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8 Comic Book Characters That Are The Most Difficult To Write

Wincy ponders the travails of creators and writers of comic book characters less formula-friendly than Batman and Spider-Man.

| July 2, 2013

8 Comic Book Characters That Are The Most Difficult To Write
8 Comic Book Characters That Are The Most Difficult To Write
Writing comic book characters is definitely no walk in the park. Unlike characters from other mediums of fiction such as prose or film, comic book characters go on forever, refashioning themselves to the dictates of each coming decade, as one writer passes on the baton to the next writer who takes over the duties. Their histories span generations; their plots are serial, multi-threaded, and more compliant to the tropes of soap operas.

To boot, most superheroes are silly fare.

But yes, there are those that are pretty easy to write.

Batman, for instance. Boy promises to avenge his parents’ grisly deaths, travels the world to become a human weapon, and dresses up like Satan for a one-man campaign against crime.

The concept is ridiculously simple. The stories you can come up with are legion.

You can put Batman in any continent, in any decade in history. You can make him young, make him old. You can make him be anything—from pulp-era mystery man to quipping mod to militaristic vigilante—and get away with a story that raises the heartbeats of readers. You can put him anywhere: from comic books to cartoons to movies to video games, and still spin endless spools of plot.

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The same can be said of Spider-Man. Or the X-Men. Or Green Lantern. The storytelling engine runs infinite.

However, there are those that could give even eggheads the likes of Grant Morrison or Neil Gaiman bouts of mental block before coming up with a passable tale.

Face front, True Believer! Here 8list gives you 8 comic book characters that are the most difficult to write.

Spider-Woman

 Spider-Woman
Forever doomed to be a pale photocopy of Spider-Man, poor old Jessica Drew rarely had the luck to have a crowning moment of awesome. Despite having one of the most iconic costumes in the history of comics, a cool power set (lust-inducing pheromones, anyone?) and a popular cartoon series in the early ‘80s, writers even the likes of Brian Michael Bend is seldom got her right.

A grounding in the world of espionage, as opposed to Spider-Man’s slice-of-life Brooklyn, could have made things more interesting, but a genre spaghetti of an origin have sent many writers cross-eyed when tackling her.

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Ghost Rider

 Ghost Rider
You’ve got a flaming skull for a face and that’s quite a problem already. If the face is the window to human pathos, then we really can’t expect much poignancy from this guy.

No wonder, we got two Nicholas Cage movies already and movie producers are still scratching their scalps.

Characters whose origins are of a supernatural bent are very tricky to write.

He’s a ghost. He doesn’t bleed.

And we’re eternally bored.

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Wonder Woman

 Wonder Woman
The problem with characters of the mythological genre is that the rules are pretty difficult to follow. There’s no hard science to their mortality, their life, their deaths.

Until now, nobody knows how Wonder Woman can die.

And knowing that your hero can die anytime is what makes us riveted to a story. It’s the very fuel of storytelling.

That alone, no matter how much Game of Thronesinspired magic dust writers can sprinkle on her story, is what makes writing her a headache.

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Silver Surfer

 Silver Surfer
Aliens are really tough to write, because it’s really hard to identify with one.

Although nothing could be a more striking visual than Silver Surfer, a naked man bathed in chrome who rides through outer space on a surfboard, there’s not much interesting to write home about, once you’ve milked every sad rumination he has about the cosmos, the way Stan Lee wrote him in the ‘60s.

It could be that Silver Surfer is better as a supporting character than a star of his own show.

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The Hulk

 The Hulk
The stronger he is, the more boring he gets. That’s a nugget of sage advice to keep in your pocket when writing characters like the Hulk. We’re never worried about him.

Don’t get me wrong. His alter ego, Bruce Banner is really interesting. He’s literally a ticking time bomb, a fugitive from the law with more father issues, anger management problems and struggles with self-esteem than the DSM.

But once the nebbish scientist hulks out, everything becomes boring. Everything becomes disaster porn. I mean, how long can one follow a green giant of pure id (Editor’s Note: changed from “with the brain of an autistic child”. The author apologizes for his choice words) smashing buildings into confetti for issue after issue after issue?

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Thor

 Thor
This guy sticks out like a sore thumb in the Marvel Universe. It’s a universe founded on serums, radiation and mutant DNA.

It’s not one of rainbow bridges.

Again, Thor is just so strong, that we’re never worried about him.

And it takes so much to suspend disbelief on the fact that an advanced alien race like his talks like villagers from medieval times.

You know what he is in a nutshell? He-Man.

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The Joker

 The Joker
On writing characters, a great writer by the name of Ray Bradbury once said:“Find out what your hero wants when he wakes up in the morning, and just follow him all day.”

That’s the thing. With the Joker, you don’t know what he wants when he wakes up in the morning.

A character whose modus operandi is chaos begs for a rare and canny mind for a story about him to work.

Besides this, everyone has his own take on the Crown Prince of Crime. He’s changed through the years faster than Madonna ever could. He’s been everything from a low-life hoodlum to his current incarnation: a Saw-inspired serial killer. There are no hard and fast rules when writing him.

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Superman

 Superman
If the deluge of angry reviews of Man of Steel is any indication, Superman trumps this list because he truly is the most difficult to write.

Some say he’s difficult to write because his very concept is obsolete; he’s a fossil from the 1930s. Some say Superman’s death knell rang when Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns came out in 1989. And since it has embraced the anti-hero, the world no longer needs a Superman.

[SPOILER ALERT! Stop now if you still intend to see the movie.]

The Big Blue Boy Scout surely needs a grayer morality. But when a writer dials things up a notch and have him snap the neck of General Zod, an angry mob comes to crucify him.

Oy. Which way can one really go?

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