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!
20. Dr. Strange
Real Name: Dr. Stephen Strange
First Appearance: Strange Tales #110 (1963)
Enemies: Dormammu, Baron Mordo, Nightmare, Shuma Gorath, Empirikul, The Hood, Umar, Mephisto
“If I weren’t furious and half-dead I’d be impressed.”
He may be one of the newer MCU stars, but Dr. Stephen Strange goes back all the way to the days of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko! The master of the mystic arts uses a combination of spells, magical artifacts, courage bordering on just stupidity, and a whole hell of a lot of luck. Considering the kind of threats he comes up against it’s a miracle he hasn’t been replaced; the Sorcerer Supreme, which Stephen is, is a title that he inherited and that someone will one day inherit from him. At the rate he’s been going it’s going to be a hell of a wait for their turn.
Dr. Strange is the fist line of defense against threats like Mephisto, the dread Dormammu, the horrible assface that is Nightmare, the Cthulu-like Shuma Gorath, his evil counterpart Baron Karl Mordo, and countless others. He does have SOME help, primarily in the form of his ‘sidekick’ Wong, who is certainly no slouch in the badass department, himself!
Real Name: Richard “Dick” Grayson
First Appearance: as Robin- Detective Comics #38 (1940), as Nightwing- Tales of the Teen Titans #44 (1984)
Enemies: Joker, Ra’s Al Ghul, Two-Face, Blockbuster, Deathstroke, Talon, Midnighter
“Lesson one: Improvise. Leap first. Figure it all out on the way down.”
The original Robin, Dick Grayson outgrew the role and Batman’s shadow and created a new identify for himself: Nightwing! Whether it’s as the figurehead and leader of the Teen Titans, a member of the Outsiders or Justice League, pretty much the entire DCU looks up to and respects the former Boy Wonder. You don’t spend your early teenage years fist fighting the gangsters and rogues of freaking Gotham City and not get a hell of a reputation. Hell, think how brave he was to go outside in those shorts and pixie boots!
He is most often found in either Bludhaven or helping out in his former master’s Gotham, and has even gone so far as to wear the mantle of the Bat himself on a few occasions! While he was most recently the caped crusader (Bruce Wayne was believed dead) he took the newest Robin- Damian Wayne, son of Batman and Talia Al Ghul- under his… wing… and established a bond with the boy not unlike the one he shared with Bruce when he as a kid.
Nightwing is the glue that holds the DCU together; he has a foot in every camp, so to speak, and is respected by the heroes and feared (or at least also respected) by the villains!
18. Black Panther
Real Name: T’Challa
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #52 (1966)
Enemies: Klaw, Killmonger, Man-Ape, Namor, White Wolf, Dr. Doom
“I am not the one who needs backup.”
Originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four, the Panther (as he was then called) and the nation of Wakanda were immediately a big hit with Marvel readers. The unconquerable nation that appeared primitive on the outside, but was actually the richest and the leading technological nation in the world, and its warrior king are stereotype busters, and T’challa- who started off beating the entire FF by himself!- has become one of Marvel’s most popular, and most important characters in their entire library.
He’s essentially Marvel’s Batman if Batman was also the freaking King of the baddest nation on Earth. His popularity has soared to new heights in recent years with his exposure on shows like Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and its far inferior successor, Avengers Assemble, video games and of course his appearances in the MCU in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and his solo film. Sadly the actor portraying T’Challa, Chadwick Boseman, died of colon cancer and Marvel has elected not to recast the character, but it’s highly unlikely that will impact his popularity around the world.
T’Challa is the current chairman/leader of the Avengers in Jason Aaron’s epic run!
17. Invisible Woman
Real Name: Susan Storm Richards
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #1 (1961)
Enemies: Dr. Doom, Annihilus, Super Skrull, Malice, Psycho Man, Mad Thinker, Diablo, Terrax, The Wizard
“Family isn’t just who you’re related to–It’s who cares for you and takes care of you.”
