It’s funny, but I almost didn’t put Frank Castle on my list and now here he is the upper half.  My resistance to Punisher was largely based on the fact that, as a concept, he’s a one-note derivation from every Charles Bronson movie ever made, as well as a the poor-man’s Batman.

But that’s the beauty of him as well.

Think about it: Your family is murdered before your eyes. You spend years training yourself to be the ultimate fighting machine and to exact revenge.  And then you decide not to use guns?  And not to kill?  The Punisher is a much more likely character than Batman can ever hope to be.

The vast majority of comics featuring Punisher suck.  That’s just empirical fact.

But those that don’t are fucking awesome.

And, he’s got a cool look, has had several movies made about him, and has probably sold more merchandise (hats, shirts, etc.) than many better known characters.

So here he is.

Recommended reading: All 11 of the books listed here.


Susan Storm-Richards was Marvel’s first feminist, long before Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk.  How ironic, then, that her power is invisibility…

Invisible Girl/Woman proved that a strong female character could also be a mom.  And not only that–a sexy, responsible mom!  No wonder Prince Namor is head over winged heels for her!

And remember when Moondragon turned her into a lesbian?  Not her finest moment (or Marvel’s finest, for that matter), but you can impress comic nerds with that little bit of trivia.

A few cool Invisible Woman stories:

  • The Fantastic Four Vol. 7
  • Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne Vol. 6


It’s easy to dismiss Bat Mite as a joke character—some stupid vestige from Batman’s campy period.  And frankly, that’s not a wholly unfair characterization.  But when you’ve got a guy who saw his own parents killed before his eyes and who spent the rest of his life learning to be the perfect instrument of justice, a little humor doesn’t hurt.

But more than that, Bat Mite actually matters because he’s fun.  Fun!  Comic books used to be fun.  Before Frank Miller.  And Grant Morrison remembers that.  In his revelatory long-form Batman storyline, he brought Bat Mite back as either a representation of Bruce Wayne’s consciousness, a figment of his insanity, a “real” creature from the alternate world of Zur En Arrh, or all of the above.

Before that, Bat Mite issues were always ones readers looked forward to.  Sure, you can skip them as inconsequential one-offs, but admit it: You always bought ‘em.  Even if you weren’t a regular Batman reader.

Bat Mite’s appearance on the fantastic child-friendly cartoon Batman: The Brave and the Bold was a brilliantly psychedelic, crowd-pleasing interlude that left the viewer screaming encore.

So don’t hate on Bat Mite.  He’s rad.

Recommended reading:

  • Showcase Presents: World’s Finest Volume 2 (although buying this entire collection is a long way to go for the issue with Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxylptlk)
  • World’s Funniest
  • Batman: The Black Glove
  • Batman: R.I.P.

47.  BEAST

Writers love to play with Beast.  Especially ever since he turned blue.  He offers so much raw material: his issues about his looks, his intellect versus his inner brute, having ladies love him—but only as a curiosity.  So much fodder!

Beast is the “good scientist” (although several writers have offered an “evil scientist” view of Beast in the future) as well, which has made him an integral part of the various “genomic” storylines in the various X books.  And on top of all that, he was on the Defenders, Champions, and the Avengers!  Actually, he was the only Avenger I’m aware of who actually quit the team in order to join another one.  I guess he’s not as good at time management as Wolverine or Spidey.

Best Beast books?

  • Amazing Adventures” #11-14 (shockingly, the story arc in which Beast gets covered in fur has not, to my knowledge, been reprinted!)
  • Essential X-Factor Vol. 1
  • Astonishing X-Men: Gifted

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