It’s been many nights since Open Mic Night happened at the Lair, and the place is packed. A distinguished looking gentleman, sporting a name tag that reads “@WilliamPall,” steps up the mic and pulls out a note…
“I’m sure you’ve heard of the Significant Seven, right? The seven most influential, or otherwise significant comic book superheroes . . .Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Spiderman, & Plastic Man. Well, ya see, that list came out in ’89. My question is, do you think that list is still accurate, 21 years later? Do you agree with those seven? Who is your Significant Seven?”
Wayne leans in towards the audience, “I think that list is most definitely out of date. Plastic Man and Captain Marvel have no place on it at all. As much as I am enjoying the current run on Wonder Woman I don’t really see her as a significant character anymore either. I think she makes most lists because the writers feel the need to include a strong female character so they don’t seem sexist. There are plenty of female Superheros that I enjoy reading, but to be honest I can’t think of any that are influential or significant. The closest that comes to mind is Jean Grey and she is currently dead.
Not all of the seven need to be replaced though. Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and Captain America all still deserve their place. I did consider pulling Captain America and Batman at this point though and replacing them with Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers just to be clear. Green Lantern deserves a place on the list. He has been the influence for most of the changes in the DC universe over the last few years. Ironman and Thor round out my 7. A big part of the reason these characters are the seven most significant is because they are the ones that have movies in the works. Because they want the movies to do well they are currently focusing large storylines or saturating the market with stories about these characters.”
There is a long pause before Aron responds, “I think we need to re-examine what makes a hero significant. Continuing with the same definition, historical significance, seems a rather ridiculous measure and one that limits our ability to look at anything beyond the 1960s. I mean, c’mon. Who really believes that Captain Marvel and Plastic Man are truly significant in this day and age?
- As much as I love Superman, DC’s handling of the character in recent years has made him irrelevant for the 21st Century. Bad movie, bad books, bad TV show. So if not Supes, who leads the pack? Iron Man. Tony Stark is the game changer. From a once second tier character, Marvel Studios knocked it out of the park. The movies have done more for comics than anything since Tim Burton’s first Batman flick. It’s huge. Iron Man has brought a whole new generation of folks into comics and continues to do so via Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes currently airing on Disney XD. Anchored by Iron Man as the draw, the show introduces new fans to Thor and Captain America – the next heroes to get the Marvel Studios treatment. Superman never did as much for Wonder Woman or any of his other Justice League fellows.
- No matter how you slice it, Batman stays. Ain’t nobody cooler than Batman. Just imagine how much more effective the character could be if Grant Morrison would take up a craft more suitable to his skills… such as taxidermy? He’d be the world’s most confusing taxidermist! I sure wish there was a Batman book currently produced that I wanted to read. Despite the fact, Bruce Wayne’s tragic origins and ongoing reimaginings resonate from generation-to-generation in grand, visceral catharsis. Plus, he’s just so frikkin’ cool.
- Spider-man. ’nuff said.
- Hellboy… Mignola’s creation reset the indy table proving that independently produced comics could be both viable in the comics market and a success in the mass media all the while retaining the artist’s vision. It’s been nearly 20 years since Hellboy’s first appearance. In that time, Anung Un Rama has enjoyed eleven trade paper back collections, two successful major motion pictures, a number of animated films and a successful spin-off series with 14 volumes of its own!
- Green Lantern… He’s significant because Geoff Johns deemed it so.
- Atomic Robo… this one hits my list largely because of what I think will happen with it. It seems to me that ‘Robo is poised to explode. This is a property ripe for the Cartoon Network treatment and will be huge when (not if) it hits the big screen. Atomic Robo, a creator owned character, very much reminds me of Hellboy in his early books – full of possibilities and promise. Unlike Hellboy, there’s none of the occult baggage that might scare off moms and dads. Atomic Robo is a family-friendly property that can – and will – go all the way.
