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CSBG Archive

Top 50 Marvel Characters #45-41

The countdown continues!!

45. Jessica Jones – 134 points (3 first place votes)


Jessica Jones debuted in the pages of Alias #1, which was Brian Michael Bendis’ attempt to have an R-Rated look at the Marvel Universe. With artwork by Michael Gaydos, Bendis introduced us to Jessica Jones, a former short-lived superhero who became a private detective.

The series was gritty and often disturbing, showing a different angle on the Marvel Universe.

Eventually, Jones was hired by J. Jonah Jameson to be a reporter for a superhero-centric feature for the Daily Bugle, called The Pulse. This also marked a new title, which was no longer R-Rated.

Jones was romantically involved with the superhero, Luke Cage, and the two had a child together. Recently, the two were married.

Currently, she is on the run alongside her husband and child, as the trio all oppose the recent Superhero Registration Act.

Here is what Mer (who had her ranked #1 on her list) had to say about her:

Alias was the first Marvel title I read when I got back into comics a few years ago. I was looking for realistic and recognizable female characterizations in a genre that tends to feature heroines whose most identifying features are their action-defying super boobs, man-strangling thighs and precariously posed asses. I actually avoided most female dominated titles because they were obviously fulfilling a fantasy – a fantasy I did not share.

And then I met Jessica. Right off the bat I noticed Jessica’s schlubby realistic clothing, anger-rage facial expressions, sailor’s mouth and penchant for ass-kicking/banging-the-brains-out of the unlucky/lucky guy who came into her path. This girl had problems, but problems that presented themselves through a whole range of emotions and varying depths of complexity. She was a fully-formed, good and honorable but flawed fictional being that that I cared for like a friend. I was eager to find out what haunted her, what happened to her to make her want to tear into the world like a rabid dog. The reveal was what I partially feared it would be, but of course, in her world where superhuman abilities are possible, there was an added element that took it beyond the horror of our experience. But all ended better than it began, and I parted Jessica after a reassuring denouement that left us knowing that she started on the path of healing.

I hear that Jessica lives on in the Marvel universe and I do check in on her from time to time, but it’s the Jessica of Alias I love. I wish I could have her back, but it’s okay because I’m convinced that Holly Hunter’s Grace character of “Saving Grace” is Jessica reincarnated to the realm of television.

Thanks to the nice and pretty Mer!

44. Black Panther – 137 points (4 first place votes)


The Black Panther is T’Challa, king of the African nation of Wakanda. He first appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four, by his creators, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

He is one of the most gifted athletes in the world, and also one of the smartest men in the world.

After helping the Fantastic Four out, T’Challa eventually came to the United States, where he became a member of the Avengers for a long stretch of time.

He eventually returned to Wakanda, and has experienced many adventures over the years in Wakanda, from attacks to political maneuvering.

Recently, T’Challa resolved to find himself a queen, and settled upon his childhood love, Ororo Monroe, the X-Man known as Storm.

The two recently married, and after making a tour of the World establishing themselves, the two have taken up temporary residence at the Fantastic Four headquarters, where the two are also filling in for Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman as members of the Fantastic Four.

Here is what Vincent P. Bartilucci had to say about why he had Black Panther ranked #1 on his list:

Why is Black Panther my favorite character?

One word: Confidence.

Oh, Jack Kirby’s original design has a lot to do with it. The all black costume with the strangely textured gloves and boots. The short cape with the diagonal strap across the chest. And that cooler than cool mask. Is there a more elegantly simple yet perfectly realized costume design in comics? I think not.

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Jerry Bingham and the late, great Gene Day need to shoulder their fare share of the blame, also. They were the art team on the first solo Panther stories I ever read. I was all of eleven years old and Bingham and Day’s Black Panther just seemed completely untouchable; a lithe jungle cat. You can’t hit T’ Challa. But he can hit you. Whenever he wants.

But it is the Black Panther’s fabled confidence that has always made him my favorite Marvel hero. In his very first appearance, he attacks the Fantastic Four. Later, he explains to the fabulous foursome that he did so to test himself; to see if he was ready to hunt down his father’s killer, the man called Klaw.

A test?


