Movies & TV / Columns

The Oddest Superheroes in Comics

January 3, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

I’m Steve Gustafson and thanks for stopping by. If you enjoy reading or discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. I throw out a subject, you comment below. Easy. Let’s get started. 

Previously on…
Last time we discussed Comic Books That Made Us Cry.. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Meltzerdriver18: “Death of Gwen Stacy, death of Superman,

Aunt May first death in the comics was sad. I remember when she told Peter that she wanted to know what real web slinging was like and she always knew he was Spider-Man. Made me tear up

Pyro death from the legacy virus was sad.”

Ken Wood: “Funeral for a Friend was pretty emotional and great. It was great to see everyone’s reaction and response to Superman’s death.

Kraven’s Last Hunt was also pretty emotional with Kraven burying Spiderman alive and leaving him for dead for several days.

Knightfall was also pretty emotional. Seeing Batman slowly drained and broken down as he dealt with all the escaped criminals until Bane finally showed up and broke his back was amazing.

The second incarnation of Hellshock was also very emotional. It dealt with mental illness, the treatment of mentally ill prisoners and their caretakers, and it was just an amazing read.

Spawn was also an emotional read at times, dealing with a man who sold his soul just to get back to his wife and then discovering she moved on. Plus, some of the people he went after were horrible people. Billy Kincaid was a child murderer.

X-Men had plenty of emotional moments but the one that really strikes me is when Jean Grey sacrifices herself to save the rest of the X-Men to drive the space station back to earth and hold everything together with her telekinesis, knowing the radiation from the sun is ultimately going to kill her and her whole team is safely hiding in a shielded area also knowing she’s going to die. Literally watching her die and then be reborn as the phoenix. For me, that was Jean Grey’s best moment, and made everything that came after much more impacting.

Also, House of M. I wasn’t a huge fan of that particular comic, but the emotional toll was obviously felt in the X-Men, New X-men, and Avengers comics I’ve read that came after it. It had major effects on so many.”

“Filthy” Jake Fury: “Scene from Preacher: “You gotta be one of the good guys son, ’cause there’s way too many of the bad”.”
Gary Warren: “The death of The Flash in Crisis #8. I was a little kid just getting into comics but knew all the big heroes from the cartoons and toys and it was the first time I saw one of them die. Little did I know how many times people die in the comics and come back.”

Jeremy Thomas: “The death of Ilyana Rasputin from the Legacy Virus.

That comic utterly wrecked me as a teenager. The whole thing is just so tragic and inevitable, yet so shocking as well. Hell, when I read it in my re-read several months ago at 43, I still got choked up.”

JMAC: “Doom Patrol #63: The Empire of Chairs – the entire issue.”

canuckamuk: “Thor 362 The death of Skurrge, holding the bridge at Gjallerbru, and redeeming himself . “They made a fool of me, Balder. They laughed at me. Everybody laughs at Skurge. Hela, Mordonna, even the Enchantress I love. They all laugh at me. Except you. Balder is too kind to laugh at Skurge. But whenever they laugh, I hurt inside. Maybe I die a little. Now I think I am dead already. And my axe was destroyed with Naglfar. So I will stay behind and the last laugh will be mine. … I will hold the bridge myself.””

Benjamin J: “The reveal in V for Vendetta of the Shadow Gallery after Evey’s kidnapping/torture/deprogramming.

“Welcome home.””

Wrestling Fan: “Pride of Baghdad destroyed me. Generally speaking, I’ve got the emotional range of a cinder block. But man, PoB hit me so hard. Damn.”

Christopher Wilcox: “The origin of Red Lantern Dex-Starr always chokes me up. I is good kitty.”

Too many great comments to share. Go back and see for yourself. Also, as always, thanks for the input!

This week we discuss…

The Oddest Superheroes in Comics

It’s the first day of the year so let’s take it easy and talk about the overlooked or maligned in comic books. 

Odd superheroes. First, I’m only covering superheroes so no Swarm or The Asbestos Lady. My selections are a mix of odd powers, origins, and appearance. Let’s get Groot. Rocket, and Howard the Duck out of the way. While Howard and Rocket stand out among their anthropomorphic group, Groot is a talking tree. Compared to some other characters on this list, these three could be considered downright normal. 

Like Hellcow. Dracula drinks a cows blood, killing her. Cow is buried and then arises with the urge to kill Dracula. How about Lockjaw? The power to teleport is one of the strongest around and makes him a valuable member of the Inhumans. I can’t remember if he’s a giant bulldog or a person who mutated into a canine. Odd nonetheless.

