After over 1,000 ballots were cast, YOU the reader ranked your favorite comic book characters from 1-10. I assigned point totals to each ranking and then tabulated it all into a Top 50 list. We’re now revealing that list for the rest of November and into December. The countdown begins now…
I used to do sort of “biographies” for each of the characters on the list, but you know what, they’re on the Top 100 DC and Marvel characters list, so I think we should be working under the assumption that you all pretty much know the basic information about these characters. Instead, I’ll just write about whatever interests me about the character in question, including a notable comic book moment featuring the character.
50. Venom (Eddie Brock) – 227 points (2 first place votes)
Venom combined two popular Spider-Man plots from the mid-80s, the tale of the alien costume that Spider-Man got during Secret Wars (that turned out to be a symbiote that wanted to bond with Spidey) and the Death of Jean DeWolff (where the mysterious Sin-Eater killed Spider-Man’s cop friend, Jean DeWolff). During the Jean DeWolff storyline, a man confessed to being the Sin-Eater but it was all a hoax. Well, David Michelinie revealed that the reporter who reported it was Eddie Brock, and he was ruined when Spider-Man discovered the REAL Sin-Eater. Now out of work, Brock discovered the alien costume and the pair bonded together to form a being who really hated Spider-Man. They called themselves Venom, and they debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #299-300 by Michelinie and Todd McFarlane.
Now, to be frank, a GREAT deal of Venom’s appeal came in the way that Todd McFarlane drew him. Here is his intro. Look how freaking SCARY he was when he was introduced. That was such a memorable debut.
The fights between Spider-Man and Venom would become epics, and again, McFarlane’s design work with Venom was just superb. Look at the sheer force of POWER that you see in these pages by McFarlane. He sure knew how to make Venom appear distinctive!
Venom believed that he/it/they was a good guy and Spider-Man was a jerk. So Venom had this whole thing about protecting “innocents.” This ultimately led to Spider-Man and Venom having a short-lived truce while Venom went across the country and was an anti-hero for a while.It wasn’t one of Spider-Man’s proudest moments. Venom starred in a number of miniseries, since Marvel was still unsure about giving Venom an ongoing series.
Eventually, Venom returned to New York, but Brock had developed cancer. The two split and the Venom symbiote bonded with a few other guys, most prominently Flash Thompson, before Eddie got the symbiote back and then became more of a traditional hero character with the symbiote. He also learned some hidden secrets about the symbiote, particularly its past on Earth. This took place in Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman’s run on Venom, which culiminated in the Marvel crossover event, King In Back, where Eddie Brock finally showed that he truly belonged alongside all of Marvel’s greatest heroes when he took on the villainous Knull, King of the Symbiotes, in an epic battle…
Recently, after seemingly dying, Eddie’s son Dylan, has taken over as Venom, but Eddie has become a new symbiote character known as Bedlam. .
49. Mary Jane Watson – 228 points (3 first place votes)
Mary Jane Watson was an early running gag in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, where she was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, but she never appeared, as the gag was that Peter was constantly avoiding the niece of Aunt May’s friend that May was always trying to set him up with, but she was actually quite attractive. It was John Romita who got the chance to finally depict Mary Jane, in the classic, “Face it, Tiger, you hit the jackpot” scene.
Mary Jane was a reoccurring character for the next few years, but as the ditzy party girl who would occasionally date Peter’s friends. It was Gwen Stacy that was Peter Parker’s main squeeze. When Gerry Conway took over the writing chores, though, he decided he preferred Mary Jane with Peter. First, he killed of Gwen. Next, he had Mary Jane mature a great deal, and the couple grew quite close. This was highlighted by a famous sequence where she tries to console Peter after the death of Gwen, but Peter lashes out to here. She plans to run away, as she doesn’t need this grief…but then she realizes that she kind of DOES need this…
The two began to slowly but surely date, and in a great sequence, they had their first proper kiss, as Mary Jane explains that she calls Peter “Tiger” ironically, but after he kisses her, she thinks she may have underestimated his “tigerness”…
At the end of Conway’s run, it was heavily implied that Peter had his first time with Mary Jane. Len Wein had Peter and Mary Jane continue to date, but not quite as seriously. Marv Wolfman then broke the couple up, as he had Peter propose and Mary Jane run away. Roger Stern brought her back in the 1980s, and Tom DeFalco revealed that Mary Jane secretly knew Peter was Spider-Man before the two even MET! DeFalco followed up on Roger Stern’s revelations that Mary Jane had an abusive childhood. Mary Jane was a regular character for the rest of the 1980,s and eventually, Peter proposed again, and this time Mary Jane accepted. The two were married for years, but Marvel editorial kept trying to break them up, with Mary Jane kidnapped for a good year or so at the turn of the century, for instance, and eventually, Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage was erased in a storyline where they traded their marriage to Mephisto to save Aunt May’s life.
