Chris Peruzzi is a comic book superhero historian who is passionate about how today's comic book heroes are the new mythology for America.
Pushing the lameness scale.
Just when I thought it was a herculean task to find and comment about six of the lamest Marvel villains, I found something even more difficult—DC Villains. While Marvel has had more than its fair share of lame villains, I really had to check all of my resources to find them.
Seriously, I had to scrape through The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and come up with a good criteria of lameness. Now I can hear you asking, "But Chris, how did you fairly determine what's lame and what's not?"
I'm glad you asked.
It's not just the costumes.
Initially, I thought that you could just tell by looking at a completely stupid and ridiculously ludicrous costume and say, "That's really lame." I couldn't do that because there are some great characters that have completely stupid and ridiculously ludicrous costumes out there.
Case in point, The Creeper and The Question. These two inventions that came from the mind of Steve Ditko, seem, at first, to be very lame. The Creeper is a character that seems to be made of spare parts and is essentially The Joker gone good - he's one of my favorites actually. We also have The Question. Vic Sage (pun on visage meaning "face") is a journalist who has a gas that changes the color of his hair and clothes and wears a mask that gives him a blank face. Yet, I've seen so many incarnations of this character that have been so well done, I can't call him lame.
It's not just the powers, either.
There are some great comic book characters out there that have no super powers. Some of the worst, most dangerous villains are powerless.
I always think of Lex Luthor and Prometheus.
Lex Luthor is dangerous because we encounter people like him every day in the media. He's a multimillionaire who seems to be above the law. He was even president once. The thing that makes him scary is that he's brilliant and bent. Superman won't take him down because, technically, he can't prove anything that he's done.
Oh, and if you haven't heard or read anything about Prometheus, you really have to. He's a nightmare Batman. His parents were killed by police and he's waging war against justice. He's really smart. He's an unbelievably good strategist. Plus, he's got a device that can instantly download any fighter's abilities into his cerebral cortex - making him really hard to fight.
Does he have a lame costume? Yeah, he kinda does.
However, a man like that took out the Justice League BY HIMSELF.
It's a combination of both.
Yup, a bad costume with bad powers under a really stupid premise or rationale gets my vote on lameness.
I started doing my research into DC characters and thought I'd have enough time to do another hub on Zombie Preparedness. No such luck. I jotted down no less than thirty candidates for this article and I swear to you, making the cut was hard work.
If I didn't actually see the character's entry in my DC Comics Encyclopedia or in my DC Comics Who's Who, then I saw something that reminded me of some characters that were just unbelievably lame.
Like these guys...
Really Lame DC Villains
- Egg Fu—Giant Egg Villain Mastermind
- The Outsider—Butler of Doom
- Captain Stingeree & Cavalier—Modern Swashbucklers of Crime
- Desaad—Bastard for Darkseid
- Amos Fortune—A Lucky Guy
- Rag Doll—He Bends
1. Egg Fu—Giant Egg Villain Mastermind
You think I'm kidding, don't you? No, really, I'm not.
Egg Fu was an oriental criminal mastermind who originally fought Wonder Woman. He manages to temporarily kill both Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor with an explosive device. That made him deadly. He's defeated by the amazon princess but his brother "Egg Fu the Fifth" manages to capture her again. Egg Fu 5 is defeated by Wonder Woman when he makes her do her "Bracelet Clashing Dance" and cracks his shell.
He also has a robot twin called "Doctor Yes" (a play at James Bond villain Doctor No) who fights the Metal Men. He's successful at making the Metal Men destroy themselves rather than say something unpatriotic.
Sample dialogue - "When the Amelicans see how these gleat heroes of theirs have turned tlaitors-- they will doubt anyone's stlength to lesist us!"
He's insanely lame.
Not only is his dialogue written as if it came from a bad Charlie Chan movie, but his big weapon is that he whips people with his mustache.
2. The Outsider—Butler of Doom
I've been writing a lot of articles about zombie warfare preparedness. Why? Because zombie warfare and The Walking Dead are great to talk about. I thought I loved to talk about the undead and why they're evil.
Until I remembered The Outsider.
