Top Ten Greatest Tragedies to Ever Happen to Men in ComicsA column article, Top Ten by: Nick Hanover, Danny Djeljosevic
Yo, bros. It's pretty tough to be a man these days, ain't it? Chicks are always complaining about dealing with stuff, but they don't understand what we men have to go through, you know? But superheroes, they got our back. They know what it's like to be out there trying to do your best as a man, even when everyone is trying to get ya down. But even they got shit they have to face. That's why I put this list together with my best bros Nick "The Dick" Hanover and Danny DjelBROsevic, to show the tough shit superheroes go through daily and how they overcome that shit.
HONORABLE MENTION: Voids
That One Time Thor Got Turned Into a Frog
Terrible Thing That Happened to a Man: This one time Loki turned Thor into a frog. Pretty simple, actually.
How He Overcame It: Thor (who, I may have mentioned, was now a frog) went on a three-issue journey, helping his fellow earthbound frogs in their war with the rats by getting the alligators in on the action. Then he found his hammer Mjolnir and turned into a frog version of Thor, which allowed him to return to Asgard and hit things until he was changed back. Pretty much.
Bad Hair Days (or Years)
Terrible Thing That Happened to a Man: In the early '90s, Superman was having a shitty time altogether. First he was dead for a while, but that's not really a big deal for a superhero, especially one as iconic and historic as Superman. But then when he came back from the dead, he suffered a life worse than death: he was given a mullet for nearly half a decade.
How He Overcame It: The demise of Superman's mullet probably began in 1996, after he married Lois Lane and was almost certainly told he needed to get a haircut. But Superman being Superman, it's not like he can just go and get his hair cut. So he turned into a man made of blue lightning for a little while and voila, the mullet was never seen again.Technically he became a blue lightning man after he had already lost the hair, but I like to imagine that he had to turn into blue lightning just to keep the mullet from making its own triumphant return from the dead. Superman wasn't alone in his mullet suffrage either, as many other heroes from the time -- including Aquaman -- sported the look for about the same length of time or longer. And men being men, they just had to grin and bear it because it's totally not cool to talk about your hair.
Terrible Thing That Happened to a Man: Ever since he quit being the bird-themed superhero Nite-Owl, Dan Dreiberg was in a bad way. He let himself go, allowed dust to collect over all his Owl Gadgets and stopped being able to get hard in front of women who like to have sex with hairless blue humanoids. In fact, all he has these days is his late-night conversations with his elderly old buddy who was the original Nite-Owl. He was so out of sorts that he never bothered to wonder if maybe ED is contagious.
How He Overcame It: He put on a costume, ran into a burning building and fucked the shit out of a lady in his Owlmobile, curing her of her Blue Man Group fetishism.
They Get in Fights with Their Best Bros
Terrible Thing That Happened to a Man: If the '90s were a gritty and weird time, the '00s were even grittier and weirder, especially in regards to friendships. Nowhere was this clearer than in the pages of Marvel's Civil War crossover, which put perennial odd couple Captain America and Iron Man up against one another on opposite ends of a political struggle concerning superheroes' right to privacy. Bro was forced to fight bro and friendships were almost ruined forever.
How He Overcame It: Ultimately, Captain America overcame this obstacle by being the bigger man, standing down in the final battle between his rebels and Iron Man's forces, despite having the upper hand. Cap realized that the fighting wasn't just hurting him and his best friend, but also a tremendous amount of innocent civilians and heroes. Both Cap and Iron Man had made ridiculous compromises in their struggle against one another, but it took Cap to realize that the only way things would work out was if one of them calmed down, realized the consequences of their actions and called a truce. Rambo may not approve, but Cap showed all of us what it's like to really be a man.
Batman Doesn't Like Them
Terrible Thing That Happened to a Man: Everybody has a bro bud like Guy Gardner. He's loud, he's obnoxious, he gets terrible haircuts, he suffers brain damage. But you love him anyway because he's your bud and buds look out for another. But admit it: sometimes you just want to belt the dude. That's exactly how Batman feels when he's around more or less everybody, but no one tries his patience like Guy Gardner.
How He Overcame It: It's not exactly accurate to say Guy Gardner overcame getting punched by Batman. He didn't become a better person after, he didn't take the high road, and he didn't become any less obnoxious. If anything, he probably became more obnoxious when he eventually turned into Warrior. But I like to think that Batman felt a lot better after punching Guy. Batman may have even alleviated some major stress by doing so, which probably gave us regular humans a few more years before Batman's inevitable mental breakdown and domination of our species. So let's give Guy Gardner a hand for taking one for the team.
