CBM Profile: DC Heroes

Posted: January 21, 2016 in CBM Profile, DC, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

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This profile is going to be a little different than others that have been posted. Instead of focusing on one character or team, I’m going to look at a few different DC heroes who have had a limited presence in expanded media. None of them have had enough of an impact to carry their own profile, so I’m combining. Enjoy!

RED TORNADO
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While the character has had a complicated backstory that has gone through multiple re-writes, his most well-known origin has endured quite well. An android created by an evil scientist to destroy the JSA/JLA, Red Tornado eventually rebelled and joined the heroes that he was initially set against. Perpetually a “team” hero, he hasn’t found much luck in ongoing titles centered on himself, despite an interesting “what does it mean to be human?” conflict at the core of the character. Very much in that same vein, RT has been a perpetual supporting or background character in expanded media.
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Even though his most memorable version was created in 1968, it took until 2004 for the character to show up in expanded media. He was a reserve League member in Justice League Unlimited and had a handful of memorable appearances. He was given sparse dialogue and his backstory was never addressed, but it was made clear that he was an android when, in “The Return”, he was destroyed by an enemy only to be rebuilt (offscreen) for future appearances. A short time after that, in 2008, Tornado was introduced as a supporting hero on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. This stands as his most high-profile appearance as he starred in a couple of episodes and was featured prominently in initial marketing for the series. Most recently, he showed up in the 2010 animated series, Young Justice. Tornado acts as the team’s “Den Mother” much like he did in the comic of the same title. However, his role was downplayed due to the presence of so many other DC heroes on the show. That said, this was the first series to significantly explore his backstory as well as his quest to be more human. Between the latter two appearances, he was featured in an unspeaking role as a reserve-JLA member in JL: Crisis on Two Earths, an animated film that was initially written as a bridge between the Justice League and JLU but was changed when produced.

In 2015, Red Tornado was adapted into live-action for the first time. In “Red Faced”, an episode of Supergirl, Iddo Goldberg portrayed both the robot and his creator, T.O. Morrow. The android had little personality but accurately recreated the character’s powers. In the end of the episode he was destroyed, which seems kind of wasteful given the potential for his story. But he’s been rebuilt before, so there’s always a possibility that he could be back in order to continue his journey to heroism.rts

FIRESTORM
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After being caught in a nuclear blast, Professor Martin Stein and student Ronnie Raymond are melded into a being with a ability to wield the power of the atom to almost limitless effect. The two men share a single body but their distinct personalities are still separate. Since Firestorm’s creation in 1978, he’s had many life-altering adventures. Firestorm’s had a third member join the two minds, became Earth’s “Fire Elemental” and eventually shook things up considerably when Ronnie was killed and a new host, Jason Rusch, succeeded him with Stein. His appearances have often mixed individual adventures with team books (like Extreme Justice) that  have allowed different sides of the character to shine through. That depth, along with his insanely cool design (that includes a plume of flaming hair) have been both assets and stumbling blocks when adapting the character.

fspIt didn’t take too long, comparatively, for Firestorm to make the jump to TV screens. He was one of the core members of the 1985 animated Super Powers series. Spun-out of the Super Friends cartoon and made to tie-in to the immensely popular toyline of the same name, the series gave lesser-known heroes some much-needed attention. Firestorm (along with Cyborg) was often used as an identifiable personality due to his young age. While this was the last of the Super Friends series’, it was arguably the best. Firestorm wasn’t seen again until 2008’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold. his origin was revised to include both Ronnie and Jason, and played up the huge differences in their personalities to comedic effect. Jason’s version of Firestorm also had a small role in the aforementioned Justice League movie, Crisis on Two Earths. His screen time was limited, but he was the only reserve member of the team to have any significant dialogue.

fsLikely due to the extensive special effects needed for the character, Firestorm has had only one live-action adaptation. In the first season of CW’s The Flash, Ronnie is believed killed in the same accident that gave the titular character his powers. However, it is eventually revealed that the incident fused his body with Martin Stein’s mind and the F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. Matrix which, in the story, is a secret Government weapon. Ronnie is played by Robbie Amell while Victor Garber portrays Stein. Jason Rusch made one appearance, early on, but was only tertiarily involved in the origin. The Flash‘s second season separated Ronnie from Stein and a surrogate, Jefferson Jackson (played by Franz Drameh), was found. While never having been merged in the comics, Jefferson had a background role in the character’s ongoing series in the 80’s. Both Stein and Jackson are featured team members in CW’s new spinoff series Legends of Tomorrow. The two are recruited by a time traveler to stop the immortal Vandal Savage from destroying the future. Now that DC has an aggressive film slate in production, hopefully some version of the Nuclear Man will eventually show up on the big screen.

