The Last, Best Hope of Humanity

This list does not shy away from what so many seem to be afraid of- ethical criticism and judgements! This list quickly goes through some mainstream comic book characters who, at the core of their ethical stance, symbolize the reasons I read comic books- great characters with ethically/morally laudable or praiseworthy ideas, be they explicit or subtextual.   
The list is huge, partly to finish a quest and also because it was interesting to think about the moral/ethical implications of as many heroes as I could think of. 
You also might notice the preponderance of DC characters. Well, now you know where my loyalty is and what 99.9% of my comics are.  

An brief explanation is given for the first 10, with the others providing food for thought. Feel free to add your own!

List items

  • The ultimate example of doing good for the pure reason that you can and no one else can (and I dont just mean in comics, I mean in literature or mass media). The examples of Superman's selflessness and sacrifice are replete- just read Earth One or Batman/Superman vol. 1 Public Enemies and you can see some of the reasons that he does what he does. He is not from this earth, technically he would have no reason to defend it (he should be ruling it, if we were talking about rule of law based on power) but he does because he is the only one who can. He is just that selfless.

    Some say he is too perfect. Really? Do flaws equal relatability? Do they have to?

  • One of the most wonderful examples of retribution and humanity rising above the mucky muck I have ever read. A flawed character who represents grit, determination, willpower over fear and doubt. He has done bad things but gets over it. What was it that he told Kyle (quoting Sinestro)-'overcoming fear is what we do best-- but when it comes to guilt, regret, loss... even Green Lanterns struggle with those.' Who does not struggle with guilt, regret or loss? But the point of Green Lantern, and Hal in particular, is the ability to overcome. Great stuff.

  • One of those persistently great characters. Noble, trustworthy, selfless, always hoping for the best and working to see it through (I mean, come on, was there a more perfect fit for him than a Blue Lantern?)Remember when he would rather go back to the Speed Force than hurt his friends in Flash: Rebirth? Remember when he sacrificed himself to save the multiverse?

  • What was it that Hal said in Blackest Night? 'Of all the people on this earth, no one loves it more than Wonder Woman.' Another classic character who is flawed (Maxwell Lord...) but nevertheless continues to demonstrate her ultimate drive- protect earth and its peoples because she can (this puts her in the Superman vein). Just read Batman/Superman vol. 2 Supergirl to see what I am talking about here. Bruce, when speaking of Diana, marvels at how quickly she jumps in to fight for her friends, even though she was just arguing with them moments before. That is the kind of moral fibre this list is all about.

  • I had to think about this one. I mean, this guy is so morally ambiguous that it is hard to pin his actions down as being either morally laudable or condemnable. I eventually landed on praiseworthy because, when you get past the tortured and gritty exterior you find a person who does what he does so that what happened to his parents will never happen to anyone else.

    And he gets put pretty high on the list because it takes real commitment to that moral stance to get out there and put your life on the line every night. He is the only one on this list who does that all the time- no powers and all.

    And remember how mad he was at the whole lobotomoy thing? Yeah, he was on the right track there.

  • my ultimate favorite in the Marvel Universe. Who better illustrates the ideals of tolerance, understanding and cooperation? He not only theorizes a better tomorrow but proactively pursues it. Professor X, you rock.

  • This guy stunned me with his behavior in Civil War, cementing his place in the top 10. He does not embody current American political regimes, which can be flawed and incorrect, but rather he symbolizes a universal ideal of truth and justice. This is why he opposed the Registration Act, even though it was touted by current political regimes he saw in it something utterly un-American, and he fought against it. Way to stick to your moral guns, Cap.

    But he gave up in the end, you might say. Well, he gave up because it would save lives. What better reason to surrender your own ideals- to save lives. He just continues to impress me.

  • The penultimate example of an 'ordinary' guy doing what he knows is right becuase he feels morally compelled. Thus far (in terms of this list) he is the one closest to an ordinary human being. Yet, due to his unshakeable moral compass you can always find Spider-Man doing what is right just because he wants to. And, lest we forget, he is the genesis of the ultimate moral dictum for ALL comic book characters, his title provided the standard behind which all heroes rally- with great power comes great responsibility. So much philosophical and ethical power is wrapped up in that phrase- it influences everything from pop fascism to percieved effects on readers.

  • A Superman character. He has a destiny to fulfill, to end the world (just as Superman's could be to rule it). But instead he protects it, a true example of nurture over nature and, at his core, one of the most morally praiseworthy characters.

  • So hard to choose between him and Barry, as regards who is the most morally praiseworthy. Hence why I tried to put them as close together as possible.

    Wally is just so great, the heart of loyalty and doing what is right simply because he feels it is right to.

  • standing up for what you believe in, even in the face of overwhelming odds, is one of those signposts that can tell you when you have a morally laudable character on your hands. If that is the case, there is no greater example than Ganthet (and Sayd, as we will see). He stood up for what he believed in against the most powerful beings in the DCU, re-formed the Corps, started his own Corps, was the only one to realize what was going on with Blackest Night, the list just goes on and on. But, in the end, Ganthet (above all other Gaurdians) does what is right even if the majority boos him. And that is what makes him Guardian #1 in my book.

    The rest of this list will be sans- explanation for the most part, just some more food for thought. Feel free to add your own!

  • the heart of the JLA

  • for Blackest Night.

  • Way to get over Xanshi!

  • Way to overcome Parralax!

  • Read his story in Blackest Night and you will see what I am talking about here. And that is the point of the Blue Lanterns, they are the most morally laudable characters in the Universe. That is why a lot of them are on here, and high on the list but none as high as Walker.

  • For keeping Superman's moral compass always pointed in the right direction

  • for resisting the Star Sapphire and coming to Hal's aid in Blackest Night even after all that happened (read the full Blackest Night and you will see what I am talking about, the conversation between her and the Sapphire is enough to give her this high a place on the list)

  • A shout-out to the lightning rods!

  • at first glance he seems pretty morally reprehensible, but the way that he always tries to patch things up with his family and his unwavering loyalty and sacrifice in Final Crisis and Blackest Night is something to be admired

  • strong, ever faithful Alfred

  • why, when there is already Batman? Because he kept the bat-torch burning so darn well.

  • Thanks for stopping Prime!

  • he sacrificed himself in a sun for crying out loud

  • because his specific story is so powerful

  • read his back story

  • Just for Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

  • she saved her brother in the process of becoming Impulse. Pretty dang cool for a child.

  • both the current incarnation and the one that died in Crisis.

  • one of the original greats

  • still sticks with the Bat, regardless of what happened to her.

  • give it up for the originals

  • I love the loyalty

  • self-sacrifice, anyone?

  • she keeps Ollie grounded.

  • for what he did in The Search for Kryptonite and Public Enemies, that showed real hero-stuff

  • the next couple represent the parents section- responsible for instilling earth's champions with their moral center.

  • for his role in Batman/Superman

  • yeah, he is a robot, but he is a robot with a conscience.

  • for his actions in Earth: One

  • morally ambiguous, yes, but always on the side of truth and justice.

  • the Lost Lanterns make it for their actions in the past and their behavior after Jordan frees them from the Manhunter homeworld.

  • the first one to welcome Hal, for that he gets a spot.

  • got to give it up for bad guys turned good

  • my favorite comic dog

  • thanks for saving the Corps numerous times

  • come on, her whole Universe kicked it and still she fought


Avatar image for video_martian
Posted By Video_Martian

cool list =D

Avatar image for caesarsghost
Posted By caesarsghost
@mr.obvious said:

cool list =D


Thanks! I was interested in why my favorite characters were my favorites- this list was an attempt to externalize inward reflections.