By Ben Morse
Interestingly, despite co-creating perhaps the most influential example archetype of the genre with Spider-Man, Stan Lee did not like teen super heroes.
Or rather, Stan did not care for the state of teen heroes when he and his legendary collaborators like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko set about creating the Marvel Universe in the early '60s. Unimpressed by the idea of young sidekicks existing solely to provide their mentors with somebody to rescue, Stan and friends insisted that their
teen stars, characters like Spidey and the Human Torch, be fully realized and able to stand on their own.
In the years since, scores of terrific teens have littered the Marvel Universe, from Kitty Pryde to the revitalization of one of those old chestnuts Stan hated in the revival of Bucky.
This week, we have some of Marvel's most respected pros share their favorite heroes of the younger generation.
It's Friday, so kick back, relax and enjoy.
TOM BREVOORT (Marvel Executive Editor):
There's really no other choice besides Spider-Man. Spidey practically invented the teenaged super hero genre—did the Robin of the '40s and '50s really think and act like a teen?—and just about everything anybody's ever done with a teen character in comics stems from the lessons of Spidey.
PAUL CORNELL (upcoming writer of CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI: 13):
I'm very fond of the Young Avengers and the Runaways, but I'd particularly like to single out Chase from the latter. He's a thoroughly unrounded young gentleman, a real boy in every way, and great fun. He was a Joss Whedon character before Joss started writing that series.
TODD NAUCK (artist of AMERICAN DREAM):
My favorite teens would be the original New Mutants. My favorite character is Cannonball. Back in the New Mutant days, he was gangly, awkward, and insecure about who he was as well as his powers. He had such a hard time learning how to master them. He could pretty much go forward and that was it. He couldn't turn
at all or slow down. And he pretty much stopped when something big enough was in his way that he couldn't blast through.
As that series wrapped up and he moved on to X-Force and, later, the X-Men, he started to gain control of his powers and confidence as a leader. It was cool to see him grow up. But back when I was a gangly, awkward teenager, it was nice to have a character I could relate to.
NICK LOWE (Marvel editor):
Teen Iron Man! I know I'm opening myself up for hatred, but it's true. I've never read those stories, but I love the idea. Hey, it worked in YOUNG AVENGERS!
CHRIS YOST (co-writer of X-FORCE):
Spider-Man has always been my favorite hero, teen or otherwise. Even with the powers, even with the costume, he was just this kid
that was always in way
over his head. He's had no business doing what he's doing, especially not when he was in high school. His powers are cool, don't get me wrong, but he's certainly not the strongest, or the fastest. But he never gave up. No matter how outclassed, no matter how scared, no matter the personal cost to himself, he's always going to do the right thing.
CHRIS ELIOPOULOS (writer/artist of FRANKLIN RICHARDS):
I've always liked Nova. The idea of an average teen who is called into service by a galactic police force to fly the cosmos is awesome. Wish it were me.
RALPH MACCHIO (Marvel Executive Editor):
I'm with Stan on this one. I'm not much of a fan of teen heroes. If I picked a favorite it would be Rick Jones because his life has touched so many characters in the Marvel Universe, culminating in his starring role in that incredible limited series we did, AVENGERS FOREVER. He's been involved with the Hulk, the Teen Brigade, Captain America, Captain Marvel...you name it and ol' Rick's had his hand in there. Take that Snapper Carr!
HUMBERTO RAMOS (upcoming artist of RUNAWAYS):
Spider-Man, of course—is there any other?
FRED VAN LENTE (writer of WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS):
Well, that's a no-brainer for me. Hate to sound unoriginal, but I definitely have to say Kitty Pryde, who I have so much fun writing in WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS because she's basically a normal, well-adjusted 13-year old, and so she stands out like a sore thumb among the angst-ridden X-Men. She's like that normal girl on "The Munsters."
MIKE PERKINS (artist of HOUSE OF M: AVENGERS):
Cloak & Dagger
First and foremost coming to mind are Cloak and Dagger. Two homeless teens, drugs, addiction and strange new powers leading into a bond of friendship...and that
[Rick] Leonardi artwork! Gorgeous.
Then there's also Nova. This character was my
Spider-Man. A teen hero endowed with great power, accompanied by even greater angst.
Retroactively, I'd have to put my vote in for Bucky. Ed [Brubaker has] done some fantastic work in setting up James Buchanan Barnes as a true bad-ass, fighting in the second World War from an early age and doing the Allies' dirty work—[though] one could argue that Toro from the Invaders was tougher due to fighting on the front in nothing but his speedos.
