Thank you for checking out this list. I worked very hard on it and have updated if four about four years, and I honestly spent way too much time working on it. I made this list because I wanted to find the greatest heroes of . All Time is the key phrase. Not just who is cool and known today. In other-words I wanted something better than an opinion or a popularity contest. I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of comic readers either only read recent comic books or are reading a very small portion of older books. This does not necessarily make them bad fans, after all it is sometimes hard to find a whole run of books of books for a decent price. That said, with more and more Golden Age books becoming available on-line for free it is becoming easier to see these older heores in their hay-day.
The sad part is heroes that were huge for decades become unknowns because the company that produced them went out of business or was bought out by another company. What many don't seem to know is that the company going out of business usually was not reflected in their popularity. Captain Marvel is the biggest example of this. More popular than Superman DC Comic sued the Fawcett Publications and led to the DC bankrupting Fawcett. Later, DC bought the rights to the character and did virtually nothing with him. Then DC lost the rights to even use the Name Captain Marvel to Marvel comics further pushing Captain America into obscurity.
It is not only business that changes the character popularity but fads change for example war comics and westerns were huge a few decades ago but are all but non existent now. Take a look at a character like Blackhawk. He was huge for decades but you rarely see him anymore. He had films and theme songs and all sort of things. He was one of the biggest comic heroes there ever were but most readers today never even heard of him. Check out his page on the vine. Ice has a better page and she never had one self titled issue ever.
So, while I was conceptualizing this list I had to find a way to rank the charters who are the greatest in comics of all time. The best way I came up with is to count their self titled issues. A self titled issue is a comic the uses the name and only the name of the main character to sell the book. Quite often new heroes will have a book title that is trying to make the character more appealing like Superman in Action, Spectacular Spider-man, Incredible Hulk, Sensational Comics, and Tales of Suspense. Eventually, the hero becomes well enough known that they get their own book. Sometimes, this takes too long but only the biggest and best get a self titled series for an extended period of time.
Not only is it true that only the greatest heroes given their own self titled book for an extended period but they also almost always only print one self titled book at a time. The other books are made with adjectives to differentiate the many titles. I didn't want this to turn into a who has the most appearances list. It is more about sustainability and marketability over a period of time. I will grant you that it is not flawless. For example Spider-man is lower than then some think he should be but, he still made the list because he is one of the greatest heroes of all times.
The other side of this is the "B-List" heroes. I see so many reviews and posts that will list a legendary hero arbitrarily as a B-List hero. One of the most famous of these is Booster Gold. So much so that he B-List status has actually become part of his character and yet he has had 74 issues in his two self titled books. There is not that many characters that can support their book that long and Booster is still going strong as a hero. Comics are made to make money and Booster would not have the runs he has had without fan support.
This list sets out to prove something. Most comic readers think that they know a lot about comics without knowing the past. Most readers start reading at a certain time and don't really bother or don't have the chance to look at older comics. The point is they don't understand the popularity of characters like Dick Tracy, Green Hornet or even the Blue Beetle. For example most people don't even know who the first Blue Beetle was or that his first comic came out within a few months of heroes like Superman and Batman.
Blue Beetle Dan Garret/Garrett was huge in his day with Fox Comics. Blue Beetle was the figure head for the franchise. he even starred in a book called the Big 3. This was Blue Beetle, The Flame and Samson. It would be like DC's Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman today. Had Blue Beetle been in DC Comics he would be one of the staples of the franchise. There are numerous characters like the this. Spirit, Lone Ranger, Jonah Hex and the Phantom that have movies and shows and comic series that have lasted decades but most fans miss the flavor of what comics are and dismiss them as B-List heroes. I invite you to look back and see the greatest comic characters of all times.
Any good list requires guidelines to follow. Here they are.
