Once upon a time, I was a Marvel Zombie. You wouldn’t know it from this blog, since all of my comics-oriented fan-casting, so far, has been about DC characters. But, I grew up almost exclusively reading Marvel comics. I eventually got subscriptions, so they were delivered directly to our mailbox. (How I loved seeing those plain, brown wrappers!) I even wrote a brief letter to a title or two and was proud to sign off with “Make Mine Marvel!” It wasn’t until the early 1990s — about the time Bane broke Batman’s back and Doomsday killed Superman — when I started reading/collecting a few DC titles, as well as a few from Dark Horse and the then-new Image Comics.
I think it was also sometime around then that I answered a survey — via snail-mail, of course — from Marvel, asking about their subscribers’ reading habits. I don’t remember much at all about the rest of the survey questions, but I do remember needing to decide who my Top 5 favorite Marvel characters were. (Not an easy task, since I like(d) so many!) Of course, I also remember what my answers were, because they haven’t changed.
In no particular order…
As a skinny, socially-awkward nerd, I guess I sort of identified with Peter Parker. (I was pretty smart, too, but not like Pete.) But, when he put on that homemade costume and web-shooters and proceeded to swing around town, kicking butt and cracking jokes, that was just so cool! On the other hand, he was dealing with high-school (and, later, college), part-time jobs, annoying bosses, money issues, girl problems, etc. In other words, a LOT of kids (and adults) could really identify with ol’ Pete. And, that was what made so many of Marvel’s characters popular — realism. (Well, to the extent you can have that in a world of superheroes, super-tech, aliens, and magic.) Hang in there, Web-head!
Gotta love ol’ Jade Jaws — the mind of a 5-year-old (human) child, wrapped in a green-hued behemoth of gamma-powered muscle. He’s such a sad, tragic case, yet there are times when we all wish we could lash out in anger or frustration and “Hulk SMASH!” everything in sight. Such incredible power must be… exhilarating, yet frightening to wield! The Hulk was responsible for so much destruction, yet all he wanted (most of the time) was to be left alone. Whether he retained his intellect while “hulked out” or had to wait to view the aftermath of battle post-transformation, the weight of it all was sometimes almost too much for even the Hulk to bear. Some of the most touching and poignant comic stories have been told, imho, in the saga of Dr. Bruce Banner and his alter ego.
Who doesn’t love the hairy ol’ Canucklehead with the funky ‘do and whiskers? The claws, enhanced senses, accelerated healing factor, and (usually) adamantium-laced skeleton, not to mention the generally surly attitude…. The instincts of a savage beast, barely controlled by the heart and discipline of a “gaijin” samurai, and waiting to be let loose on anything from a band of ninjas or a squad of alien commandos to a giant robot Sentinel or a villainous mutant like Sabretooth. The enigmatic Logan is one of the most complicated characters – in both a good way and a bad way — in the Marvel Universe, as well as one of the most loved in all of comicdom. And, I was there (almost) from the beginning. The only thing left to say, bub, is… SNIKT!
Genius, billionaire playboy with lots of high-tech toys… what’s not to like? Well, there is that heart problem… and the alcoholism… and getting his business empire (or parts of it) “stolen” out from under him every few years… and getting his technology pirated for use by bad guys… and… stuff like that. Still, Tony Stark managed to bounce back so many times, always challenging himself, always making improvements on his technology (including numerous versions of his armor). He was also generous with his wealth and loyal to his friends. I enjoyed and admired that. But, mostly, I envied the money and the toys. 🙂 (Bruce Wayne has them, too, but Tony knows how to enjoy ’em!)
Captain America — and I’m referring primarily to the original and best Cap, Steve Rogers — is the iconic, virtuous, noble hero. Plus, he has that whole patriotic theme and attitude, which I also found (and still find) very appealing. He wasn’t quite superhuman, though the Super Soldier serum (plus “vita-rays”) and physical training helped him attain the “peak of human conditioning” (or something like that). He usually didn’t have any cool tech, but that indestructible shield that he could throw with such amazing accuracy was awfully cool. Add to that his being an Olympic-level gymnast, top-notch martial artist, master strategist, and an inspiring leader of troops and costumed adventurers alike. Cap was (and is) pretty darn awesome!
Alright! Those are my Top 5. All very different, complex characters, and lots of fun! I’m not sure I could expand it to 10, but the next 3 would have to be Daredevil, Thing, and Colossus. If you were filling out a similar survey, who would you pick and why?