Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: The Most Poorly Written Superheros

April 21, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Hawkman 1

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we asked Does the Invincible Animated Series Live Up to the Comic Book? Here’s what some of you had to say:

Chairshot” “Never read the comic, but enjoy the show greatly.”

JusticeBringer: “I’ve always thought Invincible was the better series between it and Robert Kirkman’s other series, The Walking Dead. The show definitely lives up to the comic and I’m thrilled Invincible is finally getting this spotlight. it’s overdue.”

Sherlock: “I’ve read the comics and was thrilled to see it on Prime. After binging the first 4 episodes, I was relieved to see 4 more episodes coming this month. The show is a lot of fun to watch and I’m eager to see the rest.”

I’m Tired: “So far so good for me. Minor changes but the overall plot from the comic is there.”

Elia Notari: “It’s my favorite comic book, so I’ll definitely check it out once it’s completed, if it’s even remotely as gore as it comic counterpart then it will be a masterpiece”

Cersei Is Paige’s Mom: “I actually thought Invincible was an adult swim kind of show that had a bit of parody storyline when I saw it on Prime. I haven’t watched it yet to be clear either, so it was just what I thought based on trailers. I’ll check it out for sure now.

Side…havent seen Falcon and Winter Soldier yet either but Wyatt Russell is super talented of an actor so I cant wait.”

Grammar police: “I think the show is fantastic but there is evident change from the source material. Why is Amber black and why is Rex a different race too. The changing of their race is just a needless blackwashing of the series, that is an insult to fans of the original comic.”
So many great comments! Big thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts!

This week we ask…

Who is the Worst Written Superhero?

Like anything, over the years we’ve had our share of well written characters, storylines, and books. On the other end of the spectrum, we have those characters that have so much potential but have never been attached to decent stories. Realistically, every character has had their share of bad stuff. But who had it worse?

Take a look at Dazzler and see how she started off as a horrible cliche (disco singer) that was originally developed as a cross-promotional, multi-media creation between Casablanca Records and Marvel Comics until that was dropped in 1980. Even worse, she was created by a committee. Usually a sign of trouble for any new hero. She overcame that and became a decent hero over time but has never really found her place. 

Then you have someone like Adam X. This was a character who was destined for big things (by the powers that be) but quickly became a punchline. Could a decent writer have given him a better shelf life? Or was he cursed with being too much of a 90s cliche? I can’t see him getting his own movie but stranger things have happened.

Then we have good characters that were involved in horrible…just horrible…storylines. Which is where most of the examples will come from. Like Captain America. Cap-Wolf immediately comes to mind and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky. Captain America could have his own list with the number of bad storylines he’s been involved with. You could also say that Hal Jordan/Green Lantern’s ‘Emerald Twilight’ was a huge misstep, taking a beloved hero and driving him to do things completely out of character. Sheesh, I could name a few Wolverine stories that fit the bill, like the time he went noseless or throw Cyclops under the bus for leaving his wife and new born child in Uncanny X-Men to go and be with the recently resurrected Jean Grey in X-Factor.

Batman isn’t free from the conversation and I humbly submit Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again as an example of a great writer who got lost.

What about Hawkman, who’s backstory at one time was so muddled, I don’t believe even the writers knew who he was supposed to be. Or when they took away Doctor Fate’s helmet and gave him a sword. Actually, the 90s stands out as producing a large number of story arcs that were just…sad. I shudder at some of the memories.

One that had huge potential but suffered from confusing storylines is The Sentry. Marvel’s attempt at showing a different side of a superhero took a number of wrong turns and never recovered. He was almost my pick for worst but after careful consideration, I went with another.

For me, the worst written character has to be Wonder Man. Not only has he had some of the worst costumes ever, he’s never done anything to make a real impact in the Marvel universe. And that’s a shame because he has a backstory with links to a number of major players and could have found his way with a few minor tweaks. And definitely a new wardrobe.

What about you? This one is wide open. Who do you think has been written the worst or involved in horrible stories? Has Shazam suffered? How about Namor? Thinking more about it…Namor is definitely in the running for me. Let us know below!

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!