The Outsider is a Batman Villain who was a poor unfortunate that was brought back from the dead through unknown science. That science changed that person into an freak with psionic powers, chalky white skin, and a hatred for Batman. This character called himself the Outsider because he considered himself "outside of humanity". This character attacks Batman and Robin with some outrageous schemes for a few months with limited success.
Okay, not only did he look like a zombie with psoriasis but, do you know who the Outsider actually was? Alfred Pennyworth.
Yup, DC authors actually consciously decided to kill Alfred, one of their most beloved stalwart characters, and bring him back as a zombie villain - who hates Batman.
WHAT THE @#%* WERE THEY THINKING?!!
Here's another thing. DC did this back in 1968, when the Adam West series was on. As part of this plot line, they introduced Dick Grayson's Aunt Harriett into the Wayne household. Bad enough she was in the show.
3. Captain Stingeree & Cavalier—Modern Swashbucklers of Crime
Sorry, these two are a set.
Let's start with Captain Stingaree. His motivation for becoming a villain essentially came from being born a one of quadruplets and was the black sheep of the set. He started committing crimes in Central City and was arrested and did time with Captain Cold. After he got out, he started a pirate bar in the motif of a pirate ship. This started him on his life of crime using swordsmanship and a pirate theme to uncover Batman's secret identity. Batman and the Flash take him in.
The Cavalier, on the other hand, decided that he just wanted things that he couldn't buy. Originally a millionaire, he wanted to make his own private museum. After losing his money, he decided that he'd steal what he wanted by dressing up as a musketeer and fighting Batman with a sword.
Okay both separate, they're pretty lame. However, the geniuses at DC had to push the envelope by MAKING THEM A COUPLE. This takes the expression gay blades to a new level.
Now, I'm a pretty progressive guy. I'm a huge opponent against DADT, but even I can't help but think how stupid that concept is. I mean, they spend their days committing crimes, come home to the lair, and, I don't know, do sword puns.
4. Desaad—Bastard for Darkseid
I've been reading comic books for over forty years and still can't figure out the staying power of a character like Desaad.
Not only can't I figure out how he finagled his way into Darkseid's elite, but I can't figure out why Darkseid lets him live. He has no powers. He's a genius but not really a strategist on the level of Prometheus. He's immortal (as all the New Gods are). But, all in all, he's just really a sadistic ass who's ambitious. He's like every butt kissing idiot that we see in the business world today.
Jack Kirby came up with his origin. Essentially, he started as a kid who was told that his cat killed his bird and he buries his cat alive. Then he finds out he was lied to and when the bird returns, he kills the bird.
WHO DOES THAT?
Anyway, what we know about Desaad is that he's a sadist and a coward. We know people like this and we usually make ourselves happy by just beating them senseless. DC and Jack Kirby made him a power player of a supervillain.
5. Amos Fortune—A Lucky Guy
I'd seen an episode of Red Dwarf where scientists experimented and found that there were viruses that were beneficial to man without realizing they were viruses. The premise was the luck was a virus and that they'd been able to isolate it. An injection of good luck would make you the "luckiest man alive".
It's funny on British television.
Meet Amos Fortune a man who thinks that luck runs in his glands. Apparently everyone has "luck glands". They secrete good luck and bad luck. His big thing was that he tried (with the Royal Flush Gang - which he founded) to remove the luck of the Justice League. Then he came up with the Luck League, a group that could mimic the JLA.
So, in essence, we have a villain who is "lucky." He's a gambler and a scientist and his goal is to be really, really, lucky. He's even been known to use his "stim-o-luck" devices to make more luck.
Well, apparently his luck ran out when he received a call from the wife of some guy he'd killed a few years ago. When he went to check it out, the woman shot him in the face.
Guess it wasn't his lucky day.
6. Rag Doll—He Bends
How do you define yourself as having a superpower. I think Stan Lee has a show about this. He goes around the world looking for people who have extraordinary abilities.
Rag Doll... well, he bends.
He's a contortionist. And somehow, in his mind, he thinks that's enough to make him evil and successfully pull off crimes. He's actually triple jointed. His big plan for thefts is to impersonate a toy, get smuggled into a store or factory as a giant rag doll. Then when everyone goes home, he robs the place.
Not for nothing, I don't think that plan has a long shelf life or a big pay off.
However, his reputation in the underworld came when he could be delivered to heiresses as a large toy. Then he could rob the heiress. Of course, most people would think, "Where's my money and my giant almost man sized doll?" I don't think someone would think, "I'm going to steal a large man sized doll."
Either way, I think the writers were scraping the bottom of the barrel on this one.
This was a hard one. But before I close this one out, I need to make some honorable mentions. Their lameness can't go unacknowledged.
Runners up are:
- The Clock King
- The Cluemaster
- The Gambler
- Gorgeous Gilly
- Granny Goodness
- The Joker's Daughter (who is actually Two Face's Daughter)
- The Mad Hatter
- Patchwork Man
- The Prankster
I don't know where these ideas come from. All I know is that some people are very bold for presenting them. I guess it falls under the theory that if you throw enough crap against a wall, some of it has to stick.
© 2012 Christopher Peruzzi
nuffsaidstan on April 03, 2013:
" In a pre-crisis universe, the Color Kid could have given Green Lantern a hard time by changing a gun to yellow." Hey good point!
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on April 02, 2013:
The Legion of Substitute Heroes. The not-quite-ready-for-prime-time legionnaires. I do take some comfort that Polar Boy actually graduated to real legionnaire status. But the other guys? Well...
I think about 30 years ago there was a pretty funny Legion of Sub Heroes story involving a time displaced Ambush Bug, Superman, and the Sub Legion. Pretty funny, actually. Ambush Bug encounters Infectia Lass and asks what she does.
"I make people sick." Never a good line from anyone.
Meanwhile Stone Boy makes a lunge off of a building to catch AB and misses. He, of course, turns to stone to avoid injury and gets stuck halfway into the ground with the Color Kid and the Chlorophyll Kid wondering how to get him out of the hole.
While heroes like the Substitute Legion and the Inferior Five are cause for laughs (as well as terminal lameness at times), it all depends on how their used. In a pre-crisis universe, the Color Kid could have given Green Lantern a hard time by changing a gun to yellow.
Infectia Lass was able to change Matter Eater Lad female for a temporary time with some kind of gender bending virus for an undercover mission. Powers are interesting when they are put to an applicable use.
However, there was no excuse for Double Header. He was just sad.
nuffsaidstan on April 02, 2013:
Not villains i know but the Legion of Substitute Heroes always made me laugh, who was that one, the Color Kid? He could change the color of an object WOW !
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on July 24, 2012:
I've had people defend DeSaad but there is no defending Egg Fu. That character is wrong on so many levels.
It's good that most people don't know about the Inferior Five.
Eric Mikols from New England on July 24, 2012:
Wow. Egg Fu. That's bad. I would love to see a crossover between Marvel and DC where their lamest villains go after one another.
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on July 23, 2012:
A lot of this is the "Let's throw a hundred things at the wall and see what sticks." Don't think for a second that a lot of these writers were already geniuses and they just had a bad day.
Mr Tindle on July 23, 2012:
This was a neat article. I think your right, it's amazing to think that some of these characters were even approved to be published in a big name comic book company like DC. But it's also interesting to think of ways to improve on their lame concepts. Voted up.
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on July 19, 2012:
Well, everyone has their favorites...
1) Rag Doll, lots of potential, but given the time he was written (Golden Age), they didn't do him justice. It happens. My guilty pleasure growing up was Bat-Mite.
2) I hate mixing publishers in the same article but... Yeah, Kitty Pryde came a long way but not at the point where you suggested. I think she blossomed with Excalibur. Granted, her character was developing in the Claremont years (when Kitty found Lockheed on the Brood planet and everyone almost died because they had a nasty little Brood growing inside them). I took Kitty to be the spunky little mascot used to balance Wolverine (that role was later taken by Jubilee).
