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The Top Ten Comic Book Heroes

7/17/12 11:00am
tl;dr

 LIK DIS IF U CRY EVRYTIME

So now that Comic Con has come and gone I thought to myself, "Myself, what kind of blog can I do this week that would be somewhat relevant? Of course, a generic Top Ten about the best superheroes ever! Surely everyone will agree with me and there won't be any arguments in the comments section! You're a genius in addition to being a sexy beast! I love you." And with that, we march onwards. One thing I want to say before I move on is I expect a lot of people to argue with me about these choices. That's fine and it's something I'm prepared for. If you could refrain from calling me an idiot or a synonym of that word or just not insult me period, that would be much appreciated.

Superheroes; they dominate our culture today. From the early days of comic books to television shows, to movies, and now award-winning video games, there is no escaping the superhero craze. For over 60 years, superheroes have been a part of our lives. Some of the most creative minds have dreamed up the most extraordinary men and women. Verbal wars have been waged over who the best superhero is and why. Now I'm here to answer that question. So sit back true believers as I count down the Top Ten Comic Book Superheroes.

Some rules for this list before we begin. For a hero to make the list, they have to have had their start in comics first. So that means that heroes like The Incredibles and Captain Hammer won't be a included. Superhero teams like Alpha Flight and The Avengers are allowed (but they won't be appearing on this list). With that said, let's get to some honorable mentions before we jump to #10.

Honorable Mentions

These are the heroes that barely missed making the Top Ten. Even though they may be popular and powerful, they couldn't quite contend with some of the heroes that did make the cut.

 

 

Honoable Mention #1: Wonder Woman

A founder of the Justice League of America, Princess Diana of Themyscira was one the first female comic book characters done right. Granted powers from the Gods of Olympus, she is a force to be reckoned with in any fight. The character was created by William Moulton Marston to counteract all the prominent male comic book characters and provide some inspiration to female readers. Possessing great strength, divine wisdom, super speed, enhanced durability, flight, a lasso of truth, and the Braclets of Victory, Wonder Woman is Princess of the Amazons for a reason.

Why She Didn't Make the Top Ten

Wonder Woman is a very influencial heroine but the lack of major story arcs really hurts her. Outside of the Justice League, she hasn't been involved in anything major. Her rogues gallery, which does feature most Olympian gods, is very weak. Even though she is a founding member of the Justice League and  a very important female character in comics, it's not enough to crack the Top Ten.

 

 

Honorable Mention #2: Deadpool

The Merc with a Mouth's rise to popularity has been almost meteoric. Known for constanly breaking the fourth wall, Deadpool is as dangerous as he is insane.  A part of the Weapon X program to cure his inoperable brain tumor, the experiments performed on him drove him mad... in a good way. Deadpool often spouts off pop culture references, makes jokes that only the reader will get, and is completely random. Deadpool has the same healing factor as fellow Weapon X particpant Wolverine which helps him recover from wounds immensely fast. He can even regrow lost limbs. Deadpool has been known to team up with various heroes including the X-Men and Spider-Man with hilarious results. You would think that because Deadpool is insane, it would hurt him strategy wise, but you'd be wrong. When Deadpool went up against the powerhouse Rhino, Deadpool figured out that he could shot himself to shrink the villain. 

Why He Didn't Make the Top Ten:

Deadpool is with some very tough competition. In the end, it came down to who had the better stories and who was more of an interesting character. Yes, Deadpool is an interesting character but some of his stories have been hit and miss. For that reason, Deadpool didn't crack the Top Ten.

 

 

Now that the honorable mentions are out of the way, let's finally get to the main attraction. Beginning with #10, we have a very familiar face...

#10: Green Latern (Hal Jordan)

When dying alien Abin Sur crash-landed on Earth, he entrusted one of the most powerful weapons in the known universe to a human. That human's name was Hal Jordan. A former Air Force pilot, Jordan quickly became one of the most revered and respected Green Lantern's ever. All of Jordan's powers are activated by his ring. In order for a person to obtain a Green Lantern ring and use it properly, they must have an iron will and no fear. Two of Hal's biggest qualities are his will and seemingly being unafraid of anything. Hal Jordan is one of the few people who isn't effected by Batman's scare tactics. With his ring, Jordan can construct any object he wishes with a single thought. He can also fly, make himself invisible, and heal himself all using his ring. There is a catch however: if Hal uses the ring too much, it will lose it's power and he will have to recharge it. 

