Comparing the US and UK Music Charts of the 1960s

It’s been a while since I posted anything, but I wanted to quickly share some information that I’ve gathered that compares how successful artists were in the US and the UK during the 1960s (the plan is to do more decades in the future).

To judge success, I assigned points based upon the Top 40 charts for both countries. The artist with the #1 song for each week got 40 points, the artist with the #2 song for each week got 39. I made sure that, in the case of a duet, both artists received credit; summed it up and did some quick math.

The first chart shows how many times both the US and UK charts shared artists in the Top 10, Top 25 and Top 50 per year. What I was surprised to find was just how different the US and UK charts were. Among the Top 50 artists in each country during the 60s, during the peak of Beatlemania and the English Invasion, there was only an average of 33% overlap between the charts. For the Top 25 and Top 10 artist, the average was even lower, only about 26%.

The next chart shows the artists that had the most success, per year, on both the US and the UK charts. The bar chart shows how successful the artist was in the US that year while the circle shows how successful that same artist was on the UK charts that year.

Next, I wanted to take a look at the artist who had the greatest discrepancy in success for the year between the US and UK charts. Here’s the artists who were more successful on the US charts than the UK charts. I was surprised to see that The Beatles “won” for 1964. It’s not that the Beatles weren’t successful in the UK, it’s just that they were so much more successful in the US than they were in the UK. As you can see, nobody else even came close to being as successful in any year as the Beatles were in 1964 in the US.

The next chart is a reverse of the one above, showing which bands dominated in the UK but were largely absent from the US. Some of these artist I had heard of (Cliff Richard in the early 60s, British Beatlemania of 1963, Englebert Humperdink (???) in 1967 and Tom Jones in 1968). I was also kind of amazed to see Fleetwood Mac here for 1969. That being said, I have absolutely no idea who Jim Reeves and Sandie Shaw were, let alone “Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky Mick and Tich” – what kind of a name is that?

Well, that’s it for now. Stay tuned for the next entry in this series when I take a look at the music charts of the 1970s

Written by Dave Curewitz

TOP 100 COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS: #80-#71

We’re continuing our countdown of the Top Comic Book Characters.
To see how these rankings were generated, click here
To see who was ranked #100 to #91, click here
To see who was ranked #90 to #81, click here

#80 – Green Lantern – John Stewart

Introduced in 1971 as the “backup” Green Lantern for Earth’s sector 2814 to Hal Jordan, the character largely languished in obscurity until the mid-1980s, when he was prominently featured in Crisis on Infinite Earths and Hal Jordan briefly retired from his position. He had a romantic relationship with fellow Green Lantern Katma Tui, but she was later murdered, and he was stripped of his ring by the evil ex-Lantern Sinestro. Following the collapse of the Green Lanterns, Stewart joined the Darkstars and kept peace in the galaxy; but when the Green Lantern Corps reformed (and when Hal Jordan went insane/died), Stewart once again became the primary Green Lantern for this sector of space and was a prominent member of the Justice League in the early 2000s. Even after Hal Jordan came back to life and herodom as Green Lantern, Stewart continued to wear the ring and serve as a member of the Green Lantern Corps. He has not yet appeared on either TV or in movies, but there are Internet rumors that the John Diggle character in the Arrow TV series will become the John Stewart version of Green Lantern.

Like fellow Green Lantern Guy Gardner (#83), Stewart’s most frequent collaborations are with members of the Green Lantern Corps or with members of the Justice League:

John Stewart appears as an important character (50+ issues) in only one comic – the third Green Lanterns series, where he appeared in 71 issues between 1990 and 2004.

#79 – Venom

Introduced in 1984 as, literally, Spider-Man’s new costume; the character was eventually revealed to be an alien symbiote that attaches itself to a host and merges with it. After Spider-Man went back to his original costume, Venom merged with disgraced Daily Bugle reporter Eddie Brock and the two united to become one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes. Venom would pass into a few different hands over the years (including Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s high school bully Flash Thompson) and, depending upon its host, would shift between villain, hero, and anti-hero. After spending a few years in outer space as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Venom has returned to Earth and is once again paired with Eddie Brock. He was recently portrayed by Tom Hardy as the Eddie Brock version of the character in the 2018 movie, Venom.

The symbiote’s most frequent appearances were with Spider-Man, his hosts (Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson) as well as Spider-Man villains, and the more prominent members of the Marvel Universe:

Venom is featured as a recurring character in Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1, where he appeared in 59 issues between 1984 and 2018.

#78 – Superboy – Kon-El

Following the “death” of Superman in the iconic 1993 storyline, “Kon-El” was introduced as one of the man of steel’s replacements. He is a bio-engineered organism created by the villainous CADMUS organization to resemble Superman as much as possible. He starts off as an immature teenager but slowly grows into a champion befitting the hero in whose image he was created.

Kon-El strikes up a relationship with the returned-to-life Superman, who has his own parents adopt and raise the youngster, whom he calls his cousin. He went on to become a member of Young Justice, the Teen Titans, and the 31st Century Legion of Super Heroes. He had a strong friendship with Tim Drake (the 3rd Robin) and a romantic relationship with Cassie Sandsmark (the 2nd Wonder Girl). He lost his life during the 2005 Infinite Crisis storyline, only to be returned to life in 2009, where he is in the 31st Century and fighting the evil “Superboy-Prime”. When the New 52 was formed in 2011, Kon-El’s backstory was changed. When the DC Rebirth universe was relaunched in 2016, the character was retconned, replaced by the new Jonathan Samuel Kent (the son of a Superman and Lois Lane from a parallel/destroyed Earth); although recent developments hint at his return. He has yet to appear in any live-action TV or films.

His most frequent partnerships were with members of the Superman family (Superman, Lois, Steel, Supergirl and even Lex Luthor) as well as members of the Teen Titans and Young Justice (including Tim Drake’s Robin, Impulse and his longtime girlfriend Cassie Sandsmark/Wonder Girl):

As for long-running series, he appeared in 101 issues of the Superboy Volume 4, which ran between 1994 and 2002.

#77 – Hawkman – Carter Hall

Carter Hall was an archeologist who learned that he was the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian prince who regained his lost memories once he touched the knife used to murder him. Fusing together his past and present selves, he creates a belt from the mysterious Nth Metal that allow him to fly and arms himself with medieval weapons to fight crime, including the evil Dr. Hastor (the reincarnation of the man of killed him). He goes on to become the chairman of the Justice Society, the world’s first team of superheroes. He also discovers that his girlfriend is the reincarnation of his previous life’s love and the two eventually marry. This version of Hawkman disappeared in the early 1950s as the Golden Age of Comics came to an end; but he was later revived when Earth-Two was reintroduced as a parallel universe during the Silver Age. Now there was also a Hawkman in the Earth-One reality, but that was an alien with a similarly-named Katar Hol; but the two were treated as distinct characters. Carter Hall’s Hawkman frequently appeared in the JSA/JLA crossovers, the All-Star Squadron series from the early 1980s and in the later Infinity Inc. series when he was revealed to be the father of the hero Silver Scarab. When Crisis on Infinite Earths rewrote the DC Universe, the Carter Hall version of the character remained. In later versions of the series, it is revealed that Katar Hol was just another reincarnation of Carter Hall, although the two lived at the same time. In the new DC Prime Universe, the World War II era character has been replaced by a different merged version of the archeologist and Thanagarian warrior; but there are hints that the Golden-Age Hawkman will soon make a reappearance. A version of the character was played by Falk Hentschel during the first season of Legends of Tomorrow.

His most frequent collaborators are with either his Justice Society counterparts and members of the Justice League (several of which had the same name as their Golden Age counterparts which were also counted in these totals):

As for long-running series, he appeared in 104 issues of the Golden Age Flash Comics between 1939 and 1948 as well as in 73 issues of the Golden-Age (and relaunched 1970s series with continued numbering) of All-Star comics.

#76 – Maria Hill

A former Marine, Maria quicly rose through the ranks of S.H.E.I.L.D. and is seen as follow-the-rules kind of leader. During the Civil War storyline of the mid-2000s, she has been promoted to the head of the organization and is seen as upholding the Superhuman Registration Act to the point of sending agents after non-complying superheroes such as Captain America and Spider-Man. When Tony Stark becomes appointed head of S.H.E.I.L.D., she becomes his deputy director; although at first she does not trust the instincts of her new boss, the two eventually for a friendship. She eventually becomes the organizations liason to the Avengers, and is promoted to acting director and once again, director, of the organization; but due to recent developments she has been removed from that position. She is portrayed by Cobie Smoulders in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Her most frequent appearances were made with various members of the Avengers, which often work with S.H.E.I.L.D., especially Tony Stark’s Iron Man due to his tenure as the head of that agency.

She has yet to appear in at least 50 issues of any one series. Her most frequent appearance was in the Invincible Iron Man series between 2007 and 2012 where she appeared in 32 issues.

#75 – Perry White

The first “normal human” on the list is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet. The character actually first appeared as a character in the 1940 Adventures of Superman radio drama and he then replaced George Taylor as the Daily Planet editor in late 1940 and has been there pretty much ever since. Besides being the boss of Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, Perry is known for his exclamations “Great Caesar’s Ghost” and “Don’t call me Chief”. He was heavily featured in the “Superman Family” of comics of the 1950s and 1960s, but by the time the 1970s started and DC and Marvel started releasing more titles; his prominence faded. Still, he’s appeared in at least one comic ever since 1940. He’s been portrayed on TV by John Hamilton and Lane Smith and on the big screen by Jackie Cooper, Frank Langella and Lawrence Fishburne.

His most frequent collaborations were with other members of the expanded Superman family, including the staff of the Daily Planet, the family of Clark Kent and even his nemesis Lex Luthor. He also shows up with Batman and the original Robin due to their joint appearances in the long-running World’s Finest series.

Compared to the previous characters on the list, Perry White has appeared regularly in multiple Superman-related comics. He’s been in 238 issues of Action Comics between 1940 and 2018; 152 issues of Superman Volume 1 between 1940 and 2011; 91 issues of World’s Finest Volume 1 between 1941 and 1985; 76 issues of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen Volume 1 between 1954 and 1971; 63 issues of the Adventures of Superman between 1986 and 2005; 63 issues of Superman Volume 2 between 1987 and 2006 and 62 issues of Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane Vol 1 between 1958 and 1974.

#74 – Starfire

A princess from the planet Tamaran, Koriand’r was betrayed by her elder sister who was passed over for the throne for her younger sister. Her sister was captured by alien invaders and tortured. She was able to escape after being granted enhanced abilities and found her way to Earth where she quickly befriended (and subsequently joined) the Teen Titans. She was a member of the group when it was at its peak of popularity in the 1980s. After leaving the team in the early 1990s, she largely disappeared from the DC Universe until a new version of the team formed in 1999. Since then, she has also been a member of the Outsiders and spent several years fight with the Red Hood and his team, the Outlaws. Most recently, she has been named the leader of the newest version of the Teen Titans. She is portrayed by Anna Diop in the DC Comic’s streaming series Titans and has been voiced by Hynden Walch in the long running Teen Titans/Teen Titans Go animated franchise.