During the entire exhilarating encounter, T’Challa never expresses the least bit of doubt about his abilities. After disposing of the Human Torch and temporarily weakening the Thing, the Panther thinks: “Ahh .. My prey learns quickly! They have elected to stop and plan before plunging witlessly into another fool-hardy attack! That is good! A victory too easily won is too soon forgotten!”

A test?

Not a chance.

T’Challa knows exactly how it’s going to end. No doubt many folks will name Spider-Man as their favorite super-hero because they can identify with him. The whole “he’s me … y’know, if I could stick to walls and stuff” idea. That’s cool. But it’s not my thing. The Black Panther isn’t an everyman hero whose few triumphs we applaud because we’ve suffered his many trials. The Black Panther is a king, a warrior, an intellect without peer.

He is confidence personified.

And he can hit you.

Whenever he wants.

Thanks, Vincent!

43. Mary Jane Watson – 144 points


Mary Jane Watson was an early running gag in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, where she was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, but she never appeared, as the gag was that Peter was constantly avoiding the niece of Aunt May’s friend that May was always trying to set him up with, but she was actually quite attractive.

It was John Romita who got the chance to finally depict Mary Jane, in the classic, “Face it, Tiger, you hit the jackpot” scene.

Mary Jane was a reoccurring character of the next few years, but as the ditzy party girl friend who would occasionally date Peter’s friends. It was Gwen Stacey that was Peter Parker’s main squeeze. When Gerry Conway took over the writing chores, though, he decided he preferred Mary Jane with Peter.

First, he killed of Gwen. Next, he had Mary Jane mature a great deal, and the couple grew quite close. It was implied, too, that Peter had his first time with Mary Jane.

Marv Wolfman broke the couple up, as he had Peter propose and Mary Jane run away.

Tom DeFalco brought her back during the mid-80s, when we learned a few new pieces of information. The first was that Mary Jane had a trouble childhood. The second was that Mary Jane secretly knew Peter was Spider-Man before the two even MET!

Eventually, Peter proposed again, and this time Mary Jane accepted. The two have been married ever since, two decades now.

There have been separations thrown in there (Mary Jane was kidnapped for a good year or so at the turn of the century), but for the most part, they have stayed together through thick and thin.

But can they last one more day?

We shall see (although, come on, the answer’s obviously no)….

Here’s David Prosper on why he had Mary Jane #2 on his list…

I chose Mary Jane as my second favorite character because in my mind she is indelibly tied to my favorite character of all time. I see Mary Jane as Peter’s reward for his sacrifices as a hero. I see her as his ballast and his motivation to keep being who he is. Although his story began with the spider and Uncle Ben’s death, it is MJ that keeps him going forward. She fuels his integrity and courage. She is the reward after a long’s day work.

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I love Mary Jane for being portrayed as the beautiful and vibrant woman who has the inner strength of her husband. She’s had the trappings of success but it has never made her shallow or small-minded. She is proud but also humble too. I think she is the perfect complement to Peter, but also a woman all her own, who has suffered and triumphed equally.

Thanks, David!

42. The Vision – 146 points


Besides the one issue of Wonder Man, the Vision (created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema) was the first Avenger to debut in the pages of the Avengers, and like Wonder Man, he was created by an enemy of the Avengers, but also like Wonder Man, the android Vision broke free of his controlling by the evil Ultron, and soon became a valuable member of the Avengers.

Vision eventually became basically the backbone of the team, as you could tell from the corner box, which often depicted only the Vision.

Vision began a romance with teammate, the Scarlet Witch, and the two became the second Avenger teammates to marry each other.

The two lived wedded bliss, even having twin boys, until double devastation happened.

Soon before their children were born, The Vision was injured and had his mind hooked up with an alien computer – the alien computer corrupted The Vision, leading him to attempt to take over the world (in the process, the Vision did create the West Coast Avengers, which existed for quite a long time afterwards). Although the Vision was basically cleared of all wrongdoing, some folks disagreed, and awhile later, took him apart, resulting in him losing all emotion and feelings for the Scarlet Witch.

On the heels of this, it was revealed that their children were not real, as well!!

Now basically re-booted, the Vision continued on with the Avengers, and ultimately began to re-establish emotions, even pursuing a romance with his teammate, Carol Danvers.

