A few weeks ago, I was asked who my first hero was (and a family member was not an acceptable answer). I thought for a while. And then I paused a while longer before admitting that it had to be Race Bannon from Jonny Quest.
Not only was my hero fictional, but he was a cartoon character. However, as the ‘woman of mystery’ Jezebel Jade (the only female character to appear in more than one episode) said, “There’s only one Race Bannon.” This particular quote was from the Double Danger episode, where the evil Dr. Zin created a Race Bannon double, and Ms. Jade could tell him apart by his kiss (interestingly, the ersatz Race Bannon was wearing a different style of shirt, but nobody noticed).
Roger T. ‘Race’ Bannon was a special agent (from Intelligence One), a bodyguard (for Dr. Benton C. Quest, Jonny’s father, and “…one of the three top scientists in the world.”), and pilot (I think he could fly anything). Race had a third-degree black-belt in judo, as well as an uncanny ability to overpower renowned martial arts specialists in a variety of disciplines (and even a sumo wrestler).
It was an unusual cartoon for the times: it depicted realistic scenes and human facial features. There was very little ‘animation’ (most likely a budget limitation), but my imagination was more than able to fill in for the lack of realistic movement, and I still recall the thrill I felt as a young boy when the Jonny Quest opening theme began…