40 Emma Frost
AKA, The White Queen
First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #129
Created by: Chris Claremont, John Byrne
Once voted "Hottest comic book character" Emma Frost is renowned her revealing, fetishistic costumes. A powerful telepath, she was introduced as a member of the Hellfire Club – enemies of the X-Men – but reformed and went on to become headteacher at an alternate school for young mutants, the Massachusetts Academy in Generation X.
39 Marvel Man
AKA, Miracle Man
Publisher: Currently Marvel (but it‘s complicated)
First appearance: Marvelman #25, 1954
Created by: Mike Anglo
A character more renowned for the legal shenanigans surrounding his ownership than anything else, Marvelman started off as copyright-skirting British version of DC’s Captain Marvel. Nowadays, he's more famous for his 1980’s Alan Moore scripted incarnation in the UK magazine Warrior.. The Watchmen creator resurrected Marvelman in a post-modern strip in which his 1959s adventures had all been an hallucination induced as part of a government experiment. And then it just got weirder, as did the character's publication history. Eclipse comics in the US nabbed the rights to reprint the Warrior strips, but Marvel, which now had a hero called Captain Marvel, forced Eclipse to change the superhero’s name to Miracle Man. When Eclipse ran out of the Warrior strips, it published new stories written by Moore, and after that by Neil Gaiman, until Eclipse ceased trading. Since then, there has been an ongoing battle as to who owns the rights to Marvelman (even Spawn creator Todd McFarlane became involved when he bought Eclipse’s back catalogue) but that may – emphasis, may – have all been sorted out: At the 2009 San Diego Comic Con, Marvel Comics announced they it had purchased the rights to Marvelman "one of the most important comic book characters in decades.”
38 Scarlet Witch
First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #4, 1964
Created by: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Life has come full circle for Wanda Maximoff. Daughter of Magneto (and sister of Quicksilver) she was introduced to readers as a member of the Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants. Reformed, she became a member of a daring new Avengers line-up put together by Captain America which featured a number of ex super-crims (including her bro’ and Hawkeye). She became a virtual constant in the Avengers line-up for the next few decades, even marrying one team-mate, the android Vision, then having an affair with another, Wonder Man. But then she went all mad and evil, and had her powers shut down and her memory wiped by Doctor Strange. And throughout all this, nobody has ever quite managed to define what her powers are, except she does stuff to stuff.
Publisher: Image Comics
First appearance: Spawn #1, 1992
Created by: Todd McFarlane
Murdered CIA agent Al Simons is sent to Hell where he makes a deal with the devil Malebolgia so that he can see his wife again. He agrees to become a general in Hell's army, and returns to Earth, disfigured but with superpowers and a living cape to do Hell‘s bidding. And grumble about it forever more. Hell seems to be bad at picking generals if Spawn's lack of dedication is anything to judge by.
36 The Punisher
First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #129, 1974
Created by: Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, John Romita Sr
Marvel’s answer to Dirty Harry, The Punisher is a revenge-fuelled, taciturn vigilante with a love of big guns and a really unfortunate track record on screen.
35 The Spirit
Publisher: Eisner-Iger Studio/DC
First appearance: Spirit Section #1, 1940
Created by: Will Eisner
Luckily, Frank Miller‘s disastrous screen adaptation this year hasn't irredeemably harmed the popularity of Will Eisner’s celebrated noir masked crimefighter. The star of a phenomenally successful newspaper strip, The Spirit had no superpowers; an iconic blue rain mack, a mask and a urge to dispense his own sense of justice were all he needed to keep the streets clean.
34 Silver Surfer
First appearance: Fantastic Four #48
Created by: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Surfing and ’60s psychedelia combined to bring us Marvel’s first truly cosmic hero. Starting life as the herald of world eater Galactus, he soon broke contract and discovered his nobility of spirit… not to mention his self-pitying introspection. Okay, your home planet has been devoured. Get over it. You've got a really cool space-faring surfboard. That's cool, dude. Cowabunga.
33 Captain America
First appearance: Captain America Comics #1
Created by: Joe Simon, Jack Kirby
Steve Rogers becomes the first and last test subject for a US Government super soldier serum during World War II which gives him enhanced strength, speed and agility. Equipped with a red, white and blue shield, he's soon teaching those nasty Nazi a thing or two. After the war, he's accidentally frozen for a couple of decades, but thaws out in time to join the Avengers and develop a severe case of head-wing envy with Thor.
First appearance: V For Vendetta #1, 1982
Created by: Alan Moore, David Lloyd
There are a few heroes in this list who’ve spent time as supervillains as well, but V must rate as your most morally ambiguous choice. He's a terrorist, guys, whichever way you look at it. A terrorist with his own values system, a legitimately corrupt target, a bizarre charisma and a penchant for Guy Fawkes masks, sure, but he still kills innocents.
31 Doctor Manhattan
First appearance: Watchmen #1, 1986
Created by: Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons
The only truly superpowered character in the Watchmen, Doctor Manhattan is the blue-skinned, chrome-domed manipulator of atoms who needs reminding to put his pants on.
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