Some Twitter pals got me thinking about my favourite b-list Superheroes the other day and inevitably that also got me thinking about my a-list too. I spent a lot of time reading comics as a kid, probably too much if I'm honest, but I still have a lot of love for them.
1. Spider-man (created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko) - Spidey was always number one for me. The late sixties cartoon series (with it's character defining theme tune) was probably where I first discovered him, either that or the late seventies live-action TV show starring Nicholas Hammond. Watch either now and you'll probably struggle to see much to admire but back then you took your thrills where you could and seeing some bloke climbing skyscrapers in an ill-fitting costume was way more exciting than anything else at the time. I got into comics entirely thanks to Spider-man. Initially the UK produced black & white reprints but soon after the full colour US originals. Spider-Man was a hero it was easy to identify with, funny and sharp witted yet a bit awkward in normal life.
2. Batman (created by Bob Kane & Bill Finger) - Again it was the kitsch TV series that first got me interested in Batman. I was a confirmed Marvel Comics fan though and didn't have a lot of time for DC comics but the Batman series is one of the best superhero tales ever written. I would buy DC titles occasionally (usually if the latest Marvel title wasn't in and I didn't want to go home empty handed) and the various Batman comics were always good value. Frank Miller's Dark Knight era got me reading more regularly and for a long time the films were the only really successful superhero franchise on the big screen.
3. Wolverine (created by Len Wein & John Romita Sr) - The Chris Claremont era of X-Men titles was what tipped me over the edge. Previously an occasional comic book buyer, discovering The Uncanny X-Men led me into slight obsession with collecting comics. Claremont redefined the X-Men with a new set of characters and costumes. There was a slightly grittier reality. Wolverine was core to this and not your typical all-American hero. He was Canadian for a start, had a dark sense of humour and could be disruptive to the team dynamics. His background story hinted at a troubled past which eventually opened the door to his own series of comics.
4. Iron Man (created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby) - One of the big five Marvel characters (I think, there's a possibility I'm making that up) who was also a founding member of The Avengers. I read that Stan Lee created billionaire industrialist Tony Stark as the sort of character that Marvel readers would hate. The archetypal capitalist business man that went against the grain of the 60s counter-culture. I'm pretty sure Iron Man wouldn't have featured quite so high in the list without the recent trilogy of films but it was a title I bought & enjoyed for many years.
5. Hulk (created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby) - Hulk! Smash! Who couldn't love the big green bundle of anger? Another character I first discovered through the TV. The Bill Bixby/Lou Ferringo series was a big part of my Saturday night entertainment growing up and the Hulk comics were great fun too.