Top Ten - Superheroes
Top Ten of Superheroes
I recently wrote a blog post about the top ten sci-fi superheroes and it got me thinking that, for perspective, and just for fun, I should commit to print my list of the absolute best superheroes of any kind, sci-fi or not. This is a very difficult and subjective business but I will not let that put me off.
I am not the first brave generator of Internet content to put together such a list. I found a list of superheroes ranked on ComicVine.com but the upper reaches are the usual boring lineup of Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. I found another list of superheroes at Ranker, and that had a very similar selection of the usual suspects. The list below, I think you will find, should be a little different. Let’s start at the bottom, with:
10 Nick Fury
Nick Fury has been the head of a super-secret force of spies named S.H.I.E.L.D. since 1965, though the roots of the character are even older. The organization’s primary nemesis is the international terrorist organization Hydra. Fury is a badass, has a cool eye patch, is a heavyweight boxer, holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and a brown belt in Jiu Jitsu. He is trained as a paratrooper, demolitions expert, and is the wearer of a really tight outfit with a lot of straps. Fury has access to the entirety of S.H.I.E.L.D’s highly advanced arsenal of weaponry. He is extremely retro and a lot of fun, in both the old version, and new, improved Samuel L. Jackson version.
Barbara Gordon is the iconic Batgirl, and she has been badly served by the publisher of her comic books in the past. I’m talking about the ugly misogyny and stupidity of Alan Moore’s graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke. Barbara Gordon’s career as a hero was brutally ended, in a story line I have never forgiven anyone involved for. DC subsequently got a clue and relaunched Barbara Gordon as the titular character again, and is going about retconning the entire ugly episode out of existence. The comic has in its most recent incarnation been praised for its fun, fresh approach to the character and for Batgirl’s realistic new costume design. She’s a cool hero – definitely top ten – and she is going from strength to strength.
Hellboy was created by writer-artist Mike Mignola, and is what I consider to be the perfect expression of his weird and super-atmospheric take on comic books. He is a half-demon, summoned from Hell to Earth by Nazi occultists, but he’s a good guy. He was rescued by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, and became the center around which was formed the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.). He usually tangles with uncanny forces including Nazi cultists, witches, and creatures from folklore. He is not your usual hero, but for the art alone he deserves a place on this list.
7 Viv Vision
Viv is a robot who has joined the Champions, alongside Ms. Marvel, Nova, Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Cyclops. She is written as a calm and reserved, robotic character, but her life is a complete soap opera, which even has an evil twin. Viv has a bunch of superhuman powers including being able to control her density and solidity enough to pass through solid objects. Viv can also fly through the air weightlessly, but the power that her teenage teammates most value is her ability to commune with nearby computers and make sure they always have a good internet connection. I love the Champions, and robotic Viv is my troubled favourite.
I have a real soft spot for tough guy superheroes who continually take a beating, and just get back up to take some more. Daredevil is a great example of this type of superhero. He doesn’t have much in the way of superpowers, but he just will not quit, and he is “The man without fear.” I remember being fascinated by that idea when I was a kid, and I still am.
Storm is one of those heroes that has been reinvented radically at various points, but I always liked her original look that made its debut in 1975. I’m such a sucker for anything with that 1970s vibe. She is able to control the weather and atmosphere and is considered to be one of the most powerful mutants on the planet. Storm is a member of the X-Men, and has led the group at various times. When Marvel and DC Comics published a DC vs. Marvel miniseries in 1996, Storm was pitted against Wonder Woman in a one-on-one battle and emerged victorious, taking her into the top five.
4 Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange is problematic, for numerous reasons, but I can’t help but be intrigued by him and the magical world – or worlds – he inhabits. He hops from one dimension to another, tangling with beings of cosmic power, and these magical battles are captured on paper in beautiful, abstract patterns of circles, beams and shadows. It is on a strip like Doctor Strange that a talented artist can really show what they can do. For never being boring, Doctor Strange earns his place.
Hawkeye (Katherine “Kate” Bishop) is a member of the Young Avengers. In her typical confident way, she invited herself to join the team after freeing them and helped them in their battle against Kang the Conqueror. She is not the only Hawkeye, there is also Clint Barton of the Avengers and Wyatt McDonald of the Squadron Supreme, but she’s the most interesting. To earn some money, Kate has spent some time as a half-superhero, half-private eye, and this period of the comic book is sublime in writing, art, characterization, covers, pacing… just everything. Hawkeye is highly skilled at archery, fencing, swordsmanship, jujitsu, boxing, and other forms of combat. She carries two battle staves similar to those once used by Mockingbird, a sword similar to the Swordsman’s, as well as Clint Barton’s bow and arrows.
Supergirl is great, and is every bit as powerful as her more famous cousin. For my money, her stories are more interesting than Superman’s and so I have no problem having her at the very top of a list like this, in a position you would be usually more likely to find her male counterpart in. The original and most well known Supergirl is Kara Zor-El, the younger cousin of Superman, and she made her first appearance way back in May 1959. As part of The New 52, Kara’s origin was rebooted – not for the first time – and an amnesiac Kara awakens after her life pod crashes to Earth in the midst of a meteor shower. I was reading the book at the time and enjoyed it a lot. It was supremely atmospheric, intriguing, moody, but there was just one problem. The costume. ToplessRobot.com also noticed that Supergirl’s costume was terrible:
Instead of wearing a leotard with a skirt over it, or pants, or just shorts, she seems to be wearing a tight longsleeve shirt that ends right at her waist. And then she has some kind of big S-Shield shaped vagina protector on that’s attached to the front of it. It’s the weirdest thing I might have ever seen worn on a mainstream female superhero from a major publisher, or at least one of the most offensive.
It’s gone now, thank goodness, and Supergirl can again fight cosmic evildoers with some dignity. Her look is constantly and subtly changing, but not her heart, the thing that taks her to the top of the list… almost…
1 Black Panther
Black Panther is Marvel’s version of Batman, and right now both he and Marvel are in the ascendant. You might expect to see Batman at the top of a list like this, but I think he has been tainted too badly by Zack Snyder, and will have to have some serious work put into him to be properly rehabilitated. He has mystical powers, is a scientist, has hand-to-hand combat skills, and access to wealth and advanced Wakandan technology to combat his enemies. He has had a long history, over which he has very much evolved into something very special. He combines afrofuturism with two-fisted justice and is a real king – of Wakanda – and a fictional king, of this top ten of superheroes.
Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy
Galaxy Dog is an epic space opera. What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet, brings to light an ancient archaeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy. This is the story of his rise, and the story of the fierce and independent woman and the feisty robot who help him.