I do a lot of interviews with this blog between my Friend Files, Cosplay Confessions, and Eight Simple Questions features. One thing I haven’t really done is indulge in a bit of personal fun with an interview of my own. I mean, what’s the use of having my own blog if I can’t rant about my favorite foods, movies, etc? So with this post, I’m going to write about my top ten favorite Marvel Comics characters.
Marvel Comics has been the bread and butter of my comic book reading since I was around three years old. I used to draw the characters, pretend I was them, write about them, and play with their action figure equivalents. There are many Marvel Comics titles I’ve kept up with over the years, and even though I’ve sort of been an on-and-off comic book fan over the years (try collecting comics when you’re married…it’s damn near impossible) one thing has stayed the same – my love for certain characters in the Marvel Comics universe. Keep in mind that the following list is subject to change over the years (and has, many times) but that most of them are pretty constant.
So, without further ado – I present to you my own personal top ten list of favorite Marvel Comics characters.
HISTORY AND POWERS: Ghost Rider first debuted in Marvel Spotlight #5 (August 1972) and was created by Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich, and Mike Ploog. The original Ghost Rider is a man named Johnny Blaze, who bonded with the demonic spirit of vengeance, Zarathos, and now protects the innocent from evil – supernatural or otherwise.
The demon Zarathos has potentially unlimited power, but because the demon is bonded with Johnathan Blaze, the mortal side of Ghost Rider’s makeup creates a balance which controls and tempers the demon side, preventing him from losing complete control and becoming a danger to humanity.
Ghost Rider has many interesting powers including super strength (he can lift up to 25 tons), super stamina (he has no musculature to speak of and so never tires), invulnerability to all earthly physical trauma (aside from being wounded by a weapon forged in Heaven) which means he also possesses superhuman durability. He doesn’t feel pain, and if he is hurt by a weapon forged in Heaven, he also has an intense healing factor rivaling and surpassing Wolverine’s…I mean, the dude can re-grow limbs in a second. On top of that, he can increase in size, project and manipulate Hellfire, and also has his reliable motorcycle and mystical chains to rely on for transportation and melee/mid-range combat. His ace in the hole is the Penance Stare – which can make someone he uses it on feel all the pain they’ve ever caused people for all eternity. Daaaaaaaang.
WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: Ghost Rider has always been in my top ten. I mean, look at him. He’s got a motorcycle for one thing, which just screams metal. His head is a skull which is on fire all the time. He wears leather and chains. What’s not to love about the aesthetics of this character? Ghost Rider is an artist’s dream. There have been other characters called Ghost Rider, but the original Johnny Blaze is still my favorite, though Danny Ketch was cool too. I don’t really like the newest incarnation, Robbie Reyes – but only because I think the muscle car thing is kind of weird. I mean, I like muscle cars and all but Ghost Rider needs a bike, man.
The most interesting aspect of Ghost Rider, though, is the duality of his character. He is in a symbiotic relationship with the demon Zarathos, which always makes for compelling reading. He is also one of our main links to the religious/supernatural side of the Marvel Universe which doesn’t get a lot of play. Other characters explore this side of things, but Ghost Rider is there to remind us that there are demons out there, and some of those beings are more powerful than any hero or the combined might of many heroes in the universe – which, in turn, humanizes the Marvel characters even more. Humanizing characters makes them relatable, and that’s where Marvel usually trumps DC Comics characters.
Plus, religion isn’t really talked about much in the Marvel Universe and when you have characters who routinely deal with all things Heaven and Hell, you get a rare opportunity to glimpse that world. Sadly, Ghost Rider is severely underused, and misrepresented (as in the Ghost Rider films we’ve had to endure recently) at the moment so that’s why he’s currently so low on my top ten list. If he gets better writing and stories, I’ll bump him up a few notches for sure.
09. MOON KNIGHT
HISTORY AND POWERS: Moon Knight first debuted in Werewolf By Night #32 (August 1975) and was created by Don Perlin and Doug Moench. Moon Knight is a man named Marc Spector who is believed to be the earthly avatar of the Egyptian god of vengeance, Khonshu. An ex mercenary, soldier, and government spook – Spector uses his wealth and resources to fund his own personal war on villainous scum.
