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1x10c: The Top 5 Men's Men of the Golden Age

A few months ago, Once Upon A Dime printed an adaptation of an article by comic book writer Terance Griep, Jr., The Top Five Not-So-Latently-Gay Golden Age Superheroes. A lighthearted look at characters who would no doubt be written a bit differently nowadays, it got me thinking.

When I was growing up in Reeseville, comic book superheroes were really the best role models I had. Everything I know about being a man came from that four-color world, which may be one reason I still cherish those old comics handed down to me by my bachelor uncle. They taught him, too. Certainly, those comics have made me a better father. Though it's certainly great to be able to laugh at some of the quaint notions of the past, I think it my duty as a comic book fan to counter Griep's article.

Luckily, Daniel and Derek, the guys who run the site for Donald and myself, never object when I pull rank on them and contribute a piece. Thanks, guys.

Without further ado, The Top Five Men's Men of the Golden Age…

1) SUPERMAN. I don't think anybody is going to argue this one. From his costume that reminded every boy of a secret wish to join the circus, to his stand on women's rights (in one of his first adventures, he beat the tar out of a wife beater), this strange visitor from another planet showed us all how to be a strong yet sensitive man, long before it was fashionable.

2) MR. SCARLET (and PINKY). Long before Johnny Cash sung of "A Boy Named Sue," District Attorney Brian Butler named his adopted son "Pinky."

If that weren't enough to make a man out of the boy, he dressed him up in tights and fought crime with him.

So effective were Mr. Scarlet and Pinky that Butler put his secret identity out of a job! That's right, criminals were too scared to pull anything in a city swathed in Scarlet.

For some reason, however, Butler never married his other trusted sidekick, and personal secretary, Miss Wade.

3) THE RED TORNADO. I'm not talking about the android that later joined the Justice League of America. The Golden Age version of the character may have occasionally been played for laughs, but definitely had some things to say about manhood.

Not one to battle supervillains or Nazis, The Red Tornado protected his neighborhood from criminal elements, making sure that the kids had a safe place to play. (Notice that modern writer Brian Michael Bendis is trying to run with that concept in Daredevil right now.) With no
superpowers, no fancy gadgets and even being quite a bit overweight, The Red Tornado proved that all that matters about being a man is having plenty of heart. He even shrugged off being called "Ma" in his private life.

4) THE WHIP. One of a score or more of "millionaire playboys" that took to fighting crime in the Golden Age, The Whip gets extra points for never forgetting where he came from. Dressed in the gear of his rough-and-tumble gaucho forebears, Rodrigo Elwood Gaynor used his precise skill with the lash to strike fear into evildoers' hearts.

And really, is there a more manly name than Rodrigo? Bold, with the hint of romance that the ladies just love, chancing across a Whip adventure spurred me to change my name, briefly in seventh grade, to Derico.

5) THE GAY GHOST. I say "pfeh!" to the revisionists at DC who now insist that this character is The Grim Ghost. There's nothing grim about him!

The Earl of Strethmere, Keith Everett, was on his way to meet his true love Deborah when he was set upon and killed by highwaymen in 17th century Scotland. While his ghost walked the halls of the family castle, time passed and the specter of the Nazi menace rose over Europe.

Through a wild set of coincidences that could only be guided by destiny, Keith's reincarnated true love visited the castle with her fiancé, Charles Collins. When Nazis shot Charles, Keith found himself able to possess the body, reclaim his love, and still both use his supernatural abilities and demonstrate his earthly swordsmanship in the battle against evil. All the while, of course, with a smile on his face.

Real men laugh at danger. Especially when they're already dead. Of all the lost heroes of the Golden Age, this macho hero seems ripest for revival.

Derek Sprang

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