A character born of bizarre brilliance. Trademarks : Possessing of a bad temper, fine skills at hand-to-hand combat and a predilection for speaking in the third person. Oh, and he's an aardvark. On Screen : Despite numerous cross-fertilisation appearances in the likes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Flaming Carrot comics, Cerebus has never and is rather unlikely to ever make the leap to the big screen - just look what happened to Howard The Duck.
If it did ever happen, however, we're thinking Warwick Davis in the aardvark suit and Danny Huston providing the voice. Buy Cerebus Cerebus, Book 1 now on Amazon. One of the superheroes created by Stan n' Jack during their burst of unparalleled creativity in the mids, Daredevil was one of the first down-and-dirty superheroes, choosing to base himself in New York's less than salubrious Hell's Kitchen.
A mess of contradictions — he's a devout Catholic who dresses up as a devil, he's a lawyer by day, while getting up to some pretty intense, and illegal, vigilantism by night — Daredevil has never enjoyed the following of a Hulk or a Spidey, but he's a compelling, layered and visually striking character who's attracted some of the best talent in the business. He also has incredible agility and balance.
More recently, Charlie Cox took the part and run with it in a Netflix adaption that afforded plenty of screentime for both Daredevil and his lawyer alter ego. Pre-order Daredevil Omnibus Vol. Apart from being the coolest cat on several continents, Agent Graves also serves as the harbinger of moral dilemma. Appearing as the protagonist of Brian Azzarello's Bullets , Graves offers those who have been wronged the chance for revenge without consequences, if only they're prepared to take it.
A briefcase, a gun, 'untraceable' bullets and incontrovertible proof against the single person behind their woes, these are what Graves has to offer. Interestingly, neither Graves nor the writers pass judgment on whether taking up the offer is right or wrong. Graves' motives are never made clear but he used to be a member of a group called The Minutemen and harbours a great deal of resentment for the shadowy organisation known as The Trust, who betrayed him in the past. Trademarks : An older man in a nondescript, government official-style suit, Graves is meticulous, calculating and rarely displays his emotions.
On Screen : Someone unflappable, ice cold and possessed of extreme gravitas — we're thinking Chris Cooper or Alan Dale. Buy Bullets now on Amazon. There are few characters more original or striking literally — Hellboy punches first, asks questions — well, almost never than Hellboy, the genius creation of Mike Mignola , who uses the character as the outlet for his obsession with pulp comics, Lovecraftian horror and tales of ancient folklore and the supernatural.
Enhanced greatly by Mignola's artwork — pitch-black shadows and popping reds — Hellboy is a lumbering but lovable giant of few words although, "aw, crap" is usually high on the list who interacts with talking corpses and giant tentacled horrors while trying to deny the destiny he was created for.
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For the movies, Guillermo del Toro gave Hellboy more inner turmoil and emotions, but the comics version is a blast as he investigates the paranormal in much the same way Gene Hunt investigates crime — fists first. Trademarks : Red skin, horn stubs, yellow eyes, prehensile tail, massive right hand made out of unbreakable stone and a penchant for cigars. There's rarely been quite as immaculate a marriage of actor to character, with Perlman perfectly capturing Hellboy's contrary air of world-weary cynicism, and boundless, childlike optimism, while giving him a truly human edge.
No wonder del Toro refused to make it with anyone else. Buy Hellboy Omnibus Vol. This universe's 'sorcerer supreme' was originally an arrogant, money-grubbing surgeon who lost the use of his hands in a drunken car wreck and sought a miracle cure in the Tibetan lamasery of 'the Ancient One'. He then learned to master the mystic arts and moved into a mansion in Greenwich Village, New York, to take up the job of freelance psychic investigator and protector of the universe from menaces like 'the dread Dormammu' and even Count Dracula.
Never a big-seller, Strange has consistently featured in outstanding comics, especially when drawn by Ditko and Gene Colan. As the Marvel Universe's leading magician, he remains a mainstay of the company's crossover stories — and organiser of the occasional group of testy superheroes the Defenders with the Hulk, Silver Surfer and Sub-Mariner. Trademarks : Cloak of levitation, Eye of Agamotto amulet, magical abilities, orange conjuring gloves, white-tinged facial hair.
