Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jonathan Lethem's Top-Five Depressed Superheroes

Taken from Lethem's hilarious and brilliant collection of essays The Ecstasy of Influence (Doubleday) and appearing in full on his own website

1) Black Bolt: Isn't allowed to speak. "His wings resemble accordions, the most harmless and charming of instruments (apart from the kazoo). He never learned sign language and it can be infuriating waiting for him to scribble a note. In restaurants it takes Black Bolt hours to decide on the simplest order. His dog is ugly."

2)The Vision: "obsessed with his traumatic past: An evil android created him for dark purposes. This sort of hurt can be difficult to overcome and other superheroes have steered a respectful birth around The Vision." His former wife Scarlet Witch has recently been linked in British tabloids with Liam Gallagher of Oasis.

3) Deadman. "Deadman's problem is worn on the sleeve of his name: he's dead. He handles it pretty gracefully, having been a circus acrobat in his former life. Deadman rarely bothers to dress as a civilian, since his secret identity is a corpse. In earlier days Deadman regarded himself as The Spectre's protégé. However, The Spectre never proposed Deadman for membership in the Justice League of America. Deadman doesn't know how to raise the subject with the Spectre, so he never calls him anymore.

4)Ragman: "Ragman is the poverty superhero, unable to afford a costume other than a big pile of rags. He never fights villains who can afford costumes at all. Instead he rescues starving kittens and breaks up three-card monte games. Ragman keeps himself in White Castle hamburgers by buying cartons of cigarettes and selling singles for a nickel apiece."

5)Omega's priorities were very unclear, and so he had the power to depress others, as well as himself. Omega's comic book was so punishingly dull that Marvel began to put The Hulk and Spiderman on the cover, and once, in a measure of striking desperation, Scrooge McDuck made a guest appearance.After ten issues the title was cancelled anyway. After cancellation, Marvel was contacted by attorneys from Omega's home planet, which turned out not to be destroyed at all. This resulted in the first recall of the entire run of a published comic book in the industry's history."

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