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Dylan Dog Goes to the USA: A North-American Translation of an Italian Comic Book Series

Comics in the world have reached millions of readers in the world since most of them have been published in translated languages. For instance, countries like Italy, Austria, and Germany are the leading nations in production of translated manuscripts. Inadequate research has however been conducted to unravel the mystery that comic books carry in them.

  • Italian publishers of comic books

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Some of the articles written have focused on the aspects comics translation paying much regard to aspects such as onomatopoeias, proper names, puns, allusions, and citations that are a characteristic of the comic, but not explicit to the medium in place. Italian comic books have undergone translation to a great extent. Over 70% of all comic books that have undergone publication in Italy have been translated. Most of these are from Japan, making around 45% of the comics, those from America make around 40% of the comics, and the rest are comics from Argentina and French. The leading houses of publishing books and comic series are Sergio Bonelli Editore and Disney Italia. Several authors have been phased out in the advent of commercial television. However, Sergio Bonelli managed to survive the ordeal. The publishing house is accredited with the publication of over twenty titles in every month thanks to over two hundred and fifty draughtsman and authors. Bonelli comics are twelve thousand annually on average and close to a hundred and sixty published pages that are already in stock.

  • Dylan Dog

Sergio Bonelli is the publisher who is accredited with creation of Italian comics of genre. The stories and all the series while usually having American settings that are out of the ordinary are drafted and combined by authors of Italian origin. New narrative genres began to gain entry into the aboriginal tradition of Italy traditional of editing. These genres include mystery, science fiction, detective fiction, and horror.

Dylan Dog combines the detective and horror story, the extremely fashionable and triumphant narrative genres with a special touch on romance. Dylan Dog therefore appeals to a very large population comprised of male and female and adults and teenagers. Dylan Dog resembles Rupert Everett and he is almost hitting the 40 year mark. His residence is in London. He was a Scotland Yard detective but an alcoholic. He is currently a vegetarian who plays the clarinet in reference to Sherlock Holmes-a famous detective who resides in London and used to play violin.

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Dylan Dog keenly involves himself in modeling, drives a Volkswagen beetle, has phobia in flying, keen in modeling, does not smoke, and he falls in love with any woman he happens to meet in many of his adventures.

He lives with Groucho, his assistant who actually double of Groucho Marx, as the renowned American comedian was used to doing. Dylan Dog’s enemies are not expressly defined. The distinction between evil and good in Dyland Dog’s works is as clear as the daylight. American heroes are always very strong, blond, and they understand how to behave in comic publishing.

All About Italian Comics

Comic books are loved all over the world and offer a slice of humor and wit which takes the reader away from real life problems for a short while. While they may not be as well known as their American counterparts, Italian comics have consistently provided talented creative people who in turn have created iconic comic characters that are loved to this day. In fact, many of the most popular of Italian comics have been translated into various other languages all over the world.

Fumetto refers to the balloon like image that pops up to contain a character’s dialogue and the word translates to little puff of smoke’. This term is often used in English to refer to picture comics, no matter where the comic is published or produced. Italian fumetto has always targeted the youth for educational and propaganda purposes as the young minds can get influenced into a certain way of thinking. The first satirical publication made its appearance in a daily newspaper named L’Arlecchino in 1848 and other noteworthy satirical papers were also published during that period.

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Some publications for kids gained popularity during that time which includes titles like Il Giornale per I Fanciulli, Il Giornale dei Bambini and Il Giovinetto Italiano. In 1908, the first issue of Il Corriere dei Piccoli was published and this was considered to be the first mainstream publication dedicated to comics. The Adventures of Bilbolbul was published which is considered to be the first Italian comic character and it was the adventures of a little black kid drawn by artist Attiliio Mussino.

Interestingly, the Corrierino does not use the familiar speech bubbles in the stories it publishes, instead it used captions in verse. Antonio Rubino was a very prolific illustrator especially before the First World War. American comics were introduced to the Italian audience through Il Corrierino. American comics like ‘The Katzenjammer Kids’ was renamed ‘Bibì e Bibò’, ‘Bringing Up Father’ was renamed ‘Arcibaldo e Petronilla’, ‘Happy Hooligan’ was renamed ‘Fortunello’ and ‘Felix the Cat’ became ‘Mio Mao’.

