Greetings from the Odinson,
Stan Lee. Jack Kirby. Steve Ditko. Their names are legend. They are the architects of the Marvel Universe. These founding fathers laid the foundation upon which the House of Ideas would be built. They each either created or co-created the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers, Captain America, Doctor Doom, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, the Inhumans, and the X-Men. And, they birthed a mythology so rich, so vibrant that it became an infinite well from which many more ideas and concepts could spring.
In the years that followed the Dawn of the Marvel Age, new legends were born, legends created by those inspired by Lee, Kirby, and Ditko.
Top 20 Most Important/Influential/Popular MARVEL Characters NOT Created by Lee, Kirby, or Ditko: Part 2 of 2
10 – Blade – Created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan. First Appearance Tomb of Dracula #10 (1973). Never mind the fact that he is one of the coolest cats to come out of the Marvel Horror boom of the 70s. Never mind that, to this day, he steals almost every single scene he is in. And, never mind that years before Buffy, the Charmed Girls, and the Winchester Brothers were fighting to take back the night, Blade was stomping monsters and slaying vampires in style. Actually, probably the biggest contribution the Daywalker gave to Marvel is at the Box Office by proving the characters at the House of Ideas were not only the coolest heroes on the block, but moneymakers as well. Before Blade, there were only TV movies, direct to video fair, and a Roger Corman take on Marvel’s First Family better left forgotten. Before Joss Whedon’s Avengers, before Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, and before Bryan Singer’s X-Men, it was Blade in 1998 that started the Marvel cinematic juggernaut that has continued to gain size and momentum as it just keeps rolling on.
09 – Captain Marvel – Created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan. First Appearance Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (1968). Now, I’m not talking about the Kree superman, Mar-Vell, though the Death of Captain Marvel was one of the most poignant chapters in Marvel History, no, I’m talking about the Marvel U’s premiere female super hero – Carol Danvers. She started out as a love interest for Mar-Vell. However, upon becoming every bit his physical equal in the guise of Ms. Marvel, Carol has carved out her own legend in solo adventures and in the ranks of the Avengers. She has military history with both Captain America and Wolverine. After her ill-fated tango with Rogue, Carol found herself transported to the far side of the cosmos where she was empowered with the power of a star and became the galactic hero known as Binary. As Captain Marvel, she is currently the banner waving mascot of the Marvel Universe and one of the most respected heroes in Marvel’s pantheon. She even inspired the current Ms. Marvel to follow in her footsteps. Plus, Carol Danvers was at the center of one of the most controversial stories in Marvel History (see Avengers #200).
08 – Cloak and Dagger – Created by Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan. First Appearance Spectacular Spider-Man #64 (1982). Before the Runaways, there was Cloak and Dagger. When a mysterious lab-born street drug awakened great power within them, these two became an inseparable force for justice. As products of the 80s and clearly street level heroes, Cloak and Dagger were at the forefront in the War on Drugs. Cloak can tap into a cold, black void known as the Dark Dimension and manipulate its opaque energy in many different ways. Dagger is a conduit of light and is able to absorb and focus great amounts of radiant energy. Cloak’s closeness to the Dark Dimension sometimes threatens to consume him. Luckily, Dagger’s gentle touch and healing light keeps him grounded and stable. Along with Iron Fist and Misty Knight, Cloak and Dagger are probably among the very first interracial couples depicted in comics history. They have a beautiful romantic relationship that will not be defined or hindered by the color of their skin. Plus, Cloak and Dagger also happen to be two of the visually coolest looking characters at the House of Ideas.
07 – Venom – Created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane. First Appearance Amazing Spider-Man #300 (1988). During the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, Spider-Man found a new costume. He soon discovered that this costume was a living entity. The Alien Costume Saga shows how this alien parasite tries to take control of our friendly neighborhood hero and how Spidey manages to free himself from it. This symbiote would soon graft itself to disenfranchised photographer Eddie Brock and thus was born one of Spider-Man’s most dangerous foes. For years, Venom would torment Spider-Man. Surprisingly, he would help Spidey on occasion, especially when Venom’s murderous off-spring Carnage would run amuck. However, the current incarnation of Venom is that of the alien symbiote and Peter Parker’s ole high school chum, Flash Thompson. If they ever get around to making a Venom movie, the Odinson would rather see Thompson’s infinitely more interesting story adapted over Eddie Brock’s shallow motivations. Flash Thompson was a bully in high school who changed his ways and became one of Peter Parker’s closest friends. He served in the Middle East as a soldier where he lost his legs. Now he is a special agent for the government that struggles to keep the alien symbiote focused as a force for justice. The current tale in the pages of Venom: Space Knight have added even more layers to one of the most popular creation to come out of the House of Ideas in the modern era of comics.
06 – Storm – Created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. First Appearance Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975). As a child, she was a thief just trying to survive on the streets of Cairo. As a young woman, she was worshiped as a goddess as her weather manipulating powers brought rain to the drought-stricken plains of Africa. As a woman, she is the leader of the X-Men and one of the most respected heroes in the world. Storm is one of the strongest female characters in the history of comics and a fantastic role model for women everywhere. She has endured tragedy (losing her powers in Uncanny X-Men #185). She has endured heartache (see her tumultuous relationship with Forge). She has stood up for the downtrodden (see Uncanny X-Men #170). And, she has ruled as queen over the most powerful kingdom on Earth (see her marriage to the Black Panther). The Odinson thinks Storm, like Wolverine, has grown beyond being just an X-Man. She is one of the premiere female heroes not just in Marvel comics but in all of comics. Hey, she even has a solid TKO victory over the greatest female super hero in the history of comics – Wonder Woman.
05 – Sub-Mariner – Created by Bill Everett. First Appearance Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1 (1939). The Sub-Mariner actually precedes the Marvel Age, but it was in the Silver to Modern Age that Prince Namor really came into the height of his significance. He is the original anti-hero. Though not in continuity chronologically, the Sub-Mariner is Marvel’s first mutant to see print. Prince Namor, the king of Atlantis, has tried to destroy the surface world just as many times as he has saved it. He is easily one of the most complicated characters in the history of the medium. He is madly in love with the Sue Richards, a fact that often brings him to blows with and to the aid of the Fantastic Four. He fought side-by-side with Captain America and the Invaders against the Axis Powers during World War II. He has fought against and beside the Avengers. He co-founded the Defenders. He has served as self-appointed protector of his fellow mutants, the X-Men. And, he is probably the closest thing in the Marvel U that Victor Von Doom can call a friend. This extremely complicated man was at the epicenter of the recent events that brought the Marvel Universe to the brink when Namor was the one willing to do the things other heroes could not bring themselves to do (see Time Runs Out and Secret Wars Prelude), for which he paid a steep price in Squadron Supreme #1. Yes, Prince Namor is one of the most complicated, controversial, and hard to get along with characters in the Marvel U, but he’s also really, really super cool.
04 – Deadpool – Created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. First Appearance New Mutants #98 (1991). Personally, the Odinson has never been a big fan of the Merc with a Mouth. However, I cannot deny the impact he has had not just on the Marvel U, but in pop culture itself. Not only has Wade Wilson become one of the most popular characters in Marvel History, he has become so popular that the House of Ideas has actually gone back and retconned him into major Marvel events that took place before he was even created (see Deadpool’s Secret Wars and Deadpool Flashbacks).
03 – Thanos – Created by Jim Starlin. First Appearance Iron Man #55 (1973). There’s Doctor Doom, Lex Luthor, Magneto, the Joker, and then there’s Thanos. Jim Starlin’s Mad Titan not only stands shoulder-to-shoulder with these icons of evil, but he probably stands head-and-shoulders above. He’s as brilliant as Reed Richards, as strong as the Hulk, and as powerful as the Silver Surfer, and this is all before he got his hands on the Cosmic Cube and the Infinity Gems. He is the consort of Death, the architect of the Infinity Gauntlet, and the biggest Big Bad in the history of the Marvel U. Thanos has actually achieved godhood several time and he has witnessed The End of the Marvel Universe. Thanos has become such an uber threat that the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe has been gearing up and heading on a collision course with the Mad Titan since the very beginning.
02 – Punisher – Created by Gerry Conway and John Romita, Sr. First Appearance Amazing Spider-Man #129 (1974). Popeye Doyle, Dirty Harry, Paul Kersey, these were the faces of justice in the decade of the 70s. Hard edged antiheroes with no patience for the legal system. Eye-for-an-eye renegades who visited vengeance on those that would terrorize and bring harm to innocent law abiding citizens, and out of this time came Frank Castle, the Punisher. On the day his family was murdered in the crossfire of two rival mob families, Castle declared war on all crime. He became judge, jury, and executioner and he uses all his Special Forces training to pursue his never-ending quest for justice. His harsh vigilante brand of justice has brought Castle into conflict with heroes like Spider-Man, Daredevil, Wolverine, and Captain America. Even though the Odinson can never get on board with the Punisher’s way of dealing with crime, I do recognize that some of the most memorable stories in Marvel History – Circle of Blood, Child’s Play, and Welcome Back, Frank – involve the skull-bearing vigilante known as the Punisher.
01 – Wolverine – Created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and John Romita, Sr. First (Full) Appearance Incredible Hulk #181 (1974). Was there ever any doubt who would top this list? The man simply known as Logan was an instant star the moment he popped his claws and jumped without thinking into the fray against the mighty Hulk. With his mutant healing factor and unbreakable bones and claws, Logan is easily one of the most original characters in the history of comics. The ole Canucklehead’s list of copycat and/or derivative characters could give even the Man of Steel a run for his money. Because he made it cool, I’d say a good 90% of the comic book community now has a healing factor. He started out as a one off antagonist for the Hulk. He became a scene-stealing, super cool bad boy in the pages of Uncanny X-Men. His legend and popularity grew in the 80s with The Japan Adventure and guest spots in the pages of Marvel Team-Up, Captain America, and Daredevil. He was a man of mystery with a forgotten past that was only glimpsed in cryptic flashbacks. Weapon X, Origin and Origins shed light on most of that past. Wolverine is one of the most popular characters in not just the history of Marvel Comics but in the History of Comic Books.
Marvel’s First Family and their peers may have launched the Marvel Age, but along the way, new characters and ideas have been added and fuel the legend that is the Marvel Universe. So large in fact has Logan become and so transcendent a character that on the Mount Rushmore of Marvel Icons there is Spider-Man, the Hulk, Captain America, all created and/or co-created by Lee, Kirby, and Ditko, and there is Wolverine created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and John Romita, Sr., with special thanks to Chris Claremont and John Byrne for really fleshing out this bad boy and making him a mega super star.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell