14 Most Poorly Conceived Comic Characters
Some comic book heroes are crafted with love and attention, with origins that make sense and characterization that is artful and thoughtfully conceived. Others? Not so much. Some due to outright bigotry, others outdated views on the world, or maybe just that Stan Lee had hit the sauce a bit early that day, in the rush to get interesting characters out the door, many horrible ones are created, too. These 14 comic book characters are all face-palmingly awful examples of a writer’s craft. Some were redeemed by later actions, but many remain as a perfect example of how to make a crappy character.
14. Etta Candy
Golden Age Wonder Woman was all kinds of weird for a bunch of reasons, notably because it was written by a polyamorist bondage-enthusiast who invented the lie-detector, and reading the old issues is pretty much constant fetish fuel. But thats besides the point, as it also gave us Etta Candy, daughter of Hard and Sugar Candy, who didnt need a man, as long as she had access to sweets. Thats right, she was an obese stereotype who palled around with Wonder Woman, using every excuse to get at more sugar. She ran around yelling woo woo! all the time, and was pretty much a constant fat joke. Hilarious! Luckily, she was later developed into an actual character, with actual motivations and depth. Yeah, she struggled with her weight, but was also a kickass secret agent.
13. Rawhide Kid
In 2003, Marvel put out a miniseries about cowboy hero the Rawhide Kid, and they put a gay spin on the character. Except, instead of being in any way shape or form a tasteful or even well-written story about a gay gunman in the old west, they just wrote him as the biggest, flamingest, gay stereotype they could. Its like the only gay people they had for reference were Jack from Will & Grace and Nathan Lane in the Bird Cage. Snarky fashion comments, double entendres, and plenty of nudity. It was campy, stupid, and only managed to offend. Somehow, Marvel then decided in 2010 to release another miniseries about the character, which only managed to be even worse.
12. Power Girl
Power Girl is actually a great hero, and shes had a fantastic couple of years under a number of good artist/writer teams. That doesnt make up for the fact that she exists as some sort of weird in-between character, whose background has been altered so many times that no one really knows who or what she is. She was originally Supermans cousin from the Golden Age, but then that whole universe was collapsed, and she survived, making her a refugee from a parallel dimension. Then it was changed that she was the granddaughter of an Atlantean sorcerer, then it was changed back, then the other universe was sort of brought back, but not really. Yeah, no one is really keeping track. These days she mostly just wanders around and punches stuff, and thats just fine.
Vibe was part of the short-lived Justice League: Detroit under Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. Why was Aquaman in Detroit, thousands of miles from the ocean? I dont know. Vibe is what happens when someone watches Breakin and thinks that comic characters need to be like that. Hes a Puerto Rican gangleader and breakdancer, who speaks with an incredibly stereotypical street accent, and has sonic based powers. And an incredibly stupid shirt. Yup, hes a superpowered break dancer. You know that if hed been created ten years later, he would have roller bladed, and said radical! a lot. Luckily, Vibe had the distinct pleasure of being the first JLAer to get killed in combat.
Oh, 40s era racism, will you ever stop being funny? This was DC comics idea of a Chinese character, circa 1941. The Blackhawks were an organization of flying aces, off fighting the Nazis in uniforms that look suspiciously German and fetishy. Except Chop-Chop, the camp cook. Short, yellow skinned, fat, buck-toothed, wearing stereotypical coolie outfits, and sporting a top knot, Chop-Chop was the slapstick sidekick, with a fondness of cleavers, and the catchphrase “Chop-Chop been double-clossed!” Oh yeah, thats a whole pile of offensive right there. Even though there were some attempts to modernize the character, he just went from fumbling cook to martial arts master, but still wore the same horrible getup. It wasnt until the early 80s that they finally copped to the racism, and gave him a proper Blackhawks uniform, and made him part of the team.
9. Ulysses S. Archer and Razorback
There was a time in the 80s, when CB radios were all the rage, and somehow trucking was seen as cool. As in, driving for days running no nothing but speed pills, caffeine, and truck-stop blowjobs. Falsifying records, murdering hookers, running people off the road. Truckers. Not one but two trucker characters were made by Marvel: Ulysses Solomon Archer (USA, geddit?) had a computer in his brain that could pick up CB radio waves, and a tricked out truck. Razorback had the mutant ability to pilot any craft, regardless of what it was, and a sweet boar themed outfit. So naturally, they both went into space to become space truckers! Man, the kids will definitely buy that, right? Now, instead of just boring drives across the country, you get boring rides across millions of light years of empty space! Woohoo!
Comics and cartoons are alike as a medium, but often have major differences in execution. The wacky stylings of Tom & Jerry and Bugs Bunny dont really carry over to hero comics, which at least like to have a veneer of reality, if only that people look vaguely normal. Slapstick was an attempt to bridge the divide, taking a stereotypical cartoon character and dropping him into the Marvel universe. However, they needed to explain it someway, so hes a young man who was oddly stretched across thousands of dimensions, and is now composed of electroplasm that allows him to change shape a bit, and never get hurt. He also has an extra-dimensionally sub-spacial storage pocket, just so that they can make hammerspace gags. Slapstick never really gelled with the rest of the universe, and reading his appearances, you cant help but think that he doesnt make sense, even within the completely unbelievable world of comics.
Okay, take every stupid stereotype you can about a gay person. Now, take every horrible Latino stereotype. Mix em all up in a pot, and you get Extrao, which is Spanish for strange, or even queer. He wore a flamboyant outfit with a giant purple cloak, extravagant hair, a huge earring in one ear, and had a habit of referring to himself as auntie. A stage magician before getting his powers, the only thing that could have been more stereotypical would be if he were a super-powered Broadway costume designer. In one issue, he fought a villain calledGod, I cant believe Im actually writing thisHemo-Goblin, the AIDS Vampire. After which he revealed he was HIV+. Thats right, much like all gay people, he inevitably had HIV/AIDS.
A super-hero, with the power of three regular men! Wait, what? They let this guy on the Avengers? The same Avengers with people who have the power to reshape reality, smash mountains, craft amazing suits of armor, and violate the fundamental laws of the universe? A guy who is as strong, fast and tough as three regular people? Ooh, wait, he can heal wounds three times as fast! Thats…thats really lame. It turns out he was placed in the Avengers by an insidious cult…yadda yadda yadda….3-D Man…yadda yadda yadda…Skrulls, whatever. Im sorry, even chilling with the awesome Agents of ATLAS cant make Triathlon anything other than just plain boring.
Hourman is a hero, who when he takes a pill he made called Miraclo, he gets super strength and vitality for an hour. Thats right, he takes amphetamines, or possibly PCP. Every time he takes this magic pill, he gets super high, and fights crime for an hour. Look, we know a lot of heroes have similarly weird origins hell, Captain America is pretty much an advertisement for steroids being the most awesome thing ever, but none were quite so blatant as Hourman. DC attempted to tweak the character by making the pills he took addictive. Thats right, they took a story about a role model who does drugs for super powers, and made it EVEN MORE LIKE TAKING DRUGS! Hell of a job there, DC, no way thats sketchy!
4. Tyroc from the Legion of Superheroes
Comic books havent always been the most open-minded and accepting of mediums, and racism within the industry was a major problem. Some of the early attempts at making black heroes were…unintentionally offensive, as writers had a tendency to give the characters hackneyed street slang and universal anger issues. That said, few were as outright racist as the Legion of Superheroes character Tyroc. The Legion takes place in the 31st century, yet for some reason among all the aliens and people, there were no black humans. This was explained…gah…that all the black people had sequestered themselves on a magical island that only appeared every 200 years, because they hated white people. Thats right, they were all racial separatists. Tyroc was an angry black man with sonic based powers. Thats right, he was a LOUD angry black guy. With a terrifyingly pimp-tastic costume. Pretty much everyone involved in the title, even back in the 70s knew it was a horrible idea, yet they still went through with it.
3. Adam X, the X-Treme
Youll be hard pressed to find a character more emblematic of what was wrong with comics in the 90s than Adam X, The X-Treme. He perfectly embodied the stupidity associated with comics at that point, and the constant attempts to be cool at the cost of good…well…everything. Hell, just look at his name. It wasnt enough for him to be called Adam X, they had to add even more Xs, and spell extreme as X-Treme! Radical! And he wears a backwards cap! And has whiteboy dreads! And a horrible goatee! Bodacious! And his power is that he can set your blood on fire, but only if youre already cut! So he straps knives to his costume and runs around stabbing people. There simply arent enough words to describe what a shamelessly cash-grabbing, relentlessly useless character he was, who has now been all but forgotten. Thank Dormammu.
2. Wild Dog
Holy crap was Wild Dog stupid. He was meant to be a sort of Punisher-esque vigilante made by DC, who fought against terrorists in the deadly Quad Cities area of the Midwest. Ex-football player, ex-marine, fell in love with a gangsters daughter at night classes who got killed and left him millions, and then attempted to fight crime in a pickup truck while wearing a hockey mask and a football jersey. He had guns and tasers in his gloves, and he shot terrorists. Thats right, terrorists in Illinois, that well known target of international killers. There is simply know way you can look at him and think thats a credible vigilante! At least the Punisher has a badass outfit and some personal tragedy and gravitas that we can actually believe in, Wild Dog just lost his gangsters moll, and started dressing up like he fell in a costume chest. To be fair, if you asked your typical Midwest redneck to put together a hero costume, camo pants, football jersey and hockey mask is probably what theyd throw together.
1. NFL Superpro
Youd have to be a pretty bad hero to make it number one on this list, huh? Let me introduce you to NFL Superpro, a combined effort of NFL and Marvel in making the worst comic possible. Writer Fabian Nicieza has admitted he was only in it for the free NFL tickets he got, and the characters series is so utterly clichd that it boggles the mind. NFL player injures leg saving kids, becomes a sports reporter, and then covers a scientist superfan who made an indestructible super-powered NFL uniform, which the hero naturally starts wearing. While were on the subject, how many scientists give a rats ass about football? So this schmuck lucks into a super-suit, and goes around beating up crooks while flashing the NFL logo everywhere, and making bad football puns. Somehow this dreck lasted 12 godawful issues, plus a Superbowl special. In fact, its so notoriously bad that its become a cult favorite, purely based on how utterly crap it is.