To celebrate my 2000 posts here/ complete lack of a life, I’ve decided to do a countdown of the 15 greatest Spider-man characters. The list includes villains (including three Goblins), supporting cast members, and the main man himself. Some of them have had greater success outside of the Spider-Man books, but they all debuted in either Amazing Spider-Man, or Amazing Fantasy #15. I doubt there’s much suspense over who #1 will be, and I admit that some worthy characters are kept off the list by more worthy characters, but I'm arrogant enough to think it's a good list. So without further ado....
15. Flash Thompson
First Appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15
Creators: Stan Lee/ Steve Ditko
Flash Thompson started out as one of Peter’s greatest tormentors, with the delicious irony that he was also the world’s biggest Spider-Man fan. As far as brilliant concepts go, that’s right up there with the Clark Kent/ Lois Lane/ Superman love triangle. Then Stan Lee did something rare, and had the character mature into one of Peter’s best friends, sending him to the military, where he developed into a better man. Later highlights include his battle with alcoholism in JM Dematteis’s Spectacular Spider-Man run. This character isn’t used effectively enough by current writers, but has a tremendous amouny of potential.
Amazing Spider-Man #5
Flash Thompson disguises himself as Spider-Man, and gets abducted by Doctor Doom. The highlight of this issue may just be the way Peter Parker savors his opponent's trouble. Adapted into one of the first episodes of the 90s Fox cartoon.
Amazing Spider-Man #17-19
This storyline is the best example of Flash's love of Spider-Man, as he convinces Spider-Man to come to a meeting of his fan club, and defends his hero after Spider-Man is accused of being a coward, even though it earns him a severe beating.
Peter Parker, and Flash Thompson compete for the same girl for the prom. Perhaps the high point of the Webspinners anthology. Revealed a more desperate side to the character.
An excellent retelling of the best of Lee/ Romita's run, this story probably has a better rendition of Flash's decision to join the military (as it's no longer possible for Flash to get drafted.)
Amazing Spider-Man #107-108
A favorite of John Romita Sr, this storyline finds Flash Thompson dealing with incredible guilt, as enemies from Vietnam want to execute him for war crimes.
Spectacular Spider-Man #-1, 241-250
Flash Thompon’s battle with alcohol, containing both the lowest points of his life, the beginning of his recovery, and the introduction of his father.
Peter Parker Spider-Man #31
There’s a perfect three page scene in which Flash Thompson comforts a distraught Peter Parker (unaware Spider-Man’s about to face one of the greatest battles of his life) which serves as a reminder about how much he has changed, and how much things have remained the same.
Ultimate Spider-Man #65
The epilogue to the Carnage story revealed a potential for the Ultimate Flash to be a better man, and represented one of the few recent good scenes with his buddy Kong.
If you guys want to agree/ disagree/ suggest more recommended reading/ showcase your own lists, I'd love to see it. I'll probably update this on a daily or so basis.