The countdown continues...
20. Jean Grey (Marvel Girl/Phoenix) - 374 points (13 first place votes)
Jean Grey (created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) was one of the founding members of th X-Men.
She stayed with the team for many years, using her telepathy and telekinesis as a hero. When the team was revamped a few years later, Jean took some time off, but continued seeing her teammate, Cyclops.
However, soon after the new team formed, Jean (and the rest of the X-Men) were kidnapped. After a battle, the group found themselves in a damaged spacecraft headed for Earth. Someone had to pilot the ship - but whoever did would certainly perish. Jean insisted that she be the one (much to Cyclops' dismay). As she sat there, slowly dying - a cosmic force called the Phoenix came to Jean, and offered to save her life (and the lives of the X-Men) if Jean allowed her to be Jean, and experience life as a human.
Jean agreed, and when the ship landed, the Phoenix took over Jean's life, albeit at a much more higher power level. Eventually, though, the Phoenix could not handle life as a human, and went nuts - killing a whole PLANET. However, even though it only COPIED Jean's thoughts - Jean was such a great hero that even a copy of her was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, and the Phoenix killed itself.
Awhile later, the Avengers found Jean in a cocoon near where the ship had crashed, years earlier. She was alive, and the other members of the original X-Men came to her, and the five of them formed a new team, X-Factor.
When that team broke up, she joined the rest in becoming X-Men again. Along the way, she married her long-time love, Cyclops.
Also, we learned that while the Phoenix WAS a separate force, Jean was actually born able to CHANNEL the Phoenix force, which is why the force approached her to begin with, rather than some other random human.
So Jean began to exhibit her Phoenix powers again.
Eventually, Cyclops began to have an affair with Emma Frost. Soon after, Jean was killed by Magneto in battle.
Now absorbed into the White Hot Room (which is where Phoenix-bearers go), Jean's last wish was to convince her husband to pursue a relationship with Emma now that Jean was dead. He did so.
So Jean is currently dead, but come on, her NAME is the PHOENIX!!
Here is Samuel Mendoza on why he had Jean #1...
Jean is the first X-Woman ever, and even though that's an important part of her character that will always be something she'll be recognized as, she grew into someone who is a lot more, becoming what I can definitely class as the heart of the X-Men, an probably the best leading figure in an ideological way to the group, right after Professor Xavier.
The Phoenix stories made her a heroine and an even bigger character within Marvel mythologies, and they continue to be, long after her death. She's the person who'd sacrifice her life over and over again to save a universe, or just one life, because her love for the people around her is bigger than her own life for her, and that humanity is the part of her character that made the Phoenix chose her, and why I did, too.
19. Jamie Madrox, The Multiple Man- 399 points (11 first place votes)
Created by Len Wein, Chris Claremont and John Buscema, Jamie Madrox began creating duplicates of himself when he was a young boy, leading his father to create a special suit designed to guard Jamie from the kinetic energy that would create more duplicates of himself.
His parents were killed when Jamie was a young teen, and he stayed on the family farm until the suit began to malfunction. Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four helped Jamie out, and sent him to live with Moira MacTaggart as her lab assistant. That's where Jamie would stay for a number of years, although he did have some adventures here and there.
During a big confrontation on Muir Isle (where Jamie and Moira resided), a whole bunch of mutants who had been led there by the Shadow King basically did not have a purpose. In stepped Val Cooper of the US Government, who needed a replacement for their Freedom Force team. Cooper picked up the various mutants who were not already on the X-Men and made them the new X-Factor.
Jamie was one of those picked.
He served with X-Factor for years until he was seemingly killed by the mutant-killing Legacy Virus.
After awhile, this was discovered to be untrue, and Jamie basically went into the background. He was brought back recently by Peter David (who had written X-Factor), who made Jamie a private detective in mutant town. His investigation company is called X-Factor.
The mini-series led to an ongoing X-Factor series, which stars Jamie and his company, some of whom (Guido and Wolfsbane) were from Jamie's X-Factor days, and some other mutants are new acquaintances.
Here's my pal Pete (who had him #1 on his list) to try to explain Madrox's appeal...
Why do I like Jamie Madrox?
Well for starters I see a fair bit of myself in him, In looks AND personality, more than any other Marvel character. An intelligent, good looking guy (what!?) who wants to do the right thing, but can occasionally act like a goofy child.
Under Peter David's pen particularly, he's the likable everyman with a unique and increasingly complicated power that produces a whole range of stories, and varies quandaries and dilemmas. Does he ruin the lives of a mother and son by re-absorbing a dupe who's gotten married? What to DO!?
Then you have the dupes themselves, all the different aspects of Jamies personality, not all of them nice, not all of them heroic, but none of them dull.
