This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November. I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since. I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year. Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters. Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.
25. LEE ARCHER
Okay, by necessity this spotlight is going to require some spoilery discussion of the first 5 issues of The Wake, the excellent Vertigo series from Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy. If you haven’t read the story and don’t want to delve into any of the plot twists, best step out of this post now.
Okay, in the grand scheme of the narrative of The Wake, as it is laid out by the end of issue #5, Dr. Lee Archer is a character who was always destined to be doomed to a watery grave. But for the first half of the series, at least, she is our heroine, the chief protagonist who stands as the emotional core of the story. Right from the first chapter, she feels fully-realised: we don’t go into her history in detail, but we get just enough to hint at the trials in life that have shaped her. The Wake woud not have the masterful tension it does if it wasn’t for the fact that we invest so much emotionally in the fate of these characters, Lee in particular. We are rooting for her to overcome the increasingly insurmountable odds and be reunited with her son, and are devastated when even after everything she tries, that ends up not happening. And that final video-link conversation between Lee and her son is just heartbreaking. Her poignant final words just about brought a lump to my throat.
I’m interested to see where The Wake takes its bold new direction moving forward. But Snyder and Murphy will certainly have their work cut out replacing Lee Archer in the protagonist role.