Saturday Morning Comics

Saturday Morning Underrated Comics– Flag Smasher

He’s the traumatized son of murdered diplomats, who, in a mirror-image Batman move, trained himself to physical perfection and became a super terrorist dedicated to eradicating all national boundaries. To anarchy.

He created a huge underground organization to help his cause –later usurped by the Red Skull– and survived multiple attempts by this group to assassinate him.

He captured Captain America.

He speaks a shitload of languages and is loaded with high technology. And look at those abs. Three, four percent body fat, tops.

The best part? During his first fight with Captain America, Flag Smasher gets thrown off a cliff, and cap says, impressed: “Made of stern stuff, that Flag Smasher. Didn’t even scream on the way down.”

My 6th grade eyeballs classified that as baaaaaaadaaaaaaaaaaaaassss.

Saturday Morning Underrated Comics– Shroud

Why is Shroud cool?

1) He was originally intended as a mix of Batman and The Shadow– a rich man who, after a ceremony by the Cult of Kali, is a master of “darkforce,” and can project it as he sees fit, see psychically through walls, and fly.

2) Martial arts master.

3) His real name is Maximillian Quincy Coleridge/ his creator clearly loved Romantic poets.

4) He’s an undercover superhero: his official identity is that of a criminal mastermind, and only a few other heroes know he’s actually a good guy, working to protect the public.

5) He’s blind: the darkforce ceremony blinded him, branding his face with a seared tatoo, which leads us to…

6) He effectively has no public identity, as his face is covered with a seared tatoo from the Cult of Kali, the freakin’ Hindu Death Goddess.

7) Look at that costume. Makes Batman look gaudy.

And finally:

His name is Shroud. Not The Shroud. 

Just Shroud.

Like Madonna. Or Cher.

Saturday Morning Underrated Comics– Paladin

[Happy Saturday morning! Here's another comics character I feel is underused.]

Today, Marvel comics’ Paladin.

He’s a mercenary who fights with both sides as necessary, and no one knows his background or knows his real name.

I love characters whose personal info. is unknown.

He’s a womanizer, in perfect physical shape, an expert marksman and martial artist, and is nearly always loyal to whomever pays him– even when it would be expedient to betray them: making him even more morally ambiguous and complex.

And he can make purple seem badass; anyone else would look like a walking plum.

And he can usually hold his own against superhumans. Cooooool.

Hallowe’en Underrated Comics: Gargoyle

Isaac Christians was an old man who made a deal with a demonic cult to preserve his Virginia hometown in the early 20th century.

He later earned the ire of the cult through his lack of bloodlust, and was cursed to remain in the body forever. He joined different combinations of super heroes over the years, to atone for what he held to be his multitude of sins.

He’s an elderly man trapped in the body of an immortal flying tank. He’s somewhat sedentary and bookish. He’s Larry David in living stone.

I somehow identify.

Hallowe’en Underrated Comics: Gabriel Rosetti, The Devil Hunter

His utterly tragic story:

Rosetti was a teacher at Columbia, coming home one evening to find his pregnant wife murdered– oddly in a room with all the doors and windows locked from the inside.

He takes solace in Holy Orders, joining the Priesthood from a semiconscious feeling that his wife had been possessed. During this, he is possessed himself by a demon who forces him to enucleate his right eye and burn his holy vestments.

Rosetti becomes a professional exorcist, but is constantly plagued by demons; he writes sham articles on the occult for tabloids, becoming a raging alcoholic and near-schizophrenic, tattooing holy sigils on his flesh to protect himself from his continual occult onslaught. (more…)

Hallowe’en Underrated Comics: Hellstorm

His name is actually Daimon Hellstrom.

He grew up in Massachusetts, relatively normally until:

His father was revealed to be Satan;

His mother onset psychosis and was sent to a mental institution;

His sister loved the idea of being daughter of the devil.

Hellstrom clung to his humanity and grew up in a Jesuit orphanage, never hearing from his birth family. He went on to become a professor of anthropology and occult investigator.

There have been many takes on Hellstorm, some comical and overstated, but many surprisingly subtle and terrifying. My favorite story arc started in issue #11 above, written by Warren Ellis. The plot involved Hellstrom finally being visited by his birth father and given a tour of hell in an attempt to woo him with power. A (eventually related) subplot involved a serial killer who was killing magicians (as in majik, not stage magic), skinning them, and wearing their skin as armor against occult forces. It also prominently featured demon hunter Gabriel Rosetti.

It was flat-out great; even if measured against horror novels, it stood its own. And it had such great lines in it– to this day I can remember Satan telling Hellstrom the following: (more…)

Hallowe’en Underrated Comics– Ghost

He’s an industrial saboteur with a pathological hatred of technology, no one knows his real name or, beyond rumors, anything about his background.

With an (ironic) high-tech suit he designed, he can walk through walls, become invisible, evade nearly all scanning devices, and reprogram computers just by touching them.

He’ll sabotage technological corporation for free, though he often hires himself out for other corporations for the same end.

He’s fucking scary looking: look at that thing.

Later in his career he becomes even more unhinged, eventually not even bathing.

To recap: unknown name or background, walks through walls and becomes invisible, hates (possibly psychotically) technology and is an occasional mercenary.

Scary and badass.

Saturday [Night] Underrated Comics– Jack O’Lantern

As with most comics characters, there have been several iterations of Jack O’Lantern; all are interesting, but my favorite is the first: a talented kid attending MIT drops out, joins the Marine Corp (seemingly strangely at first; it makes sense later) and during his tour is noticed by the CIA and recruited for overseas wetwork.

Proving himself boldly psychopathic* and sadistic, even the fucking CIA felt he went too far on missions, with “questionably necessary confrontational interrogation” (torture) and kicked him loose.

This narcissistic injury lead him to create (genius engineer, remember… MIT…) a suit of articulated kevlar, one able to withstand mortar fire; a helmet bulletproof, air-cooled (because of the stage flame around it) and containing enough surveillance software to monitor a small country; literally dozens of grenades with multiple functions, and a hovering disc to enable flight. (more…)

Saturday Morning Underrated Comics– Sin Eater

There were several incarnations of him, but to me the best is the first: Stanley Carter, a SHIELD agent-turned-NYPD detective (in and of itself pretty cool).

After a series of psychochemical experiments performed on him during his espionage days, he has a psychotic break (which eventually becomes a dissociative split) and goes on a murder spree, technically becoming what the FBI might term a mission-oriented serial killer, ridding the streets of “sinners” like corrupt judges and reporters.

The sin eater was so wicked that even the happy-go-lucky Spider Man eventually lost his shit and crippled Carter. I remember reading that scene when I was in middle school, and just lost it: I was, to use the overused term, shocked.