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Top 50 Marvel Characters #5

Now Marvel’s turn…

5. The Thing – The Thing (Ben Grimm) – 850 points (12 first place votes)


Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Ben Grimm, the Thing, had his dialogue based on the popularity personality, Jimmy Durante, whose working class New York attitude fit the Thing’s attitude perfectly, right along with Thing’s battle cry, “It’s clobberin’ time!”

A college friend of Reed Richards, Grimm agreed to pilot an experimental spaceship that Richards had built. Along with Richards’ girlfriend and her brother, the quartet snuck into the launch site and took off. Sadly, the shields on the ship failed, and the four were bombarded with cosmic radiation, which, when they returned to Earth, resulted in the foursome gaining fantastic powers.

The problem was, though, that while all four of them gained powers, besides gaining super strength and super durability, Ben also was mutated into a rocky monstrous looking creature. As you might imagine, Ben was not pleased by this situation, but ever the trooper, he agreed to join the other three in the Fantastic Four, to use their powers for the good of mankind, while Richards would work on a cure for Ben’s condition.

thing 1.jpg

Along the way, Ben began a relationship with the noted blind sculptress, Alicia Masters. She was able to accept the man inside the monstrous appearance, which did Ben a world of good.

Ben has a bit of a temper, so he clashed with the other members of the FF a number of times over the years, but for the most part, he continued as a stalwart member of the team for as long as the team was around. His longest absence came when, after an interplanetary battle called Secret Wars, Ben learned he could control his mutation on the planet. So he decided to stay on the planet for awhile, but eventually came back to Earth, and his monstrous fate.

thing 2.jpg

More recently, Ben discovered that he was quite wealthy (due to some money Reed Richards had invested for him). It is unclear what Ben will exactly do with all this newfound wealth.

He is currently a member of the Fantastic Four.

Here is why our own blogger, Pol Rua, picked the Thing #1…

There are lots of reasons why I chose The Thing as my favourite Marvel character.

One of the main ones is that he’s what I like to call a foot soldier. He’s not the strongest, or the toughest, or the fastest. He’s not ‘the best there is at what he does’. He’s certainly not the prettiest. But when the chips are down and the poop has hit the fan, you can bet your bottom dollar that he’ll be there, giving his all until there’s nothing left to give.

Ben Grimm is the sort of hero we can all be. Because his real power has nothing to do with cosmic rays and super-strength and everything to do with strength of character. Loyalty to your friends, bravery in the face of danger, showing warmth to those around you, helping where you can, and being willing to do whatever it takes no matter what are far greater powers than super strength or laser vision, and The Thing has these qualities in spades. In fact, sometimes, I’ll forget I’m reading about a superhero when I’m reading about The Thing, because really, he contributes so much more than just being able to move a couch with his pinkie or crush a Buick into a bowling ball.

Add to that, of course, the skills he contributes as an astronaut, war hero and test pilot, and being able to bench-press a tank starts to look like the least of his abilities. At his heart, Ben Grimm is a blue-collar joe who gets in there and gets the job done. And all with a remarkable lack of egotism or self-promotion. He probably doesn’t even see himself as either Super or a Hero. He’s just a guy who does the best he can with what life has handed him, and by doing so, proves himself to be both.

Like a lot of Marvel’s heroes, he has his problems, and can have a tendency to kvetch. But honestly, if you can’t complain about looking like a giant orange turd 24/7, what can you complain about? And for all that, he gets over himself… and there are a lot of other characters who whinge more despite having less to deal with. Character. Once he’s said his piece, he gets past it and gets the job done. It may seem a strange thing to say, but he’s one of the more emotionally stable, generally up-beat guys in the Marvel Universe. He may grouse, but he very rarely wastes time on angst. He doesn’t have time. He’s got stuff to do. Best to make the most of the hand you’re dealt and get on with it.

Ben Grimm is an everyman hero. An honest palooka who got dealt a bum deal and makes the best of it. A surprisingly down-to-earth guy who you could aspire to be like, but could also hang about, shooting the breeze and downing a couple of pints with. A guy who does the best he can with what he’s got, who never gives up, and does what needs doing.

What’s not to like?

