In June of 1938, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel gave birth to Superman and the world hasn’t been the same. Superman inspired artists to create other heroes who either possessed super human strength like Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, Spider-Man and the Flash or super drive like Batman, the Phantom and Hawkeye. Like any other business, when something works, everyone follows and by the early 1940’s over ninety percent of all kids read comic books. By 1952, circulation peaked with 3,161 different issues printed, which lead to an overall circulation of over one billion.
Anytime businesses jump on a trend there’s always going to be some spectacular misses. Just like Superman begat Captain Marvel, the Green Hornet begat the Blue Beetle and Plastic Man begat the Elongated Man and Mr. Fantastic. Hey, they can’t all be winners. Just ask Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily, the creators of Hour-Man, a superhero who, when he took a pill, had super powers but only for an hour. No superhero has ever sweated getting stuck in rush hour traffic more then Hour-Man.
This list is of all superheroes who have appeared in comic books, movies or television that make you scratch your head and go, what were their creators thinking? The only rule is that the heroes cannot have been intentionally created to be stupid. So, there’s no Archie Andrews as Captain Pureheart or Goofy as Super Goof. Other then that, here are the top ten superheroes that either have powers that make no sense or just weren’t well thought out to begin with.
10. Dazzler (1980)
Finally, disco had a superhero to call its own. Alison Blaire had the unique ability to turn sound waves into light and energy beams. The Dazzler was going to be a collaboration between Casablanca Records, the biggest disco label, and Marvel Comics but, due to financial pressures, Casablanca dropped out robbing us all of the opportunity to see the Dazzler live in concert. Another power she had was the ability to not be blinded by light. So, if you ever want to get down and boogie where it’s really bright out, then the Dazzler is the superhero for you.
9. Zan from the Wonder Twins (1977)
This is one twin who got the shorter end of the stick than Danny DeVito. Let’s see, your sister can turn into any animal, real or mythological, and you can turn into water. Water in any state, be it ice or gas, but basically you exist to keep beers cold at the Super Friends Christmas party. Great. You can also water down drinks making you valuable if you own a bar but other then that… Frankly, I was stretching just to come up with the watering down drinks idea.
8. Ace, the Bat-Hound (1955)
If a dog is man’s best friend, Robin probably felt really threatened when Ace, the Bat-Hound showed up. Ace wore a cowl, just like his master, because every dog needs a secret identity. He wears a specialized radio collar that tells him when to put his mask on. If Batman’s greatest foe is the Joker, Bat-Hound’s mortal enemy would be, what, the mail man?
7. Black Scorpion (1992)
In 1995, syndicated television shows were booming big time. Noted filmmaker, Roger Corman, never one to not pursue a genre that would make him money, decided to throw his hat into the ring and made two Black Scorpion movies which led to a TV series that lasted one year.
As for the Black Scorpion, she was a female crime fighter with no special powers who saw her father gunned down by the district attorney but the charges were mysteriously dropped. This lead to Walker taking to the streets to mete out justice, no matter how well connected the perpetrator was. Okay, maybe it’s completely a rip-off of Batman, from a female point of view, but it could work. What makes it really dopey is Darcy Walker’s day job. She’s a cop. That’s right, by day she fights crime and by night she… fights crime. Here’s a suggestion, why not stay a cop and clean up on overtime? Plus you can, you know, arrest people. It’s like being a chef at a four star restaurant by day and manning the grill at McDonald’s at night. Technically, they’re both cooking but one’s way more useful than the other.
Another gripe is that the reason she’s named after a scorpion is because of the parable of the frog and the scorpion. In that story, the frog agrees to take the frog across the river if the scorpion promises not to sting him. The scorpion promises because, if he does, they’d both drown. Sure enough, halfway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog and, as they’re drowning, the frog asks why the scorpion did it and the scorpion says because it’s his nature. Isn’t the scorpion the a-hole in that story?
6. Matter Eater Lad (1962)
Not all super powers are created equal. The stuff Superman can do is a lot cooler then the stuff Black Panther can do, but Black Panther is still capable of doing some pretty cool stuff, which brings us to Matter Eater Lad.
What can Matter Eater Lad do? He can eat anything. Trees, solid steel, dirt, my mom’s meat loaf. Although, Matter Eater Lad could answer questions about religion like no other hero. Like, if he was Jewish, would he have to ask if the wall was kosher for Passover before eating it?
5. Starfox (1973)
Starfox is our first Avenger to make the list. What can he do? The usual, he can fly, has super strength and is also a quick healer. Here’s where it gets weird. Starfox ages really slowly and has the power to stimulate the pleasure centers of people who are nearby, which makes them extremely open to suggestion. Basically, Starfox is a roofie in humanoid form or worse, James Franco. He used his seduction powers on She-Hulk and while it worked, when she found out, she beat the crap out of him. Kind of worth it to me, but I dig green chicks.
4. Condorman (1981)
After the success of “Superman: The Movie” in 1978, the Disney company wanted to cash in on the superhero craze. But, instead of adapting an existing character from the comics to the screen, they created their own hero first and then branched him out into comic books. It was a big mistake because, while, Superman was a known quantity, Condorman wasn’t.
In addition, Condorman’s story was really convoluted. Woody Wilkins was a comic book artist who wants his creations to be really realistic so he creates a Condorman suit and tries to fly off of the Eiffel Tower but lands in the Seine river. This leads to him being dragooned into a mission for the C.I.A. From there there’s a whole cold war spy swap thing. It’s like Condorman wanted to be “Three Days of the Condor.” Maybe not the best idea when your audience is eight to twelve-year-olds. The good news is they’re rumored to be remaking it with Robert Pattinson.
3. Green Arrow (1941)
Yeah, I get that he’s the buff star of a CW series but come on, you’re going to fight crime with arrows? Okay, I’ll admit that in the comic books it’s fun when he shoots the arrow with the boxing glove on or the one with the boomerang. It’s a good thing Oliver Queen is rich because those arrows ain’t cheap. And let’s not forget the Arrow Car, Green Arrow’s answer to the Batmobile, except it’s green and pointy like an, you guessed it, arrow. You’d think you’d want a vehicle that would attract as little notice as possible. Kind of hard to sneak up on a criminal with a green car in the shape of an arrow.
Note: The reason why Hawkeye isn’t on the list is because he learned archery in order to work at a carnival and he started out as a criminal. Both facts are kind of cool.
2. Ant-Man (1962)
I know it’s about to become a major motion picture, but come on. Ant-Man? Really? Ant-Man is a scientist who has found a way to shrink down to any size and through a special helmet, control ants. It’s like the people at Marvel were thinking of a way to rip off the Atom but not get sued. Perhaps one editor had the idea that in addition to the whole shrinking thing, this new character can talk to dust mites? The other editor said, “Nope, not sexy enough. How about ants?” “He talks to ants? Brilliant! We’ll call him Ant-Man! Larry, you’re getting a raise!”
So, to summarize, we have a hero who can shrink down and get ants to do his bidding. This is a hero whose greatest fear is not meeting up with a super villain, but of getting stepped on.
1. Beppo, the Super Monkey (1959)
You will find no greater admirer of monkeys then me. There is truly nothing funnier then a monkey dressed as a person but when you give it super powers, you’ve lost me. Think of it this way, a monkey is about five times stronger then a human, so Super Monkey is five times as strong as Superman. Great. Because Jor-El was sloppy, we have to deal with a creature that can fling it’s own poo with amazing velocity. Fun.
Hopefully, Beppo will be mature enough to only use his super powers for good. Oh right, he’s a monkey!