We all know Batman is widely recognized for his brooding attitude — it’s part of his mystique. And it makes sense, fighting crime in a city like Gotham is a tough gig. But he’s not the only endearing curmudgeon in the DC Comics universe. Let’s take a look at some of DC’s most lovable grumps besides the Caped Crusader.
The world-weary John Constantine
Constantine is probably most widely recognized for his main character role in the Hellblazer comics. He also makes an appearance in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comics, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run, and elsewhere. He’s an investigator skilled at the practice of the dark arts. DC Comics refers to him as “a notorious con man and grifter whose past has a body count.” Among other on-screen appearances, he has been appearing on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on The CW, played by Matt Ryan.
One of the inner demons that haunts him most is the guilt he feels over accidentally getting a child, Astra Logue, dragged to Hell. He also sells his soul to the Lords of Hell and blackmails God. So he has plenty of reasons to be grumpy. But at the end of the day, he wants to do the right thing, and we still love him.
Raven, the teen goth
Raven, born Rachel Roth, is really more of a goth than a grump. She’d be right at home at an Evanescence concert. Raven is the daughter of the demon Trigon and has empathic powers, as well as the ability to control her “soul-self.” She’s currently being played by Teagan Croft on Titans, streaming on HBO Max.
As DC explains, “Raven’s entire life has been a balancing act between the light and the darkness.” DC goes on to say that she is “reserved, distant and secretive, Raven’s never quite sure how close to let anyone get.” Control over her powers doesn’t come easily to Raven, and getting close to others is a risk. So it makes sense that she might not come across as the friendliest person.
She’s constantly struggling o be a hero and do the right thing, despite the fact that the demon magic in her blood has other plans. But she rises to the occasion, fighting alongside the Teen Titans and maintaining control over her emotions and her powers, however difficult it may be.
Damian Wayne, the grouchy kid of DC Comics
Damian certainly comes off as a brat at times. But he’s our brat and when it comes down to it, you’ve got to feel for him. He’s the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul. So neither of his parents is particularly effusive when it comes to expressing affection.
Add to that the fact that he was raised to be a fighter by Talia and the League of Assassins and he really has no choice but to follow in his parents’ brooding footsteps. That kind of darkness is all he knows.
The DC Comics character description refers to him as “arrogant, cold and undeniably lethal.” Yet we see how he comes to care about his fellow Teen Titans. And he even starts to develop a relationship, such as it is, with Bruce. Damian may act tough, but he has a soft, squishy heart under all that emotional armor.
Gruff newspaper editor Perry White
Perry White is the grizzled editor at the Daily Planet, boss of both Clark Kent and Lois Lane. He’s quick to anger and doesn’t hold anything back with his reporters if he thinks they’re not doing their best work. According to DC, the character is “famous for his tough-but-fair attitude.”
But despite his gruffness, he’s an admirable character. He cares deeply about journalistic integrity, which is why he’s so tough on his staff. And he’s an ally to Superman. He hasn’t known about Clark’s secret identity until very recently — or at least, he hasn’t let on. But as good as he is at sniffing out a scoop, you have to wonder. Either way, he stands by Clark while continuing his search for truth.