Comic books and comic book characters never have been more in vogue.
There are comic book-based TV shows such as "The Walking Dead," "Arrow" and "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Seven movies built around comic books are planned for 2014, including "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which hits the big screen Thursday night. There are even comic book-themed trivia events. And, of course, comic books.
I talked to a few local comic book enthusiasts and asked for the four characters on their comic book Mount Rushmore.
Amanda Emmert, Owner of Muse Comics
If I were on the tourism board for South Dakota and trying to pull in tourist money, my comic book Mount Rushmore would have the most enduring, iconic faces on it - Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man. Those are the characters that people have grown up with and recognize. Those are the ones that mean something to almost everyone.
If this were my personal Rushmore, the characters would be a bit different. I'd have Death from the "Sandman" series, Katchoo from the "Strangers in Paradise" series, Catwoman from the DC series and Kabuki from the "Kabuki" series. As I grew more and more into comics, these were strong characters that I connected with the most and they've remained important to me throughout my career.
Bill Radford, The Gazette
Superman and Batman, two characters at the opposite ends of the spectrum (super powers galore vs. no powers) that have influenced so much that followed them. They say you're a Superman fan or a Batman fan; I'm both.
No. 3 is Spider-Man, who typifies the Marvel method and who, at least at one point, was a nerd behind the mask. No. 4 is a bit tougher. If it were simply my favorite, I'd have to say The Flash, because of the simplicity of his power (he runs fast). If it's sort of four landmark characters, I'd more likely go with Captain America, a part of Marvel before it was Marvel.
Clint Randolph, Founder of the Colorado Springs Comic and Toy Con
The Punisher, a vigilante who upholds his own brand of justice, no matter how graphic, but follows the law in a black, white and very gray style. Next is Lobo, a ruthless bounty hunter who does what he wants when he wants. He even took on Santa Claus in a comic. Bound by his word until he gets the job done.
Third would be Hawkeye, the bow-wielding marksman from "The Avengers." The very first comic I ever owned was an Avengers comic with him in it. I just liked the costume, and the idea of acid-tipped, explosive arrows was just cool. The final entry would be Stan Lee, not really a character unless you count his cameos in both comics and movies. But not much of the Marvel Universe would even be around without his ideas.
Ed Johnson, Owner of Ed's Cards & Comics
Hit-Girl from "Kick-Ass" - the comic book character, not the movie character. She is fearless against mafia and gangs but absolutely terrified of other sixth-grade girls. Since I have a daughter, she's No. 1. Wolverine is the first superhero that after fighting a crime could be found at a barbecue grilling a large steak and drinking a beer. He doesn't have milk and cookies like so many superheroes before him.
Spider-Man is only a kid that steps up to fight monsters that cops can't handle. He is mostly alone, not part of a team. Rick from "The Walking Dead" - again, the comic book character, not the TV show version. In only the third issue, he starts training all the surviving children proper handling of carrying and discharging firearms in case of a zombie attack. Rick is the superhero of the zombie apocalypse.
Richie Rich and his apparition Casper the Friendly Ghost are my favorite comic book characters.
For me, what makes for a fascinating comic book character is the ability to relate to the character. Superman deserves to be on comic book Mount Rushmore, but he's never had a place in my heart. He's always been too powerful to be relatable.
For my Mount Rushmore, I'd go with Spider-Man, Wolverine, Batman and Iron Man. Spidey was the first comic book character I fell in love with and I've always enjoyed his humor. Iron Man, Batman and Wolverine were fun reads as a kid, but they didn't really resonate until I got older. Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark and Logan might be superheroes, but they've also had plenty of heartbreak - something to which everyone can relate. They're also flat out cool.