I like to call this the Dude Edition.
Jamie Madrox has an incredibly rich history, first with the Muir Island X-Men, then with Peter David in X-Factor (vol. 1) and again with Peter David in X-Factor’s current run. Being the Multiple Man means he has an infinite number of plots to follow, and under PAD’s skillful hand, he seems to be working through a whole hell of a lot of them.
Though I find his past X-Factor exploits enjoyable, it’s the self-aware monologuing noir detective I love. Everything about X-Factor makes me happy, but it’s Theresa Cassidy and Jamie Madrox that really make the series for me.
I don’t even know where I could begin to explain just why his exploits in X-Factor (multiple and varied as they are) are such a joy to read. It’s PAD’s writing. It’s Jamie’s ability to be anywhere he wants, learn whatever he wants. It’s how rounded he is as a character, but how incomplete and alone he feels. It’s how he puts that down to having multiple duplicates roaming the world, but I believe it’s just because he’s human.
He’s so human it aches.
I’ve watched him stumble, fall, pull himself up and get kicked back down in the dirt just to climb up again. And, like any of us, when he reaches his breaking point, it takes so much to realize he can be a person, that he can matter again.
Jamie does it all with such wit and self-awareness that I can’t help but love him at his best and at his worst.
To go into Billy Kaplan’s true backstory as the reincarnated soul of one of the Scarlet Witch’s sons would be a bit confusing for anyone who hasn’t read Young Avengers, so I’ll just stick to his original introduction. Billy was just another small, smart kid, picked on in high school for being different — in this case, gay. He discovered his powers one day, and after a young Kang the Conqueror from the future found him, he joined the original four that would create the Young Avengers, modeling himself after none other than Thor.
What truly drew me to Billy in the beginning was that I hadn’t really seen his type of story before. Hell, I’d never seen a functioning, healthy gay couple in comics before, and Billy and Teddy’s (aka Hulkling) relationship was like a breath of fresh air. That little difference was enough for me to latch on to Billy. No, I’ve never truly been teased or picked on, but I’ve felt like an outsider in different ways, be it my skin color, my initial shyness, my geeky enthusiasm for anything I truly loved.
Billy is the geek in me, an example of a kid who started at a low point but found the friends, the cause and the strength to rise above it all, to forge his way toward becoming his own person and one of the most powerful people in the entire Marvel universe. He’s growing and changing, and it’s a beauty to watch under Allan Heinberg’s loving hand.
All that, and he loves The Sound of Music, has a Lord of the Rings poster on his bedroom door, and he picked Thor to emulate because he was a huge nerd for all things Norse myth. I couldn’t ask for more.
I have a dirty little secret: I didn’t know a thing about Iron Man until the first movie came out.
Sure, I knew he was an Avenger, and I knew Tony Stark was a playboy, but that was where my knowledge started and ended. It wasn’t until I saw the movie and after that began to really dig into superhero comics, that I started to see and care about who Iron Man truly was. It was when I went back to read all of Civil War and saw myself understanding and in some cases siding with Tony that I realized how much I loved him.
At the heart of it all, Tony Stark is a man who wants to change the world for the better, but is so consumed by the big picture that he fails to realize the sort of consequences his actions create.
It was hard picking my top three across the board, and I have to include some runners up: Johnny Storm, Spider-Man, Gambit, Steve Rogers, Warpath. And the lone non-Marvel, Rick Grimes, who isn’t exactly a superhero, but is on my list of favorite comic book characters.