Manly, yes

SuperFiancee points me to Bam-Kapow!, where some blogger with no sense at all has listed his Top Ten Manliest Superheroes.

Naturally, I can't just leave this lie. I have to get into it.

Sometimes, I just have no impulse control.

Bam-Kapow! starts out by defining manliness, and right away, it’s all fucked up. Let’s take a look:

“Now what makes a superhero manly? I like to think a ‘manly’ man is best known for his lack of knowledge on fashion, his chauvinist attitude toward feelings (marked by a great emotional dysfunction), and his general willingness to fight at the drop of a hat.

Interesting definitions. Given that there isn’t a male superhero in the world who dresses as if he has the vaguest subatomic particle of fashion sense, I think this criterion hardly narrows the field, and in point of fact, given that B-K has thrown it out there as a factor, I would have to expect if the writer has a brain in his head then the guy’s #1 manly superhero judged on the basis of fashion-victimhood would have to be Daredevil, for that godawful red and yellow thing DD wore briefly in his first few issues. But in fact, Daredevil appears nowhere on the list, which is frankly insane, when you factor in not only the fact that Daredevil once wore the worst costume in the history of the world, but he also used to beat the living crap out of six hundred ninjas at once without breaking a sweat.

Now, Daredevil could lose points for being portrayed in his movie by the ultimate wussie boy Ben Affleck, but then we'd have to seriously ding Batman's manliness score for Michael Keaton and that George Clooney sissy from ER, and I don't want to, so let's leave that out, and stick with the fact that Daredevil's first costume was insanely horrible, and he beats the living crap out of ninjas and cyborgs and guys on giant stilts with a club.

Show me anyone else on this moronic list who does anything manlier than that. Well, you can’t, as we shall see.

10. Batman -

What the fuck? Someone makes a Manly Superheroes List and Batman is NUMBER TEN? Just how many times and how hard did this numbnutz get dropped on his head when he was a baby, anyway? Let’s see how he justifies this bullshit:

Some of you may be shocked by Batman’s placement in this list

Well, it certainly argues against any notion any intelligent reader might have had as to your capacity for rational analysis of even your own admittedly dimwitted subject matter, yeah.

but you should first consider some very telling signs that he may not be as ‘manly’ as he might first appear. For starters, he has to use all those gadgets and gizmos to get anything done, and while some may hail his utility belt as a wonderful piece of crime-fighting equipment, all I see is a glorified fanny pack.

Yeah. Okay. I’m not going to argue that there aren’t any ‘telling signs’ that Batman may not be as ‘manly’ as he appears, but the fact that Batman built himself the world’s greatest set of tools and he carries them around with him at all times and he’s really really proficient at using them to fix stuff and solve problems, mostly by blowing them into teeny tiny pieces, is certainly not one of them.

Making your own tools, and then employing them to defuse the Joker’s nuclear bomb before it blows up Gotham City, is certainly not something that makes anyone ‘less manly’, nor, for that matter, is wearing a belt around your waist at all times that is packed with thermite and nitroglycerine.

What else makes Batman less manly, according to Bam-Kapow? Well…

Batman, as Bruce Wayne, simply has way too easy of a life to be the manliest of men. He’s only Batman what, 70% of the time? That’s only 70% manliness while 30% of the time he’s the wussy Bruce Wayne who seems too able to match brown shoes with a brown belt to me, a real man doesn’t notice such color coordinating nuisances that keep him from wearing his favorite boots with his black and red plaid shirt.

First, Batman is Batman all the time, Bruce Wayne is a charade. Those of us who know anything about the character know this, just as we know that while Bruce Wayne may act like a wussy, and certainly, his name is Bruce and that’s just a cross he has to bear, nonetheless, Bruce Wayne can kill anyone he wants to at any time, with the cuticles of either thumb, or his eyebrows, if he feels like it. And Bruce Wayne can’t color coordinate shit; that’s what he pays Alfred for.

So while we like his dark nature, dysfunctional personality and propensity for violence, we don’t like the pansy routine (no matter how necessary to keep up appearances) or his general concern for others’ feelings.