Jordan has faced powerful foes the likes of which the universe has never seen before. Battling against the likes of Sinestro, Larfleeze, Solomon Grundy, Starro, Cyborg Superman, perhaps the most dangerous of all, the Anti-Monitor, Jordan has prevailed time and time again.

Why He Makes the List:

Aside from being a member of the JLA, Hal has been to hell and back. Literally, Hal Jordan has died and was resurrected. In addition to that, Jordan has been involved in some of the most crucial events in the DC Universe. The thing that makes this version of the Green Lantern so endearing to readers is how he handles adviserity: he doesn't fear anyone or anything and that allows him to persevere in tough situations.

Why He Isn't Higher:

Hal Jordan isn't higher for one reason: the Parallax saga. Back when a villain known as Cyborg-Superman destroyed Hal's hometown of Coast City, Hal went mad and tried to rebuild it using his rings and the rings of other Lanterns that he had killed. By succumbing to fear, he became the host for a being known as Parallax which is composed entirely of fear. Hal then killed his longtime arch-nemesis Sinestro and all but one Guardian to try and rebuilld his lost city. You may not think that would be enough to deny him a higher spot, but there was a time where many thought that Hal Jordan would no longer be a superhero.

Story Arc You MUST Read:

Emerald Twilight and Zero Hour are tremendous but if you're looking for something more recent, give Blackest Night and Brightest Day a read. You won't regret it.

 

 

#9: The Punisher

Frank Castle is a man who's lost everything to crime. When his wife and kids were killed due to gang violence, Frank lost his humanity and became the Punisher, a sadistic vigilante who operates outside the boundries of the law in more than one way. While other heroes may try to bring criminals to justice, the Punisher simply kills them. He feels that the law is broken and the only way to truly get rid of crime is to completely eradicate it. A former Marine, Castle is extremely skilled in hand-to-hand combat. He can hold his own in fights with non-powered and super-powered beings alike. He even went toe-to-toe with Deadpool and would have killed him if other heroes had not intervened. Punisher is also skilled with every firearm available to him. Another thing that the Punisher is very good at doing is absorbing damage. Castle has a high pain threshold and has even had surgery without the need of anesthesia. He is also a master tactician, able to adjust his strategy on the fly to defeat his opponent.

One of the most recongizable symbols in comic book history belongs to the Punisher: his trademark skull. It warns criminals that the only two options when dealing with the Punisher is life or death. Due to his unstable nature, the Punisher rarely, if ever, makes alliances with other heroes and if he does, it's most likely that he's being kept in check.

Why He Makes the List:

The Punisher's brand of justice isn't exactly unique but it is brutal. The Punisher is known for being ruthless in his pursuit of criminals. One of the things that makes The Punisher so great is the fact that he is unlike any other hero out there in the Marvel Universe. The great thing about The Punisher character is the fact that he's arugably even more dangerous than the criminals he tries to kill. One could even argue that he is more of a villain because of his actions but that's what makes him so great: unlike any other hero out there, The Punisher toes the line between hero and villain so closely. It's amazing how one bad thing can drive a man completely over the edge. We've seen it countless times in comic books but the story of The Punisher is just different in a refreshing way. Sure, the motifs are similar: guy has a traumatic event happen to him and it changes him, but Frank's story is much different. Instead of trying to bring the bad guys to justice, he decides to kill them after the law abandoned him. It's great (depending on who you ask).

Why He Isn't Higher:

As said above, Frank can be argued as a villain of sorts. He kills because he was hurt a long time ago. He doesn't see the world in shades of grey; he sees the world in black and white which is a very bad thing for a hero. Not every criminal can change their ways but The Punisher doesn't give them a chance to. The Punisher sees the law as broken only doing what he does because nobody else will. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. This is a lesson Frank Castle never learned nor will he ever learn.

