Oh, boy. This question. I don’t have a single favorite anything, so bear with me.
The question as it was posed originally was, “Who is your favorite superhero?” That iteration was even more impossible to answer, since the comics to which I gravitate are not your traditional Big Two Canon, or even comics with the superhero archetype. While my comics ‘gateway drug’ was Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey run, I very quickly discovered the joy of other comics publishers (Give me Image or give me death!) and found that they suited my personal reading preferences in a much more satisfactory manner. With all of this in mind, let’s explore what, to me, makes a compelling and/or entertaining comic.
As I mentioned above, Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey were what introduced me to comics as more than a weekly strip or ‘something other people read that I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy’. It’s a cogent story line with fascinating characters with whom the reader can empathize. In my usual fashion, once I had finished the BoP run I sought out other titles by Simone. Some were hits, some were misses (personally, of course,) and my other favorite of her works actually ended up not being a comic at all, but a collection of her articles from various publications over the years, You’ll All Be Sorry!. The other bit of comics knowledge I gleaned from her BoP run was the origin of Zinda Blake, aka Lady Blackhawk.
Lady Blackhawk was bumped into the present timeline in the Zero Hour event, and quickly became a favorite of mine in Simone’s BoP team. I did a little research and discovered that she had originated in the Blackhawk series (first appearance issue #133,) and as a result of that kernel of knowledge I began collecting vintage Blackhawk comics. Blackhawk is what you would get if you dropped Danny Ocean and company into a Roger Moore Bond film. The appeal of them is the fact that they are wholly representative of the era in which they were written and published. They seem wildly out of date now, and to me, that’s the beauty of them.
Also, the vintage advertising.
Everybody else on this list comes (surprise, surprise,) from something published by Image Comics. I do have a penchant for the bizarre, so my first two picks shouldn’t come as a surprise. Let’s begin with the long-suffering Larrigon Wentsworth III, familiarly known as Larry, from Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland.
Larry is what I imagine Jiminy Cricket would be like if he was a disenchanted drunk. Poor Larry managed to land Gert, the most outrageously inept kiddo to fall into Fairyland since…ever, as his ward, and spends thirty long years having to watch her fail at finding her way home. Though he may grumble and moan and lament his fate, when Gert actually (SPOILERS!) dies, he realizes that she meant more to him than he thought possible, and it’s actually really sweet.
Next we have Betty, the Smidgen member of the Rat Queens who is the fantastical embodiment of ‘sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll’–well, the sex and drugs, anyway. (Let’s face it, that entire universe has an extremely healthy libido.) When she’s not eating a tooth-achingly enormous amount of candy and washing it down with enough booze to float the Spanish Armada, Betty is gettin’ high on the ‘shrooms, and occasionally munching on a teammate.
But there’s so much more to Betty than her substance-induced shenanigans implies. She’s fierce and fiercely loyal, stealthy and deadly, and as sweet as all that sugar she’s constantly stuffing in her maw. She is fun, and funny, and just a joy to read.
In the category of ‘characters I’d like to shrink down and carry around in my pocket to protect them from the world’ is Kippa, the little Arcanic fox girl from Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s Monstress.
Kippa is wise beyond her years, loyal almost to a fault, firm in her views of right and wrong, and CUTE AS A *$%&@#! BUTTON.
I suppose what we’ve learned here is that I appreciate the same qualities in comics characters as I appreciate in people: loyalty, honesty, a certain degree of world-weariness, and a healthy dose of shenanigans.
Huh. Who’da thunk it?