Then you have the girls, the ladies seem to quite like The Multiple Man, with that name taking on a quite different meaning when he (or was it a dupe?) had a one night stand with M.
That aspect of Madrox is obviously pure wish fulfillment.
So basically, to me, Jamie Madrox is the most interesting character in the MU and the reason X-Factor is always at the top of my read pile every week.
18. Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) - 427 points (9 first place votes)
Kitty Pryde was created by John Byrne and Chris Claremont, and she first appeared right at the beginning of the Dark Phoenix Saga. She was a new student at the X-Men, and since she was much younger than the rest, she worked as a POV character for the readers.
Kitty was a nice, bright Jewish girl from Chicago who had the ability to phase through objects. She was quite down-to-Earth, and soon became a fan favorite.
Kitty began a relationship with her teammate, Colossus, which ended it heartbreak for Kitty. After serving with the X-Men for a number of years (and bonding with almost all her teammates, most notably with basically her surrogate mother, Storm, and her surrogate father, Wolverine - who trained her in the ways of the samurai), even finally getting a cool name - Shadowcat - Kitty was injured during a battle, and was separated from the rest of the X-Men.
During this time, the X-Men were believed dead - leaving Kitty to start a new group in England, along with her fellow wounded X-Man, Nightcrawler. The two helped found Excalibur, where Kitty stayed as a member for the next number of years (in fact, correct me if I'm off here, but I believe Kitty actually was a member of Excalibur longer than she was originally with the X-Men. Is that right? It's like, 1980-88 for X-Men, and 88-98 for Excalibur, right?), even forming her next major romantic relationship with Peter Wisdom, a gritty English operative.
The two split, and so did Excalibur, leading Kitty back to the X-Men. After the apparent death of Colossus, Kitty took some time off, but was brought back to the X-men by Cyclops, and she was reunited with the not-so-dead-after-all Colossus. The two got back together, and that's where we are right now.
Here's CBR poster, KittyPryde (who else could I have picked?) to explain why she had Kitty #1 on her list...
When Kitty Pryde debuted in Uncanny X-Men #129 back in January 1980 there wasn't much in the way of teen hero(ine)s: Spider-Man had already grown up and found his way. The Avengers and the Fantastic Four were well-established. The original X-Men were either senior members of the team or had moved on to other groups. The new replacement X-Men (Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Banshee, Colossus, etc.) were all older and somewhat adept at using their skills. The "New Mutants" title was still slightly over 3 years away (and probably owes a bit of gratitude for even being published to the response that Kitty received in showing that there was a fan interest in seeing young mutants grow up and learn to use their powers).
So when Kitty debuted as a 13.5 year old, she was something fairly unique at the time being that she was just a fraction of the age of most other big leaguers in the major books. If you were in your late-kid-to-teen years during the 80's you couldn't help but feel a sense of camaraderie with her and her growing pains. If you were a girl, you wanted to either be like
Kitty or wished she was your real life best friend. If you were a boy, you either wanted to date her or at least wished she lived down the street to build you a computer. Cute, but not overly striking, she has always been the perfect stereotypical "girl next door" (but with some pizzazz) along with a touch of "nerd" thrown in for balance.
She doesn't have flashy offensive powers (although, granted, she can use her defensive phasing ones in some brutal offensive applications if she chooses) and is a fair balance of femininity and tom-boy. She's incredibly well-spoken, smart, and witty, with a strong moral compass who knows when to follow diplomacy and when to speak her mind. Readers, like me, who prefer
characterization-focused (rather than action-focused) stories couldn't ask to see a finer character every month (although, admittedly it takes a good writer who emphasizes dialog to be able to use her correctly).
Kitty's heart is her biggest attribute. She'll give you her all in a loving and caring manner. A reluctant hero who'd really rather be leading a more normal life, she's answered the "with great power comes great responsibility" call to arms. When the pressure is on and it's do-or-die, she has the grit and gumption to step up and do whatever it takes at any personal cost to see the plan come to fruition and the good guys win. I couldn't ask for anything more, and thus she's been my long-time running #1 character in all of comic-dom.
17. Deadpool - 443 points (13 first place votes)
Created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza in one of the last issues of New Mutants before the book became X-Force, Wade Wilson, Deadpool, is known as "the merc with a mouth," as he is a highly sought-after mercenary who, well, talks a lot.
Deadpool is a funny guy, and thanks to Joe Kelly, he had one of the funniest comics of the late 90s, especially the issue where Kelly had Deadpool go back in time to an early issue of Amazing Spider-Man, leaving Deadpool to mock the characters, MST3K-style. Classic stuff.
More recently, Deadpool had begun a forced partnership with Cable, although Cable's apparent death has led to Deadpool now being at a crossroads in his life.