However, when the Scarlet Witch went insane and tore the Avengers apart, one of her moves was to turn the Vision evil, leading to a berserk She-Hulk to tear him apart, apparently killing him.

A rebooted Vision has shown up with the Young Avengers, made up of the remnants of Iron Lad’s armor, but this Vision has no connection (besides visual) to the original Vision, who remains, at the moment, deceased.

Even an android can die, I suppose.

Here is why Miguel had him #2 on his list…

Vision is my #2 because he embodies what I like about Marvel heroes: he has all the qualities of a noble hero: courage; loyalty; mercy; a dash of humor. But he’s also a tortured soul: he’s an android with more human traits than many humans, but he doesn’t think he’ll ever be human enough. And it’s just great to see him go crazy whenever a villain hurts his friends – when he’s on he’s just unstoppable, and yet he never makes great displays of his power. He’s humble and reserved, like a hero should be. And aesthetically speaking, he’s great to look at on a page.

Thanks, Miguel!

41. Gambit – 147 points (5 first place votes)


Gambit showed up in the pages of Uncanny X-Men as an aide to Storm, who, at the time, was de-aged. Created by Chris Claremont and Mike Collins (is that right? I know Collins drew him first, but did he also design him?), Gambit was an incorrigible rogue who Claremont originally planned to have turn out to be a villain, but the character grew so popular, the plans were dropped, and Gambit became one of the most popular members of the X-Men.

After staying on the X-Men for many years, Gambit developed a relationship with his fellow X-Man, Rogue. The two have been on and off for about the last decade or so.

Recently, Gambit APPEARS to have gone over to the side of the bad guys, but one thing is sure about Gambit, you can never really pin him down.

Here is Rob Tevis on why he had Gambit #1…

Here is an acronym as to why I love Gambit:

G is for Gumbo – Gambit is a Cajun! His Acadian descent means that he is from a much maligned people group. This gives him an edgy feel, even though people at first glance would say he is “white”. He is also from New Orleans and that city needs all the heroes it can get!

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A is for Amour (French for “love”) – Gambit loves Rogue. His and her relationship has been full of intensity, betrayal, murder, lust, and love. Gambit’s power is in touching (and making things go boom) and Rogues power is in touching (and making things die). That makes for an explosive

M is for Morality (you though I would say Marauders, didn’t you?) – Time and time again Gambit shows that he has a strong sense of morality. When he led the Marauders to find the Morlocks, it was Gambit who turned on his Marauder brothers once he found out that their real mission was to wipe out the Morlocks. Gambit does the right thing when it comes to life, but is shady in other areas (he is a master thief). This might get him in hot water with other X-Men, but I like my heroes dark.

B is for Boom – who else can turn a pack of cards into a lethal weapon? His biokenetic charging abilities and slight telepathy make him lethal! If you ever get hit with his Royal Flush Gang, watch out!!!!

I is for Identity Crisis – who is Remy Lebeau? At times he has been called “le diable blanc” (the “white devil” that has come to unite the Thieves and Assassins guild); Gambit; Death; and even The Witness (in another reality). Is he a hero, thief, lover, murderer, crook, the fulfillment of prophecy, prophecy, or a misunderstood good-guy?

T is the Thieves Guild – Gambit has one of the most nefarious origins in the comics for a hero. He was raised by thieves! A street gang taught him while the Patriarch of Thieves raised him. Gambit has a thief’s heart. His origin includes: being sold into slavery, a duel that ended his first
love’s life, and a best friend drowning. This background gives him many contacts in the underworld (and many enemies).

These five are many of the reasons why I love the Rajin’ Cajun!

Thanks, Rob!

Okay, folks, that’s it for today! More tomorrow!]


Gambit? Seriously? Could be the worst Marvel superhero ever!

Gambit is okay, but he got so popular so quickly, that his mystery was erased so quickly.

15 characters in, and not one of my picks has appeared yet.

there are a lot worse characters than Gambit, dude

Gotta agree with Vincent P. Bartilucci on the Panther’s costume. It evokes the subtlety and grace one would expect from an unbeatable jungle regent.

I…actually kinda like Gambit.

There, I said it.