Story Arc You MUST Read:

Welcome Back, Frank, Army of One, and Confedercy of Dunces are all very good reads but if there is one that I would pick above the rest, it would be the classic What If? story The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe. A story where we get to see what would happen if The Punisher's family wasn't killed by the mob, but by other superheroes.

 

 

#8: Fantastic Four

Everyone remembers this classic story right?  While on a mission in space, Reed Richards, Susan Storm and her brother Johnny, and Ben Grimm were all exposed to harmful radiation that transformed them into superbeings. Reed could now stretch and contort his body into any shape or size. Sue could turn invisible and create forcefields. Johnny could control fire and fly. Ben was transformed into a craggy monster known as The Thing which makes him super strong. Together, they formed the first superhero family known as The Fantastic Four!

Even though there have been different members of the FF (such as She-Hulk and Inhuman Medusa), the original line-up is still the most fondly remembered. Combining their powers, very few evil-doers could stand up and fight against the mighty force of the FF.

Why They Made the List:

You might think it's a cop out to put a team of superheroes at #8 instead of just one but The Fantastic Four are special. The Fantastic Four are a family more than anything else and they've had their fair share of adversity throughout their history. There have also been so many memorable moments since their inception back in 1961. For instance, Reed and Sue's marriage was a ground-breaking event and it set the precident for future marriages in comics. Add this to the fact that they were the first ever full-time superhero team and you've got four people who set the bar very high for everyone else. In short, The Fantastic Four were saddled with experimenting with different events such as bankruptcy, marriage and child-birth in comics and they pulled them off flawlessly. 

Why They Aren't Higher:

The Fantastic Four may be a great superhero team but they don't hold a candle to the likes of The Avengers and The Justice League. But I think that the major flaw of The Fantastic Four is that on their own, they're kind of uninteresting. The Thing has carved out a nice career solo but everyone else really can't support themselves. It doesn't really hinder the experience since the FF always reunite at some point but still, it's a flaw that I think holds them back.

Story Arc You MUST Read:

The Coming of Galactus is a classic. It may be old but it's still an epic story.

 

 

#7: Wolverine

Weapon X. Death. Logan. These are just some of the names given to the self-proclaimed "best in the world at what he does" known simply by his codename, Wolverine. Always sporting something fashionable as well as always having a bad attitude, Wolverine started his career in style: trying to kill The Hulk. While that didn't quite pan out for him, he travelled around for some time eventually ending up becoming a part of the X-Men.

Wolverine has two things going for him: his Adamantium skeleton and his healing factor. Thanks to the experiments done to him as part of the Weapon X program, his entire body is covered in an unbreakable metal that slices through almost anything. Wolverine can also heal any injury thanks to his healing factor. It even slows down the aging process, making Wolverine appear like he is in his mid to late thirties when he is in fact over a hundred years old. Thanks to his mutant abilites, Wolverine can stay in combat for a very long time, which helped him when he tried to kill The Hulk.

Why He Makes the List:

Wolverine is one of, if not the most, popular of all the X-Men characters. Not only has been a member of the X-Men, but he has also joined The Avengers, and had even became the Horseman of Death for Apocolypse. Wolverine is a character that we all have come to love: a beer-drinking, womanizing, badass soldier. Above all else, he always does the right thing while kicking unholy amounts of ass.

Why He Isn't Higher: 

Wolverine is a great character but he may be someone who you have a hard time relating to. I mean, are you a near-immortal mutant that can heal any injury? I didn't think so. The reason we like Wolverine is because he is someone we could never be or could never see ourselves being. For that reason, he isn't higher.

Story Arc You MUST Read:

Old Man Logan is a great one-shot that looks at what happens down the road when Wolverine gets older.

 

 

#6: The Hulk

What do you get when you cross a gamma bomb with a scientist with anger issues? The answer is simple: you get the behemoth known as The Hulk. When Bruce Banner transforms into The Hulk, he becomes a being of pure rage. The Hulk has also been known to be the strongest hero ever: he once lifted and supported a 150 billion ton mountain on his back. 

