The mid-range character who never truly establishes himself or herself as a major player, but without whom, the team feels wrong somehow; off-balance. Violas generally fill in harmonies, occupying the gap between the violin and the cello. They play vital roles in chamber music. But few solo concerti or sonatas have been written for them.
Violas are not “second fiddles,” backup characters who labor in the shadow of a superior version of themselves. No, violas provide something unique, yet something ill-suited to stand alone.
The Martian Manhunter, Wonder Man, the Vision, all are classic violas. They provide texture and depth to their teams, but seem ill-suited for solos. The Black Knight. Maybe Cyborg? I don’t know.
I ask you, o comic fans: What makes a character a viola? Is there a surefire technique to spot a viola-in-the-making? Can a character overcome that status? I can’t think of any off the top of my head, though I’m sure it’s happened at least once. Is Cyclops the viola of the X-Men? Who are some key violas? Who is your favorite?
This is the kind of stuff I think about during my commute.