Yes, the purple armour is stupid and the accent is outrageous (paired with Rogue’s, it becomes a kind of trailer-park symphony)…I dunno, maybe it’s a female thing. You guys get to howl over All-Star Batman; I get Gambit. Fair trade, non?

Right on with Jessica Jones! I love the character, but I had no idea how many people were actually READING Alias. Glad to see she’s so admired.

Cool! Vision made the list! Although he didn’t make my top ten, he is definitely one of my favorite Avengers. SIX Avengers are on my list. I suppose it’s possible two more were Avengers at one point or another, but I can never be sure until I read one of those “All heroes who were ever Avengers… Assemble!” storylines.


Jessica didn’t quite make my list, but I am glad to see her.

I like Gambit fine; he wouldn’t have made my 50, but I’m not surprised to see him. I loved him when I first got into comics thanks to the animated show.

I kinda wish Vision got higher. I only ranked him 4th, but…

I just love him so.

I’m excited to see our second supporting character in Mary Jane. I feared they’d be neglected for main characters (like they were on my list)

Of all Marvel’s newer characters, I think Jessica is most deserving of a spot. Though my voting leaned toward older characters, I’m quite happy to see her. That was an excellent series, I thought.

Surprised MJ made it. Not sure why Joe Q says everyone hates her then. Will be interesting if gwen turns up in a few days time.

Also surprised balck panther (who has had mulitple solo series) lower than the vision (who has been on team books for most of his career).

Who’s gonna be no1! Im betting spidey, thor or cap. Most liekly spidey but cap might get the sympathy vote.

Please someone tell Rob Tevis that Love is Amour in french and Amore in italian.

Gambit might be perfect for a shojo-style manga. His romance-novel, fairy tale-ish, rakish-thief-with-a-heart-of-gold characteristics could appeal to an 11 to 15 year old female readership.

Gambit? Seriously? Could be the worst Marvel superhero ever!

Only if about 50 other Marvel super heroes died first.

Someone also needs to tell Rob Tevin that Gambit’s not from Arcadian descent, but Acadian. Also, they’re not a much aligned people. I believe he meant “maligned”, but they’re not really that either.

Karl 'Melonhead' Harris

September 14, 2007 at 3:36 am

Arghh I forgot about Jessica.

None of my picks have come up yet. I’m feeling far too mainstream already!

Actually Young Avenger’s Vision is the original Vision’s operating systems & data files downloaded into Iron Lad’s armor so he’s kinda half classic Vision half Iron Lad armor. Sorry for being so nit picky

Ick. Gambit.

Incidentally, Vision “dying” From getting ripped in half is bullshit. Morgan La Fey vaporized half his body at the start of Busiek’s Avengers, and he just spent a year in a tube growing it back. Iron Man just sticking him in a box is just Bendis being a jackass.

I realised I’d forgotten Jessica Jones five minutes after sending my votes. If I’d remembered her she’d have taken her rightful place ahead of losers like Black Panther and The Vision

Actually looking at the numbers she’d still have been behind The Vision

Didn’t the Black Knight debut in the pages of Avengers, before Vision?

Vincent summed up why Black Panther is one of Marvel’s best characters, and why the Priest issues are among Marvel’s best comics.

The way I see it, Gambit is just one of those necessary evils we have to live with. The fanboys would revolt if anything happened to him. It’s sad that the more stupid the overall character, the more popular he is. This is especially true if it’s an X-character.

Oh well. At least he didn’t break the top 40.

I can definitely see Black Panther. Gambit’s not my cup of tea, but some fans are nuts for him. Vision made my list. He’s a noble character with a very unique background and one of the most stunning costumes / looks in the Marvel U IMO.

Tom DeFalco brought her back during the mid-80s, when we learned a few new pieces of information. The first was that Mary Jane had a trouble childhood. The second was that Mary Jane secretly knew Peter was Spider-Man before the two even MET!

Slight correction. DeFalco only established that Mary Jane knew he was Spider-Man and knew for a while. He never established exactly when she found out. Gerry Conway in the Parallel Lives graphic novel was the one who established that she found out before they even met.

