Monday, May 23, 2011

Who? Favorite Lesser Characters

Karen: All comics fans can name their favorite comic book stars. But what about those characters who aren't stars, who never headlined a book but still, for whatever reason, got your attention? Maybe they were part of the supporting cast, or a guest star. Maybe they only appeared once. But I bet most comics fans have an obscure favorite or two.

Karen: One of my favorites is the Recorder, a humanoid robot created by the Rigellian colonizers, who used to hang around with T
hor back in the 60s. The Recorder had a funky speech pattern and always seemed to have his hand plugged into his chest for some reason. But he was a loyal friend to the thunder god, and went with him to battle Ego and other nasty menaces. He has popped up time and again in the Marvel universe. I think he switched pantheons at one point and was chumming around with Hercules, back when Herc got his first mini-series.

Karen: Another favorite was Drax the Destroyer, a character who premiered originally in Iron Man 55 and then was a regular guest star in Jim Starlin's Captain Marvel run during the 70s. He had such a great look, with his cape and widow's peak headgear. He
was the dark counterpoint to Mar-Vell. He was turned into a dumb-Hulk like character for awhile (didn't care for that personally) and then revived recently with a much different look and different powers in the Annihilation mini-series. I believe he switched back to his classic costume for one last go-round with Thanos.

Karen: So let's hear names -who are your favorite non-stars?


Doug said...

I would have to say that over the years (not recently, natch -- no grounds for discussion on modern stuff) that I've really enjoyed the Warriors Three. Great comic relief, and their loyalty to Thor and all things Realm Eternal was just great. Most writers got these guys "right" over the years, and their solo adventure in Marvel Spotlight #30 was a hoot. For the most part the movie folks did OK, although Volstagg wasn't nearly as funny as he should have been.


ChrisPV said...

Volstagg makes everything better. If there is any cosmic justice in the universe, there will be a Warriors Three movie.

Although, on a barely related contrarian note, I have nothing but apathy for Balder. Has this guy ever had anything even approaching a defining character trait? Like, at all?

Doug said...

Chris --

He's Brave.

And a heckuva nice guy.

And Karnilla's hot.

There you have it.


david_b said...

Just saw the movie Friday night, and while not knowing much about the Warriors Three, from what I have read, yes I thought Volstagg should have been bigger and funnier, but it was actually a great film.

As for lesser characters..? Great topic, but I had to check back as to what would 'qualify' as a lesser character in the Bronze Age. Spiderman had SUCH a warm and memorable supporting cast for so many years, JJJ and Robbie were so well drawn and filled out.

I'd also say Swordsman, which I'm still tickled I could email Steve Englehart and express my enjoyment of his Avengers writing of him, dispite his descent and demise.

Drax was a cool character that I never read enough up on.., but like some Silver/Bronze characters(Blastaar, Basilisk, Linda Danvers to name a few..), I'm starting to research appearances and collect either reprints or 'readers copies' just to track where they've popped up. SHIELD's Sitwell was another character of interest.

Inkstained Wretch said...

Sticking with Karen's Thor theme, I've really come to like Heracles (Or is it Hercules?).

I recently read Thor Essential Vol. 2, which has his first appearances and they are a hoot. He's like Thor, only worse: Vainer, more arrogant, more destructive, and simply dumber. Basically, an overgrown frat boy. (Well, he is Greek ...)

Yet there is still something oddly likable about the guy. I love how when he needs someone to save him from being forced to take Pluto's place in the underworld Thor steps up despite having gotten grief from Heracles earlier.

Thor's attitude is, "Despite what happened between us, what is being done to him now is unfair. So, yeah, I'll the entire hordes of Hades for the guy."

That's great story telling and a great character to hang it on. Heracles' appearances in the Avengers invariably made me smile too.

Doug said...

I'd add that I liked the general silliness of the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire Justice League. G'Nort was a treat. Shoot, Guy Gardner was a treat! The scene where Batman drops him with one punch is priceless.

david_b said...


TOTALLY agreed on the JL reboot in the '80s. Loved the punch Batman gave.., actually knocked Guy silly for a few issues if I recall.

As for our favorite Hercules.., one of my all-time favorite Avengers panels is in WCA's first annual, where Thor is scooping up Hercules out of his chair as he's devouring a bucket of fried chicken. To paraphrase their exchange...:

"..But Thor, I need food to maintain my strength"

Thor: "I need strength to deal with Thee."

Simple and Perfect.

J.A. Morris said...

I agree with david_b about Basilisk, one of my childhood favorites(I still crack up over his real name being "Basil Elks"!

Some favorite lesser characters:
The Headman were fun and ridiculous villains in the Defenders.
The U-Foes were great Hulk villains, why have they never fought the Fantastic Four?

The Griffin was a favorite. Griffins are cool and Marvel's villain the Griffin was cooler!

Super-Adaptoid and Mimic were great, I've always been a fan of villains who copy heroes abilities. I loved the Silver-Age X-men issue where these two fought each other.

Horace said...

3-D Man!

William said...

One my favorite "obscure" characters was the original White Tiger (Hector Ayala). The first story I read with him in it was in Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #9-10. I loved that story, and thereafter, I would pick up any comic that W.T. appeared in. He showed up in a couple of issues of The Human Fly (great old bronze age comic, btw) and he became a semi-regular guest star in PPTSM. Unfortunately, since he was a third or fourth tier character, the writers screwed with him quite a lot (revealing his secret I.D., having him shot, giving him cancer, etc.) and then our old friend B.M. Bendis eventually ended up killing him (what a shock) while he was writing Daredevil. FYI, I quit reading DD after that and haven't picked up a new issue since.

