This week, I’m introducing a new feature of “top 10s” (or “Top 20s” or “Top 5s” as the case may be) for the comic world. I hope to be publishing one a week, but I may be getting ahead of myself.
This week, my ten favorite non-powered bit players. In other words, minor characters. Aunt May? Lois Lane? Foggy Nelson? Too major for this list. They’ve got to be someone you might see a few times a year, or who might appear in a few pages every couple months, and who rarely if ever gets a full story.
Here’s my list; drop me a comment and tell me who I missed!
10. Jeryn Hogarth (Marvel). The lawyer for Iron Fist made many appearances in the classic 1970s title, “Power Man and Iron Fist,” always trying to keep the boys in line and get them to go on actual paying gigs. Sometimes, Hogarth was the only indicator that the duo was actually trying to run a business, not just be superheroes. First appearance: Iron Fist #14.
9. Terror the Dog (Dynamite). In Garth Ennis’ gritty and often pornographic series, The Boys, Terror can always be counted on for a laugh. Especially when he’s sexually assaulting cats on rooftops and/or the legs of people that his master, Butcher, doesn’t like. First appearance: The Boys #1.
8. Bambi Arbogast (Marvel). Tony Stark’s heavy-set, no-nonsense executive assistant during the Bob Layton years. She was like Moneypenny from James Bond, which helped establish the “secret agent” vibe that Layton brought to the series. First appearance: Iron Man #118.
7. Malcolm Powder (Marvel). That persistent “kid” who kept annoying Jessica Jones in the pages of Brian Michael Bendis’ brilliant Alias series. Malcom’s groupie worship was the perfect foil for Jessica’s neurotic insecurity. First appearance: Alias #6.
6. Bertrand Crawley (Marvel). A homeless man who provides information to The Moon Knight, Crawley was great because he drank tea with his pinkie up and spoke with an affected air, while Bill Sienkiewicz always drew him with flies all around him. First appearance: Marvel Spotlight #28.
5. Space Cabbie (D.C.). He’s a dude with an old beat up spacecraft. The idea is so stupid, it’s funny. He appears in random books at random times, making him a bit player for an entire universe, not just a single title. First appearance: Mystery in Space #21.
4. Eugene “Flash” Thompson (Marvel). Flash was the bully who helped inspire Spider-Man. My only qualm with this character is that recently they made him all sympathetic by showing him as a veteran with a double amputee. We aren’t supposed to like this guy! First appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15.
3. Harvey Bullock (D.C.). Bullock might be considered a major player in some storylines, but mostly he’s just a rough, brutal, bribe-taking cop with a heart of gold. His character is so interesting that he made it into Tim Burton’s film, and was a semi-major player in Gotham Central, where was revealed to be an alcoholic.
2. Fabian Stankowicz (Marvel). A good bit player should bring something new to the table, and Stanky, who won the lottery and built the “Mechano-Marauder” fit the bill. In his first appearance, in Avengers #217, he stands between the heroes and the door to the mansion, and each character must “defeat” him to gain access. But most simply ignore him and go around his unwieldy weapon, which eventually sinks under its own weight. Hilarious.
1. Turk Barrett (Marvel). The rat fink from the docks who’d sell out Kingpin just to avoid a beatdown from Daredevil was often the source of comic relief in a series that desperately needed it, being that the main character is constantly beset with ills and maladies. A lot of folks may not realize it, but Turk dates back to 1970 when he first appeared in Daredevil #69! Haven’t seen nearly enough of Turk lately. Hey, Andy Diggle, bring Turk back!