Also, I’m not really sure Gerry Conway “preferred” MJ over Gwen. It’s always been my feeling, based on how Stan left the title and Gerry started his run, that Gwen was killed off because Stan wrote himself (and his successors) into a hole with Captain Stacy’s death. After that your choices were to have Pete maintain a relationship with Gwen while knowingly lie not only about his secret identity but also about his role in her father’s death or to have him reveal both his secret identity AND his role in killing her father..and then what? She’ll forgive both those bombshells and stay with him or not turn him into the police? I think Gerry just felt he had no choice but to kill her. It was the easiest out.

Jessica was my first character to make either Top 50 list. I had her as #3. Although, whatever anyone says, I like to think that the current Jessica is a Skrull after Alias. She is a completely different character than the one I feel in love with.

Although I didn’t vote for them, I am happy to see MJ and Black Panther rank!

Poor forgotten Jessica. I guess it’s been a while since Alias and then her spotlight in The Pulse. I haven’t check in on her in a while. I don’t think I know the name of her kid. That was revealed at some point, right?

I never got all the hate for Gambit. I guess because I didn’t read him in any comics until the late 90s I don’t have the hatred of him that others do.

I like his costume, his personality, and his powers. Could they all be tweaked to be made a little better, sure, but as he is right now I think he is a pretty good character.
*That Kurbert costume from the Claremont relaunch was my favorite.

Awww…the Vision. To me, he and the Scarlet Witch are the Avengers. I miss you, Angsty Android Guy.

Actually, this is a pretty good list today — Vision, Black Panther, Jessica Jones…all favorites of mine.

Hmm, this batch has the first two characters who wouldn’t make my top 100, let alone top 10.

Gambit, I’ve probably only read a couple stories with ever, so it’s more that I don’t “know” him that well (true of many “later” mutant characters, which for me means, oh, post-Secret Wars II) than an active dislike.

The Vision is a character who’s almost always just bored me. As with his DC “cousin,” the Red Tornado, while the “android figuring out what it means to be human” idea was once fresh and interesting, that day has long passed, and neither character brings much *else* to the table.

Jessica Jones might have made my Marvel top 10 (if I’d remembered to make one in time.)

Glad Jessica made it-she almost made my top ten (if not for memories of the lackluter Pulse, she probably would have).

Ditto Black Panther. He was on my list for awhile.

Nice to see MJ on the list too. Take that, Joey Q.

Honestly I could never tell if I liked Gambit or not, because my eyes were always bleeding too much from the thick dialect they used for him to actually follow anything he said. (See also: Banshee, Rogue, Siryn.) Well, that and the horrible costume. And dear god, the hair. Longshot, eat your heart out.

Mer, they revealed that the Cage-Jones kid’s name was Danielle in New Avengers #34 this week.

I might be the only one, but I really hate Jessica Jones. To me, she represents where Marvel has gone off the rails in the Quesada years. But you’re all entitled to feel otherwise (especially since I was lazy and didn’t finish off my lists).

The Nicieza Gambit series is real good as it focused on the thieves guild and time travelling and lots of other goofy stuff and showed how the X-Cutioner could actually be an interesting character.

Past that, you’ve got me.

So that’s two comics named ALIAS that had nothing to do with the Jennifer Garner espionage TV series (NOW had one that didn’t return after their most-of-cover-date-1991 hiatus). Didn’t somebody (Topps, I’m thinking) do a comic of that? The GCD doesn’t list one, but they don’t list Mike Baron’s six-issue BRUCE LEE mini for Malibu, either, and while I’ve already forgotten what it was, just the other day I found that another title I know for a fact was published isn’t in there.

Slight correction. DeFalco only established that Mary Jane knew he was Spider-Man and knew for a while. He never established exactly when she found out. Gerry Conway in the Parallel Lives graphic novel was the one who established that she found out before they even met.

Sorry, T, it was just a bit confusing as I tried to make the piece as short as possible.

I knew the two things weren’t both by DeFalco, I was just saying that

A. He brought her back

and then

B. We learned two new things about her.

I didn’t mean to imply that DeFalco told us the two new things, but I can see that does seem to be the implication.

Also, I’m not really sure Gerry Conway “preferred” MJ over Gwen.

Conway is on the record as saying he preferred MJ to Gwen.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

September 14, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Just a quick thank you to Brian for letting me share my feelings on my #1 Marvel character, Black Panther.