- All the characters can not be too cartooney. There are a few characters however that bordered on the too cartooney rule and I added them. They are the characters like the Riverdale characters, Joe Palooka, and Scooby Doo. These characters for reasons explained below are the exception. To be completely fair. I added an extra entry for each one of these exceptions so you can make up your mind if they belong or not and still have a top 100 list. (Update: I had to add the extra entries to the bottom of this page Honorable Mention because of the new 100 limit for ordered lists. So they are still here just not listed as and entry. I also added any English language hero with sixty or more self titled issues)
- Only self titled books are counted. This means that it has to have the character's name and only the character's name in order for it to count. For example Superman, Clark Kent and Superman: Clark Kent would all count. Things that would not count would be Superman in Action, The Adventures of Clark Kent, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen or Lois and Clark. After all this is a list of characters with self titles books and that is what a self titled book is.
- Team issues are not in this list. I am looking for individuals. No books like Fantastic Four, Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles and so on.
- I am looking at who the star is for each book. Take Green Lantern for example. There have been several Green Lantern books, but several different characters were the star from Alan Scott to Kyle Rayner. I am going to count the hero who is the star and not count them as all the same for one Green Lantern tally.
- No rebooting. When a character like Superman (in Superboy comics) is rebooted to be Superboy-Prime) I count who he was at the time. When the original Superboy books were written they were suppose to be Superman. It was only later rebooted to be Superboy-Prime)
- When tallying the number of issues in a series I have added the annuals and specials in. This is the case as long as they qualify for the self titled criteria. So a book that has 37 issues 3 Annuals and 5 specials would say that it has 45 issues for the series instead of listing every annual and special separately.
- I will not count reprints of the series. Sometimes comics and even whole runs of comics have been reprinted I am only counting the first run.
- I will not have any non English comics. The reason for this is only a lack of information. I have not found a reliable source that lists all the comics from a particular country. Comicvine is great but still incomplete. I can also only read English, and a little Spanish and German. So if anyone has a reliable and complete source they can refer me to I will look closer into it. Also note that I may miss some English language books due them being printed in another country like England and Australia. I may miss some heroes but I will add them as I become aware of them. If you see someone who is missing, let me know.
- Lastly, I will update this list from time to time but considering all the work I will not do it every week just because one new issue came out. If I missed someone or made a glaring mistake let me know.
- Keep in mind that this list changes from year to year, month to month and week to week. Whenever a current self titled issue comes out the numbers change. If I fall behind on a issue let me know and I will change it.
I hope you enjoy the work I put into this list and recommend it to others. Thank you.
70 - a star in nearly all forms of media Lassie also showed her stuff in the comic world with the self titled comic series that ran during the popularity of the television show in the 1950's.
Lassie 70 Issues (Updated 10-26-2013)
- Lassie (1950) 70 Issues
69 – The Original Daredevil got a little bit of exposure with Dynamite Entertainment after wallowing in obscurity. Thank God. Although his first and so far only self titled series lasted 134 issues he only appeared in the first 69 issues.
Daredevil 69 Issues (Updated 9-20-2013)
- Daredevil (1941) 69 Issues
68 - Jesse Custer A.K.A. Preacher is not exactly your traditional superhero type but back in the mid 90's he was a hugely popular character with a long running series lasting a little over five years.
Preacher 66 Issues (Updated 11-4-2013)
- Preacher (1995) 66 Issues
68 - Katy Keen is a supermodel on Archie Universe, and as such I've added mainly due to crossovers like Punisher meets Archie. Katy however really has transformed into an even less cartooony character than Archie in style.
Katy Keen 68 Issues (Updated 10-26-2013)
- Katy Keen (1949) 62 Issues, 6 Annuals = 68
67 – Dark Horse set up a new universe called Comic's Greatest World. Although it may not have been the greatest it did prove that there is room in the comic world for a great universe. The Comic's Greatest World was an awesome superhero universe and Ghost was the Greatest of these characters. X being a close second. This however is about Ghost whom I have read is getting here own ongoing series again. I can only hope she does.
