Take 10

Take 10: Top Heroes of 2008

The Secret Cabal concludes its celebration of 2008's best with Marvel's greatest heroes and another Video Countdown!

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Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. With Skrull invasions, cosmic conquests, villains unionizing, mutant extinction and all the other darkness just beginning to reign over the Marvel Universe in 2008, being a hero proved the hardest job of all. Yet through it all, the best and brightest continued to shine. Concluding our coverage of the Best of 2008, the Secret Cabal takes this week to celebrate the year's greatest heroes. And make sure to follow all the way to the bottom of the page as we proudly present the Take 10 Video Countdown! For each fight you get the quick rundown as well as 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. THE BLACK PANTHER Where He Showed Up: BLACK PANTHER Why He Makes the List: King T'Challa spent much of the year having to once again assert his rightful status as monarch of Wakanda against archfoe Killmonger, but by year's end, the Black Panther once again proved his worth and devotion to his homeland by staving off Skrull invasion. Unlike other targeted regions during the Secret Invasion, Wakanda did not have the luxury of a small army of heroes to protect its borders, having instead to rely as usual on its king and his queen, Storm. Fortunately, T'Challa stepped up to the plate both as a warrior and a cunning strategist, defeating the Skrulls on the battlefield and then outmaneuvering them off it, allowing his country to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and remain free. Biggest Move of the Year: Hopelessly outmatched against a Super-Skrull possessing the traits and powers of Marvel's greatest hand-to-hand combatants, the Black Panther proved that heart, grit, and the willingness to fight dirty will always come out on top in the end. Spotlight Comic: BLACK PANTHER (2005) #32—Along with the Fantastic Four, the Black Panther leads an uprising on a planet ruled by Skrulls!

9. NORMAN OSBORN Where He Showed Up: THUNDERBOLTS, SECRET INVASION Why He Makes the List: Our top villain of 2008 also happened to prove himself a hero more than once, whether he liked it or not. Regardless of his reasons, Osborn fought valiantly against the Skrulls during Secret Invasion and even when presented with the option to wipe the likes of Spider-Man and Iron Man out for good, instead directed his Thunderbolts to target the aliens. Yes, he did what he did to secure power for himself and yes, his ultimate intentions remain undoubtedly dubious, but the fact remains: without Norman Osborn, Earth likely would have fallen in 2008. Biggest Move of the Year: Remaining front and center during the battle of Central Park despite placing himself in harm's way, Norman Osborn proved fortunate enough to be the man closest to Skrull queen Veranke when she reached her weakest point and fired the shot heard round the world, making him the most powerful man in the Marvel Universe. Spotlight Comic: SECRET INVASION #1—Norman Osborn rises up as an unlikely hero for Earth!

8. CAPTAIN BRITAIN Where He Showed Up: CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI13 Why He Makes the List: Many heroes fight for an ideal or for their team, but Captain Britain carries the weight of representing an entire nation on his back. While America may have scores of super heroes looking out for its best interests, Britain has precious few and counts Brian Braddock as the greatest of them all. Captain Britain provided the exemplary service his country has come to expect during Secret Invasion, seemingly giving his life in battle with the Skrulls early on, but returning at the darkest hour to turn the tide and lead his allies to victory. Brian's ability to inspire may be every bit as potent as his great strength, and the fact that Britain thwarted a Skrull invasion with no Avengers or X-Men to speak of says volumes for his courage. Biggest Move of the Year: When hoped seemed lost, Captain Britain emerged from the ashes of defeat in the center of Britain, wielding the legendary sword Excalibur and newfound sense of confidence and duty. The Skrulls never stood a chance. Spotlight Comic: X-MEN: DIE BY THE SWORD #1—Captain Britain teams with his sister, Psylocke, and her team of Exiles against foes who threaten all of the multiverse!