Especially since I doubt my #1 DC character will even make that list …

Darn it! I should have put the Panther at #1 on my list (he was #2, but only by a hairsbreadth) just to pull him higher on the list.

I loves me some T’Challa.

Claremont & Jim Lee were always given creator credits during the run of Gambit’s series. While Lee didn’t draw UXM #266 (Gambit’s first appearance) he did do #267, so I would assume the designs and creation were partly his.
Gambit is the reason I even started reading X-Men books – I loved him on the show, and I’m probably more obsessed with him than any hetero male really should be comfortable with. Turning him into a legimate villain was the shot in the arm he needed – even I though the last few stories with him were a bit stale (Pete Milligan, I’m looking at you…)

Unless it was some big crossover, I don’t know that I’ve ever read a comic with Gambit in it.

Doesn’t feel like Avengers without the Vision, but he was never a favorite.

Mary Jane never felt like much of a character to me, but I stopped reading Spidey before they got married.

Black Panther is way cool, but I like him better as a guest star.

Jessica Cage is one of the most interesting characters to come along in a good, long while.

I will admit that a lot of people hate Gambit. But I can almost guarantee that he is the newest X-character who will appear on this list as he may be the last new X-Man to really catch on with the public.

He was a lot of fun in his first few years as a character and on the first cartoon. I only wish that a lot of his terrible backstory could be erased and a talented writer could take this character under his/her wing.

One of my best friends was such a big fan of a certain character on this list when he was about 12 years old that his baby sister’s first word was actually, yes, “Gambit.”

What we really need to worry about is, if Gambit’s already on the list, how far up is the God-awful, cringe-worthy creation known as Cable?

I guess you could call me a Gambit fan-boy. Ever since I started reading comics in the early 90’s, he’s been my favorite character just because he’s such a “Robin Hood” character, essentially a hero, but he’s a romantic, fearless, dirty character. Nicieza’s Gambit has been my favorite but there have been writers that have caused me to be ashamed of my Gambit love… I like the way Carey is writing him now. We’ll see how it turns out…

Conway is on the record as saying he preferred MJ to Gwen.

I know he has gone on the record as saying this. I just never believed it. After all, what’s he going to say, “I killed Gwen because I had no idea how to write myself out of the story predicament I inherited from Stan?” I think the fact that even Stan left such a big problem unresolved when leaving the book showed that even he was stumped by how to solve this problem he created for himself. I always thought that saying he preferred Gwen was Conway’s cover story.

Gambit was awesome though in the Marvel vs. Capacom games mainly because he doesn’t talk though.

I’m sorry, last sentence should have read “I always thought saying he preferred MJ was just Conway’s cover story.”

The presence of Gambit on any kind of Top 50 list invalidates the whole thing.

[…] Comics Should Be Good has the top 50 DC characters (#50-#46, #45-#41, #40-#36, #35-#31, #30-#26) and the top Marvel characters (#50-#46, #45-#41, #40-#36, #35-#31, #30-#26). Plus comic book urban legends, why you should own a copy of From Hell, an appreciation of Kelly Jones, and a few thoughts on what there is to love (or hate) about Scott Pilgrim. […]

I know no one’ll read this, but Rob Tevis, what would give you the idea that Cajuns weren’t white? Acadia is in Nova Scotia, fer crissakes.

Rob never said they weren’t white. He’s saying because he’s white he doesn’t immediately to be part of a minority

I never said that Gambit wasn’t white – I said that when you look at him, you don’t at first know that he is actually part of a minority group.

Yay MJ and Vision! I know I voted MJ but I can’t remember if I voted Vision in the top ten. If not, he’d’ve been at least top twenty. I also used to like Jessica Jones, but that pretty much stops at the cancellation of Alias. Gambit’s had his ups and downs for me, but I like the character very much just for the nuts and bolts of it.

I know I’m joining this discussion a couple of years late, but I’ve only been reading ‘Comics Should Be Good’ since the Spring.

I just wanted to point out the DeFalco wasn’t the one who brought Mary Jane back in the ’80s either. Roger Stern did, close to a year before DeFalco took over. But DeFalco made her a much more prominent character, and as you said, he revealed her knowledge of Spidey’s identity AND gave the first account of her past. (Although Stern had already hinted as to troubles with her sister Gail.)

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