First, Batman recently inundated the entire DC Universe with rampaging murderous cybernetic killing machines just because the other members of the Justice League pissed him off. That’s how much concern Batman has for other people’s ‘feelings’. So screw that noise.

Beyond this, Batman may very well be the manliest superhero of all time simply on the basis of his frickin’ car, which makes the powerful Mach 5 look like the Partridge Family tour bus.

And then you have to factor in all his other vehicles. I mean, for the love of sweet baby jebus, Batman has a helicopter, a submarine, a speedboat, a jet plane fully equipped with ground and air to air missiles, and a frickin’ rocket ship, dude. And he pilots every single one of them with a skill and ease and expertise that make Doc Savage look like a pansy; if Batman wanted to, he could punch the Riddler in the jaw while piloting his Bat-submarine down one railroad track through an unlit tunnel at 75 miles per hour with his cowl on backwards.

Assuming Batman gets one bazillion manliness points for each of his utterly cool Bat-vehicles, and then we give him another one bazillion manliness points simply for the fact that he can beat anything living in the universe into sobbing helplessness with the soles of his feet if he feels like it, and then we throw another bazillion manliness points into the hopper for his unbelievably cool utility belt/tool kit, I defy you to find me a manlier superhero anywhere.

Even when we deduct for the stuff that should truly be deducted for, like Batman’s unfortunate weakness for 12 year old orphan boys in scaly green underwear and peter pan booties, he’s still got to be about eight or nine bazillion points ahead of the rest of the pack (other than Captain America, for reasons we shall examine soon).

Let’s see what Bam-Kapow came up with for their next spot on the list:

9. Optimus Prime -

Ok, bear with me on this one, he’s the only Autobot who can fight worth a damn, being a true warrior and all. Plus, he’s a semi. He’s a truck, which can turn into a half truck, half robot that kicks Megatron ass and has a largely dysfunctional authoritarian complex. He’s a trucker! And everyone knows that all truckers are manly men right? So by all standards, Optimus Prime (with the deepest/coolest voice on this list I might add) is a manly man, er…robot-man…thingy.

Dude. Optimus Prime is a robot. He has no genitalia.

Retarded. Rejected.

Moving on --

8. Captain America -

Captain America is a lot like Batman in that he fights with his fists, is a bit of a rebel, and tends to take the moral high ground a lot. But unlike Batman, Cap is a badass 24/7. Steve Rogers (his real identity) is just as manly a man as Captain America. Cap also doesn’t need a bunch of fancy doo-dads like Batman over there, but gets things done with a simple shield. Like MacGyver before him, Cap can do just about anything with that darned thing.

I have no argument with some of this, although it should be noted that Steve Rogers, last I looked, was a professional commercial artist making his living drawing lingerie ads. I’m not sure where that comes in to the manliness thing, but I’m pretty sure it’s no better nor worse than being named Bruce and acting like a wussy so nobody suspects you can actually kill any half dozen Daxamites with the tips of your cowl-ears if you need to at any given moment of the day or night.

I would say Cap is as manly (if not more so) as Batman in terms of, you know, their general combat capacities; however, all Cap has for a ride is an admittedly cool motorcycle and the occasional borrowed Avengers quinjet. So Batman has him totally outmanned there.

As to the notion that Cap can do anything with his shield that Batman can do with his utility belt, well, I have a great deal of respect for Cap's skill with his shield, but I doubt like hell he can hack into a computer with it, plant a tracking device on the Red Skull's car with it, or blow up one of Batroc ze Leaper's giant robot assassins with it. So, again - retarded. Rejected.

But maybe Bam-Kapow has a little more to support this completely idiotic, unwarranted, and utterly unjustifiable positioning of Cap ahead of Batman on a Manly Superheroes list by two full rankings than what we've seen. Let’s continue --

It should be noted that, along with Optimus Prime, Cap is a natural born leader who is able to lead other manly men just as easily as he is going it alone.