Moving along, odd and strange superheroes take many forms.

Take Brother Power the Geek. A superhero mannequin. Created by DC in the late 1960s, the concept behind Brother Power was derived heavily from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. At the same time, creator Joe Simon was also attempting to capture the sort of “wandering outcast philosopher” characterization that made Marvel Comics’ Silver Surfer a cult hit among the college student crowd of the period. Quick note: Does anyone find a naked silver man riding a surfboard in space a little odd?

Back to Brother Power. In order to ride the hippie counter culture buzz, Brother Power was created. Originally a mannequin abandoned in an empty tailor’s shop, the store was taken over by hippies Nick Cranston and Paul Cymbalist, who dressed up the dummy in Paul’s wet and bloodied “hip threads” to keep them from shrinking. The mannequin gets struck by lightning and Brother Power was brought to life and endowed with super power and speed. Today, Brother Power is seen more as a punchline, having been used sporadically over the years. I have no doubt he’ll get his own relaunch someday and find some sort of fame on TV.

I went back and forth on listing The Doom Patrol. The original bunch was labeled “odd” and “strange” but no stranger than any other group of characters. To me, the Doom Patrol really got odd when Grant Morrison came aboard. That’s when we got characters like Crazy Jane (sixty-four multiple personalities, each with its own set of superpowers.), Danny the Street (a living, sentient “place” that can teleport itself to any location.), The Quiz (every power you’ve never thought of), Mr. Nobody (slowly drains the sanity of everyone around him), and many more. While Ambush Bug was on the team, he was weird long before. And one of my favorites.

Seriously, seek out Ambush Bug’s first mini-series. It’s…hard to explain but highly enjoyable.

Arm-Fall-Off Boy from DC is definitely a power that makes you scratch your head. Hailing from the planet Lallor, Arm-Fall-Off Boy is exactly what his name says. He has the ability to detach his limbs with a quick pop and uses the limb to fight crime. He tried out for the Legion of Superheroes but, oddly enough, they passed. The Legion has been a constant source of heroes that are a little strange. Bouncing Boy (he can bounce), Matter-Eater Lad (can eat almost any amount of matter in virtually any form), Infectious Lass (infect others with various diseases while they themselves remain immune to its effects), Color Kid (change to the color of anything he wants), Rainbow Girl (can wield the mysterious power of the Emotional Spectrum, meaning that she has the ability to give herself unpredictable mood swings) and a host of others from the future had silly powers and gave off a weird vibe.

The Legion isn’t the only team with odd members. The X-Men have had more than their share. Take Cypher. While he seems to have finally found his purpose in current X-books, his power is the ability to understand, translate, and read all languages. Great if you’re traveling the world or talking to islands but not so cool when you’re battling a supervillain. Then you have Tag. His power? He can force people to uncontrollably run away from whatever object or person he chooses. When Tag uses his power, he feels the need to say, “You’re it.” Nice. Speaking of nice, Maggott is one odd mutant. He has a hollow digestive cavity that contain a pair of semi-sentient slugs. When they come out, they use an enzyme to digest any solid object and turn that into energy for Maggott. A few other X-folk who stand out as weird and strange are Zeitgeist ( spews acidic vomit from his mouth), Anarchist (secrete acidic sweat that allows him to project acidic blasts of energy), and Dead Girl (can’t be killed).

When it comes to odd superheroes, planets have to make an appearance. DC’s Mogo leads the way. As a member of the Green Lantern corps, Mogo makes an impression when it comes time to do a group photo. Seriously, a sentient planet has a Green Lantern ring around it and fights bad guys.

Should Squirrel Girl make the list? The ability to communicate with squirrels says, “Yes.” She’s beaten some heavy hitters in the Marvel universe but that doesn’t take away from her oddness. In fact, she may be my favorite odd character of them all. Along side The Dogwelder.

You’ve never heard of The Dogwelder? He’s the superhero who welds dogs to criminals faces. Now he takes the cake.

Ut! I can’t forget Flaming Carrot, who creator Bob Burden refers to the character as “the World’s first surrealist superhero!” I can’t go too deep in the Independent pool because we’d be here all day. 

Suffice to say I’ve named more of the big names and leave the rest up to you. Who did I miss?

That’s all the time I have. Check out our Comic Book Reviews tomorrow and see you next week!