"There is black and there is white, and there is wrong and there is right, and there is nothing, NOTHING in between."Born in 1967 of Steve Ditko's fascination with Objectivism, Mr. A is a "superhero" without observable powers aside from his steel gloves and mask, similar to the first incarnations of The Question. Alan Moore disliked this character strongly and portrayed this type of character in a rather twisted way as Watchmen's Rorschach. In Street Fighter 3, a character named Q also appears to be based on him.Philosophical elements aside, Mr. A marked Ditko's shift from working on contract for mainstream publishers like Marvel and DC to more creator-owned projects; Mr. A was first published in the Underground Comics series witzend and was later collected in self-published comics Ditko distributed himself.
—Alan Moore referring to Mr. A.
Mr. A provides examples of the following tropes:
- Author Tract: There are times when the action comes to a sudden stop in order for Mr. A to put on Wall of Text after Wall of Text regarding Black and White Morality.
- Badass Normal: As mentioned, he is absolutely a normal human, even without Training from Hell.
- Black and White Morality: The driving force behind the comic. Mr. A's entire outfit is portrayed as pure white because of this, and his "calling card" is half-black, half-white, and he constantly goes on filibusters about how there is no "gray area".
- Character Filibuster: Oh, big time.
- Good Is Not Nice: Mr. A, who is basically Rorschach, just not ugly and insane.
- Moral Dissonance: The author sometimes had him violate his ethical code for the sake of making him more palatable to the audience, thereby completely undermining the point of a morally absolutist hero. This is most prominent when he gets a crime boss sent to prison for 15 years and then meets him after his term is over and tells him that his slate is now clean and he can start over. It doesn't cross Mr. A's mind that he himself had killed people or left them to suffer and bleed out for lesser crimes than the crime boss ever committed.
- One-Letter Name
- Quit Your Whining: Mr. A's reaction to criminals who complain about being unfairly treated by society.
- Sadistic Choice: A rare heroic example. In the very first Mr. A story, the protagonist forces an excessively gullible and naive woman to choose whether he should save her or her friend the villain when both are in grave danger to prove that her philosophy doesn't work. Made somewhat more reasonable by the fact that the bad guy is a complete Card Carrying Straw Hypocrite and murderous psychopath, who had also stabbed the woman in the gut moments before, which was the reason she needed rapid medical attention in the first place.
- Save the Villain: Completely and utterly defied and averted.
- Secret Identity: One that's every bit as much a champion of objectivism, journalist Rex Graine.
- Soap Box Sadie: Arguably, the liberal complaining about police brutality in "Initiation of Force" in Anvilicious fashion:It's UNFAIR! Innocent VIOLATORS of others' rights and harmless INITIATORS of FORCE are the victims of BRUTALITY and VIOLENCE by the country's legally licensed law enforcement agency, the POLICE!
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: How a journalist could get all of the gadgets and an iron mask without getting any funny looks?
- Would Hit a Girl: He judges people solely on the basis of Black and White Morality, with no distinction for gender; he did not hesitate to put a bullet in the head of a female kidnapper.