In a world filled to the brim with colorfully dressed heroes with bizarre abilities, it can be hard for the average people to truly stand out. Well or poorly written, heroes often have gimmicks that are at least memorable. To clarify, superhero fiction is by its nature gimmicky, which isn’t a bad thing and can be quite fun and interesting. However a compelling story will still last while gimmicks come and go. It is this fact that gives civilians a distinct advantage over heroes in that there is no chance of a character getting lost underneath the packaging or upgrades. This is a double edged sword though, because without compelling character, there is no gimmick or action sequence to fall back on. These supporting characters do not get much spotlight, but we would all notice if they were gone. Here are the Top 10 non-hero characters in superhero fiction.
10. Jimmy Olsen
He is a contrast to Superman, a little guy with no power or influence. His friendship with Superman shows that the Man of Steel does not think he is above human beings. He would be higher, but there isn’t all that much to Olsen. He is lovable, brave when he needs to be, and never gets the coffee right.
9. Ma Hunkle
This might be considered cheating because she did fight crime as “The Red Tornado,” but she was largely a comedic character who took on local drug dealers to protect the children. In modern stories she plays mother figure to the JSA and consoles them when they are distressed. A pot helmet isn’t conducive to serious and emotional story telling, but showing that heroes need to be taken care of sometimes certainly is.
8. May Parker
It wouldn’t be right to discuss mother figures without talking about May Parker. Uncle Ben taught Peter responsibility and Aunt May taught him kindness. Though not aware of his identity, she has been through a lot and has never lost faith in Peter for even an instant.
7. Ellen Baker
We would all be lucky to find someone who would be with us even when we are acting crazy or just downright lame. This is the type of person Ellen Baker is; being the wife of the world’s most awkwardly charming superhero cannot be easy. Even during bouts of body horror or reality warping debacles, she is there to wait for Animal Man with words of encouragement. Also she beat up a super villain. Granted it was Mirror Master, and she tossed him down a flight of stairs, but that earns some respect.
6. Lois Lane
If being the wife of a B-list hero is hard, imagine being married to the most powerful hero in existence. Though in constant need of saving from overwhelming odds by Superman, she is not afraid to put herself in harms way to uncover the truth. She grounds Superman in moments where he feels distant from humanity.
5. J. Jonah Jameson
J.J. is the guy that everyone loves to hate. He is egotistical, paranoid, and loud, but is he ever fun to watch. What makes this character work is that his worries are not just nonsense; masked characters running around is cause for concern, J.J. just takes a cynical view of situation. He is played for comic relief a lot of the time, but the pressure he puts on Spider-man is very real.
4. Jonathan Kent
This man saved the world. Can we get that out of the way? He raised a super being, a god like super being, to be a decent man. Had he not been raised right, he could have easily been the biggest menace in history. This is a concept frequently explored in Elsworld stories. Jonathan Kent took someone with all the power in the world, and made him into a man that reveres life over power.
3. Wilson Fisk
This is another one that might be considered cheating considering he is able to adequately battle Spider-man and Daredevil, but at the end of the day the Kingpin really is just a crime boss. He prefers to run things with cunning and fear rather than brute force. He is more interested in having a lucrative business and crime is extremely profitable. Anyone who is familiar with Wilson Fisk from Frank Miller’s classic run of Daredevil knows why he belongs on this list. He is both compelling and intimidating.
2. Foggy Nelson
Foggy Nelson is the truest of true friends. Though often at odds with Matt’s antics and in over his head, Foggy will stand by his buddy no matter what. He refused a cure for his cancer because taking it would mean betraying his friends secret. He consoled a grief stricken Daredevil and kept him from digging up the grave of his lost love. This man could be a Shakespearean character if he could just keep mustard off his tie.
1. Alfred Pennyworth
There have been many mentions of the difficulty of being a hero’s loved one. Who has a harder job than Alfred Pennyworth? He is for all intents and purposes, the father of Batman. While Batman is taking care of Gotham, Alfred is taking care of him. It isn’t just a matter of doing housework or even giving pep talks. He has to worry constantly about Bruce being destroyed by enemies, the worst enemy being himself. It is one thing for your loved one to die, but this man watches his only family walk the brink of madness every single day. Alfred’s patience and understanding are unfathomable and they need to be to save Batman from himself.
great list. particularly happy that alfred grabbed the number one spot!
Very good stuff. I am sure there are some other folks out there with other ideas. Let’s hear them!
<3 it! But lois would be my #1 & commissioner gordon would be on it! 🙂
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