Being the resident comic book nerd of my friend group, people often come to me with questions when they want to start getting into comics. What titles would they like? Which books should they pick up? Plus, with all the new movies in the works, people want to get involved just as much with the hero on the page as with the hero on the big screen. Thus, I’ve decided to occasionally post a comprehensive collection of Comic Book heroes and what to expect of them.
NOTE: I won’t be doing characters that are mainly just a part of the team. I will be sticking primarily to characters that tend to shine as individuals. I plan on doing a separate list to highlight teams.
Marvel Women – 1
- Character Summary: Peter Parker – “Common Man” gifted with extreme power and potential, generally bad at juggling obligations and scheduling; Science focused, studious; Generally nerdy; Very quick wit.
- Common Themes: With great power come great responsibility; Hot chicks dig nerds (with good bodies and handsome jawlines)
- Good For: Anyone, really, but particularly those interested in a “relatable” hero, or rather a hero who has very real world problems; People who like flashier fights with a focus on speed instead of raw power; People who like Batman (rogues gallery, “no kill” philosophy, etc.); People who like a sprinkling of romance in their comics
- Go To Series: Amazing Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Superior Spider-Man (for veterans)
- Stand Out Stories: Kraven’s Last Hunt, Spider-Man No More,The Night Gwen Stacy Died, Spider-Man Blue (For Romance), The Death of Jean DeWolff, Ultimate Spider-Man: Venom
- Character Summary: Johnny Blaze (Later Danny Ketch, whose back story is a might bit flat, but has quite a few good stories during his run with the mantel in the 90s) – Stunt motorcyclist and demonology hobbyist; Was infused with the demon Zarathos, a Spirit of Vengeance, by the demon Mephisto, who was jealous of everyone giving Zarathos so much attention… Holy shit, that’s balla. Ghost Rider has slowly increased in power as time has gone along and picked up new skills and weapons. In his most recent Johnny Blaze incarnation, he was often referenced as one of the most (if not the most) powerful hero in the Marvel universe. Also, he shoots Hellfire at people, which is fire that burns the individual’ FRIGGIN SOUL. Nice.
- Common Themes: Heavy Good vs. Evil, but also an emphasis on necessary evils; Punishment and retribution; Heaven vs Hell; Losing Control; “Good” not being the same as “innocent”
- Good For: Motorcycle lovers, People who like Constantine or Hellboy, People looking for a less diplomatic hero, People looking for more of a “wrong side of the tracks” hero instead of some white boy from Queens.
- Go To Series: Spirits of Vengeance, All New Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider (1990s)
- Stand Out Stories: Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ghost Rider Annual 2, Crossroads, The Curse of Johnathan Blaze, Trials and Tribulations
- Character Summary: Thor… He’s a Norse God… Does Godly stuff, talks in Odinspeak (or faux Shakespearean). He hits things with a hammer and shoots lightning.
- Common Themes: Fantasy and Mythology; Earth vs. Other Dimensions; Angels vs. Devils; The strong protecting the weak.
- Good For: Fantasy and Mythology buffs; People who like movies with a lot of heavy hitting fights and a deep rooted mythos; DnD buffs
- Go To Series: Thor: The Mighty Avenger; Thor: God of Thunder; Thor: Vikings (MAX)
- Stand Out Stories: The Surtur Saga, The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill, WorldEngine, The God Butcher
- Character Summary: Tony Stark – Depends on the period: Earlier depictions see Tony as the millionaire playboy type – sarcastic, brash, entitled and alcoholic (A La Robert Downey version); Later iterations see Tony become a bit more serious and slightly ruthless – More attached to the government and SHIELD, Iron Man becomes more calculated, organized and the type of person to do whatever it takes when he sees a solution, often putting him at odds with his team.
- Common Themes: Science!; Militarization and weaponization of… things; Authority and challenging authority; Dangers of technology
- Good For: People who like a healthy dose of politics and corporations in their action; People who like tech based anything and super science (time travel, death rays, giant robots, etc.)
- Go To Series: Invincible Iron Man, Iron Man (Vol. 1), Ultimate Iron Man
- Stand Out Stories: Demon in a Bottle, Extremis, Armor Wars, War Machine, Doomquest
- Character Summary: Ben Grimm – Ever-lovin and Blue-eyed; Tough and Street Smart; Ever loyal friend to Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards); Along with the rest of the Fantastic Four, Ben was hit with high levels of Galactic Radiation during an expedition to space; Unlike his team, Ben’s immense powers came with an immense physical change, morphing his body into a rock-like golem; His appearance is a constant struggle for Ben, who spends much of his early years in this form depressed and frustrated by his new form; Despite this, Ben is very much the heart of his team and even the Marvel Universe itself; It is referenced a myriad of time that everyone is the universe knows Ben, regardless of their team or affiliation, and he knows them; Ben has been known to throw parties for superheroes and even hold poker tournaments; He’s like the Marvel Universe’s friendly uncle.
- Common Themes: Inner Beauty; Never forgetting one’s roots; Religion and faith vs Science; Strength in spirit beyond Strength in body; Punching the Hulk in his big, dumb, green face
- Good For: Fans of stories with a heavy emphasis in family, friendship and home; People who like Shrek (think about it); Anyone looking for a hero that can pound the crap out of anything, but often does so with a groan and snide remark, as if he were being told to do the dishes.
- Go To Series: The Thing, Any Fantastic Four title, The Thing: Freakshow
- Stand Out Stories: That Night, Remembrances of Things Past, Time Runs Like Sand, Thing’s involvement in Civil War
- Character Summary: Clinton Barton, an average dude who is awesome with projectiles and has had more name/career changes than most Hip Hop artists. Personality-wise, he tends to vary based on who rights him, much like Hank Pym. In some titles, he’s a fairly tragic and brash individual. In others, he maintains a sort of quipiness a la Spider Man (though this is more often when he is written in as a secondary character). However, all iterations tend to agree that Clint is locked in a sort of guilt or repentance or regret spiral for the various dumb/bad stuff he’s done… Also, he died and was brought back by Scarlet Witch… which can really screw with your head.
- Common Themes: Powers vs Humanity; The price of ruthlessness; Being the best possible, no mater what the restrictions
- Good For: People who want to see how normal human heroes feel when constantly surrounded by Gods and guys in billion dollar armor; Archery buffs; Green Arrow fans; Fans of Matt Damon type action stars instead of the Stallone type.
- Go To Series: West Coast Avengers (Vol 1), Solo Avengers (1-5), Hawkeye (Vol 2), Hawkeye VS Deadpool
- Stand Out Stories: The Reunion, Hawkeye (90s mini-series), Avengers #16 (Vol 1)
So that there is part one of what hopefully will turn into a multi-part, educational, not annoying series of posts. So, who would you like to see next? What stories did I forget to mention? Let me know!