Her most frequent collaborators are various members of the Teen Titans, as well as DC’s “Big Three” (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman).

She has appeared in 57 issues of the New Titans series which ran between 1988 and 1995 and well as in 54 issues of the comedic Teen Titans Go series between 2003 and 2008.

#73 – Falcon

Created in 1969, the Falcon was part of the first generation of African-American superheroes in the two mainstream comic universes. After the deaths of his parents in two separate crimes, he gives up his community volunteer persona, moves to Los Angeles and becomes a gang member. He later finds himself on a secluded island where he helps Captain America defeat the Red Skull and gains a psychic connection to a falcon called Redwing. He adopts the falcon has his pet and joins Captain America as a masked crimefighter, serving as Cap’s partner throughout much of the 1970s. It’s during this time that he is given a set of mechanical flying “wings” by the Black Panther. In addition to his role as Captain America’s partner, he had a few stints as a member of the Avengers. When Captain America is aged into an old man, Falcon assumes the role of Captain America, although he gives up the shield and costume when Steve Rogers is returned to his Falcon persona. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe he has been portrayed by Anthony Mackie.

Aside from his longtime partner/mentor Captain America, the Falcon most frequently appeared with other members of the Avengers:

He appeared in 160 issues of Captain America Vol 1 between 1969 and 2011 and in 50 issues of the first Avengers series between 1971 and 2018.

#72 – Robin – Damian Wayne

The “secret son” of Bruce Wayne (a.k.a. Batman), he was raised by the villianous League of Assassins, by his mother Talia al Ghul (the assassin/occasional lover of Batman). When he was ten years old, he was deposited at Wayne Manor where he was determined to claim the mantle of Robin from it’s current owner, Tim Drake with whom he had immediate animosity for. Drake defeated the younger boy; but the two would clash repeatedly in the next few years. When Dick Grayson took on the mantle of Batman, he selected Damian to be his new Robin (with Tim becoming the new Red Robin) and when the New 52 recreated the DC Universe, Bruce Wayne was once again Batman and Damian was his Robin (although the previous histories of Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Tim Drake fulfilling that role was maintained). In addition to being a core member of the Batman Family over the past decade, he’s also been a member of the Teen Titans and is currently one of the “Super Sons” along with the latest Superboy, Jonathan Samuel Kent.

With the exception of Superman, all of Damian Wayne’s most frequent collaborations are with members of the Batman family; including all three of his predecessors:

He has yet to appear in 50 issues of any one series, but did appear in 48 issues of the Batman and Robin series that ran between 2009 and 2011.

#71 – Doctor Doom

Born in the fictional Balkan state of Latveria, Victor von Doom’s early life was full of tragedy. His mother, a witch, was killed by the demon Mephisto and his father, a healer, was executed for “letting” the ruling Baron’s wife die. These early tragedies fueled von Doom’s desire to gain revenge. He mastered both science and witchcraft and went to NYU where he first met his future rival, Reed Richards (a.k.a. Mister Fantastic). Blaming a Richards’ experiment for his disfiguredment (it was a small scar), he vows revenge on the Richards and his Fantastic Four teammates. With his combination of Technological and Magical prowess, he became the Fantastic Four’s (and Marvel’s) greatest villain. He would succeed in seizing control of his homeland and used it (and the accompanying diplomatic immunity) to launch hundreds of attacks against the Fantastic Four and other heroes from the Marvel Universe. Despite all his evil, he was a competent (and popular) ruler and genuinely loved his family. He briefly attained status as a “God” and that changed his outlook. When Tony Stark retired as Iron Man, von Doom picked up the mantle of Iron Man and acted as a hero and when his homeland collapsed into terror in his absence, he was persuaded once again to take control and bring stability. Whether hero, villian or something inbetween; Doctor Doom remains one of the smartest minds in the Marvel Universe who will pursue any path that he sees as just. He was portrayed in the 2005 and 2007 Fantastic Four movies by Julian McMahon and in the failed 2015 relaunch by Toby Kebbell.

His most frequent appearances are against the members of the Fantastic Four, trailed by various members of the Avengers and his sometime collaborator/sometime rival/sometime enemy the Sub-Mariner:

As befitting his role as the greatest villain of the Fantastic Four, he has appeared in 104 issues of the first Fantastic Four series between it’s launch in 1962 and its ending in 2012.

Stay tuned for number #70 thru #61

Written by Dave Curewitz

Who are the most important characters in Game of Thrones?

We’re just over a week away from the debut of the eighth (and final) season of Game of Thrones. I thought I’d use some Data Science techniques to determine who, exactly, are the most important characters.

Note: For those of you who care about how the numbers were generated, scroll to the bottom of the article. For the rest of you, enjoy (or get frustrated by my choices).

Take a moment to notice the gap between Theon and Arya below. Those 65.79 points mark about the same difference between Theon and Samwell who started this list!

After Arya and Daenerys, there’s a sizable gap between the #6 and the #5 position, although there’s not much that separate #5 from #4 and #3.

Then a HUGE gap between Jaime Lannister and his brother Tyrion who ranks as #2.

Finally, one more large gap between Tyrion at #2 and our number one and my favorite for the character who winds up on the Iron Throne – Jon Snow.

To determine the rankings, I first found multiple episode-by-episode guides for the series. I then scanned the guide to see how many times each character was named per episode. Then I determined the total number of character mentions per each episode and determined a percentage for each character per episode. So, if Data Source #1 mentioned Character #1 6 times, Character #2 3 times and Character #3 once; but Data Source #2 mentioned Character #1 5 times, Character #2 twice and Character #3 three times; then Character #1 would wind up with 55% of mentions for that episode (6/10 + 5/10) / 2. Character #2 would wind up with 25% of mentions (3/10 + 2/10) / 2. That means that Character #3 winds up with 20% of the mentions (1/10 + 3/10) / 2.

The first statistic is the total number of the mention percentage. So if Character #1 was in four episodes, where he had 55% of mentions, 10% of mentions, 8% of mentions and 13% of mentions; he would have a total of 86 mention points. This is the number in the TotMenPct field (first yellow column). I then divide that value by the Maximum value for all characters (so if the character with the highest TotMenPct value had 240 points, then Character #1 would get 86/240 and would be at 35.83% of the highest point total, which means 35.83 points (TotMenPts column – 1st Green Column)

The next four columns show the number of times a character reached 1%, 5%, 10% and 20% of mentions for a single episode; with the points being generated the same way as above (character’s value divided by the highest value for a character for that column). Therefore the most that any character can have for any single column is 100. Total up those 5 columns together, and you can have a maximum of 500 points.

Written by Dave Curewitz

Analyzing The Simpsons – Season 2

The Simpson’s second season ran for 22 episodes between October 1990 and May 1991 (with a final episode being aired in July of that year) and features classic episodes such as “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish” featuring Blinky, the three-eyed fish; “The Way We Was” which told of how Marge and Homer met; and the first Treehouse of Horror episode. By the end of this season, the template of the Simpsons series will have been set. The Second season would also show the series at it’s ratings peak. So now with that quick intro out of the way let’s look at the second season with the same metrics we looked at the first (click HERE to see the Season One breakdown)

Just as last time, I’d like to look at the interconnection of characters from this season. As I did with Season 1, I decided that each character needed to have at least 5% of the character mentions in an episode and they had to meet that threshold for at least 2 episodes. I then compared characters who met that threshold and appeared in the same episode. In the following NetworkX diagram, the size of the circle represents the total number of episodes that the character appeared in (with that 5% mention threshold). Meanwhile, the “stronger” the line is between two characters represents a larger number of episodes that the two characters appeared in.

Interactivity between Major Characters in Season 2

The four primary Simpsons characters (all indicated with aqua circles) are the most prominent and have the strongest “ties” to each other. The curious thing I see with this is that while there are strong ties between Bart and Homer with all the others; Marge and Lisa share only a moderate bond. This indicates that while Lisa and Marge interact heavily with Homer and Bart, they aren’t featured in the same episodes starring the other.
As for the secondary characters, Burns has ties with Homer, Marge (she was hired to paint a picture of him in “Brush with Greatness”) and his loyal flunky Smithers. I was also a bit surprised to see that Martin was more frequently portrayed than Milhouse, Nelson or any of the other kids at school.

I’d also like to briefly discuss the representation of women and minorities in the series. While Season 1 has an average of just over 25% of female representation per episode, in Season 2 it went down ever so slightly to 24.83%; however the median (middle) value went up from 19.52% to 25.48%; so I guess you could say, it’s a wash. One important difference however, is that in Season 2, no episode was over 50% female (although Episode #19 “Lisa’s Substitute” came close with 49.63%. Unfortunately, the reviews of Episode #17 (“Old Money”) don’t include any mentions of the reoccuring female characters (although Bea Simmons, who dies leaving Grampa everything does play a role, albeit by dying).

Appearances by Females per Episode

As for the portrayal of minorities, the average representation per Season 2 Episode was only .76%; which I guess is an improvement from Season 1’s .29%; although the median score for each series was 0. Altogether, the storylines of 17 out of the 22 episodes in the season didn’t warrant a mention of a minority character; while the highpoint was 5.81%; which occured in Episode 10’s “Bart Gets Hit by a Car”, which featured Dr. Hibbert and Dr. Nick Riviera.

Appearances by Minorities per Episode

For those of you who read the writeup on Season 1, you’ll know about the color-coding of the following grid, but for the rest of you, here it goes. The chart below shows character mentions, as based upon a percentage of the total character mentions for that episode. The chart is also color coded from purple (less than 1% of a mention in an episode), blue (between 1% and 5%), green (5% to 10%), gold (10% to 20%), orange (20% to 30%) and red (more than 30%). The actual percentage (rounded down to the nearest number) is placed in the block for that episode with the total percentage (rounded down to the nearest number again) in the total columns. It’s this rounding down, that is responsible for the episode-based numbers not equaling the total number (so Martin was in 7.62% of Episode 2 and 2.38% of Episode 10 – which totals 10%). If a character has a total of 10 points or more, they appear in this chart:

Season 2 Appearance Grid

As opposed to Season 1, where Bart narrowly edged out his father; Season 2 has Homer with a overwhelming lead over his son, with 610 mention points versus Bart’s 293. We then get Marge with 254 and Lisa with 183. What surprises me the most is that Mr. Burns was only 14 poins behind Lisa with 169 poins. Nobody else has over 100, but Grampa comes closest with 91 and then there’s a big dropoff to Flander’s 51; followed by Smithers with 40, Martin with 34 and then a tie between Milhouse and Herb, Homer’s half-brother, each with 29 to close out the Top Ten.

Season 2 Ranking

For the overall ranking for Season 2, as opposed to Season One’s near tie behind Bart and Homer (with Bart edging out his father), Season Two went overwhelmingly to Homer 550.00 to 418.25 (even though Bart “won” the Titular episodes category). Homer wound up dominated the “Most Prominent Characters” and “25% Episode” Categories (limiting Bart and the rest of the pack to a maximum of 44.44% and 36.36%).
Marge and Lisa are once again in 3rd and 4th place, with both making gains over the previous year. The only other character to pass the 100 point threshold was Mister Burns, who racked up 153.39 points (over a 100 point gain from Season One). Grampa, Flanders and Smithers made the top 10 this year. Skinner dropped from 8th (46.82 points) to 9th (43.52 points) this season; while Maggie dropped from 5th place (116.13) to 10th (41.87). Krusty, Moe and Milhouse didn’t make the Top 10 this year.

