May 26, 2014

This List Will Change Your Life

This List Will Change Your Life
Ben Smith


There are eleven things in life that I am certain of, and ten of them I’m not so sure about. The one thing that I am sure of, is that Spider-Man is, and will always be, my favorite comic book character. We’ve logged far too many miles, shared too many intimate moments, had too many great times, and I am far too old, for that to change at this point in my long existence on this happy little ball of gasses and fluids we call a planet.

What remains in doubt are the other top characters that fill the empty little void in what represents my version of the human heart. If only there were a list that could be generated. Today, that is my goal and my mission. To provide to you the most grandest of favorite character lists, that you will immediately run to the roof of whatever building or domicile you are currently occupying, raise your clenched fist to the sky in triumph, and scream “yes, that was quite the list!”

In the interest of (relative) brevity, and because ten is a common enough number in the list-making game, I will be providing you a list of my ten favorite male characters, and ten favorite female characters. I realize I’ve already broken the rule of ten by providing twenty, but I feel like we’ve all become friends here, so you’ll just have to be flexible. I am also limiting myself to DC and Marvel characters, otherwise my brain might explode from all that hard work thinking about stuff.

FEMALE CHARACTERS:

Honorable Mention — Black Widow, Jubilee, Rogue, Storm, Psylocke, Black Canary, Magik, Kitty Pryde, Dazzler, Emma Frost (Emma would have topped this list only a few years ago, but has been in steady decline since Grant Morrison stopped writing her)

10. Colleen Wing


Colleen came on strong during my recent re-read of the original Iron Fist series. She’s only a badass samurai bounty hunter, with a ruthless streak, and a pretty face. How can you even read that sentence and not want to find out more about her?

Recommended reading: that Shadowland tie-in series she starred in. Daughters of the Dragon? (It's Daughters of the Shadow. See what I have to deal with? -Duy)

9. The Huntress


The Helena Bertinelli version is the only version for me. You can keep the “Batman’s daughter from another dimension” crap. I like how tough, yet vulnerable she is, and she’s prone to mistakes. She’s much better as the wild card of the Black Canary and Oracle “Birds of Prey” team.

Recommended reading: Simone and Benes Birds of Prey. Shiva “pool fight.”

8. Dawnstar


My overwhelming love for the entirety of the Legion of Superheroes female characters will be represented by Dawnstar. I love her and Wildfire together, and she’s not too hard on the eyes. (Fun fact: I first became intrigued by the Legion because of an excellent episode of the Justice League Unlimited animated series.)

Recommended reading: The Great Darkness Saga, Superman & the Legion

7. Platinum

Much like my undying love for the Legion, The Metal Men are one of the few DC properties that I will always give a chance in a new book. Among all the madcap lunacy of the Metal Men, Platinum is probably the looniest, with her infatuation for their creator always a key aspect of the character. Even as a robot, she has more heart than most. (Another fun fact: I became a Metal Men fan because of the Batman: Brave and The Bold animated series.)

Recommended reading: Metal Men is the only enjoyable Silver Age DC comic.

6. Sif

Sif is a recent addition to my favorites list, following a month-long Thor binge-reading campaign leading up to the release of the second feature film. Sif is a warrior born, and capable of providing sound advice along with a steady sword.

Recommended reading: Journey Into Mystery #646–655

5. Gamora


The only woman that can top Sif and Colleen in the badass department, is “the most dangerous woman in the universe.” As sexy as she is deadly, she’ll follow up a battle to the death by finding a suitable mate for some after-battle “release.” Despite her badass persona, she’s incredibly loyal, and is one of the main reasons the Guardians of the Galaxy are the best team in comics.

Recommended reading: all of modern Guardians really, but if you want to be frugal, Guardians of the Galaxy (vol. 3) #4 (the current series).

4. U-Go Girl


On the surface, she was ruthless and ambitious. But the more you got to know the character, you realized what kind of heart she had below the hard outer exterior, and you miss her all the more for it.

Recommended reading: all of Milligan and Allred’s X-Force, X-Statix #10.

3. The Black Cat


Spider-Man’s most entertaining romantic foil, and one of the sexiest characters in comics. No comic has ever been worse from having her around.