Here is Tom McKenna on why he thinks Deadpool is tops...
Put Bugs Bunny, Wolverine and Dennis Miller in a blender and what would you get? A bloody mess, probably?
But if you could create a character who had Bugs' sense of the ridiculous (and his ability to break the fourth wall), Wolverine's healing factor, and Dennis Miller's ability to create gut-busting comedy out of semi-obscure pop culture references you might end up with something resembling Deadpool.
A well written comic with Deadpool as a central character is a captivating event here just about anything is possible, and many of the cliches of superhero comics go out the window. Outlandish moments like Deadpool cross-dressing in a Marvel Girl outfit, Deadpool firing a sheep-gun, Deadpool wielding Thor's hammer or Deadpool being decapitated by Wolverine are all within the realm of possibilities.
And yet for all of the humor, Deadpool is a horrible human being who is often miserable. He tries to make himself a better person, and often fails. And occasionally, we get to see a glimmer of hope that one day Deadpool may actually overcome all of his despicable tendencies and become the hero we know he can be.
Deadpool will never suit everyone's taste, and that?s what also part of what makes him special to his die-hard fans. Chimichanga!
16. Beast - 456 points (8 first place votes)
Hank McCoy was an original member of the X-Men (so he was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby), and he was a classic case of not judging a book by its cover, as the gigantic, well, beast of a man was actually one of the smartest person anyone could know.
It was his smarts that led to Hank becoming the first X-Man to actually leave the nest, and take a job working as a scientist. Sadly, some evildoers messed with Hank, turning him into an even MORE of a beast, making him look blue and furry and ape-like.
Undeterred, Hank kept on keeping on, and even joined the Avengers, where suddenly he was no longer an outcast, allowing his jocular side to really take over. Here he was, a blue-skinned "freak," but since he was a member of the Avengers, people loved him! He embraced this role for many years, until he took leave of the Avengers and tried out leading a superhero team - the Defenders.
It did not go so well, even though Hank enlisted two of his old friends, co-founding X-Men Angel and Iceman.
Later, he reunited with the other members of the original X-Men to form X-Factor, where Beast stayed a member of until the team rejoined the X-Men en masse. That is where Hank has been, basically ever since.
Fairly recently, Hank further mutated, now looking more like a cat than an ape.
He is currently searching frantically for a cure to Scarlet Witch's "no more mutants" proclamation, which has left the world with no more mutants at all - possibly striking down the future of the mutant race!!
Here is why Philip Trostler had the Beast #1...
Hank McCoy is one of those characters who stands out among the untouchable Supermen or Wolverines of the comic book universe. Originally, his power was that his hands and feet were extraordinarily big. Somehow this enlargement of limbs enabled him to perform feats of superhuman agility and strength. Compared to a hero who was bitten by a radioactive spider, came from another planet, or even trained himself to being a model of human perfection, McCoy's powers seemed somewhat realistic, at least to a 10 year old child.
In the mid 1990's, when the X-Men were at the height of their mainstream popularity, I was just starting to collect comics. Aside from picking up whatever the newest book was, I would always try to find some book that reprinted older Marvel comics. I believe it was originally Professor Xavier and The X-Men, which introduced me to the human-looking Beast. The novelty of learning that Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, and Jean Grey were the original X-Men was something that didn't wear out for a while, but then there was the Beast, who just didn't look anything like the Beast I knew from X-Men: The Animated Series. This Beast was just some stocky guy with glasses who was really good at gymnastics. Nonetheless, he steals the show in those early Stan Lee X-men issues. His dry sense of humor, overbearing intellect, combined with such crazy escapades like quitting the X-Men to become a pro wrestler are just entertaining as hell.
It probably took me discovering the Beast of the Avengers for him to become my overall favorite. Somehow, between the 60's and 70's, the Beast had lost any semblance of a human appearance and had become a blue ape. It's during this era that the Beast's personality really started to come out and shine. He became the Avengers' resident joker/lothario and when he was later combined with Wonder Man, the laughs just kept coming. The X-Men and Avengers (with all due respect to the Fantastic Four) were always the two big teams in the Marvel Universe and the fact that the Beast fit in so well in each one just shows how multi-layered his character is.
Unfortunately, except for a few entertaining stories (his de-evolving in X-Factor, some of Morrison's work), the Beast for the most part peaking with the Avengers. Later writers seem to focus too much on his intellect and not enough on his sense of humor. Whenever he's not pigeonholed as the doctor of the group, he's usually in his prime. And don't even get me started on his cat-like appearance. But nonetheless, I'd be hard pressed to think of anyone else in the Marvel Universe that I could follow from book to book always being entertained, always caring, always loving it.
More characters tomorrow!