Few characters have grown from their inception as much as Sue has. Originally the Invisible Girl, her only real power was invisibility and she was often the damsel in distress of the team. Over the years not only has she come into her own as a wife and mother, but also as a leader and a superhero. Now Susan Richards is the Invisible Woman: the most dangerous member of the multiverse’s greatest superteam, the Fantastic Four! You’d be smart to be scared of Reed Richards’ brilliance, or Johnny Storm’s intense flame powers, or the staggering strength and pure grit of Ben Grimm, but you’d be a fool if you weren’t the most terrified of Susan Richards!
The Fantastic Four aren’t the Avengers or the X-Men; they don’t primarily deal in fighting supervillains and universal threats. They’re explorers and adventurers first and foremost, and as such aren’t always using their powers all that offensively. But put Susan in a real fight with anyone- really, anyone- and at the very least they’re going to know they were in a fight. Her invisibility powers have evolved to the ability to create force fields and invisible objects and concussive attacks (she can even create invisible spikes or really any shape she chooses), and she can even make you blind, or reveal things that are already invisible.
Even Dr. Doom knows to fear the Invisible Woman.
16. Mr. Fantastic
Real Name: Reed Richards
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #1 (1961)
Enemies: Dr. Doom, Annihilus, Super Skrull, Wizard, Mad Thinker, Namor, Terrax, Diablo, Mole Man
“Well, Victor…I’ve been thinking.”
The smartest man in the Marvel Universe, his hubris and over confidence resulted in a terrible accident that changed his life forever (sounds like Dr. Doom, doesn’t it?). To his eternal regret, his mistakes also changed the lives of his friends forever, too! Bonding together as a team, they’ve evolved into Marvel’s first family: the Fantastic Four!
While Reed’s powers, at least on the surface, seem silly, on closer inspection they are actually pretty cool. He’s not just stretchy; Reed has control over every molecule in his body! He can make parts of himself incredibly dense, as he displayed in the series Marvel Knights 4 when he beat Namor’s ass! But Reed’s real power isn’t his super abilities, it’s his insane, nearly incalculable, brilliance. Maybe the smartest human that’s ever lived, he has discovered and created more than a dozen rooms full of Nobel Prize winners. He’s forgotten more math than the greatest of prodigies, and discovered more dimensions, planets, alternate realities, cosmic entities, hidden societies, and previously undiscovered power sources than anyone else could in a hundred lifetimes. He’s saved the world- with his family, of course- both publicly and privately numerous times. He convinced Galactus not to eat us! Hell, Galactus considers this mere human to nearly be his actual friend!
The only guy that legitimately scares Dr. Doom and shrugs off the fact that an entire interstellar empire- the Skrulls- hate him more than the aftermath of chili night, Reed is cool as a cucumber under the most dire circumstances. He’s kept grounded by his family, which is good, because his intelligence unchecked often has disastrous effects judging by the dozens of alternate reality Reeds that are either straight up super villains or are at least super jerks.
He put the multiverse back together with the Beyonders’ powers after Dr. Doom’s rule in Secret Wars, so everyone, everywhere, in some way owes their very existence to ol’ Stretcho!
Real Name: Richard “Dick” Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown, Damian Wayne
First Appearance: Grayson- Detective Comics #38 (1940), Todd- Batman #357 (1983), Drake- Batman #436 (1989), Brown as Robin- Robin #126 (2004), Wayne as Robin- Batman #657 (2006)
Enemies: Joker, Two-Face, Ra’s Al Ghul, Talia Al Ghul, King Snake, Killer Croc, Bane, Penguin, Deathstroke… basically the same scum bags that hate Batman
“This is it. Batman and Robin. Together again for the first time.”
Robin is the ultimate sidekick, right there with Holmes’ Watson and Jake’s Fat Man. The Boy (and sometimes Girl) Wonder has been a pixie-booted thorn in the Gotham underworld’s side for over 80 years! There have obviously been multiple characters donning the “Shoot me, not Batman!” yellow cape, and some have been more popular than others, but it’s always a big deal when there’s a new Robin or someone stops being Robin.
