DC Comics has a long history that has brought us some of the most instantly recognisable superheroes around today. Others, not so much.
In the past few years we’ve seen a few of the most popular DC superheroes take to the big screen, for better or for worse – mainly worse. And this will all culminate in the soon-to-be-released Justice League film, featuring the likes of Batman, Superman, The Flash and Wonder Woman.
There is however a downside to having such a long history in comics – for every Batman there are 10 characters that make you question what the writers were thinking at the time. Were they struggling for inspiration? Were they high? Were they merely bored? With this in mind, may I welcome you to the Justice Sunday Pub League…
If I were 7 years old and making up baddy names I would probably have come up with Captain Nazi. Obviously nowadays he would be Commander ISIS or Admiral Al Quaeda. He was a major early foe of Captain Marvel, who himself is basically an Aldi Superman. On top of having a tasteless name, Captain Nazi also had the distinct honour of being the living embodiment of national socialism. Hang on, what? That’s right, in an attempt to explain his continued existence since World War II and repeated deaths, he claims to be the essence of Hitler’s evil.
He’s basically Bizarro Steve Rogers, an evil super soldier with the added power of flight, but only if he inhales a flight gas. This was all well and good in the world of 1930’s Germany but not much use in this day and age against a Kryptonian who could punch you into the fucking sun. It’s disappointing he doesn’t have Hitler’s powers and they didn’t run with the ‘one ball’ aspect of the Hitler mythos, it could have been the source of his angst. He’s also a member of Mister Mind’s Monster Society Of Evil, in itself one of the silliest names ever chosen by a group of super villains. Perhaps if they had spent just a smidgeon more on marketing and a little less on flight gas, they would have been taken more seriously.
Crimson Fox was not just one, but two, women. A set of twins with identical powers who would take it in turns to be the superhero and their alter ego. This ruse largely relies on people not knowing they were twins. They have the ability to emit a pheromone that causes instant sexual arousal in men. This is no joke, just you try fighting with a raging erection. That’s right, they have super sexy sex power. This power totally comes undone if you are facing the myriad of sex offenders and deviants that seem to populate the DC universe.
This also begs the question how does this effect Batman, who has a history of getting it on with sexy costumed types? Lest we forget he even got it on with Wonder Woman (I had a joke lined up here about going up the Amazon but thought better of it). A team-up between the fox and the bat would get no crime thwarted and Alfred may have to laminate the Batcave. The more you think about this so-called power the more insane it is. If you are fighting some supercharged loony who wished to do you harm surely the last thing you want is to turn him into a supercharged sex-pest.
I’m sure that most people of my age will remember the strange cartoon that appeared during the summer holidays named Sports Billy. He was inexplicably a hero from a distant world whose inhabitants were good at sport. That was it. He couldn’t fly, he had no laser vision, he couldn’t even dodge a speeding bullet. Basically he was the point where cartoon makers just gave up. Now, I give you the Sportsmaster, the super villain that I imagine Sports Billy grew up to be when he discovered what Superman was and saw how futile his own do-gooding efforts were. He is just fantastic at sports and… well… evil. Though I have an inkling the two traits may be synonymous with each other.
There have been a few Sportsmasters over the years but it’s the last one that really goes all out on the sportsing front. They made an effort to supe up the sport aspect by saying that he has photographic reflexes. Basically his super power was to instantly be able to mimic sports moves, just like the power the real life Daley Thompson or Eric Bristow had. He uses weapons based on sporting equipment and dresses in an array of Sports Direct bargain bin clothes. So his main accessories are exploding pucks, baseball bats, and javelins plus he dressed like one of the Mighty Ducks. Did no-one inform him that there were sports involving guns? He is basically a very aggressive disgruntled P.E. teacher, one can even imagine him making Batman do it in his pants.
THE BRAIN AND MONSIEUR MALLAH
Monsieur Mallah is a genetically enhanced gorilla with a high IQ and a natty beret. The Brain is a brain in a jar with understandably no headwear. Gorillas, gorillas, gorillas. What is it with DC and making the world’s finest heroes come up against a cavalcade of poo flingers? Grodd, the Ultrahumanite, Mallah, why all the primates? The staff at DC appear to have a terrible fear of simians. Their office probably has an alarm on the wall that states “in case of apes, break glass”. They see Gorillas in the Mist as a war film and Diane Fossey as some kind of Lord Kitchener character recruiting a banana paid army.
With DC’s history of evil apes why would this pairing be so unusual in one of the films? Well, what I failed to mention was The Brain and Monsieur Mallah’s quirky love story, yes love story. A tale of undying same-sex, inter-species love between the disembodied brain of an evil genius encased in a jar and a genetically enhanced intelligent gorilla. I am not even making that up. You would think it would be hard to put your finger on which aspect of this relationship is the weirdest but it actually isn’t. Same-sex relationships are obviously normal and if the Gorilla has the brain and sentience of a human the inter-species element becomes a non-issue. It is definitely the disembodied brain bit and specifically the, thankfully, unillustrated act of coitus betwixt the two that is troubling. A 500lb gorilla smooshing a disembodied brain into his genitals until he reaches climax is a haunting image to say the least.
Those are but four of a myriad of weird and basically unexplainable characters that DC have come up with over their long tenure. Some are going to actually make it to the big screen i’m sure because, lets face it, Rocket Racoon has been a huge success for Marvel and no one would have seen that coming. Superman may get his Krypto the Wonder Dog, Bats may square off against the Clockmaster, and there is every chance the Flash will be running circles around Colonel Computron.
I must also end with an honourable mention for Kent Shakespeare, who I came across in my research. He had no powers but was endowed with the best hero name ever. Characters that border on the ridiculous are one of the main reason I will always love DC comics, my favourite character since childhood has always been Swamp Thing and if there is anything more ridiculous than a vengeful humanoid plant I haven’t found it yet. So well done DC and keep up the good work.