Letter Men

This post is not about student athletes, nor a family reunion for the host of CBS’s
Late Show, nor even spinoffs of the animated good guy familiar to my generation
from PBS’s The Electric Company — but there we’re getting warmer.

Letters A, B, and C adorned to suggest Aquaman, Batman, and Cyclops

Artist Fabien Gonzalez has created a superhero alphabet, rendering letters from A
to Z in the costumes and colors of characters from the iconic to the obscure. I first came across it on EW’s PopWatch blog; you can purchase a print from Gonzalez’s Flickr stream.

If you want to see the whole lineup in all its glory — which you should — and you
don’t want its members spoiled for you before you try sussing them all out — which you shouldn’t, although only a comics geek of the highest order (like me) will recognize every one — then don’t scroll past the full pic until you’re ready.

Full alphabet with each letter illustrated to suggest a superhero whose name begins with it, F leaning forward as if in motion

Here’s the roster:
Aquaman, Batman, Cyclops, Daredevil,
Elektra, Flash, Green Lantern,
Hulk, Iron Man, Justice, Kick-Ass,
Lion-O, Mandrake the Magician, Nightcrawler, Orion, Punisher,
Quicksilver, Rorschach, Superman,
Thing, Ultra Boy, Vision,
Wolverine, Professor X, Yukk, Zorro.

The breadth of the choices impresses me even as I lament the inclusion of too many
X-Men and over-reliance on characters from the DC and Marvel camps in general.

C didn’t have to go to Cyclops, for sure, given the staggering array of superheroes named Captain _______. Elektra as E is the lone female on the list, which is a shame, so as fun as the Wolverine W is with its little claws it might have been nice to slot Wonder Woman in there — or perhaps foregone Iron Man as I in favor of a dotted and/or very faint outline to represent how Invisible Girl/Woman is usually represented on the page. Punisher was introduced as a costumed assassin, albeit a morally conflicted one who ended up being marketed as a protagonist vigilante, so as long as
the artist was willing to use members of the Legion of Super-Heroes (as evidenced by Ultra Boy) I’d rather have seen P go to Phantom Girl or Princess Projectra; Elektra herself isn’t exactly a superhero, for that matter, and could have been exchanged for a cool deep cut such as Element Girl.

The J threw me at first — I got that it was Justice by process of elimination and
Justice’s own lack of full-face mask; since I’ve not read much New Warriors and this doesn’t quite match the costume from his Avengers tenure, I made a mental note of commitment and hoped that I wouldn’t embarrass myself by only going 25 for 26. Kick-Ass for K is going to be one of those rare entries more familiar to the present-day comics-reading (or even movie-going) public than us longtime fans who aren’t as up on current stuff, but I realized who it was when I saw the piping. Thundercats being just out of my nostalgia zone, I’m kind-of miffed by the inclusion of Lion-O at L, although
I know folks who will love it. Mandrake the Magician for M is an old-school choice that I respect.

While Professor X’s faint gray wheelchair got called out as cheating by the EW correspondent who posted on this piece, I’ll allow it given the similarly rendered Astro-Harness behind Orion of the New Gods at O and the necessary full-color accoutrements on some characters. I recognized the Y instantly as belonging to Yukk, canine sidekick to Mighty Man in their back-up segments of ABC’s The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show on Saturday mornings, but I expect that to be the least identifiable letter for most fans outside my generation; of course its crucial detail is the little doghouse — Yukk was so ugly that he wore one to cover his head and essentially defeated criminals by revealing his face.

Zorro for Z is about as inevitable as it gets, unless you go with Zan of the Wonder Twins or the delightful Zot, despite the fact that an elder statesman on a chat list to which I belong was objecting just the other day that Zorro is not a superhero. He wears a mask and unique outfit while fighting injustice with special talents and weaponry, so he’s definitely one in my book, and I think has far more claim to the title than not only Elektra, Punisher, and Lion-O but arguably even Rorschach and Mandrake.

How did you do and what do you think?

Related: Lead the Wild Rumpus, Stark Marvel
and the Mouse
Huston, We Have Amalgam

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