The 50 greatest comic-book characters Empire Staff 12 Sep The greatest comic-book characters in the canon have been debated and argued over for decades. Empire has delved into it and picked 50 super-powered specimens we believe stand are the greatest in the pantheon. Among their numerous launch titles, Spawn would prove to be by far the most popular. While he began as a traditional — if unorthodox — vigilante hero, Spawn grew increasingly dark over time, slipping further into an anti-hero role as the theology-heavy storylines became increasingly twisted.
His popularity has since waned, but Spawn remains an iconic crusader, both for the characters in his stories and creator-owned comic books. A Billowing, semi-sentient cape, trailing chains, glowing green eyes and hell-derived magical powers. An award-winning HBO animated series ran in the late '90s, as well as a markedly less successful live action movie starring Michael Jai White. A sequel is currently in development and has been since The scope of Spawn's hell magic is limited only by his imagination.
The energy fuelling it, however, is not and if Spawn ever exhausts his reserves it's a one-way ticket back to hell.
The full-bearded alcoholic, rageaholic, commitment-phobic British sea captain lucked into a fortune Red Rackham's Treasure and wound up drinking himself insensible in Marlinspike Hall, occasionally giving vent to amazingly picturesque salty language often through a megaphone when assailed by bashi-bazouks, troglodytes, prize purple jellyfish, Incan mummies and Signorina Bianca Castafiore, 'the Milanese nightingale'. Pursuit of whisky is his defining motive — he even got drunk on a trip to the Moon!
One of the most human and perversely admirable characters in fiction. Captain's hat, bushy beard, tumbler of whisky and a roll-neck pullover. The Secret Of The Unicorn. LUCAS TRENT Harvey Pekar, a fairly miserable and obsessive fellow who works as a file clerk in a Veterans' Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, is the creation of Harvey Pekar, a writer who sets out to chronicle his everyday life in comic form, recruiting artist Robert Crumb and others to illustrate anecdotes about the cranky hero's mundane, frustrating life.
Eventually, the irregularly-published comic book - and its several sequels Our Cancer Year, Our Movie Year, The Quitter - made Pekar a fringe celeb, better-known for his fractious, controversial appearances on The David Letterman Show until the film adaptation brought attention to his ongoing comics. Besides covering his courtships, marriage, illnesses, career reversals and brushes with fame, Pekar has opened up the comic to chronicle the lives of his friends.
Poor fashion sense, middle-aged frustration, dour outlook and general whining. Jonathan Demme tried to adapt American Splendor in the '80s, but the project never came to fruition as Demme wasn't yet an established director. In the often simplistically macho world of superheroes, these two were introduced as an off-kilter Superman and Batman into Warren Ellis' excellent Stormwatch series, but after a series of gradual hints were revealed as a couple in the Authority series which followed, hopefully shaking at least a few fanboy prejudices out of existence.
Now married, with an adoptive super daughter, the pair have starred in a number of controversial storylines including an implied rape as befits the darker tone of the more adult Authority, but have recently been reunited after a mind-wipe took Midnighter away and broke up their home these things are why the superhero divorce rate is so high. Now reunited, expect them to keep flying the rainbow flag and beating up anyone who gets in their way.
Apollo can absorb solar energy and convert it to superstrength, flight and heat beams from his eyes; The Midnighter has enhanced physical abilities, a spare heart, and the capacity to anticipate his opponent's moves.
Marvel's gay pride poster-boy is Alpha Flight's North Star. Only implicitly gay when the series was launched in , Northstar has since come out and even developed a crush on Iceman during a stint with the X-Men in Jonah Jameson, editor-publisher of the New York Daily Bugle — a newspaper which has run a campaign against Spider-Man and other masked vigilantes that has often turned the public against superheroes.
Initially annoyed that Spider-Man got more acclaim than his astronaut son, whom he wanted to boost as 'a real hero', Jameson's hatred of Peter Parker's alter ego has grown into an overpowering obsession which has threatened his health and business. Ironically, he is also Parker's most frequent employer, buying the freelance photographer's blurry, out of focus shots of Spider-Man in action for the front page — and paying as little as possible for them. Hitler moustache, brush-cut and an ever-present cigar.
Or, rather, the mutant rip-off of Spider-Man, right down to the red costume with coloured rings around the eyes, the extraordinary agility and a propensity for delivering one-liners in the middle of a fight. The constant regeneration of his brain cells has turned the former Weapon X subject certifiably insane — so much so that he realises he's in a comic book, and frequently refers to the fact.
Although he began life as a villain, the Merc With A Mouth was given his own title in although cancelled in , Marvel's having another crack later this year and is now officially a hero. And one of the most entertaining ones around.
Mutant with a healing factor which constantly regenerates his cancer-ridden body , enhanced strength and agility, a variety of swords and daggers and the ability to wisecrack like no-one else. After that X-Men Origins: Wolverine appearance, Ryan Reynolds finally got his bona fide Deadpool solo movie made. And, boy, did it connect with fans, electrifying first Comic-Con and then the box office to sequel-guaranteeing effect.
He once had his head cut off - and survived. His healing factor kicking in once the errant noggin was reattached. Though she was introduced as a new recruit to fairly conventional superhero team Stormwatch, she became a key player in the more ambitious, ambiguous and generally cooler line-up mostly known as The Authority. Various flashbacks have filled in her previous history as a World War II spy, a s space-woman and a s British superheroine, involved in a longstanding conflict with an alternate reality Sliding Albion where England rules the world thanks to collaboration with aristocratic aliens.