Ghost 66 Issues (Updated 12-22-2013)
- Ghost (1995) 36 Issues, 3 Specials = 39
- Ghost (1998) 22 Issues
- Ghost (2012) 5 Issues
- Ghost (2013) 1 Issue (still on going)
67 - There have been numerous Captain Marvels in the Marvel Universe alone. Not even to mention the others. This Captain Marvel (Genis-Vell) is the third in line as Captain Marvel for the Marvel universe and has definitely put his stamp on the comic world and this list.
Captain Marvel 67 Issues (Updated 9-18-2013)
- Captain Marvel (2000) 36 Issues
- Captain Marvel (2002) 25 Issues
66 – The original Green Hornet not to be confused by his son has had a legacy of self titled comics going back to 1967. Created as a radio character in Detroit along with the Lone Ranger it is no wonder that the two share a family tie.
- Green Hornet (1967) 3 Issues
- Green Hornet (1989) 14 Issues
- Green Hornet (1991) 40 Issues, 2 Annuals = 42
- Green Hornet (2013) 7 Issues (Still on going)
65 - Dreadstar had his own self titled series with Marvel Comics (Epic Comics) for 65 issues.
64 - Doc Savage has been around since before comic books even existed. Starting out in a series of novels Doc Savage has been converted to comics in both old and new stories.
- Doc Savage (1966) 1 Issue
- Doc Savage (1972) 8 Issues
- Doc Savage (1975) 8 Issues
- Doc Savage (1987) 4 Issues
- Doc Savage (1988) 24 Issues, 1 Annual = 25
- Doc Savage (2010) 18 Issues
64 - Candy O'Connor is one those character that goes back to the time when comics were actually comical. She starred in a very humorous comic called Candy in the 1940' and 1950's. I would love to this character brought back as a supporting character in another comic. Like a friend to Booster Gold or something like that.
- Candy (1947) 64 Issues
63 - Quasar (1989) 60 Issues, 3 Specials = 63
63 – I can honestly see no reason not to have Barbie make this list, but if you don't think she does notice my honorable mention section above and add one to the list. Barbie it one of two entries on this list (Rom being the other) that started out as a toy. To me a barbie comic sounds like it would fail flat out but no. The Barbie fans a huge and the 63 strait issues proves that.
- Barbie (1991) 63 Issues
62 - Deathlok is one of my favorite Marvel characters. He seems so underrated in the Marvel Universe, but even so he has had four series putting him on this list above so many Marvel characters that might be coincided more popular.
- Deathlok (1990) 4 Issues
- Deathlok (1991) 72 issues 4 Specials, 2 annuals = 78
- Deathlok (1999) 67 Issues
- Deathlok (2010) 13 Issues
62 - There have been numerous Captain Marvels and it really is very confusing. What I found is there was only one series for the original Captain Marvel that lasted 62 Issues. He how ever has been suppressed on this list by two of his predecessors. That said. It all starts with the original.
- Captain Marvel (1970) 62 Issues
62 - Hitman
- Hitman (1996) 61 Issues, 1 Special = 62
61 - Here is another character with no name. He is officially called Frankenstein's Monster or the monster of Frankenstein. Sometimes he is called Frankenstein after the man who made him. I counted all these as his name. He was also called Doc Frankenstein in one series but in all case he is the same character but different wrters took different avenues after the famous Mary Shelley Novel.
Frankenstein's Monster 283 Issues (Updated 9-21-2013)
- Frankenstein (1945) 29 Issues
- Frankenstein (1964) 4 Issues
- Frankenstein Monster (1973) 18 Issues
- Frankenstein (1983) 1 Issues
- Frankenstein (1989) 3 Issues
- Doc Frankenstein (2004) 6 Issues
61 - Mister Miracle has had three self titled series with DC Comics the first was 26 issues, the second was 28 issues and the third was 7 issues.
61 - Azrael (Jean-Paul Valley)had one fifty issue self titled series before it was changed to Azrael: Agent of the Bat. Jean-Paul Valley was also Batman in his own title as Batman for 11 issues.