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10 Superheroes Who Rock and Roll

Nov 4, 2011

Ten superheroes who moonlight as musicians.

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Superheroes’ alter egos often fit a familiar mold. Some are millionaires like Iron Man and Batman, others practice law, as seen with Daredevil and She-Hulk, while others follow journalist trades, such as Spider-Man and Superman.

Then there are the more musically-inclined heroes, a far less traditional occupational path for a super-powered avenger. Here are ten who have what it takes to be the next comic book idol.

1. The Crow: Before being made famous by Brandon Lee in the 1994 film “The Crow,” this hero resided solely in Caliber comic books, where his first incarnation, Eric Draven, was a musician murdered during a car jacking.

Sadly, he had to give up his hopes and dreams of being a star to fight crime and avenge his and his girlfriends’ gruesome deaths — a far easier path than the cutthroat world of music, I’m sure.

2. Dazzler: Next to The Crow, Dazzler’s by far the most famous — at least among comic book fans — musician-turned-hero. And for good reason: the mutant was originally meant to be a crossover promotion between Marvel Comics and Casablanca Records.

After years of delays, Casablanca pulled out and Marvel, with a Disco queen character they had extensively promoted, decided to introduce Dazzler in February of 1980. The company had so much confidence in their creation that they gave Dazzler — whose ability to turn sound into lasers made her a star — her own series, which lasted a surprising 42 issues.

Since then, Dazzler has gone in and out of the various X-Men series and her music has evolved from disco to adult contemporary. She currently lives with the X-Men in San Fransisco, so try to catch a show if you can!

3. Zenith: Zenith is an obscure character created by Grant Morrison in 1987 and appeared in the Fleetway Comics anthology ’2000 A.D.’ as a representation of Morrison’s view of Generation X.

The son of two government-sponsored heroes who turned hippie in the 1960s, Zenith preferred to use his powers to promote his own career as a pop star. A series of battles, however, sets Zenith on the heroic course — sort of; while he’s willing to fight villains, he remains apathetic and selfish through the course of his career, just like the generation on which he was based.

4. Nightmaster: Only those who follow DC Comics’ supernatural titles will remember Nightmaster, a hero created in 1969 and left to rot in the vaults until he began appearing in imprint Vertigo titles like ‘Animal Man,’ ‘The Books of Magic’ and ‘Swamp Thing.’

The hero’s story goes like this: Jim Rook headed up a rock band called “The Electrics” until he was transported to another dimension, where he was informed he comes from a long line of heroes who wield a magic sword. That sword’s powers include forcing people to tell the truth, sensing danger and slowing Nightmaster’s aging. That’s good for the entertainment industry, but overall pretty lame, which explains why he faded into relative obscurity. He should have stuck to music.

5. Lila Cheney: No relation to Dick Cheney, Britain-born Lila Cheney’s a teleporting mutant who also performed with Dazzler and a fictionalized version of the real life folk rock band Cats Laughing. In fact, the real Cats Laughing appeared at least twice in X-Men-related books: ‘Excalibur #5′ and a the 1990 one-shot ‘Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem.’

As for Lila Cheney, she first had dealings with youthful X-Men spinoff team the New Mutants, and later the more adult X-Men and X-Factor, but generally maintains a surprisingly low profile for a rock star.

6. Icarus: Between Dazzler, Lila Cheney and their various other performers — Nightcrawler was a circus performer — the X-Men could have their very own variety hour, and winged hero Icarus could play guitar.

Like Dazzler and Zenith, Icarus used his abilities as a sideshow to his brief career, which came to an end after the villainous William Stryker had his wings violently hacked off, thereby killing the lad.

It was a sad end, especially since Icarus, who had attempted suicide a number of times, was finally coming to terms with his mutation. As Billy Joel said, “Only the good die young.”

7. Siren: Alright, Siren was technically a villainess, but I simply could not resist including this character, created specifically for the 60s-era “Batman” series and portrayed by Joan Collins.

Siren could, predictably, entrance men with her lyrical abilities. Oft-married Collins took the role to heart.

8. Mezzrow: Journalist Spencer Ackerman suggested I include alien musician Mezzrow from ‘Nexus,’ which is good, because I never read the Dark Horse comic.

I can’t be certain of this, but Mezzrow may be named after jazz musician Mezz Mezzrow, who helped launch the careers of Tommy Ladnier and Sidney Bechet. The fictional Mezzrow, meanwhile, preferred rock and roll and will tour the galaxy in the year 2494. Get your tickets now!

9. John Constantine: Most of us know John Constantine for his endless battle against the forces of darkness in ‘Swamp Thing,’ ‘Justice League Dark’ and his own Vertigo series, ‘Hellblazer.’ And, of course, from the big-screen adaptation starring Keanu Reeves.

Before he became an occultist detective, though, Constantine became inspired by a Sex Pistols show in San Francisco and subsequently formed his own punk band, “Mucous Membrane.”

It’s unsurprising Constantine pursued a career in music: creator Alan Moore and artists Steve Bissette and John Totleben modeled the character’s appearance on real-life musician Sting.

10. Witchfire: Witchfire entered the DC Comics scene in 2002 as a former singer, actress and model who became a magic-wielding superhero for a team called The Power Company. She’s not one of the DC Universe’s most famous characters, nor necessarily original, but with a pair of — er — lungs like that, I’m sure she can sing with the best of them.

Could a duet with fellow magician John Constantine be far off?

Special thanks to Elana Levin, Spencer Ackerman, Kevin Murphy, Dirk Lester, Matt Bors and all of the fan boys and girls who helped me compile this list.

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