Top Graphic Novel Anti-Heroes According to You.

By May 6, 2017October 22nd, 2017Culture, Discussion and Recommendations

Graphic novels and comic books can be a mildly contentious issue for readers and lovers of literature. Are they ‘real books’? Should they be included in reading lists, or have their own separate genre as they’re considered such an alternative medium? Are they just a colourful distraction for children to pore over and then discard?

I believe comic books are a valid form of literature, and should be considered far more than pulp or just for children. According to Scott McCloud in his book Understanding Comics, the heady mix of stunning or often action-packed artworks and engaging story is a higher form of participatory reading.

They have evolved over the last 50 or so years to become something for everyone, if you have ever read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Chronicles you have noticed what wonderfully dark and enticing pieces of artwork they have become. If you have had literarily-snobbish thoughts cross your mind when you are confronted with an adult who reads comics or graphic novels, take a moment to reflect on the idea that you may be missing out on something wonderful…

We asked our faithful Reading Addicts on Facebook  for their ultimate favourite comic book or graphic novel anti-hero, but I was a little surprised at the apparent lack of comic book nerds in our midst… We collated the results nevertheless and here is what you told us. There are a couple of classic choices, however I have come away from this with a few new comic books to enjoy!

See if your favourite is here, and if not- let us know!

1. John Constantine

Occult detective John Constantine, is a con man with a scathing wit and a golden-tongue. His cynicism and cunning, and constant chain smoking, provides us with a perfectly roguish anti-hero.

John Constantine, Hellblazer Vol.1 US

John Constantine, Hellblazer Vol.1 UK

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2. Harley Quinn

Harleen Quinzel, former psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, is strong, smart, psychotic, and the master (or mistress!) of disguise. While working in the asylum she treated an infamous patient, the Joker, who she eventually fell in love with, but don’t forget- she is far more than ‘just’ Joker’s girl…

Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City (The New 52) US

Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City (The New 52) UK

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3. Poison Ivy

Pamela Isley is a botanical biochemist, one of the best in her field, and the most zealous for her cause. She’s intensely passionate eco-terrorist out to save the world’s plant life, without a care for who gets in here way, including Batman. For a while she was a member of the Birds of Prey for a time but was not against betraying them for the sake of her personal convictions.

Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life & Death US

Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life & Death UK

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4. Deadpool

Wade Wilson, became a test subject of the Weapon X program after finding out he had an inoperable brain cancer. Deadpool became a wild and unpredictable mercenary with a dark sense of humour and a leaning towards suicidal tendencies.

Deadpool: The Complete Collection – Volume 1 US

Deadpool: The Complete Collection – Volume 1 UK

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5. Butcher

Brutal, cunning, and with a penchant for hunting Superheroes, Butcher leads a gang called The Boys- be warned- this is not a comic for children!

The Boys Vol. 1: The Name of the Game US

The Boys Vol. 1: The Name of the Game UK

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6. Beta Ray Bill

Cyborg Beta Ray Bill was bestowed the powers of Thor after proving worthy to Mjolnir (Thor’s hammer) and since had his own forged for him- The Stormbreaker. Beta Ray is one character who seems monstrous but will prove himself worthy…

The Mighty Thor: The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill US

The Mighty Thor: The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill UK

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7. Marv

Marv is an intimidating, tough character from Sin City. Underneath that muscly and menacing physical presence is a tender heart, hurt by the loss of the woman he loved and bent on revenge.

Sin City: The Hard Goodbye US

Sin City: The Hard Goodbye UK

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8. Queen Maeve

Described as the ‘Wonderwoman’ of The Seven, Maeve was grown in a laboratory, and as a result has some amazing super powers including flight and super strength. After a traumatic event she turns to alcohol (specifically gin) which makes her a sour and nasty personality at times.

The Boys Vol. 3 Good For the Soul US

The Boys Vol. 3 Good For the Soul UK


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9. The Female

Known as The Female of the Species, and part of The Boys team, don’t be fooled by her mutism. She is ultra-violent and kills without mercy after being used a weapon since she could stand. Super-strength and supreme agility give her advantages many don’t possess.

The Boys: Herogasm Vol. 1 US

The Boys: Herogasm Vol. 1 UK

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10. Cassidy

Cassidy is charming and witty but full of dark secrets, hiding them well behind his humour and lust for life. He does not, however, hide his vampirism, which gains him agility and healing powers, as well as a veracious appetite for blood.

Preacher Book 1 US

Preacher Book 1 UK

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11. Marshal Law

Marshal Law is a ‘cape killer’: a government-sanctioned vigilante who hunts super heroes. He is mihilistic in his attitude, and hunts heroes ‘gone bad’ without impunity.

Marshal Law US

Marshal Law UK

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12. Hellboy

An infant demon with a giant stone hand was discovered in 1944 by US soldiers and they named him Hellboy. He is the world’s best paranormal investigator, born to summon the apocalypse, but instead devoted his life to fighting evil.

Hellboy 1: Seed of Destruction US

Hellboy 1: Seed of Destruction UK

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13. Dark Phoenix

The Phoenix Force is a cosmic entity, occasionally choosing a host to live within and grating them superhuman powers. Jean Grey was one of these vessels… Phoenix was psychically seduced by the villain Mastermind but the power became too much for the human portion it assumed and she turned into Dark Phoenix.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix US

X-Men: Dark Phoenix UK

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14. V

Codename V is an enigma. A freedom fighter and terrorist, a hero and a villain, and the protagonist and antagonist for V for Vendetta series. Anarchy rules for V, although he does occasionally like to peruse art galleries and has a gift for languages… Charismatic and intelligent, but also dark and violent, V is not a simple hero or villain.

V for Vendetta US

V for Vendetta UK

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15. The Shadow

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” Kent Allard is a vigilante who started as a spy in WWI and is one of the original dark avenger characters in the comic book universe. He is highly intelligent, a master of disguise, and can mesmerise and manipulate to his heart’s content.

The Shadow: Fires of Creation US

The Shadow: Fires of Creation UK

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16. Catwoman

Selina Kyle’s alias is Catwoman- an apt name for a cat burglar, don’t you think? She has a sporadic romance with Batman, which at times proves useful… She is strong-willed, independent but morally dubious, great ingredients for an anti-hero.

Catwoman Vol. 1: The Game (New 52) US

Catwoman Vol. 1: The Game (New 52) UK

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17. Black Widow

One of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and a former KGB agent, Natasha Romanova became Black Widow after being bio- and psycho-technologically enhanced. She has been romantically involved with a few Marvel characters, including Daredevil.

Black Widow Vol. 1 US

Black Widow Vol. 1 UK

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18. Spider Jerusalem

Spider Jerusalem stars in Transmetropolitan, and is a notorious journalist in The City (the central of the comic’s USA-based world).One of his favourite pieces of journalism he wrote was a 8000-word article which solely consisted of the word ‘fuck’. He is cynical, foul-mouthed, and a heavy smoker- key features to many anti-heroes- and was heavily inspired by Hunter. S. Thompson.

Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street US

Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street UK

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