For every superhero that comes crashing into your multiplex, living room or Broadway musical there are dozens, if not more, that have failed or been forgotten. Since 1997 cartoonist Jon Morris has run a blog “dedicated to the bottom of the comic book barrel” Gone & Forgotten (http://gone-and-forgotten.blogspot.com/). Now he has produced a list of 100 comic book characters from the Golden Age to today will often leaving the reader thinking “whiskey tango foxtrot!?” in his new book: “The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes From Comic Book History!” (2015 Quirk Books, Philadelphia. – 255 pages. – ISBN 978-1-59474-763-2 – $24.95 suggested retail.)
Among the more bizarre creations are:
- Bozo the Iron Man— No relation to the legendary clown or Tony Stark’s alter-ego
- The Clown— A circus version of Batman, perhaps even creepier
- The Eye— A giant disembodied floating eye that fought crime
- Thunderbunny— An anthropomorphic, 6 foot tall, pink super-powered bunny rabbit who shares his body with a human teenager
And this reviewer’s personal favorite:
- Dr. Hormone (his real name, not an alias)– An 80-something grandfather is rejuvenated to a 25-year -old young man thanks to, you guessed it, hormones! He uses his new and improved body and his scientific mind to fight crime with his granddaughter. In his spare time he continues his research on hormones, creating animal-human hybrids and experimenting on dying babies!
Most of the “heroes” are given two pages. One is a reprint of a magazine cover or a set of panels featuring the character. The other page consists of an essay that tells the origin of the hero, what their powers and weakness were, and what kind of adventures they had. It also tells what happened to the character in both the real world and in the comics. Morris writes in a witty tongue-in-check style, which is still very informative. However, one wishes that more period artwork of the characters had been presented.
While many of these characters were created by publishing companies that went out of business after just a few issues, both DC and Marvel are well-represented. Nor were all the “heroes” the creation of hacks. In fact creations by legendary comic artists and writers Neal Adams, Will Eisner, Gil Kane, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Joe Simon (co-creator of Captain America), Roy Thomas, and Superman’s creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuester are showcased.
There is an inherit flaw with any book of this nature in that people will argue that some heroes listed should not be on the list. (A few listed are still reoccurring characters in the DC and Marvel universes.) On the other hand there are some who are not listed who perhaps should have been like the Golden Age Red Tornado, Uncle Marvel, and The Fat Fury.
The Bottom Line:
While “The League of Regrettable Superheroes” may spark some debate amongst readers, that is also part of the fun of such books, debating who does and not deserve such “recognition.” Hardcore comic book geeks will find this book very entertaining, while anyone with an interest in the history and evolution of comic book publishing and superheroes will want to read this. Highly recommended for both.
Guest Contributor: Nerd Nation Magazine