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My Heroes Haven't Always Been Cowboys

  • Sep 20, 2011
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I spent a great deal of my youth and quite a bit of my early adulthood reading comic books.  I quickly found myself identifying with certain heroes (and even a few villains) and became attached to quite a few of them.  I loved each character for different reasons and still love most of them to this day.  Here's a short list of some of my favorite comic book heroes (and maybe a villain or two) and why I fell in love with each character.  I hope you enjoy!


As I attend more and more science fiction and comic book conventions, I'm finding that Nightcrawler has a much larger fanbase than I was aware of.  Growing up in a rural area, there weren't many people out there who shared my love of Kurt Wagner and his prehensile tail.  While Nightcrawler wasn't my first favorite superhero, he has definitely developed into my favorite.  I was first drawn to the character because he was dashing and extremely outgoing despite his physical appearance.  These were qualities I longed for.  I also wanted his power of teleportation, since it could be used to easily escape or to help others.  As I grew older (and Nightcrawler developed even more), I converted to Catholicism and was surprised to find out that my favorite hero had actually become a priest in the comics.  In my world, I was always considered one of the least likely people to become Catholic, and in Wagner's world, he was the most un-Christian looking person to become a priest.  For his misfit qualities, Nightcrawler tops my list.

Thor (Donald Blake)
While I was drawn to Nightcrawler's outgoing ways, it was Thor's strength and self-assuredness that drew me to him.  I loved the fact that Thor could walk into just about any situation and know without a doubt that he would be walking out the victor.  Of course, being the God of Thunder would make just about anyone confident, so it was no surprise that Thor's ego often got in his way.  I'm also drawn to Thor because he is one of the few things that myself and my father have in common.  My dad rarely read anything, having grown up working in rice fields and spending much of his free time either hunting or making mischief in the woods around his childhood home.  He told me that the only thing he would ever read was comics, and that was only when he would join his family in town on their monthly trip to the grocery store.  He never owned a comic book, but he would go to the newsstand and read as much of Thor as he could until it was time to leave the store.  That adds sentimental value to Thor in my book, and he'll always be one of my favorite heroes for this reason.

Gambit, Marvel, Comic Characters
Gambit popped up in my late childhood, but he quickly became a favorite character of mine for the simple fact that he was from Louisiana.  There aren't many Louisiana heroes out there, so I immersed myself in this shady mutant from the Bayou State.  Heck, I even started playing card games more often in the hopes that one day I could charge up a card and blow something up with it.  I often struggled over whether or not he or Nightcrawler was my favorite member of the X-Men, but knew in my heart that if Gambit weren't from Louisiana, he'd be lower on my popularity list.  Still, I love the fact that he's one of the most popular X-Men out there, which gives my home state a little more attention. 

Daredevil is one of my favorite superheroes for the fact that he shouldn't even be a superhero. He has a lot going against him. For starters, he's blind, which you would think puts him at a disadvantage in a fight, but actually works for him. Secondly, I know of very few characters who have had a tougher life than he has. He has lost a lot of people in his life, including his father who was murdered and a wife who was driven insane. Despite all of this, he manages to deliver an endless onslaught of buttwhippings to a large group of villains. On top of all of this, he's Catholic, which gives me something in common with him.


Very few of the heroes on this list are as cocky as Thor, but Hellboy is definitely a close second.  He's a demon meant to destroy mankind who is raised as a do-gooder by his adopted father, Professor Broom.  He spends his days as part of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense fighting apocalyptic bad guys and pretty much keeping the human realm safe from evil.   

I think the primary reason that I like Hellboy so much is that he's such a hilarious character.  He's a demon but is afraid of his father seeing him smoke cigars.  He loves kittens.  He thinks he's ugly because he's so different from everyone else.  In short, he's a walking, talking oxymoron. Oh, and he's Catholic to boot!

Batman (Bruce Wayne)
Batman has always been one of my favorite superheroes.  Why?  Probably for the same reasons that everyone else loves him.  He's a normal guy with abnormal wealth, wisdom, and abilities and one of a very short list of heroes with absolutely no superpowers or supernatural gifts.  This makes him a lot more interesting than someone like Superman, who comes off as boring in my book.  Superman is too super.  I enjoy the fact that Bruce Wayne is an emotionally scarred character who sometimes goes over the edge.  He's the most human superhero out there.

Much like Batman, the reasons for loving Spider-Man are obvious.  I'm a nerd.  He's a nerd.  I had a major crush on a pretty girl in school but was too shy to talk to her.  So did he (although eventually he got around to asking MJ out and eventually the two hit it off quite well).  We both dealt with bullies.  In short, Peter Parker was every nerd who has ever walked the halls of a high school but unlike every other nerd out there, he was granted amazing abilities that helped him rise above his problems.  With that said, however, his powers brought him even more problems, usually in the form of villains like Venom, the Lizard, and Doctor Octopus.


After a very brief stint of not regularly reading comics in high school, the summer of 1994 (my first in college) found me reading Top Cow/Image Comics' brief series Codename:  Strykeforce.  Image was still a very young company and Marc Silvestri's Top Cow Productions released a number of titles that I enjoyed.  Killrazor quickly became my favorite member of the Strykeforce team, simply because he was the most mysterious.

His power was strong and lethal, but also very painful.  He could make blades portrude from any part of his body at any time.  The blades grew as long as he wanted them to, but they also left his body scarred beyond belief.  On top of this, he was a martial arts expert and hired hitman.  Although Codename:  Strykeforce didn't last very long, it made me a big fan of Killrazor.

The Punisher (Frank Castle)
As I grew older, my taste in comics grew darker and more violent.  Like Batman, the Punisher lacks superhuman powers.  Unlike Batman, he has no money or desire to let his enemies live.  Punisher is hellbent on cleaning up the streets and will stop at nothing to get that job done.  Punisher uses any and every means necessary to remove criminals permanently, and he is quite possibly the most violent hero you'll ever run into.  Criminals cringe in fear when they see that white skull bearing down on them.  From guns to grenades, Frank Castle always gets the bad guy.

Jae Lee's Hellshock was a kick in the teeth to a guy like me who grew up reading Spider-Man and Uncanny X-Men, but it was a nice kick.  Hellshock is actually a being born out of forbidden love.  An archangel named Jonakand gives in to lust and impregnates a teenaged girl.  Her son, named Daniel, is given up and ends up in a long chain of foster homes.  For his carnal actions, Jonakand is tossed into Hell.  Not happy with his living situation, he attempts to find the young girl whom he loved and bring her back to Hell with him.  Daniel is beginning to realize that he's something special, and eventually finds himself protecting his mother from his father.  This comic was a cool, albeit brief, ride for me.  Lee's artwork was amazing, and the Hellshock character has stuck with me ever since.  I recently learned that the complete series is now available in a graphic novel, and the college guy in me wants to pick up a copy.

The Flash
I'm fat.  I've always been fat, and one aspect of being fat is that I am slow.  Needless to say, I was drawn to the Flash for the fact that he is fast and I am slow. As I look back on my life, I've come to realize that I loved a lot of the DC characters as a child because they were the most "fantastic" beings.  As I grew older, I started to enjoy Marvel's more human, gritty heroes and the numerous social issues they faced.  The Flash is one of those gee-whiz DC characters that I loved as a child, and as soon as I skinny myself up a bit, I'm going to get one of those Flash costumes for Halloween!

Cyclops (Scott Summers)

A born leader, Cyclops is responsible for keeping the rest of the X-Men in line.  For the most part, he does a pretty good job of it.  I love the fact that Cyclops can blast the snot out of anyone with just a flick of his visor.  I also love the fact that he isn't afraid to butt heads with good guys or bad guys, particularly Wolverine. 

Captain America
How could I create a superhero list without ol' Cap?  Captain America is a patriot, a leader, and represents everything good about the U.S. of A.  When Steve Rogers goes into action, you know that failure isn't an option.  He's the golden boy of Marvel's stable in my book, and he's one of those heroes that you just have to love.  While he has definitely undergone quite a few changes of the years, he is, was, and always will be my favorite patriot.

What did you think of this list?

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September 29, 2011
Enjoyed your list a lot K. One hero I might have added is Iron Fist, but like you grew up with some of these characters, I realize that not everyone grows up reading the same comics. Looking forward to your "Lady" list -- lemme know when it is up!
September 30, 2011
September 20, 2011
Great list! I also really enjoy superheroes who are less super and more hero and more human. It's much more relatable if you can imagine yourself kicking ass like the heros/heroines in the comics and it's nice to know that at the end of the day, they're only human like the rest of us!
About the list creator
Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #17
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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