The Most X-TREME ‘90s Comic Book Characters

Over 200 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Most X-TREME ‘90s Comic Book Characters
Voting Rules
Vote up the heroes that embody what it means to be a comic book character from the '90s.

Comic book characters in the '90s weren't just extreme, they were exxxtreme. Pouches, ponytails, pads, and plasma pistols covered these heroes and villains from head to toe, and their origins were just as intense as their wardrobe choices. After writers like Frank Miller and Alan Moore pushed comic book writing into darker territory in the '80s and artists like Dave McKean moved things in a more cerebral direction, the '90s saw a huge rise in gritty stories and over-the-top characters. 

New companies like Image Comics practically used these extreme concepts as their foundation, but even Marvel and DC got in on the action. From reboots of old characters to brand new heroes to names that came and went with the Y2K scare, '90s comic book characters are likely some of the most visually recognizable in the history of the medium. But which was the most extreme? 

Photo: Marvel Comics

  • 1
    126 VOTES

    First Introduced In: Amazing Spider-Man #344, 1991 (as Cletus Kasady); Amazing Spider-Man #361, 1992 (as Carnage)

    His EXTREME Origin: Cletus Kasady began his comic book life as a monstrous serial slayer who had been taking lives since his childhood. That wasn't extreme enough, so his origin was later updated to include him perishing as a child only to be resurrected by an ancient god. While in prison, he meets Eddie Brock, who recently lost the Venom Symbiote. After disgusting Brock and receiving several beatings from him, he decides to shiv the former journalist - but is stopped by the return of the Symbiote. As Venom, Brock leads a jailbreak, but he leaves behind the child his Symbiote was pregnant with. When the entity enters Kasady's bloodstream, it grants him even more extreme powers and the two become Carnage.

    His EXTREME Powers: Carnage has the usual superpowers of strength, durability, speed, and regeneration, but his Symbiote lets him do much more than Venom can (though Venom's own powers grow over time as well). 

    His EXTREME Accessories: Given that the Carnage Symbiote is the ultimate super-suit, Carnage doesn't need accessories. Instead, Kasady's Symbiote can shapeshift into a variety of blades, claws, and spikes to allow Carnage to wreak havoc.

  • 2
    148 VOTES


    First Introduced In: Spawn #1, 1992

    His EXTREME Origin: CIA mercenary Al Simmons is betrayed by his own directory and viciously slain on a mission. Arriving in hell for his lifetime of evil deeds, he strikes a deal with a being called Malebolgia to return to life and see his wife one last time. But as he's made a deal with the devil, things don't turn out the way he hoped. He returns badly disfigured and possessing the powers of a Hellspawn. What's more, it's been five years and his wife has married his best friend and they've had a child together. Simmons then disguises himself as the new husband and has non-consensual intercourse with his ex-wife, proving that another word for antihero is often just villain.

    His EXTREME Powers: Spawn's body is made from necroplasm, and he wears a living suit that's full of nasty tools of destruction. His magical powers grant him everything from teleportation to regeneration to energy blast powers. He can even resurrect the fallen.

    His EXTREME Accessories: Spawn's living suit is outfitted with chains, blades, and spikes a plenty, not to mention skulls and a huge cape. And as a former CIA operative - and '90s comic character - he also prefers to just unload on his enemies using his collection of pieces.

  • 3
    120 VOTES

    First Introduced In: The Uncanny X-Men #201, 1986 (as Nathan Summers); The New Mutants #87, 1990 (as Cable)

    His EXTREME Origin: Cable's origin is full of time travel and alternate realities, making him the living embodiment of '90s comic book tropes. The villainous Mr. Sinister hopes to defeat Apocalypse, so he clones Jean Grey (who is currently the Phoenix) and orchestrates the marriage of her clone, Madelyne Pryor, to Scott Summers. They have a child named Nathan who grows up fighting in a future ruled by Apocalypse. Aside from his dystopian upbringing, he also spends much of his life battling a techno-organic virus that is slowly turning him into a cyborg.

    His EXTREME Powers: As the child of two of the most powerful mutants, Cable is at the Omega level. He's considered one of the most powerful psychics on Earth, but he has to use his powers to constantly keep his virus at bay. So while he has just about every mental superpower in the book, he prefers to use gigantic energy cannons to fight evil.

    His EXTREME Accessories: Cybernetic parts, energy cannons, and more tactical pouches than Deadpool, Cable his almost the poster boy for '90s comic book character design choices.

  • 4
    45 VOTES

    First Introduced In: The New Mutants #98, 1991

    His EXTREME Origin: Wade Wilson was a disfigured mercenary with the superhuman ability of an accelerated healing factor and agility. He was hired by Tolliver to attack Cable and the New Mutants and subsequently appeared in various and Marvel titles until his own miniseries in 1994.

    His EXTREME Powers: Aside from accelerated healing and agility, Deadpool is one of the few characters in the Marvel Universe that breaks the fourth wall, for both narrative and combative reasons.  

    His EXTREME Accessories:  A plethora of katanas, guns, and an alter ego that's a direct reference to DC Comics' villain Deathstroke, Slade Wilson.

  • 5
    79 VOTES

    First Introduced In: The Maxx #1, 1993

    His EXTREME Origin: If the name wasn't enough of a hint, the story of the Maxx is exxtreme. When the tale begins, we only know a homeless man believes himself to be a superhero called the Maxx and has a strange affinity for a woman named Julia. Over time, we learn Julia was beaten and assaulted when she tried to help a stranger, so she dove into a dream world called the Outback. There, she's a hero called the Leopard Queen, and reality and the dream world slowly start blending. When she hits a homeless man with her car years later, a connection between the two is formed and the man becomes the Maxx in his own Outback. The concept of the Outback and psychic connections continue throughout the series, as does the gritty urban melodrama.

    His EXTREME Powers: The Maxx has enhanced strength, senses, and speed, tying him in with the animalistic concepts present throughout the series.

    His EXTREME Accessories: No pouches or ponytails, but a skintight suit of a questionable color combination and a mask with a permanent grimace and over-the-top teeth. Plus, his hands have giant claws on the end.

    79 votes
  • Witchblade
    Photo: Top Cow
    89 VOTES

    First Introduced In: Witchblade #1, 1995

    Her EXTREME Origin: Homicide detective Sara Pezzini ends up mortally harmed in the line of duty, but luckily, the ancient Witchblade is nearby when she nearly meets her end and decides to bond with her. The Witchblade heals Pezzini and grants her new abilities, but it also has a vicious nature she must fight - along with fighting a variety of monsters and villains.

    Her EXTREME Powers: The Witchblade gives its host all sorts of powers, from pyrokinesis to damage healing to super-strength. It can also morph into various other tools of destruction.

    Her EXTREME Accessories: The Witchblade is the ultimate extreme '90s accessory. It grants powers, can shapeshift into various other items, and covers (or barely covers) its wearer in various techno-organic blades.

    89 votes