass. 

  5. I have a definite answer: Nate Grey, aka X-Man. I mean, his powers make him more than bad ass, they make him GOD! Though the X-Offices never really ran with this character, and so there doesn’t seem to be too many worthwhile stories featuring him. I just recently got the first 4 issues of Warren Ellis’ run, and it seems pretty good, which makes me upset that it was cancelled rather quickly after he took over the title. Regrdless, I’m glad Nate is showing up in Dark X-Men, as something can finally be done with a character sounding this cool on paper

  6. Plastic Man.  I love the niche he fills, but know next to nothing about him.  How did he become "plastic"?  Metamorpho works, too.

  7. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    For me, I think it’s Mister Miracle. Love the concept and look of the character but I really haven’t read a whole lot about him. Same probably goes for The Demon and The Question. 

  8. For me it’s Jason Blood/Etrigan The Demon.  I was first introduced to the character in an episode of the Batman cartoon that aired on the WB back in the late 90’s.  I always thought the idea of 2 separate entities sharing a body was a cool idea, but I haven’t taken the time to read anything involving the character other than when he appeared in Kevin Smith’s Green Arrow run.

    And anything New Gods related. 

  9. I’m not reading Warlord, but I did notice that Grell is now writing and penciling the book, so it may be worth a second look. Not sure which issue he started doing that, but it’s true.

    As somebody that doesn’t read X-Men, I’ve always really liked Kitty Pryde, but know absolutely zero about her. I think I will probably have to pick up Astonishing X-Men just to find out. Also, I love Donna Troy, but know nothing about her either. I love her starry costume, and she seems like a strong character. I guess she’s kinda pretty too.

  10. I agree about deadman, in the right hands I always thought he could have a good ongoing series. Another guy that I love, and is around more so than deadman, is wildcat. I’ve always liked Wildcat since he’s sort of a blue collar batman. and although he’s around monthly in JSA very rarely does he diverge from being a background character. 

  11. Deadman and Adam Strange has gotten a lot of exposure in the past year. Maybe this is a Reniassance for the fans? lol

    When is B’wana Beast going to get an upgrade? That’s what I wanna know.

  12. There’s a great Adam Strange arc in Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing…now if I could only remember which issues.  I think it’s toward the end of the run either during or before Swamp Thing going into space.


  13. For Marvel, my favorite "unknown" character is X-Man. I’ve read the 4 Age of Apocalypse issues with him and the first one back in the 616, but other than that I’ve only seen token appearances. I think he’s cool, I love his costume design and I had his action figure which had a cool "Power Signature" shaped base that allowed him to "hover" off the ground. What’s funny is that my "discovered" my favorite X-Men character, Havok, in much the same way. I had his action figure (where he was randomly top heavy) and then went and found comics with him. Granted, I own most of the Havok stories nowadays. Maybe X-Man will be my next Con quarter-bin series.

    For DC, my favorite "Unknown" is hard to pinpoint. I feel as if I know alot about characters even if I don’t read them regularly. I started reading the JSA after the Our Worlds At War: One Shot. The enticement of a team made up of characters I had literally no idea existed was pretty cool. (I think the issue starts with a splash page of the team and then the next page has 32 headshots w/ names telling you who they all are.) But the character I get most excited about seeing despite having read barely anything with him in it is The Shade. I’ve only read the first few issues of STARMAN (I’ve read the same 7 issues in issue form, softcover trade and omnibus and have never advanced beyond it.) He’s made a few appearances in JSA but other than I just like the idea of the amoral "bad guy" that’s also a "good guy." 

  14. @paul – dammit Paul, you picked the same three I was gonna. Read my mind.

  15. I’m with @comicBookchris. I read the two main X-men books during AOA and was vaguely aware of Nate. He guest starred in Spider-Man right after AOA ended and he was so cool. He helped peter defeat an amped up Electro.

    Another one for me would have to be Man-Thing. I don’t know jack about him but I know some interesting turns are ahead.

     On the DC side of things is Dr. Fate. I know nothing about him but I know that if he pops up shit just got real.

  16. A few of my favorite characters have gotten bigger roles recently. Specifically Lockheed (Kitty Pryde’s pet dragon) and Rocket Racoon. Drax definitely got an upgrade over the past couple of years too. I would like to see a revival of Captain Ultra, who I only remember from Marvel Comics Presents #50. He was… awesome!

  17. For me, it’s the Demon, Etrigan.  Against all logic, I love that character.

  18. Totally with Mike on Deadman.

    I remember a cover of… an old Spectre series from the 80’s. I think it was about the time of the Millenium event. So, late 80’s? There was a cover that had Madame Xanadu, Phantom Stranger, Dr. Fate, Deadman…the Demon may have been in there, too.