The first, Dick Grayson, is the one most people are probably familiar with, despite having ‘graduated’ from the role well over 30 years ago and becoming Nightwing. The orphaned son of murdered circus trapeze artists, he has also served as leader of the Teen Titans and the Outsiders, and has even filled in for Bruce Wayne as the Batman on more than one occassion!
The second, Jason Todd, is… complicated. Originally a red headed kid with an identical origin as Dick Grayson, only Killer Croc killed his folks. Then the universe rebooting Crisis on Infinite Earths happened, and when reality was reset Jason was Robin, only now he had a different origin and looked exactly like Dick Grayson. When he first debuted he had a new costume that eschewed the shorts and pixie boots, but it all returned post-Crisis. He wasn’t well received by fans, which famously led to two 900-numbers being set up: one number voted to save Robin, and one to kill him. The kill line had more calls, so Jason was murdered by the Joker. Years later he was resurrected, again with some confusing ass circumstances that became way more confusing when the story was again interrupted by a Crisis event that reset parts of history. Returning as the Red Hood, Jason has since been an anti-hero in Gotham that is more or less on team Batman.
The third was technically Carrie Kelley in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns series, and her story is continued in the sequels to that story, but she has not been Robin in the main continuity. She’s great.
The ‘real’ third (and best) Robin was Tim Drake, who deduced Batman’s secret identity after he saw Nightwing in action and realized, by watching his movements, that he was one of the Flying Graysons. Since the parents were dead he must be Dick Grayson, and oh, look, Dick Grayson is adopted by billionaire with equally dead parents, Bruce Wayne! Tim had to earn the role over time, as he wasn’t even old enough to drive at the time, and while he had the tech skills and deductive mind that would allow him to excel in the role beyond any that came before, he really didn’t know how to fight! After the fifth Robin was introduced, Tim was renamed ‘Red Robin’, which was supposed to be his Nightwing, but it never really clicked and thankfully he’s back to being Robin!
The fourth was Stephanie Brown, the former and future Spoiler, and future Batgirl! Stephanie, Tim’s on and off again girlfriend, took the role after Tim and Bruce had a falling out. Her time as Robin was short-lived, and ended with her apparent death at the hands of Black Mask (she got better), forcing Tim to reclaim the role.
The fifth and every bit as popular as any that came before is Damian Wayne, son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul. A little psychopath, Damian is potentially better than all of them, even Bruce! Raised by the League of Assassins, the son of the Bat was practically born killing people, and his… rough edges… made him hard for the Bat family to adjust to him, but he has been welcomed into the family both by his actual father and his ‘brothers and sisters’ in the Bat family, as well as legions of fans!
Regardless of who your favorite Robin is, you can count on the Boy or Girl Wonder sticking around for another 80 years!
Real Name: Scott Summers
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #1 (1963)
Enemies: Magneto, Apocalypse, Goblin Queen, Mr. Sinister, Marauders, Stryfe, Bastion, Hellfire Club, Cassandra Nova
“We’re the X-Men. Everything’s going to be okay.”
The first (and best) of the X-Men, Scott Summers was born with the mutant ‘gift’ of obliterating everyone and everything he looked at. His ‘optic blasts’ are capable of punching through mountains, solid steel, Sentinel heads… you get the idea. Forced to wear a protective visor at all times so he doesn’t kill… everything… he is restrained power personified. It makes sense that pretty much any immensely powerful psychic he has ever encountered becomes attached to him in some way; his struggle is the same as theirs in a lot of ways (block out most of your strength as much as possible so you don’t go insane just hearing everyone’s thoughts all the time). Whether it’s Mr. Sinister, Professor X, Jean Grey, the Phoenix force, Psylocke, Emma Frost, Stryfe, his kids… they are all some of the most powerful minds ever on the planet earth and all have either deferred to or been beaten by ol’ Slim himself.
