Sunday, 8 April 2012

Super Heroes with vices Part 2 Other Smokers

In Part 1 of Superheroes with Vices, we looked at superheroes (and a couple of non-super characters in Marvel and DC) that enjoyed a good cigar, either every now and then, or (in the case of Nick Fury), fought WWII and the Cold War with a cigar as a permanent feature.  Cigars can  be seen as symbols, adding airs to certain characters.

In Part 2, we will look at Cigarette smokers, and other smokers.

Cigarette Smokers

Marvel seemed to have alot of cigar smokers, at least up until Joe Quesada introduced the No Smoking policy for Marvel characters (in the mainstream titles.  I believe the MAX line was exempt from this).  Which is fair enough from his point of view, as his grandfather died from a heart condition related to his smoking.  There didn't seem to be alot of cigarette smokers at Marvel, however.

And yet...

I don't know about you, but for Tony Stark, a man with a heart condition, I think smoking would be the first thing he should give up.  But, hey, he had some other, more serious vices to play with, as we will see later in subsequent posts.

While the occasional cigar may seem recreational (unless you were Nick Fury, in which case they were mandatory), cigarette smoking is more of a habit.  And there seems an air of the rebellious, or even self-destructive with cigarette smoking, as well as a certain 'cool' factor, even today.  For superheroes, who generally rely upon being fit and healthy, cigarette smoking seems counter-productive (unless you happen to have a healing ability, like Wolverine).  So the characters drawn to cigarette smoking were more along the lines of characters in the DC Vertigo line, particularly if your character had been written at some stage by an Englishman or an Irishman.

John Constantine, in the title 'Hellblazer', is a chain-smoking magician, who, for whatever reason, favours Silk Cuts, though he has been seen to smoke Malboros or Camels as well.
He was also famously diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in the story arc 'Dangerous Habits'.  He managed to wriggle out of that one with some creative deals with devils.  Lucky bugger.

Garth Ennis, the Irish writer who started his run on Hellblazer with the above-mentioned story, went on to co-create another smoking hero, the Reverend Jesse Custer, or 'Preacher' as he is perhaps better known.  An altogether more wholesome character than John Constantine, who can be a right bastard, but still with a vicious edge, and an axe to grind against God.  And, of course, a smoker.  When you possess the Voice of God, you probably want a bit of gravel in there for extra effect.
 And speaking of right bastards, there's no getting around Spider Jerusalem, from Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan.  An iconic bastard for iconic times.  And chain-smoking bastard to boot.

Pipe Smokers

Now we come to an odd group of smokers, the Pipe Smokers.  If cigars add a touch of class and sophistication, this is even truer for pipe smokers.  There is an element of decadence, or an air of intellectualism about pipe smokers.  And you may be surprised at who has been caught with a pipe in their mouths.

Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mister Fantastic from the Fantastic Four was, early on, an occasioanl pipe smoker
Other intellectuals who indulge in pipe smoking included Leonard (Doc) Sampson (Psychiatrist, later Gamma-irradiated super adventurer)

And that most decadent of alter-egos, Bruce Wayne
While I don't recall ever seeing Batman with a pipe, it seems that he liked to unwind as Bruce with a pipe, even sharing this indulgence with Commissioner Gordon.
And as Batman, he wasn't above giving tobacco as a gift

  Another intellectual super-hero who has been caught with a pipe is Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X of the X-Men

Other Smokers


 As for smokers of...other substances, there is very little evidence of that sort of thing going on in mainstream comics.  I mean, the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers have that sort of thing covered in the underground comics scene of the late '60's and '70's...

But they're hardly super-heroes, now are they.  But the odd hint is dropped here and there, like this one in Warlock, of Pip the Troll (again)
And while Doctor Strange never got actually 'busted' in his Ditko era, he always seemed to be around swirling incense and smoke (and we all know what that is used to cover up...), and his 'astral' form looked awfully 'smokey', we may just have to acknowledge that the Doctor Strange of the '60's was just a cracking read while smoking (or tripping, or whatever else happened back in the 'fuzzy' '60's). Meanwhile let's have a little giggle at the references that were placed, like this classic of Doctor Strange 'emerging from clearing mist' (that looks awfully like a smoke-ring), and encountering some very psychedelic guardians, on his search for a chap called 'Dormammu', whose head happens to be 'on fire' (Rather fortunate, if you need to spark up).  Boom!
And just what the hell is Batman up to now...?!?

(pictures used without permission, but with lots of love and respect.  Please don't sue me...)

Next: Drinkers

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