Badass Week: The Comic Book Toughman Lifetime Achievement Award
Badass Week Rages On!
And if you haven't voted for the Toughest Man in Comics yet, it's your last chance, since the deadline's Thursday at Midnight!
But while you're trying to decide on my six nominees for the title, you may be wondering how exactly I came to nominate those particular characters. Well, allow me to assure you: My method was full of science. And it certainly had nothing to do with drinking half a bottle of whiskey and then writing down the only six badass characters I could remember.
I did, in fact, have criteria. Specifically, I tried to avoid characters that were based on real people (hence the lack of Mr. T, Leonidas of Sparta, Chuck Norris, or Stagger Lee); and I tried to hit as many different genres as I could, with a war character, a vigilante, a sword-and-sorcery hero, and so on. Also, I tried to go with people who stood out even among their peers, which did a good job of cutting out Marv, Hartigan, Dwight, and Wallace, since I'm pretty sure that once you set foot within Basin City, you immediately get 400% tougher and start thinking in fragmented Mickey Spillaine dialogue.
But even so, there were a few characters that--despite being total badasses in their own right--didn't make the cut, so before we get to tonight's presentation of the ISB Lifetime Achievement Award, I'd like to take a moment to go over The Honorable Mentions:
The Goon: Despite the fact that I own every issue of the Dark Horse series, the trade collecting the pre-DH comics, a Fancy-Pants Hardcover, a complete set of action figures, and a sketch by Eric Powell, I completely forgot that the Goon existed during my roundup of the baddest of the badass.
This is probably my failing, but the fact that I couldn't remember him for two days after seeing Sgt. Rock stab a Nazi in the throat with a six-inch splinter of wood and steal his gun so he could kill a few more Nazis is a legitimate defense on that part. But still: The Goon ain't no joke, considering that he bashed a man's head in with a rock when he was ten years old and then went on to brain Hellboy with a wrench as an adult.
Iron Fist/Shang Chi: I'd originally intended to include both of these guys in the vote, but felt like having two Marvel Martial Arts heroes was pretty much cheating, and ended up putting a lot of thinking into deciding for myself who was tougher. Shang Chi is, after all, The Master of Kung Fu, whose own father, the evil Fu Manchu, sent five deadly assassins to murder him on his fifteenth birthday. Danny Rand, however, was sent to certain death at age nineteen by the sinister machinations of the August Personage in Jade, who recognized him as a potential threat to his evil schemes, and ended up punching a dragon to death and stealing the power of its heart, gaining the ability to make his fist like unto a thing of iron.
That, my friends, is a tough choice.
But then I realized that Karate Kid was still a teenager when he kicked Darkseid in the face, and that pretty much trumps a narrow victory over Zaran the Weapons Master and zee rest of Batroc's Brigade.
Takashi Kamiyama: Cromartie High's only A-student, Kamiyama is a man who walks a lonely path, since everyone else in school is a total badass. He's like a rabbit living among lions. But then again...
Usagi Yojimbo: And speaking of rabbits who are totally hardcore, I refer you to the panel at left, which sees Miyamoto Usagi engaging in a duel to the death with a samurai driven mad by the voices of demons who fights with a black-bladed spear.
And he does that sort of thing all the time.
Scott Pilgrim: Not only is he the toughest fighter in Ontario, but Scott Pilgrim once punched a guy so hard he flew around the world, and that was before he broke up with a girl named Knives so that he could date an American delivery girl who went to a ninja college on a mountain in the sky.
Sorry if that was a comma splice, but if I try to write more than two sentences about Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim saga, my hands reflexively make the metal sign, and I lose the ability to type.
Tough guys, every last one of them. But not quite on the level of tonight's ISB Lifetime Achiever.
Longtime ISB readers will realize that one of my favorite characters has been conspicuously absent from the list of toughguys since the beginning of the week, and with good reason: If I put this guy into the vote, there wouldn't even be a contest. After all, the Toughest Man in Comics is still just a man...
And this dude's a ONE MAN ARMY CORPS!
Yes, his legacy lives on in a group of murderous indestructable cyborgs created by Batman--which, surprisingly, is not nearly as radical as it sounds--but the original OMAC, as envisioned by Jack Kirby in 1971, is mind-blowingly awesome.
He is, bar none, Jack Kirby's ass-kickingest creation, and you can take that to the bank. Why? Because while Orion may have a better backstory and motivation, OMAC does absolutely nothing except roll around the grim and perilous future of The World That's Coming!, beating the living hell out of anyone who gets in the way of his mission of peace.
It is beautiful.
And it all happens in glorious Kirbyscope, wherein every issue not only opens with a full-page splash panel, but then is immediately followed by a double-page spread of untold carnage. And nowhere is this better than in OMAC #2, wherein a global crime boss known as Mr. Big hires an entire city full of assassins to kill OMAC. I've talked about it before and often, but it's been a while, so in case you missed it, pay attention and click for larger images.
This is page one.
This is page two.
And in the issue after that one, he fights a hundred thousand foes. And just in case there was still a small shred of doubt in your mind, here's a picture of OMAC punching seven people.
AT THE SAME TIME.
There is no greater fight comic known to man. And that is why the One Man Army Corps is the standard by which all other comic book badasses must be judged. Because as we all well know...