Top Ten Anti-Heroes
A well-written antihero can make for some of the best reading material. Unlike the usual Clark Kent type figures who are clearly on the good side of morality, antiheroes blur the line of what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to crime fighting. They usually possess character flaws that are too big for the plot to ignore. These characters usually follow a code of “by any means necessary” which often means innocent people get caught up in the crossfire. They act as a good reminder that the choices we make and the world we live in isn’t always clear cut. That sometimes the “right thing to do” is pretty terrible. So here’s the ten best characters for putting our beliefs about morality to the test.
- Catwoman– The lyth Miss Kyle comes in at number 10 because while she is technically a baddie, she’s always been rather tame. She was created to be a conflict-ridden love interest for Bats which meant she had to remain just good enough that Bruce would be more interested in reforming her than catching her. Most of Selina’s storyline have her acting as a sort of Robin Hood for prostitutes or other street urchin types. Her characters focus on female friendship and women saving each other (even if it means a little stealing or pimp beating) is what earns her a spot on this list.
- Loki- While Loki originally started out as a super villain bent on spreading hate (no for real that was his goal) modern comics made him Thor’s brother and the anti-hero we know and love. Loki makes it to the top ten because his trickster ways are a fun departure from the normally serious emo nature of most anti-heroes.
- Spawn– When it comes to “personality flaws” it’s hard to find a bigger one than the literal demon from hell. Al Simmons maybe the scourge of baddies and pedophiles in his demon form but his any mean necessary attitude before death is what helped land him in hell. Simmons was a CIA operative who knowingly killed an innocent in the line of duty when he’s burnt to death he sells his soul for a chance to see his wife again. Protip deals with demons never go well but damn if it doesn’t make for a good comic. Spawn’s not only a badass his titular comic launched Image which is responsible for some of the best comics currently on the shelves.
- Johnny the Homicidal Maniac– If you were an angsty teen in the late 90’s early 00’s you know you read this comic. It’s part nerd revenge fantasy and part gore horror. At first, it seems like Johnny is just an insane killer bent on a weird pet project of keeping his wall wet with blood, that is until a monster breaks loose from it. In this short series, Jhonen Vasquez managed to tap into something that no one has been able to replicate. If you’re looking for something truly original and truly sick, this is a comic to pick up.
6/5. Death and Xiaoling— What I love most about this East of West couple is how they defied my expectations. I had assumed Xiaoling would be the standard darling demure love interest, not the wicked killing machine she turned out to be. It makes so much sense because who could Death love more than someone who can deliver a ton of souls to him in a single day. It’s a good thing the baddies in East of West intend to bring about the apocalypse because Death and Xiaoling seem ready to end the world or at least a whole lot of lives to find their son.
- V– One thing Alan Moore excels at is writing morally ambiguous characters. It’s easy to paint V from V for Vendetta as a good guy until you think about his actions and goals. Sure, freeing people from an Orwellian government is a great idea, but his motives aren’t as totally good either. There’s certainly an understandable element of revenge in V’s plot, putting people in concentration camps tends to inspire that kind of thing. But his plan to just destroy all forms of government and hope something better rises from the ashes isn’t a great either. Moore put anarchist ideals to the test in this book which is what makes it so timeless.
- Rorschach– An anti-hero list wouldn’t be complete without this stoic bastard. His defining characteristic is also his biggest character flaw. In a world of moral grey areas, Rorschach stands firmly behind the black line he’s drawn in the sand. Watchmen is widely considered to be one of the best comics of all time, and I think it’s safe to say Rorschach is a big reason for that. His commitment to what he believes is stunning to watch as the world crumbles around him. He’s a character that will linger with you long after the book is done.
- The Punisher– Don’t tell me you didn’t see this one coming. Frank Castle is the violent answer to everyone reading Daredevil or Spiderman screaming “just kill him already!”. The Punisher makes readers challenge their beliefs. How far is too far? Is an eye for a violent eye the world we want? The morality questions that Frank Castle’s quest for vengeance inspires is what makes him number 2 on our list.
- Deadpool– From the moment Cable mailed Wade Wilson back to his employer readers knew the merc with the mouth was bound to be back. Deadpool is equal parts sass and violence. He gives readers everything they love about comics while loudly poking fun at the absurdity of it all. His character is known to regularly break not only the 4th wall but also all the rules of comic books. He’s fun to read because he’s like an insane cipher of the reader. His self-awareness allows us to enjoy his ultra-violence because he’s always reminding us that at the end of the day none of this is real.