The trademark of The Hulk is also is greatest strength. The Hulk has unlimited anger which makes him stronger. The more angry The Hulk gets, the more powerful he becomes. This has been the downfall of many opponents who've tried to best the Green Goliath one-on-one. This was one of the main reasons why The Hulk was part of the original Avengers: if you can't beat him, have him join you in hopes that he doesn't kill you. 

Why He Makes the List:

The Hulk is a great example of having an inner demon. Everybody has one and in the case of The Hulk, it always shows up in some form or another. Bruce Banner can't escape it nor can he hide it. Everyone who has an inner demon or some sort of secret can relate to the plight of Bruce Banner and everyone who has anger issues can relate to The Hulk. There's also the fact that as much as The Hulk is hated by society, he always does the right thing. 

Why He Isn't Higher:

Nearing the Top 5, we're getting to the cream of the crop and on any other list, The Hulk might not be higher but making the Top Ten is no small feat. The one thing that knocks him out of the Top 5 is the fact that The Hulk is simply too powerful. The rule that "the angerier The Hulk gets, the stronger The Hulk gets" is a rule that has helped him defeated countless opponents. 

Story Arc You MUST Read:

Planet Hulk and World War Hulk are both essential reads if you're a fan. Pick 'em up and give 'em a read.

 

 

#5: Superman

You'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't know who Superman is. Sent to Earth from the planet Krypton, he crash -landed in the backyard of Johnathon and Martha Kent and was raised in Smallville. His civilian alter-ego is Clark Kent, who nobody seems to realize looks exactly like Superman but with glasses. As Clark Kent, Supes works at the Daily Planet as a journalist alongside long-time love interest Lois Lane and photographer Jimmy Olsen.

Superman has a whole host of powers that can be used to defeat any and all opponents. In addtion to his super strength, super speed, flight, and heat vision, Superman also has x-ray vision, super hearing, microvision, and freeze breath. Oh, and, he's also immune to gunfire. First appearing in Action Comics #1 way back in 1938, Superman has been around for a very, very long time.

Why He Makes the List:

Are we even asking this question? He's Superman. To leave him off of this list would be heresy. Standing for truth, justice, and the American way, Superman being on this list, and in the Top 5, is very... uh.... justified.

Why He Isn't Higher:

The two main knocks against Superman is that he's too much of a goody-two-shoes and he is virtually indestructable. Considering that Superman has died before, I feel that the second reason isn't good enough a reason as to why he shouldn't be higher. However, the first knock I feel is a good reason why we can't put the Man of Steel any higher. We like heroes who have emotional problems and Superman just doesn't have those. Sure, he's the last son of a dying planet but he's made a nice life for himself. Besides, he's Superman.

Story Arc You MUST Read:

The Death of Superman sold like hotcakes and is very good, but I would have to go with the Alan Moore classic, "For the Man Who Has Everything". It shows Superman's darker side for a short time... and it's AWESOME!

 

 

#4: Iron Man

Thanks to some of his most recent movies, Iron Man has actually become a lot more popular than he used to be. His creation is one that most people are familiar with now: Tony Stark was kidnapped by terrorists and forced to build weapons of mass destruction all while pieces of shrapnal were slowly killing him. Instead, Tony Stark built a device that would keep his heart pumping. He also created  power armor and escaped from his captors. Later on, when Tony came back to America, he decied to keep being Iron Man and start protecting people.

Iron Man has done many noteworthy things since his inception. He is one of the founding members of The Avengers (he was their leader before Captain America) and he also revealed his identity to the public. Tony Stark is also the head of Stark Industries and is a multi-billonaire. Since his source of income is so plentiful, Tony has created multiple Iron Man suits of armor over the years for different situaions. He also built his best friend James Rhodes some armor allowing him to become War Machine. Iron Man is also an engineering genius as he has built all of his Iron Man armors by himself with occassional aid from his butler Jarvis and his assistant, Pepper Potts.

