2019 Top Marvel Characters 40-36

After nearly 1,100 ballots were cast, YOU the reader ranked your favorite comic book characters from 1-10. I assigned point totals to each ranking and then tabulated it all into a Top 50 list. We're revealing that list throughout the rest of the month. The countdown continues now...

In the past, I've typically done sort of "biographies" for each of the characters on the list, but you know what, they're on the Top 100 DC and Marvel characters list, I think we should be working under the assumption that you all pretty much know the basic information about these characters. Instead, I'll just write about whatever interests me about the character in question, including some comic book pages featuring the character.

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40. Iceman - 351 points (7 first place votes)

Iceman was a founding member of the X-Men. The youngest member of the team, Iceman had the second-lamest origin of the original six, as he froze a bully and everyone got mad at him until the X-Men showed up and well, that was about it. Iceman was the joker on the team, but behind the laughs, he had problems dealing with his sexuality. Since the other three guys on the team all fawned over Jean Grey (heck, so did their teacher), Bobby faked interest, as well.

That was the story for most of Bobby's life - feigned interest in other ladies that never seemed to go anywhere. Lorna Dane, the X-Man known as Polaris, was one of the first examples of this phenomena. Meanwhile, the only long-lasting relationships he had were his platonic friendships with two of the guys on the original X-Men, Beast and Angel.

After the All-New, All-Different X-Men joined up, Iceman could not hide his hatred of Native Americans and/or Irish people, so he left the team (or at least I assume that was his motivation for leaving). Ultimately, with Angel he joined a new team, the Champions. The Champions were so incompetent that they made the New Mutants seem almost capable by comparison (and seeing as how the greatest success in the history of the New Mutants was getting Doug Ramsey shot, that is saying a lot). While on the Champions, Bobby developed his second major fake relationship with the Russian mutant Darkstar.

After the Champions broke up, Bobby joined up with Angel again, this time in a Beast-led team of Defenders. Since the previous sentence contained the phrase "Beast-led," you know that was not going to work out. Bobby then joined back up with his old friends in X-Factor. Seriously, what does Bobby Drake do but wait by the phone for one of his old friends to call him and ask him to join a team? Has he done a spontaneous act in his life? Man, he was SO repressed! I mean, that makes sense and all, but still!

Bobby's tenure on X-Factor was practically the definition of "humdrum," with the exception of his powers growing stronger and stronger. This has been something that has continued for years and years as a plot point without ever actually going away. To wit, if I quoted a comic as saying, "Bobby does not understand just how powerful he is," and then asked you what year the comic came out, you would not be able to guess. Heck, if I asked you what DECADE, you would not be able to guess - because it has been a plot point every other year for OVER THREE DECADES!!! For over 30 years we have had to hear how Bobby doesn't realize just how powerful he is. You would think that just by virtue of everyone telling him this for three decades, he would catch on. However, there goes that repression thing again.

One somewhat notable aspect of his X-Factor run was his next failed relationship, with Opal Tanaka, who was, of course, tied to the Yakuza (a little known fact - in the Marvel Universe, every Asian person has ties to the Yakuza. Weird, right?).

Once X-Factor merged with the X-Men to form a new X-Men team, Bobby was placed on the B-team, and faded to the background for years. He had two notable storylines during this period - Emma Frost took possession of his body for awhile (guess what she told him? Yep, you guessed it - he was more powerful than he even knew!) and he also dealt with his dad getting sick. He left the team to be with his dad.

He came back in a cool storyline called Zero Tolerance where he was actually halfway competent, but as soon as it ended, he went away again. He next popped up as a member of a NEW B-team, Angel, Wolverine, him and Nightcrawler. It was like the time that the Avengers consisted of Black Widow, Hercules, Quicksilver, Crystal, Deathcry and Vision. A real "for serious? That's your team?" team.

After that, he just stood around in the periphery for awhile (he is good at that) before seemingly losing his powers during M-Day. But no, he did not actually lose his powers, he just repressed them!! HELLO, PEOPLE!! Do you need for us to write you a map? The guy has repression issues!!! Once he got his powers back, he was chosen specially by Rogue for her team of "People Cyclops has no other use for." While on that team, he developed a relationship with Mystique.

Finally, after a younger version of himself was brought to the present, Iceman came to terms with his sexuality and got past all of that repression...

Now finally open with his sexuality, Iceman has been the happiest that he has been in years.

39. Beast - 352 points (5 first place votes)

Okay, so here's what I don't get - Hank McCoy, the so-called "Beast" of the X-Men, was born with giant hands and feet, could feed himself a bottle with his own feet when he was a baby and could crush a person's hand with a handshake when he was a small child. When he hit adolescence....all of that stayed the same. He didn't actually gain anything. Mutants gain their powers when they hit adolescence. So, what, exactly, is Hank McCoy hiding? Is he really a mutant at all?!?!?!