7. WOLVERINE Where He Showed Up: WOLVERINE, WOLVERINE: ORIGINS, ASTONISHING X-MEN, NEW AVENGERS, X-FORCE, SECRET INVASION Why He Makes the List: Accuse Wolverine of spreading himself thin if you will, but no Marvel hero accomplishes more over the course of a year than ol' Logan. As a member of the X-Men, played a key role in saving Earth from Breakworld's invasion and also helped to take down the emerging Hellfire Cult in San Francisco. As an Avenger, he aided his teammates in routing the Hood's super villain army and served as one of the most stalwart defenders of the planet against the Skrulls. As the leader of X-Force, he put a huge dent in the Purifiers' operations. And on his own, he gained revenge on the traitorous Mystique on behalf of his X-Men comrades. All in a year's work for everybody's favorite mutant. Biggest Move of the Year: Despite not being a thunder god or wearing a high tech suit of armor, Wolverine held his own in the final battle with Skrulls in Central Park. In fact, if not for a somewhat lucky shot by Norman Osborn, it would be Wolvie getting hailed as the one who took down the Skrull queen Veranke. Spotlight Comic: WOLVERINE (2003) #62—Following "Messiah CompleX," Wolverine tracks the woman who betrayed the X-Men: Mystique!

6. HERCULES Where He Showed Up: INCREDIBLE HERCULES Why He Makes the List: Underestimated and regarded as something of the Marvel Universe's class clown for years, in 2008, Hercules proved to be more than just muscles and manliness. Stepping into a leadership role that terrified him, Herc spearheaded the campaign of the so-called "God Squad" through Nightmare's realm and on into combat with the Skrulls deities. Unleashing his immortal rage on the Skrull god Kly'bn when he though his young companion Amadeus Cho had perished, Hercules claimed perhaps the most key victory for Earth in the Secret Invasion and deprived the aliens of their most cherished icon moving into final battle. And lest we think he has truly turned a corner once and for all, the Prince of Power did still bed Snowbird, She-Hulk and Namora this calendar year. Biggest Move of the Year: The aforementioned final confrontation with Kly'bn has to be considered a high mark. Confronting the Skrull god on his home turf, Hercules proved himself not a demigod to be trifled with, succeeding where other warriors such as the Eternal Ajak had failed and slaying the unbelievably powerful alien. And Amadeus turned out to be alive, so happy endings all around! Spotlight Comic: INCREDIBLE HERCULES #116—Hercules battles Ikaris and Thena of the Eternals in the shadow of the Sleeping Celestial!

5. NOVA Where He Showed Up: NOVA, ANNIHILATION CONQUEST Why He Makes the List: Another year has gone by, and once more while his former contemporaries fought amongst themselves or scraped by against the Skrulls, Nova had his hands full saving the entire galaxy—again. This time the threat came from Ultron and his Phalanx hordes, and it seemed as though Nova would be taken off the board early, infected with the techno-virus that had already claimed many of his comrades and then exiled to the far side of the universe with Drax and Gamora on his tail. But Rich Rider proved his will to be stronger than most, becoming one of the few to fight off the Phalanx's influence and then recruiting Warlock to serve as the cavalry needed to take Ultron down. Biggest Move of the Year: Following his role in the victory over Ultron, Nova faced even bigger obstacles, and certainly there can be none bigger than Galactus. The Human Rocket boldly battled the Silver Surfer and dared to address the World Eater, convincing him to spare an innocent people from his all-consuming hunger. Spotlight Comic: NOVA ANNUAL #1—Rich Rider staves off Phalanx infection and embarks on an enlightening journey of self-discovery!

4. LUKE CAGE Where He Showed Up: NEW AVENGERS, SECRET INVASION Why He Makes the List: During a period of continuing upheaval in his personal and "professional" lives, Luke Cage soldiered through 2008 and remained the rock the New Avengers needed him to be as they faced their greatest challenges. A passionate man, Luke did not take temporarily losing his wife and daughter without displaying a great deal of emotion, but he still soldiered forward and kept his friends grounded as paranoia mounted. Not too long ago, few heroes would have seemed less likely to lead a team like the Avengers than Luke Cage, but he has proven to be the man for the job. His proactive stance and take-no-prisoners attitude were instrumental in the New Avengers' survival as well as their victories over the Hood and their contributions to ending the Secret Invasion. Biggest Move of the Year: Luke Cage has ever been a man known more for his physical attributes than his mental acumen, but his strategic mind proved key to launching an ambush on the Hood's base of operations and cutting the "kingpin of super villains" off at the knees. Spotlight Comic: NEW AVENGERS #38—With Secret Invasion looming, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones face a turning point in their marriage.

