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.
Yesterday I talked about how Lee Archer was the emotional core of The Wake. That may be the case, but I’d say it’s Meeks that steals the show. Full name Leonard Meeker, he is the wildcard in the ragtag group of marine experts assembled at the beginning of The Wake. A genius deep-sea engineer turned master hunter and black market trader of rare marine life, he is described as living in a home fortress of his own design floating on international waters outside of anyone’s jurisdiction, due to his status as a notorious criminal. It’s a fascinating backstory – practically building him up as a larger-than-life supervillain! – that makes it feel like he could be the antagonist of a different story, but in this particular story it’s only a brief burst of exposition amongst all the other things that are going on.
I was gutted when, in issue #3, it seemed like Meeks was killed off in abrupt, premature fashion, in a moment reminiscent of the “Clever girl…” bit in Jurassic Park. So imagine my joy when he resurfaced in issue #4, and ended up being one of the longest surviving members of the ensemble! Against the odds, despite him being set up as a villain and a foil for everyone else, his rude, acerbic demeanour makes him oddly likeable, and at the end of the day he ends up getting something of a heroic send-off. Combine this with a cracking design by Sean Gordon Murphy – a look reminiscent of Lex Luthor of the high seas – and what could have been a throwaway character turned out to instead be highly memorable.
Now… where do we start the petition to have Snyder and Murphy do a Meeks: Magnificent Bastard Super-Pirate prequel series?