The age old questions of comic fans: Batman or Superman? Spider-Man or Wolverine? The debates about the best heroes are endless. We tried to make a top 10 list, but that was just too hard. So we tried a top 25, but that quickly became a top 50… you get the idea. So we were able to ‘narrow’ it down to an even 100. Odds are you will vehemently disagree with who did or did not make the list, or just the order that we placed them. But, hey, it’s our list.
(Honorable mentions to Beta Ray Bill, USAgent, Martian Manhunter, Kid Flash, Hercules, The Frenchman and the Female (the Boys), Abe Sapien, Spider-Man 2099, Static Shock, Nite Owl, Guy Gardner, Booster Gold, Spawn, Atom Eve, Mary Marvel, and a hell of a lot more. So many more we could- and may- do another whole 100 list!)
We will release these in installments of 10 so that you don’t have the longest list ever to read through. Agree with the placement or who made the list? Disagree with the burning power of a thousand suns? Let us know! Enjoy!
Real Name: Kate Kane
First Appearance: 52 #11 (2006)
Enemies: Alice, Bruno Mannheim, Whisper A’Daire, Knife, Wolf Spider
“I know how to catch super criminals and psychotic murderers. Send me after Mister Freeze, the Joker, even a goddamned ghost, and I’m good. But this is something else entirely… only Wonder Woman knows how to fight Greek gods and monsters.” ~ Batwoman (Katherine Kane)
Batwoman (not to be confused with Batgirl – also an awesome character in her own right) isn’t just a knock-off gender bend version of the Dark Knight. She’s actually a pretty kickass hero who doesn’t stand in the shadow of the bat. Although she has very little connection to Bruce, her family actually has ties to the Waynes and the history of Gotham. Katherine Kane is a revamp of the old Golden Age ‘Batwoman’, except this time she’s a redheaded Jewish lesbian. So far in the comics, Batwoman has primarily faced off with the more supernatural elements of Gotham’s underbelly. I highly recommend her run in Detective Comics – Issues: 854-863!
89. Hank Pym
Real Name: Henry “Hank” Pym
First Appearance: Tales to Astonish #27 (1962)
Enemies: Ultron, Egghead, Whirlwind
“God, devil… I don’t care what you call yourself. Because of you, my students are fighting a war alone. All you are to me is what I have to smash through to get to them!” ~Hank Pym
Hank Pym might be the most underrated hero in all of Marvel comics. He’s awesome but always gets the short end of the stick in that he’s always going to be tied to some of the worst comics in Avengers history (where he went crazy, created the Yellowjacket identity, rushed into a marriage with the Wasp, and slapped her). He created the Ant-Man technology, discovered Pym particles, created Ultron (um… forget that one)… Hank was awesome as Ant-Man, he was awesome as Giant Man, he was awesome as the crazy ass Yellowjacket, he was even awesome as the new Wasp when Janet was thought dead (don’t believe me? Read Dan Slott’s fantastic Mighty Avengers run!), hell, he’s even awesome as the weirdo Ultron-Pym hybrid running around these days. His heroics are overshadowed only by his crushing inferiority complex and occasionally somewhat unstable mental state. He might not be your favorite, but you can never say he’s boring (other than the West Coast Avengers days when he went by ‘Dr. Pym’ and wore a red jumpsuit. Yay, 90’s?)
Real Name: Pietro Maximoff
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #4 (1964)
Enemies: Chthon, Magneto, High Evolutionary, Fabian Cortez
“You’re a mutant, too. You can read minds enough to predict any attack your opponent will make. So you will be able to- anticipate every move I make- and do absolutely- NOTHING about it- because I- am- the- fastest- man- on- Earth!!” ~Quicksilver
Marvel’s answer to the Flash, but if the Flash was super surly and impatient and was the son of a mutant terrorist (I know they ‘revealed’ Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch weren’t really Magneto’s kids, but I refuse to acknowledge this. Fight me.). He started as a villain to the X-Men with his sister the Scarlet Witch, but quickly switched to the side of the angels and joined the first non-founders lineup of the Avengers, alongside Hawkeye, for the ‘Cap’s Kooky Quartet’ era. He’s got ties in the mutant community, the Avengers, and the Inhumans, where he was technically part of the royal family while he was married to Crystal (Black Bolt’s sister in-law), and has somehow managed to piss off all of them at one time or another. The real reason behind the Scarlet Witch’s remodel of reality in the House of M, the thief of the Terrigen Crystals from the Inhumans, and the person that used those crystals to try to give former mutants their powers back which often led to their deaths, Pietro has had a somewhat spotty past. In fact, I believe he would have worked much better as a villain; as a successor to Magneto. I’d even give him a Magneto-style anti-telepathy helmet! He’d be super badass!
