There are many reasons why comic books are popular and have been a part of pop culture since their inception. Some find the stories compelling. Others like to imagine themselves as the heroes. Some just appreciate the detail in the artwork. And yet the most common reason why comic books are so popular are the beloved characters themselves.
The writers and artists of graphic novels carefully craft these characters, both heroes and villains, to build their backstories and their persona. The worldbuilding of each comic book, especially when they fit into a larger comic book universe, is impressive and an example of the creativity and brilliance of the creators.
With that in mind, while each character is unique, there are trends when it comes to personalities and backstories.
One of the more common trends is having characters be based on insects or pests.
In Marvel Comics in particular, there are 144 characters that are based on pests (insects, arachnids, small mammals, etc.). Insight Pest Solutions, a pest control company, decided to analyze them all and they compiled their findings into some interesting insights.
Here is the breakdown of type of pest for all 144 characters: There are 44 based on reptiles, 43 on arachnids, 35 on insects, 13 on mammals, and 9 that fall outside of those.
According to the study, there are significantly more villains than heroes when it comes to pest-based characters — 89 to 53. There are two that fall in between.
Overall, the most common pest inspiration for heroes is a spider and the most common for villains is a snake. The snake does make sense for villains as they are a common evil character in many different cultures and throughout human history.
The success of Spider-Man could account for the high number of hero inspiration. Spiders, like snakes, are generally feared and have a negative societal perception.
When it comes to the characters superpowers, there are similarities as well. 73 of the 144 characters have super strength as their power, by far the most of any power. 15 possess the power of flight, 15 can wall climb, and 8 have the power of animal mind control. Some of those animals include rats, snakes, cockroaches, and beetles.
One of the other things the study analyzed was the on-screen characters.
With the consistent success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s only natural that some of these pest-based characters would star on the screen, such as Ant-Man and the Wasp. There are 11 characters who have made it into the movies.
While there are thousands of characters in Marvel Comics, pest-based characters have an important part in that universe.
Spider-Man has been one of the most popular superheroes for decades and Ant-Man (and now with the Wasp) has been hitting a stride at the box office.
Hopefully these types of characters will continue to play an important role in the future both in print and on film.