No respect: Comic characters who get the shaft
By Evan Bevins
Some comic book characters have developed unearned reputations as bad, lame or useless.
I’m not trying to convince you that Sleepwalker is awesome (he is) or Zauriel should be a Justice League mainstay (he should). Instead, I’ll present 10 of the most unfairly maligned mainstream comic characters, who’ve gotten a bad rap.
10. Squirrel Girl – Despite the excellent treatment from writer Ryan North and artist Erica Henderson in recent few years, some readers fail to recognize this spunky, insightful and hilarious heroine is truly and unironically unbeatable.
9. Bouncing Boy – At first blush, he seems a better fit for the Legion of Substitute Heroes, even getting rejected in his first two tryouts for the Legion of Super-Heroes. Despite a rather odd power set, he went on to become an “elder” statesman of the team.
8. Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) – Often played for laughs in the ’80s “Justice League International” of Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire, he’s been largely overlooked in recent years for his younger, more powerful replacement. However, Ted demonstrated his heroism not only in his “Countdown to Infinite Crisis” swan song but when he gave up a second chance at life to save his friends and the world by preserving the timeline in which he died.
7. Hawkeye – Many Avengers’ profiles have been raised by the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Hawkeye seems to get less respect. Green Arrow (who is, admittedly, much cooler) doesn’t get this crap, perhaps due to Stephen Amell’s performance on the CW and the salmon ladder. Still, Hawkeye has proven he belongs with the Avengers as a leader and stalwart teammate.
6. Howard the Duck – Many people still don’t realize he’s a Marvel character and star of a classic comic series, not to mention the recent revival by Chip Zdarsky. Howard’s still seen more as a cautionary movie tale than a long-suffering everyduck, trapped in a world he never made (whatever that means).
5. Hank Pym – Founding Avenger. Brilliant scientist. Created artificial intelligence in his spare time. Hank Pym’s accomplished a lot but he’s remembered most for his mistakes. Granted, those include hitting his wife and creating a killer robot, but some of that can be blamed on mental illness, interference from a time-traveling villain and who’s next?
4. Cypher – Often mocked as one of the most useless X-Men, Cypher has a power – the ability to read and understand any language – that’s just not suited to combat (well, until they said he could fight well because body language). It’s not unrealistic for some mutants to have powers that can be used for something other than kicking the posteriors of other mutants and hateful humans.
3. Dazzler – Granted, she’s a disco-themed heroine who didn’t debut until 1980. And that initial costume, while distinctive, is a bit dated. But Dazzler is a powerful mutant, who has helped lead a revolution in another dimension and her own team of X-Men.
2. Robin – Robin is the butt of many pop culture jokes, but just about every incarnation of Batman’s sidekick has been a capable hero in his (or her) own right. OK, maybe not Jason Todd, but Dick Grayson and Tim Drake performed admirably and blazed their own trails, while current Robin Damian Wayne is a unique and compelling character.
1. Aquaman – There’s more to him than old “Super Friends” episodes and Internet memes would have you believe. I think Jason Momoa was cast as the film version just to have an actor people wouldn’t mock (to his face, anyway). Aquaman is a king and a warrior who can hold his own in the Justice League; he just needs a little H2O around to keep him well hydrated.
Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic Support Group.