...and then, of course, there [are] the Spellbinders. Got a soft spot in my creative heart for this magical teen team and could easily see them becoming an established part of the Marvel Universe. The digest reprint of the series is still available written by the magnificent Mike Carey and pencilled by...ahem...me.
MARC GUGGENHEIM (writer of YOUNG X-MEN):
The New Warriors
I am hugely partial to the [Fabian] Nicieza/[Mark] Bagley NEW WARRIORS. Those were some damn, damn fine comics. And from the set-up of the book you [would] never [have] expected it. They're a great example that a lame idea can be flawlessly executed to make a great book.
STEVE SCOTT (artist of MARVEL ADVENTURES HULK):
Peter Parker. I was always able to identify with him. He was the geeky guy that always had women and money problems. It was the first comic that I had ever read where I would be just as happy if the story never had him actually change into costume.
TOMMY LEE EDWARDS (artist of MARVEL 1985):
Although it's probably pretty generic, I'd have to go with Spider-Man. When I was a kid, I drew the webbing on a red ski-mask and wore it constantly Even in the hottest of summers. I wanted to be Peter Parker so bad, that I even had dreams about it. I remember waking up from a rather vivid one being convinced that I was destined to become Spider-Man when I reached my teenage years. I went to the window, stared out at the moonlit sky, and prayed to God for a sign of this being my true destiny. Nothing happened and I eventually went back to bed.
CHRISTOS GAGE (co-writer of AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE):
I always liked Kitty Pryde. There was something about the way she was trying to fit in among the X-Men when they all had far more experience and team cohesiveness than her. It made her an endearing character. I especially liked it when she put together a costume out of fragments of other costumes and it looked like something out of a disco nightmare. I actually saw a young lady dressed like that at New York Comic-Con, and thought it was the most impressive costume of the show!
ANDY LANNING (co-writer of NOVA):
My favorite teen hero has to be Nova! He had it all: high school worries, teen insecurities, bullying jocks, overbearing parents oh and the powers of an alien cosmic cop with the force of a thousand cobalt bombs!! What's not to love?!
KAARE ANDREWS (writer/artist of SPIDER-MAN: REIGN):
Comparing anyone in Spidey´s age group to the main arachno-dweeb himself is like comparing ice cream and coleslaw.
TOM DEFALCO (writer of AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL):
My favorite teen hero is May "Mayday" Parker, the daughter of Spider-Man because she's just as
responsible as her dad and as beautiful as her mom...and I've never known her to make a deal with a demon.
TONY ISABELLA (former writer of THE CHAMPIONS):
In the here and now, I really enjoy Peter Parker and his schoolmates in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. They're better written than the real teens I know—I'm the father of two—but not so much that they don't ring true. I predict a bright future for this Brian Michael Bendis kid.
But my favorite teens have to be Patsy Walker and her pals.
[I remember PATSY WALKER #99 which] featured the "surprise meeting" between the crimson-haired Patsy and Linda Carter, Student Nurse, then starring in her own recently-launched title. However, rare as such crossovers were back then, it wasn't why I wanted this comic book for my collection. I wanted it because of the issue's other
surprise guest star:
Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.
"Mr. K" makes an unexpected trip to Centerville, bucolic home town of Patsy and her pals. When a reporter asks the reason for the visit, Khrushchev replies:
"I want to find out how the American teenagers
feel about things! Because they
will be the adults we will be dealing with soon!"
Patsy's posse mistake Khrushchev him for a butcher who works in town's new meat market and greet him warmly. Though confused by his and his interpreter's use of the word "comrade," they happily answer his strange questions.
Would these teenagers rather work than play? Of course. Who wouldn't?
Would they prefer to work in a factory or go to dances? At this point, the kids start wondering if they're on "Candid Camera" or something, but, yes, they'd rather go to dances.
The smug Khrushchev thinks he's heard enough and is convinced American youths are weak, soft, and decadent. Then his translator asks one more question:
"You luxury-living teenagers would never be willing to fight
to defend your so-called freedoms
, would you?"
That's when Patsy Walker sees...ah...red.
worked in a factory
in World War Two, and I'd do the same thing in a minute
if I had
On the flight home, the worried Khrushchev exclaims:
"No matter how
many bombs and rockets we build, how can anyone ever
beat those crazy Americans???"