Overall Ranking at the End of Season 2

Finally, now that I’ve processed two seasons, I’m going to rank the characters across seasons the same way that I do within one (using the same 6 categories). When looking at Seasons 1 and 2, Homer winds up being the most important character with 566.67 out of a possible 600 points. In second is Bart with 284.37, followed by Marge with 267.15 and Lisa with 241.42. Mr. Burns is the first non-Simpson to appear, with 114.50 points; which actually beats Maggie and Grampa Simpson. Finally, Principal Skinner, Krusty the Klown and Moe round up the Top Ten.

Written by Dave Curewitz

TOP 100 COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS: #90-#81

We’re continuing our countdown of the Top Comic Book Characters.
To see how these rankings were generated, click here
To see who was ranked #100 to #91, click here

#90 Spider-Man (Miles Morales)

Miles Morales is from Marvel’s parallel “Ultimates” universe. He is the nephew of the Spidey villain known as the Prowler, who accidentally brought home a spider injected with the blood of Peter Parker (a.k.a. the original Spider-Man) and that spider bit Miles. Miles family is more than a little anti-superhero (both his father and uncle are criminals), but when that universe’s version of Parker dies, Morales feels the need to take on the mantle of Spider-Man. He fought crime in that parallel universe for a few years, but then when the Ultimates universe was destroyed; Morales, his family and some of his friends were among the few that were able to “migrate” to the main Marvel universe (Earth-616). In this new reality, Miles (who wears a different spider-themed outfit than Earth-616’s version of Spider-man), focuses on fighting crime in New York City while Peter Parker finds action all around the world. Morales has also been a member of the Avengers. In the recently released animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie, he was voiced by Shameik Moore.

His most frequent appearance list consists of his teammates from the Avengers and Champions series, as well as Ganke Lee, Miles’ best friend who “migrated” from the Ultimates

Miles has yet to appear in more than 50 issues of any one title, the longest he has appeared in any one place in the Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol 2, where he appeared in 26 issues between 2011 and 2013.

#89 – Huntress

Introduced as the daughter of the original/Golden Age/Earth-Two version of Batman and Catwoman (#96 Below); Helena Wayne took up the family business and fought crime (along with the now-adult Earth-Two version of Robin). She soon joined the Justice Society as part of the younger generation and struck up a friendship with Power Girl (the Earth-Two version of Supergirl) and had her own backup series in Wonder Woman comics. Then, the Crisis on Infinite Earths retroactively erased the existence of Earth-Two, the character was rewritten as Helena Bertinelli, the daughter of a crime lord who rebelled against her family. She became a much darker character and has a long, but uneasy, relationship with Batman who sees her as too willing to exceed the bounds of justice. The later incarnation of Huntress has been a sometime member of the Justice League, the Outsiders, Spyral; but her longest relationship is with the Birds of Prey. She’s been portrayed by Ashley Scott in the 2002 series Birds of Prey; by Jessica De Gouw in the CW’s Arrowverse and will be portrayed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the 2020 Birds of Prey movie.

She appears most frequently with other members of the Batman and Birds of Prey series:

Her one, long-term series was the original Birds of Prey series, where she appeared in 66 issues between 2003 and 2009.

#88 – Hercules

The Marvel version of the classic Greek hero was first introduced in a backup story of Young Allies in 1945 before reappearing in 1964 as an agent of the villain Immortus, but soon returned to his heroic nature. He sees himself as both an ally and a rival of Thor and the two have had more than several fights between themselves. He was a member of the Champions team in the mid-70s, the Avengers in the late 1980s and the early 1990s before rejoining the team in 2017. He’s also had several series of his own, the longest of which lasted 24 issues in 2008/2009.

His most frequent collaborations are with other members of the Avengers teams:

As for his most frequent appearances, he appeared in 149 issues of Avengers Vol 1 between 1967 and 2018 and in 59 issues of Thro Vol 1 between 1966 and 1994.

#87 – Magneto

The only thing that saved young Max Eisenhardt from the Holocaust was the emergence of his mutant powers over metal. He would strike up a friendship with Charles Xavier but the two soon parted over their disagreements in the looming showdown between mutants and humanity. While Charles would form the X-Men, Magneto would form their villainous counterpart, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, who would constantly clash with his former friend’s team. It was during a fight with the second version of the X-Men, when Magneto almost killed Kitty Pryde (a Jewish mutant like himself) that he started to rethink his ways. He would later veer between antihero and sympathetic villain; but his commitment to mutantkind would never waver. He briefly led the X-Men and New Mutants after the “death” of Charles Xavier, has lost and regained his powers and is currently leading a new brotherhood. In the X-Men movie franchise, he’s been portrayed by Ian McKellen as the older Magneto and by Michael Fassbender in the prequels.

All of his most frequent appearances are with his sometimes enemies/sometimes companions the X-Men, with the exception of the Scarlet Witch, who for a long time was believed to be his daughter.

Despite his 66-year history, Magneto has only appeared in more than 50 issue in one series. That would be the Uncanny X-Men series that ran between 1981 and 2016 where he saw action in 69 issues.

#86 – Cannonball

Sam Guthrie grew up in a Kentucky coal-mining family when his mutant powers granting him the power of flight and a powerful force field turned him into Cannonball. He was a charter member of the New Mutants, and when that team came to an end, he transferred to the new X-Force. He was finally “promoted” to the X-Men team, and spent some time shuttling between various “X” Teams before joining the Avenges in 2013. He’s the eldest brother of 3 other mutant heroes. He will be portrayed by Charlie Heaton in the upcoming New Mutants film.

His most frequent collaborators are all Mutants, whether they be from his time with the New Mutants, X-Force or the X-Men team:

He appeared in 94 issues of the New Mutants series between it’s creation in 1983 and it’s end in 1991; in 83 issues of X-Force between 1991 and 2001 and in 61 issues of Uncanny X-Men between 1983 and 2011.

#85 – Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan)

Khamala Khan was created in 2013 as the first Muslim-American superhero to have his/her own series. During a release of the Terrigen Mists, it was reveealed that New Jersey teenager Kamala Khan was actually an Inhuman who has the ability to change her body (and body parts) shape and size. She lives across the river from New York City and was a fangirl of Carol Danver’s Captain Marvel character, so she named herself Ms. Marvel and fought crime in her hometown and trying to fulfill the wishes of her tradition-minded immigrant Pakistani family. She was a member of the Avengers and then joined the Champions splinter-team to which she still belongs.

Her most frequent collaborations are with other members of the Avengers and Champions teams, especially the younger members:

She has yet to appear in any series for more than 50 issues, her longest tenure being the current Ms. Marvel Volume 4, where she has appeared in 31 issues (to date) since it’s inception in 2016.

#84 – Psylocke

Originally introduced as the younger sister of Brian “Captain Britain” Braddock (#99) in 1976, she later became known as a model/psychic who sometimes worked for the British spy agency S.T.R.I.K.E. Her fate changed in 1986 when she was abducted by Mojo, brainwashed by and implanted with bionic eyes and got rescued by/subsequently joined the X-Men. In 1989 she was brainwashed (again) and given the body of a Japanese assassin, in whose skills she gained and whose body she now inhabits. She was a key member of the X-Men in the late 80s and early 90s before she was killed and resurrected and rejoining the X-Men in the late 2000s. Olivia Munn portrayed her in the 2016 film X-Men: Apocalypse.

All of her most frequent collaborators are from her days in the X-Men, with even her own brother missing out, he only ranks 22nd, with 108 issues in common):

Her long-running series includes 128 issues in Uncanny X-Men between 1986 and 2016 and 56 issues of X-Men Volume 2 between 1991 and 2006.

#83 – Green Lantern (Guy Gardner)

Prior to John Stewart (#82 on this list) being the backup Green Lantern, Guy Gardner had that honor, but when he was seriously injured the Oans chose Stewart as his backup. Gardner remained little more than a footnote in the history of DC Comics until he was resurrected shortly after Crisis on Infinite Earths in the mid-80s. The new version of the character (which has remained constant over the past 30+ years) portray Gardner as a macho egomaniac who still fights for good (most of the time). For a while, he lost his Green Lantern ring, and served as Warrior (who was alternately given an anti-universe Yellow Ring and later had his DNA merged with an alien race); but he rejoined the reformed Green Lantern Corp in the mid-2000s, before joining the similarly-powered Red Lanterns in the mid-2010s. He also served as an intermittent member of various Justice League teams.

His most frequent appearances are with his fellow Green Lanterns (Hal Jordan, Kilowog and Kyle Rayner) and members of the Justice League from his stint with that team; all of whom he had a difficult relationship with:

His one long-running appearance was with Justice League America Vol 1, where he appeared in 54 issues between 1989 and 1996.

#82 – Aunt May Parker

After the death of her sister and brother-in-law; May Parker and her husband Ben raised their nephew Peter in a loving environment. Her tragedy continued with the death of Ben shortly after Peter gained his superpowers. She was constantly worried about her frail nephew, while Peter was equally worried about his beloved aunt’s health. For a while, May was unknowingly in a romantic relationship with one of her nephew’s arch-villain, Doctor Octopus; but that relationship fell apart once May realized who he truly was. She later found love in her nursing home with Nathan Lubensky, only to witness him dying while trying to save her from another one of Spider-Man’s nemesis. She later married John Jonah Jameson (boss of Daily Bugle Editor/Former Majoy J. Jonah Jameson) and the two are still together. She has been portrayed by Rosemary Harris, Sally Field and Marisa Tomei in the various Spider-Man movie franchises.

Her most frequent appearances are with the non-powered members of the Spider-Man “family”, and two long-running enemies of her nephew; although one of them (#10 Doctor Octopus) was her ex-fiance.

She has appeared in 299 issues of Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1 between 1963 and 2018; in 136 issues of Marvel Tales between 1966 and 1994 and in 52 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man between 2000 and 2014.

#81 – Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn started off as a disposable character in Batman: The Animated Series who has evolved to one of the most popular characters in the DC Universe. Her backstory is that she was a psychologist stationed at Gotham’s infamous Arkham Asylum, where she fell madly in love with the Joker. She freed the Joker from the asylum/prison and became his chief accomplice for much of the 1990s. She later broke off her abusive relationship with “Mister J” and started a partnership/romance with fellow Bat-foe Poison Ivy. She’s been an on-again/off-again member of the Suicide Squad (where she currently acts as field leader), an affiliated member of the Birds of Prey as well as one of the Gotham Sirens (along with Poison Ivy and Catwoman). She’s more of an anti-hero/agent of chaos who tends to do the right things. She was played by Mia Sara in the 2002 Birds of Prey series, and, more famously, by Margot Robbie in the Suicide Squad movie (and the upcoming Birds of Prey series).

