4. Howard The Duck
From his first appearance in 1973 on, Howard the Duck was always seen with a cigar either in his beak or in a hand (usually while gesturing at some hairless ape that angered him). Howard was created as an existentialist non-joke of a goofy character, just trying to cope with a world he doesn’t understand, so clearly those stogies are a coping mechanism. Of course, the smoking also made him more visually distinct from Donald (he also had pants added later on to continue this differentiation). Mr. The Duck held onto the cigar into the new millennium, even using a magical cigar to save the world and travel to Hell (long story). But once he resurfaced for Civil War, Howard came back tobacco-free, with a cute aside that somebody had pressured him to quit. Howard’s stuck with his tobacco-free stance ever since.
Super-powered smoking excuse: Maybe his duck body can deal with smoke better than others. Have you seen the garbage that gets dumped into lakes?! Plus, quit bothering the poor guy. His life is a constant source of frustration and disappointment. Waugh!
3. J. Jonah Jameson
Triple J was a constant foil to Spider-Man who used his newspaper to continually ask the question ‘Spider-Man: Threat or Menace?’ Like any good publisher from the ’60s, he was often sucking on a stogie while reading over proofs of the next editorial damning Spidey. Because Marvel always made Jameson out to be a jerk (he even has a Hitler mustache), they weren’t worried kids would imitate it, so he kept his cigars for a very long time. In fact, Jonah’s film counterpart (the brilliant J.K. Simmons) also kept his tobacco close by. It wasn’t until a near-death experience at the start of Spider-Man’s Brand New Day era that Jonah was forced to drop the cigars for good. A good side-effect of his tobacco-free lifestyle; he was able to win back his estranged wife, which ultimately lead him to be elected Mayor of New York City.
Super-powered smoking excuse: The stress of hating that infernal Spider-Man and decades of self-loathing are the best explanation you’re going to get for Jonah’s constant smoking. Currently he’s a Bill O’Reilly-esque talking head, so perhaps he realized he was more telegenic if he dropped the cigars.
Wolvie used to smoke and threaten to stab kids, making this removal a hard one for X-Men fans to take. Not unlike Bender on Futurama, Wolverine was the cool guy who did all the stuff our parents told us not to. He stabbed people, swore, mouthed off, and usually had some burning tobacco hanging out of his face. He was the cowboy of the Marvel Universe and a rebel without a cause! Hugh Jackman clearly shared that oral fixation, as his Wolverine smoked a cigar or two during his long tenure as the face of Fox’s film franchise. When the ban came down, however, Wolverine was the poster boy for kicking the habit. Sure, he still cut people to ribbons with his unbreakable claws, but he stopped lighting up afterwards as a way to unwind.
Super-powered smoking excuse: Not only did Logan’s healing factor resist any of the ill effects of cigars, he also said he enjoyed using them because they’d dull his powerful sense of smell. It likely also covered his own musky aroma, which you have to think the X-Men missed once the smoking ban started.
1. The Thing/Jack Kirby
Like I wrote at the start, I personally hate smoking and am totally cool with today’s kids not seeing their favorite heroes smoking each issue. But the Thing is the one I miss the most, as Ben Grimm is one of my favorite characters of all time. The grouchy monster man is uncomfortable wherever he goes, feeling like a freak at all times and talking like a 1930s movie star no matter what decade he’s in. That old timey feel to The Thing is also why I forgave his cigar use – he talks like Jimmy Durante, so he may as well smoke like him too. It just feels right to see an ashing cigar stuck between the teeth of this rock man while he grouses “What a revoltin’ development.” Of course, that’s also likely an inherited trait from his creator, prolific Marvel comic artist and scribe Jack Kirby.
It’s no mistake that Jack would be caricatured as The Thing, because the two have so much in common. Until it was confirmed about a decade ago, many simply assumed Ben Grimm was Jewish just as Kirby. Kirby was constantly smoking his old man cigar, (whether in his drawings or real life) until his death in 1994. When Mark Waid tried to insert Kirby into FF books as the team’s heavenly creator, he wasn’t allowed to put the cigar in his mouth – at best they could put the cigar in a nearby ashtray. It was a great moment that also worked as a fond farewell to the characters’ history of smoking, though you can occasionally find some merchandise that dodges the rule.
Super-powered smoking excuse: The Thing is barely human, and has organs that can withstand undersea pressure and punches from the Hulk. I’m sure a few puffs on a cigar can’t do all that much damage.
Do you miss when Marvel’s most famous characters were allowed to smoke? Are you happy they dropped the habit, like most of the current generation of rapidly shrinking smokers? Sound off in the comments!