KATANA

kaA skilled warrior from a young age, Tatsu Yamashiro is the wielder of the mystical Soultaker Sword. This blade captures the souls of those it kills and its user is able to communicate with them. After her husband was killed by the sword, Tatsu has used it to fight for justice. Created in 1983, Katana was often been linked to The Outsiders, a team that Batman lead in the 80’s. Since then, she’s found a small degree of success as a solo character (most recently in a solo series in DC’s revamped New 52). On top of that, she continues to be a perennial team member in books like the aforementioned Outsiders as well as Birds of Prey, a series about a (mostly) female group of heroes founded by Black Canary, Oracle, and Huntress.
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Katana’s first media appearance was in the form of a proxy. In Justice League‘s first season, a team of villains featured Tsukuri, a female martial artist that was heavily modeled on Katana. She was only prominently featured in one story but made some background appearances in later seasons. Katana’s first, true onscreen appearance was in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Introduced early in the series as a member of The Outsiders, she was a young hero with a tragic past. The team had two more appearances on the show, and she was always with them. Most recently, Tatsu has appeared in Beware the Batman, an animated series that explored Batman’s early career as a hero. She was portrayed as a CIA agent who has a past with the League of Assassins and is Alfred’s goddaughter. She’s brought into Bruce’s life and eventually works as his masked sidekick. This has easily been Katana’s highest profile appearance, making her a POV character and essentially replacing Robin as a valuable asset to Batman.

kiIn live-action, Tatsu Yamashiro was first played by Rila Fukushima on Arrow‘s third season. She was introduced in one of Oliver’s flashbacks. It’s revealed that he used to work with her husband and she had many appearances in that capacity. She is eventually introduced into the present day storyline and assists Team Arrow in infiltrating the League of Assassins. While her sword isn’t shown to have mystical properties, she’s no less deadly with it. This year, the character is being brought to life for a second time in the Suicide Squad film adaptation. Played by Karen Fukuhara, her design (like Arrow‘s) is highly reminiscent of the character’s New 52 redesign. There’s no word yet on exactly what her characterization will be, but she certainly looks badass.

MISTER TERRIFIC
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Michael Holt is one of DC’s few legacy characters to be markedly more popular than that which he’s based on. He took the mantle of Mr. Terrific from Terry Sloane, a member of the Justice Society and All-Star Squadron in the 1940’s. Sloane, and his obsession with “Fair Play”, was even more of a team hero than Red Tornado. He infrequently appeared in team books for decades before being killed off. Holt was introduced in 1997 as a modern hero inspired by Sloane’s past exploits after suffering a family tragedy. Unlike Sloane, Holt is much more of a science hero who is well known as being the “3rd smartest person in the world”. The idea being that he’s smart enough to know he’s not the smartest. His technology has served his superheroic persona well, with a mask made of a thin layer of nanites and floating T-Sphere accessories. Holt has also become more than just a standard JSA support player. He has appeared in many books including a self titled series and a stint as the leader of Checkmate.

jltSloane, the original Mr. Terrific, has only made two appearances outside the page, and never with a speaking role (in fact one of those was just a painting of him in an episode of Smallville). Holt, on the other hand, has had a bit more luck. His first appearance being in Justice League Unlimited. With the newly expanded League in place, Terrific filled Martian Manhunter’s vacant position as the team’s coordinator. He frequently manned the Watchtower and assigned resources. He also made two other animated appearances, minus the Mr. Terrific persona. In Beware the Batman, he is a kidnapped scientist who works with Batman to take down Professor Pyg and in the film Justice League: Gods and Monsters, he’s an ill-fated researcher that’s targeted for assassination.

chWhile Holt got name-dropped in Smallville (the same episode that introduced the JSA and featured the portrait of Sloane), he didn’t show up in-the-flesh until years later on Arrow. Played by Echo Kellum, Holt (renamed Curtis, instead of Michael) is a researcher for Ray Palmer’s company who eventually comes into the fold with Team Arrow and assists in their superheroics. So far, he’s been depicted as a tech-smart scientist who is still building up to his Mr. Terrific persona. The “Fair Play” jacket was seen in an episode (which I couldn’t find a picture of!) and a prototype version of his T-Spheres have popped up, but he’s still very much a work in progress. The character has become fairly popular due to the unique voice he brings to the show. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to make appearances in the CW’s DC Universe (there’s got to be a better name for that, and no I will no accept “Arrow-verse”).

So, those were some of DC’s lesser-known heroes who have jumped from the page to screen. What did you think of the new format? More fun to read about multiple characters? Better to stick to one? Let me know!

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