We’re just going to come out and say it: Superman is one of the dullest superheroes around. Whilst, of course, we’re interested to see what the Nolan-produced Man of Steel will do with him, we won’t exactly be crossing off the days until its release. Firstly, he’s indestructible, so nothing poses any real threat to him. Not only that, he has all the emotional complexity of a wooden plank. Also, he can be a bit of a douchebag, as these covers show.
Domo Arigato, Mr Robto: Cypher talks binary-code to the creepiest robot we've ever seen.
Cypher is a friend of Kitty Pryde’s and a member of X-Men. His superpower? He learns languages really, really fast. Obviously, this was incredibly useful to everybody all of the time, and he routinely rendered enemies useless by stunning them with his perfectly fluent Spanish. Poor Cypher! Imagine being surrounded by mutants who can fly, control the weather, set things on fire, or morph into other people, and you're just a slightly more charismatic version of Google Translate.
Squirrel Girl's squirrels devour a German guard.
Many popular superheroes are named after animals, like Batman, Spiderman, Catwoman, and Night Owl. But Squirrel Girl? We’re not exactly going nuts for her. Created by Marvel back in 1991, Squirrel Girl had the ability to call on the aid of wild squirrels to help fight against her enemies. It gets better – she also has a tail which can grip onto objects! Ok, we may have lied about the ‘getting better’ part.
We swear we didn’t make this up; Codpiece is a genuine DC creation. Insulted by a lover for not being 'big enough', this totally sane and functioning person did what any rational human being would do: mounted a bullet-firing, boxing-glove-springing cannon on his crotch and set about robbing banks. Next time, we’d suggest just buying a luminous green Lambo and some herbal supplements.
Legion of Super Pets
Who can blame Invisible Kid? That airplane looks mighty small, and we doubt any of them are toilet-trained.
In 1962, DC created the Legion of Super Pets. Consisting of Kypto the Super-Dog, Beppo the Super-Monkey, Comet the Super-Horse and Streaky the Super-Cat, the pets assisted Superman and Supergirl, and were able to communicate with them telepathically. No, of course they couldn’t speak, that’d be ridiculous!
Extraño and the Hemo-Goblin
Graphic novels often offer intelligent allegories for societal issues. Yet, sometimes they can get it very, very wrong. Take, for example, the case of Extraño the gay, Peruvian magician, and Hemo-Goblin, the white-supremacist AIDS vampire. Extraño was a member of DC’s ‘New Guardians’ league. Subtlety was definitely not the writer’s strong point, and they had Extraño killed off by Hemo-Goblin, who infected him with HIV. Somehow, DC managed to turn racial hated and the tragic AIDS epidemic of the 80s into a bawdy and colourful farce. Shame on you, Hemo-Goblin!
There have been quite a few Captain Marvels over the years, but this one was penned by Myron Fass during the comic-craze of the 1960s. Created by very intelligent aliens, Captain Marvel was a robot who possessed the very useful ability to detach his limbs and have them fly around in crazy circles. And he could make his suit go invisible. Looking back, his relationship with his child friend, Billie, is somewhat troubling. You're so fabulous, Captain Marvel!
Matter Eater Lad
Concept artwork for the new series of Prison Break.
The residents of planet Bismoll, where Matter Eater Lad hails from, specialise in the admittedly niche field of digestive superpowers. Matter Eater Lad was a member of the League of Superheroes, who possessed the power to eat everything. Cool, huh? He was routinely written out of plotlines because, surprisingly, the writers couldn’t think of a use for him during fight scenes. We hope it stays that way: we’d rather a pie-eating contest not be the big set-piece battle-scene in the next Avengers.