I was also a fan of Razorback, who coincidently appeared in the pages of PPTSM as well. A character that was created to exploit the CB Radio craze of the 1970's. In his true identity he was Buford Hollis, a truck driver from Texarkana, Arkansas, turned whacky animal themed super hero. I mean, come on, what's not to love?

starfoxxx said...

The All-time greatest lesser character in pop-culture WAS....

BOBA FETT, until Lucas screwed up and gave him an origin.

Two of my favorites in comics are:

and to digress, some of my least favorites, who IMO, got WAY too much attention:

Moira MacTaggert
Wyatt Wingfoot
Heather Hudson

Anonymous said...

David B,

The Swordsman is alive again after the events of Chaos War: Dead Avengers.

ChrisPV said...

Ah, the White Tiger. I loved him too. Although, I have to say he missed a golden opportunity vis a vis his name. If you're Hispanic, and you have the opportunity to call yourself "El Tigre Blanco!" then by God, you should take it.

Redartz said...

Henry Peter Gyrich in the Avengers. He was such a pain in the neck, and produced so much great repartee. Avengers 181 remains one of my favorites for just this reason!

Gray said...

I have to go with the entire Tiger family of heroes...White Tiger, the Bronze Tiger in DC. But no on has mentioned one of my favorites, a guy who used to appear in a lot of Two In One issues with the Thing..the Stingray. I thought he was interesting as a B list hero and he had a great costume! And really have to give a lot of love to all of the B listers that used to show up in Marvel's Contest of Champions mini series. Sabra, Sunfire, The Arabian Knight, The Peregrine, Darkstar, the Marvel lesser characters!

Fred W. Hill said...

I first read a condensed version of that long Thor/Hercules story in the first Thor Treasury Edition, but got the whole shebang in that Essential volume 2. Funny thing, reading that particular volume, it struck me as a genunine graphic novel regarding Thor's relation with Jane Foster -- starting with Donald Blake's first attempt to reveal his true identity to Jane, thwarted by a ticked off Odin taking away his powers, and ending with Jane's failed attempt at becoming a goddess and Thor being reintroduced to Sif. And in the middle there, a frustrated, jealous Thor battling it out with Hercules, getting his tail handed to him when Daddy Odin reduces his power yet again, but Thor ultimately saving Hercules' tail! Personally, I think this is Lee & Kirby's best run ever, even over their stupdendous run on the FF during the same time frame. And of course, this run is also where the Recorder was introduced, as well as the Warriors Three, albeit they didn't appear in the current continuity until the very last yarn, the battle with the Destroyer from the 2nd Annual. They're definitely among my favorite supporting characters, and I like it that at least during the latter Bronze Age years Vollstagg got a little respectful treatment -- a loveable, boastful, timid oaf who'd rather eat than fight, but overall he has a good heart, and is funny as hell.
BTW, I really fell in lust with Karnilla due to John Buscema's lovely rendition of her in those stories from the early '70s. I had a hard time comprehending why Balder was resisting her so much (well, ok, Balder did have the hots for his best friend’s girl -- Thor really was a soap opera, but with gods! -- and Karnilla was sometimes evil and had a wicked disposition, but oooh, she was so sexy!)

Anonymous said...


No love for Willie Lumpkin?

I dunno, kids today.....

B Smith

Rip Jagger said...

Hobie Brown better known as The Prowler makes my list. He was a worthy Spidey opponent despite some of the most basic equipment. He's the kind of foe/ally that Spidey didn't get much as more powerful supertypes proliferated.

I think the Prowler did get a limited (who didn't actually) but it was post-Bronze Age.

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

Hmmm, is Hercules really a "lesser" character (in any sense of the word 'lesser')?
Otherwise, totally agree that Robbie Robertson is truly one of the best supporting, 'lesser' characters.
I'd also add the Inhumans - I know they even had their own series at least twice in the Bronze Age, but they never seemed top-tier.
And starfoxxx: Boba Fett? Are you kidding? Everyone knows the awesomest Star Wars bounty hunter is IG-88...

ChrisPV said...

IG-88 isn't a bounty hunter. He's a prop. ;)

Dougie said...

I understand lesser characters here to mean those who didn't have their own strip, whether that was a one-off or not. That eliminates Medusa, whom I preferred as a villainess anyway. Also, Woodgod, from one of my earliest Byrne comics.
I'm voting for Moondragon, whom I discovered via Daredevil. I know Englehart made her egotistical and Shooter made her an antagonist; but I always found her attractive and vulnerable,like Lt. Ilia! (I know Moony had a solo Avengers strip- but that was post-Bronze Age!)

starfoxxx said...

I'm enjoying the mentions of these second (or third) bananas.

Gray, I like Stingray, too, best costume ever,IMO.
I also like the intenational heroes from Contest/Champions.
I've stated before, I wouldn't mind if the MU stopped creating new heroes/villains right after the Contest/Champions.
Shamrock, another great costume.
I like RIP's mention of the Prowler, too, another great look.
And Dougie, I also love Moondragon. I'd like to see her and Quicksilver interact, two of the biggest Marvel jerks.
I hope you caught her in Abnett/Lanning's GUARDIANS ofthe GALAXY (man, i miss that book).

I would love to see Shroud, Stingray, Shamrock, Moondragon, and Prowler get their Marvel Legends action figures. And a Darkstar/Vanguard 2-pack. I guess Scuba-Spidey sells better.

Shane said...

I have no idea what happened to her after the early 80's, but Jocosta broke my heart when she left Avengers mansion after Moondragon summoned a bunch of heroes to form a new line up. Poor Jocosta.

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