3. KITTY PRYDE Where She Showed Up: ASTONISHING X-MEN Why She Makes the List: Kitty Pryde really only did one thing in 2008, but that one thing proved pivotal enough to land her a high spot on this list. Trapped in a giant bullet rocketing from the Breakworld to Earth that had the potential to destroy our world, the X-Men's one-time junior member proved that she has long since grown way up. The combined might, intellect and resources of the other X-Men as well as the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, the Sentry and a host of Earth's other best and brightest proved not up to the task of saving their world. In a split second of selfless sacrifice, Kitty went from damsel in distress to perhaps one of the greatest heroes the Marvel Universe has ever known, phasing the entire "bullet," under great strain to herself, and allowing it to pass through the planet but do no harm. In the process, Kitty condemned herself to a lifetime of travelling helplessly through the stars, unable to disconnect from her prison. In making the supreme sacrifice, Kitty Pryde proved herself the ultimate hero. Biggest Move of the Year: You just read it. Spotlight Comic: ASTONISHING X-MEN #13—Kitty Pryde and the X-Men face a surprising threat from within!

2. CAPTAIN AMERICA Where He Showed Up: CAPTAIN AMERICA, SECRET INVASION Why He Makes the List: Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, may well have been the greatest hero the Marvel Universe has ever known and his boots can never possibly be filled, but give Bucky Barnes credit for trying to fill them anyways. After much reluctance and self-doubt, Bucky took up the shield and uniform of Captain America not because he wanted to or even felt he deserved it in the least, but because his country needed him, and, as always, he stood ready to answer the call. The new Captain America stands starkly different to his predecessor, carrying a gun, a more aggressive attitude and years of pent up guilt, but perhaps he may just be the Cap this dangerous new Marvel Universe needs. Bucky overcame a slew of psychological hang-ups in 2008 to hoist his shield high and give the world the hero it desperately needed back. Biggest Move of the Year: Bucky succeeded to some degree in avenging his mentor's death as he foiled the master plan of the man responsible, Captain America's eternal archnemesis, the Red Skull. Leaping into the fray with reckless abandon, Bucky thwarted dual assassination attempts on both the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, also exposing the Skrull's sham third party figurehead in the process. Spotlight Comic: CAPTAIN AMERICA (2004) #34—Bucky Barnes makes his public debut as the new Captain America!

1. IRON MAN Where He Showed Up: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, IRON MAN: DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D., MIGHTY AVENGERS, SECRET INVASION Why He Makes the List: It's lonely at the top—that's a lesson Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, learned all too well in 2008. Having made himself the figurehead of registration in the post-Civil War Marvel Universe, Iron Man had to deal with alienating some of his closest friends and being forced to rely on many allies he didn't fully trust out of necessity. As the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., he took the world's safety into his iron hands and fended off longtime nemesis the Mandarin. As head of Stark Industries, he dealt with the new wave terrorism of Ezekiel Stane. And as a member of the Mighty Avengers, he remained on the frontlines of the Secret Invasion even when his armor shut down. By year's end, many labeled Tony Stark a failure, having not properly foreseen the Skrulls' attack and losing control over S.H.I.E.L.D. to Norman Osborn, but through adversity, isolation and challenges that would have crushed a lesser man, Iron Man stood strong—like a hero. Biggest Move of the Year: His armor shattered, his faith in his identity shaken and his world on the brink of falling into enemy hands, Iron Man still found the strength to sound the Avengers' famous battle cry loud and lead Marvel's greatest heroes and villains into final battle with the Skrull forces. Spotlight Comic: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1—Tony Stark spearheads a new era of armored adventure as he takes on the threat of Ezekiel Stane!
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