Thanks, Pol!

#4 tomorrow!


I’ve never been a big Fantastic Four fan, but I do enjoy this character–thye did mess him up a bit in the movies though.

I mostly read Marvel Two In One or his own series after that. Or his guest appearances. He was #10 on my list.

He’s struggled with various things (no pun intended), and overcome and dealt with a lot. He is definitely the heart of the FF, and when he wasn’t in it–it just didn’t work.

Good old Benjamin J Grimm- definitely the most interesting FF member so good to see him up at the top of the list where he belongs. Of the 4 he is definitely the only one who should be in a solo title,so its a real mystery why the recent Slott run was so badly underpurchased by comics fans. Ben deserved better than that.

I thought that Dan Slott series was excellent.

But I tend to think that about Dan Slott, so I’m not sure I can be trusted.

The Dan Slott series was brilliant, IMO, and runs second only to All-Star Superman as the superhero comic I’ve enjoyed most over the past few years. Unfortunately, as I was just getting back into reading comics when it started coming out, I was one of those bastards who waited for the trade and ruined it for everybody.

On the upside, my girlfriend absolutely loved the trade, and was happy to hear that the Thing made the top five.

There’ve been naysayers for just about every entry in this list, but surely Ben Grimm is impossible not to like. He’s the Jack Johnson of superheroes (but better)

Yay Thing! For once, he comes out on top. I totally agree with Pol’s assessment above.

My number one pick. I grew up with Marvel Two-In-One. I just don’t think alot of writers really understand Ben. He’s a smart guy. He has a doctorist degree in engineering. He grew up in a tough area. He has a military background. He’s not as strong as the Hulk, but he should be able to put up a better fight than what is usually shown. I could see him winning sometimes. Anyway glad he made it to the top five.

yay for benjamin j! the thing is one of the few characters in comics who, for me at least, feels like he has an honest to goodness soul. During the Civil War, he was the one character who’s first instinct wasn’t to bash heads, but to clean the damn mess up. He’s tragic, and that he’s so lovable makes this even more painful. One of my favourite comics moments as a kid canme from a Fantastic Four/ X-Men crossover series. The team is duped into believing Reed caused the accident in space on purpose and they’re very upset, Ben in particular. he says that he lost more in the accident than others- he’s the last of the Grimm clan, and can’t have children, so he’s the end of the line. Truly heartbreaking stuff. At the same time, few characters can generate laughs like he can; the hulk/ thing graphic novel was one of the funniest and funnest comics ever published. Other than Spider Man, Ben is probably the most realistic character Marvel has. I’m damn sorry I waited for that Slott trade.

A few notes number wise. I mentioned yesterday that there were only a handful of times that the difference between two ranks was 50 or more, well, add two more to that list. Thing is 120 points higher than the Hulk (no matter what happens in WWH) and the Joker beat Nightwing by 132 points.

If the current trends in the top 10 continues, Marvel’s #1 will come in roughly 1250 points and DC’s will come in roughly 1550 points. Looking at the top 50, the trends show Marvel coming in about 900 points and DC at 700 points. Of course, these are both pretty inaccurate statistical models, but I thought they were interesting.

It also means that at #5, the difference between the two lists has dropped to 53 points. Once you get this far, the characters are roughly equal popularity. The Joker even beat out the Hulk!

The Thing at #4 is twice as popular as #18 (Shadowcat), 5 times as popular as the next highest placed original member of his team at #37 (Invisible Woman), and almost 7 times as popular as #49 (who happens to be the big brain who gave him his powers).

The Joker at #4 is over 50% more popular than the woman he crippled at #10 (Oracle), over twice as popular as the next highest villain in his universe at #20 (Lex Luther), and infinitely more popular than the idiot (Jason Todd) he killed who later came back when somebody else who didn’t make this list punched reality.

Assuming that there were 566 votes and most people voted only once for each character (unlike idiots like me who accidentally listed a b-rank character twice). There were 31,130 points possible. We know that many of those were for characters who didn’t make the top 50 (like Deadshot and Ilyana Rasputin who were robbed!), but the question is how many? Marvel has 14,619 points accounted for (47%) and DC has 13,997 points accounted for (45%). At least another 11% is guaranteed in the top 4, but that still leaves a substantial amount of points for 51+ ranks.

