14 Underrated Comic-Book Characters

  • September 25, 2014

In honor of National Comic Book Day, here’s a rundown of pen-and-ink heroes who never got their due. This one’s for you, Sheldon!







  1. Ambush Bug. Any superhero whose uniform is always clearly visible under his street clothes, and whose primary foes include a sock and a giant koala bear, is all right.

  2. Sad Sack. He’s the Marcovaldo of the comic-book world, the weary, sad soldier version of Italo Calvino’s hapless everyman. No matter what bumble befell him, Sad Sack was always ready for more.

  3. Daredevil. He’s gritty, but not cheesy. He loses a lot. He’s like Marvel’s perpetual underdog. He’s blind, but not really, which makes for some interesting storytelling stuff. He’s a lawyer, which forms a nice contrast to a surely illegal lifestyle. His biggest enemies are crime bosses and evil ninjas. So why is he underrated, you say? Two words: Ben Affleck.
     
  4. The Runaways. Each and every one of them. What a great comic. It’s about a group of teenagers who discover their parents are supervillains! They then try to stop them. Teenagers are the worst.

  5. Oracle. Poor Batgirl! She gets paralyzed by the Joker. But to say she makes a comeback would be an understatement.

  6. Silver Surfer. Another character popular in the comics, but ruined by a stupidly terrible movie. Norrid Radd (the perfect name) agreed to serve the planet-devouring, immortal, godlike Galactus in exchange for sparing his planet. Pretty sweet backstory, right? He needs his own movie.

  7. Jesse Custer. Read Preacher. It’s like a deranged Western crossed with The Da Vinci Code crossed with “Dogma.” Custer is the hero and, damn, is he good at it. He’s not perfect, but he’s extremely likable and tries to do the right thing. If he’s too popular, you might go with his hard-drinking, lying, ne’er-do-well-but-trying-to-change vampire friend, Cassidy.

  8. The Thing. Clearly the best member of the Fantastic Four, Human Torch be damned. And someone really should popularize the phrase “It’s clobberin’ time.”

  9. Multiple Man. A relatively obscure guy, he’s a member of one of the “X-Teams.” He has the mutant power to create copies of himself. Each of his copies has independent thought and can create its own copies, too, although the base Multiple Man can re-absorb them at will. Upon doing so, he acquires their knowledge and memories. You can see how this might get out of hand.

  10. Captain Marvel. He’s got all the powers of Superman, but he’s a 12-year-old boy on the inside.

  11. Captain (Ms.) Marvel. She’s got all the powers of Superman — plus, she can shoot lasers! She’s basically one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe. Rogue, the X-Man, gets her powers by robbing them from Carol Danvers in the 1980s.

  12. She-Hulk. She is strong, of course, and green. She’s also a lawyer who represents superheroes. (That could be a TV show right there — all of the action off screen, just her sitting in the office when she gets another call from the Thing, who smashed through the side of a building on his way to stop Doctor Doom. Plenty of comic opportunity!) She’s known for breaking the fourth wall and being aware she’s in a comic book, which just makes it better.

  13. The Sentry. Another Marvel character. Read this wiki capsule: “Middle aged, overweight Bob Reynolds remembers that he is the Sentry, a superhero whose ‘power of one million exploding suns’ derives from a special serum. Realizing that his arch-nemesis the Void is returning, Reynolds seeks out several prominent Marvel characters to warn them and to discover why no one remembers the Sentry.” We love the Sentry! He is really, really messed up in the head. He generally wants to do right, but he doesn’t have it all together.

  14. Infectious Lass. Many female superheroes wind up having “point and wave” powers, mental abilities that keep them out of hand-to-hand fighting so they can stand back and gesture while still looking good. Infectious Lass, one of the members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes (an entire team of characters who weren’t good enough to make it onto the Legion of Super-Heroes), has a remote-operating power, but it’s far from an attractive one. She has the ability to give people any disease. Which was awfully effective, if you think about it.

 

Who are your favorite unsung comic-book characters? Tell us about them in the comments section below!


 

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