Successful comic book characters have to be interesting, relatable, and inspiring along with a few other obvious attributes. Powers and/or skills alone won’t do it; neither will having altruistic intentions. Your character will need more if you want him/her to survive in the gritty world of comic book realism. Here are the top five skills/abilities/assets I believe every budding Super character needs in order to survive.
Let’s face it, criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot but they will shoot you dead if given the chance. Whether you have impenetrable skin, a suit of armor, concealed kevlar, or a really big shield, that quality is bound to be tested. Alternative abilities include a danger sense, invisibility, super speed, and intangibility. You would have to be careful but you would definitely be harder to hit.
This should be a no-brainer. Not only would you put the people you care about in danger but you can also get sued for mistakes and property damage. Some people are going to try to sue you just to see what they can get. Fighting crime isn’t sustainable when being chased by process servers and arrest warrants. Don’t stick around for photo ops either. A few good photos and observations can easily lead towards your identity being discovered. You’re going to have to do better than a pair of glasses or a domino mask too. This isn’t the 50’s. Maybe consider only operating at night. Once you’re unmasked you might as well head straight into self induced witness protection to cry over your dead loved ones and precious assets because you are done.
Crime fighting can be a lonely gig but successful crime fighting requires a team. They don’t have to be on the front line with you but you will need the support of others. You’ll need operatives and specialists of all kinds in your circle including, doctors, law enforcement officials, and people with access to the most current news, gossip, and local rumors. Sometimes you’ll need an alibi. Sometimes you’ll need to be in two places at once. Sometimes you’ll just need a different perspective. They don’t all have to know your secret identity but they need to be committed to or at least highly motivated to assist you.
You have to be able to get to the scene of the crime before the bad guys can get away and you have to be able to give chase should it become necessary. Whether your means be flight, speed, teleportation, web swinging, a custom vehicle, or a trusty steed, it’s going to take more than your being in good shape to overtake the bad guys.
Let’s face it. Fighting crime costs money. Just ask some de-funded police departments. You’ll need uniforms, computers, gadgets, a base of operations, maybe even a staff. Those things will need to be purchased and maintained. Your network of informants and collaborators will need supplies and compensation too. If you decide to take on crime fighting full time you’ll need legitimately explainable income as well unless, of course, you’re already a billionaire.
Other items not mentioned above, mainly because I think they should be common sense include, some sort of weapon that can attack from a distance, martial arts training, evasive and escape techniques, conflict resolution training, and thinking on your feet. Of course there’s bravery, honor, integrity, and commitment; otherwise all this will work just as well for a Supervillain too.
One last thing: Sidekicks and capes are strongly discouraged…unless you’re Batman.