He’s the @#$ Batman! Characters from the Batman titles (including Joker) took 7 of the top 50 spots. Compared to 11 for the Avengers, 14 for the X-Men, and 15 for the Justice League, that’s pretty small. But the Batman titles really aren’t a team. Comparing to other single characters with too many titles, Superman only got 3, Spiderman got 3 and Wolverine only got himself. (Yes, I am counting the people that haven’t shown up but everyone expects. No, I’m not counting Flash or Green Lantern characters, because they’re just more Legacy characters.)

Looking at the top 5-10, I was trying to work out which characters have NOT had their own on-going series. I think it is just Hawkeye (just mini-series), Cyclops and Oracle. All three are very strong team players, in fact, I believe each has been on at least 3 teams.

Looks like our top 4 female characters are Wonder Woman, Oracle, Black Canary and Kitty Pryde. An Amazon powerhouse who wears a swimsuit and bench presses tanks. A brilliant computer hacker who has organized and led some of the most powerful people in the world from a wheelchair. A young girl with a (mostly) defensive power, intelligence, and a (mostly) modest costume. A beautiful woman who wears fishnets and can kick butt. Just thought it was worth pointing out that, yes, fan boys like revealing costumes and sexy poses, but that’s not ALL they like.

Okay, so the last four Marvel characters are (probably in this order): Spidey, Cap, DD, and Doom?

Wotta revoltin’ predicament! Benjy should be #1, or at least #2. But 5 is a very respectable showing.

Danar – I assume that Marvel will continue to have more votes than DC, for two reasons.

1) There are more Marvel fans, and almost certainly more complete Marvel list, and

2) Fewer Marvel characters. They haven’t been around as long and currently and historically, Marvel produces a smaller number of comics. Stuff like the Vertigo line siphons a lot of votes.

With that many fans its surprising that the recent series wasn’t very succesful. Of course the writing and art could have both been better, and the book could have had more of a direction than “whatever Slott feels like doing”.

Really though, I am very surprised to see such a high following. I know the Thing was HUGE in Marvel’s early days but I had no idea he was still so beloved. I like him but I never would have thought to put him in my top ten. Don’t get me wrong, he is a great character, just not one of my all time favorites.

I’m guessing Spidey, Doom, Cap and DD, though I’d love to see Doom upset it all and take #1

The Thing, like most people, is my favorite ‘FFer’. What made him work, from the get-go, is Jack Kirby. Jack probably breathed more of himself, his own personality, into the Thing than just about any other chartacter he worked on. If all the bios, pics, and interviews about Jack have an ounce of truth in them, then the lower east side, the cigars, the body language, the gruff exterior, even the anxieties are all extensions of Jack. The Thing even shares his father’s name.

It’s no wonder the character has such personality. Yeah for the Thing!

I’m surprised that Ben made it this far down over picks like Hulk, Wolverine, and Magneto, but there is no denying that he deserves his place. Smash that, Hulk!

Can’t believe Doom is more popular than all the FF. Nobody tell him.

Slott’s series is really darn near perfect. If you read it and still don’t get why Ben Grimm is high on this list, you ain’t never gonna know….

I also think “Lockjaw as Ben Grimm’s dog” is one of the most inspired “little” ideas of recent years. They’re such a great match, it’s surprising the idea never occurred to someone before.

I thought Lockjaw was Ben’s dog back in the 70s?

I’m starting to think that Doom might not make the list. We still haven’t seen:

Spider-Man (c’mon, he’s a shoo-in)
Captain America (ditto)
Angel (the only original X-men not on the list so far)
Prof X (I think he’s the only Illumanti not on the list)
Wasp (An origial Avenger, and just as integral to the team’s dynamic as Hawkeye depending on the writer)
Dr. Pym
Scarlet Witch

All of these have been high profile characters in the past, with multiple excellant (and, in some cases, less than excellant) stories told about or because of them.

I think that any one of them could easilly have bumped Doom from the list. Especially with the mentality I’ve noticed in the comments of people saying, “I would have voted for so-and-so, but figured he was a shoo-in anyway. Surprised to see him so low.”


