I am sure many of us have dreamed of being a superhero, fighting the forces of crime, evil and helping the elderly across the road. The allure of saving the world yet remaining humble and unassuming resonates strongly with adventurous nerds. In recent years the likes of X-Men, Iron Man, Spiderman. Green Lantern and Captain America have graced our movie screens. Echoes of a bygone world they’ve been brought into the 21st century with a fanfare. Time and experiences are cyclical, which unfortunately means certain fashion mistakes might also resurface. Who amongst us can remember flares so big they could serve as parachutes? What about spandex jumpsuits that might get you arrested for indecency and assault with a groovy weapon? The thought sends a shiver of ice-cold terror down the spine. I digress, only to put off the difficult task I have agreed to take on. Frodo had his big adventure, I have my descent into silliness. Start the new year with a laugh I say. Who are these superheroes that time has rightly forgotten?
The Red Bee
First appeared in Hit Comics #1 (1940). A District Attorney, Richard Raleigh, who took to crime fighting in an unusual manner. Costume consists of stripy red and yellow tights (as in bee but in red and yellow) and a red top with diaphanous pink sleeves. Expert in hand-to-hand combat. Keeps a swarm of trained bees in his utility belt, main sidekick being a Bumble bee called Michael.
First appeared in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #13. Real name Buford Hollis. Came to superherodom when looking for his missing sister in New York. Teamed up with Spiderman for a short while. Truck driver by profession. Costume consists of a boar’s head helmet, which gives off electrical shocks. Secret power is being able to drive any vehicle.
First appeared in Super-Heroes Vol 2 – #68. Real name Doreen Green. Physical mutation (enlarged incisors, retractable knuckle spike and bushy prehensile tail) leads to alienation with fellow students. Finds she has an affinity with squirrels and can communicate with them. Moves to New York and is inducted into the Great Lakes Avengers. Super powers consist of enhanced strength, agility and speed. Good-natured individual. Actually has a good career as a superhero. Keeps nuts in her pouch (good energy food).
First appeared in Great Lakes Avengers #1. Real name Gene Lorrene. Was a member of the Great Lakes Avengers for a very short time but did not meet the standards of superherodom. Decided to adopt a leather-clad variation of Dr Doom’s costume. Interesting costume – studded leather collar and flat leather cap, leather chaps and a ball gag in his mouth. Came to a nasty end – death by flattening, Big Bertha sat on him.
First appeared in NFF Superpro #1 (1991). Real name Pennington Pennypacker. Secret power was the ability to shoot pennies from his hands. As he was a Certified Public Accountant this is not as stupid as it sounds. Obtained his powers at a self-esteem camp run by a mad scientist apparently.
First appeared in Defenders #131 (1984). Real name Hubert Carpenter. More an anti-hero, not very bright or dangerous. Cab driver by profession. Transformation came about as a result of his uncle’s experiments upon him. Costume consists of walrus like tusks and skin. Good at crosswords. No powers except stupidity.
First appeared in Crack Comics #1 (1940). Real name, Richard Grey Jnr. Our superhero was born in Mongolia whilst his family were on an expedition. They were killed and the baby was raised by condors (yes you heard right). A hermit finds the child and imparts his wisdom, encouraging Black Condor to go to the USA to fight crime and become a politician. Secret power is flight.
Arm Fall Off Boy
First appeared in Secret Origins Vol 2 – #46 (1989). Costume is light pink with translucent, knobbly gloves. Secret power is to ability to detach his arms and club people to death. Not much else you can say about him.
First appeared in Doom Patrol #70 (1993). The focal point of his arsenal and super powers are the ability to carry a range of items such as guns, cannons, boxing gloves, etc., in his huge codpiece. Eventually killed by transsexual hero Coagula.
First appeared in Obnoxio the Clown vs the X-Men #1 (1983). Real name unknown. Was born a mutant with the ability to turn into any ice cream flavour you could want. Make mine Pistachio flavour. Has the power to melt, which enables him to move easily through a variety of spaces (down and under). His suit is a refrigeration unit. He once attempted to destroy the X-Men but was thwarted. Never seen again, which is just as well.
A veritable catalogue of loopiness and downright surrealism. If you harbour any desire to emulate these heroes, please take a long, long moment to consider the consequences of your actions. Are you really willing to suffer isolation, shame and ridicule? Wearing your knickers over tights may not be the best look to inspire confidence in others. Derision perhaps. Maybe I’m being a little cynical about the archetype of the Superhero. One wonders whether the time has passed for these giants to walk the earth again. It appears not, judging by the plethora of comics on superheroes and movie adaptations arising from these comics. At its very heart the concept of the superhero remains strong and unblemished, undiminished by the examples listed here. Saying that, it would be a most wonderful act of tribute to these long forgotten heroes for a brave director and producer to bring them back to life, on the big screen.