I Will Tell You #93:
Top 5 Luckiest Comic Book Characters
As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, everyone talks about the luck of the Irish, and keep on hoping that a little of that luck will help them find that pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s a time of year where everyone fancies themselves as Irish, even a wee bit, enough to pass as an Irishman if they wear a little green, and drink a lot of it.
Anyone who reads comics, though, knows that you don’t have to be Irish to be lucky. Comic books are full of lucky characters, whether we realize it or not, and a lot of the luckiest ones aren’t the ones we would necessarily think of that way. So in the spirit of the upcoming holiday, I’m going to talk about some of these characters, especially those who don’t seem so lucky. Maybe it’s because most don’t have a lick of Irish in ’em, but I’m going to lift the veil and discuss:
The Top Five Luckiest Comic Book Characters. Ready? Grab your Guinness, ‘cuz here we go:
5. The Lucky Life With Archie
Is there anyone who wouldn’t want to be Archie Andrews? He lives in the comic book equivalent of Pleasantville, he’s popular in high school, and he always finds a seat at Pop’s Soda Shop. He has his own car, his parents let him do whatever he wants, and he’s got two pretty hot girlfriends, both of whom constantly chase after him. And, neither of them get mad at him when they catch him with the other; they only get mad at each other, and a catfight often follows in his presence.
The worst he has to deal with is staying on the good side of Mr. Weatherbee when he’s in school, and Mr. Lodge when he’s not. Occasionally he gets caught up in some of Reggie Mantle’s conniving shenanigans, but it’s usually Reggie who gets the raw end of his own deal. And he does have those crosshatch-type scars on each side of his head from being clobbered with a waffle iron when he was a kid, but no one in Riverdale really seems to notice. But other than that, he’s got it all. He’s a pretty lucky guy.
For the most part, anyway. He’s not so lucky in the wretched Life With Archie, for example, where a now-married Archie and the entire now-adult gang from Riverdale have sucky adult lives and send the message to kids on a monthly basis that growing up sucks. And he hasn’t been so lucky in oppositely incredible and amazingly entertaining Afterlife With Archie by Francesco Franacavilla, where Riverdale has been overrun with zombies. You heard that right; it’s a zombie apocalypse in Riverdale. He’s not scoring with Betty or Veronica in that series, but he has survived, so far, unlike some other familiar characters from Riverdale. So even under such horrible circumstances, maybe he’s pretty lucky after all.
4. The Amazingly Lucky Spider-Man
Ever got bitten by a spider? At best, it was a tiny spider and you noticed a couple of tiny red bumps that went away in a couple of days. At worst, it was a very exotic and very large arachnid that sunk its fangs into you and you began foaming at the mouth, started bleeding from the eyes, and went into violent and massive convulsions before succumbing to a very painful and agonizing death In a pool of your own bodily fluids, in which case you’re not here to read this, so never mind,
Now, ever got bitten by a radioactive spider? Of all the possible consequences that lie between no ill effect whatsoever and that horribly unpleasant demise above, gaining superpowers aren’t really among them. An equally likely extrapolation would be something like, say, developing painful and oozing boils all over your body that eventually burst with thousands of baby mutant spiders pouring forth and consuming everything in their path; including you.
A more likely scenario for a skinny teenager getting bitten by a spider exposed to radiation is, well, some kind of weird combination of an allergic reaction and radiation sickness. It might clear up. Or it might lead to organ failure compounded by the formation of cancerous tumors, twin maladies that would be racing neck and neck to claim young Peter Parker’s life.
A more likely scenario still: no effect from the spider bite whatsoever, but signs of radiation poisoning later on, resulting from being in the proximity of a laboratory that clearly doesn’t have any kind of sufficient radiation containment procedures in place if a mere spider can come and go from a hot area whenever it pleases. Scientists and other workers at that lab would have developed illnesses from radiation exposure, and Peter would have soon followed. His sickly condition would have probably left him unable to fight off these effects, and his lifespan would have been shortened by a couple of decades.
A recurring theme in the 50+ years of Spider-Man’s existence was how Peter Parker was always down on his luck, and falling victim to bad breaks and unforeseen circumstances. But the truth is, Peter Parker didn’t die from radiation poisoning one way or another, as he should have, but instead developed inexplicable, and permanent, superpowers that not only changed his life, but probably saved it.
That old Parker luck? Maybe it struck the trouble-plagued broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, but for as much as Peter as historically maligned it, it did keep him from an suffering an agonizing death, and it gave him a pretty cool set of powers as a bonus. If it wasn’t for good luck, he wouldn’t have no luck at all.
3. Superman’s Lucky Shot Into Space
What’s the worst thing that could possibly ever happen? I’m going to say the world coming to an end. That’s what happened to Superman when he was just a baby, so it would be safe to say that he definitely had a very unlucky start to life. So if anyone was owed a lifetime of good luck after that, it was Superman, and in fact this great cosmic comeuppance began immediately thereafter.
His parents sacrificed themselves to save their child, and “luckily” they did so moments before they and their entire world perished. They put him in an untested rocket, which could have blown up, or crashed, or broke down in the vacuum of space, but “luckily” worked just fine. They aimed said rocket at an inhabitable planet, but it could have gone off course and continued on aimlessly into space for untold millennia, or landed on Apokolips, or been destroyed after being sucked into a black hole, but “luckily” made it to Earth as intended. There was presumably some kind of life support onboard, which could have stopped working, or run out of life-giving stuff, or gotten poisoned by cosmic rays or something, but “luckily”, it didn’t.