Her most frequent appearances are with her longtime foe Batman, her ex-lover the Joker and members of the Birds of Prey and Suicide Squad teams:

She has only appered in one long-running series, and that would be the third volume of her titular series, where she’s appeared in 51 issues (and counting) since 2016.


Join us next time, where I cover #80 to #71

Written by David Curewitz

Ranking the Top #100 Comic Book Characters

A big part about growing up as a Comic Book geek in my childhood were the debates with my friends/fellow fans. Some of those questions, such as who is the best or which hero’s powers you would like to possess, were entirely subjective and could never be won, no matter how wrong the other person’s “facts” were. The question of the most important superhero, well, the more that I thought about it, the more I thought that there was a data-driven way to prove who is the most important character to ever don spandex.
Like any other person, I had a hunch, and mine was Superman. After all, he was the very first superhero and he’s been around the longest. I could see a plausible case for Batman, since he’s been around almost as long as Supes and he’s the oldest enduring “normal human” hero (Lee Travis’ Crimson Avenger takes the honor of the oldest non-powered costume vigilante, debuting in October 1938; seven months before Bruce Wayne dressed up like a flying rodent). I’m sure that there are a couple of evangelical Marvel-heads out there who will swear on Spider-Man (or god-forbid Moon Knight) as the choice; but there’s no arguing with fools.
So, how are we supposed to answer this seemingly unanswerable question? With Data!!!

First, I thought of all the different ways of showing that one character was more important than the other. Before I get into the countdown, let me briefly go over each criteria and tell you why I think it’s important and what surprised me about the resulting data set. For those of you who only care about the rankings, just click on the links below:

#100 to #91

Criteria #1: Total Number of Appearances

The easiest way to say that a character is important, is how often he or she appears in a comic book. I mean, you can argue that Buford Hollis (a.k.a. Razorback) is the most important character because you’re a fan of Arkansas football; but everyone is going to laugh in your face because he has only appeared 17 times in the past 31 years. No, a truly important character is one that is presented in comics again and again; because the readers want to see him or her.

So, taking a look at the Top 20 Characters, it’s pretty familiar, but a couple of things really surprised me:
1) Bruce Wayne (Batman) – 6892
2) Kal-El (Superman) – 6781
3) Peter Parker (Spider-Man) – 5057
4) Steven Rogers (Captain America) – 3725
5) Anthony Stark (Iron Man) – 3570
6) James Howlett (Wolverine) – 3526
7) Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing) – 3343
8) Diana of Themyscira (Wonder Woman) – 3021
9) Thor – 2565
10) Benjamin Grimm (Thing) – 2540
11) Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) – 2368
12) Jonathan Storm (Human Torch) – 2323
13) Lois Lane – 2305
14) Bruce Banner (Hulk) – 2206
15) Scott Summers (Cyclops) – 2180
16) Henry McCoy (Beast) – 2170
17) James Gordon – 2143
18) Alfred Pennyworth – 1973
19) Susan Storm (Invisible Woman) – 1948
20) Ororo Munroe (Storm) – 1937

Some findings:
1) First of all, Batman somehow managed to beat Superman for the total number of appearances. I may do a deep dive into Superman vs. Batman later; but up until the 1990s, Superman consistently beat Batman for the most number of appearances; but what I failed to consider was the explosion of popularity for the Caped Crusader beginning in the late 80s, once the campy 60’s TV Show was forgotten by a new generation of readers who embraced the grittier version of Batman that started with Frank Miller’s classic Dark Knight series.
2) That Wonder Woman, who has been in print since 1941, would rank that far behind some of the Marvel heroes who came a generation later.
3) The blatant sexism of comic book readers. While the male members of the Fantastic Four held down spots 10 through 12; Sue Storm (a.k.a. Invisible Girl/Woman) lingers down at position 19; some 400-500 issues behind her peers. What’s up with that?

Criteria #2: Average Appearances per Year:

Some of you are probably saying to yourself, “Hey, so what if Batman appeared in 2,000 more issues than Spider-Man? He got a 23-year head start so of course he’s going to appear in more issues. Well, my friends, this is the category for you. It shows the average number of comic books that a character appears in since they first debuted. I set up a filter so that only characters who appeared in at least 100 issues appear in order to rule out blink-and-you-missed-them characters.

Here’s what the data looks like
1) Peter Parker (Spider-Man) – 90.30
2) Bruce Wayne (Batman) – 87.24
3) Kal-El (Superman) – 84.76
4) James Howlett (Wolverine) – 80.14
5) Anthony Stark (Iron Man) – 64.91
6) Steven Rogers (Hydra Supreme) – 50.50
7) Tim Drake (Robin/Red Robin) – 48.379
8) Steven Rogers (Captain America) – 48.376
9) Ororo Munroe (Storm) – 45.05
10) Benjamin Grimm (Thing) – 44.06
11) Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing) – 42.86
12) Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) – 41.54
13) Jonathan Storm (Human Torch) – 40.75
14) Scott Summers (Cyclops) – 39.64
15) Henry McCoy (Beast) – 39.45
16) Bruce Banner (Hulk) – 39.39
17) Diana of Themyscira (Wonder Woman) – 39.23
18) Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) – 39.2
19) Thor – 37.72
20) Miles Morales (Spider-Man) – 37.29

And here’s what stands out:
1) The top three names from what I saw in Total Appearances occupy the top three here, but the big difference is that Peter Parker (better known as your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man) occupies the top spot with over 90.30 issues per year.
2) Take a look at #6. The evil Steve Rogers who became Hydra Supreme due to some twists in the space-time continuum. Now, I separated this version of Steve from his heroic Captain America counterpart (Who’s two spots lower at #8) because this version of Steve acts so much different from his do-gooder counterpart.
Now, this version of Steve Rogers only started in 2016 and had a heavy storyline; but since he was returned to normal, this average will only go down in the years to come and is a prime example while you need to consider every statistic, you can’t place too much faith in any one piece of data, especially one for a limited time period.
3) This is the one place where diversity truly shines. First at #9 we have Ororo Monroe, better known as the weather-controlling mutant Storm; who has averaged nearly 4 issues per month since her debut in 1975. Kamala Khan, the Pakistani-American girl who took up the mantle of Ms. Marvel in 2012 ranks 18th and the Ultimate version of Spider-Man (Miles Morales, who was later integrated into the “regular” Marvel Universe) holds down the 20th spot.

Criteria #3: Total Rank Points

Hold on, here’s where I start getting numbers-geeky. To put this simply, did this character rank in the Top Ten for appearances in a year? If so, the character who came in first gets 10 points, the character who came in second gets 9 points all the way down until the character in tenth places gets 1 point. I also coded this so that all characters who tie get the same amount of points.
The reason for this is to normalize the results over the years. There were only 213 total issues made in 1940, but over 8 times that in 2010. This way, characters who appeared in lots of issues during an era when there weren’t many comics being made avoids being penalized.

Here’s what we can see for this statistic:
1) Kal-El (Superman) – 687
2) Bruce Wayne (Batman) – 657
3) Peter Parker (Spider-Man) – 395
4) Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing) – 302
5) Steven Rogers (Captain America) – 280
6) Anthony Stark (Iron Man) – 211
7) James Howlett (Wolverine) – 181
T-8) Diana of Themyscira (Wonder Woman) – 137
T-8) Lois Lane – 137
9) Thor – 125
10) Frederick Freeman (Captain Marvel Jr.) – 100
11) William Batson (Shazam) – 98
12) Benjamin Grimm (Thing) – 97
13) Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) – 83
14) Jonathan Storm (Human Torch) – 74
15) James Gordon – 73
16) Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) – 70
17) Namor McKenzie (Sub-Mariner) – 57
T-18) Bruce Banner (Hulk) – 52
T-18) Thomas Raymond (Toro) – 52
T-19) Barry Allen (Flash) – 51
T-19) Human Torch (Android) – 51
20) Jimmy Olsen – 49

Some interesting tidbits:
1) Once again, the same top three; albeit in a different order, with Superman at the top this time.
2) For the first time, we have a non-superpowered character in the Top Ten, with Lois Lane at #8. All you need to know is that during the 1950s when Supes and Batman were keeping DC Comics in business; they did (comparatively speaking) a lot of Superman-related comic books; with Lois starring in her own series which ran for 137 issues between 1958 and 1974. Her Daily Planet coworker Jimmy Olsen was similarly blessed and appears at #20, while her boss, Perry White, occupied positin #21. Gotham Police Commission James Gordon is at position 16 for the same reason.
3) Freddy Freeman (a.k.a. Captain Marvel Jr.) beating out his mentor Billy Batson (a.k.a. Shazam). This is largely because of the prominence of “teen heroes” during the World War II era; which strikes me as a bit weird since Billy is a kid himself. I guess kids of that era just liked seeing heroes who looked more like them. Similarly, Thomas Raymond (better known as Toro, the bursting-into-fire companion of the original Human Torch) shows up at #20 on the list, beating his own mentor by two slots.

Criteria #4: Average Rank Points per Year

I’m guessing you can figure this one out on your own:
1) Kal-El (Superman) – 8.59
2) Bruce Wayne (Batman) – 8.32
3) Peter Parker (Spider-Man) – 7.05
4) James Howlett (Wolverine) – 4.11
5) Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing) – 3.87
6) Anthony Stark (Iron Man) – 3.84
7) Steven Rogers (Captain America) – 3.64
8) Thor – 1.84
9) Diana of Themyscira (Wonder Woman) – 1.78
10) Lois Lane – 1.71
11) Benjamin Grimm (Thing) – 1.70
12) Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) – 1.46
13) Frederick Freeman (Captain Marvel Jr.) – 1.32
14) Jonathan Storm (Human Torch) – 1.30
15) William Batson (Shazam) – 1.24
16) Bruce Banner (Hulk) – 0.32
17) James Gordon – 0.32
18) Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) – 0.91
19) Tim Drake (Robin/Red Robin) – 0.86
20) Barry Allen (Flash) – 0.82

This list is pretty similar to Total Rank Points, so the only thing that I’ll comment on is the presence of Tim Drake at the 20th spot. For those of you who aren’t DC know-it-alls, Tim Drake was the third person to take on the mantle of Robin, after Dick Grayson became Nightwing and Jason Todd got killed off (before being resurrected) and before Bruce’s love-child Damian took on the role. He later became Red Robin. He’s also the most recent addition to this list, having debuted in 1989. The next closest character is Wolverine, who was created back in 1974.

