Top 50 Marvel Characters #25-21

The countdown continues...

25. She-Hulk - 283 points (9 first place votes)

Created by Stan Lee and John Buscema (probably Lee's last notable comic creation), Jennifer Walters was dying, and needed a blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner, to live.

As a result of the transfusion, Jennifer, like her cousin Bruce, became a Hulk-like being.

Jennifer eventually controlled herself, and after laying low for awhile, made a major comeback as a member of the Avengers, for which she was a member for a number of years.

Around the same time, she was made a member of the Fantastic Four to replace the Thing, who had decided to part ways with the Fantastic Four for a time during Secret Wars. Along with Wolverine and the Flash, she's the only hero I can think of who was a member of two notable superhero teams at once!!

John Byrne, who used She-Hulk in the FF, came up with Jennifer's SECOND series, where Byrne took a humor approach, having Jen break the fourth wall frequently. It was a success, and the book lasted for a number of years.

More recently, Dan Slott has gained critical success with his own She-Hulk series, where he, too, employs a humorous approach, only Slott has stressed Jennifer's career as a lawyer a great deal, as well.

Here's Lisa Fortuner, of the nifty blog, Written World, and Blog@Newsarama, with why she had She-Hulk #1...

She-Hulk's appeal is very straightforward for me. She's a mousy brunette who turns into a beautiful green giantess that can throw cars across the freeway. She keeps her brains and gains beauty and brawn when she transforms. That is the stuff of my childhood daydreams. That she has the sense to see those incredibly positive powers as a blessing makes her a rare treat in the Marvel universe.

Thanks, Lisa!

24. Thanos - 287 points (5 first place votes)

Jim Starlin created Thanos as basically DC's answer to Jack Kirby's Darkseid, and he lived up to the billing, as Starlin used the villainous alien creature in a number of great cosmic stories.

Thanos was obsessed with Death (who was later interested in him enough to come to him, personified as a woman), so he would do anything to please her, so he devoted his life to, well, death.

He clashed many times with both Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock, with his battles with the latter leading to Thanos' demise.

When you're friendly with Death, death is not permanent, and Thanos was soon loose, and this time looking for the Infinity Gauntlet, which he used to wipe out HALF the universe!

Ultimately, though, Thanos' plans were thwarted. Since then, Thanos has been a bit less willing to do all the murder stuff - he got a lot more laid back. This was just in time for Drax the Destroyer, a creature designed for the sole purpose of killing Thanos, to do the deed.

So, for now, Thanos is dead (and is even hanging out with Death as her consort). I wonder how long it will take for this time.

Here is Miguel Rosa with his reasoning behind ranking Thanos #1...

Thanos is my #1 because he's the ultimate villain; whenever he plots the entire universe is in danger. And he's come closer to victory than any other villain I know of. I love him because there was a time whenever he showed up it was a sign the reader would get a great story: everything he's in up until Infinity Gauntlet is genius, especially Jim Starlin's Captain Marvel run. Captain Marvel was destined to defeat Thanos; the entity Eon waited 8 billion years just to transform him into the Protector of the Universe. That's how dangerous Thanos is - the universe is so afraid of him it started taking measures to defeat him 8 billion years before his time, and even then it was only by chance that Thanos lost. How cool is that?

Thanks, Miguel!

23. Iron Fist - 325 points

Created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, Danny Rand was on a trip to the mystical city of K'un L'un as a boy when his parents were murdered. The orphan was taken in by Yü-Ti, the ruler of K'un L'un, who trained Danny in the martial artists.

Eventually, Danny became the best of the best, and attempted to become the holder of "the Iron Fist." He succeeded, and now possesses the fist, which allows him to focus his chi and enhance his natural abilities to far greater than a normal human, and since Danny is one of the world's greatest martial artists withOUT said advantage, you can only imagine how helpful that is.

Danny eventually paired up with the hero Power Man, Luke Cage, as the two formed a hero partnership and a great friendship that lasts to this day, even though Danny was missing for a time, and Luke accused of murdering him!

Recently, Danny agreed to impersonate his friend, Daredevil, and also got wrapped up with the superhero Civil War, where Danny was opposed to the government.

He is now a member of the Avengers, with his friend Luke, on the run from the government for opposing the Superhero Registration Act.

22. The White Queen (Emma Frost) - 332 points (1 first place vote)

Created by John Byrne and Chris Claremont, Emma Frost was a member of the Hellfire Club, an ancient organization who had nefarious plans for the X-Men.

Frost was a telepath, and clashed with the X-Men a number of times. Frost had started up her OWN school for mutants, and she sought to bring Kitty Pryde to her school. She failed.

Later on, when Xavier added a new group of young mutants to his school, the group clashed often with Frost's group of young mutants, known as the Hellions.

