Monday, March 24, 2014

Oh Captain, My Captain: The 10 Best Captains

The captain. The head honcho. Numero uno. The big kahuna. The Skipper, the Commander. The top dog, BMOC, the boss. That guy that is supposed to go down with the ship. The captain. Oh Captain, My Captain. In case you didn't catch it, this is a list about captains. More specifically, the best captains. Even more specifically, the best captains in all the world. And some that are outta this world as well. Basically, all the great captains in history. Some of these captains are fictional, some are downright real life captains, some may even be cereal mascots. Well, one of 'em at least. We have captains of the high seas and we have captains of the even higher spaceways. We have captains of music and we have captains of TV. Hell, we even might have a captain of the greatest sports franchise in the world. What I'm saying is...we have captains. Ten of 'em actually. Well, twelve, if you count the two special mentions before the list. Oh, and we have some who did not make the list, but who deserve a mention here anyway. You know, cause they're special...just not that special.

These (almost) list makers are wrestling's Captain Lou Albano (seriously, what was with the freakin' rubber bands!?); Captain Turanga Leela on Futurama (that is one sexy purple-haired cyclops); that early bastion of environmentalism, Captain Planet (rockin' the green mullet - and on top of blue skin even); Rock & Roll's very own Captain Beefheart (mostly forgotten by the masses, he and his Magic Band's influence on modern music is undeniable); Errol Flynn's classic Captain Blood (my all-time favourite pirate film); Captain Nemo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea fame (and there's even an Alan Moore version to boot); Firefly's Captain Malcolm Reynolds (sorry fanboys and fangirls - Whedonverse devotees are probably cursing my name as we speak); Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow (and probably his dad, Keith Richards, too); the UK-born superhero Captain Britain (tally-ho, and all that - Bob's your uncle); that hitchhiking rogue, Captain Zaphod Beeblebrox (two heads are better than one); Gilligan's boss, Captain Jonas Grumby, aka The Skipper of the S.S. Minnow (the theme song calls him brave and sure?? Really?), Captain Merrill Stubing of the Pacific Princess, aka The Love Boat (he juuust missed out on making the list - maybe if he spent less time at the captain's table, and more time wooing the ladies of the ship - it is called the LOVE boat, after all); and all the Captain Marvels (from Shazam to Mar-vell to Monica Rambeau to Carol Danvers to anyone else that may have held the title).

A note on why Han Solo is not on this list: As anyone who knows me can attest to, I am a big Star Wars fan, and an even bigger Han Solo fan. Yes, I had the vest and blaster as a kid. But, in today's case, when it comes to the idea of captaining, I regret that Mr. Solo must stay at home. Yeah, yeah, technically he is the captain of the Millennium Falcon, but really he is more a smuggler than a captain - and anyway, he is a general by Return of the Jedi. But the biggest reason is that he never really goes by the title of captain, as those on the list do. It may be a silly reason, but it is a reason dammit! So, for this list, Han Solo the roguish smuggler, must just watch from the sidelines. Now when we get to the best sci-fi bad-asses or the best space rogues lists (and they are coming), Captain Solo will be front and center. But enough of this, we have a countdown to get on with. Oh, and I almost forgot one other worthy captain. Captain Obvious. Well, that should have been...um... See what I did there? Anyway, let's get on with things.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

Special Mention #1: Cap'n Smiley-Face

Back in the Fall of 1989, I created a comic book universe called Smiley-Face Land. These Smiley-Face Land Adventures (I have notebooks filled with sketches and storylines) consisted of a superhero world where everyone is a smiley-face. Granted, it was a blatant ripoff of pretty much everything from both DC and Marvel (like Tarantino, I too steal from everything I see) but there it is anyway. Over the years, I have created hundreds of characters, both heroic and villainous, and everything in between. The first of these characters I created was Cap'n Smiley-Face (a blatant ripoff of a certain Marvel Comics icon). Cap'n Smiley-Face was (and still is today) the leader of The Smiley-Face Guardians (only a semi-rip-off of The Avengers and/or Justice League) and has become the veritable face of Smiley-Face Land Adventures. Someday, these characters will find their way into some form of print (online or on actual printed material) through my Brain Tumor Comix publishing company, but for now, you will just have to settle for this brief sneak peek.

Special Mention #2: Derek Jeter

Sure, I could have gone with Don Mattingly or Thurman Munson, or better yet, the Iron Horse himself, Lou Gehrig, but since this is his final season before retirement and inevitable Hall of Fame induction, it is the current New York Yankee captain that gets a mention here. Derek Jeter, often just called the Captain, is the number one superstar on a team full of superstarstars, and even though he is not an actual captain in the usual sense of the term, being the de facto captain of the greatest sports franchise in the world (take that Red Sox Nation!!) counts for something.

10. Captain Daryl Dragon

Better known as the Captain from Captain and Tennille, Daryl Dragon was part of one of, if not the cheesiest musical duos of the 1970's - and this is an era that gave us Donny & Marie and The Carpenters. For those who don't know (and don't be too worried if you don't), The Captain and Tennille were a once married couple who gave the world such AM radio-friendly, soft rock hits as Muskrat Love, Do That to Me One More Time, and Love Will Keep Us Together. Okay, these may be pretty lame songs, but I grew up with them, and their accompanying TV variety show (sadly only lasting one season), so this captain is on the list. Heck, he even had the captain's hat. So there.

