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Home > COMICS > THE 200 GREATEST COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME

THE 200 GREATEST COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME

In honor of our 200th Issue, Wizard runs down the 200 comic book characters that stand apart from the rest!
Today: Numbers 20 to 1!
By the Wizard Staff
Posted 05/23/08


10. John Constantine
He's beaten common crooks, mystical madmen and even the devil himself, and he did it all with an icy smirk. See, each of these foes (and plenty more) learned the hard way�never underestimate a man with nothing to lose. One part magic-man, one part con-man, the savvy Brit cares about little except himself and manages to find the narrowest of ways to come out on top.






9. Magneto
The best villains always have an understandable motivation, but no one illustrates his point better than the Master of Magnetism. A young prisoner of Nazi concentration camps, Erik Lehnsherr would survive the Holocaust only to see his fellow mutants murdered in eerily similar ways. Magneto doesn't want to rule the world or kill the X-Men, he wants to protect his very species from extinction, to unite them under his guidance so no other innocents die simply for the way they were born.






8. Hellboy
For a guy who appears more suited to play the villain in a story, Hellboy makes a helluva hero. With fists the size of boulders and an attitude to boot, this paranormal investigator proves you don't have to look like an angel to be one of the good guys. If you scrape past his thick red hide, you'll find a soulful guy who likes his beer almost as much as eschewing his lineage as Satan's son destined to destroy the world.






7. Captain America
Being respected as a role model is great. But having fellow heroes look to you as their ultimate leader? Cue Steve Rogers, a man so proud to be a defender of American ideals that his chest practically looks ready to burst. And while some would find easy courage in his action-figure physique, Rogers was primed for combat even as a scrawny would-be soldier in World War II. It's that heart, not the super-soldier-serum enhanced pecs, that make Cap our first choice to lead the front lines.






6. Rorschach
Although he only appears in the 12 issues of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen, Rorschach still stands as one of the most compelling and frightening characters in comics' history. His gravelly voice, lightning-fast moves that incapacitates criminals and uncompromising black-and-white nature are only the tip of the iceberg. When it's finally revealed what horror show drove the thoughtful team player into a solo sociopath, it not only changed the psycho-analysis of vigilantism, it changed the way fans defined what a hero truly was.






5. The Joker
Long before Stephen King and bad stand-up comedians took to the idea, the scary clown genre belonged to the Joker, a leering menace whose Crayola-tinted features belie a murderous mind. The perennial nuisance of Batman, the Clown Prince manages to embody everything the Dark Knight is trying to combat: He preaches chaos over order, death over life, evil over hope. It's one thing to embrace crime�it's another to find human suffering downright hilarious.






4. Superman
When the last son of Krypton rocketed to Earth and into comic books, he created the mold of a prototypical superhero�super-strong, super-smart, super-everything. Clark Kent's alter-ego has transcended the very medium that he legitimized by exploding into a pop culture icon�his "S" shield has been plastered on TV shows, movies, toys, Colorforms, clothing, coffee mugs and even his own brand of peanut butter. Ultimately, Kal-El's appeal lies in the irony of being an alien whose unwavering nobility has inspired the entire human race. He may be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound�but it's his ideals that make him more "super" than "man." Pretty impressive for a guy rocking red underwear.






3. Spider-Man
We love the web-spinning, the wall-crawling, the impossibly acrobatic moves. We love how he's super-strong yet clearly not invincible. And the clever quips remind us why comics, even when the good guy's in peril, are still a rollicking good time. But you know what we really love? The way Spider-Man, arguably the biggest superhero in the world (check that box office), is a character who eternally yearns for respect�or just to even catch a break�in the Marvel Universe. But somehow the ol' "Parker luck" prevails. Girl problems, financial woes, career mishaps�Spidey, the ultimate science geek made good, was the first superhero who seemed more overwhelmed by these every day troubles than by the idea of some bad guy trying to rip his head off with metal tentacles or a goblin bomb. No doubt, Spider-Man may be the low man on the totem pole in his fictional reality, but to us, he's definitely tops.






2. Batman
Batman turned tragedy into triumph. When 8-year-old Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered before his eyes, he channeled his rage and sadness into a single mission: to never let it happen to anyone else again. He grows up honing his body and mind into finely precise tools, tapping into his billionaire fortune to wage his war on street crime. You see, young Bruce essentially perished that night as well�from that day on, he existed as Batman, his "Bruce" persona more a mask than his pointy-eared cowl. And if anyone crosses this all-too-human Dark Knight Detective�whether it be Superman, Joker, even Darkseid�he will find a way to beat them. That's why he's emerged as a pop-culture demigod�you may wish you could be the more-than-human Man of Steel or Spider-Man, but�minus the moneybags�Batman's the type of guy you can actually be.

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