It seems that the premise behind most comic-heroes is the Nietzschian “Ubermensch” who, being by whatever means above and beyond the mere existence of ordinary mortals, is also above and beyond their laws (like modesty, curfew, vehicle speed limits, assault-and-battery, vigilantism, gravity, thermodynamics, conservation of energy). Being and preferring to emulate law-abiding moral citizens (as others have commented), I consider that the only right justification for breaking/defying the laws is if the laws themselves are immoral. So my own “ideal” superhero arrangement would be Good Guys vs. Anarchists vs. Tyranny. And in any battle, our heroes may be joined by one hostile faction or the other, depending on the issue at hand, or find themselves in a Battle Royale. Or watch from the bleachers….
Like: Noble characters who don’t compromise. Not angsty-wangsties or sermarionettes, but people with fixed moral standards that force them to make legitimately difficult choices. Well-written storylines. Believable costumes: think Rorschach from Watchmen rather than the Star Sapphires. Objective morality applied to heroes as well as villains. Characters who take their faith seriously (Ben Grimm as a rabbi, Kurt’s Catholicism in the Nightcrawler’s better storylines) without being caricatures.
Dislike: Bad writing. Unbelievable characters or contrived responses to settings or situations. Skankwear (including SuperGirl’s wowzer-window top) and outfits that require superglue to keep on (Indigo Lanterns and Star Sapphires, anyone?). Too-tidy cleanup (all actions, someone observed, should have consequences). Sermarionettes* that subject the story to a preachy agenda (Bibleman, or Captain Planet, or (from DC Comics) the White Lantern Swamp Thing in Brightest Day). Situational morality/ethics. Extraneous sex/sexualization.
Four Powers: Omniglottalism (any language, any time); teleportation (complete with *BAMPF!* and purple smoke a la Nightcrawler); invisibility or shade-shifting (like certain famous hard-to-spell lizard types); perfect logical analysis of any question or situation.
Dreams: No. Just the usual stuff about being naked in public or driving cars through Möibic buildings.
* portmanteau of “Sermonette” and “Marionette”
VERY substantial post you’ve got there. Eustace!
Not quite sure how valid it is to spot Nietzsche’s influence in the concept behind most comic heroes. For Nietzsche (as far as I understand him) there is no such thing as a nonarbitrary body of moral values i.e. a body of moral values not based on our ‘tastes’ and personal preferences. Many if not most comic heroes would slap a cream pie into Nietzsche’s face in this respect, because they do profess a moral code which they don’t consider something arbitrary at all—and share such a code. The name ‘Justice League ’ says it all. I’m not denying that there are comic heroes (?) around who are morally lax, only that they seem a minority AFAIK.
On the other hand, I do think being too morally inflexible could sometimes be a problem. When a hero/ine is as merciless towards the Joker as towards a street thug who happened to be born into a dysfunctional family, couldn’t find a job for years and had four kids to take care of, I’m really not sure if I’d view this hero/ine as a shining example of justice and moral rectitude.
I do hate ad hoc responses to various predicaments faced by heroes/heroines as well. It just feels like cheating. Having an unheard-of-so-far-in-the-story character or creature suddenly appear to save the day (if that’s an example of what you meant) does kind of spoil it all for me.
As for omniglottalism (shouldn’t it be ‘omniglossy’?), a SF writer once imagined a race of aliens who communicated not with sound, but light; they had special organs on their bodies with which they emitted light, the color, brightness etc of which they could control for the purpose of expressing all sorts of ideas and feelings. Would your omniglottalism extend to these beings? I leave it to your imagination what sort of books they would have, by the way.
Finally, having a beautifully muscled body like Michael 5 and flaunting it by going about near-naked in public (but not fully naked of course ) is certainly a fantasy of mine!