The Top 25 Coolest Char­ac­ters

we count down our pick of the sharpest cats in comics

Comic Heroes - - Contents -

We run down the sharpest cats in comics.

Buffy’s best pal Xan­der once mused on the na­ture of cool. “What is it? How do you get it? Who doesn’t have it? And who de­cides who doesn’t have it? What is the essence of cool?”

Who de­cides? We do, that’s who! There are many great char­ac­ters in comics, but only a select few can strut their way into the Comic He­roes’ cool list. It’s not about her­itage – Su­per­man is the daddy of all he­roes, but he’s way too earnest for this list. And it’s not nec­es­sar­ily about hav­ing su­per­pow­ers – Tank Girl has none (un­less you count own­ing a tank) but she’s a mil­lion times cooler than most.

We’ve also been wary when it comes to sur­face-level char­ac­ters. Yeah, sure, Spawn looks great with his big floaty cape, but there’s lit­tle to him be­yond that (ad­mit­tedly nifty) vis­ual.

What we were look­ing for were char­ac­ters who break rules, who grab your at­ten­tion and make you love them. And if they look great while wav­ing a sword or wear­ing a cape then all the bet­ter!

25 LUCI

There have been many comic book in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the devil over the years, but none quite as sar­donic and el­e­gant as Luci from Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked

+ The Divine. “Luci” (ged­dit?) looks like a fe­male Ber­lin-pe­riod Bowie and has a de­vi­ous wit, im­mac­u­late style and spe­cial pow­ers. You’d be a fool to trust her, but she’s still one of the more pleas­ant mem­bers of the Pan­theon.

24 Rorschach

Watch­men’s blot-faced vig­i­lante is a four-colour Travis Bickle – a vi­o­lent psy­chopath who’s only nom­i­nally on the side of right. Fans love him, but his pol­i­tics and bru­tal meth­ods are deeply ques­tion­able. Still, there’s no doubt­ing that Wal­ter Ko­vacs looks amaz­ing, with his trench coat and ever-shift­ing mask and he op­poses Ozy­man­dias’s mur­der­ous “for the greater good” de­ci­sions.

23 Rocket Rac­coon

He’s a fe­ro­cious cy­ber-fur­ball with a bad at­ti­tude and a taste for heavy weaponry. Rocket has been pro­pelled into pop­u­lar­ity by the Guardians of

the Galaxy movie, but comics read­ers have known how funny and fear­less he is since 1976. He’s also a dead­shot with a ri­fle and was named af­ter a Bea­tles song – now that’s pretty cool.

22 Ka­mala Khan

The cur­rent Ms. Marvel is Marvel’s first mus­lim su­per­hero, but that’s not why she’s on this list. Like Peter Parker, Ka­mala is a teenager first and a hero sec­ond and it’s be­cause of this that she’s be­come such an idol for out­siders of all ages. She has prob­lems, sure, but she also has a lot of fun and fol­lows her own path in life.

21 Spi­der Jerusalem

He’s old, he’s bald and he wears stupid glasses.

Trans­metropoli­tan’s Spi­der Jerusalem is still cooler than you. A mis­an­thropic com­bi­na­tion of Hunter S Thomp­son and HL Mencken, no one wields the f-bomb quite like Spi­der. Plus his weapon of choice is a Bowel Dis­rup­tor gun which will quite lit­er­ally make you crap your pants.

20 Dream of the End­less

The none-more-goth hero of Neil Gaiman’s Sand­man is of­ten in the back­ground, or only tan­gen­tially in­volved in the sto­ries we’re read­ing, but when he ap­pears he’s al­ways strik­ing. With ice-white skin, glim­mer­ing stars for eyes and a shock of black hair that Robert Smith would be en­vi­ous of, he be­came an in­stant style icon for gen­er­a­tions of fans.

19 BLACKWIDOW

The First Lady of the Avengers, Natalia “Natasha” Ro­manoff was a Rus­sian spy be­fore she de­fected. Now she’s an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Avenger. Re­source­ful, hard as nails and whip-smart, Ro­manoff is the think­ing woman’s su­per­hero, and able to hold her own in a team which in­cludes peo­ple with as­ton­ish­ing pow­ers. Her cos­tume is slick too – a cool but prac­ti­cal cat-suit.

18 JOHNY AL­PHA

2000 AD’s Johnny Al­pha is a Stron­tium Dog – a mu­tant and a bounty hunter. His glow­ing eyes, psy­chic pow­ers and ar­ray of fear­some weapons make him a fear­some op­po­nent, but he is also a fierce cham­pion of the un­der­dog. Do you want more proof of how cool he is? Johnny once caught Hitler and brought him into the fu­ture to face jus­tice.

17 DARE­DEVIL

Dare­devil’s ap­peal is sim­ple but clear: he’s the Bat­man that could be you. While Bruce Wayne was born into wealth, Matt Mur­dock was from the streets. Aban­doned by his mother and blinded by ra­dioac­tive ma­te­rial, he still never gave up. Us­ing his en­hanced other senses (a handy side-ef­fect of that lit­tle ra­dioac­tive mishap), he took to fight­ing crime wher­ever he found it.

