In almost every comic I’ve read, whether it’s about a group of superheroes taking on an alien invasion, or begrudging loners banding together to fight evil, there’s always a clear leader. However, just because someone is leading a group of merry heroes, doesn’t mean that they’re doing a good job. Or they could be great in a leadership role, but they could be charisma-starved or just plain dull as rocks.
Coming across a leader who is both capable, inspiring and, most of all, likeable, is one of those rare things in comics that delights you when you finally come across it. The perfect leader, in other words. This week’s Back Issues will be discussing the most Likeable Leaders in the comics I’ve come across.
Jo – Lumberjanes
If you read our latest opinion piece on Lumberjanes issue #17, then you’re probably already well acquainted with the forward-thinking comic as well as its tolerant and colourful characters, including leader of the Lumberjanes, Jo.
Cool and collected, with strong bonds with her group, Jo is the mayonnaise that holds the Lumberjanes sandwich together. She reminds me a little of the man with the plan himself, Tommy Pickles from Rugrats, as although she’s quite by-the-book, she’s respected and is a born leader.
It would be easy to morph her character into being egotistical and un-relatable, but Jo represents an ordinary person able to take charge and lead a group of people, which is nice and it makes you feel like you could do the same. Jo is a great role model as well as a great leader.
Luffy – One Piece
Okay, this is technically a manga, but I feel it also falls under the ‘comics’ umbrella, so it counts! Monkey D. Luffy is the makeshift leader of a band of weirdoes known as the Straw Hat Pirates, from the manga One Piece. On the surface, and after your first (and second… and third…) impression of him, he comes across as incompetent and reckless.
When it comes down to it, though, Luffy is a loyal friend and dedicated captain who, although he has a dream that drives him and pushes him past the brink of reality and possibility, would give it up in a second if forced to choose between becoming the Pirate King and saving his crew.
Luffy is also a beacon of tolerance and acceptance; when other members of the crew, or just plain common sense, stand in the way of taking on someone who he trusts or wants to make friends with, Luffy indiscriminately gives everyone a chance.
He leads his crew into all sorts of scenarios and battles but no matter what, you always know Luffy will be able to handle the situation and get his friends and himself to safety. A great captain, and an even better friend, who inspires confidence and loyalty in his crew, Luffy is the ultimate leader.
Steve Rogers – Avengers
From the patriotic blue, white and red to the iconic cry of “Avengers Assemble!”, Steve Rogers is one of those go-to examples of both a good comic book character and leader. Constantly self-sacrificing and a true believer in doing what is right, you couldn’t fault him on his principles.
In times of conflict and turmoil, Cap always has a plan, and even when he doesn’t, he doesn’t let his team know about his fears and instead instills them with the confidence they need to get the job done.
The depth of his moral character is constant; he is someone you can always rely on, and any nasty surprises like, say, an alien invasion or a war with a former friend are handled by him in exactly the way you would expect.
Many other characters can flip-flop between a lot of different viewpoints and their personality can fluctuate over time, but no matter what changes occur for Steve Rogers, he always remembers who he really is.
Do you agree with my list of some of the best leaders in comic books? Who do you think deserves to be in the top 3? Let me know in the comments!