Top 50 Marvel Characters #35-31
The countdown continues!!
35. Ms. Marvel – 185 points
Carol Danvers, Ms. Marvel, was created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan. She was a supporting character in Captain Marvel’s comic for quite awhile, until Carol was exposed to a Kree device that basically made her like the Kree, so she was, essentially, a female version of Captain Marvel.
Carol soon got her own series (soon, as in, right away), which lasted for a couple of years. Towards the end of her series, she joined the Avengers. However, in a controversial story, Carol was brainwashed by some time-traveling guy to fall in love with him so that she could give birth to him (as he did not have a body on our Earth). The two then left together all happy.
Chris Claremont, the writer of the Ms. Marvel series, took issue with this, and in an Avengers Annual, brought Carol back and pointed out how angry she was at the Avengers for taking her situation as genuine. In the same story, Carol was stripped of her powers and her personality, really, by the mutant Rogue.
Eventually, in the pages of X-Men (who Carol had been recuperating with), she gained NEW cosmic powers and a new name, Binary.
She stayed in outer space for some time, but returned to Earth, mostly stripped of her Binary powers, but re-joined the Avengers as Warbird.
She is currently the leader of the Avengers, using her old name, Ms. Marvel.
Here is why Eric Filemyr had her high on his list:
Let’s face it, Ms. Marvel is B List. And honestly, that is why I love her.
Yes, Spider-Man is the everyman. He has relatable girl and work problems, but he always goes about them in the most noble way. Carol Danvers has a lot of issues too, but she does not always correct them in the best way.
I first was introduced to Danvers in Kurt Busiek and George Perez’s Avengers relaunch. In those early issues, she had a ton of problems; she practically begged to be on the team, her powers were fading, and she was in denial about her alcoholism. On a team with figurative and literal gods like Captain America and Thor, here was a very human hero. Since she was an Avenger, I figured she would quickly recover in six issues. Instead, she quit the Avengers before they could kick her out. I was hooked; here was a heroine who couldn’t solve her own problems in one issues (this is pre-writing-for-the-trade, kids).
Carol is a hero though, and she did get herself together. She rejoined the Avengers and got help for her drinking from fellow alcoholic-super-hero Iron Man.
In the pages of “Alias,” she was lead character Jessica’s Jones’ best friend, even if Jessica didn’t realize or appreciate it. In this way, Carol came full circle, helping out a former heroine with a lot of the same insecurity she once had.
Time in the altered reality “House of M” really brought out the best in Danvers. In that reality she was Earth’s greatest hero, and when reality fixed itself, she decided there was no reason that she couldn’t be her reality’s greatest hero. In true Danvers-fashion, she went about it wrong at first, mostly through the use of a publicist. She even aligned herself with Tony Stark’s pro-registration forces in the Civil War, and traumatized the daughter of fellow hero Arachne when she arrests Arachne for opposing the registration. But again, Carol is a hero, and she fixed her mistakes, helping Arachne escape to Canada with her daughter and she even leads the Avengers now! Carol is not the greatest hero and she makes mistakes. But that is where she is relatable, and we can look up to her when she inevitably rights her wrongs.
Thanks again, Eric!
34. Adam Warlock – 186 points (3 first place votes)
Technically, Adam Warlock was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, in the pages of the Fantastic Four, as an artificial creation called “Him”. However, the character that we all know and (mostly) love is really a wholly original character, created by Jim Starlin, who wrote and drew the adventures of Adam Warlock.
Roy Thomas and Gil Kane were actually the creators who came up with turning Him into a superhero known as Adam Warlock, but their run on his title was short-lived. It was not until Starlin, working with relatively little restraint, took over the character that the character clicked in the minds of many fans.
Starlin told epic cosmic stories, with his first one having to do with Warlock facing off against the Magus, who was an evil future version of Warlock, himself!!
Once that story ended, Starlin pitted Warlock against another of Starlin’s creation, the evil cosmic being, Thanos.
It is actually sort of amusing how Starlin told these stories. While well-regarded today, the books did not sell all that well back then, so Starlin, in need of continuing the stories SOMEwhere, ended up co-opting other titles to tell his tales, using an Avengers Annual and a Marvel Two-in-One Annual to bring his Warlock/Thanos conflict to a resolution, a resolution that involved both characters dying (plus two popular supporting characters, as well, the raunchy troll, Pip, and the female assassin, Gamora).
In the early 90s, Starlin took over Silver Surfer, and brought the whole gang with him, leading to the booming success that was the Infinity Gauntlet. The mini-series (starring Thanos and Adam Warlock) proved so popular, Starlin not only was given a Warlock ongoing series as a spin-off, but TWO later crossovers, Infinity War and Infinity Crusade.
Warlock, I think, has died a couple of times since then (who can keep count?), and has not been seen really since Starlin did a sort of “fourth” part to the Infinity Trilogy a few years back called Infinity Abyss (okay, I’m sure he appeared SOME places, but nowhere prominently, and nowhere in over a year).
Here’s Andy Turnbull on why he had Warlock #1…
Ironically the first appearance I read of Adam Warlock was his death at the hands of Thanos in a UK reprint of the Marvel Two in One Annual from a book fair around 1990. I’m not sure why but the way Starlin so casually disposed of the hero stuck with me. Here was a universe where anything went, it was so unpredictable. The manner of his death was particularly haunting – while pretty badly wounded by Thanos he ends up stealing his own soul, so you have a man who has lived the last eighteen months of his life knowing what will happen to him. It adds a bleakness to the character, although rather than seeking to avoid this fate – he embraced it knowing his death was the right thing to happen. Through various friends I managed to scrounge the back issues and just when I got back up to speed Jim Starlin brought him back in the pages of the Silver Surfer. Which made me very happy.
