Character Spotlight #4: Adam West’s Batman

A few days ago, we said goodbye to a legend. Adam West has played a lot of different characters on TV. The Mayor of Quahog from Family Guy, The Grey Ghost in Batman: The Animated Series and Catman from The Fairly OddParents, but he is most known for his role as Batman in the 1960s Batman series.

 

The show had its own unique charm and served the purpose of popularizing Batman again. With the ending of World War II, Superheroes were starting to lose popularity. Originally comics were made to be propaganda for the war, comics were the embodiment of war effort. So in the mid-1950s, DC introduced Barry Allen, and Hal Jordan (in 1956, and 1959 respectively). These characters attempted to issue in a new age of comics, The Silver Age. During the Silver Age, since comics were starting to be marketed towards children, censorship was starting to be looked at. The rise of the Comics Code Authority meant that certain ideas and actions got either restricted or eliminated. Among them, was the fact that Joker and Batman should be toned down from their brutality.

 

The 60s also was when the TV started getting introduced to families. Most families started getting home televisions in their houses, and as such, DC started turning towards television. They started airing syndicated TV shows, and the 1960s Batman show was an immediate success with 3 seasons and a tie in movie.

 

Adam West is getting this tribute/spotlight as Batman because to me, he was one of the most iconic men to ever don the cowl whether it be live action or animated. Unlike most of the later Batmen, Adam’s Batman was full of smiles and jokes as he rid Gotham City of Crime. The writing on the show can be dated at times, but it’s not bad. Adam West’s Batman even inspired the creation of the Batman ‘66 comic series, which is one of the best Batman comic lines. Adam West is Batman. In the comics, Batman has mentioned that the idea of Batman must continue to live, even after he dies. The idea and legend of Batman have spread over the years through various actors and voice actors. Rest In Peace Adam West, and thank you for being Batman. 

Character Spotlight #1: Harley Quinn

Character Spotlights are going to be a way for lesser known characters to be shown the attention that they deserve, to bring proper attention to well known characters, try to edit misconceptions on characters, etc. All of these character spotlights will contain characters from a variety of different mediums, and not all be written by me alone.

The first Spotlight is going to go to Dr. Harleen Quinzel or as most people know her as, Harley Quinn.

Brief History:

Harley Quinn first appeared in Batman: The Animated Series in the episode “Joker’s Favor.” She was meant to be a one time character, but proved so popular, she wound up being included in the mainstream comics.

Harleen Quinzel was an intern at Arkham Asylum, and eventually wound up analyzing the Joker as a patient. Upon analyzing him, he seduces her and she falls in love with him. He gives her these crappy childhood memories that are most likely false, and gains her trust and sympathy. After helping him break out of Arkham Asylum, she does wind up getting arrested and placed in an Arkham cell. Eventually she gets out and dons the Harley Quinn identity, which surprisingly remained a secret identity. At one point during her team ups with the Joker, he pushes her into a vat of acid so she could be more like him (and not because he loves her, just because he’s twisted). He fully expected her to die, and was surprised that she survived. After Joker got captured, she went on a murder spree until she got forcefully inducted into the Suicide Squad. After “Death of the Family” she actually moved to Coney Island and has started an attempt to be more heroic, (anti-heroic really).

Why is she getting a Spotlight?:

With the release of Suicide Squad, a DISTURBING number of people have turned to social media with the idea that Joker and Harley Quinn are “relationship goals” which is nowhere near true. Joker routinely abuses, berates and sets Harley up to die repeatedly. The most stable relationship Harley actually has is with Poison Ivy, and it’s practically the only positive relationship she has. Harley has been mentally, emotionally and physically scarred, and yes, while this is fiction, it comes from a very real place. Abusive relationships are real, and they are frightening to even think about, let alone be the victim in. It doesn’t help when people either make light of it or go as far as to blame the victim for not leaving. Harley actually demonstrates why the victim cannot leave. She’s made to think she’s nothing without her “puddin” (her words, not mine) and every time she tries to leave him to better herself, he finds her and manipulates her into thinking it’ll never happen again. Luckily she has finally moved on from the Joker, and her stories currently are about developing her as a character away from Joker, and Batman by extension. Harley Quinn is definitely an important character to have in the comic book world, and if more people read her stories and saw the movies and television shows she was in that didn’t romanticize her abusive relationship, they would see the depth that her character has.

