It’s Memorial Day in the US right now, and while that’s not something we have in the UK until November 11 and the nearest Sunday to it, it still seems like an opportune moment to reflect on the great warriors and soldiers that have gone on to protect innocent lives through alternate means. I think that having an ex-soldier don a costume and become a superhero adds a nice bit of depth and the potential for a rich backstory, especially when their military background is not that of a gleaming war hero, like Kate Kane (Batwoman). But let’s face it, everyone loves a good old war hero, someone that can say they’ve put their life on the line to protect their country and it’s citizens, soldiers are people that anyone in their right mind will have nothing but respect for. It, quite frankly, shouldn’t (and doesn’t as far as I’m concerned) matter if you support war, if you’re against the invasion of a particular country or questioning the reasons why a country is at war with another, the men and women that serve in armed forces are not the ones that make the decisions, they’re the ones that step up and risk their lives on a daily basis in service of us. That, to me, is as brave as it gets and they deserve every bit of love and respect you can give. Anyway, that’s not exactly why I’m here, although I felt it worth saying let’s get on with some comics talk!
5. Nethaniel Adam (Captain Atom)
The first of three Captains I’ll be looking at today, Captain Atom is the very epitome of loyalty to his country and superiors. A Captain in the US Air Force, Adam agreed to become a test subject for the military where he was seemingly disintegrated and soon reformed to become Captain Atom. His powers make him one of the powerhouses of the DC universe, arguably up there in the same sort of league as Superman. Once the military realised they had a genuine superhero of their own creation, who was still unwaveringly loyal to them, they sent him undercover to infiltrate the Justice League and spy on them.
What’s great about Captain Atom is that while he was more than happy to carry out his orders, go out and act like the big hero but constantly report back on the internal goings on of the JL, the constant exposure to the heroes of the League, their respect for him and the feelings he had when he was saving people from things only the league could handle led him to question his original mission. Internal and external conflict had been a staple of his series, unsure as to where his loyalties lay and even unsure where they should lie, especially once he’d been with the League long enough that many of them had become real, close friends to him. Regardless, he showed true courage and loyalty to go in for the experiment in the first place, seeing it as the ultimate way to serve his country and the hero inside of him won out when he put his powers to good use.
4. John Stewart (Green Lantern)
John Stewart is an ex-marine from the US Marine Corps, which is near enough as hardcore as it gets. You know he’s seen more than his fair share of violence and atrocities and I don’t think there is a single person that can go and do something like that and come away from it the same person. More importantly, though, you’ve got to be pretty fearless to take on a role like that, one that’ll have you in some seriously dangerous situations so it’s no surprise he was selected to join the illustrious Green Lantern Corps.
Having finished his duties with the Marine Corps, John moved on to a life of architecture which heavily influences his extremely intricate and detailed constructs. Everything has working, moving pieces which make watching his battles incredibly interesting. While John Stewart is not necessarily a Green Lantern I immediately jump to as a favourite, his war time heroics and dedication to protecting innocent lives cannot be questioned, and for that he earns a huge amount of respect.
3. Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel)
So this is a character that, up until recently, I knew very little about but have decided to get a little more educated on. Any character that can create such a positive buzz in so many ways is always going to be worthy of a look in, and while I’m still no where near as familiar with Captain Marvel as I’d like to be, I’m getting there slowly but surely and everything I’ve seen so far has been very cool.
Beginning her career in saving lives and being a hero, Carol Danvers was a Major in the United States Air Force she was exposed to an explosion and her genetic code was mixed with that of the current Captain Marvel, making her a Kree/human hybrid. This is where she took on the mantle of Ms. Marvel. It wouldn’t be until 2012 that Carol would take on the title “Captain Marvel” but thanks to her increased appearances over the past decade, I think it’s fair to say that Carol has become to Marvel what Wonder Woman is to DC, the lead female hero but one who is not so much defined by her gender as she is by her heroics. As it should be. Her status within the Marvel Universe is represented by her ever growing and extremely vocal and loyal fan base, a group I’m most likely going to be joining fully very soon.
2. Steve Rogers (Captain America)
The third and final Captain of the piece, Captain America is a pure, out and out war hero. His induction into the US Army during World War II thanks to the super soldier serum is where it all kicked off for Cap, he was created in 1941 to be the ultimate patriot fighting off the evil Nazis. He is a little different to the rest of the list in that all of our other heroes have been war heroes/veterans before becoming a superhero, whereas Cap was brought into both worlds simultaneously, being augmented with the serum to become the ultimate soldier and also becoming a symbol of hope for his fellow soldiers.
Once he’d been awakened from his icy nap, Cap stuck to his strong sense of loyalty to his country and held on to a very strong sense of morals. I know that he obviously doesn’t hold anything like the same level of power, but to me he is Marvel’s Superman with his patriotism, his strong sense of morality and a very pure ethical code. He has an incredible sense of honour and his concern always lies with the people. Another thing that brings him very in line with Supes is his unwillingness (in recent times anyway) to kill, there’s always got to be another way to save people from themselves and pull people off a dark path, alternatively he’d rather have people locked away than killed.
That’s not to say he hasn’t, he was trained as a soldier in a truly horrific war, fought against an enemy capable of unspeakable evil so killing as a necessity is not an alien concept to him. He is a true hero, not just an American hero, but one every single person in the world can look to and aspire to be. Not the whole super soldier, superhero thing, but his attitude, ethics and morality, he is a shining beacon of bravery and hope in an increasingly grim and depressed world.
1. Diana Prince (Wonder Woman
While not strictly a soldier, Diana was born into and brought up in an all female warrior society, so even from a young age she was a ridiculously skilled fighter both in hand to hand and with sword and shield. Hell, in her current New 52 series she is the god of war! You don’t get to a position like that by asking for it, she has had to prove her abilities time and time again and while she sometimes has a bit of a problem keeping her emotions and rage in check, Wonder Woman is well known as a very compassionate woman. She has great love in her and I think that helps keep her grounded when things start heating up.
Fiercly loyal to her friends and allies, but really not one to cross or piss off unless you’re stupid or suicidal. Even as a natural born warrior, she has proven herself a more than capable leader to her people, the Amazonians, and has been a key ambassador between Themyscira and the wider world, but particularly America. She’s also been shown to be a great mentor to both Donna Troy and Cassie Sandsmark, more than happy to pass on anything she can to help them become the heroes she knows they can be. Diana was always going to be my number one choice on this list, being a long time favourite character of mine and one of the most badass warriors in fiction. All hail the god of war!
And so that’s a wrap on another Top 5 list, thank you for stopping by. Not sure what else will be up this week, going to have to see how it goes as I have a fairly busy week at work with all late shifts until Friday but I’m hoping to get something out on Wednesday. No promises though.