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8 Regrettable (But Still Kind Of Awesome) Superheroes

With C-listers like Ant-Man and Aquaman starring in their own movies, it feels like every superhero, no matter how obscure, is headed for wide-ranging fame. But nothing could be further from the truth: There are hundreds of weird, dumb, preposterous, and just plain awful superheroes who have appeared in print before fading into the cultural abyss, an abyss from which they’ve been rescued by comics scholar Jon Morris in his wonderful new book The League of Regrettable Superheroes. This book is the blooper reel of superhero comics.

Despite the title, you can tell Morris loves all these characters, and who wouldn’t? Flops or not, they are colorful and amusing pieces of comics history. Still, no matter how bloated the membership of the Avengers gets, it will never include the following folks.

1. Doll Man

Ant-Man is a powerhouse compared to Golden Age hero Doll Man, who couldn’t control ants or do anything except shrink to the size of a doll. The “World’s Mightiest Mite” was more adorable than invincible, especially when riding his Wonder Dog Elmo to the rescue.

2. The Eye

With a name like The Eye, you’d expect a Cyclops-type hero—or perhaps someone with a particularly good eye for crime. Nope. This hero who debuted in 1939 was literally a big, floating eyeball who fought crime with supernatural powers.

3. Doctor Hormone

No, Doc Hormone is not the greatest enemy (or ally) of the Teen Titans. Rather, Dr. Hormone (his actual name) was a scientist who fought evil and played god by turning babies into adults, old people into young people, and regular folks into animal-human hybrids via hormonology. Holy hormonal hijinks, Batman! 

4. Fatman the Human Flying Saucer

After plump Van Crawford stumbles upon a crashed flying saucer that was actually a shape-shifting alien, he gained the same powers, becoming unquestionably the greatest plus-size male superhero who can change into a flying saucer. You’re not going to believe this, but Fatman’s publisher Lightning Comics couldn’t stay in business for more than a few months. 

5. Funnyman

One of the subplots of Morris’ book is that even legendary comics creators like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko created some stinkers. The guys who started it all—Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joel Shuster—created Funnyman, a comedic crimefighter who debuted in 1948 and promptly went nowhere. Or perhaps he retreated back to his “Funny Manor,” a poor substitute for the Batcave or Fortress of Solitude.

6. The Ferret

With its foul stench and penchant for theft, the ferret would seem to be a better role model for villains, but this yellow-caped crusader fought mobsters and other crooks in his brief 1942 appearance. The Ferret was revived in the 1990s as a hero typical of that era: grim and violent to the point of absurdity. He also had claws that were a transparent rip-off of Wolverine.

7. Squirrel Girl

This bushy-tailed heroine—who once took down Dr. Doom in a crushing blow to anyone who takes their comics a little too seriously—is a great example of how any character can thrive with the right creators. This humorous mutant has been used sporadically since her 1992 debut, but she recently landed her own series, which has been a breath of fresh air in the all-too-often self-serious world of comics. 

8. U.S. 1

Many of the regrettable heroes collected by Morris are from the Golden and Silver Ages of comics, a faraway time encompassing 1938-1969. But some are more recent, and I felt the sting of shame when I realized one of these heroes was in my own collection: U.S. 1, a colossally stupid trucker/hero based on an aborted toy line. Why did young me need this comic? Maybe I identified with Ulysses Solomon Archer and his metal skull that picked up C.B. and allowed him to control his rig telepathically. Or maybe I was just an idiot.

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Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
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Deadpool Fans Have a Wild Theory About Who Cable Really Is
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Deadpool 2 is officially in theaters and ruling the box office just like its predecessor did back in 2015. But this installment is about more than just crude jokes and over-the-top action scenes; it also includes the debut of a longtime Marvel character that fans have been clamoring to see on the big screen since 2000’s X-Men hit theaters: Cable.

But the Cable in Deadpool 2 isn’t quite the one fans have gotten used to in the books—for starters, his powers and backstory are reined in considerably. While it’s easy to assume that’s by design, so that audiences can better relate to the character (which is played by Josh Brolin), some fans have speculated that the changes are because, well, this character isn’t really Cable at all; instead, Screen Rant has a theory that this version of the character is actually none other than an older Wolverine from the future.

So how can Wolverine be Cable? Well, it’s actually quite easy, considering that Wolverine was Cable in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe comics, which was a series of books in the 2000s that completely reimagined the regular Marvel Universe. In this reality, a grizzled, aged Wolverine takes on the Cable nickname and travels back in time to prevent a takeover of Earth from the villain Apocalypse.

We were already introduced to Apocalypse in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, and while he was defeated in the end, Screen Rant theorizes that he could return like he does in the Ultimate X-Men comics: by inhabiting the body of Nathaniel Essex, a.k.a. Mister Sinister. Essex was already name-dropped in Apocalypse and Deadpool 2, so it stands to reason that there might be some larger story on the horizon for him.