Catch-phrase: 'by the hoary hosts of Hoggoth! Benedict Cumberbatch currently wears the cape for the MCU. Also, one of Batman's earliest enemies, from the s, was Dr. Hugo Strange no relation. An alien symbiote with a thirst for violence and flesh, Venom started out as a living costume for Spider-Man, who thought the black-and-white threads were just that: threads. When Spidey rejected Venom's attempts for control, he latched onto the Daily Bugle's Eddie Brock, spawning a decades-long quest for vengeance.
Arguably Spider-Man's biggest nemesis, Venom is the comic-book equivalent of a movie boogeyman like Freddy Krueger — he's meant to be terrifying and villainous, but readers thought he was so cool that eventually the symbiote became less obviously evil he always tries never to hurt bystanders , appearing in his own title. In fact, he was so neutered that not only did he occasionally team up with Spider-Man, but Marvel created an even more evil symbiote, the mass murderer, Carnage, in order to mitigate Venom's crimes.
Currently, the symbiote is not bonded with Brock, but that remains his most famous persona. Trademarks : Black, organic fabric with shapeshifting capacity and all of Spider-Man's abilities. Tom Hardy took on the role for Sony's standalone Venom , which was critically mauled but did astonishing business worldwide. A sequel is expected in And, even though it flowed over his skin like oil, Spidey never questioned where it came from. Buy Venom Vol.
When you're as strong, fast, invulnerable and flat-out powerful as Superman, it's hard to find a nemesis of sufficient menace to actually provide you with a workout. Enter Lex Luthor, the bad guy's bad guy. He doesn't usually have superpowers, but then he doesn't need them, even against the Man of Steel. No prison can hold him, it seems, no setback is too great to overcome, and there's pretty much no scheme too outlandish for his considerable brain power to cook up.
Since Superman remains reluctant to just break Luthor's neck, there's always tomorrow for this perpetual rebounder. Talk about try, try and try again — Robert the Bruce's Spider had nothing on Luthor. Trademarks : Usually bald, smartest human on Earth, Machiavellian planning ability and a frequent prison escapee. The Smallville incarnation has been one of the most interesting, if also the most inconsistent, although Jesse Eisenberg 's Lex Luthor added a intriguing tech genius streak to the usual Luther pathology in Batman V Superman. Buy Superman President Luthor now on Amazon.
But unlike those green-backed heroes in a half-shell, the ronin rabbit has kept to his adult-orientated roots with a saga that comprises all manner of murder, mayhem and the odd sexy scene in an anthropomorphic version of feudal Japan. This iconic bunny with a blade was originally conceived as a human and based upon historical Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. However, inspired by a doodle of rabbit ears atop his hero's head, Sakai was inspired to create a more unique and ultimately enduring comic book icon.
The noble leporine's longevity can be put down to an intriguing mix of historical and cinematic influence, cute fluffy bunniness and an ability to slice and dice with stunning efficiency. Trademarks : Highly skilled swords-rabbit with a deep-seated sense of justice and a bit of a mischievous streak. Bad girls in comics are always so useful that they tend to reform and become at least semi-goodies cf: Catwoman, Elektra.
Emma Frost was introduced as an exceptionally nasty — and explicitly perverse — villainess, running a school for evil mutants in competition with Professor Xavier and high in the councils of the nefarious Hellfire Club in homage to the famous 'Touch of Brimstone' episode of The Avengers. Marvel made her a qualified goodie in the X-Men spin-off Generation X , and writer Grant Morrison reinvented the character when he took over New X-Men and wasn't allowed to use his original choice, Storm.
Now an actual X-Man, Emma remained the manipulative character fans loved to hate — and caused a minor kerfuffle when she began a 'telepathic' affair with Cyclops, long-term partner of Jean Grey. Despite strong competition, Emma has consistently worn the most striking lingerie and little else in comics — the covers for her brief solo series Emma Frost are basically porn star poses. Trademarks : Extremely revealing white fetish gear, icy personality, enormous mental abilities, psychic ability, is a qualified sex therapist always useful and can now turn to diamond and be her own best friend.
