iFanboy’s Best of 2011: Top Ten Characters

As ever, it was a year of controversy and tumult, shakeup and remix. In one month of 2011 we saw more origin stories than in all of 2010. Don’t check my math on that. Major events tossed favorite characters in alternate reality blenders before spitting them out the other side. Mutants got pissy and drew lines down the middle of their dorm rooms. Characters died. Characters were reborn. Characters lost mustaches in the midst of transformation.

These were the best.

10. Brother Eye (O.M.A.C.)

If Knight Rider has gone another handful of seasons, K.I.T.T. might’ve gotten as jaded and downright tyrannical as Brother Eye, the self important satellite A.I. at the heart of 2011’s surprise critical hit, O.M.A.C. Eye is a total dick, and his continued assault on Kevin Kho’s happiness repeatedly OMACtivates the pleasure centers of our brains.

9. The New Birds of Prey

I’m just saying if Starling were a real person, I’d be too intimidated to ask her out and it would ruin my week. Also, this is one of the more ambitious and rewarding risks taken by any of the creative teams involved in the new 52. The Birds of Prey concept has always been a compelling idea, but this new lineup and criminal element truly clicks.

8. James Gordon Jr. (Detective Comics)

Scott Snyder introduced some pretty chilling new villains in 2011, but the coolest and creepiest contribution he’s made to Batman’s mythology is James Jr. Jock and Francavilla’s depictions of the blank-eyed sociopath are scary, but it’s the concept that really gets under our skin. James Jr. is to the Commissioner Gordon as Jason Todd is to Batman. He’s the wound left untreated. Something went wrong, and we don’t know if there’s anything Gordon could have done differently to keep his son from becoming the monster we met this year. It’s the doubt that kept us wondering and antsy for the next issue.

7. Reed & Sterling (Reed Gunther)

The Han and Chewie of 2011 epitomize the grand spirit of pure unadulterated fun in the recent surge of all-ages comics. Leave your cynicism at the door, but you can keep your six shooter. Bros 4 life.


6. Psylocke & Angel (Uncanny X-Men)

Sure, it’s a little like Buffy and Angel circa 1998. Okay, maybe it’s a lot like that. But the mind games here are far darker, spanning multiple dimensions and resulting in an even higher body count than even Whedon could amass. Which, you know, is saying something. Betsy and Warren hover above the gymnasium as 2011’s prom queen and king, the core of Marvel’s best “event” of the year: “The Dark Angel Saga.” That’s Fantomex skulking under the bleachers.

5. The Bakers (Animal Man)

Superheroes have had family and friends for as long as we’ve known them. But Animal Man’s brood is a special breed. A family man avenger of the environment and the people he comes home to each night. A daughter with burgeoning powers of her own. A wife who can handle the stress and the strain and the media because she knows this guy is good and does what he’s got to do. We love that she’s just as much a part of this new adventure as Buddy. These kids. Forget the mullet. Actually, don’t forget the mullet. Because it’s pretty charming when you get right down to it.


4. Hellboy

See you in Hell, Red.

3. Wonder Woman

Diana didn’t let an aborted TV series get her down. Azzarello and Chiang’s dark new take on Wonder Woman’s mythology made for some of the slickest and smartest reading in the new DCU, with daring revisions and stunning poise. While many characters started from scratch in the Fall of 2011, Diana arrived with the stature she’s always deserved.

2. Matt Murdock (Daredevil)

There are few sure bets in comics. Death certificates may as well be written in pencil. But if we could set our clocks by any certainty, it was Matt Murdock’s rotten luck. No matter how sour our weeks got, we could always depend on Daredevil to leap into far more harrowing personal tragedies. He was the Charlie Brown on Hell’s Kitchen, and the good grief was really getting stale. As a franchise, reading Daredevil on a monthly basis was like a routine visit to the dentist’s office, with Requiem for a Dream playing on a loop in the waiting room. Until Mark Waid swooped in with a baggie of B12 supplements. The gargoyles of Marvel’s New York are lonelier of late. Matt Murdock has finally found a kind of happiness. And as it turns out, joy is infectious.


1. Miles Morales (Ultimate Comics Spider-Man)

Spider-Man is dead. Long live Spider-Man. Not everyone latched on to the idea of a new kid in Peter Parker’s tights. Many for the wrong reason, and that’s something that we as a society need to work on. But that shouldn’t spoil what’s so great about this kid. There’s dialogue happening and forward momentum. At the heart of it all, a potential role model for kids. A role model of a sort that kid’s don’t often get these days. And besides all that, an intensely likable new character who’s placed a new spark in an old idea that ought to endure. Power. Responsibility. Young Miles’ story is just beginning, and that makes this hero’s journey the most exciting of them all.

*Honorable mention: The Canterbury Cricket.


  1. Nailed no. 1! Yes, yes, a thousand yes!

  2. Big miss!

    Aquaman was clearly the break-out character of the year in comics (Brightest Day, Flashpoint, Aquaman, Justice League) and animation (Batman: the Brave & the Bold, Young Justice).

    Hail the Sea King!

  3. Great list, but I would have thrown Frankenstein into the mix!

  4. The list is great. I might quibble about the placement. Matt Murdock would be my number 1, and James Gordon Jr., would move up to about 3, and Mile Morales would fall to about 6.

