THE TOP 100 COMIC BOOK HEROES OF ALL TIME

77. HUMAN TORCH

It’s inevitable that matchstick gets on my list.  A guy who can turn himself on fire.  And, of course, he’s kind of a hothead.  And his position on his team, too, was important: He’s the brother-in-law.  Really, the Fantastic Four is and has always been about Reed.  Thing may get more face time, but he’s only there because he’s Reed’s best friend.  Fantastic Four may have been designed as an ensemble, but every member except Reed is dispensable. 

So why is Johnny Storm here?  Because he turns himself on fire.  Because he has a catchphrase.  Because although the book is about Reed, Johnny is the only member of the franchise who any boy reading comics who really want to be: Mr. Fantastic is too staid and cerebral; Sue is a girl; and Thing, well, nobody really understands how he gets busy with Alicia Masters.  And Johnny is the only one who has fun, too.  And in the early days of Marvel, there weren’t a whole lot of superheroes who did enjoy the gig.  And he’s the perpetual bachelor who always gets hot chicks.

Recommended reading: Those early FF’s by Lee/Kirby are good, but I’m going to go with recommending Ultimate Fantastic Four Volumes 2 and 3 by Warren Ellis.  It’s awesome.

76. THE VISION

The first Android member of a superteam (yes, he preceded the Fantastic Four’s H.E.R.B.I.E.), Vision’s struggles with the desire to be more “human” were not new ground.  Even in 1968, when Roy Thomas and the amazing John Buscema created the character in the 57th issue of The Avengers, we’d seen the “longing to be normal” story before in the pages of X-Men, as well as Hulk and the film (Frankenstein) upon which Hulk was based.  But throughout his “lifetime,” Vision dramatically changed as a character.  In fact, his personality developed in ways that few ongoing characters have.  He learned to love and eventually married The Scarlet Witch, becoming a father to two boys.  Through his relationship with Jacosta—another synthezoid victim of Ultron, he learned about his dual nature—in fact, this was sort of his first “parental” role (another word for it could be a mentor).  And then the character died in 2004, in battle.  So far, he’s stayed dead.

The terrific, underrated Young Avengers miniseries from 2005-06 revived Vision as his programming was adopted by a new android.  I haven’t followed the YA since that 2006 series, so I’m not real sure what’s going on with him, but his personality in that original series was pretty far from the original Vision.   Like many, I’m still hoping Vision comes back.

Recommended reading:

  • Mighty Marvel Masterworks: Avengers Vol. 6 (reprinting his first appearance)
  • Vision & Scarlet Witch (miniseries, reprinted in several formats)
  • Avengers: Disassembled (death of Vision)

75. JACK HAWKSMOOR

From the mind of Warren Ellis came The Authority, a version of The Justice League for folks who wanted a large helping of cynical realism with their superheroes.  Jack Hawksmoor, a.k.a. “God of Cities,” actually debuted in the pages of Stormwatch, but it was in The Authority that he really began to develop.

Let’s start with his power set: He’s like Batman in that he’s an urban warrior, but unlike Batman, who is only symbolically tied to Gotham City, Hawksmoor is actually a part of the city.  A part of every city, actually.  He can merge with it, change its geography, and use the city itself as a weapon.  It’s safe to say there’s no other hero like him.

He’s also a ladies man with severely deformed genitals.  This is Warren Ellis, after all.

Recommended reading:

  • The Absolute Authority Vol. 1.  And if you like that, you’ll probably like volume 2 as well.

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