McCoy was a brilliant young scientist who also memorized a book of quotations (to make it seem like he was well read). Can you imagine what it must be like for a brilliant young scientist to be on the X-Men? It would be like Albert Einstein being one of the Three Stooges - very, very frustrating. Hank was lucky to be a student of Marvel Universe science. Marvel Universe science is a lot more diverse than regular science. You see, Hank eventually gained a PhD (done while the rest of the X-Men were vainly trying to complete their GEDs) in biophysics and genetics. However, he achieved these PhDs in MARVEL science, so this made him an expert in engineering, medicine, time travel (yes, time travel), etc. It is like how one of the most highly-developed robots of all time, Ultron, was built by Hank Pym, a biologist. It is because Hank is a MARVEL biologist. Very different than normal biology. It's like "How would you best describe a cell membrane? Also, how would you build a device that could negate Magneto's powers?" All in the same class!!!! And MARVEL scientists always have multiple doctorates by the time they're 22. It's a rule.

So Hank was in the X-Men with his possibly fake mutant powers and his MARVEL science degrees, and he fought the good fight, but eventually he was like, "What am I even doing with these people? I'm not even a mutant probably!" so he left to take a job at a big corporation as a geneticist. While there, he discovers a way to give people mutant powers temporarily (he figured, "Hey, if I could fake it, why not let other people do so, too?"), but he had to use it on himself because, you know, that's what scientists do, use experimental drugs on themselves for kicks. He waited too long to change back, though (book smart, check. common sense, not so much), so he was stuck as a furry animal-like creature with fangs and a haircut like the Daredevil supervillain, the Owl. Also, it turned out that, much like 80% of the Marvel Universe before 1975, his girlfriend (and lab assistant) was secretly a Communist spy.

Things picked up for Hank when these new abilities got him noticed by the Avengers and eventually he became a member of the team. This was a dream come true! He was actually accepted by society! You see, society hates and fears mutants - except when they're Avengers. Then they're totally awesome!!! If Scarlet Witch were on the X-Men - hated and feared. On the Avengers - beloved! While on the Avengers, Hank (who now, all of a sudden, was a jokester) made friends with his teammate, Simon Williams, the hero known as Wonder Man. Simon, you see, was an expert electrical engineer. Sadly, he was just an expert electrical engineer and not a MARVEL engineer, which is why his munitions company was put out of business by Tony Stark's similar company.

Despite the Avengers being the perfect place for Beast, he decided to leave them. It is actually pretty funny to read the issue he decides to leave the Avengers - there is an ostensible reason given for him departing, but it really doesn't make sense even in the context of the issue itself, let alone Hank's general characterization at the time. In any event, with the character now free for the taking, J.M. DeMatteis started using him in the pages of the Defenders and eventually re-configured the team AROUND Beast, adding in his former X-Men teammates, Iceman and Angel in a New Defenders, a team led by Hank. As you might imagine, it did not do so well.

With Angel and Iceman surely thinking, "Wow, we should NOT be on teams together - that's back-to-back teams we were on that just ended in total failure," their next thought, of course, was "Hey, let's form another new team!" and so they formed X-Factor, made up of all the original X-Men, including the not-so-dead Jean Grey. Hank joined up because, really, what else was he doing? Soon after the team formed, Hank found himself turned back to his normal fake-mutant self due to the machinations of some bad guy. After awhile, the machinations of ANOTHER bad guy returned Hank back to the furry blue look.

Eventually, X-Factor merged back into the X-Men and Beast was assigned to the cool kid's team (well, cool kids plus Jubilee, I should say). Oddly enough, after that squad's leader, Cyclops, took a leave of absence when he got married (and Wolverine was also on a leave of absence), Beast actually led the cool team for a little bit. It was really weird. It was sort of like, "Wait, BEAST is going to be the leader? There's got to be someone else better suited for the job! Who else is on the team? Psylocke? Oh. Gambit? Oh. Rogue? Oh. I guess Beast it is - do you think maybe the Blob would be available if we asked him?"

Throughout much of his second stint with the X-Men, Beast sort of fell into the background. Here's an example of just how out of the way he was. An evil, alternate reality version of the Beast who was twenty years older than Beast managed to switch spots with Beast for weeks without anyone noticing the switch. The impostor did not even have to study to impersonate Beast, as it wasn't like anyone on the team knew anything personal about the Beast. So long as he acted goofy and pretentiously quoted from old books, who could tell it WASN'T Beast? It's not like anyone could tell he was speaking an entirely different dialect (few X-Men even knew what a dialect WAS). How awkward must have that been when Beast returned to the team? "Really? NO ONE noticed it wasn't me? Trish, you're my girlfriend! You had no idea?!"

Beast did have one definitive highlight as an X-Man soon after the whole "no one noticed he was kidnapped by his twenty-year older copy from another reality" fiasco. He actually cured the Legacy Virus!! Not only did he cure the Legacy Virus, but Colossus sacrificed himself to get the virus to work, so Beast cured the Legacy Virus AND got rid of Colossus for awhile!!! Two birds with one stone!! To put into context how rarely X-Men get a victory this major, Rogue's biggest accomplishment of all-time was when only two members of her personal X-Men squad turned out to be undercover enemies sent to betray her. That was a personal best for Rogue! So when Beast actually cured a major disease, well, that's just awesome (and unexpected).

