Thanks to the fact that comic characters can share their deepest thoughts and feelings with the reader without making the whole situation feel like a tongue-in-cheek ‘90s sitcom, it’s common to come across the darkest parts of our heroes and villains. Internally brawling with themselves while outwardly thwarting foes is something that comic characters tend to do more than most. There is something oddly appealing about characters who haven’t quite got it all together, especially since once we but our book down we don’t have to deal with the fallout of their decisions. Here are some of the best-known examples of this darkly introspective archetype.
The king of brooding heroes. Bruce Wayne may appear to be a playboy billionaire on the Gotham News cameras but inside he is even more of a mess. His entire existence is a result of him not dealing with the tragedy that happened to his parents so long ago. Every single time he puts on the cowl he is lashing out instead of dealing with his issues. Luckily for the reader, all these years later he has chosen crime fighting and detective work as his therapy instead of laying on a sofa unloading to a mental health professional.
Jackie has issues with his family, with the crime families that rival them and with the unearthly being that possess him. Jackie is the host of the darkness, an evil force that he has inherited from his father, its parasitic presence whispers to him in the shadows. What makes this scenario so conflicting is that the darkness gives Jackie immeasurable power and abilities that include shapeshifting and controlling a host of demon-like helpers called darklings. We constantly see Jackie hoping to rid himself of this creature while perpetually needing its assistance to whack mob guys and other foes.
As one of the most obvious comparisons to the fabled Jekyll and Hyde, Bruce Banner is constantly holding back an entity known as the Hulk. By succumbing to its demands this meek scientist become a literal green monster capable of endless destruction. The Hulk is a symbol of rage, a huge muscular beast that does not tire. When met with resistance the Hulk simply becomes angrier and more deadly, meanwhile Bruce has no idea how much chaos his alter ego is causing.
Talk about battling with your inner demons, in Hellboy’s case this turn of phrase becomes literal. Throughout the Hellboy story our red-skinned hero is told over and over about his fate. Through visons, the words of a prophecy and future-glimpsing mystics, Hellboy is foretold to have very destructive sealed fate. However, despite it apparently being set in stone, he constantly refuses his place in the grand scheme of things. He denies his unquestionably demonic heritage (as evident by his horn shaving), follows no set path and fights anyone who tells him otherwise. This premonition clearly bothers him, which is why we see him drinking alone with ghosts and ghouls, he cannot change what he is as much as he would like, which is something every reader can relate to.