Despite his crippling self doubt and constant terror of the thought of making a single mistake, he has developed into one of the most accomplished leaders in all of Marvel. Seriously, Captain America is probably the only guy that has a better resume, and that’s just because he had a decade of beating up nazis. Scott led his teammates in the original X-Men to defeat Magneto, his Brotherhood, Sentinels, the Juggernaut, Sauron and the Blob before he had to train a whole new team that included his best frenemy: Wolverine. He had to take things to the next level with this team, and considering X-Men like Storm, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Colossus were his ‘trainees’ it’s safe to say he did a pretty damn good job, despite the stakes constantly being raised with rematches with Magneto, the Brotherhood (now Freedom Force), the Hellfire Club, and the Dark Phoenix! He then reteamed with his original teammates and formed X-Factor where they saved the world a few times from Apocalypse and his Horsemen (a feat that normally takes like 20 people), among others. From there it was the X-Men Blue strike team, version after version of the X-Men, and then after the decimation of House of M he was forced into a general-like role of leadership over dozens of X-Men! He is the guy that will always fight for his people, sometimes no matter the cost. The Captain Commander of the nation of Krakoa and the baddest dude ever named after a mythological creature, Cyclops is the coolest of all the X-Men. Fight me.
13. The Thing
Real Name: Benjamin Grimm
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #1 (1961)
Enemies: Dr. Doom, Annihilus, Blastaar, Super Skrull, Mole Man, the Wizard, Sandman, Namor, Terrax, Mad Thinker
“It’s clobberin’ time!”
The pilot of the fateful trip to space that ended with all of its passengers changed forever, Ben Grimm got the short end of the stick and was mutated into a rock-skinned monster; a Thing! His best friend, Reed Richards, the smartest man alive, has failed to cure his ‘condition’ at every turn, so Ben has been forced to accept that this is his reality for the rest of his life. For most, this would cause madness, possibly even suicide, and while Ben has often been pretty far from cheery about his situation, he has never given in, and never given up. In fact, after all of these years, if there is one thing Ben Grimm is known for- besides great catchphrases- is that he never, ever gives up!
Considering that he constantly has to throw down with the likes of Annihilus, Dr. Doom, and freaking Galactus every other day this is a pretty great quality to have.
The ever lovin’ blue-eyed Thing is a mainstay in the Marvel Universe; one of the building blocks of the whole thing, and one of Marvel’s most popular characters of the past 60 years! Whether he’s hosting legendary poker games, piloting an experimental vehicle into unknown dimensions, fighting super villains and monsters (or Dr. freaking Doom), or locked into a legendary, never-ending, always escalating prank war with Johnny Storm (the Human Torch), he remains one of the most original, powerful, hilarious, tragic, and exciting characters ever created!
12. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
Real Name: Harold “Hal” Jordan
First Appearance: Showcase #22 (1959)
Enemies: Sinestro, Parallax, Black Hand, Atrocitus, Hector Hammond, Star Sapphire, Krona, Nekron, Black Hand, Larfleeze, Dr. Polaris, Amon Sur, the Shark… Hal gets around
“There are worse things than dying, friend. With this little ring I can take you apart molecule by molecule and then put you back together again. And maybe I put you back together right and maybe I don’t. But you’ll be alive and conscious for every second of it.”
Hal Jordan was just a normal US test pilot until he came across a crashed alien spacecraft – the ship was piloted by Abin Sur, a dying Green Lantern who sought out Hal as a worthy successor to pass his ring to. As a result, Hal was inducted into the Green Lantern Corps as the protector of Sector 2814.
Technically, Hal Jordan was the second Green Lantern, first introduced in the Silver Age comics, although the original Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott, was never officially part of the Green Lantern Corps.
The Green Lanterns each utilize a power ring that can channel their willpower into energy, constructs, force fields, and more, but to harness the power, the one qualification to be chosen as a lantern: you must be able to overcome great fear!
