If we were to limit ourselves to the New 52 range of DC comics we can get a glimpse of this breadth of character. At first glance they may all seem of the same ilk, but it does not take much further examination to see that this initial opinion is false.
Justice League International
The Savage Hawkman
DC Universe Presents
Batman: The Dark Knight
Batman and Robin
Birds of Prey
Red Hood and the Outlaws
Green Lantern Corps
Green Lantern: New Guardians
Hawk and Dove
Legion of Super-Heroes
Men of War
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E
Currently I have the first few issues of 26 titles from the 52 that make up this range, I ‘ll limit my comments to these few. So from the thousands of comics published each month by hundreds of publishers we have limited ourselves to one publisher and a mere 26 titles.
In this handful we have…
Wonder Woman, created in 1941 by William Moulton Marston. She first appeared in All Star Comics #8 (December 1941) and her legacy over the years have both led and echoed the women’s civil rights movement. Together Marston and his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston created a character that retold a classic Greek myth in an attempt to put a feminist twist on the male dominated comics of the day.
Batman, a character that really needs little introduction but regardless of this and hundreds of issues written over the years he remains a fresh and important character. Inspired by The Mask of Zorro (1920) and The Bat Whispers (1930) Bob Kane and Bill Finger quickly developed a modern take on the popularist character of The Phantom. Centring mainly on Batman’s detection skills the “dark knight detective” remains to this day a complex creation that perpetually examines the darker aspects of modern life, often with a realism that can be shocking to the uninitiated.
Catwoman, again created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger is easily one of the most complex supporting characters ever written. From her first appearance (back in the original Batman Issue 1) she was designed as an anti-hero, a character that could be both adversary and love interest to Batman. This in itself is an incredibly difficult achievement, but to manage this while keeping interest over the last seventy years (yes, Catwoman is a pensioner) clearly shows that there is more to Catwoman than meets the eye.
Superman, a year younger than Batman, first appeared in 1938 but he was created by Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster a few years earlier in 1932. Hundreds of articles have been written about this characters impact and sub-texts, a quick search of the internet will no doubt produce many, but one interesting lesser known fact is that Clark Kent was based on one of my own heroes; none other than Harold Lloyd.
Nightwing and Red Hood both began life as incarnations of Batman’s well known side-kick Robin. Dick Grayson was the first Robin (created 1940) who in his adolescence joins the Teen Titans and gains some independence from th3e Dark Knight. Later he dons the costume of Nightwing (named after a legendary Kryptonian costumed hero) and moves to neighbouring Blúdhaven. The Red Hood on the other hand has a far darker history. He was the second Robin, Jason Todd (created 1983) who in 1989 was murdered by The Joker in the infamous Death in the Family story arc. His death was to undergo a DC universe reprieve in 2005 when he returns for the first time under the guise of the Red Hood (one of The Jokers first guises) while he wages a war against both Gotham’s criminals as well as Batman, his old mentor.