In addition to Spector’s skills he picked up before becoming Moon Knight, such as being a very skilled boxer and martial artist, a talented gymnast, a commando, and even a pilot – being the earthly avatar of Khonshu also grants him enhanced strength, endurance, and reflexes at night – especially during a full moon. He sometimes even gets visions, although it’s unclear if these abilities are all real or just that he has disassociative identity disorder. The one good thing about his multiple identities is that he also has some resistance to mental assaults because of it.
On top of all that, Moon Knight employs many different weapons, fancy gadgets, and vehicles. He’s a regular one-man army.
WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: I always tell people that Batman is a Marvel character stuck in the DC Universe. Since Batman will never actually be part of the Marvel Universe, the next best thing is to read about Moon Knight. Moon Knight is, admittedly, sort of an ersatz Batman but they are different enough characters that it doesn’t make you feel dirty if you like them both. Moon Knight is basically Batman if he were to have multiple personality disorder.
Aside from that, Moon Knight is just visually cool. He’s got the moon motif, and he also has the whole “spirit of vengeance” vibe that Ghost Rider has. I really, really dig the white costume. I know that over the years they’ve played around with the superhuman aspects of his abilities. I think last I knew, he no longer had superhuman strength…but I think it’d be a good idea to bring it back, if only for the sake of being that much different from Batman.
I also really like the fact that he has multiple personality disorder. It gives him that extra touch of intrigue so that you’re constantly trying to figure out what he’ll do or say next.
HISTORY AND POWERS: Thor first appeared in Journey Into Mystery #83 (Aug. 1962) and was created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Larry Lieber. Inspired by Norse mythology, the Marvel version of Thor differs in many ways from the mythos. However, many things still remain the same.
To teach Thor some humility, Odin sent Thor to Earth, stripped of his powers, placed in the body of a crippled mortal named Donald Blake. Without his powers, Thor (as Donald) aced med school and opened up a practice in New York. Eventually, on vacation, Donald found an old cane in a cave which when struck on the ground would transform Donald Blake magically into Thor, while the cane itself would transform into the mighty hammer, Mjolnir.
From then on, Thor would attend to matters in his home plane of Asgard when needed but ultimately resided with his newfound friends on Midgard (Earth) to help protect it as part of the Avengers.
Thor is an Asgardian god and so has many benefits solely due to that. The Golden Apples of Idunn gave him an extremely lengthy lifespan, though he still does slowly age. He is immune to normal sickness and since the metabolism of an Asgardian is much higher than a mortal’s, Thor also possesses super-endurance. On top of that, Thor can lift around 100 tons (and more, if he’s given into the ‘Berserker Rage’) and his skin and bones are much more dense than a human’s, so he’s very hard to hurt severely.
For a weapon, he carries his mighty hammer Mjolnir, which he can use to fly or channel lightning with.
WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: I have always loved the character of Thor. It helps that I also really enjoy epic fantasy and Norse mythology, but I love that Thor is just his own brand of hero who differs from many others in the Marvel Universe. As was the case with Ghost Rider being the window into the supernatural horror side of the Marvel Universe, Thor is my window into the world of Asgard. Asgard is a very interesting setting, and not many other Marvel characters go there with any regularity.
Plus, he’s just a badass. He’s basically a viking, and we all know that vikings were total badasses who just drank mead and ate meat and had sex all day long. Right? Okay, Thor isn’t quite that intense, but the flavor is there.
HISTORY AND POWERS: Rogue first appeared in Avengers Annual #10 (November 1981) and was created by Chris Claremont and Michael Golden. Anna Marie started out as a villain with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, going by the code name ‘Rogue’ after running away from home. Her powers consist of absorbing other mutants’ powers and then being able to use them herself for a while, even taking on some of their personality and mannerisms until she reverts back to normal.
