Greatest Comic Book Characters

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.

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.

2. Doraemon (from Doraemon manga/comics)

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 features one of Doraemon’s hi-tech gadgets and teaches an important moral lesson. The enduring popularity of Doraemon, Asia’s greatest comic book character, is attributed to how the lovable robot cat manages to capture the essence of Japan. 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 is the most popular European comics of all time. The titular 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 and close friend Captain Haddock. Tintin travels to various locations around the world solving mysteries and engaging in 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 the greatest superhero in American comics. He represents a different type of superhero -- one that is more human compared to that of Superman. Batman does not depend solely on brute strength or supernatural abilities to defeat the bad guys. He uses a combination of deduction powers, technology and the fist to achieve his justice-seeking aims.

The character of Batman introduces the dark superhero genre. Unlike Superman who is open and direct in his crime-fighting, Batman is more willing to apply untraditional methods in accomplishing similar goals. This is the reason why Batman is nicknamed “The Dark Knight” and also why he is one of the best comic book characters of all time.

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