Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Black Superheroes: Triathlon/3D-Man II


There is zero subtlety in that costume
They might as well call him "Black Man"
Name: Delroy Garrett, Jr.

First Appearance: Avengers #8 (1998)

History: An Olympic athlete in track Delroy Garret was shunned out of the sport when it came to light that he had been taking steroids. At his lowest point Garret joined the Triune Understanding, a religious organization that helped him get through that dark time in his life. In fact the group’s leader Jonathan Tremont was able to grant Garret superpowers. Garret now had three times the physical attributes of a person at their physical peek, as well as enhanced senses. Believing at the time that Tremont had simply unlocked his inner potential Garret becomes the superhero known as Triathlon and becomes the Triune Understanding’s celebrity spokesman. After several encounters with the Avengers Garret was asked to join their team mainly as a way to counteract recent accusations the team being racist and religiously intolerant (which were actually set up by the Triune Understanding in smear campaign). Hostile at first Triathlon went on to become a valued member of the Avengers.

Beta Says: I remember very clearly when Triathlon joined the Avengers. I, being about thirteen or fourteen at the time, recall there being something of a big deal surrounding the character’s creation, which was during Kurt Busiek and George PĂ©rez’s notable run on the Avengers. Now the thing I remember the most about it was how much everyone seemed to think Triathlon sucked. I mean I recall Wizard Magazine and others really not liking the guy at all. He showed up on several “Worst Avenger List” alongside the likes of D-Man and Starfox (and Starfox may or may not be a rapist, so that’s pretty damming company). At the time I didn’t really know why people hated him so much since I wasn’t reading the book back then but if I were to guess I’d suggest it may be that Marvel thought that introducing an “awesome” new character that only joins their premier hero team because he repeatedly told fans their favorite characters were racist assholes would somehow endear him to the readership. Plus the whole "Affirmative Action" thing is a very big hot topic with a lot of people and perhaps it was not handled particularly gracefully in the comic. Also I don’t think he’s very interesting. That might be the main one.

Also is it just me or is the Triune Understanding supposed to be Marvel Comic’s equivalent of Scientology?

Three times the black superhero after the jump.


Integration never looked so good forced
It turns out that Triathlon’s origin was a lie as he would discover that rather than unleashing his hidden potential or whatever Jonathan Tremont had actually bestowed upon him the stolen powers of the 3D-Man. Oh you don’t know who the 3D-Man is? Don’t feel too bad because he’s pretty obscure. We’re talking fifth-string here. He also has kind of a weird-ass, convoluted origin that I don’t care to try to talk about (for now let’s say it involved the alien race of the Skrulls) but the most important thing you need to know was that he was a 1970s character whose adventures took place in the 1950s. Now that 3D-Man, among other things, was three times as strong/fast/whatever as any normal person was and his powers were forcefully given to Triathlon who then preceded to use his powers to join the Avengers by calling them a bunch a racists. F**king well done, Marvel.

Triathlon wasn’t around for super long and sort of fell into the background of the Marvel Universe (since, by that time Luke Cage had become Marvel’s favorite black superhero for some reason). He showed up during Civil War on Captain America’s side on the conflict and, like the vast majority of characters during the miniseries, did absolutely nothing of worth. Afterwards he joined Iron Man’s superhero Initiative that trained heroes and assigned them to various teams across America. Triathlon acted as a teacher while also taking leadership training and, upon graduation, took the mantle and costume of the 3D-Man, which made sense considering he already had the guy’s powers.

No one gave a single shit.

Triathlon at his most relevant
Now truth be told Triathlon (yeah, I’m not calling him “3D-Man”) did do some interesting things with the Skull Kill Krew during the Secret Invasion storyline. Oh by the way the short version of who the Skull Kill Krew are is that they are humans with Skrull-like powers who also really hate Skrulls as part of their physiology. Anyway playing off the original 3D-Man’s connection to the Skrulls Triathlon was actually one of the most useful people on the side of the heroes as he could detect their presence, something few were able to do during this storyline. Of course I don’t think he showed up in the main miniseries so obviously Marvel didn’t really care. If they don’t why should I be bothered to. He did murder Crusader who was probably the only Skrull in the crossover who was actually a good guy. So yeah, that's something. I think the last time we saw him he joined the Agents of Atlas in their last issue before the book was canceled. Good, for a second there I thought I was going to have the chance to connect with him on an emotional level. Phew!

I’m a bit ambivalent about Triathlon and pretty much have been since his first appearance and nothing has really changed my mind on the subject ever since. Now Marvel had a fantastic chance to really up his stake in their books by having him play a major role in Secret Invasion but, as I said, he didn’t even really show up outside some tie-ins and not the main story itself. Now I’m not sure they have any real interest in him these days. And yeah, this has been a common problem with characters I’ve profiled in the past but in this case I don’t know if there’s a lot of potential here. I mean let’s face it; Triathlon is less interesting than even Misty Knight and she is basically just Pam Grier (circa the 1970s) with a robotic arm. Still there’s no such thing as a fictional character that can’t be improved with the right writer so perhaps one day we’ll talking about him as an A-list character. Probably not unless he stops calling himself the 3D-Man though.

"Awesome! Here comes the 3D-Man!"
-Said No One Ever
For more on Triathlon/3D-Man click here.

The next four three blogs I’ll be sidetracked with other topics so it may be little bit before we come back to Black Superhero Month. Hopefully it won’t be too long and it will still be February when we do. I hate for this guy to be the final word on the subject. When we do return we’ll discuss a 90s superhero…FROM THE FUUUUUUUUTURE!!!

2 comments:

  1. Triathlon's look, abilities and background were dated. More particularly, he looked and acted like a black superhero created in the early 1970s and dusted off some 25 years later. It was like Kurt Busiek created this superhero inspired by Black Goliath, Black Lightning and the Luke Cage who struggled fighting a vending machine for a soda. I honestly thought Triathlon was intended to be created a 1970s-era anachronism, since his first appearance was fighting a supervillain who had not been seen since the late '70s. When I found out Triathlon was not created to be a light parody of Icon's Buck Wild and instead was a serious attempt of creating a superhero, I cringed. He looked especially dated compared to other black characters created in the 1990s, such as Bishop (when he originally was cast as black), Spawn and Michael Holt Mr. Terrific.

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