Hawkeye wass #8
Venom isn’t a very popular character amongst net.folks (much more mainstream appeal, though).
Angel? C’mon..please.
Scarlet Witch has been badly damaged in recent years, nor was she ever really popular on a big level–more of a niche character with die-hard fans.
Pym and Wasp? Again. Please.
Prof. X also. No one really buys books for the guy in the wheel chair.

No love for one of Marvel’s earliest Silver age Characters, Henry Pym?

This saddens me.

Hawkeye’s last series was actually an ongoing, Danar. It just didn’t go on that long. ;)

By the by, Danar, I regret to inform you that the numbers are going to be more than a bit off, as quite a few people really didn’t follow the rules, so I had to toss a lot of votes.

I won’t highlight any examples (don’t want to be mean), but boy, there were some real head scratchers in there.

Ben Grimm is now officially Cooler Than Wolverine.

It feels right.

What a revoltin’ development this ISN’T!
While I’d hoped that the ever-lovin’ idol of millions might make the top three, it’s still gratifying to see him place so high. I was pleasantly surprised to see him beat out Wolverine.
Was there ever another character who so redefined what a super-hero could be?
And did he get any votes from Yancy Street?

I won’t highlight any examples (don’t want to be mean), but boy, there were some real head scratchers in there.

Nowhere in the rules did it say you can’t vote for pubic hair. I checked. Twice.

Looks like Mrs. Grimm’s blue-eyed boy did his sweet Aunt Petunia proud

I almost voted for Conan on my Marvel list and Tarzan on DC, but figured they didn’t qualify. Conan was one of my favorites at the time he was being published by Marvel, and Kubert’s Tarzan is one of the greatest comics ever published. I also consider Tarzan to be the single greatest fictional character of all time.

Ben Grimm is impossible not to like. He’s the Jack Johnson of superheroes

Your two statements are contradictory.

Blue-eyed Benji is my number one as well.

I wish team-up comics could stage a comeback. Marvel Team Up and Marvel Two-in-One, in their prime, were great fun! Here’s hoping DC’s newest incarnation of Brave and the Bold does well.

YAY! Ben got in! (He was my #2; Rogue was #1)

Definitely expecting Spider-Man (my #3) to place at the top of the list here. I’ve already seen some of my picks Ultimate Cap, Iron Man and Human Torch show up. I’d be shocked if some of my other picks (Wonder Man, Tigra, and Doc Ock placed so high)…. but happy to see them there.

BUT… could Scarlet Witch (my #5) still get in? That’d be cool! She’s an awesome character!


“Ben Grimm is impossible not to like. He’s the Jack Johnson of superheroes”

Your two statements are contradictory.

Come on. I’m no fan of Jack Johnson, but it’s impossible to dislike him.

Come on. I’m no fan of Jack Johnson, but it’s impossible to dislike him.

Uh, no. You’re definitely wrong again. I dislike him so much, you could call it hate. I despise Jack Johnson and his “frat-boy-writes-songs-on-an-acoustic-guitar-to-pick-up-girls-who-wear-Roxy-clothes” shitty music. If I ever met him in person, I would say “I DON’T LIKE YOU” loudly in his face.

Call me the man who does the impossible, if you like, but Jack Johnson is awful. If he died right now, I would do a little dance.

Have I driven it home yet?

I stand corrected

[…] Comics Should Be Good!: The countdown wraps up with Marvel characters #25-#21, #20-#16, #15-#11, #10-#6, #5 The Thing, #4 Dr. Doom, #3 Daredevil, #2 Captain America and #1 Spider-man; and DC characters #25-#21, #20-#16, #15-#11, #10-#6, #5 The Joker, #4 Hal Jordan, #3 The Flash, #2 Superman and #1 Batman. And those that almost made it Captain Marvel and Deadshot. Also, was Dazzler ahead of her time? Love those phone books. More and more comic book urban legends revealed. Proof that comics love witches (and hate doctors). And Batman keeps his hands to himself. […]

[…] 5. The Thing (Ben Grimm) – 850 points (12 first place votes) […]

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