87. Multiple Man
Real Name: Jamie Madrox
First Appearance: Giant-Sized Fantastic Four #4 (1975)
Enemies: Damian Tryp, Clay, the Isolationist
“I’m Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, mutant-turned-private-detective. As a sideline, I send my dupes out into the world to learn things and then rejoin with me so their knowledge is mine. That way I can experience… well… everything.” ~Jamie Madrox
For the longest time he was thought of as a bit of a joke character, but thanks to the work of Peter David (and pretty much ONLY Peter David) he’s become one of Marvel’s most interesting characters. A mutant with the ability to create a genetic duplicate of himself any time he is impacted (falling down, getting punched, etc) is pretty cool, but when you learn that each duplicate is an aspect of his personality and can think for themselves, and when he reabsorbs them he retains all of their knowledge and experience, he becomes awesome. Under David’s pen he went from a jokey, comic relief character to a fully capable, cunning, leader of mutants type of jokey, comic relief character. While he’s undergone tremendous character growth, even leading his own team for quite a while, at heart he is still the guy that deflects with humor. Sure, he’ll make sixty dupes and stomp your head in, but he’ll feel bad about it, and make some jokes while doing it.
86. Carl Grimes
Real Name: Carl Grimes
First Appearance: The Walking Dead #2 (2003)
Enemies: The Governor, the Saviors, the Whisperers
“I overheard them talking. They’d say things like, “How could we kill a kid?” They knew it needed to be done, but they didn’t know how they could do it. So I snuck in the van while everyone was sleeping… and I killed him. I figured it was okay for another kid to kill a kid… or at the very least it was easier. I wanted to take that burden on, like it was a way I could help. I never told anyone. They woke up the next day and he was just dead. People suspected others… but no one ever knew.” ~Carl Grimes
He may be dead on the TV show (spoilers?), but our boy Carl is alive and kicking in the comics (and on You Tube). Nothing can kill this kid. He’s been shot in the chest AND through the eye, and he’s lived through zombie attack after zombie attack. He grew up in the apocalypse and is not to be messed with. The little shit stole an assault rifle, snuck on board a truck, and then unloaded on Negan’s Saviors- at their hideout, with no backup- like it was no big deal. He’s not so little anymore, which is a little bit of a bummer, because tiny psycho one-eyed Carl was my favorite.
85. White/Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner)
Real Name: Kyle Rayner
First Appearance: Green Lantern #48 (1994)
Enemies: Major Force, Sinestro, Mongul, Nekron, Black Hand, Larfleeze
“I’m gonna have to play this rough. There’s no time for words. I gotta go Eastwood on everybody.” ~Kyle Rayner
Whether wielding the white light of creation or just rocking the classic green, few lanterns are as accomplished as Kyle Rayner. Dubbed ‘the Torchbearer’ by the Guardians, Kyle was given a Green Lantern ring after the corps was destroyed by the Parallax-possessed Hal Jordan and was essentially told ‘you’re the only Green Lantern now. Good luck!’ Kyle was an integral member of the Justice League during the insanely awesome Grant Morrison ‘JLA’ run, was instrumental in the resurrection of Hal Jordan, convinced the Specter/Parallax/Hal Jordan being to sacrifice himself to reignite the dying sun, fought off possession by Parallax himself, was a key part of the Sinestro Corps War, the Blackest Knight, the War of the Lanterns… oh, yeah, and the energy of creation deemed him the most worthy to be the White Lantern. Not too shabby.
