88. MADROX THE MULTIPLE MAN
I’m writing this list from #1 down—to make sure I don’t leave anyone behind who I should have listed. So, as I’m down here towards the bottom and having to make cuts (goodbye Aquaman!), I’m realizing how many X-Men were once villains.
Jamie Madrox is Earth 616’s most literary mutant, but that’s largely due to the impressive writing skills of Peter David who transformed the character from a joke to a compelling team leader in the pages of X-Factor.
Still, that’s not the only reason Madrox is on the list. His power—to create duplicates of himself whenever his body is hit with any sort of force—is one we’ve all fantasized about. Who wouldn’t take a punch in order to have another you go to school, or work, or do the taxes? But his dupes aren’t always compliant—some are killers, some are prudes, some cowards. So, Madrox is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get.
- Madrox: Multiple Choice (out of print)
- X-Factor Vol. 1: The Longest Night
87. CAPTAIN MARVEL
It’s amazing how many of the characters on this list were created by Stan Lee. Truly amazing. But I’m pretty sure Captain Marvel is the only one cocreated with Gene Colan, an artist who is largely unknown to new comic book fans but who, in my day, was best known for the creepy and the bizarre—Tomb of Dracula and Howard the Duck were two books where he made his bones.
But it was really Jim Starlin who made the character into someone you needed to know about. And, sadly, into someone who kind of mattered more in death than life. Starlin’s first original graphic novel, The Death of Captain Marvel, represented a sea change for the industry and proved that sometimes heroes can die of something other than super death rays. Sometimes, they die of cancer.
A footnote: None of the Captain Marvels that followed were anywhere near as cool, but at least the Monica Rambeau version gives me an excuse to mention Nextwave: Agents of HATE, one of my all-time favorite comic books ever. If you haven’t read it yet, go to Amazon now and place your order. It’s hilarious and brilliant.
- The Death of Captain Marvel
- Nextwave: Agents of Hate
Why Storm? Why not Colossus? Yes, out of the mutants created by Len Wein in the legendary Giant Size X-Men #1, Storm is the one who cuts the Russian off the list. Again, why? It’s not just that she’s a she. Or an African American she. But those are certainly valid considerations—how many black women have managed to get their own comic, or become major players in multiple comic book series? That’s not a rhetorical question, I really want an answer. Can you think of even one?
Plus, along the way she’s been the leader of both the X-Men and the Morlocks, and she’s been romantically linked to Dr. Doom, Black Panther and Dr. Doom…Just to name a few!
- Giant Size X-Men #1 (reprinted everywhere)
- Uncanny X-Men: From the Ashes (out of print)
- X-Men/Black Panther: Wild Kingdom