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