Greetings from the Odinson,
The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers, Captain America, Doctor Doom, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Silver Surfer, the Inhumans, and the X-Men – these legends are the foundation upon which the Marvel Universe was built. And, every single one of these characters was created or co-created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko, the architects of the Marvel Universe. Like immortal Atlas, these creations and their creators bore the weight of the House of Ideas and provided a playground for others to not only follow but also add new ideas and expand on the modern day mythology these founding fathers crafted.
Top 20 Most Important/Influential/Popular MARVEL Characters NOT Created by Lee, Kirby, or Ditko: Part 1 of 2
20 – Longshot – Created by Ann Nocenti and Art Adams. First Appearance Longshot #1 (1985). I must admit, this one is perhaps a bit of a guilty pleasure on my part, but for a few years in the late 80s, there were very few original characters as cool as the luckiest mutant in the Marvel U. A fact perfectly illustrated with his introduction into the X-Men mythos in Uncanny X-Men Annual #10. Unfortunately, Gambit, another character with similar moves but with a bad boy’s edge, would come along a few years later and relegate Longshot to nearly forgotten status.
19 – Elektra – Created by Frank Miller. First Appearance Daredevil #168 (1981). During his classic character-defining Daredevil run, Frank Miller really stretched his Shakespearian muscles with the introduction of the Marvel U’s deadliest assassin. Elektra was Matt Murdock’s college girlfriend who goes on to become a stone cold killer for hire. How tragic is it for the hero to have to fight the woman he loves to save the life of his best friend. Then, to make matters even worse, the woman the hero loves is murdered by one of his most hated enemies (see Daredevil #181). This story is so delicious that they should make a movie or TV show about it. Oh, wait…
18 – Beta Ray Bill – Created by Walt Simonson. First Appearance Thor #337 (1983). When the last survivors of an alien race are cryogenically encased into a space-faring ark, their greatest warrior is genetically fused with a deadly creature and given bionic implants and charged with the safe keeping of his people’s legacy. This is how we are introduced to noble Bill. Bill actually defeats Thor in a duel and proves himself one of the very few in all the cosmos worthy enough to actually wield Mjolnir. Odin bestows upon Bill his own hammer, Stormbreaker, and now Beta Ray Bill is a brother to Thor and one of the strongest champions of justice in the galaxy.
17 – Shang Chi – Created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin. First Appearance Special Marvel Edition #15 (1973). He is the son of Fu Manchu, one of the most sinister villains in the history of popular fiction, he is the Master of Kung Fu, and he is a force for justice. Chi is one of the first leading characters of Chinese descent in main stream comics’ history. To show just how well respected Shang Chi really is, guys like Captain America call him a peer, and guys like Wolverine call him teacher. Even without any super powers at all, Chi’s deadly hands of kung fu have made him a stalwart main stay in Marvel Comics for over four decades.
16 – Power Man and Iron Fist – Created by Archie Goodwin and John Romita, Sr. and Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. First Appearance Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (1972) and Marvel Premiere #15 (1974). With movies like Shaft and Enter the Dragon and TV shows like Kojak and Starsky and Hutch, popular entertainment in the 1970s was becoming more urban, gritty, and culturally diverse. There are very few comic characters more street level than Luke Cage, the man with diamond-hard skin, and his kung fu partner, Danny Rand the Immortal Iron Fist. These two best friends proved that the color of a man’s skin does not define the character of the man himself. They have become so synonymous with Marvel street level justice that they are major players in the current Hell’s Kitchen corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as portrayed on the original shows for Netflix.
15 – Cable – Created by Louise Simonson and Rob Liefeld. First Appearance New Mutants #87 (1990). Originally, Nathan Summers, created by Chris Claremont and Rick Leonardi, made his debut as a baby in Uncanny X-Men #201. This was a very turbulent time, a time of transition, for his father, Scott Summers. Later, baby Nathan was infected with a techno-organic virus and the only way to save his life was for Cyclops to send his infant son, alone and unprotected, into the distant future. There this infant grew up to become the legendary freedom fighter known as Cable, a cyborg mutant with an expertise in all weapons and a bad attitude that would do Wolverine proud. Cable has traveled back in time to our present to destroy Apocalypse, the evil tyrant that rules his future with an iron fist. Cable has been many things over the years. A mentor to X-Force, the next generation of heroes, an anchor of sanity and rock to lean on for his erstwhile sparring partner Deadpool, a formidable enemy and ally to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers, but perhaps his most important role was that of protector, mentor, and father figure for Hope, the savior of all mutantkind.
