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DC's Top 10 Strangest Superheroes

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Ambush Bug, foiled by a flashlight

Ambush Bug, foiled by a flashlight

The Weirdest, Most Unique DC Supeheroes Ever!

Ack! My only weakness! Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird. It's a plane. It's ... it's ... just what is it?

I don't know. You tell me. For the most part, we're all enamored by that heroic cape shooting across the sky and emphatically loyal to the blazing streak whizzing through our city streets. But what happens when the Justice League is out running errands? What's a person supposed to do when evil attempts to take over the world?

Here are some of the weirdest superheroes ever pulled together to form the DC comic book universe. These aren't your average do-gooders; some of them are downright scary and weird. And what's worse, they have their own problems; some of the most unique, awkward drawbacks which will have you wondering why they're superheroes at all!

Think Superman belongs here? Batman? Shoot, they're normal compared to some of the motley assorted good guys contained on this list. At least they can fit into society. So, without further ado, let's begin!

DC's Strangest Superheroes

10. Negative Man

9. Ragman

8. Matter Eater Lad

7. Brother Power the Geek

6. Deadman

5. The Question

4. Firestorm

3. Danny the Street

2. Mogo, The Living Planet

1. Ambush Bug

Larry Trainor, The Negative Man, the 60-second superhero

Larry Trainor, The Negative Man, the 60-second superhero

10. Negative Man

Based on their origins, the members of The Doom Patrol are bound to be very unique. Rounding out as one of their founding members, Larry Trainor, a test pilot venturing out in an experimental aircraft, fully exceeds their criteria, becoming one of the strangest superheroes ever to appear in the DC universe.

Exposed to a radioactive field during his flight, Larry's body was burned beyond recognition, forcing him to exist in a living, mummified state with bandages covering his scarred body. But just because Larry now radiates a negatively-charged radiation, that's not why he's so weird.

Larry is also known as Negative Man, with the ability to project a being of pure energy from his body. Capable of passing through solid matter or causing it to explode, this ephemeral creature also moves super fast, appearing in the shape of humanoid-like dark matter covered with glowing light. Think that's strange? That's nothing.

What really makes Negative Man so incredibly different, so vastly rare in the superhero world, is that his power only works for one minute! That's right; if he uses the energy being for more than 60 seconds, it will kill him. Furthermore, while this alien form is active, Larry's real body goes limp and unconscious, leaving it completely vulnerable on the battlefield. (Fortunately, by staying with the Doom Patrol, Larry's made good friends with Robotman, who often helps out.)

Negative Man Crawls From the Wreckage: The Next Thrilling Chapter of The Doom Patrol.

The Doom Patrol is one of the strangest assortments of superheroes to exist. Conceptualized by the benevolent intentions of Dr. Niles Caulder (Nickname: Chief), a brilliant wheelchair-bound scientist (whom many believed mad), the world was combed for unique, ostracized individuals-those with special talents but still unwanted in their own societies. To those members, he formed a special operative team known as The Doom Patrol. Their mission was simple: in a world that shuns them, serve good to the death.

Rory Regan, aka Ragman, the evil-absorbing superhero

Rory Regan, aka Ragman, the evil-absorbing superhero

9. Ragman

Most superheroes have to go out on the hunt, looking for evil and bad guys to prove their loyalty to justice. It sounds typical, but that's not entirely true when it comes to Rory Regan, a down-to-earth Good Samaritan. In his case, finding evil is his heritage.

Not just poor, Rory and his father were poverty-stricken, purchasing used goods from the underprivileged while attempting to resell them at his shop, Rags'n'Tatters. But that all took a mysterious, supernatural turn once a local group of drug dealers decided to take over. Using their wealth and brute resources, Rory's father was killed while he was heavily wounded and kicked out into the street. Attempting to recover his home, Rory chanced upon his father's legacy, some rags hidden away behind the store.

Dressing him in their magic, Rory was transformed into Ragman, the next champion of Gotham City and one of DC's strangest superheroes. What makes his powers so unique is that the suit is linked to the magic of the Jewish Golem legend, based on truth and justice. Each patch of mismatched clothing contains an unrepentant soul, filling Ragman with greater strength and power. Drawn to evil, he battles them with their own power, making each victory a part of his own soul-chilling arsenal.

Spotlight on Ragman: His 1991 Classic Issues

Rebooted in the 90s, Ragman received his own mini-series, complete with origin and a compelling plot. Now you can follow Rory Regan and see why he's one of the strangest DC superheroes of all time.

