Everyone knows the tales of the Justice League or Avengers. We’ve all heard about Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four or Batman and the Outsiders. With so many heroes crammed into every nook and cranny of comic creation and villains filling the rest of the pages, it’s far too easy to see the third party slip through the gaps. There’s another group of characters in the running, willing to cross back and forth across the moral line at a moment’s notice: the anti-heroes. Maybe the heroes refuse to topple heads but there are others who willingly take that responsibility.
Jason Todd – Red Hood
Jason Todd was the second Robin and the only member of the Bat Family who regularly uses guns. During his term as Robin, he is implied as either killing or deliberately not saving several people. Most famously remembered for his first death in A Death In The Family, Jason returned from beyond the grave at the hands of Superboy punching reality with some Lazarus Pit thrown in for good luck. Taking up the moniker of ‘Red Hood’, Jason begins an even more violent attack on the criminal underground than his former mentor.
Venom, the symbiote that gives the wearer Spider-Man powers, is arguably one of Marvel’s best creations to date. Originally worn by Peter in the Secret Wars, Spidey later found out that it was sentient and leeching the life out of him. After discarding it, it reached Eddie Brock and gifted him with abilities identical to Spider-Man’s own with the added bonus of control over the symbiote material. For a while, Eddie went by the title ‘Lethal Protector’ and the symbiote later ended up with Flash Thompson as ‘Agent Venom’.
Erik Lehnsherr – Magneto
Magneto is an extremely power mutant with control over metals and magnetic fields. Magneto believes that mutants are the future but rejects the idea of peaceful human-mutant coexistence. Considering his experience as a survivor of the Holocaust, we can understand his trepidation. Among many other losses, his stance has also lost him the companionship of Professor X but he remains a sometimes friend to the X-Men, even serving with them at times. Despite the horrors that Magneto has committed, I can’t disagree with his worries about the human-mutant relations.
There isn’t a con-man alive (or otherwise) better than John Constantine. We’re talking about the guy who bartered his own soul to three separate demons in which he cured his cancer, get some chiselled abs and a form of immortality. In the event that you ever find yourself in a deal with Neron, Constantine is the guy who could help you out. And that overcoat of his is not just for show. It’s got some power of its own and is sometimes used as a weapon by the grim Englishman.
Frank Castle – Punisher
Where Bruce Wayne refused to pick up a gun, Frank Castle seems to be trying to hold as many as he can. Although Batman may have his sidekick of Robin, Punisher worked alongside Microchip. Operating as Q to his Bond, Microchip creates high-tech weaponry and vehicles for the killer to use. With more violent and usually terminal methods than most characters, Punisher lacks long-term foes but does conflict with Spider-Man and Daredevil as they strive to reign in the world’s safest murderer. With an ideal of ‘eye for an eye’, Punisher only kills those who he feels deserve it.
The Merc With A Mouth, the Regenerating Degenerate, “Ryan Reynolds crossed with a Shar Pei” – by far and away, Deadpool is our best and favourite anti-hero. Given an altered copy of Wolverine’s healing ability, Wade Wilson suffers from advanced cancer and is only kept alive by the experiments Weapon X performed on him. Many different stories are told about Deadpool’s past. So many that Deadpool has commented that it might as well depend on the reader. His most frequently used alias is ‘Wade Winston Wilson’ but T-Ray claims that he was actually the real Wade Wilson and Deadpool stole his identity. Although Deadpool has no qualms with killing, he does also possess a strong moral code. When Wolverine claims that Deadpool only responds to money, Archangel reveals that he didn’t actually cash any of the cheques.