After seeing the success of Il Corrierino, several periodicals also appeared over the years like Donnina, Piccolo mondo and Il Giornaletto. During the Fascist regime, periodicals were used by the regime as a means of propaganda to reach and influence the Italian youth. By 1939 foreign comics were banned from being published in Italy and there were restrictions on what material could be printed and they had to exalt patriotism, heroism and the superiority of the Italian race. The only exception to this rule was Mickey Mouse which was renamed Topolino which was the Italian name for him.

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In 1932, Jumbo was started by Milan publisher Lotario Vecchi and this is considered to be the first true publication of Italian comics. The end of the Second World War saw a whole bunch of publications that were suspended during the war being released and this caused a huge influx of publications that saturated the stands. The Venetian school of comics was born and the distinctive style of the five Italian artists (Damiano Damiani, Dino Battaglia, Alberto Ongaro, Hugo Pratt and Rinaldo D’Ami) earned them that name.

Now Disney Italy produces a huge amount of Disney comics that star the loved comic characters of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. After the 1960s the production of Disney comics in the US started dwindling, and this gap was filled by companies in Italy, apart from South America and Denmark. Italy now makes up 50% o the total production for Disney and prints over 8000 pages of new Disney tales and also keeps creating innovative series which become very popular.

Diabolik: The Crime fighter Anti Hero

Diabolik takes an unusual twist to the story telling format with a break from the clean and good superheroes that we have come to know and love. Recognizing that there is a gap in producing a comic character that also does good, but takes justice into his own hands, Diabolik was born. Created by the Giussani sisters – Angela and Luciana in 1962, his stories were published in pocket sized books which contributed to the popularity of the comic book. Appearing n black and white monthly editions, Diabolik was inspired by French and Italian pulp fiction. Just this sentence should give you an idea of what to expect in the comic books.

The idea behind the character was born when Angela Giussani noticed a lot of commuters travelling with reading material which leaned more towards mystery novels – this gave her the idea of the ‘Diabolik format’ – a small 12 x 17 cm book that could easily fit in a travelers pocket. When you think of Diabolik, think of a combination of Robin Hood and the Phantom. In all his adventures, he rarely, if ever kills the innocent or the police but will resort to violence and killing criminals if he deems it necessary. Stealing from criminals, he uses a variety of masks that can disguise his actual identity.

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A straightforward villain, his character was softened to reduce the series violence by showing him stealing only from criminals. This ‘Robin Hood’ image probably helped in maintaining the popularity of the character as dark characters are harder to find popularity in mainstream series. Raised as an orphan, he learned various life and criminal skills and took his name from a dangerous black panther that was killed on the secret island that he grew up in.

Issue 3 onwards sees him gaining his aide, partner and eventually lover, Eva Kant who helps him in all his adventures. Apparently the character is graphically inspired by actor Robert Taylor and he goes around doing his nefarious deeds wearing a skintight black body suit that reveals only his eyes and distinctly shaped eyebrows. He never uses firearms and relies on stealth and weapons like daggers, knockout darts etc to render his enemies dead or unconscious.

His only adversary and opponent is Inspector Ginko who is incorruptible and always gets thwarted by Diabolik’s tricks. Set in the fictional city of Clerville, it is clear that the story is set somewhere in Europe seeing that the currency used is the euro since 2000. Perhaps the character of Diabolik is more realistic that we can imagine because unlike other superhero comics, diabolic can get injured. His skintight suit can serve him well for diving and is fire proof but there are no unrealistic claims that it can stop bullets or the like. Fortunately, we see him in action and he uses his fighting skills to always stay ahead in the game.

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He steals his victim’s or enemies identities by using photorealistic masks so that he can impersonate them for his own purposes. Although they are used for every burglary he commits so that his identity is protected, the couple use their disguises at times when they are going out for a meal to avoid being recognized. Published as a succession of series, some even as long as a year, they were passed on to Patricia Martinelli and others after the Giussani sisters relinquished the reins to Diabolik. A movie titled ‘Danger Diabolik’ was released in 1968 that was adapted from the comic series and continues to be published to this day, and has also been translated into Tamil and released in India.