Buy Generation X Classic Vol. Scientist Holland gets splashed with a 'bio-restorative formula' when baddies attack his Louisiana swampland laboratory, and is transmuted into a big monster — who has a certain similarity with earlier comics creatures the Heap and Man-Thing. The first run of the comic featured marvellously grotesque Wrightson art, but it wasn't until writer Alan Moore took up the book — which was relaunched to tie in with the Wes Craven film — that ST really became a major player, even if he had to play straight man to Moore's John Constantine.
It turns out that ST isn't a transformed human, but animated swamp with the consciousness of the late Holland. He has had a long-term relationship with a human woman, which some have criticised as perverted or icky. Trademarks : A big shambling, roughly man-shaped hunk of muck and vegetation with a distinctive nose, ST is the only superhero capable of producing halluconogenic fruit from his body. Television reboot from James Wan 's production company. Ben Edlund was just 18 — the bastard — when he came up with The Tick , a character that may be, quite simply, the funniest superhero spoof of all time.
Blessed with a fantastic supporting cast of outlandishly-named nemeses — Chairface Chippendale, take a bow — and self-involved allies, from Die Fledermaus in the comics to Batmanuel in the tragically short-lived live-action TV show, The Tick is a lovable lunk, given to overly dramatic declarations on behalf of justice.
He doesn't know his own strength, which is prodigious and, indeed, fails to grasp even the most rudimentary basics of social interaction. Edlund's The Tick — his involvement runs through the comics, the animated series and the TV show — is characterised by sharply observed gags and a gift for hilarious hyperbole.
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Trademarks : A blue costume with giant movable antennae, The Tick is, to quote the TV show, "the sterling silver ladle of justice, pouring his creamy foam over the freshly-picked strawberries of crime". His strength is mighty, his IQ is double figures. Low double figures. On Screen : In the animated series, he's voiced by Townsend Coleman.
In Fox's utterly brilliant live-action show nine episodes! Nine episodes! Peter Serafinowicz played him for two seasons on Amazon Prime between and That's Batmanuel — in a Batman movie. Gotta love that. The second most iconic AD character after Judge Dredd himself, Johnny Alpha was the poster child for Strontium Dog, an extremely popular series about a group of mutant bounty hunters.
Alpha himself was, of course, a mercenary but despite working largely for greenbacks he was possessed of a strong sense of duty and honour. Equally, though, Alpha demonstrated a stubbornly unforgiving streak, brooking no slight or double-cross and punishing transgressions harshly — as the vampiric Durham Red discovered to her great regret. In Alpha was killed off in a story that martyred him in order to saves all mutants from extermination. Ezquerra was so mortified by the decision that he refused outright to draw the story and replacements were brought in to carry out the deed.
Wagner later admitted that Ezquerra was right and that killing Alpha had been a huge mistake. The character was subsequently revived by both of his creators for a brief resurgence in Trademarks : Glowing eyes, granite jaw, distinctive metal headpiece, trademark variable cartridge blaster handgun and electroknux. When Frank Miller began Sin City — his series of ultra-noir set in the eponymous hotbed of crime — he needed archetypes that were almost Olympian in their grandeur.
Marv is his grade-A patsy, the fall guy, the hapless hero at the centre of a conspiracy that he can't even begin to understand — but with a traditional Miller tweak. This dumb brute can more than take care of himself, and fully embraces the self-destructive path he starts down when he vows to avenge the brutal murder of Goldie, a prostitute who showed him kindness, despite his face. Marv is a force of nature, cutting a path through the corrupt power-brokers of the city, until his pound of flesh and more has been exacted.
His death scene — he's juiced repeatedly in the electric chair, obstinately refusing to die right away — sums him up: stubborn, intractable, intent on doing things his way. Miller killed him, but brought him back for several Sin City prequels. Not even he could stand to see the big lug truly die. Trademarks : A face only criss-crossed with ugly scars, a pancaked nose and a chin that could open cans of tuna — Marv is the archetypal hard man with a heart of gold, a bruiser who's a sucker for a dame.
Buy Sin City Vol. What a villain.
