The Top 5 Men's Men of the Golden Age
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.
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
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.
further ado, The Top Five Men's Men of the Golden Age
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
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.
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.
reason, however, Butler never married his other trusted sidekick,
and personal secretary, Miss Wade.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.