PKNA – Disney Italy’s Superhero Comic

This Italian comic is published by Disney Italy since 1996 and ended in 2000. The story of the comic revolves around the adventure of Paperinik who was a superhero that was created by Guido Martina, Elisa Penna and Giovan Battista Carpi. PKNA stands for Paperinik New Adventures and this also was Donald Duck’s Secret Identity. At its release, the comic was lauded for its innovative approach from an animation giant that tends to cater certain types of characters to its audience.

The first issue was called Evroniani and it featured the enemies of Paperinik who are an alien race known as the Evroniani. Paperinik’s two allies were also introduced in this issue and there are the A.I. Uno which means One who lives in Ducklair tower, a skyscraper and Lyla Lay who is a journalist as well as a robot used by a Time police organization in the 23rd century.

Even though the series stopped getting published in 2001, earlier this year, it was announced by IDW Publishing that an official English translation of the comic series would be started and it would be written by Jonathan Gray under the catchy title ‘Duck Avenger’. The writers of PKNA published ore adult content in comparison with the classical Disney stories published in the Italian Magazine Topolino. They explored various possibilities like the relationship between man and robot, the never ending struggle of doing what’s right and what makes sense, the concept of true love, the differences between the human race and other alien races, the concept of being a superhero and what it entails, the fine line between power and knowledge and the importance of the past and what it can teach us.

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Young writers of the team included Davide Catenacci, Gianfranco Cordora, Bruno Enna, Simone Stenti, Ezio Sisto and more. The comic series was viewed as a starting ground for many new authors who were given the freedom to conceptualize, innovate and bring a new twist to the conventional storytelling format that Disney and other comic companies usually followed. This is bridged the gap between the classical Disney comics and the new series of superhero comics that were gaining popularity everywhere.

The reason why they chose Donald Duck and made Paperinik his alter superhero ego is because the audience was slow to reception and also in accepting a huge jump. Even to this day, people associate Disney with being kid friendly and accordingly, having cartoon characters that are targeted at that young audience. This caused a slow transition to be made towards more graphic content and sharper story telling formats.

This can be seen in the earlier issues of PKNA as the one sole superhero vows to save the world from the evil Evronian race that have been depopulating a large number of worlds, enslaving other alien races. The fighting sequences show the typical slapstick Disney violence and not the graphic content that you tend to see in modern day superhero comics. There was no graphic violence or killing shown in the issues and people were content with new transformation which was vastly different from the usual conservative content that Disney normally produced.

The character of Paperinik was firmly established as a real superhero when other Disney characters were removed from the issues and connections with them were cut short as the series progressed further. Even if other Disney characters were featured in earlier issues, they were either reduced to a minimum or were eliminated. His further reinforced the idea and concept that PK was related to but very different from the mostly parody but fun Donald Duck character.

Fumetto: Statistics and Facts about Italian Comics

When comics first made their appearance in the United Sates, they too were introduced in Italy after a few years. From 1908 onwards, certain comics were printed in the weekly paper Corriere dei Piccoli like Mimmi (Buster Brown), Cirillino (The Newlyweds), Bubbi (Little Nemo) and more. The American drawings were adapted to the style prevalent at the time in Italy and the speech bubbles which were considered to be non educational were removed in favor of rhyming captions. Many comics reflected the art movements of the time like Cubism, Moderism and Dadaism and reached a high level of quality.

The Italian Comics Market offers a lucrative one and the lion’s share of the market is held by Sergio Bonelli Editore at 40% and Walt Disney Company Italia at 60% of that percentage and this combined share sells a hundred million copies annually. In comparison, Linus sells only 30,000 copies every month and Comic Art comes next with sales of 10,000 monthly. The big players tend to do well with mainstream comics and the only exception to that rule is the dark comic Diabolik which is the only representative of black comics and it sells around 150,000 copies monthly.

Let’s take a look at the more popular family weeklies. Il Giornalino publishes fine Italian series and they sell around 150,000 copies weekly. Two comic strips created by Silver – Lupo Alberto (the blue fox) as well as Cattivik sell around 100,000 copies monthly. Comix has content that is produced by TV and music hall comedians and it sells around 15,000 copies every week. Its content is mainly humor and satirical in nature.