There's a lot of Dr. Doom in Darth Vader, and pretty much every Bond villain of the last 40 years. Of all Marvel's villains, Doom has appeared most, across countless titles. Where most villains stick to their designated hero, Doom, nominally the arch-enemy of the Fantastic Four, will go toe-to-toe or, more likely, he'll send a Doombot to go toe-to-toe; he doesn't like to get his hands dirty with mere serfs with anyone. A truly brilliant scientist, Doom likes to combine his unquenchable thirst for ultimate power he once stole the energy of the near-omnipotent Beyonder with a bizarre double life, as the altruistic leader of the European country of Latveria.
Which makes arresting him on American soil doubly difficult, due to that pesky diplomatic immunity. He has a noble side, like many of the best bad guys, but he's as disfigured psychologically as he is physically. And then there's that surname, which is pretty hard to get around. How life might have been different if he'd been born Victor Von Awesome. Trademarks : Arguably the most famous of all Marvel's villains, Doctor Doom is certainly the most visually striking — a snub-nosed metal mask housing a badly disfigured face and a black heart, topped off with a regal green cloak which covers weaponised body armour to make Iron Man's heart weep with envy.
Toby Kebbell played him in Josh Trank 's reboot, but the less said about that one the better. Buy Doctor Doom Vol. Powers is a police drama — loosely modelled on Homicide: Life On The Street — set in a world with superheroes and villains, and Deena is the rookie partner of former immortal hero turned homicide cop Christian Walker. Formerly partnered with crooked Captain Adlard, Deena is now tagging along with the upright Walker but gets in deep with Internal Affairs for her frequent recourse to violence to get information from suspects and is keeping very quiet about the way her abusive former boyfriend got mysteriously electrocuted during an argument.
Powers is currently the coolest comic that only comic book readers have heard of. Trademarks : Midriff-baring shirt, cute pixie-ish haircut, slight prejudice against super-powered beings and secretive about recently-acquired electrical abilities.
Buy Powers now on Amazon. His inability to look beyond the moment — he leaves such ponderings to Asterix or his smart, tree-obsessed dog Dogmatix — and tendency to fall in love with unattainable women make him one of the cutest characters on the list. Even if he could beat up your whole family without breaking a sweat. Trademarks : Pleasantly plump don't call him fat , red moustache and beard, often carries a menhir, invincible and super-strong with a perchant for beating up Romans.
On Screen : In a very successful series of European productions, Depardieu has donned a fat suit to play him. In cartoon form, he's been voiced by Brad Garrett among others. We recommend the Menhir Express. The original and best in Matt Wagner's long-running series of masked anti-heroes, Hunter Rose was a young genius gifted with extraordinary physical and mental prowess and just a little too much time to spare.
Finding that excellence breeds boredom if not channelled correctly, Rose set about becoming a crime kingpin, hired killer and all-round roguish gadabout before dying at the age of 21 by the hands of his lycanthropic nemesis, Argent. More Grendels have followed in Hunter Rose's footsteps but few have done the job with such an innate sense of style. Trademarks : Effete novelist by day, criminal mastermind and world-class assassin by night.
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On Screen : Wagner's nefarious creation hasn't worried the big screen as of yet. If an actor were to make Hunter Rose come alive, we'd put our money on Jamie Bell providing the right amount of romantic menace. Buy Grendel now on Amazon. Thanks to the super-soldier serum, Captain America is the best that a human being can be — super-strong, super-fast, super-agile, doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, and has a Nintendo DS Brain Training age of Not bad for a guy who's technically in his eighties now.
And, well, dead. He was shot by a sniper at the end of 's massive Civil War cross-over and unusually for a comic book icon, is still dead. But let's take this opportunity to briefly remember the hero that he was: created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon as a ra-ra tool in World War II, Cap really came into his own in the s, when Kirby and Lee thawed him out and put him in charge of The Avengers. For that reason, it can't be too long before the old super-soldier serum flows through Steve Rogers' veins once more.
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Trademarks : He is America. Or, rather, he is the American flag. Clad in red, white and blue chainmail, with a red, white and blue invincible shield demarcated by a giant star and initialed, wing-tipped head piece. On Screen : Matt Salinger — son of J. When Rogers was killed in the comics, Colbert eulogised him on his show — and he has one of two replica metal Cap shields, commissioned by Marvel to mark the event, hanging in his studio. This feminist icon is the most important woman in comics. Naturally, that means she's often been given short shrift, frequently demoted to menial status she was a founder member of the Justice Society, but only as secretary and depowered and repowered more often than all the X-Men combined.