She did this first with Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel) and had absorbed her flight, super-strength, and almost indestructibility. Later on, she lost those powers and absorbed Sunfire’s superpowers for a while, which consisted of solar-absorption abilities, flight, and being able to sheathe herself in flame or project heat and flame. Currently, she is in possession of Wonder Man’s ionic super powers which enable her to fly at high speed, lift over 100 tons, enhanced reflexes and an immunity from sickness, age, and on top of that she has become almost indestructible.
WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: Rogue is not only sexy (who can resist that southern charm?), but she is also tragically flawed in the sense that she can never physically touch another human. To me, this has always spoken to me about her character, even out of all the X-Men who are naturally ostracized already. Though she has been forced to put aside her temptations and her physical needs (for the most part, aside from brief interludes where she hasn’t had her powers), and even emotional needs – she continues to be a bright person and a force for good in the Marvel universe. She could very well end up straying to the darker side of the moral waters, but so far she has kept her honor in tact from back when she used to run with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and wanted to repent. She’s always been one of my favorite X-Men and has always been one of my favorite Marvel characters in general. Plus, her powers are really neat and dynamic, especially with the way the writers have been playing around with whose powers she absorbs for long periods of time.
HISTORY AND POWERS: Punisher first debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #129 (February 1974) and was created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr., Ross Andru, and Stan Lee. Frank Castle was a former United States marine who was thought to have been killed by the mob one day in Central Park after he and his family witnessed a Mafia execution. Though his family was killed, Frank survived and when the justice system failed him – he began a one-man war with the Mob and anyone unlucky enough to walk in their shoes.
As a former United States marine, Punisher received formal training from the Navy SEALS and other military organizations and was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He is skilled in hand-to-hand combat (and knows many martial arts), is an expert marksman, and can also employ explosives due to his specialized training. Punisher is also skilled in stealth/camouflage and infiltration, as well as interrogation techniques.
On top of this, Punisher has several bank accounts which he uses to filter funds he steals from criminals to finance his war on crime. He is suited up with a kevlar uniform that protects him from a lot of gunfire, though he can still suffer concussive injury. And, in addition to that, Punisher has an extremely high pain tolerance as well as mental resilience which makes him a hard one to use mind powers on.
WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: Though Punisher has gone through several iterations over the years (FrankenCastle? Really?), the thing I like about him has stayed the same – he’s basically Batman if Batman had just used guns instead. I like that he’s human. Humanity in characters always does it for me, and Punisher is one of the most human characters out there. We’d like to think that if we were put in the same situation that maybe we’d instead don a colorful costume and run around the city fighting crime, humanely, like Daredevil or something – but, no…many of us would actually take this route. Punisher is tortured, angry, and he doles out justice with zero fucks given. I like him that way. It’s super-interesting to see what he’ll do next.
HISTORY AND POWERS: Blade first debuted in The Tomb of Dracula #10 (July 1973) and was created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan. Eric Brooks was born a half vampire in London though his mother was killed by the vampire who helped make him. As a teen, Eric was trained by American vampire hunter Jamal Afari to harness his abilities and fight vampires in the name of vengeance for his dead mother. Since then, Eric has called himself Blade, and has been killing any vampires unlucky enough to cross him.
As a half-vampire, Blade possesses all of their strengths and none of their weaknesses. He is immune to normal vampire bites, and has superhuman strength, agility, speed, endurance, and a healing factor. Blade also has enhanced senses, and can sense supernatural activity in addition to aging very slowly compared to humans.
In addition to his innate abilities, Blade has also trained in several forms of martial arts. He is a swordsman, marksman, and is adept at using throwing knives. When Blade lost one of his hands, he was eventually given a new robotic hand by S.H.I.E.L.D. which can fire three different kinds of ammo and a grappling hook.
WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: Blade is a really cool character to me. Similar to my running theme with these Marvel favorites like Ghost Rider and Moon Knight, Blade is very interesting in that he rarely interacts with the regular stable of Marvel heroes. He fights vampires, which are something that the normal Marvel heroes don’t encounter too often. We, as readers, kind of know the vampires are out there lurking in the shadows but we hardly ever see Spider-Man or Daredevil take on something like that. Blade is my access to that side of the Marvel Universe. On top of that, he’s just a really slick character. He’s got style, he’s got a cool arsenal of weapons, and he kicks a lot of vampire ass. What’s not to love?