While mourning the "loss" of Colossus, Beast joined up with Storm's group of X-Men who were searching for 13 ghosts who escaped from the Chest of Demons (or Destiny's diaries. One or the other). Beast and Psylocke were attacked by Vargas, a really cool character who was so major that he continues to be used constantly to this day. In the battle, Sage needed to kickstart Beast's secondary mutation, so she did so, and he went from being a blue gorilla looking dude with an Owl haircut to being a big blue cat-like dude. What's interesting to note is that if this was his secondary mutation, what if he had never altered his genetics to turn into a blue furry creature? What kind of cat-like creature would he look like then?

He had trouble dealing with this secondary mutation, even considering taking a "cure" for being a mutant during Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men run...

Seemingly one of the side effects of Beast's secondary mutation is that he also has the mutant power of super-hypocrisy. You see, the X-Men were in battle with a whole other world from another dimension that was planning an invasion of Earth. Beast decided that for the good of OUR Earth that it made sense to destroy THAT world, so, with the help of his girlfriend, Abigail Brand, the X-Men destroyed the other world. So, as you can see, Beast obviously feels it is okay to commit genocide if it is in the best interest of the people of our world. Well, when Cyclops put together a mutant murder squad designed to go out and eliminate enemies of the X-Men, Beast flipped out, thinking it was way unethical. So his super-hypocrisy must have kicked in!

Beast eventually split from the X-Men over his distaste with Cyclop's leadership. He ended up joining the Secret Avengers before returning to the X-Men when Wolverine and a group of X-Men split from Cyclops to form a new school. Beast then ended up messing with time itself to bring the original X-Men from the past and stranded them in the present. Beast then mutated again, but instead of taking this opportunity to go to his iconic look, he now looks like a bit more like...I dunno how to describe it. More like an ape than he did in early days? Anyhow, later on he left the X-Men when he tried to work alongside the Inhumans to find a way to cure the fact that the Terrigen Mists were killing mutants but when he couldn't find a cure, he finally sided with his mutant family against the Inhumans. He has been back with the X-Men ever since.

38. X-23 - 353 points (4 first place votes)

There are a lot of messed up things about Laura Kinney, the clone of Wolverine who is named X-23, including her time as a teen prostitute.

However, I think X-23's time with the X-Men can be pretty much succinctly summarized as: the X-Men took in X-23 because she was horribly manipulated both genetically and psychologically into becoming a killing machine. The X-Men harbored her so that they could help her with her murderous urges. They then used her as part of their own personal death squad.

That's "Dr. Doom raising a kid so he can have someone to imprint his mind on in case he should ever find the need to do so" levels of messed up.

Luckily, other members of the X-Men, like Storm, helped get X-23 past those issues and she stopped working as a killer for the X-Men.

Eventually, she grew to have a father/daughter relationship with Wolverine and he helped her with her issues, too....

and when he was dead for a while, X-23 took over as the new Wolverine.

When Wolverine came back to life, she returned to her X-23 identity. She had her own clone, Gabby, who has become like a sister to her...

37. Iron Fist - 386 points (11 first place votes)

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!

Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, along with artist David Aja, gave Iron Fist an awesome ongoing series called the Immortal Iron Fist, where we learn that K'un L'un is not the ONLY magical city out there!

Iron Fist later joined the Avengers and also formed a new Defenders team with his old friend, Luke Cage.

36. Winter Soldier - 408 points (4 first place votes)

Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Bucky was Captain America's young partner during World War II.

Phased out for a short time after the war, when Cap made his return in the pages of Atlas Comics' Captain America, Bucky was right back along with Cap, smashing commies.

When Marvel brought Cap back in the pages of the Avengers, however, it was sans Bucky. In one of the earlier retcons in Marvel history, Bucky now died back during World War II, in an explosion that left Captain America thought dead, as well.

Decades later, in the pages of the current Captain America series, writer Ed Brubaker revealed that Bucky had, in fact, survived and was revived by the Russians, who gave him cybernetic implants and brainwashed Bucky into becoming a killing machine for them. He also trained the operative, Black Widow, for the Russians.

They would send Bucky on a mission and then put him into suspended animation until he was needed again - this allowed Bucky to remain a mystery, as people looking for a young man in one year would not still be looking for a young man five years later, which is when he'd be unfrozen for his next mission. This is how he got the name the Winter Soldier, because they would basically just freeze him between missions.

Bucky eventually broke free of the brainwashing, due to the help of Captain America...

After the seeming death of Captain America, Bucky took over as Captain America temporarily, until his past actions as the Winter Soldier became public and he was forced to quit as Cap and return to being the Winter Soldier (this was also due to Bucky nearly being killed during Fear Itself). Most recently, Bucky has formed a new superhero black ops team called Strikeforce.

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