Now I’m not going to tell you to watch and read stuff and leave you in the dark, so here are some stories that can give people insight into her as a character:

  • Batman: Assault on Arkham (Animated Movie)
  • Batman: Mad Love (Comic based on the B:TAS episode of the same name)
  • Batman: Harley Quinn
  • Batman: Harley and Ivy
  • Harley Quinn (2013 comic series written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti)
  • Suicide Squad (2011 comic series written by Adam Glass)
  • DC Bombshells

CS Top Tens First Edition: Ten Black Characters in Media Who Have Left a Lasting Impression on Us

Hey everyone, welcome to the first Character Spotlight Top Ten list. In honor of Black History Month ending today, we decided to highlight some of the most impactful Black characters we have seen. This isn’t a traditional top ten list per se, as this list was put together by a committee, and thus it isn’t a list saying that number ten isn’t as impactful as number one. Every character on this list has impacted at least one person, and these are characters quite a few of use love. This list will be hitting characters from a variety of different sources so this will be a pretty diverse list. Lastly, I would like to say that this list, along with any future top tens from Character Spotlights will possibly include characters who have gotten spotlights, and definitely will include characters who haven’t as of yet. Without further ado, let’s start our list:

#10. Morpheus (The Matrix)

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Morpheus is the captain of a hovercraft crew in The Matrix. He’s a strong leader and rallies support from a loyal crew. While Neo is the star of the movie franchise, without Morpheus, Neo wouldn’t have been able to do as much as he did.

#9. Cyborg (Teen Titans)

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Teen Titans was a beautiful show. It had a lot of things that should be done everywhere, such as a great balance between humor and drama, strong characters, and very interesting character dynamics. Cyborg is one of the strongest characters in the show, going from the practical joker we see in the beginning to someone capable of leading teams and being his own man.

#8. Steve Urkel (Family Matters)

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Steve Urkel is the smartest yet most accident prone kid you’ll ever meet in the Family Matters universe. With his “Did I do that?” catchphrase, he made various people groan in frustration with his antics, but he is still shown to be an interesting character.

#7. Gwendolyn (Saga)

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Gwendolyn is a Wreath Warrior. She was engaged to Marko, right before he left for war. She’s very good in a fight and has the ability to speak in any language. She’s strong, caring and actually has character flaws that aren’t glossed over like quite a few characters in comic books.

#6. Michonne (The Walking Dead)

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Armed with a Katana, Michonne does not play games. She becomes a core member of Rick Grimes’ group and proves to be one of their best people. Having to deal with a background of sexual assault also adds a layer to her, for it isn’t just used as something to push a plot, but it does become part of her backstory, in the comics.

#5. War Machine (Marvel Comics) and Storm (Marvel Comics)

War Machine, a.k.a. James “Rhodey” Rhodes was the partner of Iron Man. He was also Tony Stark’s best friend, and while they had ideological differences, they always had each other’s back. War Machine was necessary for Iron Man because he showed that Iron Man can’t do it all alone.

Storm, a.k.a. Ororo Munroe is one of the most popular members of the X-Men. She’s also one of the most powerful, being able to control the weather. Storm actually has led the X-Men too and has led them quite effectively.

#4. John Stewart (DC Comics)

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John Stewart was made popular by the DCAU show Justice League. He is an ex-marine in the show and his tactical training has helped him out a lot in his adventures. In the comics, he’s an architect and because of that, his constructs are the most powerful. If you ask the average person who their favorite Green Lantern is, chances are, they’re either going to say Hal Jordan or John Stewart. John Stewart also refuses to wear a mask, and in his first appearance actually stated: “This black man lets it all hang out!” (Green Lantern v2 #87)

#3. Miles Morales (Spider-Man

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Miles is an example of a legacy character done right. While he is similar to Peter Parker on some levels, he is also his own unique character. Miles showed us that Spider-Man really can be anyone. Spider-Man is actually one of, if not the most popular selling superhero, and for a young black child to be the new face of him, it lets kids everywhere know their dreams can still become and race is not a barrier.

#2. Static Shock (DC Comics)

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I already did a spotlight on Static Shock, which explains in greater detail more about him and why he is so well received. The TL;DR version is that Static is one of those characters that was designed to show the hardships of a minority and of a superhero. Static is always going to be one of the most important characters out there.

#1. Black Panther (Marvel Comics)

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The Black Panther is definitely an impactful character. He is a king of a country, which not many forms of media had shown before his debut, and not only does he say he’s a king, he’s shown it. He’s earned his title of king, and probably is one of the most proactive kings to exist in fiction (and probably in the real world too). What he gives black kids is the thought that anyone is capable of being a king or a queen, race isn’t the factor to it, it’s your ability to lead.

Character Spotlight #3: Static Shock

Static Shock is definitely one of my favorite superheroes and was a big part of my childhood. It was a big part of anyone’s childhood if they grew up watching the DCAU shows. Then I discovered his comic series, and how different it was from the TV show, and I loved it.

Brief History:

Static’s comic series started in 1993, under Milestone Comics’ first wave of publications. For those of you who don’t know, Milestone comics is an independently owned company within DC Comics, who focuses on minority heroes. It was founded by a group of black writers and artists, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, Derek T Dingle and the late and great Dwayne McDuffie.

