As most comic book fans already know, one of the main reasons a comic book comes to life and gains popularity is its ability to capture accurate bits of human behavior and put a supernatural or superhuman spin on it. Otherwise, comic book characters become unrelatable, and as a consequence, totally forgettable.
Actually, if you were to set aside their otherworldly qualities and only consider their basic personalities, you’d probably find a whole assortment of traits you and these comic book favorites share in common. This isn’t a bad thing. Superheroes, just like any regular person, are complex by nature, so it’s no mistake they tend to have their share of upsides and downsides.
But the question you might have when you’re creating your own comic book is: how do I make my characters appear real? In other words, how do I make them super and at the same time give them human-like frailties? Looking at comic books over their long history, here are a few standard models the team at Biowars discovered.
1. The Hero
Sometimes referred to as the protagonist of a story, the hero usually serves as the most brave and selfless among a comic book’s cast of characters. While a hero might be reluctant at times, they often step up at the right moment to take care of business, squashing the plans of evildoers with their intellect, superpowers or charisma when it ultimately matters most. Sure, every hero has their flaws and weaknesses, but in the end these heroes rise above their limitations to display truly heroic qualities.
2. The Villain
For every protagonist there is at least one antagonist – or to put it more plainly, the baddie. Where the hero plays the self-sacrificing character, the villain is all about getting what they want, and that usually means leveling everything in their path to reach a final goal. Nevertheless, like the hero, villains usually have a glaring weakness that makes them vulnerable to an attack by the hero, and it may even be a shadow of their own humanity which eventually does them in.
3. The Love Interest
Nearly every character in comic book history, both good and evil, has a man or woman they’ve fallen in love with throughout the course of the story. Though the love interest might originally be part of the subplot of a comic book, it usually makes its way into the main plot at some point. If not, characters can become a bit drab and one-dimensional without a little romance combined with the repeated rescue of their significant other.
4. The Faithful Companion
Whether good or evil, comic book characters typically benefit from having a companion at their side during certain portions of the storyline. While the role they play is important, supporting characters shouldn’t overshadow the heroism or villainy of their companion, but they should provide some assistance in meeting their objectives. And they can do all of this as a bumbling fool, bothersome trickster or by making up for the weaknesses of their hero or villain companion.
5. The Advisor
It’s not often you find a comic book hero who doesn’t have an influential mentor at some point in the storyline. In fact, advisors are frequently part of a hero’s origin story, giving them everything from a meaningful purpose to helping them understand how their powers can work to the benefit of mankind. Really, it may be the one thing that separates the good from the evil, as most villains don’t have someone guiding their path to becoming a do-gooder other than the hero himself – and what kind of comic book would it be if every baddie made the switch to helping out humanity?