But on form, she's almost as powerful as Superman, looks better in hotpants and has the additional superpower of reducing fanboys to putty. Over the years, Gloria Steinem has extolled her role as a strong female role model — she was the first cover girl on Ms. Trademarks : Beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, swifter than Hermes, and stronger than Hercules.
Can fly and wields the lasso of truth and magic bracelets. See also the strange business of her fetishistic origins. Buy Wonder Woman Vol. Yet another Marvel character who started off as a villain — notably a Spider-Man villain although he was more of a goon when he first cameoed in Amazing Spider-Man — before graduating to his own title and anti-hero status. The Punisher is now one of the most iconic characters in the entire Marvel stable. A 'Nam vet driven by his family's murder to punish all criminals by death, it's perhaps not unsurprising that the dark, disillusioned '70s was the decade that saw a brutal, uncompromising psychopath for that's what Castle is, no debate become a fan favourite.
Although, truth be told, operating within the confines of the toothless main Marvel titles never sat well with The Punisher — in recent years, with the move to the MAX label, and Garth Ennis' soon-to-finish installation as Punisher guru, the dark heart and psychology of Frank Castle has been fully explored, giving a new insight into this grimmest and most compelling of characters. Trademarks : A giant white skull on his black-shirted chest. An eternal desire for revenge.
And guns. Lots of guns. On Screen : Three Punisher movies, three different Punishers. For all the apparent simplicity of the character, Frank Castle has proved a hard nut to crack. Ray Stevenson , Dolph Lundgren and Thomas Jane all took a shot at the role on the big screen, but it took Jon Bernthal to nail that gruff demeanour, violent tendencies and wounded humanity, first in Netflix's Daredevil and subsequently in his own limited series.
Which currently makes him a year-old kicking ass, as he was born on February 16, Writers Moore and Gibson thought that AD could do with a female-led strip to counterpoint the comic's generally testosterone-heavy violence fests, and co-created 50th century everygirl Halo Jones, who just tries to get by in a dangerous future where going to the shops is a major trial.
The original intent was to chronicle the heroine's whole life but only three serials were completed before the strip was curtailed by the usual who's-got-the-rights argument. The three stories find Halo as a teenager on that shopping trip, working as a stewardess on a spaceship and grimly fighting a Starship Troopers -type war in an all-female army. Halo is exponentially cooler than knock-offs like Tank Girl, mostly because she remains a fed-up real person amid the wild space opera of her universe. Trademarks : Pout, white '80s-look hair yes, we know it was a black and white strip and she got blonded in the horrible US colourised reprints — but her hair was white on the original AD colour covers , loyalty to doomed friends, robot dog sidekick, catchphrase: "I can't take a shopping expedition.
Created as a Cold War-based, commie-bashing triumph of American technology over conniving, inefficient Russians, Iron Man has proved as durable as his rust-proof armour over the years. This is partly because he's a very adaptable character — not just in terms of power levels — and partly because, let's face it, he looks damned cool. But it's the man inside the suit who has arguably been more fascinating. Tony Stark, billionaire playboy, has been by turns a reckless maverick, a hopeless drunk, dead not one of Marvel's brightest ideas , teenaged again?
Iron Man is relatively simple — point and shoot — but Stark is as complex as they come. As long as that remains the case, Iron Man will remain one to watch. Trademarks : Shiny red-and-gold armour mostly — he's been known to go all-grey, all-gold and red-and-silver , super-strength, supersonic flight jets, an array of incredible weapons and the recently developed ability to interface with pretty much any OS on the planet. Oh, and he's a genius, too. Only ? But from a purely iconic point of view, it had to be Rorschach.