HISTORY AND POWERS: Spider-Woman first debuted in Marvel Spotlight #32 (February 1977) and was created by Archie Goodwin, Marie Severin, Jim Mooney, and Stan Lee. Jessica Drew grew up in a land rich with Uranium, which her father sold off in order to pursue his genetic research in London. In time, Jessica was poisoned from the constant exposure to the Uranium and her father acted fast to save her, injecting Jessica with an untested serum made from the blood of several uncommon species of spiders, in the hopes of stopping the tissue damage and immunizing Jessica from the Uranium contamination in her blood. Then, he sealed her in a genetic accelerator created by the High Evolutionary which put her in stasis for years until she woke and everyone she knew was gone, though she had been imbued with certain abilities and powers.
In her early career, Spider-Woman was trained by HYDRA and as a result is well-versed in hand-to-hand combat, espionage, marksmanship, covert operations, stealth, fencing, and many other weapons. She has also received training from Taskmaster and S.H.I.E.L.D. in this regard. Occasionally she will carry a Walther PPK firearm and has had vocational training in private investigation.
Along with all of her combat and espionage training, Spider-Woman also possesses superhuman strength (she can lift around 7 tons), and also has superhuman speed, stamina, agility, and reflexes. She also possesses superhuman hearing, smell, and pain tolerance. Her blood makes her immune to poison and radiation, and her soles and palms secrete a fluid enabling her to crawl on walls. She also exudes pheromones which repel women and attract men, though she often wears a special chemical perfume to stymie these effects. Finally, she can also fly or glide and has the ability to fire bio-chemical blasts from her hands.
WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: For me, the draw to Spider-Woman has always been just how cool she looks. Admittedly, I have always loved her costume and to me, it just exudes sexiness. It doesn’t reveal a lot of skin, but it is often depicted as being skin-tight, almost like paint rather than material.
However, aside from her aesthetics, Jessica Drew is just a really interesting and neat character. As a kid I was often confused by the fact that she and Spider-Man didn’t really have much to do with one another (come to find out, she was created just to pre-emptively keep DC or any other comic company from taking the name ‘Spider-Woman’ after the popularity of Spider-Man), but I liked her almost as much as I liked Spidey for a while and even watched her cartoon. Hey – spider heroes are neat, what can I say? Her complexity as a character comes also from her versatility. She can be super-stealthy, but she can also mix it up with the best of them in a brawl. She will always be a fav, as far as I can tell (though I don’t really like her new costume that has been designed with less sex appeal in mind).
03. DOCTOR STRANGE
HISTORY AND POWERS: Doctor Strange first debuted in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963) and was created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. Stephen Strange was an accomplished neurosurgeon who let his ego get in the way of everything. He was arrogant, abrasive, and cold. Still, he acquired a small fortune with his practice. When he ended up hurting his hands in a car accident and damaging his nerves beyond repair, his medical career was ended. Seeking a cure, Stephen spent his entire fortune and became penniless. Finally, he heard about someone called the “Ancient One” and spent the rest of his money securing travel to Tibet where he ended up helping to save the Ancient One from one of his mutinous students. The Ancient One took Stephen in as a pupil and taught him the mystical arts of magic as well as martial arts.
In addition to Doctor Strange being able to call upon the Vishanti for their magical aid, he also possesses the Eye Of Agamotto whose light is used to negate evil magic, as well as the Cloak Of Levitation, the Book Of The Vishanti, and the Orb Of Agamotto which all enable him to fly, give him the knowledge of white magic, and scry respectively.
WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: Doctor Strange is pretty unique among the Marvel Universe heroes. He often hangs with them, and occasionally finds himself on a super-team, but mostly he is relegated to dealing with magical and supernatural threats to the universe. He doesn’t just fight costumed henchmen – he fights beings like Dormammu, a dangerous flame-skulled demoniac sorcerer from a dark dimension. Strange also used to be super-arrogant but after years of training and humility this went away only to recently resurface somewhat. I like the fact that we get to see all the cool magical threats that the heroes of Earth would have to try and contend with if Doctor Strange wasn’t around. All the cool spell names that Strange spouts during battle, and all the really cool dimensions he travels through is just great to read and look at as a comic book fan like myself.
02. SCARLET WITCH
HISTORY AND POWERS: Scarlet Witch first debuted in X-Men #4 (March 1964) and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Wanda Maximoff was born at the High Evolutionary’s base on Mount Wundagor (where Spider-Woman was kept in stasis for decades) with her brother Pietro (Quicksilver), both mutants. Growing up with Gypsy parents, their encampment was eventually attacked and the mutant known as Magneto came to their aid (who was actually their father) and pressed her and her brother into service in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Eventually, she and her brother joined up with the Avengers, disillusioned by Magneto’s mission.
Scarlet Witch was born with the mutant power to control “hex” spheres which alter the probability of any given situation. She can also employ mutant Chaos Magic, granted her by the demon Chthon so she can manipulate magical forces. In addition to her mutant magic and reality altering/warping abilities, Wanda is also a skilled hand-to-hand fighter having been trained by Captain America and Hawkeye and she is a skilled tactician due to her combat experience on the field over the years.
WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: Scarlet Witch has always been fascinating to me, even above Dr. Strange. I love that Strange uses magic, but for a while – it wasn’t exactly clear WHAT Scarlet Witch was capable of. Her powers seemed like magic, but she didn’t utter any actual spells like Doctor Strange until later on when other writers got their hands on her and better-defined her abilities. I love that she’s been such a constant member of the Avengers, and I love that she has a relationship with an android (Vision). On top of that, she’s a mutant and her dad is Magneto. I’ve always loved the brother-sister dynamic she shares with Quicksilver, and as a bonus – her costume was always really cool, really sexy, and always drew my eye. I would definitely read any solo title of hers that comes out but I also like to see her in the Avengers line up. It’s great that the writers have nailed down her abilities more over the years to make her live up to her namesake.
HISTORY AND POWERS: Spider-Man first debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) and was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Young Peter Parker was an orphan being raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben when he was bitten by a radioactive spider, which gave him the proportionate abilities of the spider through his infected blood.
After the bite, Spider-Man was gifted with super strength (able to lift 10 tons), super agility (15 times agile than the normal human), and super endurance as well as his famed “Spider-Sense” which lets him dodge many attacks and warns him of impending danger.
In addition to this, Spider-Man is a gifted scientist and inventor, and has invented web shooters with synthetic webbing as well as Spider-Tracers attuned to his Spider Sense. He swings around New York City fighting crime and helping those in need, all while trying to hold down a job.
WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: I’ve loved Spider-Man since I was three years old. He’s been a constant in my life, much more than some actual people I know. I learned to read from trying to follow his adventures, I got into drawing because I wanted to draw his cool costume. He’s had a profound effect on my life though he’s only a character in a comic book.
Aside from that, Spider-Man is just all-around cool. His costume is iconic and great, his powers are really neat, and he’s HUMAN. Most of all, he’s HUMAN. He struggles constantly, and he often doesn’t come out on top. Still, no matter what, he gives it his best shot. He does what he thinks is right no matter what the cost.
Another aspect I love about Spider-Man is his humor. Before the whole Deadpool craze recently, Spider-Man was the resident Marvel clown. Now, he’s taken a back seat to the crazy antics of Deadpool, though I prefer Spidey’s sense of humor to Deadpool’s. Spider-Man isn’t as in-your-face, and often while he’s fighting a villain he’ll spout one-liners that will make you, as the reader, grin.
In conclusion, I’d like to add that this list is my own personal list and obviously not anything official aside from it being my own personal stance on the characters. I’d love to hear in the comments who your own favorites are, or if you agree with my list at all. I look forward to doing another of these Top Ten lists in the future!