Comics are awesome. If you know me, you’ll know they’re one of my favourite things; Marvel, DC, Image, self-published, it doesn’t matter. If it’s good, I’ll read it, although thanks to the excellent Marvel Unlimited service, most of what I read comes from them. Marvel Unlimited, my shiny Android tablet and my trusty iPod Classic get me through even the most challenging of commutes.

Having binged an awful lot of their crossover events over the last couple of years, I recently got to wondering which character had been in the most of them and, thanks to the brilliant Marvel API, R and a little patience, I’ve managed to find not just this answer, but a couple of other interesting ones too.

I had so much fun doing this that there may well be a few follow-up posts using the API, but today, I’m going to stick to the question that spurred this post: Which Marvel character has been in the most crossover events?

What Is A Crossover Event?

For those of you that aren’t massive nerds like me, a crossover event is a story where characters from one series pop up in another one. Since Marvel characters inhabit a shared universe where everyone in Spiderman comics also exists in the same world as characters in Iron Man comics, this isn’t that rare, but an event is one where the overarching story can have consequences for everyone in that universe, or at least segments of the universe.

For example: Deadpool showing up in a couple of Daredevil issues for a limited story is a crossover, but not an event. Civil War, where pretty much everyone was involved and the ramifications of it are still being felt throughout the Marvel Universe ten years later, is absolutely a crossover event.

There are usually one or two of these big events a year, but they’ve been ramping up the schedule quite a bit recently – possibly something to do with many of the films and TV shows becoming crossover events of their own. The cynical of you may dismiss this as a way to make more money. A fan considers this a way to deliver more awesome.

Caught up? Cool, let’s do this.

So Who Is It?

In the chart below, we’ve got the top 50 characters by appearances in events. This was made with Plot.ly, which is my favourite way to build interactive charts for the web – it’s free if you make the charts public and it has libraries for R, Python, Julia and more. There’s even a PowerPoint add-in for it, if you need to present your charts.

Data provided by Marvel. © 2017 MARVEL

And there we have it. It’s Wolverine. Below, we’ve got a breakdown of the top 20 as it stands now – I haven’t built this to auto-update, but that might be a further project later on.

There are a lot of X-Men in there, which isn’t a huge shock since there have been so many X-Men comics over the years, often running at the same time, and it seems like they can’t go fifteen minutes without having another giant crossover.

Which Events Were They In?

Below, there’s a pivot table showing you which events the top 20 characters have been in.

As you can see, Spiderman is hot on Wolverine’s tail (aided by Wolverine taking a bit of time off) – maybe he’ll take the crown in the near future. Again, that wouldn’t be a huge shock since there are so many Spiderman comics in play and he’s incredibly popular.

That’s All For Today

There’s lots more I’d like to do with this API and I had fun with it, so there may be a few more of these posts to come. If there’s enough interest, I might even build a Marvel API R package, so you can do your own analysis.

Let me know if you have any other Marvel comics questions that I can answer through data by dropping me a line on Twitter and don’t forget to sign up for free email updates so you can stay in the loop.

I know it’s been ages since I’ve written here, but I think that’s going to change soon. I’ve moved my site over to Grav from WordPress and put it on nginx, which is nice (pretty fast too, right?) and, a few SSL niggles aside, I absolutely love it. I’ve got loads of new ideas for things to write about, so hopefully I’ll find the time.

Until next time, Internet. Excelsior!

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