14 – Moon Knight – Created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin. First Appearance Werewolf by Night #32 (1975). What if Batman was in the Marvel Universe? Marc Spector has all the training and all the gadgets, but there is something Moon Knight does that the Dark Knight does not – he wears his psychosis on his sleeve like a badge of honor. Marvel has always gone a step further than its distinguished competition when it comes to fleshing out their characters and giving them their flaws and relatable imperfections. What kind of a man would dress up in a cape and cowl and prowl the night dismantling evil doers with his bare hands? A man with a bent perception of reality, that’s who. Moon Knight’s tales have always explored this aspect and side of the masked avenger more so than Batman’s. He is the earthly avatar of the god of vengeance and his god likes it when he gets his hands dirty. Spector has been a mercenary, a playboy, and an Avenger. He’s not the Dark Knight the Marvel U needs, he’s the Moon Knight it deserves.
13 – Gambit – Created by Chris Claremont and Jim lee. First Appearance Uncanny X-Men #266 (1990). In the 80s and 90s, the X-Men were arguably the most popular heroes in comic books and this Ragin’ Cajun became one of the most popular X-Men. He’s the quintessential bad boy. He’s a master thief, mysterious, dangerous, charming, and he has a wicked smile that melts hearts. The time-traveling mutant Bishop believed Gambit was the orchestrater of the fall of the mutants. That scenario played out for years until culminating in the Onslaught Saga. Gambit’s mysterious past and his dubious connection to the Mutant Massacre, came to light in Uncanny X-Men #350 truly straining his relationships with his fellow X-Men. But, perhaps Gambit’s most notorious contribution to the X-mythos is his long running on again/off again romantic relationship with Rogue. Whether it’s Rogue’s curse of no touching, Gambit’s marital status to fellow thief Belladonna, or the mutant love triangle of Gambit, Rogue, and Magneto, this relationship has seen more ups and downs than a season of Beverly Hills 90210.
12 – Rogue – Created by Chris Claremont and Michael Golden. First Appearance Avengers Annual #10 (1981). She can never make skin on skin contact with another human being without steeling that person’s memories, life essence, and abilities. The process leaves her victims in a coma, a state from which some of them never recover. At first Rogue was a misguided villain under the tutelage of the mutant terrorist Mystique. But, on the days she came into contact with Ms. Marvel and even to a greater extent ROM, an inner goodness was awakened within her and she sought out the X-Men for help her adoptive mother could not provide. Her contact with Ms. Marvel left Carol Danvers powerless and gave Rogue the fallen hero’s alien born super powers. Unable to control her own power, Rogue is forever kept from the human contact most of us take for granted. Just imagine going through life and never being able to hold someone’s hand, touch a cheek, or even kiss the one you love for fear of stealing their soul. Unfortunately, Rogue has become the tragic poster child for how a mutant’s power can be a curse.
11 – Ultron – Created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. First Appearance Avengers #55 (1968). The Avengers are the Marvel U’s premiere super team and Ultron is arguably their greatest foe. But, what makes this killer robot even more controversial is just how important he is to the Marvel Family Tree. Here we go. *Deep Breath* Avengers co-founder Hank Pym, a.k.a. Ant-Man, was married to the Wasp. Pym created Ultron. Ultron created the Vision, a super android he hoped would destroy his enemies but instead turned on him and became a stalwart member of the Avengers. The Vision falls in love with Scarlet Witch who is the sister of Quicksilver. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, along with the mutant hero Polaris, are the children of Magneto, the X-Men’s greatest foe. Quicksilver was married to and has a child with Crystal, former girlfriend of the Human Torch and member of the Inhuman Royal Family. Polaris is romantically involved with Havok who is the brother of Cyclops who has romantic ties to Jean Grey, Madelyne Pryor and Emma Frost. Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor’s son is Cable. Cyclops and Havok’s father is Corsair the leader of the Starjammers. Ultron also created Jocasta, an android based on the Wasp who also betrays him and becomes an Avenger. The Vision’s body is based on the design of the Original Human Torch who fought side-by-side with Captain America and the Sub-Mariner in the Invaders during World War II. The Vision’s mind is based on the brain patterns of Wonder Man making them like brothers. Wonder Man’s real brother is the villain the Grim Reaper who is a sometimes ally of Ultron. So, in many ways, Ultron is the glue that binds the Marvel Universe together.
Tune in next week when the Odinson finishes off his list of Marvel Legends NOT created by Lee, Kirby, or Ditko with a Top 10 that includes a mutant weather goddess, a merc with a mouth, a merciless vigilante, and an ole Canucklehead from Canada.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell