With the recent glut of superhero movies being released, many almost forgotten heroes are being dragged back into the limelight (even Darkhawk, for some reason). With literally thousands of superheroes to choose from, Marvel and Disney are in a prime position to rake in some fat stacks across movies, tv shows, video games and more.
Not all of these heroes are well-known, or successful. Some of them just need a shot in the arm to revitalize them. Iron Man was a largely B-List character until Robert Downey Jr. popped on the repulsors. Daredevil languished in development hell after the Affleck flop, and now Netflix has made him more popular than ever. The audience is forgiving, provided the story is good. If it’s not good, they’ll eat you alive. But so far, it’s been a success story, with the movies bringing in billions, and the characters appearing on everything from phone cases to an entire Avengers-themed fashion line.
And then are the characters that are probably best forgotten. It happens, sometimes there’s a deadline and you need to pad out a story, so throw in a guy in an animal suit, let them get punched in the face a few times and call it a day. This list is a combination of laziness, ineptitude, bad writing, bizarre corporate deals and at least one bet.
These are 15 worst Marvel heroes. Expect to see a lot of mutants. I’m not mutantphobic, some of my best friends are mutants. Marvel just kept slapping “mutant” on anything that moved for a few decades, blame them.
The best characters have a clear theme and stick to it. Spider-Man is covered in webs and gets around the city on weblines. Hulk is a hulking lump of muscle with a foodhole. Iron Man is… a man of iron. It’s a simple theme, but it’s there and it’s consistent.
Buford Hollis, AKA Razorback, has the mutant ability to drive any vehicle in the universe. Trucks, spaceships, time machines, he can pilot any one of them. Somehow that translated into a warthog-themed costume.
He has a tendency to call everything he drives the “Big Pig,” and made his first appearance teaming up with Spider-Man to fight a cult in New York. Then he goes to space to team up with space truckers and gets married.
Whitman Knapp was an intern in a medical clinic when he was abducted by a mad scientist and given superpowers. Pretty standard so far.
He can summon three different people to fight for him, each from different points of human evolution. Proto is a pile of protoplasmic goo that dissolves stuff, Apeman is a caveman with super-strength and Highbrow is an evolved superhuman with advanced tech.
Bear in mind, he summons them, he doesn’t control them or transform into them (at first). His superpower is essentially calling for help. He later quit to continue working as a doctor, where he might actually be able to help people.
13 The Great Lakes Avengers
The GLA have had more name changes than many musicians. Initially going by Great Lakes Avengers, they were sent a cease and desist order by the actual Avengers, prompting a name change to the Lightning Rods, S.W.O.R.D. (S.H.I.E.L.D. ordered a name change), the Great Lakes X-Men (lost it in a poker game) the Great Lakes Champions (won it in that same poker game), and the Great Lakes Initiative, before finally being allowed to go back to Great Lake Avengers.
Made up of a lovable band of losers, they band together against slightly threatening villains. Led by Mr Immortal (has no other powers beyond immortality, not even invulnerability), with Flatman (a doctor of “stuff” who is pointedly not Mr Fantastic), Big Bertha and Doorman (who can teleport into the next room), they’ve fought threats like evil Christmas trees, Asbestos Man and the Grasshopper.
12 Stacy X
Stacy X is a mutant sex-worker who uses pheromones to make you vomit or orgasm. X Stacy = ecstasy. Get it? She can also shed her skin like a snake.
Created in that weird edgy period of comics where everyone was kind of a dick and comics “weren’t for kids anymore,” Stacy X stands out as especially edgy. She fought Wolverine to a tie, every man on the team loved her, and she sent her ex a video of herself jumping rope naked as a consolation prize for picking a less sexy girlfriend. After losing her powers, she opted into regular prostitution, no longer able to use her pheromone abilities to get it over with quickly. Because that’s what normally happens when superheroes lose their powers.
Angelo Espinosa has an extra 4-6 feet of skin on his body. He can stretch or manipulate it with varying degrees of control, but only his skin. His bones and organs are normal for someone his age and size.
He’s basically a sweatshop knock off of Mr Fantastic, with gang wars in place of mad science. When he died, the writer didn’t even get his name right, calling him Angelo Torres. His whole schtick is looking like an old candle.
He also appeared in a Generation X tv movie, where he just stretched, rather than actually looking like a mutant, losing the one thing that really made him distinct.
Eric Gitter thought he was a mutant. Every time he got a tattoo, a new power would manifest related to it. When he got a bio-hazard tattoo, he could make you very sick. A Caduceus symbol heals, a wing tattoo lets him fly, and so on. He actually got his power from his tattoo artist, Leon Nunez, who has the mutant power to give powers to people based on the tattoos he gives them.
Although this could lead to really cool stories, like a war between different tattooed people, the tattoos having a shelf life, his dependence on Leon, it was quickly abandoned. Leon was put in a coma, and Eric followed soon after when he over-exerted himself healing a teammate. He made an appearance in the recent X-Men: Days of Future Past movie, but has largely been forgotten in the comics.
Another mutant, Doug Ramsey was born with the innate ability to understand any language. Ever. In the real world, that’s an incredible gift. Travel anywhere in the world without dropping money on Rosetta Stone. Talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Even aliens, the only people worth talking to. If nothing else, archaeology would forever be changed.