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Just like Walt Disney, Marvel also has an Italian branch that produces a bulk of their superhero comics and they are in a good place right now with the company experiencing a slight boom which has rocketed their sales to 6 million copies a year. It is to be noted that majority of the comics are produced in comic strip format which are sold to papers but a small minority of that is sold in the form of books. These do not enjoy large sales as they are sold mainly in bookshops. Translations of classics like Asterix, Tintin and Lucky Luke make up this segment, while also including the works of Italian artists like Manara, Pratt and Crepax.

As compared to newspapers in other countries, Italy has very few if any at all, newspapers that publish comics. This is because syndication is not possible to be profitable due to the small number of newspapers in Italy which amounts to only around a hundred. On the other hand, there are newspapers that comic book done by various artists every week with their newspaper. Repubblica had given away books about different artists and comic characters each week. This ran for a year and featured not only comic strip examples but also detailed biographies which have become collectibles years down the line. This action was also repeated in Belgium a few years later.

Merchandising inspired by Italian comic characters began to catch on in popularity from the late 1980s onwards. It is cheaper to buy comics in Italy than it is to buy it in the US. A 96 page Black and White comic book can cost as little as 2 Euros. This ensures that the popularity doesn’t wane. 97% of all Italian comics are sold at the country’s 27,000 newsstands and are distributed by 3 national distributors and 175 local distributers with the percentages kept by them ranging from 30% – 50%. It is only recently that comics have found shelf space in book stores and department stores.

Popular American Comic Book Hero That Is Unknown In The US

Many people are fascinated with America – The food, the culture, the country. So much so, that a comic book hero was created to be American and became immensely popular but the funny thing is that he is relatively unknown in the US. The reason is because this comic book character is not found in an American comic book, but in a fumetto or Italian comic book.

The comic stars Lazarus Ledd who was a member of a secret covert branch of the US Army named COBRA and who, tiring of the death, destruction and violence leaves to make a new life for himself. He chooses to make a new identity as a cab driver in New York by changing his name and face and leaving his past identity as soldier Ronald Gordon behind, but as all these stories go, he does get found out by a mysterious Mr. Garret. This guy runs a cover organization that goes after criminals. Posing as a journalist and a civilian working for the New York Bugle, Lazarus uses his considerable skills in catching the bad guys.

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As many critics have said, this comic series feels more like an American movie that is brought to life with the various action sequences and makes you forget that it is only drawn on paper. Brought to life in 1993, he soon gained a large fan following in different countries like Brazil, Croatia, Korea, Yugoslavia and even became a number one most popular comic for many years in Australia.

He may represent the New Age hero – one that has a dark side to him and doesn’t always play by the rules. This comic is also noted for its take on the right and wrong of things, their differences or the lack thereof, which hails Lazarus as the new hero for the millennium. First published in Italy in 1993 by Edizione Star Comics, many authors have contributed to the existence of Lazarus Ledd. Writers who have worked on Lazarus Ledd include Marcello Toninelli, Stefano Vietti, Ade Capone with the illustrators and artists who create the final page are Alberto Gennari, Giancarlo Olivares, Emanuelo Barison and Stefano Raffaele.

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Lazarus seems to be the new character enjoying a wave of Anti hero popularity.  When Ade Capone first conceptualized Lazarus, it wasn’t accepted until he made the transition to the smaller run Star Comics who accepted his proposal. Working on this character, it was well received but many predicted its downfall. Yet, month after month saw Lazarus’ popularity grow. Interestingly, this comic follows the classic recognizable Bonelli comic strip format without being a Bonelli Strip.

Released in 1993 when a boom of popularity for comics had hit Italy, it faced competition from other comics like Dylan Dog and Nathan Never. In many ways Larry (as he is known to his friends), leads a double life that he himself struggles with. He longs for a normal life which is why he left behind his army days as a special soldier yet he finds that pull to bring people to justice. This internal struggle is what lands him in trouble at times because he cannot walk away from people in trouble due to his sense of duty.

There have been some observations about this comic series as it has been worked on by a number of different draftsmen. Being a new and small company, many people are encouraged to come and work there so this means that Larry gets a different hand working on his character quite frequently. This can mean that there will be a loss of quality, but so far he seems to be going strong and we can only wait to see what the future will hold for Larry.

