I like to believe there’s some bizarro world where grown men line up in front of cinemas to see the latest Dr. Hormone or Brother Power the Geek movie and plucky girls don red-cross-emblazoned masks every Halloween to impersonate Pat Parker, War Nurse, and the names of Superman and Wonder Woman elicit nothing more than a nonplussed shrug for all but the most hardcore comic book geeks. I suspect Jon Morris feels the same way. He has compiled a wittily written and lavishly illustrated encyclopedia of such D-list crime fighters from 1939 to 1997 called The League of Regrettable Superheroes.
Regrettable? Well, maybe Doctor Vampire, a confusingly named full-time vampire killer and part-time racist, was a bit regrettable. But what about Amazing Man, the near-naked marauder known to bite snakes to death and beat up “green Nazi gorillas”; Bozo the Iron Man, a super murder-bot who bashes sharks against walls; or Captain Tootsie, who teaches kids to operate assault rifles while buzzed on a diet of Tootsie Rolls ©? What’s regrettable about that lot? Or how about their super nemeses? What about Mr. Lucifer, a circus clown with delusions of demonic grandeur; Rossinoff, a donkey man his enemies call “Assinoff”; Dress Suit, an occupied yet deadly jacket and tie combo; and an undefined menace named Johnny Boom Boom? Those guys warrant a similar volume of their own!
I firmly believe that each and every one of these heroes and villains were worthy of careers as long and fruitful as those of Superman and Wonder Woman and the rest. Sadly, a lot of these failed superheroes were forced to put their capes in mothballs not because of their inherent jack-assedness but because their publishers simply went out of business. Perhaps if Harry “A” Chesler Publishing hadn’t gone belly up, The Black Dwarf would still be offering criminals “a bite of knuckle pie” today. In the bizarro world of my dreams, he is.Get The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History on Amazon.com here: