THE TOP 100 COMIC BOOK HEROES OF ALL TIME

53. JOHN CONSTANTINE

John Constantine, the all-knowing mystic who was first a pain in the ass to Swamp Thing during Alan Moore’s industry-changing run with the character, share the initials of Jesus Christ.  I don’t know if that was intentional, but it’s interesting.

His solo book, Hellblazer, was one of the first Vertigo titles—it ran longer than any other Vertigo book—and the book attracted a virtual who’s who of late 1990s/early 2000s all-stars: Tim Bradstreet, Garth Ennis, Peter Milligan, Andy Diggle, Warren Ellis, Brian Azzarello, Phil Jimenez, Sean Phillips, Charles Adlard, Grant Morrison, …And many others.

Constantine makes my list because of his ability to bring out the best in the business, to inspire offbeat and unique stories, and because he added a sense of mysterious humor to the Swamp Thing book.  Without him, Alan Moore’s run would have been good—but not nearly as memorable.  So JC makes the list, but Swamp Thing doesn’t—because Swampy himself kinda doesn’t matter all that much.   Constantine has made a much bigger impression on the DCU.

Just don’t go see the crappy movie starring Keanu Reeves.

Suggested reading:

  • Swamp Thing: A Murder of Crows
  • Hellblazer: Family Man
  • Hellblazer: Early Warning/How I Learned to Love the Bomb
  • Hellblazer: Rake at the Gates of Hell

52. JESSICA JONES CAGE

I know a guy who knows a guy who works for Marvel and has sat in on writers meetings with Brian Michael Bendis.  According to my source, all Bendis has to do is say that something happened in the Marvel U and !poof! it’s been done and everyone remembers it.  The man sells mad amounts of books and seems to have an endless supply of wild, cool ideas, so I get it.  But Jessica Jones was the first time he did it.

Jessica Jones is the first (and only, I believe) original retcon.  By which I mean that her very creation was a revision of history but everyone pretended like it had been part of Marvel lore all along.  Kind of like when Roseann replaced the oldest daughter with a much hotter actress.

She started in a MAX book, Alias, in which she also added new depth to the characters of Scott Lang, Carol Danvers and most of all Luke Cage.  Her entry into the “main” Marvel U was so gradual you forgot this was the MAXverse, which doesn’t usually cross over.

And now she’s an Avenger again for the first time.  And has a deal for a pilot to be shot for next season.

Recommended reading:

  • Alias by Brian Michael Bendis

51. HELLBOY

Hellboy looks really cool—all red with flight goggles—and he’s got that ginormous hand, but what does he really add to the world of comics that makes him a top 100 player?  After all, him being on the list means someone else won’t be…

Well, for one thing, it was Mike Mignola’s first creator-owned project.  Here was a guy with a phenomenal rep as a cover artist making real money at Marvel, and he goes over to Dark Horse to do his own stuff about the disowned child of a demon midwifed by Nazis.  Sounds risky.

And yet the concept alone was enough to draw one of the most famous creators in the business (John Byrne) to do the script for the first issue.  From there, Hellboy became an industry: Two major motion pictures, several animated DVDs, a spin-off comic, B.P.R.D., that also got a TV show (an FX special) and was featured in Blade 2 and a Gorillaz video, and nearly 20 years steady of comic books that consistently sell.

I’ve heard they’re killing Hellboy off.  Too bad.  But he’s had a good run.

Hellish reading:

  • Seed of Destruction
  • Wake the Devil
  • The Corpse

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