Why He Makes the List:

You can't deny that Iron Man's popularity has been helped somewhat by his movie appearances. That being said, Iron Man is a staple in the Marvel Universe and has fought against very powerful oppoents. What's interesting about him is that the man piloting the armor is unremarkable: he has no powers (although he is insanely smart) and no superhuman qualities. The fact that he's able to best mutants, Gods, and even future dictators is a testament to how versatile, smart, and badass Tony Stark is. He's just a human with a heart condition but all he has to do is build a suit of armor and he can take you out. 

Why He Isn't Higher:

Tony Stark has a terrible personality. He was once an alcoholic and has terrible ego issues. He once created a clone of Thor (which did not please the God of Thunder) that killed his longtime friend and fellow genius Bill Foster. He thinks of himself very highly and doesn't admit his mistakes. Even when Thor told him that cloning him was not okay, Iron Man shrugged it off like it was nothing and tried to make it work away. Although he is a genius, he sometimes misuses his smarts and it's one of the reasons why I'm keeping him out of the Top 3.

Story Arc You MUST Read: 

Civil War brought out the best and worst in Iron Man. It features other famous heroes but it's all about Iron Man's initiative to make all superheroes secret identies known to the public.

 

 

#3: Batman

Everyone knows the story of Batman: a young Bruce Wayne sees his parents gunned down by a criminal. He vows to dedicate his life to brining criminals to justice becoming the masked vigilante known as Batman. Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger back in the 27th issue of Detective Comics, Batman was an instant success and his popularity is as high as it's ever been.

Fighting against arguably the best rogues gallery in comics, Batman has a number of gadgets and tactics at his disposal to defeat his enemies. He is considered by Superman to be one of the most dangerous people on the planet. That's pretty high praise coming from a guy who's practically a god. Batman is a master of various forms of martial arts and he is also a master escape artist managing to find a way out of near-impossible situations. His utility belt, which he carries with him at all times, holds a variety of gadgets and weapons. His favourite is the Batarang which acts as a much deadlier boomerang. When it's in the hands of The Dark Knight, it becomes an extremely dangerous weapon. Bruce has also trained himself up to peak physical condition in order to keep up with more powerful beings. 

Why He Makes the List:

Like Superman, leaving Batman off the list would just be wrong as he is one of the most popular heroes created. Having numerous movies, and T.V. shows helps but it's his stories that make him so popular. Batman is known for having some of the most gripping and engaging stories ever put on a comic page. His psyche is also a reason why he's makes the list. Batman is just as mysterious now as he was back then. Why does he keep on fighting the good fight when he knows he can't win? Because he's Batman, that's why!

Why He Isn't Higher:

Say what you want about Batman being too low but the reason why he isn't higher is because of his personality. He doesn't trust anybody and he makes it known. He even has contingency plans for any hero just in case they  go rogue. Unlike Superman, Batman only sees the bad in people. He suspects everyone of something and only trusts those he knows can be trusted such as Alfred or a Robin. There's also a little known thing about Batman that not a lot of people realize: Batman's insane. Why is he insane? It's mostly because of his crusade: it's slowly killing him and any other person would stop. But not Batman, he keeps on going because he isn't determined to permantly end crime, he's obessesed with permantly ending crime.

Story Arc You MUST Read:

There are SO many to chose from. Both Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns are excellent and both of them are written by Frank Miller, so pick them up if you haven't already.

 

 

#2: Spider-Man

Arguably Marvel's most popular hero, Spider-Man got his start in Amazing Fantasy #15 and has never looked back. He was an instant hit with the teenagers of that era (heck, all eras) who found that they could relate to Spider-Man more than they could with any other superhero. Spidey's comcs sold like hot cakes and he became the flagship character for Marvel Comics.

Spider-Man's powers are much different than those of other heroes. Aside from having super-strength, Spider-Man also has what's known as "Spider-Sense". This allows him to sense danger before it actually transpires. Peter's Spider-Sense has saved his life and the lives of others on countless occassions. Spider-Man also uses a pair of web-shooters which he designed and built himself. At one point in time, Spider-Man had the ability to shoot webs organically but this power was quickly retconned. In battle, Spider-Man usually tries to distract his foe by using quips and jokes to keep them off-balance. 

