67. THE THING
Why does Ben Grimm make the list? Isn’t he just another version of Hulk? Kind of. But Grimm always had a little more personality than mean green—particularly when he fell for the blind sculptor Alica Masters. I mean, how can you ignore the brilliance of that: A woman who, without the power of sight, is able to turn rock into something beautiful, falls for a man who is tormented by the fact that he’s … A giant pile of rocks!
For the longest time, Grimm also was the only one of the F4 with a past that seemed to include family: He’d make references to his Aunt Petunia and Yancy Street, and clearly was a soft-hearted brute.
Finally, The Thing mattered to me as a kid because he was the star of the less-successful-than-Marvel-Team-Up book, Marvel Two In One. There, we got to see all kinds of b-listers that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy. I looked forward to those titles more than just about any…Marvel needs to have a title like that again—one that celebrates it’s weirdoes and fringe characters. On the other hand, comic readers don’t seem to want fun books anymore. Everyone’s so hard…Anyway, Thing was the perfect host for a book like that because he’s got a sense of humor about himself, but there’s very few guys who can really take him.
Plus, Thing’s like all orange and strong and stuff. Good reasons to be on this list.
A few Thing tales to read:
- The Fantastic Four Vol. 1
- Essential Marvel Two–In-One
- The Thing by John Byrne
66. EMMA FROST
By the time Emma Frost changed teams, the X-Men were full of characters who’d been bad-then-good, and some had been bad-then-good-then-bad-then-good-again. So the title had been consistently good about allowing for shades of grey. One thing it hadn’t done, though, was expose the conflict within the side-changer. Other than Quicksilver, who was always kind of a jerk, characters would pretty much drink the Kool Aid and become good.
Emma, however, always struggled to be good. In fact, there were times (particularly during Grant Morrison’s run) that the reader wondered if she’d joined the X-Men just so she could steal Cyclops from Jean Grey—y’know, just to f*ck with people.
It made complete sense when she became the tutor to four psychic girls and one of them went bad: At least 25% of Emma Frost will always be bad….
- Hellfire arc (for Evil Emma)
- Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon (for Emma’s conversion)
- New X-Men by Grant Morrison (wherein Emma nails Scott Summers)
The daughter of a devil and the creation of one of DC’s best teams, Marv Wolfman and George Perez, Raven’s struggles with her own sexuality, her daddy issues, and her empathic powers have always thrilled. Plus, she was the reason that The New Teen Titans could come together. So, we owe her quite a bit.
She’s never been as good since Wolfman/Perez, but Geoff Johns had some fun withher. And she almost got her own CW show. Almost. But I’m pretty sure that’s off the market now.
Best Raven stories:
- The New Teen Titans Omnibus by Wolfman/Perez
- Teen Titans Go! (a book directed at kids, but still terrific)