10 Completely Lame Superheroes

Spider-Man and Batman? Cool as hell. Superman and the X-Men? Ditto. But just because you put on some costume and fight crime doesn’t mean you’re all that. Far from it. Whether it’s in the funny pages (as old people say) or on the screens big and small, there are plenty of superheroes through the ages who don’t cut the mustard. Here are 10.

As much as I always enjoyed Aquaman as a character (being a blonde, perhaps it was because he was the only high-profile blonde superhero), I’ve gotta admit that he’s pretty lame, although few others can pull off that orange/green combination. So to spare him any further indignity, I’ve decided to direct all that bad will toward his teen protégé, Aqualad. Queer name. Queer outfit. His hair always reminded me of the comic strip character Dondi. And I fuckin’ hated Dondi.

I can just hear the editorial meeting now: “Hey, we’re getting Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man, back into monthly comics! Yeah! On a book starring a fresh, new, teenage superhero coping with his amazing powers! All right! And let’s name the character after a heroin/cocaine cocktail!” What, was Black Tar taken? The Crank? Yeah, he wants to join the X-Men, all right.
See him in: CIVIL WAR

Bouncing Boy becomes massively fat from a combination of a slow metabolism and a home accident that crushed him underneath a bookcase filled with film-geek memorabilia. No, wait, that’s the origin of Harry Knowles. Bouncing Boy drank a scientific potion or comes from a planet of bouncing people or something like that — I don’t know. He’s lame because his power is to get really fat and project himself around like a beachball at a Doobie Brothers mid-market, summer-amphitheater concert. His only redeeming factor: He married a superheroine who can create two additional copies of herself. That sounds like some new math I can get into.

Another comic book legend (in fact, the comic book legend, Jack “The King” Kirby) created Captain Victory during the first independent comic boom of the early ‘80s. Unfortunately, he’d proven over the previous 10 years that the classic characters he created with Stan Lee — X-Men, Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Hulk, etc. — owed as much to Lee’s creativity as his. I can’t tell you anything about Captain Victory, other than he had a big, blonde Prince Valiant haircut, traveled in space (I think) and hung out with dog-faced humans or something. It was big and intergalactic and virtually unreadable. And while “Captain Victory” might’ve sounded great in, say, 1944, it just sounded old and tired in 1982.

I don’t think it’s racism that keeps the comics industry from creating African-American superheroes that aren’t merely embarassing tokens. No, I think it’s probably the fact that the fat, pasty, Hawaiian shirt-clad guys who create most superheroes never had adolescent male power fantasies featuring black guys. Triathlon follows in the tradition of The Falcon, the other black Avenger with lousy powers and a costume that’s 100 percent dork. He apparently has three times the strength, speed, whatever of a normal man. In other words, about six times that of a normal white guy.
See him in: CIVIL WAR

Somehow Gambit has become a bit of a fan-favorite X-Men character over the past decade, which might explain why the comic book industry took a nosedive throughout the ‘90s. Gambit’s some lame-ass in a purple trenchcoat and funky open-face non-mask who throws kinetically charged playing cards at bad guys or something. This could lead to some fun dialogue like, “Consider yourself … spade!” or “Join … the club!” Instead, he speaks in low-rent Cajun that makes Paul Prudhomme sound like Auguste Flaubert. Ah gah-rown-tee that he sucks ay-uss.

Two things that suck the worst about Godiva:
• she’s not naked and
• she has nothing to do with chocolate.
She’s yet another lame-ass member of an even lamer-ass international supergroup — do I smell a trend here? — called The Global Guardians. Her power is she’s got a big ol’ mess of hair with which she can hit people and … apparently fashion wings out of to fly. As a power, it’s a pretty lousy one, although Stan Lee and Jack Kirby made it look cool with Medusa of the Inhumans in THE FANTASTIC FOUR. Godiva makes it suck worse by speaking in the most god-awful Cockney accent since Dick Van Dyke in MARY POPPINS. And, I repeat, not naked.

Near the beginning of THE X-MEN’s creative peak in the late ‘70s, they traveled to a punk club in search of a new mutant. Walking through a throng of Sid ‘n’ Nancys, they stopped as the lights went down and the crowd quieted to a hush, all in anticipation for the arrival of … The Disco Dazzler! Even at age 9, I questioned what a Farrah-feathered, flare-sportin’ reject from Andrea True Connection would be doing at a freakin’ punk club. Such was the Dazzler. From what I hear, she was created as some joint (or, more than likely, coke) project between Marvel and Casablanca Records. Even with the usual six-month lag in headlines-to-comic book relevancy, by the time the Dazzler showed up in the Marvel Universe, they’d been burning Village People records in Cincinnati for months. She was essentially the superhero version of that creepy mirrorball chick from Wang Chung’s “Dance Hall Days” video, with ample cleavage being her lone asset.

I don’t believe that homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord, but Extrano sure as hell was. Extrano was a member of The New Guardians, a lame-ass international supergroup spun off from the even lamer-ass 1987 DC company crossover event MILLENNIUM. I suppose being the first openly gay superhero should be a noble achievement, but when he’s a limp-wristed, swaying Peruvian Liberace with an outfit cribbed from Carol Burnett’s take on Scarlett O’Hara, the only notable thing one can really say about the character was that the creators predicted the existence of John Leguizamo with Nostradamus-like clarity. What were his super powers? Jesus, I have no idea. But I’m sure that they were fab-u-lous!

