Click to viewLast night marked the season finale of The Middleman, which means we will have to bid a fond farewell to our favorite abstract impressionist/superhero-in-training, for the time being. But Wendy Watson isn't the first visual artist to battle mad scientists, alien threats, and the occasional paranormal terror. In honor of Ms. Watson, we've assembled a list of superheroes who are artists in their spare time (plus a few villains, to boot).Janet van Dyne (The Wasp), like Wendy Watson, draws her inspiration from her heroic exploits, designing new outfits for each mission. Her work did eventually catch the eye of the mainstream fashion world, but that hasn't stopped her from redesigning the costumes of her teammates in the Avengers - whether they like it or not.
Amalgam hero Logan Wayne (Dark Claw) is a mash-up of Batman and Wolverine. He has Wolverine's skeleton and Bruce Wayne's wealth, but he brings something of his own to the mix: a talent for creating feral, abstract paintings, the sale of which supplements those inherited millions. The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, one of Kay Challis' (Crazy Jane) numerous personalities, can bring her paintings to psychoactive life, in Doom Patrol. And thanks the shattered nature of Kay's psyche, the artworks already possess an added layer of creepiness.
Before entering the Xavier Institute, the X-ManKevin Ford (aka Wither) hides out in a junkyard, fearing the consequences of human contact with his withering touch. With nothing else to do, he builds sculptures from the scrap.
Linda Danvers was obsessed with Supergirl even before she merged with Matrix to become Supergirl, sculpting figurines of the heroine. A super-powered Linda does eventually return to sculpture and finally gets an art show, only to have it interrupted by the Parasite, in Peter David's Supergirl comic. Rick Tyler dreams of being an artist, but his scientist father wants him to be a scientist, too. Eventually, he does follow in his father's footsteps by taking up the Hourman mantle.
Another superhero offspring, Jack Knight (Starman) studies fine arts, but later gives it up. No, not to fight crime. He just decides that collectibles are far more interesting than paint. X-Man Piotr Rasputin (Colossus) would rather be painting than doing battle. Thanks to a trip through the Siege Perilous and a bout of amnesia, he gets his wish for a time, living in SoHo as famed New York artist Peter Nicholas.
Wallace would similarly like to forget his soldier past and go on to an illustrious painting career. But his proper, uptight nature simply doesn't mesh with Sin City's lust for nudie pics. Sure, Peter Parker made his name by taking pictures of himself as Spider-Man (a feat of more technical than visual artistry), but he does score a Pulitzer for his photo of Sentry, and the Bugle puts out a coffee table book of his Spidey work. And we'd be remiss not mention the comic book artists who've opted to fight crime:
Isaac Mendez paints the future when he's high on heroin. But his less drug-influenced comic, 9th Wonders!, is similarly predictive. Unfortunately, even the most precognitive bouts of painting are of little use when a head-splitting villain shows up on your doorstep.
Kyle Rayner's work as a comic book artist prepared him for life as a Green Lantern. With a ring that manifests his imagination, Rayner's childhood dreams of superheroes suddenly transform into a fierce weapon. The multi-talented Steve Rogers spent some time working at (where else?) Marvel Comics in the Captain America comic book. And, probably due to his great insight into the character, he took on art duties for Captain America. With Ethan Crane, Alan Moore takes the comic-book-artists-as-superheroes meta to a whole new level. Moore took over the reigns on the comic book Supreme by reintroducing Supreme as a comic book artist, working on a book with a rebooted hero and a new writing staff.
Artist villains aren't merely evil; they lack taste. Thwarted in the art world, they enact their villainy in hideously rainbow-colored outfits:
Albrecht Raines couldn't hack it as an artist, and tried to enter the lucrative world of counterfeiting. But his less-than-stellar use of color tipped off the Green Arrow, who foiled his fraud. This prompted Raines to become the Rainbow Archer, outfitting himself in every color, save the green of his archer nemesis.
Tragically named Roy G. Bivolo's artistic dreams were similarly dashed thanks to his colorblindness. Once he got his hands on a pair of super-powered goggles, the Rainbow Raider took revenge on the art world by stealing paintings and wearing clashing colors, until he ran up against the Flash.
Crazy Quilt merged his criminal activities with his artistic streak by leaving instructions for his henchmen in his paintings. But it wasn't until he went blind and got new, experimental, madness-inducing inducing eyes that he entered Batman's rogues gallery as a patchwork-themed menace.