By Ben Morse
We've all got them: those characters we love who may not be quite "A-List" to the rest of the world, but to us, they've got "star" written all over them.
Marvel.com polled various creators and editors to find out some of their cult favorite characters who may not be considered the biggest names in the Marvel Universe, but they've got a special place in our hearts.
It's Friday, so kick back, relax and enjoy.
J.M. DEMATTEIS (former writer of THE DEFENDERS):
These four might actually be C-Listers, but the more ignored and disrespected, the more opportunities there are to craft something unique and personal. As you can see, I'm a fan of the supernatural end of the Marvel spectrum.
Son of Satan
Son of Satan—as a writer, I was instantly hooked by Hellstrom's spiritual dimensions and the soul-struggle at the core of the character.
Devil Slayer—for the same reasons.
Gargoyle—Yes, I co-created him, but I loved the concept of a horrific gargoyle with the soul of an 80-year old man. Who could ask for anything more? Okay, you could ask for a lot, but I have tremendous affection for the old guy.
Man-Thing—A character, and a series, that—thanks to the template Steve Gerber created—allows the writer's imagination free reign. Working on the MAN-THING series with [artist] Liam Sharp remains one of the creative highlights of my career.
SCOTT HANNA (inker of NOVA):
One of my favorite Marvel characters as I was growing up had to be the Vision! He had a cool look with the great cape, red skin and black eye sockets. His powers were unique: intangibility and density [control], dispatching his foes by sticking his arm into them and then starting to solidify it! On top of all that it turns out he's an android and he gets a romance with the hot Scarlet Witch.
Vision may not be the star of his own book, but I always thought he was an essential part of the Avengers and the team just won't be the same without him.
BRIAN REED (writer of MS. MARVEL):
Cloak & Dagger—everything about them is opposite, yet they can't be apart from one another. The character dynamic is fantastic, their powers are great; they deserve to be Marvel A-List but they got relegated to guest star status about 10 years ago and nobody has brought them back....yet.
TOM RANEY (artist of ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST):
Morbius the Living Vampire! Not quite human, not quite vampire! A scientist stuck in the body of a supernatural creature. How can you not
AXEL ALONSO (Marvel Executive Editor):
cyborg that shoots people? I'll take two
Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu—Bruce Lee's a wimp.
Rawhide Kid—sharpshooter, sharp dresser.
TONY ISABELLEA (former writer of THE CHAMPIONS):
I've got two, only one of which I ever got the chance to write. The one I wrote is...the Rocket Racer! For then-[Spider-Man]-editor Jim Salicrup, I wrote four Racer stories. Two of them ran in Spider-Man annuals, and two in the back of otherwise reprint issues of MARVEL TALES. I had a lot of fun with them and I hope the readers did too.
The one I didn't write is...Razorback. What a goofy costume. What an odd character. But I loved him. I think Marvel should bring out a new double-feature comic book called "Tales to Amuse," starring the Racer and Razorback in their own strips, and hire me to write it. Do you copy, Joey Q?
KYLE HOTZ (artist of WRAITH):
Pretty much all my favorite Marvel guys are considered B-Listers, and some of the ones I love best are so far down the B-List I can't even remember their names. Case in point: the bald tongue guy with the tentacly arms that was always fighting the Defenders. He had like one eye and the tentacles had mouths or something on them. Now that guy was cool.
And Hate Monger. The old Hate Monger. He was really cool too. And Mandrill...come to think of it, just about all the guys no one remembers now are the ones I think are really neat.
PETER DAVID (writer of SHE-HULK):
You just have to admire a character who keeps getting titles canceled out from under her and she keeps coming back. I'm not saying that because I'm currently writing her series; I'm writing her series because she is
one of my favorite B-Listers.
NICOLE BOOSE (Marvel editor):
That's easy: Ultimate Misty Knight, because in ULTIMATE EXTINCTION #3, she told Ultimate Captain America: "Kiss my black @$$, Captain Whitey!"
KARL KESEL (former writer of DAREDEVIL):
I've always loved Dragon Man—there's just something wonderfully primal and pure about the character. Like a lot of Stan [Lee] and Jack [Kirby's] creations, he's simple without being simplistic. He can go toe-to-to with the Thing, yet has the innocence and gentleness of a child. Visually imposing, leathery wings for flying, breathes fire, can rip a Mac truck in half...yet bashful enough that he wears trunks! What's not to like? I've always thought he should be Marvel's version of Godzilla, mixing it up with those classic Marvel monsters like Taboo and Sporr and Groot—it's a natural! Some day...