9. Captain Caveman

Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels was a Saturday morning cartoon that ran on ABC from 1977 to 1980. It was a show about three Charlie's Angels/Josie & the Pussycats wannabe detectives who solve crimes with the help of a caveman that the girls found in ice and thawed out (one of two captains on this list where such a thing happens). Generally, Cavey wasn't really all that much help in solving these crimes (other than by occasional accident) but he was really good at eating pretty much anything he came across. The blabbering, loud-mouthed wild man Captain Caveman was a staple of my tween TV watching.

8. Captain Kangaroo

Bob Keeshan starred as Captain Kangaroo on CBS television for nearly thirty years, from 1955 to 1984. For those three decades, Keeshan, who incidentally was the original Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show, was the preeminent children's entertainer, and can be seen as a large influence on many a future children's show entertainer, from Mr. Rogers to Pee Wee Herman. The show ran so long that in the beginning Keeshan wore make-up to look older, and by the end of the show's run, he had to wear make-up to look younger.

7. Captain Morgan

I rarely drink any more, but when I did (and did I ever) my drink of choice was Captain and Coke. Captain Morgan and his spiced rum has been around for decades and decades now, and that iconic stance of his has been imitated by pretty much every drunken sailor on the planet - and by drunken sailor, I just mean plain old bar-hopping drunkards. Actually this alcoholic icon is based on real life 17th Century buccaneer, Captain Henry Morgan. Today though, he's that guy who gave us that yummy spiced rum.

6. Captain Hawkeye Pierce

My favourite sit-com growing up was a little show by the name of M*A*S*H, and my favourite character on said sit-com was a guy by the name of Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce, aka Hawkeye. M*A*S*H was a huge hit throughout it's eleven season run (let's just leave AfterMASH alone, shall we) and Alan Alda's portrayal of this troublemaking (but brilliant) Korean War medic, portraying both high comedy and satire, as well as disturbing drama, was the highlight of not just M*A*S*H, but of TV in general. Of course the there is also Donald Sutherland's great performance as Hawkeye in the original Robert Altman directed film.

5. Cap'n Crunch

Hands down, my favourite cereal, both as kid and as an adult, was is and always will be, Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries. Cap'n Crunch, who's real name btw is Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch, was born on Crunch Island in the Sea of Milk, a magical place with talking trees, crazy creatures and a whole mountain (Mt. Crunchmore) made out of Cap’n Crunch cereal. There have been nasty (and unfounded) rumours that Cap'n Crunch is an impostor (seriously, there have) but you will never get this old Crunch head to believe any of 'em.

4. Captain James Hook

Now here is a classic pirate captain. A hook for a hand, a fancy twirlable mustache, a big hat with an even bigger feather, and an unhealthy obsession for killing Peter Pan. Oh yeah, and there's the whole crocodile thing too. Created in 1904 by J.M. Barrie, Hook has been portrayed in many variations, but it is the iconic Disney version that is the most notable. There is even a version of Captain Hook to be found on the show Once Upon A Time, of which a fan base known as 'Hookers' has popped into existence. Howzabout that!?

3. Captain Ahab

One of my all-time favourite books is Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, and the obsessive captain of the novel's ship, the Pequod, is a tyrannical taskmaster by the name of Ahab. One of the greatest characters of fiction, Ahab is a man, and a captain, who knows what he wants, and he will literally stop at nothing to get that thing that he wants, no matter who he takes down with him. Unfortunately for poor old Ahab, the thing he wants so bad is one hell of a big whale. Oh yeah, and Gregory Peck does a kick-ass Ahab in the 1956 film version.

2. Captain James T. Kirk

This is the one I am probably going to get the most hate mail (or hate comments) about. For the past thirty years or so, there has been a war of sorts going on in the Star Trek fan world. Who is the better captain - Kirk or Picard? Well, yeah, Picard is great and all that jazz, but he ain't no James Tiberius Kirk, rapscallion of the galaxy. But hey, if you disagree with my assessment, you can actually do something about it. No, not by leaving scathing remarks in the comments section of this post (though you can do that too) but by voting in the All Things Kevyn Star Trek Captains Poll, which runs through April 30th, 2014 (the poll can be found near the top of the right-hand sidebar). Otherwise, you'll just have to take my word for it that Captain Kirk is the best Star Trek captain.

1. Captain America

Come on people, this had to be my number one choice. As a lifelong comic book nerd, could it have ever been anyone else? Poor hapless teenage Steve Rogers just wanted to join the army and help his country win the war against the Nazi's, but he just wasn't a big enough lad to do it. But not to worry true believers, for along came the Super Soldier Serum, and along came the greatest of superheroes, Captain America. A noble and brave, stars 'n' stripes wearing. shield wielding, flag-waving, born leader, and Mighty Avenger, Captain America is the oh so obvious choice for the top dog of all the top dogs. So take that Baron Zemo!

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

3 comments:

  1. I do love your lists, but why are they always so sexist? No Carol Danvers!? No Captain Janeway!? What about Anne Fucking Bonny!!? I can not fault you as a sexist pig, as 99% of your kind is, but at least try a little bit once and a while. I kid of course. You are one of the better ones when it comes to the male gender --- and that is a sad thing indeed. I kid. Kinda.

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  2. Oh Esther. You and your Gloria Steinem attitude. Hell, Carol Danvers isn't even my favourite Captain Marvel.

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  3. There's a reason there are no great women captains, but I ain't a-gonna say it here cause Mz. Rosneblatt would be O-ffended. Oh, and nice tease on the Smiley-Face Land stuff. Ya evah gonna post more O' that?

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