Criteria #5: Firsts

Simply put, the number of times the Character was the most prevalent character in the calendar year:
1) Kal-El (Superman) – 38
2) Bruce Wayne (Batman) – 19
3) Peter Parker (Spider-Man) – 8
4) Frederick Freeman (Captain Marvel Jr.) – 6
T-5) James Howlett (Wolverine) – 3
T-5) Thomas Raymond (Toro) – 3
T-6) Slam Bradley – 2
T-6) Adolf Hitler – 2

A couple of fascinating findings here:
1) Look at the number for Superman. 38 times he was the most popular character. That’s nearly half of the 80 possible years he was in first place and twice as much as Batman, his next closest challenger; who has twice as many as Spider-Man, the third-place finisher. Talk about absolute domination.
2) Adolf-freaking-Hitler “won” two years (1942 and 1943). At first this seems preposterous, but then you’ve got to remember that he was fighting against characters from DC, Timely (as Marvel was called at the time), Quality, Whiz, Fox and others, so sometimes being the guy that everybody hates works for you. Hitler would be the only villain and the only historic figure to ever top a year list.
3) Who the heck are Slam Bradley, Doctor Occult and Shorty Morgan? Slam Bradley, who was tied for first in 1937 and 1938, was a pulp detective who appeared in the first issue of Detective Comics (later the home of Batman since 1939) and Shorty Morgan was his sidekick who tied with Slam for 1938. Doctor Occult was a cross between a detective and a mystic who was part of a tie for 1936.
3) No woman or person of color has ever topped the yearly list. #Diversity_Not

Criteria #6: Connections

My final statistic is the number of connections that the characters have. In this case, how many different characters has this character interacted with at least 100 times (by virtue of being in the same comic book).

And here’s the Data:
1) Kal-El (Superman) – 1051
2) Bruce Wayne (Batman) – 951
3) Peter Parker (Spider-Man) – 927
4) Steven Rogers (Captain America) – 842
5) Anthony Stark (Iron Man) – 828
6) James Howlett (Wolverine) – 798
7) Diana of Themyscira (Wonder Woman) – 752
8) Henry McCoy (Beast) – 658
9) Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing) – 640
10) Thor – 627
11) Scott Summers (Cyclops) – 620
12) Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) – 618
13) Benjamin Grimm (Thing) – 576
14) Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) – 551
15) Ororo Munroe (Storm) – 547
16) Bruce Banner (Hulk) – 533
T-17) J’onn J’onzz (Martian Manhunter) – 528
T-17) Clinton Barton (Hawkeye) – 528
18) Jonathan Storm (Human Torch) – 523
19) Wally West (Flash) – 515
20) Namor McKenzie (Sub-Mariner) – 488

My thoughts:
1) Once again, the top three are Superman, Batman and Spider-Man. The fact that these three keep dominating the same lists shows me that my underlying theories about who is important and what proves their importance is right.
2) Lots of names here worth mentioning: Hank McCoy (a.k.a. Beast) was a member of both the X-Men and Avengers so naturally has worked with a bunch of characters. Fellow X-Man Scott Summers (Cyclops) has long been the field leader of the X-Men. Other Marvel mainstays are previously mentioned Ororo Monroe (Storm) and Clint Barton (Hawkeye) and Namor.
3) On the DC side of the aisle, you have Hal Jordan, the Silver Age Green Lantern whose worked with both Justice League and the thousands of members of the intergalactic Green Lantern Corps. J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter has been in nearly every version of the Justice League. Finally, Wally West served in the Teen Titans as Kid Flash before replacing his mentor Barry Allen as both The Flash and a member of the Justice League.

So, now that I got all these data points, what to do with them? Simply put, I took the maximum value for each of these criteria and then divided the character’s value by that maximum value and then multiplied by 100, meaning that each character has a value between 1 and 100 for each criteria. Add them all up and you have a maximum score of 600 points.

Written by David Curewitz

Top 100 Comic Book Characters: #100-#91

To see how the points were generated to determine these metrics, check out the Ranking The Top 100 Comic Book Characters link here. For the non-numbers geeks, just read on.

#100 – Wonder Man

Simon Williams was the heir to a successful company, only to see it go bankrupt due to the success of Tony (Iron Man) Stark’s Stark Industries. He vowed to gain revenge on Tony Stark and agreed to be given superpowers by the Avengers’ enemies in order to infiltrate and betray the team. When the time came however, Simon agreed to stay loyal to the team. He was brought back to life a couple of times to fight against the Avengers, but stayed “mostly dead” until the mid-1970s when we was restored to life and became a member of various versions of the Avengers. Wonder Man is a sort of “brother” to teammate Vision, since it was his brainwaves that were used as a model for the Vision’s robotic brain and he is currently dating the Scarlet Witch, who used to be married to the Vision.

A look at the ten characters he’s appeared the most with show that he’s primarilly seen with his comrades in Avengers-related comic books:

The only comic book that he regularly appeared in was Avengers Volume 1; where he appeared in 103 issues between 1964 and 2018.

#99 Captain Britain

Created in the mid-1970s for Marvel’s U.K.-specific “Marvel U.K.” line, Brian Braddock with the son of a poor aristocrat who nearly died in a motorcycle accident, only to be revived by Merlin and Merlin’s daughter Roma and given the responsibility of defending his homeland. Throughout the rest of the 1970s and early 1980s, he was a British-specific hero; but he then became part of the broader Marvel Universe. He was a charter member of the UK-based Excalibur team from the late 1980s into the late 1990s and then served as a member of the British goverment’s MI-13 agency before joining the Avengers in the early 2010s.

Aside from his sister Elizabeth “Psylocke” Braddock, he most frequently appeared with other members of the Excalibur team (Meggan, Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers), the Avengers (Captain America, Iron Man):

The only comic book that he appeared in more than 50 issues was in the aforementioned Excalibur series, where he appeared in 111 issues between 1988 and 1998.

#98) Catwoman

Created in 1940 as a femme fatale for Batman, Catwoman is different from virtually every other Batman villain by the fact that she has never killed anybody (except for a few retconned stories in the 1970s). She’s a jewel thief/acroboat/martial artist with few peers with a variety of backgrounds. The Golden Age (Earth-Two) version of the character, says that she was a wife in a loveless marriage who had to steal her own jewelry from her husband’s vault; which triggered a fascination for stealing. This version of Catwoman would go on to marry her Earth’s version of Batman and was the mother of the first incarnation of the Huntress. After the DC Universe was recreated following the 1986 Crisis on Infinite Earths series, she was portrayed as an ex-prostitute who decided to leave that life. In the most recent New 52 reboot, she was an orphan who was told how to steal by her guardian. No matter her background, all of them share a tenuous relationship with Gotham’s criminal underground and a love of Bruce Wayne. After a time, in all these reboots, she learns Batman’s secret identity and in 2018 was due to marry Bruce Wayne, but she stands him up at the alter knowing that if he married her, he would no longer be effective as Batman which the world needs more than they need each other. She has been portrayed by Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt in the 1960s Batman TV series, by Camren Bicondova in the Gotham TV Series and in the movies by Michelle Pheiffer, Halle Barry and Anne Hathaway.

She most frequently appeared with members of the Batman family, sometimes as an enemy, sometimes as an ally and often a bit of both. This includes joint appearances with the villians and antiheroes such as Joker, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn:

Aside from being the titular character in three Catwoman series (Volume 2 had 95 issues between 1993 and 2001, Volume 3 had 83 issues between 2002 and 2010 and Volume 4 had 53 issues between 2011 and 2016), she has appeared in 112 issues of Batman Volume 1 between her 1940 debut and 2011.

#97) Cable

The son of X-Men Scott Summers (Cyclops) and a clone of Jean Grey, Nathan Summers was quickly separated from his parents after his birth after he was infected by a “techno-organic virus” he was brought into a distant future where his life could be saved, and his vast psionic powers could be used by rebels in their fight against Apocalypse. He later returns to the 20th Century and helps form the group X-Factor out of the former New Mutants. He led that team (as well as hosted his own series) in the early 90s, and even after his stint with X-Force ended, he continued on in his own series, in various incarnations of the X-men and in a partnership with Deadpool. He recently was killed by a younger version of himself in 2018’s Extermination series, but this being comic books, who knows how long this death will last. He was portrayed by James Brolin in Deadpool 2.

His most frequent collaborator list is entirely composed of his fellow mutants, led by his father Cyclops and his step-mother Jean Grey:

The two series that he appeared in most was 118 issues of his titular book which ran between 1993 and 2018 as well as in 55 issues of X-Force Volume 1 between 1991 and 2000.

#96) Silver Surfer

Norrin Radd is from the planet Zenn-La and, in order to save his planet from the planet-eating Galactus, agrees to serve the latter as a planet-finder/herald. Years into his service, he detects the planet Earth and summons his master. While waiting, he is befriended by the Fantastic Four and is convinced to support them. Galactus, in turn, exiles the Silver Surfer to Earth, where he spends the next years helping to defend it against (largely) interstellar threats. He later gains the ability to head back into space and finds that his home was no longer what it once was and he feels estranged from the place he came from. He subsequently gets involved in multiple interstellar threats and even spent some time in the transplanted Asgard before returning to the stars. in 2005’s Fanatastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer; Doug Jones did the motion capture work while Laurence Fishburne did the vocals.

He most frequently appeared with members of the Fantastic Four (Thing, Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Girl), the Defenders (Hulk, Dr. Strange) as well as his former master, Galactus:

While the Silver Surfer headlined several series and appeared in several versions of the Defenders; the only series he appeared in with more than 50 appearances was Silver Surfer Vol 3, which ran for 146 issues between 1987 and 1998.

#95) Iron Fist

Created by Marvel to take advantage of the surging interest in Martial Arts during the early 70s, Daniel Rand was introduced as a man who trained in the distant land of K’un-L’un in the martial arts. He leaves there as a young man to track down the murderer of his father and remains to fight crime. Shortly thereafter, he befriends Luke Cage (a.k.a. Power-Man) and the two team up as Heroes-for-Hire, which ran from the late 70s to the mid-80s. When that series ended (and it was assumed that Rand had been killed, although it later turned out to be someone else), Rand reappeared in a couple of storylines in the early 1990s, before the Heroes for Hire series was relaunched in the early 2000s. In the mid-2000s he got his own book again, joined the Avengers and later the Defenders before getting another series with Power Man. He was represented in the Netflix / Marvel universe by Finn Jones.

He most frequently appears with his longtime Heroes-for-Hire partner Luke Cage, and with various members of the Avengers from his time with that team:

As for long-running series, he appeared in 70 issues of the longrunning Power Man and Iron Fist series from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

#94) Spider-Woman

Bioengineered by her own father, Jessica Drew was raised in an environment of “Evolved animals” and eventually left to be with humanity. At first, she was taken in by the villainous Hydra but eventually became one of the good guys. Curiously enough, she was created by Marvel comics simply as a way to protect the trademark name before some other company created a character with her name. She had her own series in the late 1970s/early 1980s, briefly appeared with Wolverine at the end of the 80s and then pretty much languished into obscurity until she became part of the New Avengers since 2009. Since then, she’s been in a series of Avengers titles, as well as a big part of the Spider-Verse/Spider-Geddon storylines. Lately, she’s become a mother and is settling down with her boyfriend (the ex-villain Porcupine).

She most frequently appeared with fellow web-slinger/Avenger Peter Parker and her teammates from the Avengers:

Her longest appearance in any one series was her initial Spider-Woman series, which lasted for 50 issues between 1978 and 1983.

#93) Beast Boy

Given an experimental medical treatment after contracting a rare African disease, Garfield Logan turned green, gained the ability to shapeshift into animals, watched his parents die, placed into custody of an evil court-appointed guardian briefly found happiness as the junior member of the Doom Patrol team only to find out that they died on a mission that he wasn’t allowed to go on; all before his 16th birthday. He subsequently joined the Teen Titans and has been a core member of that team since the early 1980s. Despite his tragic background, he usually acts as the most carefree member of the team and has even acted as the leader for one version of the team. To young fans, he’s one of the main characters of the Teen Titans Go! cartoon franchise and is portrayed by Ryan Potter in the live action TV series Titans.

