Comics are social narratives whose chief aim is to express important ideas in an entertaining and relaxing way. Hence, comics and culture are often inseparable. Comic books are especially popular. Many comic book characters are so prominent that they have become cultural icons. Popular characters like Superman and Doraemon are well-known to both fans and non-fans of comic books. This article offers a list of the best comic book characters of all time. Who is your favorite character?
1. Superman (from Superman comics)
Superman is, unquestionably, the most popular comic book superhero of all time. As a matter of fact, Clark Kent’s alter ego is widely credited as having elevated the superhero genre to a dominant position in the world of American comics. The design of the Superman character is highly original, completed with a symbolic “S” shield and red cape. The famous design has served as inspirations for numerous other superhero designs--Batman and Captain Marvel to name a few.
What make Superman so iconic and popular with the masses are the ideals that he represents. Superman exhibits three core American values: justice, perseverance, and self empowerment. As the Superman character was introduced during the Great Depression, people looked to the comic book character as an imaginative champion of social ideals—one that fights for social justice, equality, and opportunities. Superman was and continues to be a cultural and social icon. He is, without a doubt, the best American comic book character.
2. Doraemon (from Doraemon manga/comics)
The comic book character of Doraemon is as iconic and popular in his homeland of Japan as Superman is in America. Children in Japan and continental Asia are practically growing up reading and watching the timeless adventures of their favorite robot cat Doraemon. The much beloved character uses his 23rd century gadgets to assist human pal Nobita and his friends in dealing with 20th century’s problems. Doraemon is basically a wish fulfiller, but the fulfillment does not always end up well.
There are a total of 1344 Doraemon stories, breaking up into 45 volumes. Each comic story introduces one of Doraemon’s hi-tech gadgets and teaches an important moral lesson. The enduring popularity of Doraemon, Asia’s best comic book character, is attributed to how the lovable robot cat manages to capture the essence of the Japanese culture. The Japanese love hi-tech gadgets and robots; Doraemon perfectly personifies technologically inclined Japan.
3. Tintin (from the Adventures of Tintin comics)
The Adventures of Tintin (created by Belgian artist Georges Rémi/penname Hergé) is the most popular European comics of all time. The title character Tintin is one of Europe’s best and most recognized comic book characters. Like Superman and Doraemon, the character of Tintin exemplifies the local culture—European culture in this case. Tintin is neither a superhero nor a lovable robot; he is an investigative reporter (in the style of Sherlock Holmes) who is accompanied by his faithful canine Snowy. Tintin travels to various locations around the world solving mysteries and exploring new adventures.
The character of Tintin exhibits the typical European personality. Tintin is a graciously restrained journalist who applies logic and power of deduction in everything he says and does. He is also highly skilled in machinery and is able to operate different types of vehicles. Tintin is a true European character.
4. Batman (from Batman comics)
Along with Superman, Batman is one of two most famous comic book superheroes in American comics. He also represents a different type of superhero—one that is more human compared to that of Superman. Batman does not depend mostly on brute strength or supernatural abilities to defeat bad guys and gals; he uses a balanced combination of deduction powers, technology, and the fist to achieve his justice-seeking aims.