15 Comic Book Tropes That Need To Stop

Haven't we read enough stories by now with an evil robot doppelgänger?

Like any genre, superhero comics are built on a foundation of tropes, clichés and stereotypes. Ask someone to draw an average superhero for you, and no doubt it'll be a man or woman with a rippling physique that's barely contained beneath a skin-tight costume, perhaps with a cape or domino mask to conceal their identity. Boots and gloves will be involved. Also a defining symbol, usually across the chest, to denote their particular gimmick. That's a superhero, and showing that image to anybody will elicit the same response. These little tropes are good at signifying what a superhero comic is, even at a glance, but when you start boring down further and finding more of these overused clichés, it's a little more troubling. There's some things that almost every comic has to have, without fail, like good eventually triumphing over evil. That's just part and parcel with telling really any story that doesn't upset the applecart too much. There are other parts of superhero comics that are getting difficult to put up with, but they've become so ingrained in the genre that it might be impossible. From bad art to trite story arcs to the general raw deal given to female characters, there's a lot of stereotypically comic book fare we could really do without, and yet they persist to clog up our superhero stories and keep things safe and boring. Here's fifteen of the worst offenders when it comes to tired, tedious tropes in comics.

15. Characters Posing Like Nobody Does

When a splash page is done right, it's the equivalent of a big money shot in a blockbuster film, or a bravado bit of camera work in a TV show, or a decent guitar solo. It's showing off the best of what you can do in the form, taking a full page - sometimes a double-page spread, if the creative team are feeling generous - to illustrate a single moment of action, drama, or a particularly shocking twist. At the start of an issue, they serve to hook the reader from the off, and when placed at the end they make sure the audience comes back for more. Done badly, though, and splash pages make absolutely no sense. How many times have you got to the end of a comic where the final page has been a group of heroes or villains standing in a school photo-style height order, in totally unnatural poses? It looks cool as an image (maybe), but it doesn't make any sense in context. If a group of bad guys had just snuck up on the goodies, why would they arrange themselves into a dynamic boyband line-up before announcing their arrival? How would they even have time? And yet, despite the lack of believability, it happens all the time!
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Tom Baker is the Comics Editor at WhatCulture! He's heard all the Doctor Who jokes, but not many about Randall and Hopkirk. He also blogs at http://communibearsilostate.wordpress.com/