If you spend any time reading comic books, you no doubt have asked yourself this question: why do all the women have huge bazongas? A second question that you may ask is: why is every superhero a white guy?
While the first one is easily answered when you look at the typical comic book reader (a.k.a. greasy, horny fanboys), the second one is not so easy. Sure, most heroes were created back in the 40’s and 60’s when civil rights were still being debated. But how about the intervening years? Surely the era between the 1970’s until now would have seen the development of heroes with diverse racial backgrounds, right?
Sadly, this is not the case. For the most part, the heroes are still Caucasian in origin. African Americans have fared better with Storm and the Jon Stewart Green Lantern.
But what about Asians? Today, Rooktopia takes a look at the top ten Asian superheroes. Just to make it fair, I’m limiting the superheroes to those created at Marvel or DC. Otherwise, this list would be flooded with Dragonball Z and Naruto characters … and seriously, no one wants to see that.
#10 – Jubilee: Jubilation Lee has an illustrious career as Wolverine’s sidekick (hence, her early costume reminscent of Robin) and as a prominent member of the X-Men under Jim Lee. And despite all that, she ended up on Generation X as a second banana to the rest of the team. Her power is, um, “explosive energy,” and, um, and… aw crap. What kind of superhero list is this when friggin’ Jubilee makes the Top Ten?
- No, seriously… why would anyone make an AMV about Jubilee?
#9 – Katana: Tatsu Yamashiro has no superpowers, but she does have a sword that captures people’s souls. Also, she’s a master of matrial arts, because she’s an Asian and all. And, er, she’s got a nifty sunburst pattern coming out of her right boob. To be honest, I don’t know much about Katana other than that she used to be on the Outsiders, and you got to respect anyone from a superhero team that was hand-picked by Batman. Also, “The Outsiders” is a pretty kickass name for a superhero team. Oh, that Batman! Is there nothing you can’t do?
#8 – Karma: Typically, anyone from the New Mutants would be so far down on any list that they wouldn’t rank. I mean, that team had the personality of plyboard. However, this is a list of the Top 10 Asian Superheroes, so I’m going to be reaching somewhat. Besides, she’s redeemed by her awesome incarnation in the Marvel Ultimate universe. She’s a SHIELD secret agent working for Nick Fury, and she’s one of the few mutants allowed around President Bush. That’s power, yo.
#7 – Ryan Choi, The Atom: I don’t know why Aquaman always gets crapped on for having stupid powers. I happen to think aquatic powers can be quite compelling, as Aquaman’s Marvel counterpart, Namor, has proven. No, the real useless power is the ability to turn small. What kind of supervillain quakes in fear over facing a guy named “Ant-Man”? Which is why I’m a bit insulted at the new Atom. DC was in one of their affirmative action moods and started assigning monnikers to heroes of different backgrounds. Batwoman becomes a lesbian, Blue Beetle becomes Hispanic … and the shrinky-dink Atom becomes Asian. Needless to say, I would’ve been much happier if they’d made a new Asian Aquaman. MUCH happier.
#6 – Sunfire: Alongside Storm, Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, and Nightcrawler, the guy was one of the founding members of the relaunched 1970’s X-Men. He left the team after one issue. I think he thought he had the chops to become a great single hero act, what with his macho fish mask and all. Sunfire returned to Japan … and then the X-Men went on to become the most popular heroes of the 1980’s, garnering acclaim for being an allegory to the civil right struggle. The rest of the ’70’s crew ended up in the movies. Sunfire’s nowhere to be found. Heh, nice career move … LOSER.
#5 – Samurai: It might seem like cheating to include a superhero that was only seen on Superfriends (and, presumably, kids’ comic books based on Superfriends), but he probably better known to mainstream audiences than all the other previous superheroes combined… even if it is mainly in the ironic hipster sense. Anyway, Samurai was one of those team members added to increase the team’s diversity … which means, in that naive 1970’s sense, that he was actually an embarassment to everyone who actually was Japanese. And somehow, despite his name, he’s saddled with wind powers. Samurai’s lame, but there is a silver lining. Recently, he was remade as the less lame Wind Dragon in the Justice League Unlimited show.
- Superfriends footage and Samurai cosplay … can it get any better?
#4 – Karate Kid: Val Armorr (seriously!?!?) is best known as the character who has to be credited at the beginning of the “Karate Kid” movies. As I kid, I imagined that there was a comic book, somewhere, about the adventures of Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi. Maybe they walked the earth, met people, got into adventures … like Caine from “Kung-Fu.” No dice. Karate Kid was one of those little snots from the Legion of Super-Heroes. If he didn’t end up battling some space-faring version of the Evil Cobra-Kai, then I’ll be very disappointed.
#3 – Psylocke: Betsy Braddock has her origins as a white girl and the sister of Captain Britain. So how did she become a scantily clad ninja that both Scott Summers and Warren Worthington (and every heterosexual male X-Men fan) have had wet dreams about? Well, basically Jim Lee wanted an excuse to draw a hot, busty Asian babe. That’s all you need to know. It saves me from having to explain the whole Kwannon storyline, a.k.a. the most needlessly confusing and boring X-Men story ever written.
- Here’s some AMV using footage of the X-Men cartoon featuring Psylocke. Click here, if you dare.
#2 – Japanese Spider-Man: Ah, this may seem a bit of a cheat since this version of Spider-Man only appeared in Japanese media. However, the character was created by Toei with full cooperation from Marvel Comics, and thus the referees rule it fair play! In the Japanese version, Spider-Man’s costume is worn by a young motorcycle racer named Takuya Yamashiro. In every other respect, though, he’s just like Peter Parker. Just like his American counterpart, Japanese Spider-Man pilots a giant transforming robot named Leopardon, wears a ring that contains the red-and-blue tights, and fights giant monsters. Oh, and it was the first series to ever use giant robots to fight giant monsters, making Japanese Spider-Man the direct ancestor to those Mighty Morphing Power Rangers. Japanese Spider-Man is probably why the movies saw sentai-like villains: “Power Ranger” Green Goblin in the first movie, “Kaiju” Sandman in the third. Curse you, increasing importance of international box office receipts! CURSE YOU!
- Check out the Japanese Spider-Man opening theme! Quite catchy.
#1 – Cassandra Cain/Batgirl: To be completely honest with you, I never understood the appeal of Cassandra Cain, the third Batgirl. Her costume was very offputting, and from what I’ve seen of the comic, it casts her as yet another Asian gal with impeccable martial arts skills. But Cassandra as a surprisingly loyal following on the ‘net, and she did manage to carry her own title for around 70 issues, so what do I know? I guess she has a bit of a future, too, as she seems to be taking up Katana’s spot in the Outsiders. Anyway, as a way of an example of the rabid Cassandra Cain fandom, here’s a fan video someone put together on Youtube. Meanwhile, I’ll be shivering uncontrollably, knowing that there are some fans on the ‘net who find that crazyquilt mask to be very sexy.