Vibe, Vibe, Vibe. Poor, dead Vibe. Yet another attempt at cultural relevancy in comics – a smack-talkin’ Puerto Rican breakdancer with the coincidental ability to cause small tremors with his hands. (Insert easy masturbation joke … right here.) The thing that makes Vibe suck most of all isn’t his yellow parachute pants, his sporty red bandana (Ice-T hadn’t yet clued in the folks at DC about what symbolizes gang warfare) or his pre-grunge soul patch. It’s the fact that he was introduced as a new member of the freakin’ Justice League of America. What’s supposed to be the pre-eminent collection of super badasses the universe has to offer temporarily became a halfway house for suck-ass lame-os like Gypsy, the Vixen and Steel (not to be confused with the suck-ass Shaquille O’Neal movie). Vibe just had the unfortunate luck to be the suckiest of them all. —Brian Winkeler

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Comment by Allan
2008-10-17 09:24:27

I weep for those who lack the heart and whimsy to appreciate the mirrored ball greatness of Marvel’s most worthwhile contribution to the superheroic arts. Like those who can watch Can’t Stop the Music and not immediately be overcome by its majesty and beauty, people who mock Dazzler simply don’t get it and, sadly, never will.
Betcha think I’m joking. Hah!

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Comment by Corey Redekop
2008-10-17 10:10:47

Bouncing Boy! I had totally forgotten about Bouncing Boy! I love Bouncing Boy! Always seemed so happy. Where’s the movie version, huh? I’m picturing Paul Ruebens in a fat suit.

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Comment by Paul Kupperberg
2008-10-18 09:24:36

You can pick Bouncing Boy when the Legion of Super-Heroes also had Matter-Eater Lad from the planet Bismoll???
“What’s you power?”
“I can eat anything!”
“So can any frat boy! Next!”

Comment by AndyDecker
2008-10-17 12:19:47

Come on! 🙂 Compared to characters like El Dorado, Samurai or Apache Chief from the timeless SuperFriends guys and dolls like Gambit and Dazzler are deep and meaningful characters Lol. Okay, I am not so sure about Dazzler.

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Comment by GFS3
2008-10-17 12:59:33

I freakin’ love posts like this. I did a similar thing not long ago called “Hall of Lame: The 10 Superheroes with the Lamest Powers.” Here it is:


Amazingly, we have no overlap; which leads to the obvious — there are many lame-ass superheroes out there. My favorite: Matter-Eater Lad. Jesus!

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Comment by Brian Winkeler
2008-10-17 13:24:53

Trust me, Matter-Eater Lad was totally on the shortlist. I think the game changer was the pathetic-slash-creepy grin on Bouncing Boy in the panel next to his entry.

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Comment by Jeff Hotchkiss
2008-10-17 20:39:19

Jubilee, Robin, Strong Guy, Doop, Hawk, and Dove are all less lame than Gambit? I think not. Agree with the rest.

I’m hoping his appearance in the Wolverine movie will change people’s perceptions of Gambit. We’ll see.

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Comment by Bruce
2008-10-18 12:14:36

What no Blue Devil talk about just a crap idea a special effects/stuntman.

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Comment by GFS3
2008-10-19 21:48:45

Godiva is pretty lame — I’ll give you that.

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Comment by Uriah Jordan
2009-09-20 23:15:23

Patriot from Young Avengers: A drug addict who used controlled substances to gain powers.
Storm from X-Men: What’s up with the Blue eyes? Can’t we have a popular sister without the self-hatred surgery?
Falcon Captain America’s ‘Friday’: I might be mistaken but this former Pimp was shown how to become an upstanding citizen by a Nazi… Wow!
Luke Cage Longest Running Joke In Marvel: I don’t think I have to say anything. Just read any book with him inside of it.
Blue Marvel: This guy stood by during the Civil Rights Movement and allowed his own people to be hosed, shot, lynched and fire-bombed because the government told him to… and ended up marrying a white woman to boot. I suppose if he was born in the 1600’s he’d been rounding us up for a nice trip to the new world where we would have done a whole lot of gardening and leaning to say ‘Yessah’.
War Machine: Wearing Master’s Hand-Me-Downs with the personality of the aformentioned character above.

I’ve noticed over the past 20 years Marvel has made it a point to make some of the most insulting black characters to ever be printed on paper. Everyone from Joe Robertson to Bishop is an ex-convict and the others run the gambit of everything from Angery Negro (Patriot) to Plantatinon Fantasy (Misty Knight). I’ve yet to see a character of color rival the intellect of Reed Richards or the mechanical savay of Tony Stark. All of them are LAME, and its past time they do better.

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Comment by Brian T
2009-09-24 18:44:37

WHAT?? NO BIRD MAN??? bird man should be at the very top of this list! most superheroes from the ’60’s were pretty lame, but bird man was the lamest of all IMO. first there’s his name: “bird man”. ooh that’s threatening. then there’s his powers. he gets his powers from the sun. yes superman also gets his powers from a yellow sun, but sheesh at least HE gets to keep his powers! bird man can only be out of sunlight for a certain period of time before he begins to lose his powers and strength and falls out of the sky. then his freaky purple eagle avenger has to save his ass by dragging him into the sun to regain his strength. his weakness is shade! SHADE!! that’s beyond lame. no wonder he decided to become a lawyer lol.

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Comment by AstroGremlin
2011-08-27 11:52:43

I love minor superheros with marginal powers. Check out my site for an article “9 Largely Ignored Superheros.”

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