Why He Makes the List:

Spider-Man is someone that teenagers of any era can relate to. He has problems like supporting his family, a terrible boss, and it seems that the whole world is out to get him. Spider-Man is also on here because of his morals. Spider-Man is a hero because of the famous line spoken by his dying Uncle Ben: "With great power, comes great responsibility." Spider-Man has lived by this rule his entire life. He could give up at any time and settle down but he has a responsibility to keep everyone safe because of the great power bestowed upon him. In short, Spider-Man is more real than most superheroes out there.

Why He Isn't Higher:

The one thing that Spider-Man can't conquer is his bad luck. It seems to be a rule in comics that Peter Parker can never be happy. His marriage to Mary Jane was erased, he still works as a photographer for the Daily Bugle, he's seen so many loved ones die over the years, and he still has to support his Aunt May who could keel over and die at any second. The other reason that Spider-Man can't be higher is due to the fact that some of his stories are just plain bad. Maximum Carnage and The Clone Wars are hated by fans and have been picked apart by professional reviewers as poorly written.

Story Arc You MUST Read:

Although I just said that Spider-Man stories suck, read The Night Gwen Stacy Died. It's probably the most famous Spider-Man comic and it's a very good one.

 

 

Alright, before we get to #1, let's do a quick recap.

  • #10: Green Lantern
  • #9: The Punisher
  • #8: Fantastic Four
  • #7: Wolverine
  • #6: The Hulk
  • #5: Superman
  • #4: Iron Man
  • #3: Batman
  • #2: Spider-Man

NOW.... NUMBER 1!

 

 

 

 

#1: Daredevil

As a young child, Matt Murdock was blinded by a radioactive waste when saving a strangers life. As a result, he lost his vision but heightened all his other senses. He could now hear, smell, touch, and taste like never before. Matt worked hard to make it into Columbia Law School where he got his degree alongside his best friend. Then, one fateful night, Matt went to go see his father "Battlin'" Jack Murdock, in a boxing match. When Jack refused to throw the fight in front of his son, he was murdered.  After that night, Matt made his Daredevil costume and brought his father's killer to justice.

Ever since he was blinded by radioactive waste, Daredevil has been able to "see" by using his sense to form a radar. This radar allows him to see basic outlines and shapes. In addition to his sense, Daredevil also carries a modified billy club which he uses as a weapon. It's stronger than any punch and also has a 30-feet of aircraft cable that's attached to a grapnel. Daredevil is also an adept lawyer, opening up his own law firm. He has defended countless heroes and he has also prosecuted numerous criminals.

Why He's #1:

Here we go: it's time to justify why The Man without Fear is the undisputed #1. Really, it's all about what's happened to Daredevil over the years. Just like Spider-Man and Batman, enemies of Daredevil have tried and succeeded to kill his loved ones. His friends have been framed and he has even fallen under mind-control. Daredevil is a hero with many faults; maybe even more than someone like Spider-Man. He once tried to kill himself but decided against it to protect Hell's Kitchen. The other thing that I really like about Daredevil is his alter-ego Matt Murdock. Unlike the other heroes on this list, Daredevil's alter-ego also wages a war on crime as a lawyer. To sum it up, he helps in and out of costume and that's something that few heroes can even claim to do.

Story Arc You MUST Read:

While Daredevil: The Man Without Fear is a great retelling of his origin story, I would recommend Guardian Devil instead. It's a great arc that takes Daredevil down to his lowest and it stars a very unlikely villian.

 

 

Well, that's it. That's the Top Ten Comic Book Heroes. Did your favourite make it or was he/she left out? Also, let me know what you think in the comments below. Think that I'm a hack that should never write a list like this again? You're probably right.

Also, be on the lookout to the follow-up to this list, the Top Ten Comic Book Villains coming out about 2-3 weeks from now. Also, see that little blue button above my name? Well, if you click it,  you'll also be subscribed to me so you can keep up with all of my wacky antics. Fun.

I don't know how to end this blog, so here's a picture of a cat doing something stupid.

I... I don't... Stupid cat

Later 

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