No matter how hard we try, we all can’t be Batman. The same holds true for other superheroes. Despite the best intentions of the writers and creators, not all of them can be billionaire playboys with a mansion, batplane, and bat-gadgets. Some have to settle for less. What’s worse is that some superheroes were born (for lack of a better term) with a really dumb backstory. They must overcome the tragedy of poorly envisioned powers and really lame motives. Luckily for us, many of these lame-duck superheroes have died or become so unpopular we’ll never see them again. Here are ten of the worst superheroes ever written.
9 Squirrel Girl -- Marvel Comics
Even the name sounds stupid. Squirrel Girl was a super heroine who was supposedly based on one of the creator’s ex-girlfriends. I know this might shock you, but Squirrel Girl’s powers centered around all things squirrel. She dressed like a squirrel, and she could talk to and control legions of squirrels (talk about getting the short end of the superhero stick!) Squirrel Girl runs around with a squirrel sidekick called Monkey Joe. Squirrel Girl eventually became a member of the Great Lakes Avengers – but once other superheroes stopped laughing at her “powers” she was relegated to being the nanny of another superhero. Yes that’s right, she was so bad Marvel turned her into a nanny. From a crime-fighting heroine to changing the diapers of a super-baby, talk about a demotion.
8 The Red Bee -- DC Comics
Red Bee is a superhero who controls bee swarms and uses a “stinger gun” to thwart criminals and Nazis. As far as superheroes go that’s pretty lame, but it gets worse. Red Bee’s favorite little bee-friend lives inside his belt-buckle. He’s named Michael and Red Bee only lets him out under “special” circumstances. This sounds like it’s an afternoon special waiting to happen, but it is in fact true. DC Comics rightfully killed off this highly unpopular character. That was good. Unfortunately, they re-envisioned the Red Bee and allowed the Red Bee’s grandniece to don the suit and continue the legacy of spreading pollen all over the world (or whatever it is she does now.) Luckily for her, the new Red Bee eventually becomes some sort of kick-ass hybrid insect/superhero lady. Guess that’s something at least.
7 Vibe -- DC Comics
Look, there was a time when we were, shall we say, a bit less sensitive to the stereotypes we imposed upon others, and Vibe isn’t the last one of these awfully offensive superheroes to make the list, though he might be the least offensive of the offensive. So who is Vibe? He’s better known as Paco Ramon, a street tough and gang leader on Detroit’s mean streets who suddenly gives up his thuggish life of crime to become part of the Justice League. Oh, did we mention that poor Ramon could generate dangerous and powerful shock waves? Well he could. Vibe didn’t hang around long and was eventually killed off. But don’t worry, he was re-animated and died again, and in 2013 DC Comics decided that the world would be a better place with superheroes like Vibe, so they brought him back.
6 The Almighty Dollar -- Marvel Comics
Poor J. Pennington Pennypacker (an accountant by trade) just wanted to attend a self-esteem camp. How was he to know it was run by a mad scientist who would concoct strange experiments on him and turn him into the superhero known as the Almighty Dollar? Next time Pennington might want to choose a better self-esteem camp because he didn’t gain the ability to fly or punch through walls. Oh no, Almighty Dollar ended up with the awesome capability of shooting pennies out of his wrists. The bad news is that this will likely end up with him being killed by some pissed-off super villain when he starts shouting out things like, “here’s your change!” On the plus side, he would have been pretty popular at those penny candy dispensers you used to find in local supermarkets.
5 Extrano -- DC Comics
We don’t even know where to start. For the record, Extrano was created in 1998, which might say a little something about our perception of AIDs and the rising acceptance of homosexuality at the time. Oh, and apparently it was also a really important time for magicians. Extrano is a gay Hispanic magician superhero and a part of the Guardians of the Universe. More importantly, Extrano is basically the most stereotypical “gay” superhero ever created – and not in a good way. He negatively personifies the stereotype in every way from his clothing to his language, and he probably set straight-gay relations back twenty years all by his lonesome. He calls himself “Auntie,” shoots fire from his hands, could levitate and even performed magic tricks to distract his opponents. Eventually DC Comics forced Extrano to find a magic relic which made him a bit less effeminate – but that might be even more of an offensive comment on how we view homosexuals.
4 Night Thrasher -- Marvel Comics
Tell me if you’ve heard this story before. A child witnesses the death of his wealthy parents at the hands of a criminal. Spurred on by revenge, and lacking super powers, he uses his fortune to transform himself into a martial arts warrior and crime-fighting machine in a black super-suit. No, this is not the story of Batman. It’s the history of the superhero known as Night Thrasher. While there may be some (some???) similarities here, things tend to diverge a bit from this point onward. Sure Batman has his batmobile and batarangs, but Night Thrasher rides around on a skateboard and fights crime with badly executed martial arts moves that don’t really make any sense. Marvel has since re-booted Night Thrasher, but we're not convinced he can overcome his lame beginnings.
3 Skateman -- Pacific Comics
Maybe Skateman should be higher on this list. After all Skateman #1 was voted the worst comic of the past 25 years in 1990. How bad was Skateman? They only ever made one issue of it. Skateman was created by Neal Adams in 1983, which apparently was a big time for roller skates. Billy Moon (Skateman’s alter ego) was a Vietnam Veteran and a martial arts enthusiast (of course he was) who returned home from the wars and began a career in roller derby (seems logical.) Barely recovered from the war, Moon’s best friend is murdered by bikers. So Moon does what any of us would do – he wraps a scarf around his head, dons his skates and goes on a vigilante rampage. We can only assume Skateman was captured and killed by the very bikers he was attacking, though there’s a good chance he just chased a bad guy down some sort of incline, got stuck at the bottom and was never heard from again.
2 Arm-Fall-Off Boy -- DC Comics
Arm-Fall-Off Boy’s sole super power was to detach his arms and use them as weapons. That’s it. Unlike most superheroes, Arm-Fall-Off Boy doesn’t make many appearances in the comics. He tried out for the Legion, but was rejected. He’s such a senseless character that we don’t even know what to write about him. He doesn’t even have a back-story to make fun of.
1 Codpiece -- Vertigo Comics
And you thought Extrano was a bad idea. Codpiece was created by someone who probably had a lot of issues with women, but no one knows who because no one has the balls to stand up and take credit for this phallic masterpiece. Codpiece was a normal dude with a few “insecurities” about his height (yeah, lets go with that) and how he was treated by women. So, to get his revenge, Codpiece devised and built the most extreme pair of cannon-pants ever concocted and went out to be a bad dude. He eventually died at the hands of Coagula – a transsexual prostitute superhero that probably should have made this list. Codpiece might be the most stunningly stupid idea ever devised by a comic book writer. Worse, they went and made toys of this character and sold them to children. There are only about twenty offensive things going on with this dude.