Hal was trained in part by Sinestro, a fellow GL who ultimately abused his power and betrayed the Guardians of Oa. Sinestro would go on to forge his own Corps by harnessing the yellow energy of fear! It would later be revealed that there were a dozen lantern corps from across the emotional spectrum, including the Blue Lanterns of Hope, the Rage of the Red Lanterns, and Larfleeze, the Orange Lantern powered by Avarice!
Since becoming a Green Lantern, Jordan has encountered a number of threats to both his hometown of Coast City and his home planet, both cosmic and domestic, from Hector Hammond to Atrocitus. He was a founding member of the original Justice League, he’s good friends with Oliver Queen aka the Green Arrow (they once took a road trip together and tackled some racism and heroin) and his girlfriend, and fellow pilot, Carol Ferris, also gained abilities of her own as the Star Sapphire. Over the years, there have been a number of other human Green Lanterns that have followed in his example, including: John Stewart, Guy Gardener, Kyle Rayner, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz – most of whom have become legends in their own right!
Although he was once possessed by Parallax, (breifly becoming evil and killing half of the GL Corps) he has since saved the universe countless times and has proven himself as one of the most powerful lanterns in the entire universe thanks to his undefeatable willpower!
Real Name: Thor Odinson
First Appearance: Journey Into Mystery #83 (1962)
Enemies: Loki, Surtur, Ulik, Hela, Malekith, Enchantress, Gorr the God Butcher, Karnilla, Kurse, Wrecking Crew, Absorbing Man
“Father, there are times I hate you with a passion of ten thousand suns. But I will escort to Hel personally anything that torments you more than I.“
Thor – God of Thunder, Norse Deity, Son of Odin, Wielder of Mjolnir, Protector of Midgard, King of Asgard, Mighty Avenger. Much like the Thunder God of Norse Mythology, Marvel’s Thor is the son of Odin, can summon lightning, and charges into battle with his iconic hammer, Mjolnir! Mjolnir, forged by Odin in the heart of a dying star, can only be lifted by those deemed worthy. First brought to life in the comics thanks to Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in the pages of “Journey Into Mystery”, Thor soon became a founding member of the Avengers in Avengers #1 where he teamed up with Iron Man, Hulk, Ant-Man, and the Wasp against his brother Loki, the God of Mischief.
In his early appearances, Thor had an alternate identity as Dr. Donald Blake, but that has since been retconned into oblivion by Odin. He’s had a number of allies over the years like Jane Foster, Sif, Beta Ray Bill, and the Warriors Three (Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg). In addition to dealing with his brother’s machinations, Thor has also faced off against the sinister forces of Malekith, the Enchantress, and the Goddess of Death herself, Hela. Some creators have leaned more heavily into the character’s mythological origins, while others expanded on the sci-fi elements of the stories. During his many adventures across space and time, with the help of the Avengers, Thor has saved the Nine Realms from destruction on countless occasions and narrowly averted (or postponed?) Ragnarok. He was also turned into a frog once.
In Jason Aaron’s run, Thor narrowly defeated Gorr, the God Butcher – an immensely powerful being known for killing off entire pantheons. We also flashbacked to his early years on Earth during the Viking Age, and saw a glimpse into the far future where King Thor rules Asgard with a bionic arm taken from The Destroyer. During the “Original Sin” crossover event, Thor was incapacitated by Nick Fury who whispered in his ear, “Gorr was right” causing him to doubt himself and as a result was no longer worthy to lift Mjolnir. During this time, his former love interest, Jane Foster picked up the hammer and became the new Mighty Thor for a period of time in his stead.
In the newest series by Donny Cates, after regaining his worthiness, Thor ascended to the throne of Asgard in Odin’s place as the new All Father. Thor was forced to briefly team up with Galactus, as his new herald, to stop The Black Winter, but in the process used his newfound power to destroy Galactus as well, but in the process he saw a vision of his own demise at the hands of Thanos…
That’s all for this one, but in case you missed it, check out our last one here, and be sure to check out our next installment: #10-6 – Daredevil, the Hulk, Barry Allen, Wonder Woman, and the Wolverine!
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