3) Personally, it's hard to find them. It's easy to name a few, however, there is always some genius writer that looks at them at a different angle. However, if you're asking - Crazy Quilt, Maxie Zeus, and Kryptonite Man. Crazy Quilt can only see bright colors so he fights the one hero in the DC universe that wears mostly black (Batman). Maxie Zeus is just hopeless. He's the rethinking of the old Batman (Adam West Show) villain of King Tutt. He's a deluded idiot that even Kevin Smith couldn't save. And Kryptonite Man - Well, there's only one guy who'd have problems with him. He's kind of limited outside of Metropolis.
goblin63 on July 19, 2012:
Yeah the Rag Doll in Villains United and Secret Six was the son of the original and a great character. James Robinson did some good character work with the original in his Starman series. I must be sounding like Rag Doll's greatest fan here....
Kitty Pryde really did step up a level in that Wolverine story, however she really became a great character when she got her own pet space dragon!
Any other characters like Brother Love that you think couldn't be repaired?
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on July 19, 2012:
I loved Villains United. It was a modern day reinvention of The Secret Six - complete with Mockingbird. The original version had the angle that Mockingbird was secretly one of them who was lying.
However, correct me if I'm wrong, wasn't the Rag Doll in that storyline the son of the Golden Age Rag Doll? The new version was great when you combined the new Rag Doll needing treatments for his surgery (by Mockingbird) combined with a fighting style that used his uber contortionist abilities (in combination with his parademon partner).
There is definitely that angle. Taking a lame character and making them awesome. For example, let's take the character of Marvel's Kitty Pryde. Her power was to become intangible. Originally, she was used to 1) walk through walls 2) walk on air and 3) disrupt electrical systems. That's kind of it.
HOWEVER, when you take the story of the limited series of Kitty Pryde and Wolverine where she is possessed by the ninja demon, Ogun, when you put a sword in her hand, she's the deadliest thing going. Why? She can cut you. You can't cut her. In a sword fight, that's a game changer.
The problem I have with lame characters is when they are made lame and kept lame. Even with the help of Neil Gaiman for Brother Love, it's still a lame character. He became a "doll elemental" he can possess statues. Granted, the character is less lame... but he's still lame.
goblin63 on July 19, 2012:
Dominique L makes a great point above some lame characters have been made truly great in the hands of the right person.
cperuzzi, I would propose adding Ragdoll to your list of lame characters who became awesome. Gail Simone's work on the character in Villain's United and Secret Six turned him into a truly interesting and creepy villain. Well worth checking out!
One Eyed Dragon on June 19, 2012:
Well, again, that's pretty much what he gets- he serves Darkseid, and that comes with the territory. Daily ass-kicking only really makes him worse.
All those other ones I can understand, but Desaad...no, he doesn't belong on this list. Neither does Granny Goodness or the other Apokoliptian gods (or Mad Hatter, but that's another matter). They were intended to be that despicable and their master goes out of his way to make them that despicable, and they are certainly very dangerous.
If they appear to be lame, that's just another hazard of serving Darkseid- the Joker would seem lame if he served him long enough. Darkseid's general thing is to make everyone other villain look pathetic by comparison. Its hard to gauge how good a villain Desaad could be since Darkseid overshadows his entire life story.
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on June 19, 2012:
I hear what you're saying. However, people like that should be getting an ass kicking like it was a daily vitamin.
One Eyed Dragon on June 18, 2012:
Darkseid doesn't let Desaad live- he has killed him several times. Darkseid has the power to resurrect his minions. He brings him back because he's useful- and because Darkseid is a sadist as well, and likes surrounding himself with people who fear him, and who hate him but are powerless to do anything about it.
Most of Darkseid's top minions have similar personalities to Desaad- cowardly, backstabbing, sychophantic ass-kissers. Desaad might be the worst, but he isn't unusual, and in fairness he has known Darkseid the longest and since he was a boy and, well, that can't be good for your mental health. In fact, Desaad probably would have been a totally different kind of person had he never knew him.
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on April 04, 2012:
You are absolutely right, Dominique. When I get around to it, I will write a hub about characters who started lame but became interesting. The Joker is definitely one of those characters.
Dominique L from Oregon on April 04, 2012:
A nice finish to the series! But I will say this in the subject of The Mad Hatter. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth. A dumb concept can work in the right hands. Especially since, if you think about it, The Joker in his original 30's form was a pretty dumb concept too, and he didn't really become cool until the 70's.