WE’VE heard enough about The Avengers, it’s time for another group of superheroes to get some recognition. The Legion of Regrettable Comic Book Superheroes is a motley group consisting of the lamest and oddest heroes ever put to print. You can keep your Iron Man and Captain America; I like my heroes with a touch of stupidity. So, bring on Aqua Melvin, Matter Eater Lad, and the rest of the gang – The Legion of Regrettable Comic Book Superheroes has come to save the day! (or embarrass themselves trying.)
Origin: Adventure Comics #242 – Nov. 1957
Aquaman responds to a distress call from a ship and discovers an unconscious Vaudeville clown onboard. If that wasn’t strange enough, the only way to save him is for Aquaman to give him a blood transfusion. Naturally, this imbues him with Aquaman’s powers for 24 hours and insanity ensues.
Thankfully, this is the one and only appearance of Aqua-Melvin. Once his powers wore off, he was never seen again. But for that brief moment, we had an aquatic clown with super powers. Truly a special time in the annals of comic book history.
TRANSGENDER CRIME FIGHTER
Origin: Crack Comics #1 – May 1940
Richard lives alone with his parrot, but when vigilante justice is needed, he’s there to kick some ass….. while wearing a granny outfit. Yes, Madam Fatal is the first transvestite superhero; basically he’s Batman in drag.
APPENDAGE HURLING FREAK
Origin: Captain Marvel #1, April 1966
Not to be confused with the other, more well-known Captain Marvel, this guy had the alarming ability to throw his arms and legs at enemies. It’s not a particularly powerful ability, but I’m sure it caught the bad guys off guard.
Origin: The Human Torch #27, June, 1947
Asbestos Lady first came to my attention while reading Bill Bryson’s awesome testimony of childhood in 1950s America, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. In it, Bryson describes being smitten by this superheroine (who, I believe began as a villain):
I remember feeling an unexpected but entirely agreeable hormonal warming at the first sight of Asbestos Lady, whose cannonball breasts and powerful loins were barely contained within the wisps of satin fabric with which some artistic genius portrayed her.
Bryson’s pre-pubescent lust aside, Asbestos Lady has to have the most unimpressive “superpowers” of all time: a fire resistant costume. Yep. That’s it. Granted, Batman has no superpowers either, but, like Iron Man, he compensates by having cool gizmos. A flame retardant suit doesn’t quite cut the mustard.
SUPER-ABILITY OF SHAME
Matter Eater Lad
Origin: Action Comics #303, December 1962
Of all the worthless super powers ever dreamt up, this has to be among the worst. Apparently, Matter Eater Lad could eat anything. But this begs the question, if he’s going to scarf down metal, what happens once this stuff is digested? I’ll leave that to your imagination. With inane comics like this being churned out by DC, it’s no wonder Marvel started kicking their ass.
Origin: Funnyman #1, January, 1948
From the creators of Superman (Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster), comes the lamest superhero ever. Basically, he uses comedy gags (squirting daisies, boxing gloves on springs, etc.) to fight the bad guys. Imagine Inspector Gadget, but far, far stupider.
Origin: Justice League of America Annual #2, 1984
I present to you the Latino breakdancer known as Vibe. In the name of diversity, DC comics undermined their good intentions by creating a highly racist, stereotypical character. Noted comics artist George Pérez took exception to the Vibe character as well:
“I sincerely say he’s the one character who turned me off the Justice League of America… And being Puerto Rican myself, I found the fact that they could use a Puerto Rican character quite obviously favorable since the one Puerto Rican characters in comic that existed, the White Tiger, is no longer a viable character. But having him be a break dancer! I mean, come on now. It’s like if there were only one black character in all of comics, are you going to make him a tap dancer, a shoeshine boy? Particularly when you’re picking a stereotype that’s also a fad. You’re taking a chance that this guy is going to become very passe, his costume becomes passe because it’s a breakdance costume, the minute the fad fades.”
Source: Focus On George Pérez (Interview by Heidi MacDonald)
Published in 1985 by Fantapraphics
CAPELESS LEVITATING MUTANT
Origin: Four Color #1330, April 1962
I have no beef with Brain Boy – he’s just a lad with telekinetic powers. However, I will say this: if you have the power of flight, be a good little superhero and put on a cape and tights. It just looks weird whirling around in plain clothes. Somebody get Brain Boy some baby blue spandex and a gold lamé cape, quick!
MORBIDLY OBESE SPACESHIP GUY
Fatman, The Human Flying Saucer
Origin: Fatman The Human Flying Saucer #1, April, 1967
The very idea that a superhero would transform into a flying saucer is so beyond stupid, I find myself clamoring for words, but nothing does it justice. I understand they were shooting for an element of comedy, but in the process they created what has to be the worst superhero ever created.