Recommended reading: everything before and after the Spider-marriage

2. Squirrel Girl

The queen of the absurd characters. She’s always fun, whether it’s inexplicably beating much more powerful villains, or babysitting Luke Cage’s daughter. Steve Ditko’s second-best comic book creation.

Recommended reading: GLA, New Avengers (vol. 2) #15

1. Gwen Stacy

Gwen was the first girlfriend many comic book readers ever loved, and that made the pain of Spider-Man losing her all the more poignant. Yes, (barring the Ditko years) she may be more interesting as a cipher, or because of what she represents, but I’m fine with that.

Recommended reading: Marvels #4

MALE CHARACTERS:

10. Flash


When done right, Flash is one of the best characters in all of comics. If you need an example of how to do him right, refer back to Justice League Unlimited. Always willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good, but never willing to sacrifice his sense of humor or his heart.

Recommended reading: Crisis on Infinite Earths #8, The Return of Barry Allen

9. Hank Pym


It’s kind of hard to gauge my actual appreciation for this character in a vacuum, as my wife’s enthusiasm transferred to me eventually, that’s just nature. But he is a wonderfully quirky and flawed individual, and most of the books he’s been a part of since Civil War have been pretty great.

Recommended reading: Mighty Avengers by Dan Slott, Avengers A.I.

8. Hawkeye


Hawkeye was probably the original rabble-rouser and pot-stirrer on a superhero team. Hawkeye is the most arrogant guy in the room, but is usually able to back it up when it counts. He’s always the last guy to give up on a teammate too, which is a level of loyalty I always find appealing.

Recommended reading: Hawkeye by Fraction and Aja is simply brilliant.

7. Iron Fist


Iron Fist is a kung-fu billionaire with a giant dragon tattoo on his chest, and a cool yellow mask with Spider-Man eyelets. He’ll kick you in the face.

Recommended reading: all of Immortal Iron Fist, even the non-Aja stuff (Aja is so underappreciated).

6. Thor


Thor is kinda like Cap in that he’s good for the sake of being good, but what makes him even more enjoyable is that he wasn’t always that way. The flexibility of the character is what makes him so great. He can be arrogant young Thor in Viking times, grizzled old lonely Thor in some apocalyptic future, or the protective big brother of the human race in modern times. And he has some of the greatest supporting characters in all of comics around him.

Recommended reading: barring what I’ve already written about, the current Thor series by Aaron is fantastic, as well as Warren Ellis’ Worldengine, and Fraction’s run is pretty decent too.

5. Howard the Duck


Unfortunately, the stigma of a terrible movie will always follow this character around. It really shouldn’t. He’s a brilliant vehicle for satire and absurdity. The only reason he’s not higher on this list is that only Steve Gerber can write the real Howard.

Recommended reading: all of Gerber’s Howard

4. Star-Lord.


Star-Lord is the ultimate sarcastic jerk that deep down still has a good heart. For some reason I can relate to that character pretty well. Plus he hangs out with a gun-toting talking raccoon, and a walking tree.

Recommended reading: everything after Annihilation

3. Brainiac 5

Modern Brainy is much like Star-Lord in the arrogant jerk department, only with the added layer of super-genius intellect. It’s frustrating having to try and figure out a way to communicate with humans that are so much dumber than you are.

Recommended reading: Levitz and (mostly) Yildiray Cinar’s Legion of Superheroes

2. Doop


I’ve never read a Doop story I didn’t like, and every time an artist draws him in the background of a Wolverine & the X-Men comic, my heart grows three sizes bigger.

Recommended reading: Wolverine & the X-Men #17 is the single greatest issue published in the past 25 years

1. Spider-Man

No surprise here, since I told you this right at the very beginning. For all the reasons that people usually like to cite for why Spider-Man is their favorite character: he’s the everyman, he never gives up, he’s the most relateable. I think the reason I liked the character so much right from the beginning is because he’s funny. He’s always cracking jokes, being sarcastic, and making fun of the guys who are trying to punch him in the face. Like I always say, I have simple tastes.

Recommended reading: (for a change of pace) the Erik Larsen run of Spider-Man was solid fun (except Return of the Sinister Six, yeesh). (Here's REVENGE of the Sinister Six, which is much better. -Duy)

There you have it, the list of all lists. I will settle for nothing less than completely changing your entire view of life and the human experience. If I failed to do that, then…this was all a bit of a waste of time wasn’t it?

Next time, more time wasting!

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