  5. This list should have been a top 25 instead of a top 10, but I agree with most of them! 😉

    • i agree, who would be on the top 25? how about upgraded or powered up characters like mockingbird, jubilee, and colossus, definitely more interesting than they were before. top five 1)daredevil 2)aquaman 3)wonder woman 4) animal man 5)swamp thing, will be reading ultimate spider-man soon so a total of six characters and books i would never thought i would be picking up and reading.

  6. It’s horrible, but the look on Foggy’s face in that panel brings me much joy.

    • I was thinking the same thing. He’s deadpanning for the camera like he’s the Grinch’s dog. Awesome.

    • Or…

      Matt is hamming it up to the point of ‘sticking it’ in Foggy’s face; all just to prove to those on the fence about who-he-might-be that he’s really blind, and CAN’T tell if others are around him, and Foggy, who knows different. The joke plays both ways.

      One of the reasons why this book is so good.

  7. Tony Chew would have definitely made my list, along with the new 52 Aquaman!

  8. They’re missing out on a couple really good ones, but this list is very good near the top. Mark Spector/Moon Knight, and Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin should be in the top 5. David Zavimbe/Batwing, Kate Kane/Batwoman, Thomas Wayne/Flashpoint Batman, Clark Kent/Nu52 Superman, Valeria Richards, and Sinestro are egregiously missing or at least deserve an honorable mention.

  9. Paul, you’re nailing it today! Great list, with all of the most complex and truly intriguing characters of this past year. (not to mention the fun factors of Reed and Miles and DD).

  10. Great list. Totally agree with James Jr, The Baker family and Miles Morales.

    I don’t mean to be controversial but I’m not a fan of new-Daredevil. I read the first six issues, and though it’s not bad story telling (the art is beautiful), it’s just not the sort of thing I like in a Daredevil book.

    I also didn’t try Birds of Prey, but their inclusion here makes me wonder if I’ve missed something cool.

  11. “Honorable mention: The Canterbury Cricket.”

    *LoL* Just noticed that! Man, I had such high hopes for The Canterbury Cricket; He was just so mysterious, so weird, raised so many questions…I feel like a bit of a fool now.

  12. I have been loving Invincible’s development as a character this past year.

  13. I’d throw my man Dragon, Judge Dredd, Judge Anderson, Cassie Hack, Mark Grayson, and Atom Eve up on there myself.

    James Jr.’s cliche serial killer antics aren’t really my thing, but he’ll be a decent rogue to throw in there from time to time. Man, Gordon’s life didn’t need that.

  14. awww. i was hoping to see thomas wayne and thori on the list.
    the top 5 are spot on

  15. Amen to Miles at the top of this list.

  16. The right up on Daredevil is brilliant by the way. Also who lost their mustache mid-transformation, was it the Hulk? That sounds like a tragedy.

    Shoutout to Omni-Man’s luxurious mustache.

  17. *Write-up. Just one more honorable mention, Conan in Road of Kings has been one helluva character this year.

  18. Good call on the new Wonder Woman. Absolutely love her.

  19. That James Gordon Jr pick is inspired. Best new villain of the past 5 years if you ask me. That’s such a great panel too, he looks like dark reflection of Commissioner Gordon. So good!

  20. Li’l Loki!

  21. Miles is great but Maggie had one of her biggest years since L&R started.

  22. For me:

    #1 Daredevil
    Matt is back, and all is well in the world.

    #2 Batman
    Whether it was Bruce or Dick under the cowl, Batman had a banner year in 2011 thanks to Scott Snyder, Grant Morrison, and a hell of a video game.

    #3 Kevin Kho\OMAC
    Character quirks that people can relate to, and big crazy smashy fun in one package.

    #4 Kid Loki
    Saving a world full of people that revile him, without clamoring for attention for it, makes for one of the best face turns I’ve seen in comics. Putting a silver lining on Fear Itself is something heroic as well.

    #5 Miles Morales
    I don’t care one bit about the politics behind him, but it’s great that they got out from under the weight of Peter Parker.

    #6 Captain America
    A fantastic movie, two great ongoings, an Infinity Gem, and another film on the horizon. Good work soldier.

    #7 The Flash
    While Flashpoint came across to many as pointless, and then had the DC relaunch shoehorned in to boot, no one can say that the Flash wasn’t a crucial character in 2011

    #8 The Serpent/Sin
    Yup. Those guys. The crux of the most controversial event of the year, that just wont go away. Sure, generally reviled, but that’s better than being forgotten about or ignored.

    #9 Wonder Woman
    I care about a series and a character I have never cared about before. Ever. It’s just me, but it’s saying something.

    #10 The mystery hipster cops.

  23. Oh wow, someone actually mentioning Miles Morales on iFanboy? I must be dreaming.

  24. I would have liked to see Swamp Thing on the list as I never read him before but now love him.

    If I wanted to get into Hellboy where should I start? Good list.

  25. Really great list. Daredevil was definitely my top character for 2011, love love LOVE the new series!

  26. Glad to see Hellboy got some love

  27. I expect great things from Miles Morales.

  28. i like how Brother Eye is a complete jackass.

  29. Peter Parker IS Spider-Man not this little kid.