BY Joey Esposito
Have you ever wanted to kill yourself after watching a horribly depressing movie? Well, thankfully, comics can have that affect too, except most of these characters are serialized month after month, so the reader is constantly filled with an empty, sorrowful feeling in the pit of their stomach after every read. But guess what? We wouldn't have it any other way.
Comics may be entertainment, but more than that, they are a form of literature, an art form. And, all art forms have their tortured souls. This week, CraveOnline takes a look at ten comic book characters that it is utterly painful to even see on the page. Though their lives may be tragic, what better way to draw emotion from a reader than by making them feel for a character? Utterly impressive when it comes down to it; there are no performances here, no spoken words. They are nothing more than pen and ink.
10. Yorick Brown
One might think that being the last man on Earth would be a Godsend. All the women of the world itching for your seed. The last hope for the survival of the human race. Treated like royalty. But think of the negatives: All the women of the world itching for your seed, the last hope for the survival of the human race, and being treated like royalty. Y: The Last Man is one of the most important comic books of the last decade, and that is in no small part due to its lead character, Yorick Brown.
He is faced with the impossible task of being the last man on Planet Earth, as well as his own naive quest to reconnect with his girlfriend, who is contintents away, in a world that has lost all semblance of stability is like watching a child lose its innocence. Though he masks his guilt and fear with genuinely funny one-liners, it is truly gutwrenching for the reader to watch Yorick en route to the inevitable end of the story. Along the way, his family falls apart around him, friends are lost, and it remains more and more difficult to find hope in post-male world. Though I won't spoil major plot points for those who have yet to read the series, one can't truly see the tragedy of Yorick's character until you've seen his story from beginning to end.
Rorschach is the focal point of the narrative of Watchmen, and is a suitable "main" character as any, as the depressing tale to his background fits right in with the dystopian 1980's that Alan More and Dave Gibbons created. Told by his mother when he was a child that he should have been aborted, in addition to being beaten by her and seeing her abused by her pimp, Walter Kovacs didn't exactly have much hope to begin with.
Using his introverted tendencies in a way similar to someone like Batman, Kovacs becomes Rorschach, detective and crime fighter. Though, like Batman and most other heroes, he does not kill his adversaries, that all changes on the fateful night depicted in Watchmen, when Rorschach confronts the kidnapper of Kitty Genovese. Henceforth, he was thought of as a loose cannon amongst his peers, and coupled with his decision to remain active after all vigilantes her outlawed ostracised him from any companions he may have had.
The tragedy of Rorschach is in the fact that his theory throughout Watchmen was right all along, but due to his status amongst his peers, no one really believed him. And, in the end, he paid for it; a suitably sad ending to an already sad life. He's an astonishing character, but one that is bleeding with tragedy in the first panel.
I can't think of anything more immediatey depressing than having to avoid human contact for all of your life. For this reason, Rogue earns a spot on the list. Due to the nature of her powers (though she's recently learned to control them), Rogue is unable to touch human skin, or she will siphon his or her powers and/or life energy. In addition, Rogue has been seen to retain portions of memories of the people she's touhed, and they haven't always been the most pleasent human beings (or mutants). Tack on to that a life starting as a villain adopted by Mystique, and you've got a recipe for tears.
Imagine going through your existence with your one true love - in Rogue's case, Gambit - and never being able to physically embrace? Though that tragic aspect of Rogue's character has been resolved for now, comics being comics, you can expect it to not stay that way forever. And then, what is worse? Never having human contact for all of your life, or having it briefly and then losing it?
7. Superboy Prime
Superboy Prime is currently one of the most fascinating villains in the DC Universe. Of course, it didn't start out that way. Growing up on Earth-Prime before Crisis on Infinite Earths, this version of Clark Kent existed in a world where Superman was a fictional comic book character, and his naming was a happy coincidence. Of course, it was soon discovered that he was indeed Earth-Prime's baby Kal-El, and his superpowers were soon unleashed and he became Superboy. When his entire world is destroyed, Superboy-Prime joins the fight against the Anti-Monitor in the original Crisis, and in the end is relegated to a "paradise dimension" along with Alexander Luthor, Earth-2 Superman, and Earth-2 Lois Lane.
As he becomes more and more secluded in the paradise dimension, constantly reliving the loss of his world, neglect from those in the dimension with him, and the downfall of the Earth he and his companions sacrificed their lives for, Superboy Prime is driven slowly insane. Eventually, he and Alexander Luthor set into motion the events of Infinite Crisis, in no small part by Superboy Prime punching the walls of reality and leaving a wake of continuity changes. What makes this character so tragic is that all of his rage stems from losing his entire world; a tragedy that most of us can hardly begin to imagine.
When he finally emerges from the paradise dimension into the main DCU, he becomes homicidally jealous of Connor Kent, and his narrow view of the world finally comes into focus for the reader. Superboy Prime is so blinded by rage that his entire vision is just skewed. Superboy Prime has done some terrible things to some heroic characters, but its the young hero's fall from grace that makes the character so endlessly intriguing. Essentially, Superboy Prime sacrificed his own sanity for a world that he was never a part of, and received nothing rewarding for that whatsoever.
6. Tim Drake
Tragedy runs rampant in the Bat-family, but arguably no member of that family has lost more than the third Robin, Tim Drake. His mother was killed right before he took up the mantle of Robin, and later on his love interest Stephanie Brown - Spoiler - would follow suit. Continuing down the path of miserable deaths, his father was murdered during Identity Crisis and his best friend, Connor Kent (aka Superboy) was killed the next year in Infinite Crisis. And of course, the one saving grace that Tim had through all these hardships - Bruce Wayne, his adoptive father - was seemingly killed last year during the events of Final Crisis.
Though Tim has never been consumed by grief, the mentorship of Batman and friendship of Dick Grayson certainly shines through in the way that Tim deals with the difficulties of his life. He doesn't stop fighting, he just goes and goes - likely avoiding having to deal with all the death that has crept up around him. Tim shares a trait with many other superhero characters that appear on this list, which is a masking of grief using their superhero persona.
Good list, looking forward to the rest!
"You play a good game boy, but the game is finished, now you die."
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