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 III, 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.
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, without even the Training from Hell someone like Batman will usually have.
- 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.
- Dirty Commies: The comic refers to America and its allies as the Free World, and the Warpac nations as the Slave World.
- Expy: Might be mistaken for one of either Rorschach or the hero he was based on, The Question. Actually, Mr. A predates them both.
- Gentleman Thief: Deconstructed in the story "Count Rogue". The titular Count Rogue acted Affably Evil toward his marks (while insulting all of them in his head) as part of a complicated plan to embarrass a rival at his day job who had been promoted before him. Mr. A is the only person who doesn't buy into the mystique of the Count as a noble thief, except for a burglar who randomly breaks into the Count's home at the end of the story, and gives an oddly on-the-nose Not So Different speech while trying to blackmail his way into a "partnership".
- Good Is Not Nice: Mr. A, who is basically Rorschach, just not ugly and insane (though the non-insane part is subject to some serious YMMV).
- 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 and deserves worse punishment according to his own moral code.
- 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, in order 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 guts moments before, which was the reason she urgently required 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!
- Strawman Political: Mr. A's opponents tends be straw man versions of liberals.
- 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.