The Legacy of Lupo Alberto

The blue wolf created in 1974 became hugely popular with many people in Italy and is still going strong to this day. There are many comics that are being produced in Italy every day and although many of them remain popular at a local level, only a few have caught the attention and love of the people like how Lupo Alberto has. The concept is a little ridiculous and child like when you think about it. A blue wolf is engaged to a hen. That concept would be utterly absurd in real life, yet it is these inconsistencies that play on our imagination and take the ridiculous to another level. People know that this is entertainment and nothing takes it to that level as much as Lupo.

Let’s start with what Lupo means. Translated from Italian, lupo means wolf – rather straightforward there. Created by Guido Silvestri, the comic series details the adventures of the blue wolf who takes the shape of a common man and faces quite a bit of bad luck as he attempts to fulfill his goal in life. He is a resident of the McKenzie farm and funnily enough, tries to steal a hen away from the farm. The hen’s name is Marta and she is Lupo’s girlfriend.

Perhaps it is this premise that brings to the forefront that it is just plain and simple fun. Many farmers would know that wolves always try to steal their hens but for the wrong reasons. Bringing in the element of love and a romantic relationship brings humor to an otherwise pesty topic. Moses, the sheepdog tries to thwart his every attempt to take Marta away. In fact, the first strips of the comic series featured the conflicts between Lupo and Moses.

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At first, this comic strip was published by Silvestri in the 1970s magazine Corriere dei Ragazzi which was owned by Corriere della Sera. A year later, the first series was published by Dardo which completely dedicated the series to the character. As of 1985, monthly series have been released with a few short lived series which are made up of 8 issues and those were launched between the years 1983 – 1984. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the blue wolf, an exhibition was held in 2009.

What makes Lupo so different and distinct is his unique color. His fur is a vibrant azure and is very eye catching. Many studies have been made to see the effect of color and the popularity of a comic. If something looks more normal, people tend to notice it less and it will blend into the many comics that are released every year. But this distinct azure blue color ensures that it stays in people’s minds.

The comic strip has found a large fan following in teenagers and the makers have taken advantage of this by creating a rich merchandizing franchise that sells greeting cards and school diaries. Capitalizing on the fame and popularity of the comic book was just the logical step to increase sales in relation to the comic while also further cementing its popularity with the young readers. In fact, this comic character was so popular that Lupo was used in a massive anti – AIDS campaign during the 19990s which was promoted by the Italian Minstry of Public Health and the comic character emphasized the importance of condoms and safe sex.

An animated series was released by Warner Bros. Records and was co-produced by Rai Trade ad Mondo TV in 1997 and is available in both English and Italian. There are various other characters that appear in the series like Henry (Enrico) who is a mole, Esther (Cesira) who’s Henry’s wife and is also a mole, Alfred(o) who is a turkey, Ludwig (Lodovico) who is a horse, Einstein (Odoardo) who is Marta’s cousin and a whole bunch for. Basically, this fun menagerie of farm animals will keep you entertained for a while and it is a comic for everyone.

Top Italian Comics

Italians are known the world over for their passion and their unique cuisine, but what the world doesn’t know is they make great comic books. Although they are not as popular as their DC and MARVEL counterparts, they have their fair share of fan followings and the characters range from the heroes to the anti heroes and with a comical twist to detective comics. Here are some of the best Italian comics.

  • Martin Mystère

This comic book stars the protagonist of the same name as the comic and was created by writer Alfredo Castelli and artists Giancarlo Alessandrini. First published in 1982 in Italy by Sergio Bonelli Editore, it told the tales and adventure of Martin. It has been adapted into various languages and often the name has been changed in different countries. For example, the comic is known as Martin Mystery in the US. He seems to be quite the detective with a little bit of James Bond’s sauve and Indiana Jones’ talents. He is an adventurer, television producer, archaeologist, anthropologist, art historian and collects unusual artifacts. He helps many police agencies around the world to solve crimes. There has been an animated TV series loosely based on the comic book named Martin Mystery and a video game has also been produced.