Union jack t-shirt, bad temper, alcoholism, tough-but-posh British accent and control over electricity. We're thinking Keira Knightley or Rosamund Pike. When she died, she was replaced by another newborn century baby, Jenny Quantum. Besides having superheroic powers, the naive young robot grappled with human emotions and personal interaction. He also got into at least one destructive fight with another robot or super-powered baddie each issue.
Spiky shiny 'hair', red boots and his theme song: On your flight into space! There was a live-action TV series in Japan in , and several episodes were cut together into a feature film, but Tetsuwan Atomo became internationally known well, famous in America thanks to an animated TV show which began in and was imported to the US as Astro Boy.
The English name Astro Boy was selected after the closer translation 'the Mighty Atom' was rejected as "too generic" and, perhaps as infringement of the DC Comics shrinking hero. Choosing from the likes of Cassidy, Arseface, Herr Starr and Jesse Custer was tough, but if we hadn't plumped for the Saint Of Killers, he might have found us and killed us.
A grim, taciturn, implacable killing machine charged by God himself to be his gun for hire, the Saint is an engine of pure hatred, driven by his thirst for vengeance his family were killed, which precipitated his fall from grace. He's like the Terminator with a mullet. Indestructible and inexorable — like death himself — he's so badass that he manages to kill both the Devil and — spoiler warning! Which makes him just about the most powerful character in the history of comic books, as far as we're concerned.
The Angel of Death reinvented as a cowboy: Ennis always saw the character as a combo of Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood although his artist, Steve Dillon, and Preacher cover artist Glenn Fabry made him look ten times more physically imposing. Cult status already looks assured. He made a very brief cameo appearance in Ennis' excellent DC series, Hitman, about a wise-cracking assassin plying his trade in Gotham City.
The 'old' Green Lantern Allan Scott had a magic ring, but fearless test pilot Hal Jordon was given his 'power ring' by a dying alien who recruited him to take his place in a corps of space cops run by the Guardians of the Universe.
As long as he kept the ring charged while reciting his oath, GL could project all manner of giant green objects boxing gloves, etc and travel through space. Over the years, Jordan has been stripped of his ring and his life — but currently he's back in action as the primary GL of the DC Universe. Connoisseurs reckon he was at his best partnered with left-wing liberal superhero Green Arrow in a socially-conscious s run by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams collected as 'Hard Travelling Heroes'.
Power ring, domino mask, figure-hugging suit and his catch-oath: And that was it. There was definitely no Green Lantern movie starring, say, Ryan Reynolds in, say, Nothing to see here. At once self-assured yet nervous about his social interactions and encounters with Ramona Flowers, the girl who appears in Scott's dreams before he meets her, Scott is an enormously likeable character: The six volume comic part four was released this year , in case you've never picked it up, reflects Scott: A year-old Toronto youth who's just like you — except for the Manga eyes, the gay room-mate, the band called Sex Bob-omb, and the girl of his dreams literally , whose seven evil ex-boyfriends he must battle before they can become an item.
The World , an adaptation that's by turns manic and marvellous. Scott is named after a song by the Canadian all-girl band, Plumtree. You may be the one who gets to save mankind all the time, but it's your arch-enemy, the mega-meloned Mekon who makes our list! A giant swollen green head to accommodate his mighty, over-sized genetically engineered Venusian brain; a levitating chair to hump his atrophied limbs around on. Oh, and lots of evil plotting. The Mekon has yet to be brought to the big screen, though there was talk of a Dan Dare movie, with Garth Ennis rumoured to be working on the script.
If it ever happens we're sure it'll be CG, but we'd love to see someone in heavy-duty prosthetics, to be honest. And that man is The saga of Cerebus is made even more compelling by the fact that he's a borderline alcoholic hermaphrodite with according to his creator a voice like George C.
Scott and a general dislike for everything and everyone he comes into contact with. A character born of bizarre brilliance. Possessing of a bad temper, fine skills at hand-to-hand combat and a predilection for speaking in the third person.
Oh, and he's an aardvark. Despite numerous cross-fertilisation appearances in the likes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Flaming Carrot comics, Cerebus has never and is rather unlikely to ever make the leap to the big screen - just look what happened to Howard The Duck.
If it did ever happen, however, we're thinking Warwick Davis in the aardvark suit and Danny Huston providing the voice. Cerebus' name was originally an accidental misspelling of Cerberus, the mythical three-headed dog who guarded the gate of Hades in ancient Greek myth.
A mess of contradictions — he's a devout Catholic who dresses up as a devil, he's a lawyer by day, while getting up to some pretty intense, and illegal, vigilantism by night — Daredevil has never enjoyed the following of a Hulk or a Spidey, but he's a compelling, layered and visually striking character who's attracted some of the best talent in the business.
He also has incredible agility and balance. Although he was by no means the first choice, Ben Affleck actually had a decent stab at playing DD in Mark Steven Johnson 's flick. Charlie Cox has taken the part and run with it in a Netflix adaption that's afforded plenty of screentime for both Daredevil and his real-life alter ego.
There's more to come too. Appearing as the protagonist of Brian Azzarello's Bullets, Graves offers those who have been wronged the chance for revenge without consequences, if only they're prepared to take it.
A briefcase, a gun, 'untraceable' bullets and incontrovertible proof against the single person behind their woes, these are what Graves has to offer.
Interestingly, neither Graves nor the writers pass judgment on whether taking up the offer is right or wrong. Graves' motives are never made clear but he used to be a member of a group called The Minutemen and harbours a great deal of resentment for the shadowy organisation known as The Trust, who betrayed him in the past.
An older man in a nondescript, government official-style suit, Graves is meticulous, calculating and rarely displays his emotions. Someone unflappable, ice cold and possessed of extreme gravitas — we're thinking Chris Cooper or Alan Dale.