61. SHE HULK
Before there were Red Hulks and Blue Hulks and Hulk kids, there was only one real spin off: Bruce Banner’s cousin, Jennifer Walters, who transformed as a result of a blood transfusion. She was a Stan Lee/John Buscema creation, but she really didn’t matter until John Byrne got his (ahem) hands on her. Before that (and largely after it), she’d make appearances in lots of books but, frankly, she was kind of stupid and pointless. (Her first solo book, Savage She Hulk was a decent book–but not more than that.) And then there’s the fact that she slept with about half the Marvel U. (See “She Hulk’s Greatest Sexual Conquests.”)
Byrne made green Amazon power sexy. Extremely so, I might add. In his expert care, She Hulk joined the Fantastic Four, got her own graphic novel, and, ultimately, got her own series, The Sensational She Hulk, which ran for 60 issues. The book is widely recognized as a creative milestone in experimentation for Marvel Comics: She knew she was a comic book character, e.g. (long before Deadpool did), and just about every issue saw her breaking boundaries.
She got a second experimental series in the 00s, but lately the character isn’t really being used (as least not well).
Still, Fantastic Four #275 might just be the sexiest mainstream comic of the 1980s…Get it, you’ll see why.
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne Vol. 5
- The Sensational She Hulk by John Byrne
60. THE FALCON
Like Luke Cage, Sam Wilson started out as a caricature who spoke in 1970s cadence and occasionally made references to black power. However, his appearance at the close of 1969 was much needed—even if he wasn’t particularly well-written—because there were so few black faces in comic books.
Falcon didn’t really start to come into his own until he became partners with Captain America in 1971—and even got to share title billing with him. Yes, it was a little obvious giving the blonde-haired blue-eyed American icon a black militant partner, but it worked. In fact, whenever I picked up the book I looked forward more to seeing Falcon than Cap.
Falcon got a great little miniseries in 1983 (which I don’t think has ever been reprinted), but then pretty much fell off the map for ten years. He’d appear from time to time, but never really made an impact.
Ed Brubaker revived the character most recently in his Captain America book, and it’s great to have him back.
- Captain America and The Falcon: Brothers and Keepers
- Falcon (miniseries 1-4, not reprinted)