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  • Dylan Dog

This is an Italian horror series that features a paranormal investigator who gets romantically embroiled with his female clients in every episode. You may think of him as a modern day Casanova and the whole series is more or less based out of London where he resides, even though he travels frequently overseas for various cases. He is not particularly fond of many modern amenities and hates cell phones and does not travel by plane because of motion sickness. A queer oddity, his character is quite unique as well as the premise of the comic which ensures that the popularity of this comic doesn’t wane and keeps going strong since its inception in October 1986. It is published in Italy until date and the English version has been published by Dark Horse. Other language versions have also been released in different countries all over the world.

  • Tex

Created by writer Gian Luigi Bonelli, this comic series is very popular in Italy and features a character named Tex Willer. An Italian interpretation of the American Wild West, it is clearly influenced by stories of old American westerns as well as classical characters from that time period. He’s a tough guy with a strong sense of justice who becomes a ranger and defends the honest characters in the storyline from unscrupulous elements. The first volume was published in 1948, and there has been no looking back since with various adaptations of this character being made in various countries. Illustrator Aurelio Galleppini helped make Tex one of the most loved comic characters of all time in Italy.

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  • Lupo Alberto

This is one of the most loved comic characters and appeals to both children and adults alike. Lupo, meaning wolf in Italian is distinguished by his characteristic azure color and is engaged to a hen in the farm. The stories all revolve around the McKenzie Farm where the other characters in the comic live and on Lupo’s various attempts to break Marta out of the farm. Created by Guido Silvestri in 1974, the protagonist transforms into a man at times and his attempts to break Marta free is usually foiled by the alert sheepdog Moses who does everything in his power to stop Lupo. The Lupo brand spawned a huge merchandizing franchise and is very popular with teenagers.

The Top Italian – American Comic Book Superheroes

Even though American comic books are more popularly known and sold all over the world, other countries do have their own strengths and comic characters that come alive. Italy has a rich background of creativeness and this creativity has manifested into one segment which is the comic book segment. That being said, there are a number of superheroes that are featured in popular DC and Marvel comics that have characters who are Italian in origin. It would be interesting to see what the list holds, and here are the names.

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  • The Huntress

Although this name has been popularly used by many DC characters, the character in question with this article refers to Helena Rosa Bertinelli. This Huntress version had the same name, physical appearance as well as costume as the other versions but had a completely new back-story and personality.  Her story as a superhero comes about when her entire family gets murdered in a mob hit and she vows revenge. The daughter of one of Gotham’s mafia bosses, her character was short lived but received well by the readers.

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Lila Cheney’s Bodyguard, Guido Carosella was always a background character until he gained recognition as part of Peter David’s ‘leftover mutants’ team which was called X-factor. His character was made popular with the humorous approach to the superhero lifestyle as well the obvious name – Strong Guy. He became quite the fan favorite and his struggles helped to give his character a different element of humanity because he was always in pain due to the way his powers would work. He first appeared in the #29 issue of New Mutants and was made popular from then on.

  • Witchblade

Also known as Sara Pezzini, she is Italian-American in origin and is also a NYPD homicide detective. This certainly gives her character a twist as she then comes into possession of a supernatural sentient bracelet that bonds with her and gives her superpowers in order to fight supernatural evil. She continues to struggle to control the powers of the bracelet while trying to fend off characters who have a vested interest in it but who have evil intent.

  • Rockslide

You may have noticed his character in the young X-Men. He started off by being a minor character in the New Mutants and also studied at Xavier’s where he became a member of the bad team named ‘the Hellions’. When the New X-Men had to be recreated, he became part of it. Also known as Santo Vaccarro, he was one of only 27 students to regain their powers after M-day. His character becomes quite popular and he is featured in many issues of young X-Men, New X-Men and more as they go off on adventure battling against the evil mutants and supernatural forces that threaten to destroy the mutant world they live in. his power involves exploding himself up and regenerating himself.

  • Argent

This DC Comics fictional superhero was part of the Teen Titans until the events of Graduation Day when the Teen titans were disbanded by NightWing. Daughter of a former US Senator, she became aware of her powers when she gained a silver sheen on her 16th birthday. Learning that she is half alien, she becomes part of the Teen Titan with her ability to control bursts of silver plasma energy that gives her the codename Argent. Her character’s growth is quite evident as the story progresses as she transforms from a jovial adventurer who is not serious about the responsibility she carries to one where she takes charge especially after her teammate apparently dies.