The Most Interesting Comic Characters of 2009

Drum roll…

 

 

Barry Allen (Wednesday Comics, Flash: Rebirth, Blackest Night)

The newly resurrected scarlet speedster held pole position in a number of DC's highest profile books in 2009. While his namesake title The Flash: Rebirth suffered a number of delays, his weekly duet with main squeeze Iris West was one of the highlights of Wednesday Comics. Though Blackest Night is Hal Jordan's territory, it's his interactions with Barry that really stand out thematically. Man-out-of-time if one of those tried and true cliches, and this one's got legs. 

 


Asterios and Hana (Asterios Polyp)

Great story is a chemical reaction, the collision of great characters and what the particles do in the wake of that explosion. Asterios and Hana couldn't be more different, and that's probably what draws them to each other. Unfortunately, it's their polarized perceptions of the world that keep them from staying happy for too long. For my money, Asterios Polyp is one of the best relationship comics ever produced, not because their story is all that new, but because Mazzucchelli  uses all the resources at his disposal as a cartoonist to show us how two people who love each other can look at their shared world and see it so differently.  

 


Namor (Sub-Mariner: The Depths, Dark X-Men, The Marvels Project)

Maritime machinations! While Norman Osborn sits at the center of Marvel's Dark Reign as a shining example of absolute corruption, it's the in-between characters like the morally ambiguous Namor who really sell this kind of story. A bridge between the mutants and the higher tiers of the Marvel world, he's an important lynchpin for company-wide continuity. If Dark Reign were a Shakespearian history, this is the guy everybody would be clamoring to play. 

 


Batwoman (Detective Comics)

While the modern incarnation of Kate Kane first surfaced in 2006, our true introduction to Batwoman didn't come about until this year's starring role in Detective Comics. She finally received the kind of tragic origin befitting a Bat family member, battled were-creatures, got outed from the military, found herself a looney rogue of her very own, and spent some quality time with good ol' dad. And she did so in what is arguably the most gorgeous books of this or any other year. 



Hellboy (Hellboy: The Wild Hunt, B.P.R.D. 1947)

After sending his creation around the globe for years of soul-searching and genealogical uncertainty, Mike Mignola finally took a swab to Hellboy's mouth, mailed it off to the lab, and delivered the solution to a question we never really knew we had. We were aware that Red was a gun-toting son of a demon, and that his pedigree also included a smattering of human. But this Fall, with little advance warning or fanfare, we learned that he's the descendant of Arthur, King of Britain. His decades-long, tightly woven tale of destiny and purpose just got a whole lot bigger. And for fans of the "Pancakes" era of Hellboy, B.P.R.D. 1947's lil' Hellboy cameo offered sixteen tons of adorable and thirty-three pints of foreboding. 

 


Tony Stark (Invincible Iron Man)

A mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially if the gray matter in question adds up to one of the most insightful and cunning minds in the world. Tony has had a rough few years, but double clicking on his brain, opening the folder, and gradually dragging each file into the trash has got to be one of the gutsiest and most compelling character decisions of the year. When it comes to Iron Man, it isn't simply the armor. It's the brains and balls rattling around inside. 

 


Supergirl (Supergirl)

With the unbottling of Kandor, New Krypton, and tons of Kryptonians, Clark and Kara have had a big, big year. But surprisingly, it's Kara's story that's had the most impact. She's no longer an orphan, though she's had to mourn the loss of her father twice in her short life. She's had to wrestle with her heritage as a daughter of Krypton and deal with her mother's political posturing. Her childhood friend is back and things are too complicated for words on that front. Oh, and she accidentally killed Lois' sister. She should probably skip the next few Thanksgivings. 

 


Dodge (Locke & Key)

Straight up androgynous evil. Dodge is like Voldemort if Voldemort wasn't so lazy. I want you people reading this book, so that's all you're getting here. Gotta earn those nightmares.  


 


Dick and Damian (Batman and Robin)

I know you've been reading Batman and Robin, whose first three issues routinely shattered the record for highest pulled book amongst iFanboy users. But let's say you haven't. You know what this is like? This is like if the Robins were members of the Lawrence family. Dad's been sent back in time and Joey had to take up his mantle. Matthew is in Europe on a motorcycle. And Andy is the new Robin. And he's a dick. 

 

 

Now. Who'd I leave out? 