In comics, though? Who cares? Even the creators didn’t like him. According to New Mutants writer Louise Simonson: “Every artist who ever did him said 'Can't we kill this guy?' We would get letters from fans about how much they hated him. We never got any letters from people saying they liked him until he was dead."
So they killed him. Like all X-Men, though, he made several returns, usually with upgraded powers.
In the glory days of the seventies, Marvel created Luke Cage and Danny Rand and paired them as the Heroes For Hire. Combining blaxploitation and martial arts tom-foolery, it was a popular book that launched one of the most enduring bromances in comics.
Dazzler was an attempt at making lightning strike twice with the super power of disco. The only problem was she debuted in 1980, when disco was on life support, waiting for the plug to be pulled. One of many missteps of both the eighties and disco.
She can turn sound into light and redirect it as lasers, light shows, or even like a disco ball. She tends to stick to music, because the rhythm is easier for her to control, but she can use any sound in such a way, from a car crash to a dripping tap. Numerous attempts at rebranding her as a generic musician have failed, she remains best known as The Disco Dazzler.
Fabian Nicieza wanted free NFL tickets. He got them, and in the process gave the world Superpro. Was it worth it? We’ll never know.
Phil Grayfield was an aspiring football player, until a knee injury ended that dream. He turned to sports journalism to try to keep the dream alive. When a robbery goes wrong, he is transformed into the Superpro, a nigh-invincible football player who punts for justice and tackles crime into submission.
Created as part of a sponsorship deal with the NFL, his sterling career included a team-up with Spider-Man and Captain America, and later getting beaten up by Stilt-Man.
The '90s were a wonderful time for comics.
6 The Happy Campers
Appearing in one issue of Superpro, the Happy Campers got their powers when they attended a camp that promised to “awaken their inner hero” and were experimented on by a mad scientist. At least they’re not mutants this time. Their main claim to fame is having a name so stupid even the Superpro was insulted.
They got powers that reflect their jobs. Girth has a superstrong gut, Streak can run really fast, Calculator can calculate probabilities and the Almighty Dollar is a ridiculously rich man with the power to shoot pennies out of his hands, literally throwing money at his problems.
After their one appearance, they were promptly forgotten.
5 Ulysses Solomon Archer
In 1983, the world called out for heroes. Not billionaire playboys or the last sons of doomed worlds, but regular, blue-collar joes. Marvel answered the call with Ulysses Solomon Archer, a superhero trucker.
Born of a partnership with TYCO, a toy company that had a new line of slot racing trucks to promote, Ulysses Solomon Archer was an orphan raised by Poppa Wheelie and Wide-load Annie to become the greatest trucker in America. A car accident gave him a metallic skull that picks up CB transmissions, and then it gets really weird. Ghost brothers, faked deaths, demons, and Neo-Nazis all feature in the twelve-issue epic.
Bet TYCO weren’t expecting that.
4 Hindsight Lad
Some heroes leap at the opportunity to help. Some are reluctant, but ultimately step up to the plate. And Hindsight Lad blackmailed his way to heroism.
He discovered the secret identity of Speedball, member of the New Warriors, and was able to weasel his way onto the team, despite his lack of powers. He takes his name from his “tactical ability” or knowing how things would have gone if something different happened. So he’s that guy who won’t shut up about how you should have gone left rather than right when you get stuck in traffic, but infinitely worse because supervillains are literally trying to murder you.
3 Glob Herman
Another X-Man, Glob Herman is a lump of paraffin with a skeleton and internal organs. Somehow this makes him super-strong and fast, rather than an insurance nightmare.
Visually, he’s very cool, and it is nice to get mutants that actually look inhuman, but when you take away being see-through and flammable, there isn’t a whole lot left that hasn’t already been done with other characters. Human in monster skin? The Thing. The Hulk. Wolverine. Powers that are a threat to himself and others around him? Hulk. Human Torch. Rogue. Hated and feared by those around him? 99% of X-Men. Spider-Man.
There just isn’t much to him. A very cool looking guy, but the X-books are full of visually distinct characters.
Kal-Aol is the son of Ted Turner and Jane Fonda, sent back in time to avoid a meteor storm. He meets God (a black dude named Jack), learns the secret of world peace and watches Rush Limbaugh beat up Batman.
Created as a bet between writers, Marville is one of the most bizarre and nonsensical comics Marvel ever put out. Kal-Aol is named for Superman and AOL, then owners of DC, the covers feature sexy images of a character who never appears, the science is insane (Jewish dinosaurs, humans evolved from otters) and the whole thing ends with the writer, Bill Jemas, insulting his readers for not getting it.
It’s almost worth checking out for how insane it is. Almost.
1 The Phone Ranger
Humble phone repairman, A.G. Bell, is called out to fix a broken phone. Inside, he discovers alien technology has rewired the interior of the phone. So he decides to use that tech to become a superhero. He now monitors emergency lines, and rushes to crime scenes before emergency first responders can. Because when you’re dying of a heart attack, you want a phone repairman to come instead of medics.
He made his first appearance when Marvel comics, a company within the comics universe, came under attack from the Lethal Legion. Writer Kurt Busiek frantically dialed as many numbers as he could, until the Ranger appeared before him. He later took a role in tech support within the hero hierarchy.
Unless Marvel cuts a deal with AT&T, don’t expect to see this guy on the silver screen.