The characters that have appeared with him the most are (aside from the standard Batman and Superman entries) are fellow members of the Teen Titans.

As for long-running series, Beast Boy has appeared in over 50 issues in both the late-1980s/early-1990s New Titans Vol 1 series and the comedic Teen Titans Go series from the mid-2000s.

#92) Joker

Batman’s greatest nemesis, the Crown Prince of Crime, ranks as the 92nd most important Comic Book character. He was modeled on a Conrad Veidt character from a 1928 German expressionist silent movie and first appeared in 1940. He’s fought against (or very occasionally with) Batman 948 times. Unlike most supervillains, he doesn’t want money or power, rather he is a true agent of chaos and just wants to watch the world burn. He has been seemingly killed numerous times, but always manages to resurface. He’s been portrayed by a who’s who of actors: Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Jared Leto and even Mark Hamill (in multiple animated episodes). The one thing you can count on is that as long as there’s a Batman, there will be a Joker around to create trouble.

As Batman’s oldest/most established foe (he appeared in the same issue, but a different story as #98 Catwoman, but she hasn’t always been portrayed as a villain; whereas the Joker always has), it’s no surprise to see the “Bat-Family” and other “Bat-Villains” topping the list of characters he has appeared the most with:

As for his long-running series, he appeared in 139 issues of Batman Volume 1 between 1940 and the series end/renumbering in 2010 and in 80 issues of Detective Comis between 1940 and 2018.

#91) The Atom – Ray Palmer

Ray Palmer was a New England physicist/college professor who found how to shrink himself down to a miniature (and later microscopic and then sub-microscopic size). After a series of solo-adventures in the early 1960s, he went on to become a mainstay of the original incarnation of the Justice League of America. In the mid-1980s, with his marriage to Jean Loring falling apart, he relocated himself to the jungles of South America and became a hero to a group of 6-inch tall humanoids and becomes a sword-wielding hero. Once loggers destroyed the society he was protecting, he came back to America and does a little bit of work for the Suicide Squad. During the Zero Hour crisis, he is reverted to a teenage state and becomes a leader of a new version of the Teen Titans. He then regains his original age rejoins the Justice League before giving up the heroic life and serving as a mentor to Ryan Choi, who assumed the identity of the Atom. In the rebuilt DC “Prime” Universe, his identity as the crime-fighting Atom was reestablished, but since then, he has once again given the Atom identity to Ryan. A (very altered) version of Ray Palmer is portrayed by Brandon Routh in CW’s Arrowverse.

He most frequently appears with other members of the Justice League, which he joined in 1962

The Justice League is also the only series where Ray Palmer’s Atom has appeared in more that 50 issues. He saw action in 156 issues between 1962 and 1985.

Written by David Curewitz

Analyzing The Simpsons – Season 1

At the time of this writing, the Simpsons has been on the air for over 30 years, with 654 episodes (and climbing). It’s amazing that any show can be on the air for this long, and while the viewership (and some would say the quality) of the series has gone down since it’s heyday; there’s no denying that there’s a lot of information that can be mined from that series.
I’ve tried to come up with a few different ways of looking at the series that will hopefully give you and understanding of who was in the series and maybe what that says about our society at the time. From a processing standpoint, I decided to scan multiple wiki sites about each episide to see which characters diehard fans noticed.
Now the first season consisted of a scant 13 episodes, but it also laid the groundwork for the entire series and introduced most of the major players of the Simpsons-verse. As time goes by, I’ll continue to add more seasons and we can see how the series changes over time.

The first way I thought about visualizing this series is by seeing how the most prominent characters interacted. To be included, I decided that each character needed to have at least 5% of the character mentions in an episode and they had to meet that threshold for at least 2 episodes. I then compared characters who met that threshold and appeared in the same episode. In the following NetworkX diagram, the size of the circle represents the total number of episodes that the character appeared in (with that 5% mention threshold). Meanwhile, the “stronger” the line is between two characters represents a larger number of episodes that the two characters appeared in.

NetworkX Diagram showing interconnectivity of Characters

So, you’ll see the two largest circles, with the most/strongest amount of connections are Homer and Bart. Next, come Lisa and Marge. Finally, come Maggie, Mr. Burns and Principal Skinner. Curiously enough, when Skinner was prominently featured, Lisa wasn’t. As time goes on and we see more and more episodes, this diagram should become more complicated and more informative.


The second way that I’d like to look at the season is to look at the demographics of the series. I’m going to first look at the Gender of the characters portrayed/mentioned. First, let’s look at Gender. As you can see in the graph below, despite making up half of humanity, women were portrayed, on average, only slightly more than 25% of the time; with a median value (middle value) of a lower 19.52%. The Lisa-featured “Moaning Lisa” (Episode 6) and the Marge-centric “Life on the Fast Lane” (Episode 9) were the most female friendly, with representations over 50%; while the Bart-centered “The Telltale Head” (Episode 8) only had a piddling 4.86%.

The other way of looking at the series is based upon the racial ethnicity of the characters being portrayed. Sure, the main family is Caucasian; but some of the series memorable characters are African-American (Carl, Dr. Hibbert, Lou) with some Asians (Apu, Akira) and Hispanics (Dr. Nick Rivera and Bumblebee Man) do appear. I was therefore shocked, to find that minority characters were all but invisible during the first season, with an average of .29% of character mentions being associated with minority characters and a median (middle) value of 0. Truth be told, 11 of the 13 episodes had virtually no minority characters do anything that warranted a mention in a wiki.

Now, let’s do a deeper dive into who was mentioned. The chart below shows character mentions, as based upon a percentage of the total character mentions for that episode. The chart is also color coded from purple (less than 1% of a mention in an episode), blue (between 1% and 5%), green (5% to 10%), gold (10% to 20%), orange (20% to 30%) and red (more than 30%). The actual percentage (rounded down to the nearest number) is placed in the block for that episode with the total percentage (rounded down to the nearest number again) in the total columns. It’s this rounding down, that is responsible for the episode-based numbers not equaling the total number (so Martin was in 7.62% of Episode 2 and 2.38% of Episode 10 – which totals 10%). If a character has a total of 10 points or more, they appear in this chart:

So, you can see that Bart and Homer are shown/discussed the most followed by the rest of the Simpsons family. You’ll then see reoccurring characters such as Krusty, Skinner, Nelson, Burns and Moe. Then there’s Jacques, the romantic bowler who tried to woo Marge away from Homer. He only appeared in a single episode, but he was fairly prominent in that episode. Rounding out the list are Milhouse and Martin and the kid’s table; with the distinction of Milhouse appearing in slivers of 5 episodes, while Martin appeared in only two, but was fairly prominent in one of them.
The last thing that I’ll discuss is the overall Ranking of characters. To do this, I considered 6 different factors:

(1) How many times the character was the titular character of an episode
(2) The number of times the character was the most prominent character in that episode
(3) The number of times that a character reached the 25% threshold
(4) The number of times that a character reached the 10% threshold
(5) The number of times a character was mentioned in an episode summary
(6) The total number of mentions (from the grid above)
I then divided the characters value by the maximum value and multiplied it by a 100, which would mean whoever did “best” in that category would get 100 points (yellow columns). Sum of those six different point totals and you get a total value between 0 and 600 (blue column).

Looking at these metrics, Bart and Homer are in a near tie: each having 2 titular rows, each being the most prominent character and crossing the 25% threshold in 5 episodes; each having hit the 10% threshold in 12 episodes and appearing in all 13 episodes. The sole difference is that Bart was mentioned 376 times (see the description in the GRID section above) while Homer was slightly lower with 350 mentions; so, Bart “wins” with 600 points, while Homer finishes up with just over 593.
After that, it’s a long way down before we get to #3 Marge (224 points) and #4 Lisa (216 points). It’s then another leap down to Krusty with 116 points. Krusty appeared in only one episode (#12 – Krusty Gets Busted) but he was the titular/most prominent character in that episode which boosts his rating.
We then see Maggie (80 points total) followed by Moe, who never hit the 10% threshold in any episode but did appear in 6 different episodes. Founding out the list are Skinner and Burns (each hitting 10% in one episode and appearing in 4; although Skinner had more mentions that Burns and thus beat out the power plant owner). Finally, we get Milhouse, who appeared in 5 separate episodes, but had a relatively low (11) number of mentions.

So, that’s a breakdown of Season 1 for you. Stay tuned for the next time when I tackle Season 2.

Written by David Curewitz

90s Music: Not What You Remember

When I say “Music of the 90s”, who pops into your head? If you’re a Rock guy like me, bands like Nirvana, The Beastie Boys, Pearl Jam and The Red Hot Chili Peppers may pop into your head. If you’re a fan of Rap, your choices might be N.W.A., Eminem or OutKast. Country fans may think of Garth Brooks, The Judds or The Dixie Chicks.

What would you say then, if I told you while all of these artists were successful and influential; when it comes down to popularity (as measured by how they placed on the Record Charts), none of them were all that meaningful?

I know this sounds counterintuitive, but the attitude people have to “classic” artists today are much different from our attitudes of these artists at that time. Trust me, when I was of music-buying age in the heyday of Grunge, I was listening to geek-rockers like They Might Be Giants and going deep catalog on Steele Dan. It wasn’t until much later that I started enjoying the music of the now-iconic 90s artists.

To show you what artists were actually popular during the 90s, I downloaded the entire Billboard Hot 100 list for each week of the 90s. I then coded it so that the #1 song of the week got 100 points, the #2 song received 99 points all the way down to #100 getting only 1 point. I then did some cross-referencing so that artists got credit for their solo careers, their bands and any collaborations they had. First I grabbed the totals for each artist for each year of the 90s, and when that didn’t show any chart dominance by my preconceived artists of the 90s, I then looked at the Top 100 artists of the decade, figuring that even if none of them were in the Top 10 artists for a year, surely their body of work would land them in the Top 100 of the decade.

That’s when I realized that the real artists of the 1990s were nothing like I assumed.

So what I’ll lay out for you for the rest of this article is the best-charting artists for each year and then I’ll give you the Top 100 for the decade.

1990

Whether you had on your Parachute Pants while singing “U Can’t Touch This” along with MC Hammer, “Vogue”-ing along with Madonna, ripping off Queen and David Bowie with “Ice Ice Baby” or ripping up pictures of the Pope with Sinead O’Conner; 1990 was a transitional year for music. Hair Metal and Synth Pop were dying genres, Nirvana was still a regional band in the Pacific Northwest and The Weeknd, Logic and Iggy Azalea’s greatest accomplishments were coming out of the womb.

It was a strange year all around musically, as the biggest song of the year was actually released in 1965 – The Righeteous Brother’s version of Unchained Melody which hit the charts again thanks to the Patrick Swayze/Demi Moore film Ghost which featured the song prominently. The really weird thing about this song/year; was that both the reissue and a newly-released version hit the chars the same year (the original peaking at #13 and the newer one at #19). Meanwhile, songs that I assumed were more popular, weren’t. Vanilla Ice’s hit was only the 32nd best charting song for the year (after Go West’s “King of Wishful Thinking”) Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” was only at #53, ranking 13 spots behind his other hit song “Have You Seen Her”.