MOOSE BAUMANN (colorist of IRON MAN: LEGACY OF DOOM):
Rom: Spaceknight was always one of my favorites. The concept of the lone warrior from space fighting a secret war here on Earth was fantastic. It was equal parts sci-fi, super hero and horror all blended together. [Writer] Bill Mantlo at his finest.
ANDY SCHMIDT (upcoming writer of MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS):
I've got tons of B-level or lower characters that I love, but here were the first ones that came to mind:
Havok. He did not
want to be an X-Man. He was the first guy with powers that I remember reading who didn't want to go fight the good fight. He just wanted to do his own thing and I remember being shocked—who would get powers and not turn into a super hero?! That's crazy! Add on top of that human quality the very cool visual effects created by Neal Adams with the simple but awesome looking power signature and a princess-like headdress, and you've got one kickin' B-level character.
Union Jack. Wears British flag. Carries six shooter. Carries six inch knife. Hunts vampires. Too bloody cool.
USAgent. He's a total jerk and I kind of love to hate him. No, I don't have a flag fetish.
The Pantheon. They ran as supporting players in INCREDIBLE HULK for about two years and probably because I loved the Hulk book at the time and I love mythology, they just really stood out to me as great characters that someone should do something with. A freedom force, completely independent of any government that is run by this kind of crazy father figure based on ancient mythology. They captured great super heroes and great Greek drama and tragedy all in one place. Loved it.
Quasar. Wait. Nah, just kidding.
FRED VAN LENTE (co-writer of INCREDIBLE HERCULES):
I've always had a warm spot in my heart for the original Guardians of the Galaxy, because I thought the original idea was really clever—this team made up of genetically-engineered members of the different planets of the solar system. Oh, and because I am a huge nerd.
CHRISTOS GAGE (co-writer of AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE):
Red Ronin. Because he's a giant robot who looks like a Samurai and fights Godzilla, and his best pal/pilot is a 13-year old boy. That's gold, I tell you...gold
!! Seriously, when I was seven, this was what I wanted to be when I grew up. Sadly, I failed Giant Robot Piloting in school.
BILL ROSEMANN (Marvel editor):
Cloak & Dagger
Cloak & Dagger. From their back-story to their powers to their names to their visual to their personalities, everything about this troubled couple is compelling. Two runaways abused by the streets, but turned into harrowing guardian angels, protecting others like them from the mean streets of the city. Oh, and one hides an unrequited love for the other—and they both have to stay together to keep their destructive powers in check. As a metaphor for addiction—whether to a relationship or a drug—they can't be beat.
Like Iron Fist and Nova, they're just waiting for the right creative team to pitch a story that clarifies and makes relevant their unique place in the modern Marvel Universe. Just imagine Tyrone and Tandy in the hands of Ed Brubaker & David Finch or Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Lark…yeah, that's some tasty crime action just waiting to explode.
ROBERT KIRKMAN (writer of ULTIMATE X-MEN):
I sure do love me some Cardiac. Is he a villain or is he a hero? Sometimes he's both
, but he sure does look cool. There hasn't really been much done with him, but he's got a pretty cool back-story as a heart surgeon who's got all kinds of money and uses it to fight crime. The costume design is both striking and unique, he's got cool weapons and cool gadgets...what's not to love about this guy?! I think if fans could get over how in-style it is to hate things from the 90's he could be brought back in a big way and be a major foe for a certain wall-crawler...or ally, either or.
MIKE PERKINS (artist of HOUSE OF M: AVENGERS):
My favorite B-Lister, as I am wont to tell anyone within ear-shot, is Deathlok. A cyborg zombie lifting heavy ordnance—the Demolisher—and yet there's an underpinning of character conflict inside
of him. Really, what's not to love. It's everything you'd desire to draw in a book. This guy has the goods to become a serious A-player. All we are saying...is give Death a chance.
RICK REMENDER (co-writer of PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL):
My choice, without a doubt, is Rocket Racer. I grew up in the skate punk scene of the 80's and it always drove me nuts when I'd see Rocket Racer in an issue of Spider-Man because the character had so much untapped potential. I guess I love what he could be more than what he's been.