16 JESSE CUSTER

The star of Garth En­nis’s

Preacher, and the tough­est cler­gy­man you’ll ever meet. Orig­i­nally a small town min­is­ter in the deep South, he merges with a su­per­nat­u­ral en­tity called Gen­e­sis and gains the Word of God – a power that gives him the abil­ity to con­trol any­one who hears him speak. De­spite this nifty gift, he re­mains deeply moral. He’s also, as a Bill Hicks fan, clearly got very good taste.

15 SIL­VER SURFER

Radd by name, rad by na­ture. Sil­ver Surfer was one of Jack Kirby’s finest cre­ations – an alien out­sider rid­ing the cos­mic winds on a surf­board. Prone to philo­soph­i­cal mus­ings, Radd would be­come a sym­bol of the ‘60s hippy world­view. “Now, I ride the Eter­nal winds once more! And none shall ever be my mas­ter!” Right on.

14 CAT­WOMAN

She has style, she has skills and she has the nerve to pull off dar­ing heists. Selina Kyle is the thief that stole Bat­man’s heart. A com­plex and in­trigu­ing char­ac­ter, you never quite know which way Cat­woman will turn and that makes her fas­ci­nat­ing to ob­serve. And let’s be hon­est – the black leather cat-suit is al­ways a win­ner. She may just be Bruce Wayne’s true love, but that’s not why she’s on this list. She’s here be­cause Selina Kyle does what­ever she wants and an­swers to no one but her­self.

13 KING MOB

A tall, bald as­sas­sin with a taste for fetish gear, James Bond and the oc­cult. King Mob is a deadly kung fu mas­ter, but in con­trast to many sim­i­lar comic char­ac­ters, he’s also trou­bled by the vi­o­lence that he’s in­volved in – by the end of The In­vis­i­bles he has re­nounced it com­pletely. He looks sus­pi­ciously like Grant Mor­ri­son did in the ‘90s...

12 BLADE

Blade has a fas­ci­nat­ing back story. The son of a pros­ti­tute bit­ten by the vam­piric Dea­con Frost, he was im­bued with some of those same vam­pire pow­ers, in­clud­ing a hugely pro­longed life. Handy, but let’s face it, the main rea­son why he’s on this list is be­cause of his amaz­ing vis­ual which com­bines a long leather coat and shades with great big swords. As­sisted by Wes­ley Snipes on­screen per­for­mance, Blade be­came an icon of the late ‘90s/early noughties when we all still thought The Ma­trix was the fu­ture.

11TANK GIRL

Of the time she may be, but there’s no doubt­ing Tank Girl’s con­tin­ued rel­e­vance. Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin struck an­ar­cho-punk gold when they came up with the ad­ven­tures of Re­becca Buck and her mu­tant kan­ga­roo boyfriend Booga. It was funny, it was filthy, the plots – when there were plots at all – were non­sen­si­cal and it fit­ted the mood of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s per­fectly.

10 NICK FURY JR

Orig­i­nal Nick Fury was hard as nails but not es­pe­cially cool. Then Mark Mil­lar and Bryan Hitch de­cided to turn him into Sa­muel L Jackson for the Ul­ti­mates line and it all fell into place. He was a slicker, more stylish fig­ure and the reg­u­lar Marvel uni­verse quickly ac­cepted this as the de­fin­i­tive ver­sion. Orig­i­nal Nick Fury has re­tired, and his African Amer­i­can son, Nick Fury, Jr. has taken his place.

09 HALO JONES

Halo Jones was con­ceived by Alan Moore and Ian Gib­son as a de­lib­er­ate con­trast to the usual space war­rior types. In­stead, she’s a stylish, re­lat­able and very hu­man char­ac­ter who just hap­pens to live in the 50th Cen­tury. When we first meet her, she’s an 18 year old punk. She later blasts off into space and we watch her grow up on her galac­tic ad­ven­tures.

08 IRON­MAN

A play­boy ge­nius with a toy box to ri­val Ham­leys – Tony Stark is the epit­ome of cool. Sharp, sexy, funny and not dragged down by bor­ing things like hu­mil­ity, Stark makes be­ing a su­per­hero look like it’s ac­tu­ally fun. He’s had some hard times along the way – no­tably fall­ing into al­co­holism dur­ing the “De­mon In A Bot­tle” sto­ry­line – but some­how he al­ways bounces back to save the world.

07 HELL BOY

What’s not to love about Hell­boy? A bright red de­mon with a fist of stone and a heart of gold, he’s been bat­tling the forces of evil since the early ‘90s when Mike Mig­nola first cre­ated the char­ac­ter.

Hell­boy’s ap­peal is vis­ceral and vis­ual – he’s big, burly, smokes a cigar and beats the crap out of any­thing or any­one that gets in his way – but he’s also an en­dear­ingly sweet fig­ure and his decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in hunt­ing down all man­ner of oc­cult nas­ties mean that you’d want him on your side in a bad sit­u­a­tion.