Taking a look at the highest-ranking artists, you’ll see that the biggest artist was 1980s holdover Janet Jackson, who dominated the year with 5 top ten hits with a 6th that would peak at #11. She was followed by… Phil Collins? The sometime Genesis singer/drummer had 4 top ten solo hits to his credit that year. Rounding out the top 5 were Wilson Phillips (with three Top 5 songs, including Hold On and Release me which both topped the Charts), Taylor Dane (also with three) and the aforementioned Madonna who actually had 4 Top 10 songs to her credit. Below those acts were Bell Biv DeVoe, Michael Bolton (seriously, Michael Bolton. Oh 1990, what were you thinking), M.C. Hammer, Depeche Mode and Johnny Gil (the first artist to make me say “Who?” but far from the last).

1991

The idea that the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind instantly changed the musical landscape in 1991 is a fallacy. While the album was released in September of that year, their landmark song didn’t even appear on the Hot 100 charts until December 7th. Now before you give me the “But Smells Like Tear Spirit was released so late” schtik, bear in mind that Bryan Adam’s “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” was released at approximately the same time and still managed to finish 39th for the year, while other songs released in September charted at #45 (Naughty by Nature’s “O.P.P.”), 62 (Prince’s “Cream”), #72 (Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday”), #77 (Guns N’ Roses’ “Don’t Cry”), #82 (Roberta Flack With Maxi Priest’s “Set The Night To Music”), #87 (Amy Grant’s “That’s What Love Is For”), #89 (Curtis Stigers’ “I Wonder Why”). Hell, even Michael-Freaking-Bolton’s “When A Man Loves A Woman” came in at #90 and it came out a full month AFTER Teen Spirit. Sorry Gen-Xers, but the fact is that the record-buying public was much more interested in Boyz II Men’s “Motownphilly”, Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” and Extreme’s “More Than Words” that year. But that’s all going to change in 1992, right (Hint: It doesn’t).

So, now that we determined that not a lot of people were actually buying Nirvana’s music in 1991; who were they listening to? Mariah Carey tops the list with 5,436 points, scoring three Number 1 hits that year (Someday, I Don’t Wanna Cry and Emotions) with a fourth in the Top 10. Far behind her, were C+C Music Factory, Amy Grant (really?), Whitney Houston and Color Me Badd who each had three Top Ten hits. The rest of the Top 10 list is a bit frustrating for me, with future American Idol judge at #6, somebody called Cathy Dennis at #7, (shudder) Michael Bolton at #8, Roxette at #9 and Hair Metal’s Extreme rounding out the list.

1992

For the first time, we see a Gen-X rock band land a song in the Top 10 for the year, but it wasn’t Nirvana. Heralded as it was, Smells Like Teen Spirit only occupied the #58 song for the year (although, to it’s credit, it did reach #6 on the Hot 100 charts – Still, they got beaten out by Genesis’ cringeworthy “I Can’t Dance” which was #41 for the year). Nope, the honor goes to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge” which was #8 for the year. Nine places behind them at #17 was Guns N’ Roses with “November Rain”. Hell, even Toad the Wet Sprocket hit #20 with “All I Want”.So, Rock songs by new bands were hitting the charts, it just wasn’t the ones we immediately think about.

What were the best charting songs of the year, you ask? Glad you ask. Jon Secada’s “Just Another Day” witns the honor, spending 37 weeks on the charts; bollowed by a couply of Baby songs: TLC’s “Baby-Baby-Baby” and Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”. Meanwhile, just how big did House of Pain feel in 1992 only to fade way and Billy Ray Cyrus gave us both “Achy Breaky Heart” and Miley that year.

As for the “Artist of the Year” title, Nirvana ranked a surprisingly low #33 (one slot behind the Chili Peppers and four behind Michael Bolton). That’s not to say that there weren’t successful Rock Acts in 1992, but they were from established acts such as Genesis (#4) and U2 (#10). Meanwhile, the real musical genre winner was R&B. En Vogue topped the list followed closely behind by TLC and Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd. More established R&B artists Michael Jackson adn Mariah Carey grabbed the 6th and 7th slots, Dance Popper Ce Ce Penniston took the 8th spot and Soft Rocker Richard Mark grabbed number 9.

1993

Surely, this is going to be the year that Grunge finally took over the music charts? Um…. No!

Gen-X Rockers continued to chart a few songs on the Top 20 year, but I think my former Record Store Manager wife will start gagging once she hears that it was the Spin Doctors who had the best-charting Rock song that year (#9) and that Nirvana nor Pearl Jam barely charted the Top 100 despite releasing new albums while BritPop stars such as Suede and Blur were totally missing. I’m sure her feelings about the year will be slightly assuaged with Soul Asylum’s Runaway Train hitting the #19 spot. Instead of Grunge Rock, we see the Singles chart topped by Rappers such as Tag Team, Duice and Dr. Dre or R&Bers like Jade, SWV and Silk.

I honestly have absolutely no recollection of SWV, the band that earned the “Artist of the Year” title for 1993. Their songs are a complete enigma to me. I can see that they had three top 10 hits and I even streamed them, but for the life of me, I swear that I never heard a note of their music before; yet somehow they managed to narrowly eke out a victory over Whiteny Houston for that year’s honors, even though Houston was having that monster year that coincided with her Bodyguard soundtrack. Once again, the rest of the charts are dominated by R&B acts (Shai, Janet Jackson, Jade, Brian McKnight, Jon Secada and Michael Jackson all hit the top 10). Dr. Dre is the year’s sole Rapper to chart (#5 for the year). Meanwhile, in the “Year of Grunge”, the only rockers to reach the Top 10, were 80s legends Duran Duran, who had a bit of a resurgance with their Wedding Album.

1994

As I compiled this list, I kept thinking that “Surely, this will be the year for Grunge”; but 1994 was another Lucy-yanking-the-Football moment. It’s not that young rockers didn’t appear at all on the Singles Chart; you have Lisa Loeb’s “Stay (I Missed You)” as the #6 song for the year and Collective Soul’s “Shine” both wound up on the Top 20 for the year; but they were outpaced by aging rockers: John Mellencamp, Prince and Elton John each charted. I suppose that you’d have to call Melissa Etheridge among the new generation of Rockers, but she could hardly be classified as Grunge.

Instead the year belonged to Pop-Rockers such as Ace of Base (with the #1 AND #2 song for the year), with a collection of R&B (All-4-One and Toni Braxton among others) and Soft Rockers (Celine Dion and Richard Mark) dominating the singles chart.

Looking at the artist summaries, the Swedish pop act Ace of Base dominated the charts. Not only were they the first artist to top 7,000 points for a year; they topped 8,000 as well. I kind of feel bad for Mariah Carey, whose 6,929 points would have won any other year; but then I remember that she has fame and millions upon millions of dollars more than me and that sympathy goes out the window. The next three slots were also occupied by African-American women (R&B stars Janet Jackson and Toni Braxton taking spots 2-4 while rappers Salt-N-Pepa taking #5). Meanwhile the bottom half of the Top 10 featured R&B men (Babyface, All-4-One, R. Kelly and Tevin Campbell), with Melissa Etheridge being the only rocker to make the list.

1995

We finally have a year where Rock acts top both the Singles and the “Artist of the Years” charts. Granted, they’re not the critically adored bands – as a matter of fact, one of them is widely reviled by Rock purists; but at least we finally see my favorite musical genre topping the list.

Looking first at the Signles chart, Blues Traveler’s “Run-Around” claims the top spot even though it never even hit the Top 5. There is also a smattering of other rockers (Hootie & the Blowfish, Collective Soul), pop singers (Seal and Madonna), a rapper (Shaggy) and even an electronica artist (The Real McCoy); but the rest of the chart is dominated by R&B acts.

In the closest contest to date, Hootie and the Blowfish narrowly edged out TLC for the “Artist of the Year” crown. Hootie had the massively huge “Cracked Rear View” album which placed 4 songs in the top 10 list; sold over 10 million albums that year alone and even earning a Grammy. Despite this success, or perhaps because of it; they are hated by the Rock establishment who viewed their music as derivative at best and nauseous at worst. Honestly, I never got the hatred of Hootie; I owned the album myself; but then again, I was never one of the cool kids so what the hell do I know?
Meanwhile TLC was having a monster year of their own; topped by “Waterfalls” and “Creep”. All together they had 4 songs land in the Top 5 (which by the way, is four more than what Hootie did). Still, the Blowfish managed to have their songs linger longer on the charts and thus claim victory.

1996

Dear Critically Loved Rock Bands from the 90s,
I’ve given up any hope of any of you reaching the top spot on either the singles or Artist-of-the-Year charts. I’m not saying you weren’t worthy; it’s just that the record buying public of the 1990s wasn’t nearly as much into you as you led me to believe.

Sincerely,

  • Dave

P.S. – You’ll always be #1 in my book.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s take a look at the top song for the year. Surprisingly, it’s not the Macarena. Hold on, I think I’m contractually obligated to write the following:
Dale a tu cuerpo alegría Macarena
Que tu cuerpo es pa’ darle alegría cosa buena
Dale a tu cuerpo alegría, Macarena
Hey Macarena

Surprisingly, the Tony Rich project managed to nab the #1 single away from Los Del Rio with “Nobody Knows”. Actually, as years go, this one was incredibly diverse. You’ve got old rockers (Clapton), new rockers (Gin Blossoms, Alanis and Dishwalla) and in-the-middle rockers (Natalie Merchant and Tracy Chapman). You’ve got Pop stars (Madonna), Electronica artists (Everything but the Girl and La Bouche), rappers (Quad City DJs) and a large number of R&B stars (Toni Braxton and Mariah Carey). Through in Jewel and Celine Dion and you’ve got yourself a pretty diverse playlist.

I told you not to feel sorry for Mariah Carey for narrowly loosing the 1994 “Artist of the Year” title; because she managed to gain it this year, although her margin of victory over LL Cool J (56) was even less than Hootie’s over TLC (66). In addition to LL, rapper Coolie makes his presense known at #9 thanks to his “Gangsta’s Paradise” which I will forever remember as the inspiration for Weird Al’s “Amish Paradise”. Much like the Singles chart, the Album of the Year is diverse with Celine Dion, La Bouche and Alanis Morissette taking the 3-5 slots. Finally, let’s send a retroactive congratulatory note to Hootie,

1997

It may not be immediately obvious, but 1997 marked a huge transition in the American music charts. For the first time in more than 30 years; not a single Baby Boomer is represented on either the top of the end-of-year Singles chart or my “Artist of the Year” charts. Gen-X was clearly in command of the music charts for the first time, but when you start looking a bit deeper, you’ll see that Millennials are starting to make their presense felt, even if their generation had yet to have their own artists on the chart. Now, you may be saying “Whaaa?????” but give me a moment.