First, this sentence is profoundly fucked up, but, I suppose that’s manly, so I’ll leave it alone. Second, when Batman gives someone in the Justice League or the Outsiders an order, they goddam well jump up and click their heels together, so Cap has no edge here.

He was once a chopper riding rebel (when he took on the identity of Nomad)

This simply betrays the author’s abysmal ignorance on his chosen subject matter. Cap became the first Nomad, yes, right after he got involved in the White House scandal and became disillusioned as to the America he was supposedly representing. But that Nomad never went anywhere near a motorcycle; the ‘chopper riding rebel’ referred to here is Jack Monroe, a one time sidekick of Cap’s who took on Cap’s Nomad identity for a while back in the 1990s, and who recently got killed at the start of the Winter Soldier storyline. Which isn't very manly.

and Cap’s only worried about feelings of camaraderie with his fellow soldiers. His women tend to be somewhat manly as well (we’re talking personality here), like his love affair with the attractive but deadly Agent 13, but note that he never commits to her. Partly cause he gets a little Atlantean on the side and partly cause a manly man can’t be tied down to dead weight ya hear?

This is bullshit. If sleeping with butch chicks makes you manly, well, logically, sleeping with butch guys is the manliest thing ever, and I’m not ready for the Village People to be spots 1 through 5 on this list.

Overall, I find this reasoning specious, disagreeable, and scurrilous. Certainly Cap should be on any Manliest Superhero Ever list, and he may very well be tied with Batman for Number One, but the factors listed above are odious, slackwitted, and without merit.

What we have to consider here are two things -- First, Batman completely Out Vehicles Cap. But he completely Out Vehicles nearly everyone except maybe James T. Kirk, and James T. Kirk isn't a superhero. Still, Cap just can't compare here.

However, the second factor may be more important in the Overall Manliness context -- if Cap and Batman had a fight, who would win? Better geeks -- well, other geeks, anyway -- than I have argued fruitlessly on this subject for decades without settling it, and I wouldn't presume to have any greater insights than any of them -- oh hell yes I would. It would be a tough fight, but Cap would win. This is undoubtable and inarguable and I will brook no insolence on anyone's part in regard to this.

So, all we have left to settle is, when it comes to Manliness, is winning the fist fight more or less important than being Out Vehicled?

I say it's a draw. Let's move on.

7. Grifter -

Grifter is the crude and tough cowboy type from the WildC.A.T.S. He enjoys spending his days doing things like cleaning his guns, shooting his guns, cleaning his guns again, and then smoking while shooting his guns before retiring for a one night stand with some licentious lady who he’ll never call again. He did have a thing for Zealot, but that’s understandable because she was a badass herself, coming from a long line of Coda warriors that were born for battle. Grifter is also the first on the list known to drink excessively, a very manly quality if there ever was one.

Grifter is an Image Comics character, and therefore a piece of shit. He may or may not be manly, I don’t know, but listing any Image Comics character ahead of Batman and Captain America on any list besides ‘Biggest Piece of Shit Character Ever’ is unacceptable, preposterous, and insane, regardless of how many guns Grifter carries and/or polishes and/or shoots.

Besides which, either Batman or Captain America could wad Grifter up and stuff him down the front of their jock straps with one hand tied behind them, and Grifter would probably like it, too. So let’s not have any more nonsense about how manly he is, especially in comparison to Batman or Captain America. He’s a weed. We’re moving on.

6. The Punisher -

Let’s face it, The Punisher’s all black attire and skull symbol won’t win him any Fab Five Fashion awards, making him all the more manly, and he certainly fits the bill of emotionally dysfunctional (a problem that goes back to his time in Vietnam). The Punisher is excessively violent, and he has no qualms about picking a fight, or ending it with a shotgun either. He even only has sexual relations with equally dysfunctional women (as he did recently in Ennis’ Punisher run).

