Take 10

Take 10: We Love the '90s

Go back in time to the era of hologram covers and big guns with the Secret Cabal’s 10 favorite characters from the ‘90s

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By Ben Morse Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. The '90s: a much-maligned period in comics history, and yet one that produced many a memorable and successful story as well as a score of awesome characters. The '90s were about more than just pouches, guns, trench coats and more pouches—though all those things ruled. As the bulk of the Secret Cabal stand as proud, card-carrying children of the '90s, they decided this week to show the world why they loved living in the era of chromium, with a list of the coolest heroes and villains to come out of or flourish from 1990 to 1999. For each character, you also get a special spotlight comic courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. As always, these picks reflect the personal choices of the Secret Cabal, not the official opinion of Marvel or Marvel.com, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!

10. DARKHAWK First Appearance: DARKHAWK #1 (1991) Learn More…here Why He Makes The List: "Take the 'troubled teen' aspect of Spider-Man, combine it with awesome armor ala Iron Man and then throw some crazy cosmic back story in for good measure and stir—how could this not be a recipe for radness? Darkhawk was an entertaining mash-up of fantastic concepts that probably came about 10-15 years too soon. Nonetheless, Chris Powell was—and remains—a fun character with an undeniably cool costume." – Secret Cabal member Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: THE LONERS #1—Darkhawk and other heroes of the past attempt to hang up the tights but find the lure of adventure too strong!

9. CROSSBONES First Appearance: CAPTAIN AMERICA v1 #359 (1989) Learn More…here Why He Makes The List: "Captain America hasn't historically had the expansive rogues gallery of Spider-Man or the X-Men, so when a guy like Crossbones comes along and sticks around, you know he's got that special something. Brock Rumlow has the cool costume and bad ass skills that would have gotten him through the '90s as a popular character, but his sadistic code of twisted honor and ruthless drive have made him a fixture in Cap's nightmares on into the present day." – Annihilator882 Currently Appearing In: CAPTAIN AMERICA Spotlight Comic: CAPTAIN AMERICA v5 #18—Crossbones and Sin mess with Captain America in jolly old England!

8. PETE WISDOM First Appearance: EXCALIBUR v1 #86 Learn More…here Why He Makes The List: "Only one man in the Marvel Universe exudes that British charm like no other, and that man is Peter Wisdom. Not a fan of the tights, this former British Intelligence agent keeps it classy 24/7 in a suit and tie. Think James Bond but with the ability to throw knifes made of pure heat at his enemies. If this bloke ain't crackin' I don't know who is!" – Secret Cabal member HeartOfOak Currently Appearing In: CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI: 13 Spotlight Comic: NEW EXCALIBUR #1—Pete Wisdom helps to gather Captain Britain and the rest of the new Excalibur team!

7. GHOST RIDER (DANNY KETCH) First Appearance: GHOST RIDER v3 #1 (1990) Learn More…here Why He Makes The List: "Anything but a Johnny Blaze knock-off, Danny Ketch rocketed Ghost Rider into the '90s with a new bike and a much darker attitude. Transforming into GR for the first time after his sister was shot, Ketch embarked on a grim career full of personal tragedy, public contempt and the crushing pressure of acting as the Spirit of Vengeance. Between his haunted life and his fiery skull—not to mention his spike-studded jacket—Danny Ketch oozed '90s cool and was the perfect Ghost Rider for a new era." – Secret Cabal member Mercury552 Currently Appearing In: GHOST RIDER Spotlight Comic: FANTASTIC FOUR #348—Danny Ketch teams with Spider-Man, Wolverine and the Hulk as the new Fantastic Four!

6. MONET First Appearance: UNCANNY X-MEN #316 (1994) Learn More…here Why She Makes The List: "Many of you might be surprised to see her on here, but from her debut, M established herself as something different: a jerk. Now don't get me wrong, she certainly had redeeming qualities, but false humility and obeying social norms certainly weren't either of them. As Monet was quick to show everyone, she was simply better than most mutants. She had the money, the power, the super-powers and the beauty to have anything she wanted in life. Monet was a fresh breath of air as she showed the upsides—along with the downsides—of being genetically superior. We knew we had someone special on her hands—and she knew it too." – Secret Cabal member OneManDynasty Currently Appearing In: X-FACTOR Spotlight Comic: X-FACTOR v2 #13—Monet and the rest of X-Factor Investigations face the psychiatric examinations of Doc Samson!