The rocket could have burned up in Earth’s atmosphere, or bounced off and shot back into space, or simply crashed, but “luckily”, it landed safely. It could have landed in the Pacific Ocean, or the Soviet Union, or at the South Pole, but it “luckily” landed in the good ol’ U.S. of A. It could have ended up in a rough neighborhood in Brooklyn, or in Area 51, or in the middle of the desert, but it “luckily” found its way to a nice quiet farming community. Within sight of the nicest couple to ever live in Kansas, no less. Luckily. Such incredible luck. And remember; Kal was still in the Kryptonian equivalent of Pampers; he didn’t even know what the concept of luck was yet. When he got older, his lucky streak continued; he got really strong, really tough, learned to fly, had a cute redhead for a girlfriend, got a job at one of the country’s largest newspapers, and became the world’s greatest superhero. For a guy whose world literally came to an end while he was still swaddled in his first baby blanket, he’s been one pretty fortunate iconic hero.
You don’t have to be good if you’re lucky, as I always say. And ooh, what a lucky Superman, he is.
2. The Avengers’ Vision Got Lucky, Wink Wink
As far as I’m aware, The Vision is comics’ only artificially-made character to ever get lucky. That is, get lucky with the ladies, if you know what I mean. At least with one lady in particular, namely The Scarlet Witch. And back in the day, comic book characters didn’t really do these kinds of things, or at least it wasn’t spoken of. Until, that is, when the happy couple announced they were expecting, and as fans the first thing we thought of was, “Hey, wow!” And the second thing we thought of was, “Wait; you mean they . . . the two of them . . . did, like, you know? Ugh.”
There was so much wrong with this whole idea; the notion of Wanda doing it with an android, for one, is creepy enough by itself. And we all knew an android could cry, but could he get, you know; excited? And if he could, did he has the physiology to father children? And if he did, wouldn’t they be some kind of grotesque Demon Seed-type babies? And if not, could Wanda’s powers really defy probability that much to make all of that occur and still have not one, but two, seemingly normal children?
As it turned out, the answer was yes, because her powers could make all of that happen, before that answer was later retconned to no, they couldn’t, and the baby Visions were wiped from existence, revealed to be only constructs of her mind, subconsciously created by her powers in response to her deep-seated desire to have children. But her powers have always been to manipulate probability, and when something happens against all probability in one’s favor, we have a term for that: we call it good luck. So while everything she did against all odds to be able to have a family ended up being undone, it doesn’t change the fact that her manipulations allowed The Vision to share in a little of that luck. Hey, even an android can score.
Oh, and take heart, guys; if a bald guy with no personality and a weird complexion can make it with a hottie like The Scarlet Witch, then there’s hope for us all.
And, maybe that’s why his costume is green, hoping for a little of that luck o’ the Irish.
Now; this last one I guarantee you’ve never thought as the luckiest guy in comics, but after reading below, you will. Who could it possibly be, you ask? Luckily, I will tell you:
1. John Constantine: You Don’t Have To Be Lucky If You’re Blessed
The last character in comics anyone would call blessed would be John Constantine. He’s been involved with black magic, voodoo, witchcraft, and some pretty shady and unsavory characters. He curses, he smokes, he drinks, and he don’t come home at all. And way back when, one of those vices game him terminal lung cancer; hardly the symptoms of anyone who would be called lucky.
This unfortunate but amazing tale was told by writer Garth Ennis in Hellblazer #41 – #46 back in 1991, in an arc called Dangerous Habits, which by the way was Ennis’ first of many story arcs for the title, as well as his first American comics work. Which is available in trade paperback and I highly recommend, by the way. In the story, Constantine was already in the advanced stages of cancer when it was discovered, and he was diagnosed as terminally ill. With no medical solution available, Constantine employed a literally devilish scheme to save his own skin: he pledged his soul to not one, but three separate demons from Hell, each of them unaware of the transaction with the other two.
At the moment of Constantine’s death, each of these demons arrived to claim his soul, and each were surprised that they were not the only ones seeking to lay claim to it. As each held equal power, they knew that a battle to claim his soul would be too evenly matched and would likely lay waste to Hell’s entire realm. Wise enough to not enter battle, but too boisterous to concede, the three made a pact that none of them would claim Constantine’s soul. But this of course meant that Constantine’s soul couldn’t enter Hell, and since Heaven wouldn’t take it, it had to remain with him. In other words, the demons couldn’t let him die. So they cured his cancer, so that he could continue to live, and avoid an epic otherworldly war.
So Constantine’s soul was effectively barred from Hell for all eternity. No one would ever call him blessed, but hey; if it walks like a duck, and all that. And although it was never specifically mentioned in the story, I always postulated that this meant he was now immortal, because if he were to die at some point in the future, the same stalemate would still exist. So here’s a guy who’s a real dirtbag, is hated by practically every character in the DCU, and engages in every vice known to humanity plus a few that probably aren’t; he beats a terminal case of cancer, he’s forever excused from damnation, and just might live forever.
If there is anything luckier in life than all of that, I would sure like to be the recipient of it.
One Last Shot
I suppose the redheaded Archie Andrews could have some Irish blood in him, and maybe Peter Parker could too, but I’m pretty sure that Superman, The Vision, and the pureblood Englishman John Constantine do not. This gives hope to those of us with Irish-challenged heritage, who could use a little good luck and good fortune.
May your Jameson’s Irish Whiskey go down smooth, and stay there; may your Shamrock Shakes be mixed just so; and may you all have a very lucky and very blessed St. Patrick’s Day!
St Patrick’s Day Girl cover image © 2013 Franchesco
For info on the above mentioned comics, check out:
Life With Archie, Afterlife With Archie: www.archiecomics.com
And feel to check Back to the Past for availability of these items!
For more of JJ’s seasonal reading, check out:
I Will Tell You #17: You Don’t Have To Be Good If You’re Lucky
I Will Tell You #76: Happy Fat Tuesday