    I always felt like those were some of the oddest and most intriguing characters, that often never had a great "run" of their own.

    That said: Dr. Fate got a pretty strong run by DeMatteis shortly thereafter. The Spectre got a good run by John Ostrander. Madame Xanadu is currently getting a strong run by Matt Wagner. The Demon had a great run by Garth Ennis.

    Deadman, however, is still one that could use a really great modern run. I think he’s a really tough character to write. But, yeah. I’d dig seeing new series for any of those characters, but I’d really love to see a great take on Deadman.

  19. I must concur on Mister Miracle, Etrigan and Dr. Fate. I remember reading a Wizard article years ago with a list of characters they wished would get series, and Miracle was up front. Cast him in a Jack Baur kind of roll, dropping him into impossible situations knowing he’ll find a way out, and he could be awesome.

    Star-Lord is one for me on the Marvel side. Love the character in Guardians, but know zilch about him. Same with Adam Warlock. Does any man still live that knows his deal?

  20. For me, it’s the Creeper. Don’t know why, but it might have to do with the origin episode I watched in the Batman: Animated Series.  It was a really strong episode.

  21. So, I’m thinking that DC needs a new team book that features Mister miracle, Doctor Fate, Deadman, and Etrigan.

    Weirdest Justice League incarnation ever. But I’d totally read it.

    Also: I would probably kill someone in order to write it.

  22. @daccampo: Other then Miracle, I would go read that team. I don’t see Miracle in there because there doesn’t seem to be a connection with the other characters. You can argue Deadman is sorta involved with magic so he can fit with Fate/Etrigan.

  23. LOL, that’s why I’d want it. Too many magic characters would be too… pat. I want something strange and wild.

    Also: I’d allow Creeper on there to appease Neb. 

    OK, thread-drift. That’d be my awesome team. Now, back to offbeat heroes that need more exposure.  



  24. Seriously where is B’wana Beast Rebirth?

    Next to Aquaman I want Geoff Johns to make that character relevent again.


    ……Okay maybe not.

  25. "Planet Heist" with Adam Stange was great!  A friend lent it to me, and I knew next to nothing about the character.  As Casey Justice said, that art by Pasqual Ferry is spectacular.

    I really like Lockhead when he shows up in stories.  All of the Legionnaires are like that for me, too.  I don’t know who even 5% of them are, but there’s something about them with all their random powers that I like.  Their 1950’s, "Leave It to Beaver"-type world view is fun from time to time.

  26. Dr. Fate and Bishop (before he lost and arm and got mean)

  27. Like a few others here, I love Etrigan the Demon. I mean Ive read very few comics with him in them, and some of them were just Batman comics where he guest appeared but for some reason I always thought he was badass. He’s really one of those characters that I think deserves a top talent writer like JMS or Geoff Johns to just cut loose with the character in an ongoing.

    Also, Wildcat. He looks so ridiculous but for some reason hes just cool. I never read JSA and my first exposure to the character was in an issue with Catwoman where it was revealed that he had apparently been her mentor, and apparently Batmans as well and just for that he all of a sudden became the coolest kid in school. Also, age hasnt slowed him down.

  28. I always loved Sunfire, Gladiator, and Skullfire from X-Men 2099.

  29. Oh and don’t let me forget Deathlok… the Michael Collins version.

  30. You can read some Collins Deathlok in the Beyond Mini. Its in trade now with some lovey Scott Kolins art. I miss him on Marvel Books.


    I have to say I have the above feelings about the whole DC universe. I am trying to get into it and think some of the characters and settings sound really interesting, but its so complicated I dont know what is going on half the time. I would like to know more about the Hawk people particularly, I was gutted when they were killed in Blackest Night but I dont know why!

    In marvel I always wanted to get more Cecilia Reyes, her character seemed nicely conflicted and I saw her use her powers really well in a X-men/F4 one shot. She got written out so quickly though. 

  31. Lots of X-men fans here….Nate Grey was cool for about 5 seconds.  Then he became as lame as Maggot. Remember Maggot???


    Detective Chimp is one of the greatest characters in history of comics.  I think just about anyone in the JSA in the last 3 years are great characters that the general public is unaware of.  

  32. Son of Satan!!! <—pops the Lord of Darkness but he’s a "good" guy  wit evil powers ?

    I always have seen him drawn kinda badass with a Trident!!!

  33. Great discussion guys–I am totally, TOTALLY with you on Metamorpho and Etrigan–I remember seeing him when I was a kid…no idea what he was about but still, he just looked rad. Metamorpho just goes beyond me..especially after the Wednesday Comics version–just seems crazy to me.

     I know nothing about Marvel Man but I am curious to see what happens with him..

    (And Detective Chimp–yes, right on…)