This would, of course, lead to more X-Men movies down the road, with Cable revealing his true nature and teaming with a crew of mutants that includes the classic X-Men cast as well as their younger selves to battle a newly formed Apocalypse. It’d also allow the character of Wolverine to live on in Brolin, leaving Hugh Jackman to enjoy a retired life without claws.

Obviously this is just one fan theory based on a comic storyline from over a decade ago. It would also have to ignore a whole host of continuity problems—including the events of Logan. But having a twist with Cable actually being Wolverine from the future (and likely from a different reality) is the type of headache-inducing madness the comics are known for.

[h/t: Screen Rant]

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King Features Syndicate
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8 Things You Might Not Know About Hi and Lois
King Features Syndicate
King Features Syndicate

A comics page staple for nearly 65 years, Mort Walker and Dik Browne’s Hi and Lois is a celebration of the mundane. Married couple Hiram “Hi” Flagston, wife Lois, and their four children balance work, school, and family dynamics, all of it with few punchlines but plenty of relatable situations. This four-panel ode to suburbia might appear simple, but it still has a rich history involving a beef with The Flintstones, broken noses, and one very important candy bar wrapper.

1. IT’S A SPINOFF OF BEETLE BAILEY.

Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker had been drawing that military-themed strip for four years when a friend of his named Lew Schwartz approached him in 1954 with a new idea: Why not create a strip about a nuclear family? Around the same time, the Korean War was ending, and Walker had sent Beetle home on furlough to visit his sister, Lois. Drawing a line between the two, Walker decided to pursue the suburbia idea using Lois as connective tissue. Hi and Lois was born: The two strips would see their respective characters visit one another over the years.

2. A CANDY BAR HELPED DEFINE THE STRIP’S LOOK.

Already working on Beetle Bailey, Walker decided to limit his work on Hi and Lois to writing. He wanted to collaborate with an artist, and so both he and his syndicate, King Features, went searching for a suitable partner. Walker soon came across ads for both Lipton’s tea and Mounds candy bars that had the same signature: Dik Browne. Coincidentally, a King Features executive named Sylvan Byck saw a strip in Boy’s Life magazine also signed by Browne. The two agreed he was a talent and invited Browne to work on the strip.

3. HI ORIGINALLY HAD A BROKEN NOSE.

As an artist, Walker had plenty of input into the style of Hi and Lois: Browne would later recall that trying to merge his own approach with Walker’s proved difficult. “When you draw a character like Hi, for instance, you immediately set the style for the whole strip,” he said. “You have already dictated what a tree will look like or how a dog will look, just by sketching that one head.” In his earliest incarnation, Hi had a broken, upturned nose to make him seem virile, puffed on a pipe, and wore a vest. Through trial and error, the two artists eventually settled on the softer lines the strip still uses today, an aesthetic some observers refer to as the “Connecticut school style” of cartooning.

4. EDITORS WERE WARY AT FIRST.

When Hi and Lois debuted on October 18, 1954, only 32 papers carried the strip. The reason, Walker later explained, had to do with concerns that he was spreading himself too thin. At the time, cartoonists rarely worked on two strips at once. Between Hi and Lois and Beetle Bailey, there was fear that the quality of one or both would suffer. Editors were also worried that having two artists on one project would dilute the self-expression of both. Walker stuck to his intentions—to make Hi and Lois a strip about the small pleasures of suburban life—and newspapers slowly came on board. By 1956, 131 papers were running the strip.

5. TRIXIE MAY HAVE SAVED THE STRIP.

With readers a little slow to respond to Hi and Lois, Walker had an idea: At the time, it was unusual for characters who don’t normally speak—like Snoopy—to express themselves with thought balloons. Walker decided to have baby Trixie think “out loud,” giving readers insight into her perspective. Shortly after Trixie began having a voice, Hi and Lois took off.

6. CHIP IS THE ONLY CHARACTER TO HAVE AGED.

Like most comic strip casts, the Hi and Lois family has found a way to stop the aging process. Baby Trixie is eternally in diapers; the parents seem to hover around 40 without any wrinkles. But oldest son Chip has been an exception. Roughly eight years old when the strip debuted, he’s currently 16, a nod to Walker's need for a character who can address teenage issues like driving, school, and dating.

7. IT LED TO HAGAR THE HORRIBLE.

Browne might be more well-known for his Hägar the Horrible, a strip about a beleaguered Viking. That strip, which debuted in 1973, was the result of Browne’s sons advising their father that Hi and Lois was really Walker’s brainchild and that Browne should consider a strip that could be a “family business.” By 1985, Hägar was in 1500 newspapers, while Hi and Lois was in 1000. Following Browne’s death in 1989, his son Chris continued the strip.

8. IT ALSO HAD A BONE TO PICK WITH THE FLINTSTONES.

The Flintstones, Hanna-Barbera’s modern stone-age family, premiered in primetime in 1960, but not exactly the way the animation studio had intended. Fred and Wilma were initially named Flagstone, not Flintstone, and the series was to be titled Rally ‘Round the Flagstones. But Walker told executives he felt the name was too close to the Flagstons of Hi and Lois fame. Sensing a possible legal issue, they agreed.

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