Transformed by Mysterious Space Magic Showdown, Round One: Mayor Mitchell Hundred (a.k.a. The Great Machine) vs. Green Lantern
Name: Mayor Mitchell Hundred, a.k.a., The Great Machine
Origin Story: New York City civil engineer Mitchell Hundred was just a normal guy with an odd name and ambiguous sexuality until the fateful night he was tasked with checking out a glowing green thing stuck to the Brooklyn Bridge. The cryptic artifact – mystic technology from another dimension – imbued Mitchell with the power to communicate with – and to varying degrees control – mechanical objects. After a brief career as a costumed crime fighter known as the Great Machine – the awkward name an ironic appropriation of Thomas Jefferson’s famous term for government — Mitchell quit the vigilante life to pursue an allegedly more legitimate form of public service: Running for mayor. He was elected in 2002, his campaign helped by his heroics on 9/11: In the fictional world of Ex Machina, Hundred stopped the second plane from taking down the second tower of the World Trade Center. During his single term, Hizzoner Hundred heroically tackled a number of controversial hot button issues, including gay marriage, drug legalization, hate speech, terrorism and more.
Costume: As The Great Machine, Hundred was a thrown-together Rocketeer: Fighter pilot helmet, biker leather, a jet pack and belts and straps and buckles. As mayor of New York? Suit and power tie, of course.
Cool powers/abilities: Besides the supernatural ability to commune with machines, Hundred was armed with various weapons and gadgets, many of which were designed by his prickly mentor, Kremlin, a Russian immigrant and Coney Island mechanic.
Defining Stories: The entire 50-issue run of Ex Machina, created by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris. We nominated Aaron Sorkin to handle the big screen (or HBO) adaptation. (Unless Vaughan wants to do it himself.)
Cultural Legacy: Mitchell Hundred is the Ralph Nader of our bracket competition, a fringe candidate and underfunded underdog who – let’s face it – is unlikely to progress much further in this contest. (Especially considering the competition.) Yet his epic and sobering arc is the most relevant riff on “with great power comes great responsibility” themes that superhero comics have given us so far in this new century, not to mention a potent if slightly cynical cultural yawp against partisan politics as usual. It also represents the medium’s best attempt to grapple with real-world issues since a certain fabled set of stories starring Hundred’s first round opponent… —Jeff Jensen
Name: Green Lantern
Origin Story: Depends on which Green Lantern you’re talking about, of course. The Golden Age original, created in 1940, was a railroad engineer named Alan Scott who channeled the mystic energies of a magic lantern via a ring of his own design. This Green Lantern was the one who was recently rebooted as a gay man, and resides in a parallel universe known as Earth 2. But the Green Lantern that shall sally forth in our bracket battle is the Silver Age reboot, introduced in 1959, i.e., Hal Jordan, a hot shot test pilot who learns humility and gains higher purpose after being tapped by a dying extra-terrestrial super-cop – a member of the Green Lantern Corps., overseen by big-headed, blue-skinned Guardians of the Universe – as his replacement.
Costume: Green and gray leotard, domino mask, emerald bling.
Coolest power: With his power ring, which generates objects of solid viridian-hued light, Green Lantern can –through application of will power — conjure anything he can imagine. Additional benefits: Flight, life support, mental telepathy, more. Older stories gave the ring a flaw: It couldn’t work against anything yellow. In more recent stories, the ring is basically as strong – or as weak – as the wearer’s moral character.
Defining stories: Showcase #22 by John Broome and Gil Kane; The Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams; Green Lantern: Rebirth by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver; Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps. War by Johns and various artists; The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke.
Cultural Legacy: At heart, the Silver Age Green Lantern is a giddy-geeky embodiment of Space Race-era gee-whiz will-to-power optimism and possibility… and Cold War America ‘policeman of the world’ self-righteousness. He’s a cop archetype, and useful to comic book writers as a means to explore both the good and bad of institutions dedicated to protecting and prosecuting law and order. In the late sixties, O’Neil and Adams produced a legendary string of politically-charged comics by playing Green Lantern as an avatar of The Man, well-meaning and decent, but obedient to the system, resistant to change, and conservative, a foil to counter-culture firebrand Green Arrow. In more recent times, Green Lantern stories have been pure sci-fi fantasy escapism, and the best succeed as rollicking space operas. Maybe Hollywood should consider a movie adaptation. Check that: A good movie adaptation. —Jeff Jensen
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