5. CHAMBER First Appearance: GENERATION X #1 (1994) Learn More…here Why He Makes The List: "For every Wolverine and Colossus—bad ass, attractive, iconic mutants—there'll always be a few guys like Chamber. Jonothon Starsmore was just your average English dude who wanted to go clubbing with his girl when—Bam—his mutant power kicked in and blew half his damn face off. Literally. While Jono lost part of his face and upper body to his psionic abilities, he vaulted up fans' cool-scale thanks to his killer accent, crazy appearance and membership in Generation X. While he may be depowered—though now with a face!—he's still tearin' it up with the New Warriors, under the codename Decibel." – Secret Cabal member Agent M Currently Appearing In: NEW WARRIORS (as Decibel) Spotlight Comic: GENERATION M #1—Chamber faces the devastating fallout of M-Day!

4. CAPTAIN MARVEL (GENIS-VELL) First Appearance: SILVER SURFER ANNUAL #6 (1993) Learn More…here Why He Makes The List: "The character originally named Legacy could have been doomed to mediocrity and lame '90s-ocity with his cheese-tastic ponytail, but Genis-Vell, having taken up the mantle of Captain Marvel after his father, got scooped up into AVENGERS FOREVER and then his own ongoing series, becoming a layered, nuanced and unpredictable hero thanks to writers Kurt Busiek, Roger Stern and Peter David. Between bonding with Rick Jones, going completely insane and finally spending his final moments battling with and alongside the Thunderbolts, we happily accepted Genis-Vell as Captain Marvel." – Agent M Spotlight Comic: NEW THUNDERBOLTS #12—Genis may be the Thunderbolts' last hope against the power of the Purple Man!

3. GAMBIT First Appearance: UNCANNY X-MEN #266 (1990) Learn More…here Why He Makes The List: "There are few characters in X-Men history more polarizing than the 'Ragin' Cajun,' so if you don't like rogues with a heart of gold and their grand, romantic, tragic pasts…well, then Gambit isn't for you! Even before he was revealed as a pawn of Mr. Sinister, his involvement with the Thieves' Guild and potential identity as the X-traitor made him instantly compelling, adding a new dimension to the X-Men. Not since Wolverine had a character joined the team and so rallied against their norms, pining after Rogue and doing things his own way, with a cavalier attitude that even the aforementioned Canucklehead didn't expect! Once it was revealed that he helped the Marauders slaughter the Morlocks, Gambit went from simply being cool to being something even more—a man seeking redemption for a crime that many would define as irredeemable." – OneManDynasty Currently Appearing In: X-MEN: LEGACY Spotlight Comic: GAMBIT v2 #10—It's Gambit's most daring job ever as he must pull a heist right under the X-Men's noses!

2. DEADPOOL First Appearance: NEW MUTANTS v1 #98 (1990) Learn More…here Why He Makes The List: "For a guy who seemed initially conceived to be more or less 'Wolverine with wisecracks,' Deadpool has remained not only one of the most enduring characters to emerge from the '90s, but one of the most popular creations of the past 20-plus years. 'Pool has a quirky charm that has garnered him a nearly unrivaled cult appeal, carried him into toys and video games and will next year lead him to the big screen courtesy of Ryan Reynolds' portrayal of the 'Merc With a Mouth' in 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine.' Unquestionably Wade Wilson's unique and manic sense of humor accounts for a great deal of his continued prosperity, but writers from Joe Kelly to Fabian Nicieza have mined classic stories from Deadpool's ongoing quest to become perhaps not quite a hero, but something more than what he has been in a world that always seems against him. And there's no question that the Rob Liefeld-designed red and black costume, which has been rendered by luminaries such as Ed McGuinness and Joe Madureira among others, is a kick-ass classic." – Annihilator882 Currently Appearing In: DEADPOOL (beginning this September) Spotlight Comic: CABLE & DEADPOOL #12—It's two times the Deadpool when the Merc With a Mouth throws down against Agent X!

1. CABLE First Appearance (As Cable): NEW MUTANTS v1 #87 (1990) Learn More…here Why He Makes The List: "There is no character who epitomizes the '90s as much as Cable. The time-traveling mutant did embrace some of the clichés, including a) a 'mysterious' past, b) really oversized weapons and c) a tough guy attitude, but something about Cable made those same clichés seem, dare I say, cool? Even without the complicated back story, the idea of a paramilitary mutant force was inspired and the original X-Force remains one of the most interesting wrinkles in X-Men lore because of how diametrically opposed the mission, method and team were to the other X-groups. As for the true origin of Cable, there was an elegance in how it all worked out—being the son of Cyclops and turning up to be somewhat of a thorn in his father's side was engaging, with the inherent tragedy of the arc—a father giving up his son for the greater good—as truly compelling stuff. Plus, c'mon—that big gun is awesome!" – OneManDynasty Currently Appearing In: CABLE Spotlight Comic: NEW MUTANTS v1 #87—Cable bursts on the scene for the very first time!

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