If you have a Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, access to the Internet of any kind, TV, radio, eyes or ears, you’re no doubt familiar with Ted Williams, the currently ubiquitous “homeless man with a golden voice.” He’s gotten a lot of positive attention (and job offers) from the story, but there’s no reason for this unprecedented goodwill towards the downtrodden to end with Williams. Here are three comic book characters who could easily benefit from Tedomania.
Hard-luck Marvel Comics superhero D-Man has had a whole lot of ups and downs since being introduced in 1985′s The Thing #28. He’s been a partner to Captain America and a member of the Avengers, but also suffered brain damage and ended up on the streets. Making the best of it, he led a heroic group of fellow homeless folks, called the Zero People. But based on his recent appearance in New Avengers #7 — showing up weeping to Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s babysitter auditions and losing the job to Squirrel Girl — it looks like things have once again taken a turn for the worse for the guy, making him the perfect candidate for a Williams-esque second chance.
Known to fans as Sam Kieth’s most popular creation and one of the early Image Comics titles (and to children of the ’90s as the creepy cartoon that came on after Beavis and Butthead), The Maxx is arguably the most famous homeless comic book character of all time, unless you count that one Batman: The Animated Series episode. But despite the character’s one-time prominence, he’s had a low profile since the series wrapped in 1998. The Maxx seems primed for a revival in some form — there’s more Next Men coming out right now, after all, so ’90s indie books are apparently still a viable commodity — and maybe Williams is just the homeless man with a golden voice to inspire it.
The most obscure character on this list, the Homeless Avenger only appeared in a couple of issues of Vigilante in the mid-’80s. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never read those issues, and I’m only kind of sure that the character pictured here is indeed the Homeless Avenger (it’s from the cover of Vigilante #49, one of the character’s two appearances, so I’m making a bit of an educated guess). But he’s probably the only comic book character with the word “homeless” in his name, even though he may not actually be homeless himself. (He just avengers on the behalf of homeless people; his personal living situation remains unclear. Last word, he was renting a duplex in uptown Gotham.)
And here’s one homeless character that should remain in obscurity:
Steve the Tramp
This Dick Tracy villain isn’t as big of a name as your Flattops or your Big Boys, but he did create quite a stir circa 1990 with his movie tie-in action figure, which was recalled for being blatantly offensive towards the homeless. Seem like an overreaction? The back of the package described our pal Steve as an “ignorant bum” with a “low I.Q” who will “just as soon take your life as your wallet” because he “doesn’t have anything to lose.” Good thing you can “smell him before you see him.” Man, after all that, throwing in the “low I.Q.” part just seems unnecessary.