- No superhero has done more for man-procyonid relations than Rocket Raccoon. There was a day when raccoons were stereo-typed as capable of nothing more than rummaging in the rubish bins and gnawing the heads of crawdads. Rocky proved that raccoons can shoot big-ass guns and kick major ass. Big ups, Rocket Raccoon.”
Tim almost chokes on his drink after Aron’s Rocket Raccoon comment. He shakes his head and gives his answer, “I honestly don’t know the importance of a list, other than for people to wank about it, but since I was asked my opinion:
- Batman, has to stay. And I don’t want to hear any Bruce Wayne bs, it’s batman. As long as Dick Grayson is in the costume, it’s him, and if bruce takes it back fine, but the importance belongs in the symbolism and iconic nature of the batman.
- Superman. I don’t really have a good reason, other than he’s an iconic character and he deserves to be there.
- Spider-man. The one marvel character that I think is a slam dunk for this list is the webbed one.
- Wonder Woman. I know I’ve really dug her new run, but she is part of the DC trinity. I can’t think of another female character that deserves this spot.
- Green Lantern. I am leaving this one vague for the same reason as batman. I can accept Hal or Jon or Kyle or especially Guy, but their impact in the DC universe is without question. You can’t pick out a more interesting or beautiful book from that company.
- Thor. I’m biased, sue me. When an iconic moment needs to happen, I can think of no better person in the Marvel universe to do it. He’s unique to comics, which is why I’ve added him.One last spot huh? I think I’d go with Wolverine. He’s everywhere in Marvel, he’s one of their most popular characters. Do I think he’s over exposed? Absolutely, but you can’t ignore the power of his draw into comics.”
Paul shrugs at Tim’s list before proceeding, “I’m not sure Plastic Man was ever significant enough to be on the “Significant Seven” list, was he? Captain Marvel has definitely fallen from grace in years, to the point where he can’t even maintain an ongoing series, and when he pops up in other things, like Kingdom Come, people wonder who the heck he even is. I think Batman is as important as he ever was, regardless of who’s in the costume. In fact, I’d venture to say that Dick Grayson Batman is important because it’s an instance of a sidekick taking over the mantle. Superman should be on this list, and I’m going to leave him there because, regardless of how shitty his monthly is, he’s significant to the American culture. Spider-Man is a definite.
The rest…I’m not so sure on. Wonder Woman may have been significant at one point, but there are women who embody the role she once had even better than she does now. In fact, I’d venture to say she should be replaced with Batwoman, an openly gay superhero who is also a woman. I think she’s absolutely significant in that a major publisher, and not only that, but the most popular comic character around now (Batman), has an openly gay woman in his universe. Iron Man needs to be added to the list, but not for the comics. Iron Man’s movie took everyone by surprise, and it’s because of that movie that super hero movies as a whole have changed their way of thinking. Green Lantern should be brought into the list, if wholly because of what Geoff Johns has done since Hal Jordan’s rebirth – Green Lantern is not only a great read, it’s an important read to the DC Universe as a whole, and the rest of the comics world waits to see what happens with the title so that they can follow suit.
The seventh spot? I’m going to say Robin. Yeah, even though Batman is Dick Grayson right now, I think Robin embodies the most significant sidekick role in comics’ history. Sure, Bucky may have been important for dying, but he’s alive now, and honestly, modern comics readers who aren’t in their 30’s or 40’s don’t know who Bucky is anyway. But everyone knows who Robin is. Not only that, the four Robins (in continuity) have gone on to become Red Robin, Nightwing, Batman, and the Red Hood, all significant in their own rite. Not only that, Damian Wayne Robin is one of the first instances of the new trend of “super hero sons,” and not only that, Batman had him with one of his greatest villains!
So…summary…new Significant Seven: Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Batwoman, Green Lantern, Iron Man, Robin.
**note: Have a Significant Seven list of your own? Post it in the comments. Finally one last shout out to @WilliamPall for his question. If you have a question you want answered in Afterhours, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.