10 Longest-Running Marvel Characters And Their Year Of Debut


Namor the Sub-Mariner of Marel Comics is set to make his live-action debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and if the latest trailer is anything to go by, the ruler of Talokan (Atlantis in the comics) looks likely to enter the hall of the greatest MCU villains. What makes Namor’s movie debut significant is that he is the first character ever to appear in the pages Marvel Comics.

Like Namor, there are a few other characters who debuted very early on in the comics but haven’t been featured much in other Marvel media. As the MCU continues to expand, there’s hope that these characters will get more recognition. So which characters are the ones that set things in motion on the Marvel pages?


10/10 Aarkus (Vision) – November 1940

The Golden Age vision first appears in Marvel Mystery Comics #13 where he is introduced as an alien policeman from Smokeworld. He is also described as the founder of the Shangri-La.

Even though there is some slight resemblance, Aarkus has little in common with the modern-day Vision, who is a Synthezoid, not an alien. Fans are unlikely to be bothered by the changes made to the character since the new Vision not only has greater influence as the bearer of the Mind Stone but also has one of the most wholesome relationships in Marvel Comics with Scarlet Witch. The older Vision has little interaction with the Avengers too, except for when they need help in finding the Cosmic Cube.

9/10 Thomas “Tommy” Raymond (Toro) – September 1940

Toro made his debut in Human Torch Comics #2 as the Human Torch’s sidekick. Since the end of World War II, the character has been featured only in flashback stories.

Toro could be described as a victim of comic writer neglect, but the snub hardly raises eyebrows because Toro isn’t close to being the coolest comic character. With powers that are too similar to those of Human Torch, he hardly has any unique features to make him one of the best or even the most underrated Marvel Comics sidekicks. His competence is questionable too, such that Human Torch replaced him with a new sidekick at some point. A re-imagination of the character as a member of the Young Allies also failed to impress fans.

8/10 Bruce Dickson (Thin Man) – August 1940

In Mystic Comics #4, the explorer Bruce visits Mount Kalpurthia in Tibet and acquires the powers to become thin at will. He therefore decides to use this ability to fight crime.

Bruce’s case is one of being overshadowed by other heroes that have the same powers as him. These include Elongated Man and Mister Fantastic. Like Toro, his arcs are only tied to World War II, and he hasn’t been seen since. Nonetheless, readers will fondly remember him for helping Captain America defeat the Nazi-allied Red Skull.

7/10 The Eternals – August 1940

Three members of the Eternals (Makkari, Zuras, and Thena), are first seen in 1940’s Red Raven Comics #1. However, the current continuity regarding the same characters stems from a 1970s retcon.

Having recently appeared in the MCU, the Eternals can be thought of as fairing quite well. However, they have rarely appeared in other forms of Marvel media and are also absent in animated projects. With little to base the movie on, it makes sense why it ended up being panned by critics. But hopefully, the Eternals will still go on to be an important part of the franchise.

6/10 Claire Voyant (Black Widow) – August 1940

The first Black Widow shows up in Mystic Comics #4, in which she is said to be the devil’s ambassador on Earth. This version is a spirit medium that communicates with the dead.

Though Natasha Romanoff is the most popular among the different versions of Black Widow, Voyant is quite formidable. She is not only more powerful, thanks to her association with the devil, but is also a great fighter. And since she actually kills and takes people’s souls, the name “Black Widow” suits her more. With Natasha dead in the MCU, now could be a good time to introduce the other Black Widow.

5/10 Richard Jones (Phantom Reporter) – April 1940

The reporter puts on a mask in Daring Mystery Comics #3 to deal with the societal rot he always sees while covering stories. He later inherits powers from the hero Fiery Mask.

Jones has limited appearances in the comics, qualifying him as a D-list hero, but he isn’t just a dull and unnecessary inclusion. Most of his arcs are unforgettable and one of them involves him getting a job with the Daily Bugle as an investigative reporter. Through him, readers get to learn some hobbies of Spider-Man’s greatest enemies. There are also plenty of memorable moments from his time as a member of the superhero group known as The Twelve.

4/10 Jima Gardley (Masked Raider) – October 1939

After being accused of cattle rustling in Marvel Comics #1, Gardley dons a mask and goes on a mission to clear his name. He then comes across the Eternity Mask, which grants him the powers of whichever opponent he faces.

Being able to copy the powers of villains is a great ability to have. Sadly, Gardley gets killed soon after his introduction. It’s easy to imagine the character becoming wildly popular if he’d been allowed to live, especially in the age of Westerns. Sadly, comic writers had different ideas. A new Masked Raider appeared in Marvel Comics #1000, but he was quickly shelved too.

3/10 Thomas Halloway (Angel) – October 1939

Not to be confused with the X-Men founding member Angel, aka Archangel, former surgeon Thomas Halloway appears for the first time in Marvel Comics #1 as the caped superhero also called Angel.

Angel can be credited for making it cool for superheroes to not have any powers at all. Like Batman, he relies on physical prowess and investigative skills, which yield great results most of the time. Unlike Batman, Angel isn’t all nice. He gets to have a stint as an antihero too, when he leads the Scourges of the Underworld in murdering hundreds of lesser-known criminals.

2/10 Jim Hammond (Human Torch) – October 1939

Also making his debut in Marvel Comics #1 is Human Torch, who has the ability to control flames. Sadly, the character fell out of favor in the 1950s but was later repurposed as Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four in 1961.

Compared to other early characters that have fallen out of favor, Human Torch gets fleshed out much better. Apart from numerous adventures, he also gets to be part of some iconic groups such as the All-Winners Squad, Secret Avengers, West Coast Avengers, and Heroes For Hire. With over 50 solo issues, there’s plenty of material for new fans to check out.

1/10 Namor McKenzie (The Sub-Mariner) – April 1939

Namor, Marvel’s first ever mutant, debuted in Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1 in 1939. His title, the Sub-Mariner, stems from the need at the time to make him seem more relevant during World War II.

To some, Namor has always seemed like an Aquaman ripoff, but it’s the other way around since the DC character wouldn’t appear until 1941. Still, it’s hard not to notice how the two characters are extremely similar, especially the fact that they both rule over the aquatic kingdom of Atlantis (though the MCU has changed that to Talokan). With hundreds of Namor tales having been published, it will be interesting to see how faithful the movie franchise stays to the source material.

Next: 10 Superheroes You Forgot Had Movies Before They Joined The MCU


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