The character was never the most conventional of heroes, if you could even call him that. Often almost amoral in his actions, with the end justifying the means. There were rare hints of some more human emotion in his reaction to the fate of the High Evolutionary and his dealings with Pip and Gamora.
He’s a tricky character to portray and sadly I don’t think anyone other than Starlin can do him justice. And I don’t think anything will ever measure up against those tales from the seventies.
33. Power Man (Luke Cage) – 190 points (1 first place vote)
Luke Cage was created by Archie Goodwin and John Romita for the main goal of actually having an American black superhero.
Luke Cage was sent to prison for a crime he did not do. He ended up volunteering for an experiment in prison to cut down on his time, and the result gave him superpowers. Soon after, Cage was cleared of his crime, so he set off to become a “Hero for Hire” for the people of New York.
Eventually, he became a proper superhero, by gaining the name “Power Man.”
Soon after, Cage was joined in his Heroes for Hire gig with the hero, Iron Fist. The two were paired together for quite awhile after that, becoming great friends.
Sadly, Cage was once again framed – this time for the murder of Iron Fist (don’t worry, he didn’t really die!).
After going on the run for awhile, when Iron Fist returned, Cage once again became a hero of the people.
More recently, he has become an Avenger (even leading the current team!) and married the mother of his child, Jessica Jones (they named the baby after Iron Fist).
Here is why Karl Harris had his high on his list:
For me Luke Cage has appeared so highly for one reason. Brian Michael Bendis. Having not read much of the original Heroes for Hire series, my
first real interaction with Luke Cage came in the excellent Alias title.
Maybe its the fact I’ve grown up a bit but for me, Luke Cage is the new everyman of the Marvel Universe (overtaking Spidey in this respect). He has real concerns about his wife, his baby and his ideals. He’s a man who’s unafraid to stick to his priniciples often in the face of some hard
decisions and at a real cost for him. For me, that’s what a hero is and the fact that he has unbreakable skin and super-strength is purely coincidental.
He’s had some genuinely great character moments in the past few years which in my opinion have firmly moved him towards marvel’s A-list and he’s gone on a journey and evolved as a character. That feels pretty rare these days.
Calling Matt Murdock a hypocrite
Deciding to join the Avengers because he essentially wants his daughter to be proud of him.
His growing relationship with Spider-Man
Imposing real change on the Avengers (although some have maligned it, Cage making the Avengers stand on the street and stop drug dealers was a great moment for me)
And of course, his Civil War focus issue which for me was the best single issue of 2006 by any publisher.
I anticipate and look forward to more great moments with Luke over the next few years.
31 (tie). Galactus – 191 points (4 first place votes)
Galactus showed up in the Fantastic Four (he was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee) with basically one goal – he wanted to eat the Earth.
And the Earth was basically the first planet to ever rebuff his advances.
Since then, we have learned more about him, like how Reed Richards believes Galactus is actually a necessary part of the cosmic universe.
So Galactus is still out there, hopping around, eating planets.
Here’s Laszlo, explaining why that’s so cool (enough that he was #1 on Laszlo’s list):
Galactus is the original “unbeatable foe”. The Galactus Trilogy launched a character that couldn’t be punched out or levelled by a laser blast. Heroes were forced into negotiations or conflicts that ended in stand-stills as opposed to emerging victorious. As a result Galactus was firmly established as the heaviest of heavy hitters in the Silver Age Marvel Universe.
His characters strengths have been diminished over the years with a multitude of defeats at the hands of a plethora of Marvel heroes and villains. He’s also been marred with a parade of ridiculous heralds since Nova, also underscoring his demotion from the top echelons of the Marvel food chain. But through all the poorly thought out uses for his character, compelling concepts of Galactus’ history, future and purpose have often flowered. Is he galactic population control? The destroyer of Celestial embryos? One thing is clear, he is above our standard classification of hero or villain, he is a force of cosmic nature. And that’s pretty darn cool.
31 (tie). Colossus – 208 points (2 first place votes)
Piotr Rasputin was a farmer on his family’s farm in Russia when Professor Charles Xavier recruited him to join the X-Men (like most of the other new X-Men, he was created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum).
Known as Colossus for his ability to grow in size and strength (and turn into metal), Rasputin became a longtime, and valued, member of the X-Men. He entered into a relationship with his teammate, Kitty Pryde, which Piotr sorta screwed up by falling for an alien lady during Secret Wars.
Piotr is a sensitive, artist-type, which is a cool irony with his powers, which are basically aggressive ones. After serving with the X-Men for many years, Colossus, distraught that his sister, Illyana Rasputin, was killed by a mutant virus, Colossus actually left the X-Men to join Magneto!
After awhile, Colossus realized that that was silly, and ended up joining up with Excalibur, and when that team disbanded, he re-joined the X-Men, staying with them until he seemingly perished in an attempt (a successful one, at that) to cure the virus that killed his sister.
More recently, he has returned to life, and is once again in a relationship with Kitty Pryde.
Tina had him #1…explain why, Tina!
I’ve always admired Colossus’ sense of love, honour and duty. He would do anything to protect the people he loved. From when he jumped in front of the tractor to save his sister Illyana which was the first manifestation of his mutant power to when he sacrificed himself, again because of his love for his sister, to stop the Legacy Virus that claimed her life. He has wanted to live an uncomplicated life in a highly complicated world. He is a warrior poet of sorts. He can look around after a battle and while others will see untold devastation, he will be the one to find a flower amongst the rubble. A massive hulk of a man who can crush a car with his bare hands but will go to any length to shoo a fly out of the house rather than swat it. He lives his life everyday to make it better on the day he leaves rather when he came into the world.
That’s it for today! More tomorrow!