Real Name: Gamora Zen Whoberi Ben Titan (really)
First Appearance: Strange Tales #180 (1975)
Enemies: Thanos, the Phalanx, Nebula, the Magus
“Thanos built me for one purpose: to kill. You can take your chances with me, but you’d be taking your chances with him, too.” ~Gamora
The deadliest woman in the universe isn’t just her nickname. Taken in by Thanos after the destruction of her people and raised as an assassin against the Magus (the corrupted Adam Warlock), Gamora not only is a master of nearly every martial art across the galaxy but has been augmented with bionic implants that make her stronger and faster than normal, as well as granting her an accelerated healing factor and an increased resistance to reality distortion. When she finally saw what Thanos really had planned to destroy the universe as a sacrifice to Death, she turned on him. After the Infinity Gauntlet story she joined Adam Warlock’s Infinity Watch as the keeper of the Time Gem. She joined the universal resistance against the Annihilation Wave, and found herself falling in love with Richard Rider aka Nova Prime. When he was presumed dead she joined the Guardians of the Galaxy and established a relationship with Star-Lord, aka Peter Quill, and really came into her own as a bonafide hero.
83. The Sentry
Real Name: Robert Reynolds
First Appearance: The Sentry #1 (2000)
Enemies: The General, Mastermind, the Void
“The Void. He’s here now. And there’s nothing you can do to stop it.” ~ Robert Reynolds (The Sentry)
There are probably a lot of you that think this is waaaaay too high for him to be on the list. That’s fine, but you probably haven’t read the original mini-series by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee, which puts him here on its own, in my opinion. Yes, he’s a rip-off of Miracleman/Marvelman, and yes, Bendis never knew what the hell to do with him in the Avengers books so he just became this tool with Fabio hair, but the Sentry is awesome (seriously, it’s really annoying, especially in Dark Avengers because he just turns into a bad guy that works for another bad guy). The Void is awesome. Hell, even Scout and Watchdog are awesome. If you only ever read one story with the character, read the original mini-series and disregard most of what came after.
Real Name: Piotr Rasputin
First Appearance: Giant-Sized X-Men #1 (1973)
Enemies: Juggernaut, the Marauders, Ord/Breakworld
“I remember Cain Marko, the Juggernaut before me. The destruction he caused. The joy he took in it. I used to wonder how he could do such monstrous things. Now I only wonder how he could ever stop.” ~Colossus
One of the coolest X-Men, if not superheroes period, Marvel has, Colossus has been a mainstay for most of the 40+ years he’s been around (he was dead for a while, but he got better). The X-Men’s resident strongman, he is more than capable of holding his own against threats like the Juggernaut or Sentinels and can crush Marauders’ throats in with just his hands (too soon? Sorry, Riptide)! He’s much more than just a brawny metal guy, however. Piotr is a painter, and at heart a pacifist. It’s just that when some guy comes and knocks his soy latte out of his hands and Starbucks and makes fun of his tweed blazer he doesn’t just get mad and post something on Twitter about it; he turns into a hulking mass of organic steel and breaks them in half! Piotr’s had a rough go of life at times: his parents were murdered, his long-lost brother reappeared in his life just long enough to go crazy, develop a messiah complex, and commit suicide, and his little sister… ooh, boy, his little sister. She got kidnapped by demons as a little kid, turned into a demonic entity, conquered all of Limbo and became a demon queen (a good one, but still), got de-aged, died of the Legacy virus, was reborn, got re-aged… you know, like most of us.
Real Name: Janet Van Dyne
First Appearance: Tales to Astonish #44 (1963)
Enemies: Whirlwind, Ultron, Egghead, Masters of Evil
“A hundred years from now, when we’re all dead and buried, there will be only two things that we’re remembered for… what we did. And what we looked like.” ~Wasp
Janet Van Dyne, on the surface, looks like she was pretty much the mascot of the founding Avengers. Her role was, at least in the early stories, kind of the team’s cheerleader and worrywart (paging Susan Storm…). But then she started to really establish herself as a real hero, and a real force to be reckoned with unto herself. She quickly outgrew Hank Pym’s shadow and cemented herself as one of the core, main Avengers. She’s even led the team on more than one occasion, most notably during the Masters of Evil’s attack shown in the classic ‘Under Siege’. She’s fought Magneto, Ultron, dealt with the villain Whirlwind being straight up obsessed with her, had to deal with Hank Pym’s mental breakdown… hell, she’s now like a mentor to his kid! She’s dealt with all kinds of craziness and yet is able to keep a sunny disposition while super-heroing and running her fashion business.
And that’ll do it for part 2! If you missed part 1 you can find it here, and be sure to join us for part 3 where we will touch on characters like Watchmen’s Rorschach, DC’s Black Canary, and Marvel’s Spider-Woman!