Imagine the potential awesomeness of a sequence with him evading Spidey using the buildings of downtown Manhattan as his personal skate park...
DAVID MICHELINIE (writer of IRON MAN: LEGACY OF DOOM):
Ant-Man. In a medium where most heroes look like they eat steroids for breakfast, lunch and dinner, ya just gotta have affection for a dude whose power is to make himself small. Second choice? The Beast from the 70's and 80's. There's something encouraging about a guy who's stuck with the physical appearance a blue-furred ape, but who still faces life with an uncompromisingly positive attitude.
MARC GUGGENHEIM (writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
Isn't it obvious? Blade.
TOM GRUMMETT (artist of NEW EXILES):
Adam Warlock. I've always dug this character, right from his inception, and I guess the main reason is that he's always
been such an oddity. His earliest adventures on Counter-Earth, and later way out in space, really seemed to set him apart from the rest of the Marvel Universe. I think that made it all the more interesting when he finally did start to interact with the rest of the Marvel heroes later on.
NICK LOWE (Marvel editor):
He's more of a D-Lister, but Mandrill is my fave! Big baboon looking guy who emits sexual pheromones that women can't deny
TODD NAUCK (artist of AMERICAN DREAM):
B-Listers—and on down to Z-Listers—can be awesome! They're the ones in the background I want to know more about.
Beta Ray Bill
One of my favorites is Beta Ray Bill. When I first saw him in THOR v1 #337, I thought he was a cool looking "Monster Thor." Walt Simonson's design was so bizarre and intricate. He's also a very heroic character. I've got my Marvel Masterpiece figure of him by my art table!
C.B. CEBULSKI (writer of AVENGERS FAIRY TALES):
Let me set the record straight here on Marvel.com once and for all...Cloak & Dagger are not
B-Listers! They bring nothing but A-game to the Marvel Universe! It's not their fault they got stuck with an 80's origin that dates them a little too much. They have probably the coolest powers and personalities we've seen since Stan Lee stopped creating characters. And with modern computer coloring there's no telling how bad ass you can make them! All you need is the right writer—hint hint. Vote Tandy and Ty in '08!!
RALPH MACCHIO (Marvel Executive Editor):
I'm a big B and C and even D-List character fan! Here [are] a few of my faves...
I always thought Moon Knight was cool because he was [Marvel's] version of Batman with the Shadow thrown in for good measure. I love the costume, the multiple personalities he used and the list of villains Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz created for him. His was the creepy underside of the [Marvel Universe] and I was there!
The Vision is another character I've loved since Roy [Thomas] first introduced him in AVENGERS. There's something compelling about this android with the Spock-like disposition and very interesting powers. And his visual with the red face and green costume is wonderful.
The Black Widow
Black Widow. From her first appearance as a Russian spy toying with the affections of Clint Barton in TALES OF SUSPENSE, I've loved Natasha. She has a fascinating, checkered past and a simple, strong costume. The Widow's also got no super powers which is great, as well, because she's still a match for anyone with her deadly skills.
Ka-Zar. I'm a sucker for Kevin Plunder because he contains both the civilized man and the beast within him. As Lord Plunder, he can be sophisticated and very much the gentleman, but scratch the surface and he can revert to a jungle beast whose only thought is to kill its enemy and survive. Plus I love the Savage Land locations of many of his stories—and you can't beat Shanna the She-Devil, his wife, either.
Shang-Chi is a character I never tire of reading about. I thought his origin story crafted by [Steve] Englehart and [Jim] Starlin was fantastic. Here's a young man who grew up believing his father was this benevolent, generous man only to learn that Fu Manchu—or Han as he's now called—was the most evil man on the planet. Chi's attempts to grapple with that horrifying fact and the adventures it led to made him a stand out character for me.
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (writer of SECRET INVASION):
There are no B-Listers. They are all A-Listers in the eyes of the right creative team.
Except Dazzler. she kind of [sucks]. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Whoa there, Dazzler fans—we're pretty sure he's joking. Pretty sure…
TOM BREVOORT (Marvel Executive Editor):
Mister Fish! He's the baddest bad-ass there is!
Mister Fish is so tough that, despite being an aquatic-based super-villain, he'll take on Luke Cage atop a tall building!
Nobody laughs at Mister Fish! He's the most frightful villain ever!