Comic Book Football Hall of Fame
Among subjects with little practical application in day-to-day life that I know way too much about football is probably third on the list, behind comics and movies.
So in the spirit of this issue’s football theme, I present to you the inaugural class of the Comic Book Football Hall of Fame. I’ve tried to focus on characters that had football play a significant role in their stories. You may disagree with my choices but remember: The qualifications for this are completely arbitrary, so it’s hard for me to actually be “wrong.”
The inductees are:
– Booster Gold Michael Jon Carter, a star college quarterback (in the 25th century) who lost his reputation and promising career by throwing a game. Reacting logically to his dilemma, Carter pilfers some high technology and goes back in time (to our present) to build a new reputation as a superhero. Often a comedic character, in recent years he earned a new level of credibility as the protector of the timestream, maintaining his buffoon-ish reputation while secretly quantum-leaping through DC’s history to prevent villains from altering the past. The New 52 reboot returned Booster to a more traditional role, but I highly recommend the 2007-11 series by Geoff Johns, Dan Jurgens et al. that blended humor, action, drama and time travel chaos.
– NFL Superpro Football played an important part in Booster’s origin, but football is this guy’s origin. Phil Grayfield was an injured-player-turned-sportscaster who became something like the ultimate football player thanks to exposure to chemicals and a suit of armor built by a huge football fan/scientist. On the rare occasions when this bizarre, early ’90s marketing ploy from Marvel is remembered, it’s usually as the butt of a joke. But any listing of comic characters with major football ties would be incomplete without him.
– Brick Wall Beauford L. Wohl was a member of Kickers Inc., a team of heroic pro football players from Marvel’s New Universe line in the ’80s. I was unable to scrounge any back issues for this piece but Beauford makes the list since, during my attempts to determine the actual positions characters played, he was the only offensive lineman I found.
The o-line may not get the glory, but the flashier stars wouldn’t make much progress without the big guys clearing paths and protecting their blind sides. (Side note: None of the members of Kickers Inc., as far as I could tell, actually played kicker.)
– Sasquatch Among my favorite C- and D-list characters are the members of Marvel’s Alpha Flight, billed as “Canada’s premiere super team” because “premiere” sounds better than “only.” But even I didn’t remember that founding member Dr. Walter Langkowski played professional football. It’s a small but important piece of his origin, since the money he made helped fund the research that turned him into his hirsute superhuman alter ego.
– Charlie Brown We actually see him play baseball, but football specifically countless failed attempts to kick one is a defining aspect of the character. I recently read a blog in which a dad refused to show his children the Charlie Brown Halloween and Christmas specials because he felt they promoted bullying (since the kids who are mean to Chuck never get punished). But that’s not what they’re about.
Charlie Brown, throughout his Murphy’s Law-proving life, is all of us at one time or another. His unjustified optimism that maybe, just maybe, this time
Lucy won’t yank the ball away represents our gullibility and blind hope, just as the character embodies so many of our weaknesses and strengths.
Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic “Support Group.” (www.supportgroupcomic.com)