In both the comics and the animated series, Virgil’s origin is virtually the same. Virgil Hawkins was a young black male who was incredibly smart and was picked on. After some beef with a bully and gang member, he decides to show up at the showdown of the gangs. The police interrupt and throw tear gas, which mixes with other chemicals, resulting in the “Big Bang” where gang members either died or gained superpowers. Calling himself Static, he uses his newly found electromagnetic powers to become a hero. Both the comics and the show illustrate how Virgil initially struggles with his dual life but ultimately finds his place. After a while, Static was inducted into the DC proper and was kidnapped by Darkseid. He was subjected to the anti-life equation and entered in metahuman deathmatches in the Dark Side Club. Eventually, he gets out with the help of Rose Wilson and joins the Teen Titans. In the new 52 however, Virgil was only shown sporadically, having a series that got canceled after 8 issues, and from there, only having cameos in the Teen Titans book as an S.T.A.R. Labs technician. He was revealed to be the person designed Red Robin’s cape and wing system and also designed a suit to stabilize Kid Flash (Bart Allen) after his molecules got destabilized.

Why is he being discussed:

Static Shock, the animated series, left a huge impression on me growing up. I used to be up every Saturday morning waiting for the show to come on, and then I’d sit there and watch his show and just feel like maybe one day, I could be a hero.As a kid, I always saw black people in a supporting role, not as the hero of the story. Static was a milestone, not just for a black kid, but for kids everywhere. The episodes tackled some very important themes and handled them with grace, such as peer pressure, bullying, and the loss of a loved one.

Virgil himself deserves the spotlight because he showed it’s perfectly fine to not have to conform to society’s idea of the “ghetto black male.” He showed that it’s perfectly fine to be interested in academics, or interested in comic books. He’s been dealing with the death of his mother, and instead of lashing out at the world, or never getting over it, he decided to use that loss to push himself. He does things so his mother can look down on what he’s doing and be proud, and for that, it gives him a strong sense of morals.

Considering Virgil has only been around for 24 years, and has spent a lot of his time in a non-existing limbo (after DC started using Milestone characters), he’s very fleshed out as a person.

Now I’m not gonna hit you with nostalgia for Static and not provide you with an outlet for it. Here are some comics and TV shows you should check out if you really want to see more Static:

 

  • Static (The original 45 issue series from 1993)
  • Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool (2001 mini series)
  • Static Shock (The animated series)
  • Terror Titans (Issue 4 marks Virgil’s first appearance in the DCU proper)
  • Teen Titans Vol 3 (starting from issue 68 is Virgil’s induction into the Titans)
  • Heroes (1996 miniseries that showed various Milestone Comics properties together)
  • Static Shock (the 8 issue New 52 run)
  • Young Justice: Invasion (Static appears towards the end)

Character Spotlight #2: Falcon

Welcome readers, to the second installment of Character Spotlights. This is the first spotlight where I tackle a character with a huge amount of backstory so the brief history is very brief and glossed over. So without further ado, I present Sam Wilson, The Falcon.

Brief History:

Sam Wilson as a teenager, dealt with the death of both of his parents and extreme encounters with racism which led him to leave his life as a respected community volunteer. He moved from Harlem to Los Angeles, under the new persona “Snap” Wilson, who’s a gang member and a criminal. During one of his scores, his plane crashed on an island, where he met a falcon named Redwing and encountered Red Skull, the nazi supervillain. Red Skull uses the Cosmic Cube to warp reality and to give Sam Wilson the ability to mentally bond with Redwing and rewrote Snap out of existence. He meets Captain America, who convinces him to don a costume and inspire the natives of the island. He becomes the Falcon. He gets recruited to be the token black member of the Avengers (I can’t even make this up) by Henry Peter Gyrich, the liaison for superhero teams. Falcon obviously resents that and quits ASAP. Currently, Falcon is now Captain America (or as I refer to him, Captain Falcon), after Steve Rogers is aged into an old man.

Why is he being discussed?

For starters, Falcon is the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics, and that deserves a bit of warrant, especially since this is Black History Month. A lot of his character history has been closely associated with Captain America, as his first appearance was in one of Cap’s comics, they team up almost as frequently as Batman and Superman, and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he’s basically Captain America’s yes man. That last reason was the reason I decided to write this piece. In the comics, he’s had a complicated past, and that past shaped him in the present. Also, even though he’s associated with Captain America, he did have his own personality and his own views. In the movies, we’re not given much about him, other than he will agree with everything that Cap says and that he’ll argue with Bucky over anything.

Now I’m not going to bash the MCU’s treatment of Falcon and not provide better sources for you to get your Falcon Fix. So here are some comics and TV shows where Falcon is a central character:

  • Captain America #115-119 (This 1969 comic run  marked Sam’s first appearance in the comics)
  • Avengers #57-70 (The 2003 series written by Geoff Johns)
  • Captain America and The Falcon (there are the 1970s and the 2004 comic series)
  • All-New Captain America (Where Sam takes over the mantle of Captain America)
  • Falcon #1-4 (A four issue miniseries)
  • Avengers Assemble (An animated series that depicts Falcon as a 17-year-old that Tony Stark wanted to bring to his team)