Who was in the first picture released from Zack Snyder's Watchmen movie? Who dominated online casting debates? Like The Punisher, Rorschach can be easily dismissed as a fascist whose belief in moral absolutes — there are no shades of grey; only black, white, good and evil — drives him to take the law into his own hands. But in the hands of Moore, the freckled, ginger Walter Kovacs is a taut, tortured, complex creation who, as well as being at the centre of some of Watchmen's most memorable sequences the prison riot, for one , ends up being perhaps the most pure out of the graphic novel's characters, the only one who — SPOILER WARNING — isn't interested in compromising himself for the greater good.
Trademarks : Clad in a trenchcoat and a spotted mask which appears to constantly change configuration, much like a Rorschach test, this unyielding vigilante dishes out punishment to evildoers any way he sees fit. Usually death. Buy Watchmen now on Amazon. Death doesn't appear much in Sandman , and her own comic is just good, not brilliant.
She's not nearly as nuanced a character as Morpheus himself, or their younger sister Delirium formerly Delight. But from the moment she appeared, she's been wildly popular with fans, won over by this bright, cheery figure in place of the traditional skeletal Reaper. Perhaps it's because Death duties make such cheerfulness double-edged, and because she has an air of mystery about her that gives her incalculable depth. What's more, she's the wise elder sister that everyone wishes they had, far more pulled together and at peace than any of the other Endless except, perhaps, Destiny , and she gets to tie the whole series together come its final act.
A perfect demonstration that the best characters needn't be overworked, and that the grim reaper doesn't have to be grim. Trademarks : Cute Goth girl, tends to wear all black except for a silver Ankh necklace and a design like the Eye of Horus around the corner of her eye. On Screen : No screen version yet, but Christina Ricci in Penelope mode would do it, or Jennifer Garner if you like to think outside the box. Gaiman's own inspiration for the character was his buddy Tori Amos. Instantly recognisable the world over — it's hard to stay incognito when you're ten feet tall and bright green — The Hulk has sometimes been a simplistic character, simply punching things again and again the recent story arc, World War Hulk , was particularly guilty of this.
But when writers like Peter David — the definitive Hulk scribe, as far as we're concerned — get hold of him, Hulk and Banner become a psychologically complex, nuanced being with an incredibly complicated history involving Banner's battle for control, which has led to Hulks green and grey. Long may Hulk continue to be a smash. Trademarks : Big. Green usually. Sometimes smart, sometimes savage, sometimes somewhere inbetween. Oh, and incredibly, incredibly strong — in fact, the madder he gets, the stronger he gets.
Norton, surprisingly at the time, handed over the rage baton to Mark Ruffalo , who has since become a fan favourite in the MCU. He's believed to be able to survive a near-direct hit from a nuclear missile. Buy Planet Hulk Omnibus now on Amazon. A real-life hero who survived insurmountable odds and devastating adversity to create a new life with his family in a new world, Vladek Spiegelman's life bursts out of the pages of his son's seminal series to heartbreaking effect.
Depicted as a mouse, his concentration camp incarceration under the yoke of Nazi felines and subsequent escape to a new world populated by dogs, frogs and fish is overflowing with a humanity that has yet to be equalled in comic book lore. That Art Spiegelman was able to recount such a harrowing chapter in history in comic book form and in such a stylised manner is impressive enough, but through a rodentised image of his father he embodied the fear, desperation and hope of the Holocaust in one person. Even the subsequent change in character, as Vladek morphs from idealistic young adult to embittered old codger, cannot lessen the impact he makes upon the reader.
Trademarks : Tenacity in the face of adversity as a young man, a grumpy old sod in his later years. On Screen : If George Orwell's Animal Farm can be made into a decent animated flick, Spiegelman's tale would be phenomenal — no word on a big-screen adaptation yet, though. Like Preacher , Transmetropolitan had a short life — but for 60 brilliant, dazzlingly inventive issues, writer Warren Ellis and artist Darick Robertson brought their A-game.
And the creation of Spider Jerusalem, gonzo journalist, imbiber of enough drugs to floor a struggling musician, and seeker of truth, was at the centre of it all. Hey Grandude! Master of the Phantom Isle Dragonwatch Series 3. A Tale of Magic Baby Shark: Meet Baby Shark. Who is the Mystery Reader? Unlimited Squirrels Series 2. Snowmen at Halloween. Are You My Monster? Baby Shark! Warriors Super Edition: Squirrelflight's Hope.
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