Oh man, I have a big one of these, and it’s almost embarassing because the character is such a piece of shit it can be hard to explain how I could even have loved him in the first place. It’s Uncle Scrooge.
When I was a kid, comic books were the first medium I really loved, and Uncle Scrooge books were the cream of the crop. A bunch of incredible adventure cartoonists cut their teeth writing Scrooge stories, and I was just so into the stuff they got that duck into: finding old treasures, artifacts of legend, all that Indiana Jones bullshit (the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, with the rolling boulder trap, was actually taken from a Scrooge comic). I ate it up.
But, like, Scrooge’s whole deal is that he’s the richest duck on the planet, and different writers deal with that differently. Sometimes they lean onto his abusiveness, the way he shamelessly exploits and underpays Donald, the way his businesses fucks over a breadth of communities, the way he’s essentially the same as some of his “villains” who are just other asshole billionaires. But sometimes they write him as this capitalist ideal, this guy who got to where he is by being this rad explorer-type guy who worked his ass off all over the world for decades until he finally got a lucky break and his fortune started there. And while both types of stories, when well-written, always worked for me, I really fell in love with that second version of Scrooge.
Even at a pretty early age, if someone asked me, I’d have told them I was a leftist: my father was a committed member of his union and I learned basic ideas about inequality pretty naturally from there. But my love for Scrooge pretty closely reflects ideas I had about meritocracy being a thing that makes sense, about gigantic wealth being no crime in itself, about the world we live in being basically fair in structure, only needing a handful of tweaks that could be implemented by better overseers.
Nowadays my opinion has basically flipped on all these matters, but I still cling to those stories where Scrooge defends his fortune from the Beagle Boys or tries to locate the philosopher’s stone or whatever. Very much like Rob, I find myself more growing into the characters that surround the huge asshole protagonist, Donald in particular. In comics, Donald is most often a deeply sympathetic character, pretty frequently written as a broke and basically depressed dude who really struggles to raise his nephews and cares about his horrible uncle way too much for Donald’s own good. I love him in a way I couldn’t when I was younger… and yet I still love his uncle way too much myself. It’s a bitter pill for my ego to swallow, but that’s where I’m at.