They're Forced to Become Sidekicks
Terrible Thing That Happened to a Man: Rick Jones was forced to hang out with The Hulk just because he was instrumental in the beast's creation. Dick Grayson's parents were murdered by the circus (right…?) so Batman forced him to dress as something called Robin. Snapper Carr used his landscaping know-how to help the Justice League of America defeat a giant purple starfish, so they kept him in a cave in Rhode Island as their "mascot" which is too easy to make a cheap sex joke out of.
How He Overcame It: Rick Jones grit his teeth and hung out with Captain America, Rom the Spaceknight and a few Captain Marvels until he was deemed too old and not cute anymore. In following years, he sponsored a group of aging teen superheroes and eventually became a Hulk himself. Dick Grayson decided he was too old for short-shorts and struck out on his own as Nightwing, approaching Gambit levels of superhero bishonen attractiveness. Snapper Carr tricked the JLA into finally kicking him out by letting the Joker manipulate him, then hung out with the robotic Hourman of the 853rd Century and smoked weed all day until their adventures were quietly cancelled. It turns out he became a member of the spy organization Checkmate? Even I think that's dumb.
Their Pets Die
Terrible Thing That Happened to a Man: After having some impotency issues with the mother of his dead daughter, Roy Harper went a little crazy, and really, who wouldn't? A woman he has a complicated history with told him it was okay that he couldn't "...perform," his daughter is dead, and he really really just wants some drugs, man. When he gets some, he mistakenly thinks a dead alley cat is his daughter, and he tries to "protect" her from some bad guys who are just a confused group of homeless people. And after all that, both his cat and his daughter are still dead.
How He Overcame It: His entire universe got rebooted in a major marketing blitz that has been pretty meh so far, but hey, at least Roy Harper hasn't been forced to swing dead cats around lately? Instead he's just been given more tattoos, longer hair and has been placed in the middle of a hugely awkward and confusing sexual scenario involving an alien.
They Get Kicked Out of Football
Terrible Thing That Happened to a Man: Michael Jon Carter was a star athlete from the 25th Century who got a scholarship to Gotham University -- that is, until he started throwing games to win bets he placed against his own team. Naturally, he was kicked off the team and straight out of school.
How He Overcame It: He robbed a museum, traveled back in time, became a fan-favorite superhero and got two best friends -- one a robot, the other some fat guy in an off-brand Spider-Man costume. It all worked out, mostly.
They Are Erroneously Accused of Sexual Assault
Terrible Thing That Happened to a Man: For whatever reason, no one at Marvel thought Starfox-- a character whose powers are based around manipulating people's emotions-- was all that creepy until the 21st century, when Dan Slott put him on trial for sexual assault in the pages ofShe-Hulk and had Jennifer Walters defend him, despite her suspicion that he had used his powers to make her sleep with him.
How He Overcame It: She-Hulk first beat Starfox senseless and as a result forced him to flee Earth, causing him to be teleported back to Titan by his father. But things didn't end there. She-Hulk herself was brought to Titan where she consented to a mind probe and discovered that Starfox definitely hadn't forced her to sleep with him. All he had actually done was try to help his friend John Jameson--Man-Wolf-- by manipulating Walters' emotions, in the process causing her to have feelings for Jameson, who she soon married. So really, he was just trying to help a bro out all along. In an extremely creepy way.
The Devil Ends Their Marriages and Improves the Quality of their Comics
Terrible Thing That Happened to a Man: 2001-2008 was a bad time to be Spider-Man -- J. Michael Straczynski was writing his comics, 9/11 happened, Tommy Lee Jones fucked his girlfriend, he found out he was some kind of mystical totem, he revealed his secret identity to the world, went back to wearing clothes he wore in the '80s and joined the Avengers. Things got too much to bear when his sweet old Aunt May got super-duper no takebacks really sick this time, for real -- the kind of sickness that you get from being shot.
How He Overcame It: Like any good superhero, Spider-Man asked for help from The Devil, who decided to save Aunt May in exchange for his marriage. Not a very difficult choice -- a rare misstep in The Devil's oeuvre -- so Spider-Man was no longer chained down to one woman, a very old often ill woman was denied the sweet release of death and Spider-Man's comics immediately became fun and readable. Everybody won.