Mary Jane was less of a major figure in the books after that, but she slowly but surely became a bigger part of the series, and she and Peter even got back together for a while, but they’re broken up again. Recently, Mary Jane was given a device that gives her randomly generated superpowers. She now fights crime as the superhero known as Jackpot.
48. Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) – 235 points (4 first place votes)
Created by Allan Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung, Kate Bishop was a rich heiress who was highly trained in archery. When the Young Avengers formed, she decided that she was going to be a member of the team, whether they were interested in having her or not. She took the name of Hawkeye, after the Avengers marksman who was seemingly dead at the time (I guess he actually WAS dead, right?). A few years into the Young Avengers’ existence, there was this spotlight mini-series on the various members and Matt Fraction wrote the one about Kate. In it, she meets the now-alive Clint Barton (Hawkeye) and the two had very good chemistry (from a mentor/protege standpoint).
Fraction remembered this and when he and David Aja launched a Hawkeye ongoing series, Kate was just as much part of the cast as Clint was. In fact, for a period there, Kate went to California to work as a sort of bohemian superhero and the book would alternate between stories featuring Clint and stories featuring Kate. The great Annie Wu would draw the Kate issues. Here she is, infiltrating Madame Masque’s operations but unwittingly discovering her own father’s criminal activities…
Kelly Thompson then wrote an excellent followup series starring Kate Bishop, and Kate has been a regular member of a number of superhero teams in the years sine, including the Young Avengers and the West Coast Avengers. She also played a prominent role in the Hawkeye Disney+ miniseries.
47. Ghost-Spider/Spider-Gwen – 241 points (4 first place votes)
We rightfully give Steve Ditko and Stan Lee a ton of credit for their brilliant origin story for Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy #15, where they were able to introduce a character, give him a major tragedy and have him decide to become a superhero all in less than a dozen pages! While it’s not quite to that same level, it is still impressive how good of a job that Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez did when they introduced an alternate reality Spider-Woman in the miniseries, Edge of Spider-Verse (where each issue was meant to introduce a different alternate universe version of Spider-Man). Through the clever use of a “flashback” (to stories that never existed) at the start of the issue, they catch us up quickly on this reality’s Gwen Stacy and how she became Spider-Woman..
The issue then ends with Gwen getting her “Uncle Ben” moment, only it’s a clever twist on the theme, as it is not a case of Gwen choosing responsibility because of the death of her father, but rather her choosing responsibility over the respect of her father, as she is operating outside the law while he is, you know, a cop….
It was SUCH an outstanding set-up for a series that it seemed like a no-brainer to then give her her own series. What’s funny is that while she was just called Spider-Woman in the story, everyone called her Spider-Gwen, to the point where her ongoing series that launched out of the one-shot was called Spider-Gwen. Eventually, her identity became public knowledge in her universe, so she had to come to the main Marvel Universe to attend college. Since she couldn’t call herself Spider-Woman here (well, she could, but she doesn’t want to) and she can’t call herself Spider-Gwen, of course, she adopted the new superhero name of Ghost-Spider. However, everyone still knows her as Spider-Gwen. She was prominently featured in the Spider-Verse animated film series.
46. Loki – 243 points (3 first place votes)
Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby (well, the comic book version of Loki, at least. I think you get the picture), Loki has been involved in Thor comics since practically the first appearance of Thor! It is a great twist on the standard idea of brains versus brawn (similar to Superman and Lex Luthor), where the muscle bound Thor has to always find a way to stop the various schemes of his trickster half-brother.
Loki’s schemes often go awry, including when he got a bunch of heroes to fight the Hulk, only to see them join together as a group of heroes known as the Avengers.
During the “Dark Reign” storyline, Loki joined forces with Norman Osborn, Doctor Doom and the Hood as part of an evil cabal designed to rule the world. As part of Loki’s plans, he helped convince Norman Osborn to invade Asgard. Asgard was destroyed in the battle and Loki sacrificed himself to help his fellow Asgardians (which, in and of itself, was a plot, as he knew he would be reborn).
He then returned in the form a young boy. Written by Kieron Gillen, this Loki was an awesome character. There is this great Christmas issue where there was a litter of Helhounds that he had to find homes or else he will be forced to kill them (as you can’t have Helhounds running around)….
So sweet. Sadly, that era did not end well for Loki, but then he became an older version again and still had some great adventures under the pen of Al Ewing and others before dying once again during the War of Realms. He came back to life, though, just in time to help save the day. He was rewarded by becoming the king of the Frost Giants, as well becoming the God of Stories, but of course, this is Loki, so he can’t be held down in any particular place too long, and sure enough, he has repeatedly left his kingdom to go off on various interesting adventures.
Modern Loki stories are heavily influenced by the tremendous success that Tom Hiddleston has had as Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. he has really reshaped Loki as more of a hero than a classical villain.
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