First, look at the Singles chart. Yes, former Chicago frontman Peter Cetera is listed as an artist on the #5 song; but he’s only a featured artist in a song that his band originally covered; so I’m saying that it doesn’t count. The chart is topped by Jewel’s “Foolish Games/You Were Meant For Me” which managed to remain on the chart EVERY SINGLE WEEK for the year; and it’s closest competition was Duncan Sheik’s “Barely Breathing” which managed to spend 50 weeks on the chart itself. Continue down the list and you’ll see some artists born in the mid-60s but nobody before that. Baby Boomers wouldn’t entirely disappear (Elton John would appear with the #20 song in 1998 and Cher would appear in 1999), but still, you can see an era coming to an end.

Now, if you take a look at the “Artist of the Year” charts, you’ll see a new era begin. For the first time, we have a Rap Artist Sean Combs a.k.a. Puff Daddy a.k.a. Puffy a.k.a. P. Diddy a.k.a. Diddy a.k.a. Just Pick a Name Already and Stick With it; tops the charts. Combs had a massive year, especially once you consider that #2 Mase, #7 The Notorious B.I.G. and #8 112 were all recording on his Bad Boy record label. At the #3 spot, you had the Spice Girls, who had already dominated the U.K. take their position on the American charts. R&B remained strong with Toni Braxton (#4) , Dru Hill (#6) and the years-away-from-being-indicted R. Kelly (#9). Finally, pop singer/yodeler Jewel had the #5 spot and the “whatever happened to them” pop-rockers Savage Garden took the #10 spot.

1998

1998 looks a lot more like 1997 than any other year looked like it’s predecessor. The songs may change, but there was a higher degree of “rollover” than we’ve seen in past years.

If we take a look at the individual songs, there’s (expectedly) an entirely new list from 1997. We had a little bit more R&B (7 songs as opposed to 6 the previous year) and a little less Pop/Rock (6 instead of 8). This time, the top song goes to Savage Garden’s “Truly Madly Deeply” which actually hit the charts in late December 1997 and had already hit the #9 spot, before spending the first 48 weeks on the Singles chart including some time at #1. Next, comes Next’s “Too Close” followed by songs by Shania Twait, Third Eye Blind and Janet (no longer Jackson). We even get legacy rocker Elton John at the #20 spot, thanks to his re-release of Candle in the Wind, following the death of Princess Diana.

As for the Artist of the Year charts, once again the #1 spot belongs to Sean Combs and the #2 spot to his protege Mase. The other returnee is Savage Garden who moved up from their #10 placing in 1997 to #6 this year. Rounding out the list are R&B acts Usher and Next; rapper Silkk the Shocker, Pop Country aritsts Leann Rhimes (#7 and Shania Twaint #9), Gen-X rockers Third Eye Blind (#8) and Janet Jackson, who makes her fourth appearance on the Top 10 artist chart, tying her with Mariah Carey for the most times in the Top 10.

1999

The decade wraps up with R&B women once again dominating the year, taking the Top Single and Top Artist titles. Meanwhile, we have the first artist born in the 1980s turn up on the Artist of the Year charts, heralding the arrival of the Millenial Generation’s influence on the music charts.

Taking a look at the top singles of the year, we see R&B trio 702 at the #1 slot with their “Where My Girls At?”. Then we get a tie for the #2 song of the year, between Pop Rockers Goo-Goo Dolls’ “Slide” and Sixpence None the Richer’s “Kiss Me” (which seemed to be in every movie soundtrack for the next few years). The Millenial generation is also making their growing presence known, with Boy Band Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” at #4 and actual millenials Monica, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears occupying spots 9-11. As for the rest of the list, there’s a little more Rock than in past years (Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lenny Kravitz all appearing in the Top 20) and even a diva from the 60s and 70s making a return appearance atop the charts (Cher’s “Believe”).

As for Artist of the Year, once again the title goes to an R&B woman, this time Whitney Houston, who made her first appearnace on th list since 1993. Fellow R&B acts Faith Evans (#2), R. Kelly (#3) and TLC (#7) also made the list. Rap maintains it’s presense with Jay-Z making his first appearance on the Top 10 Artist charts. Then, we have a couple of artists that appealed to Millenial girls (Backstreet Boys at #4 and Millenial Britney Spears at #10). The final three spots go to Pop-Rockers (Goo-Goo Dolls at #6 and Sugar Ray at #8) and Pop Country artist Shania Twait at #9.


Overview of the 1990s:

If we then aggregate the charts for the entire decade, you’ll find that; instead of flannel-clad rockers or gangsta-rappers, the charts were dominated by R&B artists, specifically R&B women. Mariah Carey, with a total of 36,987 easily tops the chart over her next closest competitor Janet Jackson and the rest of the top five artists of the decade are either Women or R&B Artists: Madonna (Female), Whitney Houston (R&B AND Female) and Boyz II Men (R&B).
While it’s true that we do see Pop/Rock on the list, a lot of the artists are either far on the Pop side of the spectrum or are legacy acts. Going through the list in order, we see Madonna, Celine Dion, Elton John, Bryan Adams, Michael Bolton and Rod Stewart on the list, all of which were established artists as the 1980s started. The first true new “Rock” act we have is the critically vilified Hootie and the Blowfish at #30; followed by Melissa Etheridge at #58. You really don’t find a critically-aclaimed “Rock” act until way down at position #71 with R.E.M. and even then you could easily consider them an 80s band that didn’t find chart success until the 1990s. As for the beloved 90s Rock Acts are concerned, they all rank far lower than I would have thought: Smashing Pumpkins are at #134, Red Chili Pappers are at #141, Pearn Jam is at #163 and Nirvana, the band that we think of as ushering in the Grunge movement, is way down the list at #306.
Meanwhile, we can see the growth of Rap on the chart, with 14 different acts on the list; but all of them representing a younger generation than we see for Rock. Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs was #6 on the list, with Notrious B.I.G. and Combs protege Mase also reaching the Top 20. Slightly older rappers LL Cool J and Salt-N-Pepa are in the Top 40, while 2Pac, Jay-Z , Coolio and Ice Cube (among others), making their presence known.

So, there you have it; the Real Music of the 90s featured a whole lot less grunge and a whole lot more R&B ladies than I first thought.

Written by David Curewitz

Who is the Next Avenger?

The Marvel Cinematic Universe was launched a dozen years ago, and it has gone on to become one of the most successful film franchises in movie history. As one successful movie follows another, more and more characters have been translated from the comic books to the big screen. In 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, there were 20 different heroic characters (not including ex-villains such as Loki or assistants like Wong) who fought the mad titan Thanos. In a matter of days, their newest character, Bree Larsen’s Captain Marvel will be introduced into her own film before inevitably taking her place in the team. This leads to the question, which character can we expect to see next.

To determine this, I’ve gathered data regarding all of the heroic characters who have appeared in 100 or more issues with the Avengers and when they first appeared. I then grouped the characters into four different categories: (1 – Blue) Those characters who have already appeared in the Marvel movie franchise, (2 – Red) Those characters who have not been able to appear in the MCU due to legal issues (3 – Green) Those characters who are available, but have not yet appeared in, the Marvel Cinematic Universe but have “overlapping” powers with current characters and (4-Yellow) Those characters who are available with a unique set of powers.

In some ways, the “easy” choices have already been made. The top 9 characters who’ve appeared in Avengers-related comics have already been portrayed. They include Captain America (#1/1723 appearances/first appeared in 1964), Iron Man (#2/1504 appearances/1963 comics debut), Thor (#3/1239/1963), Hawkeye (#4/1011/1964), Vision (#5/1009/1968), Spider-Man (#8/698/1964) and Hulk (#9/614/1963). For character consistency sake, I’m counting Janet van Dyne’s Wasp (#6/938/1963) and Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Pym’s character as the same character (since they both fill the “Wasp” slot) and Henry Pym’s Ant-Man (#7/854/1964) and Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang (#51/116/1979) as the Ant-Man designate.

Other characters included in the list are Black Widow, Quicksilver, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Nick Fury, War Machine and Bucky/Winter Soldier.

Now that still leaves 41 potential recruits. Of those, 18 have to be filtered out due to legal rights surrounding the characters. Members of the X-Men and Fantastic Four teams, as well as the Silver Surfer; were all licensed to 20th Century Fox. While Marvel just recently regained the rights to those characters, it’s still too early for them to appear in the next slate of films; and even if they did, it’s far more likely that they will be introduced via separate movies that showcase those teams, rather than as ad hoc members of the Marvel Universe. Likewise, the characters from the Marvel/Netflix universe; such as Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist; should be ruled out, even though those characters are part of the larger shared Marvel Universe, the legal rights between the now-feuding parent companies should prevent their appearance in the MCU for a while.

The following table shows characters that have already appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (blue), those who can’t appear due to legal reasons (red), those who have powers that strongly duplicate existing MCU heroes (green) and available characters with a different power-set (yellow):

From the sheer number of appearances; Hercules, She-Hulk and Wonder Man would seem to be the most likely additions; but given that the primary ability of each of these three characters is their great strength; and that you already have several “bricks” on the team; such as Thor, Hulk and Captain Marvel; I’d argue that they wouldn’t really add much to the existing team. That being said, if Mark Ruffalo ever decides to quit the franchise, his cousin Jennifer’s She-Hulk would be an obvious replacement.

That leaves the most likely addition being Dane Whitman’s Black Knight. He’s appeared in nearly 300 issues and has been associated with the team since 1967. He’s an expert hand-to-hand fighter and tactician who would fill the void from the likely-to-depart Captain America; plus, he has a flying horse that would “show” nicely on the film.

Going further down the list of top-10 “available” characters, Jessica Drew’s Spider-Woman would seem unnecessary given the fact that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is new to the franchise. Monica Rambeau’s character (who has been called both Spectrum and Captain Marvel) would also seem a logical choice given her tenure with the team and the fact that a similarly-sounding character by that name (Maria Rambeau) is being portrayed by Lashana Lynch in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie. However, the movie is set place in the 90s, so I’m guessing they are using the Maria character as a way to eventually introduce a younger Monica. Either way, it’s not her time yet.

Crystal would seem to fit into the planned Inhumans movie, so I would rule her out as well until then. Jane Foster has been introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but given Natalie Portman’s exit from the MCU, it’s doubtful that they’d reintroduce her; plus, as long as Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is in the franchise, it’s doubtful they’d need the “Lady Thor” version as well. The magical abilities of Sersi are offset by Doctor Strange’s presence on the team. Finally, the Bobbi Morse “Mockingbird” character is already showcased in the Agents of SHIELD TV series and it seems that she will be continued to be utilized there.

There are definitely other options further down the list (you’ve got a couple of versions of Nova listed and Tigra would be an intriguing choice that would provide another female character); but if I’m going to go for a deep pick; I’d choose the relatively new character of Kamala Khan; which would not only provide another female character; it would also help diversify the MCU a bit more by showcasing a female, Muslim hero with a unique set of powers who could easily bond with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and have a “little sister” relationship with Bree Larsen’s Captain Marvel, whom Kamala has always idolized.

Looking forward as to whether or not I’ll be proved right here or to any comments/suggestions that you might have.

Written by David Curewitz