I don’t object to the Punisher being on a Manly Superheroes list, as, well, yeah, he’s one brutally testosterone poisoned manly-ass buttkicker indeed. He dresses in black Kevlar and does indeed have a gigantic fucking skull on his chest and he carries around more automatic weapons than any four white militias, some of which he keeps in his battle-van, but most of which I believe he actually stashes in his ass. This is extremely manly, but it must be noted that if the Punisher were ever to get in a fight with either Batman or Captain America, any guns not at that point in his ass would certainly end up there by the time the conflict resolved, along with most of the Punisher’s Kevlar and both bumpers off his battle-van.

So while I have no objection to the Punisher maybe coming in at number 6 or maybe 7 on any such list, I certainly wouldn’t put him ahead of Batman or Captain America for manliness.

5. Gung-Ho -

A lot of the G.I. Joes could have made this list, but Gung-Ho stood out among the pack.

Okay. Fucking G.I. Joes are not superheroes, regardless of how manly they are. Retarded. Rejected. Moving on.

4. Hellboy -

These last four were all very hard to decide between because all three are loners, rebels, badmouthed cusses that all drink heavily and fight rough and dirty. Hellboy in particular is great at hitting the ‘big monster’ first and asking questions later. His giant stone fist is perfect for brawling with large bulbous demon creatures that look vaguely like butt-plugs. Besides, his rude behavior and general tough guy attitude are all what one would look for in a manly man. The only problem is that that tough guy attitude tends to cover up a big heart, not very manly. He’s also a bit attached to that gal, Liz Sherman, which owns his tail (so to speak), not very masculine at all, even if he does smoke a stogie while doing it.

Okay. I suppose Hellboy, despite the fact that he has 'boy' in his name, could be very manly. He certainly carries a very large gun. And unlike most of the other entries on this dumbass list, Hellboy could actually stand up to either Batman or Captain America in a fight. And I really liked his movie, although that speaks more to his dialogue than to his manliness. Still, I won't object to Hellboy. But he should come after Batman and Captain America. But definitely before the Punisher.

3. Wolverine -

Ah, now we are coming down to the real cream of the crop here.

The phrase 'the real cream of the crop' is an unfortunate one in the context of manliness, as it makes Wolverine sound as if he is fond of starring in bukake films. And I wouldn't argue with that, either. However, as much as I detest this runty little creep of a character, I have to admit, when it comes to sheer raw testosterone poisoning, yeah, he's pretty frickin' manly. Or, as Bam-Kapow puts it --

Logan is renowned for three things, boozing, fighting, and being a hairy little cuss. He’s good with the ladies, especially all those young girls who he ‘takes under his wing,’ and we all know that going after another guy’s girl (Jean Grey) is very manly. His claws and fisticuffs tend to get him the label of hard-nosed hellion who’ll do what it takes to get the job done, a very manly quality to have. He deserves to be on this list even if he is Canadian. Besides, Logan used to be a freaking lumberjack for Pete’s sake, there is nothing more manly than that.

Owning and driving every form of vehicle ever constructed by man, frequently at supersonic velocities while beating some masked lunatic about the head and shoulders with a Batarang, is more manly than being a frickin' lumberjack, as is fighting your way through World War II armed only with a glorified garbage can lid while personally delivering left jabs to every single member of the Wehrmacht. Still, I won't object to Wolverine being on the list. He's just well behind Batman, Cap, and Hellboy. Probably tied with the Punisher. And if they want to fight it out, it won't bother me, especially if someone gives the Punisher a grenade launcher first.

2. Lobo -

Sometime in the 90’s, Lobo was created as a backlash to all things ‘manly’ in superheroes. He was to be the ultimate parody of characters like Wolverine and Punisher with their ultra anti-hero manliness. But Lobo was SO manly, and just a badass in general, that he flipped off his creator and became the poster boy for modern manliness anyway. Prone to extreme violence, Lobo flies around on his 'hover' chopper-bike while smoking cigars and stealing candy from small girls. Lobo is the last of his race, the rest having died off from his own murderous drive to be the baddest mutha in the whole universe. Sometimes he takes on Superman, sometimes he kills Santa Klaus, but whatever he’s doing, he’s doing it with such ‘manitude’ (the attitude of manliness) that he often only needs to look at women and they immediately start ovulating. Then he hits them right in the ovaries.