Tenzil Kem, Matter Eater Lad, the eating disorder superhero

Tenzil Kem, Matter Eater Lad, the eating disorder superhero

8. Matter Eater Lad

Every once in a while, we hit a moment, wondering what where the publishers thinking. How's this hero going to fit in? Can we make him useful in the story? Well, that's exactly the problem that came up when the Legion of Super-Heroes were inducting members on their roster back in Adventure Comics #303 (1962). More specifically, that's what came to pass when they were introduced to Tenzil Kem, the superhero of the planet Bismoll, also known as Matter Eater Lad.

It's not that Matter Eater Lad is powerless or worthless. Sure, he has the astounding ability to bite through, digest, and metabolize any substance (of course, there's no telling how his powers would work against adamantium), but how do you fit such a unique ability into a fight? If someone throws a punch, does he slurp the villain's fist?

And if you think about it, there are a whole slew of issues to contend with when you're only around to chomp your way through bad guys (although he did eat a weapon of mass destruction once). For example, how does he get rid of the waste?

That's probably why you rarely see Tenzil nowadays; after all, someone was eventually going to have to fit him with an extra-strength diaper. On the positive side, Matter Eater Lad must have understood his difficulties. Eventually, he returned to his people and became a politician.

Brother Power the Geek, the mannequin-hippie superhero

Brother Power the Geek, the mannequin-hippie superhero

7. Brother Power the Geek

Conceptualized by the hippie movement in the 60s, artist, and writer Joe Simon brought one of the weirdest characters ever to our attention - but only for a moment. That's because Brother Power the Geek (#1 Oct 1968) lasted for only 2 issues.

It was just too strange, too ... crazy, for a mannequin to be brought to life with a bolt of lightning and then be endowed with super strength and speed. Oddly enough, though, that's just what happened. Wearing his "peaceful" t-shirt and shabby clothing, Brother Power embarked, a super-powered doll determined to make things right.

Of course, that's not even the weirdest part of Brother Power's story. This unfortunate soul actually ended up running for Congress but ran into problems with the government and left. The last anybody saw him back then was when Governor Ronald Reagan had him shot into space.

Strangely, though, he came back; and there have been some attempts at DC to bring Brother Power the Geek around some more. We're still not sure why, but there was even a rumor that he might be later enlisted as a Green Lantern. In the end, it was only manageable through legendary author/writer Neil Gaiman; in his vision, Brother Power was a simulacrum elemental, having a special connection with all things mannequin, doll, statues, etc.

Meet Joe Simon—In an Illustrated Autobiography

I bet many of you didn't know that Joe Simon came up with many other superheroes and villains. Brother Power the Geek may not have done so well, but what do you think about ... Captain America?

Boston Brand, aka Deadman, the dead superhero

Boston Brand, aka Deadman, the dead superhero

6. Deadman

Ok: "Pop Quiz" time!

What's the one thing that almost every superhero has in common? I'm talking about 99.99999 percent of the champions in Metropolis, Gotham, or Star City; what's their most average characteristic?

Answer: They ... are ... alive! Yep, it might have escaped your observation, but it's no small wonder that you have to be alive to "save the day" or "get the girl." You're not going to get much done if you're lying in a grave or wandering about as a non-corporeal ghost.

Or can you? That's why it's now time to introduce you to one of the rarest super do-gooders existing in the DC universe. His name is Boston Brand, he's got an attitude, and he most definitely fits into that tiny, itty bitty percentile of superheroes. And that's because Boston, aka Deadman, is clearly dead.

That's not even the strangest part of his story. What really makes Deadman so unique is that he can't interact with the physical world; no one can see, hear, or touch him. Only by using his powers of possession is he able to speak to others.

Interview With a Deadman—Courtesy of Deadman, Vol. 1

If you're interested in learning more about Deadman, DC Comics has Deadman, Vol. 1 available for purchase. You can pick it up online or at most bookstores.

Vic Sage, The Question—the annoyingly persistent superhero

Vic Sage, The Question—the annoyingly persistent superhero

5. The Question

When stepping into the role of a superhero, people like to speculate on the qualities that separate them from normal people. For example, we already know that Superman qualifies because he has super strength, invulnerability, flashy heat vision, and so forth; The Flash fits the mold because he can run faster than time. And in most cases, that's how we typically define super-people by the incredible powers they have.

But what if all those speculators were wrong? What if the "power" that makes someone a superhero is persistence and cleverly-implemented determination? Would that be enough?

Well, if you're not sure, ask Charles Victor Szasz, an investigative journalist who adopted the alias, Victor Sage. Acquiring a strange membrane-textured mask (made of Pseudoderm), he became The Question, a slightly off-kilter superhero focused on finding the truth and exposing evil and secret plots. Since his inception at the hands of Steve Ditko, this low-key, philosophical, and yet, sometimes deranged crimefighter has proven that there's more to superheroism than fancy gadgets or ray blasts.