06 John Con­stan­tine

He may be bet­ter known these days for a dodgy US TV show, but John Con­stan­tine is one of the orig­i­nal rock stars of comics. A hard-liv­ing ma­gi­cian and oc­cult de­tec­tive from Liver­pool he drinks, smokes and fights his way through life, en­coun­ter­ing de­monic forces and sin­is­ter con­spir­a­cies along the way. Hell­blazer was the long­est run­ning Ver­tigo se­ries, un­til its can­cel­la­tion in 2013. That’s pretty much all down to the ap­peal of Con­stan­tine him­self. He’s a work­ing class hero who has lived through tri­umph and tragedy, but al­ways has a sharp line and a sense of hu­mour. He’s part of the main DC line now, but when we cast our minds to Con­stan­tine, it’s the Ver­tigo ver­sion we’re think­ing of.

05 Death of the En­dles

If you had to meet a per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of Death, what form would you rather it took? A spooky skele­tal Grim Reaper type – or a svelte, stylish goth girl? Chances are you’d choose the lat­ter! With Death, Gaiman took a state that we’ll all nat­u­rally pre­dis­posed to fear and made it a lit­tle less scary. His Death is a sweet, good-na­tured fig­ure who helps the de­ceased on their way. The char­ac­ter be­came an in­stant fan favourite – and an easy cosplay char­ac­ter for any­one will­ing to splash out on an ankh neck­lace and a black t-shirt.

04 Wolver­ine

Orig­i­nally in­tro­duced as a vil­lain in The In­cred­i­ble Hulk #180, Len Wein and John Romita, Sr’s creation has had more stay­ing power than any­one could have imag­ined. A scrappy short-arse with bladed “claws”, he’s rough, tough and seem­ingly in­de­struc­tible – a hot-headed fighter for jus­tice who won the hearts of su­per­hero fans. To­day, he’s eas­ily the most pop­u­lar of the X-Men – due in no small part to Hugh Jack­man’s great per­for­mance in the movies. But he’s got lay­ers, too. The comics eked out the mys­tery sur­round­ing his back­ground for decades, and we’ve seen this cool Canuck at both his peak and wracked with de­spair. Cur­rently Wolver­ine is dead. It won’t stick. There’s no grave that can keep this tough mother down.

03 Mi­chonne

When Mi­chonne first ap­peared (in The Walk­ing Dead #19) she was a mys­te­ri­ous, mono­syl­labic war­rior – a silent killer armed with a katana and ac­com­pa­nied by two arm­less zom­bie com­pan­ions. For a comic that had re­mained rel­a­tively grounded un­til that point, she was a strik­ing breath of fresh air. But Robert Kirk­man and Char­lie Ad­lard were quick to de­velop her into one of the most sym­pa­thetic char­ac­ters in the book. As the se­ries has pro­gressed we’ve seen Mi­chonne’s un­flinch­ing loy­alty to Rich Grimes, delved into her tragic past and watched her slay count­less mem­bers of the un­dead. Then, af­ter sur­viv­ing the “All Out War” arc, they went and gave her a boat. Yep, Mi­chonne is now a zom­bie-killing pirate.

02 Spi­der-Man

There’s some­thing about the Spi­der-Man out­fit that changes its wearer. Peter Parker? An angsty sci­ence geek. Miles Mo­rales? A bit of a dork. But Spi­der-Man? Now that guy’s cool in ev­ery in­car­na­tion. As soon as the mask comes on the web­slinger starts crack­ing wise and fight­ing crime. It’s to­tal reader wish­ful­fill­ment, al­beit with a darker side. Both Peter and Miles have faced an end­less bar­rage of tri­als and trau­mas over the years, and have had to learn to use their pow­ers re­spon­si­bly (we won’t say the line). Still, as he swings through the city streets, Spi­der-Man makes be­ing a su­per­hero look like the most fun ever.

01 Bat­man

He’s the world’s great­est de­tec­tive, the Caped Cru­sader, the Dark Knight. He’s Bat­man – the coolest char­ac­ter in all of comics. And here’s why...

Bruce Wayne may be of­ten por­trayed as a vengeance-ob­sessed loner, and that’s fair. But re­ally there’s a Bat­man for all sea­sons. You want grim n’ gritty? Try Frank Miller or Brian Az­zarello’s work. Crazy sci-fi more your style? Then how about some of the Sil­ver Age strips? High camp? Well, there’s a great Bat­man ‘66 book. He’s in­fin­itely adapt­able. Still, there’s no doubt­ing that in­her­ent dark­ness does give him an edge. He’s a vig­i­lante, some­one who plays by his own rules and his cos­tume is a hymn to the eter­nal al­lure of black. And some­how the fact that he’s fal­li­ble, that he can be beaten and doesn’t have im­mense pow­ers, makes him all the bet­ter. It forces him to be two steps ahead of ev­ery­one else in the su­per­hero game. He has the best back­story, the coolest cos­tume and smarts to spare. And just look at him...

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