How to Create Anti-Heroes

How to Create Anti-Heroes

What makes a broken hero? That’s the theme in Ghost Machine #1, a newly released 64-page comic book package intended on pushing the boundaries of the “hero” well beyond its comfortable envelope. Not only do the involved artists and storyline creators like Geoff Johns work to make this innovative package stand out, they also hit all the proper themes of an attractive comic book title at the same time.

Moving the Story Closer to Reality

Ever since the game-changing paradigm shifts occurred with Frank Miller’s Batman and Todd McFarlane’s Spiderman, the comic book world was never quite the same again. Detailed artwork, hyper-realistic imagery and tough storylines with not-so-happy endings started to become popular. Prior to that point, it was X-men that really pushed the idea that heroes could make mistakes, screw up and even get killed. Eventually, that even affected the biggest of names with the death of Superman. But it took some ground-breaking artwork pushed with a good story arc to open that door.

Not So Squeaky Clean Heroes Today

Whether considering the frustrated angst of Geiger or the jaded nonchalance of Redcoat, the characters displayed in Ghost Machine are now all grown up. These are comic book men and women with a house-sized chip on their shoulder and lots of personal justification for them being there too. And the reader is taken along for the ride as they continue to struggle in a world that needs them but doesn’t like the company very much.

Does It Matter if They are Anti-Heroes?

Call these modern characters “anti-heroes” or screwed-up tyrants, they end up being the same kind of person. The difference in the story comes in how they use their power. Similar to the past, the “broken” heroes in Ghost Nation are conflicted, but they choose the path that frequently goes against their personal interest (but not always). It’s this kind of story-telling that makes today’s comic book titles stand out, especially for older readers who remember the golden days of the squeaky clean heroes and their boring, repetitious pattern. Probably only Batman was the more down-to-earth exception, and he wasn’t exactly a mutated super-being.

The crew at Image definitely have their hands full with another title that’s going to make a dent in comic book history. Ghost Nation is easily a new move forward in how comic book stories are told. How that effect then has an influence on others afterward remains to be seen.

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