The Ubiquitous Hero
For someone who has never picked up a comic book, the first and most obvious question is what it offers those fascinated by them. From established titans to well-received newcomers, there are a variety of archetypes and mechanisms that run throughout the entire genre. On the surface, the prevalence of the superhero drowns out most other forms of storytelling. Beneath this, there are a variety of counterparts that might be a response to the ubiquitous heroes.
This essay will explore a number of issues surrounding these heroes. Primarily, it will look at the history of the superhero, and how he came to be the most often used form of storytelling in comic books. Secondly, other mediums using illustration will be explored, in order to see what their primary storytelling mechanisms are. Finally, a few comics that do not use the hero archetype will be explored, with the intent of determining whether or not these are a response or a parallel work to these heroes. The alternatives to the heroes will be looked at to see where they draw their styles and stories from, with an eye kept on the mechanisms of other mediums.
When trying to understand what a superhero is, and how they came to be the driving force in comic books, one question gains priority: who may call themselves (or their creation) a superhero? The word “super heroes” is trademarked by DC comics and Marvel Characters, Inc simultaneously.  The joint trademark goes back to the 1960’s. Joint trademarks are rare, especially between competitors. To understand how these two factions evolved, the first step is to trace the history of the superheroes.
The hero is a concept that has followed man throughout his cultural evolution. In the earliest, polytheistic sense, a hero was in connection with the gods. The epic of Gilgamesh shows not only a good prototype for a hero, but an explanation of the hopes, fears and dreams of the people who worshipped his persona. In the tale, he is...