This is actually pretty funny stuff, and I must admit, by my own yardstick of manliness (i.e., who can beat who in a fist fight) Lobo should rank pretty high on any Manly List. But, well, he isn't a superhero, he's a frickin' menace, and beyond that, I must believe that if they had to, either Captain America or Batman would find a way to take Hobo down. But it's mostly the fact, like frickin' Gung Ho, Lobo is by no stretch of the imagination a superhero, he's more a cosmic cataclysm on two legs, and if we let him onto the list, then we have to let Darkseid onto the list, too, and that would be totally wrong. So fergeddaboudit.

So now we come down to it, the Number One choice of Bam-Kapow for Most Manly Superhero Ever. After placing Batman at a lamentable (and moronic) #10, and stiffing Captain America with a mere ranking of 8, what paragon of masculinity could possibly come in at the number one spot? More manly than Bruce Wayne or Steve Rogers, more cock of the walkesque than Frank Castle or Logan? Who could it be?

1. Conan -

Oh, boy. This is the manliest man in comics today, or ever.

This could be true. But... at risk of sounding repetitive... Conan -- isn't -- a -- SUPERHERO.


(Note I'm not even mentioning how gay 'Oh boy. This is the manliest man in comics today, or ever' sounds. I'm above it.)

He’ll just as soon knee you in the groin as he will kick you in the nuts, and that’s if he’s feeling nice and doesn’t elbow you in the nads. He’s every manly attribute I’ve talked about in this article so far including but not limited to womanizing, fighting, smoking, drinking, swearing, being arrogant, caring little for deep emotions or painful thinking and most importantly, he’s all of these things ALL of the time, and he's been doing it the longest by far. He never stops being the testosterone serving center that dishes it out one punch or ass slap at a time. He screws your girl, cuts your arm off, and tells you a crude joke all before eating your dinner with his bare hands. And you love him for it. He’s the crudest thing ever to pop out of a baby-maker whose taste for serving wenches, ale, and bar-room brawls is insatiable. He is the Manliest Superhero Ever!

Nearly all of this is true, despite the dangling participle that makes it sound as if there's a vagina somewhere with an insatiable, gluttonous appetite for serving wenches, ale, and bar room brawls. Nonetheless, I have no arguments with any of this, poorly constructed though it is, except for the last three words.

Once more, and ad infinitum -- Conan is not a superhero. He's a frickin' barbarian swordsman living in a sword & sorcery world. He doesn't wear a costume, he doesn't have a secret identity, he doesn't fight supervillains, and if you suggested he do any of that stuff he would kick your ass and eat your goat. I repeat yet again -- HE'S NOT A SUPERHERO.

If we let in every manly adventuring type who has their own comic book, well, we're going to have to give serious consideration to a great many Disney funny animals, and I'm not ready to do that.

So, while Conan is the very essence of masculinity by nearly any standard (although Batman and/or Captain America would kick his ass in a fight, and I expect Frank Castle could shoot several holes in his incredibly ripped, manly barbarian torso before Conan could get his two handed bastard sword unlimbered too), he isn't a superhero, and therefore, he cannot appear anywhere on a Manliest Superhero Ever list, much less at number one.

As to my own Manliest Superheroes Ever list, well, I suppose I'd most likely put Batman and Captain America both at Number One, Daredevil at Number Two, throw in Hawkeye and Green Arrow at a tie for 3 (they're both pretty seriously testosterone poisoned), let Hellboy in at 4, make Ben Grimm 5, give Wolverine and the Punisher a tie for 6, the Sub Mariner would swim in at a solid 7, Hawkman gets an 8 just for pummeling his enemies with a frickin' medieval mace, Tom Strong comes in at 9 just because he does, and Power Girl would end up at 10, for obvious reasons.

And at least they're all superheroes, which is more than you can say for half of Bam-Kapow's list.

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