Martinex1: I've always had a liking for Foggy Nelson over in the old Stan Lee and Gene Colan Daredevil stories. I enjoyed his upbeat approach to all situations and his general support of his partners. And most importantly I think he helped round out Matt Murdock (and Daredevil) as a character. The fact that these two - opposites in almost every way - were best friends made the book a fun read even when Daredevil wasn't romancing Karen or tackling villains.
Here are some characters that leaped to mind for me:
Superman of course had Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson. They were so popular they even had their own comic mags. Poor Perry White had to be a guest star!
Batman had few hangers-on as he was such a loner and so dark and brooding, but surely the iconic Robin, Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon are A-List supporting cast members.
But what of lesser known characters, like Bernie Rosenthal over in Captain America? I think her interaction with Steve Rogers elevated the character tremendously in those years. She rounded out and even highlighted some flaws the perfect super-soldier.
And as far as casts go, can anybody beat Spider-Man's? From the early Steve Ditko days, the roster was nearly complete with J. Jonah Jameson, Aunt May, Flash, and the gang. But it only got better over the years.
DC's Flash had Iris and Wally West; and the Kid-Flash sure joined in many adventures. Perhaps the strangest thing about the Flash comic is that the Rogues were almost a supporting team. The interaction between the hero and the villains was on a different level than others in the early Bronze Age.
Team books, because of the headcount of headlining characters, rarely had multiple characters in supporting roles. The Avengers had Jarvis, but the Fantastic Four had Alicia Masters, Wyatt Wingfoot, Frankie Raye, Franklin Richards, and the very infrequent Willie Lumpkin.
And of course Daredevil also had Karen Page in addition to Foggy Nelson.
Rick Jones seemed to guest star and support every loner hero in the Marvel Universe, from the Hulk, to Captain Marvel, to Captain America, the Avengers, and ROM. But I liked him best alongside Betty and Thunderbolt Ross in the early Hulk books.
After reflection, here are my top five supporting characters followed by top five supporting casts! Without further ado:
Martinex1's Top 5 Favorite Supporting Characters:
5) Alfred: I'm not a huge Batman fan, but I do recognize Alfred's role in both the story and the craft.
4) Rick Jones: He is not for everybody, but he has been intrinsic to the development of so many Marvel characters.
3) Bernie Rosenthal: As stated, she really made Captain America more relateable and dare I say, "likeable."
2) Foggy Nelson: He is a nostalgic pick as I stated above.
1) J. Jonah Jameson: I cannot imagine early Spidey's stories or development without the infernal Bugle publisher.
That was a lot harder than I thought and I could easily knock most off with a proper debate, but for now those are my top five characters.
Martinex1's Top 5 Supporting Casts:
5) The Flash: If I get to keep the Rogues as support (and I do) then they have to make the list.
4) The Fantastic Four: It is interesting that often their adversaries later become support, like the Inhumans and Silver Surfer. That moved them up in my ranking.
3) Superman: Just because I respect their longevity - Lois. Jimmy, Perry, Lana, Ma and Pa and the rest get a nod.
2) Archie: A little curve ball here, but can you deny that Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Reggie, Moose, Dilton, and the rest aren't spectacular?
1) Spider-Man: it is hard to believe how rounded and complete the surrounding cast is for Peter Parker. From Mary Jane to Aunt May, from Flash to Robbie, from Gwen to Betty Brant, it has been nearly perfect for a long time.
Share what you think and rank your own as well. Don't feel you have to limit it to the characters I've listed or to particular heroes or even to Marvel and DC (there is great reasoning to think Casper or Richie Rich or Blue Beetle have the best support). We'd like to hear what you think. Cheers!