 

 


Paul Montgomery is a bit of a character himself, according to school report cards. Find him on Twitter or contact him at paul@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. Namor was amazing as a bogeyman figure in Sub-Mariner: The Depths. Dodge is a great character among many other brilliantly written characters in Locke & Key and deserves his place here. I was disappointed not to see Locke & Key in many best-of lists this year considering how strong the second mini was.

  2. Just read the first trade of Locke & Key last night, I can’t wait to read more!

  3. Fantastic list, Paul. The only suggestion I would offer is Jonathan Hickman’s Reed Richards. He did a lot to workshop that character.

  4. Good list!  I’ll throw in Clint Barton, Jessica Drew, and Stephanie Brown.  Also, though some will disagree, Norman Osborn.

  5. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    My review of Locke & Key: Head Games. One of the best things I read in ’09 for sure.

  6. Looks like a pretty solid list to me. Maybe the girl from "I Kill Giants" ?

    I’d also like to toss SHIELD in as a collective character. From Nick Fury’s reappearance, the trials of Maria Hill, and all the political tribulations the organization has gone through recently (becoming HAMMER, splintering, rotating through several Director’s, etc), SHIELD has been the center of some pretty amazing drama of late.

  7. Barbara Thorson

  8. Nice list – can’t whine about any of those picks.

    Only addition would be Parker from the Darwyn Cooke book. Sure, he didn’t say much or there wasn’t much to his character aside from being a bad ass, but he was plot personified in that book and I think that’s what made it so great.

  9. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @flakbait, deadspace – Barbara made my initial list, but I did a check and I think all but one issue of I Kill Giants came out in 2008. Still very much in my memory though. 

  10. So where do i start with locke and key, amazon doesn’t list volume numbers

  11. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @RoiVampire – The first arc is called "Welcome to Lovecraft" and the second is "Head Games." The third and ongoing arc is called "Crown of Shadows." It’s currently on issue #2. 

  12. @Paul  Thank you kind sir, first trade will be ordered as soon as i finish the walking dead trade i just got

  13. But what about Red Hulk….just kidding guys.

  14. Parker from Parker: The Hunter.  I have never identified with a character that is as focused, violent, and borderline evil.  He made me question how far I would go if someone betrayed me to such a degree (Hint: Not nearly as far as Parker).

  15. @PaulMontgomery – wow! can’t believe it’s been that long! o_0

  16. I would have added the Plutonian to the list but that’s my only complaint. excellent list sir

  17. Awesome list!  My brain’s too fried to make any additions, but I like what you have here.

  18. I’m going to throw in Valeria Richards. Millar made me accept her into the family for the first time last year (or was it the year before, I forget?). And Hickman kept it going with the mini series FF Dark Reign, and now the ongoing series.

    Last year I also got to know two characters that were mostly new to me:

    Jessica Jones — Of course I knew who she was, but I went back and finally read the entire Alias series and boy what an amazing person!

    Dashiell Bad Horse — Finally got around to reading the first TPB of Scalped and I’ve since devoured the entire series up to the current issues. Red Crow is potentially an even more interesting than Bad Horse. In fact, that story has a slew of fascinating characters. I feel almost sad that I didn’t wait longer to read this, because it’s so hard to wait month-to-month for more now that I’m all caught up.

  19. An excellent list!  I lament that I have not read Locke & Key, so I can’t agree on that front, but all of these other characters are very interesting indeed.

    I think I would also add Conor Kent to my list because I didn’t give a crap about him until he came along in Adventure Comics and Blackest Night: Superman.

  20. Good list. I definitely agree with Namor, cause he has been used a lot lately in Marvel which is always a good thing.

    I think The Destroyer has had a resurgence in Marvel. The mini by Kirkman was loads of fun and the Timely annual was also very good. I know he’s stuck in WWII in proper Marvel Universe, but I would love to see more of him in the future.

  21. Thinking about this more, you know, Namor IS kind of the bastard child of Hotspur and Richard III.   I’m so glad for the opportunity to share that thought in a public forum.

  22. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @ohcaroline – Thought you’d like that bit. 😉

  23. Great article and well thought-out list Paul!Really enjoyed it.

    I was also  thinking this is the year that Jordan shot past Superman and maybe Batman in popularity (Bruce anyways cause he is not around). Maybe the Plutonian & The Mighty for making bad, cool again.

  24. How about Tommy Taylor from "The Unwritten"?

  25. Nice list.  You should check out Moses Lwanga, the title character in Unknown Soldier.  He’s one of the most complex, deeply conflicted and multilayered comic book characters of the past year.

  26. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @Jonesy – The first trade is on my stack. I’ll fast track it! 

  27. I’m just Hal "Captain Boring" Jordan isn’t up there.

     

  28. what, no Chuckles?

  29. p.s. you forgot Iron Fist

  30. That is a spectacular list, Paul.  Very well done.

    @patio:  Dash Bad Horse would maybe be the best addition as far as protagonists go.  For supporting characters, I love how Sterling Gates has fleshed out Supergirl’s mother Alura.

  31. Wonder Man

  32. @Paul  I enjoy any opportunity to use the name "Hotspur".  I’m sort of shocked nobody’s ever picked it up for a comic book character.

  33. @Paul – You’ve whittled me down, good sir.  I’m going to reread the first trade of LOCKE & KEY after really not liking it the first time.

    Nice list there.  And good choice on those images.  That ASTERIOS POLYP picture is among my favorite imagines from that book.

    And you’re going with a Lawrence brothers metaphor for three Robins?  Wow.  Did not see that one coming.  I can’t say that Joey Lawrence has entered the consciousness since 1997.  Well done.

  34. I like that list a lot, but I too would add Barbara from I Kill Giants. 

  35. Continuing the Lawrence Brothers/Robin comparison: Jason Todd is Martin, the black sheep???

     

  36. Another vote for Reed Richards, he had a pretty good year.

  37. What about Daredevil?  He becomes leader of the hand and he becomes a pariah.  I see how it is…

  38. Totally agree with @ohcaroline that Stephanie Brown had a hell of a year.

  39. Well you did ask “who’d I leave out?” 😉 I’d agree with @RandoCalrissian about Chuckles from GI Joe Cobra. And Spider-Woman has been one of my favorite characters lately.

  40. Oh, but Paul. How could you forget the Red Hulk?

  41. Stephanie Brown (and I guess Barbara Gordon to a degree)would’ve made my list.  That last issue of Batgirl established them as being every bit as capable as the rest of the Batfamily, but they’ll never get the respect because of who they are.  I mean, c’mon, Batgirl had a situation under control, Batman and Robin came and, messed everything up, then Dick’s bitching about how Stephanie and Barbara can’t do anything right when he was wrong.  It’s a great character archetype I don’t see much in comics, but feel a lot in life.

  42. Well done Paul!

    Go Iron Man!

  43. @Paul: Thanks for including Locke & Key. I think it needs more exposure has it is one of the better books out right now. GO, GO NOW GET TO THE CHO…. er, I mean GO READ LOCKE & KEY.

    I’d add Jonah Hex. He had a good year in comics and has a movie on the horizon.  I’m sure Ron would agree that both Nova and Darkhawk should get an honorable mention.

  44. NAMOR!!! YES!!!

  45. What about Gus and Mr. Jaffard (if i’m spelling that right)?

  46. Where is Batroc ze Leaper?  Truly the Rodney Dangerfield of supervillians.

  47. BAtrok is sweet! The Plutonian also came to my mind.

  48. ROCKET RACOON!!!!!!!!  Do i need to explain?

  49. I’d say Hercules (Marvel) had a very good year – as did Ares, playing a similar role to Namor – as well as the Inhumans. Thirding the Fantastic Four family (heh), though I guess 2009 was just the tip of the iceberg. On a similar note, Nick Fury.

    Most of the Cabal members had an interesting year – mission accomplished on that one, Marvel – but Namor (and Emma) really did play the moral ambiguity card, which is always a plus in character/plot development.

  50. I would definitely say Hal Jordan and Mon-El. 

  51. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I think of Hal Jordan as a very unexciting character surrounded by many spectacular ones. 

  52. I thought you asked us for input?

  53. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I did. Just expressing an opinion. I considered putting Hal on the list early on given his status in Blackest Night and Cry for Justice, but realized that my own enjoyment of such stories have little to do with him. It’s actually characters like Barry and Ray Palmer who make BN compelling. 

  54. Oh…

  55. Yeah, Hal is quite a vanilla character.

    Tony Chu is a pretty interesting character, but I still feel like I don’t know him all that well. At this point, his most prominent characteristic is that he is sort of a dick.

  56. I always shake my head sadly when people say that Hal is a boring character. We must read different comic books.

  57. I didn’t say he was boring, I said vanilla.

  58. Unexciting/boring/vanilla — they all get head shakes.

  59. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    There’s maybe a BIT or irony in my calling Hal Jordan unexciting, given that Superman is my favorite Superhero.