Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Neal Adams and the best super-hero hair in comics history

So, is it WAY too fannish (not to mention petty and superficial) to get fixated on a fictional character's hair? That aside, though, I think it can be argued that, in the case of male comic book super-heroes, the hair DOES make the man.

Would Wolverine be taken seriously as a badass if he DIDN'T sport the worst hairstyle in comics?

Would Charles Xavier be taken seriously as a brainy telepath if he weren't bald as a cueball?

While it's almost too easy to pick out comic book super-heroes with bad (or no) hair, finding heroes with consistently good hair is quite a challenge.

Where truly beautiful locks are concerned, the one character who immediately comes to mind is the Mighty Thor. Thor's traditionally long, golden locks are gorgeous -- and who in their right mind would want to mess with Thor? However, if Thor WASN'T a powerful Norse god who's really, really good in a brawl, could anyone take him seriously with that beautiful hair? The super-hero trappings aside, Thor looks like he belongs on the cover of an old romance novel. Hardly the type of hero the average (male) comic book reader would gravitate toward if he WASN'T an all-powerful Norse god.

One hero who has almost always had great hair is Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan. Many Green Lantern fans over the years -- and even some non-fans -- HAVE noted that Hal, almost without exception, has truly great and enviable hair without coming across as a "pretty boy."

Blame it on Hal's designer, if you wish. When Gil Kane designed Hal in 1959, he did two things rarely seen in comics. First, Kane gave Hal brown hair. Brown hair was VERY rare in comics at the time. Heroes were more likely to be blond or raven-haired. Even redheads and bald guys were more common than characters with brown hair.

Second, when Kane drew Hal in flight, Hal's hair actually MOVED and got MESSY. That was almost unheard of in comics, which were filled with heroes who never seemed to get one hair out of place. Superman, especially, seemed to be the King of Brylcreem -- not one hair on Supes' head ever seemed to stray from his sleek, shiny, spitcurled locks. By comparison, Hal's hair, as drawn by Kane, seemed unhampered by grooming products -- though it always looked good. Messy, but good.

Then along came artist Neal Adams. He took Gil Kane's hairstyle for Hal and made it even BETTER. While it's easy to argue that Neal Adams makes darn near EVERYTHING look good, the way he drew Hal's hair really set the bar for all Green Lantern artists who have followed. In a way, Adams really spoiled a lot of Green Lantern fans into always expecting the best where Hal's hair is concerned.

As much as I adore the work of Hal's current regular artist, Ivan Reis, I kind of have a quibble with the way he does Hal's hair. I mean, Hal's hair, as drawn by Reis, is fine. It looks good, and I still believe Reis is Hal's best artist since Neal Adams. However, when Adams drew Hal's hair, it was nothing short of magnificent. In Adam's hands, Hal's hair was gorgeous.

It was thick.

It was luxurious.

It was almost a character in its own right!

And, as drawn by Neal Adams, Hal's hair was ALWAYS beautiful, even when it was messy ...

... or when Hal was getting hit in the head.

Arguably, Hal Jordan has the best super-hero hair in comics. It contributes to Hal's reputation as a self-centered, arrogant, shallow (though VERY heroic and fun-to-watch) jerk. Really, what other type of character could you have with hair that good?

So, all through his comic book history, has Hal ever had bad hair? Well ...

... er, no further comments.


ComicsAllTooReal's Chris said...

Really inspiring article. I also remember liking Hal's hair when I was a kid and I tried to have that little curl. I found it odd, though, that it resembled so much to Superman's.

I guess the cherry on the top was when he got sideburns.

Erica said...

... and I thought I had bad hair days sometimes.

SallyP said...

Oh Heaven's yes, Hal has always had simply magnificent hair. The brown, combined with his brown eyes was unnusual, and quite attractive. It had a bit of a wave to it, and was nice and thick and messy.

I always liked Kyle's hair when it was all floppy, so I was pleased to see Doug Mahnke drawing it that way again. It just suits him somehow.

And yes, I fell in love with Thor's hair when I was only fifteen.


MetFanMac said...


Um. Um um um.

...Context? Please?? 0_o

Sea-of-Green said...

You mean that last scan? Oh, that's from a Green Lantern/Flash crossover story in the early '90s, during which Hal got de-evolved (DEVO!) into a caveman, or whatever. It was pretty funny, actually. :-)

L'encreblogueur said...

Yeah ! Nice work ! It's a very good blog and a intersting article.

Sea-of-Green said...

Why, thank you! :-)