Sadly, in a vicious attack, most of Frost's Hellions were murdered by a sneak attack by the evil Trevor Fitzroy. Frost was put into a coma in the same attack.

When she recovered, she was naturally distraught over the deaths of her charges, and basically turned over a new lead, agreeing to be the co-head of a new Xavier school, which would be based at the site of her old school.

This group of students (known affectionately as Generation X) were taught by Emma and Sean Cassidy (Banshee). Eventually, though, the students tired of Emma and Cassidy (who were both going through significant trauma in their lives), and all left the school.

Emma ended up traveling to the mutant nation of Genosha, which was at one time greatly suffering from the Legacy virus, but once it was cured, became a thriving mutant community. Frost began teaching there, until the evil Cassandra Nova led a Sentinel attack upon the nation of 16 million, killing almost every single mutant on the island.

It was at this time that Frost developed a secondary mutation - the ability to form her body into a sort of diamond form.

With her second group of students murdered, Frost decided to join the X-Men to help her revenge herself upon Nova. She grew comfortable there, as finally she was somewhere where all the students didn't die on her.

After carrying out an affair with the X-Man, Cyclops, Emma was shocked to find she was actually in LOVE with Cyclops, and after the death of Cyclops' wife, Jean Grey, the two began a relationship, and also took over as co-heads of Xavier's school, which is now much smaller due to the events of Decimation, where Scarlet Witch wiped out almost all mutants on Earth.

Here is why Emma was #1 on Lindsey Wilson's list:

A lot of longtime popular favorite hero-characters have about as much personality as the cardboard standups occasionally made of them for promotional purposes, which I suppose makes them easy to identify with but really boring if they are not one's personal choice for representative power fantasy.

Emma has a lot of vibrance. She's always been waspish and witty and ambitious even in lingerie, which takes some talent. She has a non-physical mutant power and so is constantly at risk when she has to act directly, but she gets through it with a combination of hiding behind Colossus or some similar stand-in and choosing her battles wisely, prior to the secondary mutation angle. Powerful telepathy is an ability with a lot of ethical questions surrounding it, and Emma handles these with a lot less hypocrisy than Professor X and just accepts the faint aura of creepiness that it creates rather than trying to comfort anyone with her presence. Her diamond form making her hard inside is a fairly obvious symbolic choice as well.

Her reformation from villain to hero was allowed to take at least some reasonable time, and worked through her obsession with teaching and improving the world rather than some arbitrary Very Special Episode that taught everyone a lesson or whatever. Her maternal instincts seem to be strong, and yet miswired--she constantly craves the validation of being a role model, but she isn't actually all that good at it most of the time. A lot of female characters don't get to beabrasive like Emma, nor do they get to show as much inner strength in the face of adversity. She can be hurt, and has shown it, without having to take her motorcycle and run off to the city or spend a zillion issues wallowing in self-pity.

Strong female character with interesting personality who isn't shallow despite projecting at times a deeply shallow surface, that's Emma.

Thanks, Lindsey!

21. The Punisher - 360 points (8 first place votes)

Created by Gerry Conway and artists John Romita and Ross Andru, Frank Castle was a police officer with a lovely wife and great kids who saw his life torn about one sunny day, when, at the park, his family was caught in a mob gun battle, leaving Castle a widower with no children.

He basically snapped, and thereby began a one-man war on crime as the Punisher.

Unlike other heroes, Castle killed - and he killed a LOT.

And that's basically what he's been doing ever since (although, the current Punisher series by Garth Ennis is a lot more than just that - it is so awesome).

Here is my pal Dom on why he had Punisher numero uno...

I was a kid when I read Punisher War Journal #8, and my life changed. Until that moment, all I knew from superheroes was Christopher Reeves and blue tights. The Punisher killed people, he was a real person.

As I got older, I finally realized why it hit me. It wasn't the blood, guts and guns. It was Frank Castle. Frank was more a real person than anyone else in Marvel and DC. He could be me or you, under the right circumstances. Despite Stan Lee's proclamations, we cannot aspire to be bitten by a radioactive spider and not die. Nor can we strive to be billionaires with bat caves or suits of iron. There is no super soldier serum, gamma rays kill and man cannot fly.

And while we should not aspire to be Frank Castle, we can at least understand him. We can all imagine what our lives would be like if we lost everything. He should be sympathetic to his plight, but we can't, because he is an amoral killer.

That duality, a hero that no one in their right mind should admire, is just so interesting to me. He is the ultimate character study, the ultimate test for a great writer. There is no rogues gallery to fall back on, there is no funny cast of characters. It's just Frank Castle and his story. It is a man fallen apart, a man we could actually become. A great writer can take that and go anywhere with it. A bad writer will just have him kill people, and dressing up like Captain America.

I love The Punisher because I am forever fascinated by a guy we should all feel pity for, but can never really find sorrow for.

That, and he kicks ass.

Thanks, Dom!

More tomorrow!

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