Historically, The Question hasn't been given as much of a chance to show off his strangeness; Vic eventually died of lung cancer and passed his legacy on to female ex-cop Renee Montoya. And although Renee carries the Question-trademarked eastern philosophy of objectivism, martial arts training, and determined cunning to beat off super-villains, she's never really matched the fan following of her mentor. After all, most of us thought he was insane.

Either way, The Question has been, and will always be, one of DC's strangest and most unique superheroes.

Answer the question! And Buy His Collectible Action Figure

Not surprisingly, it's difficult to catch up with The Question. As previously stated, the recent version is now a female, leaving poor Vic in the ground. That's OK, though; I found a version in The Justice League Unlimited series. Actually, this is one of my favorites, portraying The Question in a role that adds great flavor to his superhero concept. I highly recommend this animated series to anyone; it's got lots of DC superheroes and does a great job with plots and action.

Firestorm, The Nuclear Man—the transmuting superhero (with numerous identities)

Firestorm, The Nuclear Man—the transmuting superhero (with numerous identities)

4. Firestorm

Okay. Let’s talk about secret identities. Most superheroes have them. Batman has Bruce Wayne, Superman has Clark Kent, and even Wonder Woman sometimes goes by the alias of Diana Prince (that’s another strange story for another day). But have you ever been introduced to Firestorm, The Nuclear Man? Well, if you’re a fan, then you know where this is going.

First appearing in Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #1, back in 1978, we were witness to one of the first superheroes, made up of two people. Somehow, during a nuclear explosion, the Firestorm matrix had been created, bonding teenager Ronnie Raymond and scientist Martin Stein. With Ronnie at the helm and Stein as a guiding consciousness, a new superhero was born with the ability to transmute the atomic composition of objects.

There was only one drawback, though; neither could become Firestorm without the other. And surprisingly, later on in Firestorm’s career, it turned out that neither of them was needed.

That’s right. Firestorm, while he has strange powers all by himself, has actually undergone some of the weirdest hybridizations ever. First, we had the original Raymond/Stein identity. Later, Raymond joined Mikhail Arkadin but somehow stayed controlled by the comatose mind of Stein. Later still, Senator Lorraine Reilly jumps in. Even later, a friend Jason Rusch takes over. And so on, even including a time when pal Mick Wong and his girlfriend temporarily move in.

Basically, there have been three incarnations of Firestorm. As you can see, there have, at least, been lots of stand-ins. And even as strange as Firestorm’s identity problem is, what’s more bizarre for this flaming-haired hero is when he doesn’t even know what his powers can do.

The Firestorm Classic Action Figure—Firestorm by Mattel

Firestorm's original costume comes from back in the late '70s when DC had their "explosion" of new titles. Lately, you'll notice that FIrestorm's colors are either muted or have some definition changes.

Danny The Street, the living street superhero

Danny The Street, the living street superhero

3. Danny the Street

Over the history of DC Comics, you may have seen some pretty strange characters. Swamp-Thing? Sure, he's made of vegetation, sticks, and plant matter. Metamorpho? Yep, he can form himself into chemical compounds and substances. They're all pretty strange. But not even they compare to the awesome bizarreness of Danny The Street. He puts them to shame.

Let's set the record straight: Danny The Street is actually a street. They don't just call him Danny The Street; he's made of pavement, buildings and stores, lampposts, trashcans, and whatever else you'd find on a typical road. But he has undergone some changes (Once he got so powerful, he became Danny The World, although later he was deconstructed and became Danny The Brick).

No one really knows when Danny's humble beginning started. We first saw him in Doom Patrol, vol.2 #35, when the men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. tried to hunt him down. It turns out that Danny has a very special power: besides being a street, he can transport people across great distances to unique locations (this eventually made him HQ for The Doom Patrol). And since Danny likes to travel, he knows about lots of interesting places.

Amazing, right? Well, that's not all. If you thought a street-turned-superhero wasn't enough, Danny, it turns out, is also a transvestite; more than likely, that's why he has a milk vending machine outside his police station and a pink awning over his gun store.

Mogo, The Living Planet

Mogo, The Living Planet

2. Mogo, The Living Planet

Most superheroes are notorious for coming to the rescue. It's typically part of the job; rescuing the innocent bystander, foiling the bank heist, usurping the evil villain's diabolical plot. But guess what? That's not how it works for Mogo, one of DC's most unique, independent superheroes. And that's because he, she, or it is a living planet.

Still, Mogo isn't just a living planet. Heck, that wouldn't be strange enough for creators Allan Moore and David Gibbons. He's also the legendary Green Lantern, gifted with all their powers and responsible for a great deal of their training and recreation. (Typical Green Lantern vacations end up on Mogo.) While his atmosphere can appear generalized, at a moment's notice, Mogo's equatorial center will sprout emerald foliage in the Green Lantern pattern.

While loyal to the Green Lantern Corp., most members understand that "Mogo doesn't socialize"; that's been a theme surrounding him since he was first introduced in Green Lantern vol. 2 #188. Now we've learned that isn't entirely true. Mogo does like to "hang out." It's just that his planet-sized gravity field causes utter chaos when he visits.

When it comes to enemies, it's understandable that Mogo has few. Often enough, they don't know what they're fighting. Once upon a time, an alien hunter tried to track down Mogo but ended up living on his surface clueless. In another account, an alien polluting race settled on Mogo, abusing his resources. Not a problem, though, when you're Mogo, the planetary Green Lantern; he just hounded them with bad weather until they left.

Irwin Schwab, The Ambush Bug—the power of super-insanity

Irwin Schwab, The Ambush Bug—the power of super-insanity

1. Ambush Bug

One superhero stands above all the rest when it comes to weirdness, and not just because he's mentally unbalanced. Heck, he might not even be crazy; it may be you! But see, that's the level of bizarre dementia you're dealing with once you pick up a comic book with superhero Irwin Schwab, infamously known as the teleporting Ambush Bug, created by Keith Giffen.

Appearing first in DC Comics Presents #52, Ambush Bug started off as a super-villain to Superman. In no time, though, he realized that Supes, and he were buddies (something Kal-El didn't really appreciate) and became a force for good. Well, maybe good; clearly, there are only two possibilities: either he's the most insane superhero ever, or he's the only one that makes sense.

Let's see what you think. Among Ambush Bug's strange behaviors:

  • His greatest battle was against Argh! Yle!, a Living Sock with self-fulfilling schemes of world domination. (It turns out this sock and Irwin's bug suit traveled to earth in the same suitcase before being intercepted by a giant radioactive space spider.)
  • To aid him in crime fighting, he picked up a doll, gave it a costume, and dubbed it "Cheeks, The Toy Wonder" (they've been a duo ever since).
  • He's the only superhero to have broken DC Comic Law. (He is often cited by a "Continuity Cop" known as Jonni DC.)

Aside from all these antics, most of Ambush Bug's opponents never know what hit them. As history has proven, he can beat them by showing up in the weirdest places at the weirdest times. And this might be due to his other special power: it turns out he can talk to DC Editors (sometimes they even appear as characters in his stories.) Coupled with this ability, no comic book has been safe since his first appearance.

Showcase Presents: Ambush Bug Vol. 1—To the annoyance of everyone else.

What happens when a small, unassuming man picks up a suit sent across from the universe from a distant planet? What happens when he puts it on, gaining superpowers?

He becomes the Ambush Bug, that's what!

(On a side note, it seems like Ambush Bug's other superpower might be his ability to be really annoying. Maybe The Question and him should form a super-duo.)

Happy Reading!

Thanks for dropping by! Do superheroes, comic books, and sensational lists catch your fancy? Please let me know what you think. If you see or hear anything or just want to give your opinion, all are welcome.

Reader Feedback

Aubrey dewar on February 17, 2020:

I love ambush bug. He is so cool as if he was an actual bug.

Christopher Peruzzi from Freehold, NJ on August 30, 2019:

There are so many. You can never get them all - especially from DC. I would submit "The Eraser", "The Creeper", and "The Creature Commandos".

Cameron Walker from Orem, UT on August 11, 2019:

Where is Arm-Falling-Off Lad?

Roy on December 26, 2017:

They should ad condiment man

MORT GU-INEA on October 09, 2017:

They should put Kite Man on this list

Danny on February 14, 2015:

Danny the universe

green-blogger on June 17, 2014:

Interesting lens. Great list... =)

FloridaDino on October 23, 2012:

Some great choices in there, and there's easily enough for a follow up!

anonymous on September 22, 2012:

Just to add three more, there was Radiation Roy who tried out for the Legion of Superheroes who turn to being a bad guy after being rejected because all he could do with his powers was kill anything living, and lets not forget Ghost Rider and Spawn. Not your everyday superheroes.

Shadrosky on May 05, 2012:

Good job once again!

anonymous on January 09, 2012:

enjoyed my time on your lens tonight, well done!

Batman2099 on December 28, 2011:

The Heckler

He only lasted for 6 issues from 1992 to 1993. There are only two other comic books with him. They are Book of Fate #12 (cameo) and JLA Welcome to the Working Week. Not much is really known about. However he has the power to arrive just in time and annoy the hell out of his enemies. This seems to be a theme with Keith Giffen's superheroes. He also has some of the weirdest rogues galleries. But all in all, he is a great character that should be written into more comics. I mean, if Brother Power the Geek can be written back into the comics, anything's possible?!?!? Fingers crossed. This guy rocks. Read the Heckler issues 1-6 it is some of the funniest stuff you will ever read. :)