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Top 5 Less-Than-Super Superheroes
Durham, NC - When asked about superheroes, most people think of cultural icons such as Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, characters whose comic-book adventures over decades have been spun into toys, cartoons, and blockbuster films. But of the thousands of superheroes in the pages of American comic books since the first appearance of Superman in 1938, many have proven less successful because they possess oddball superpowers, silly names and unfortunate costumes.
The Edwin and Terry Murray Comic Book Collection in Duke's David M. Rubenstein Library holds more than 65,000 comics from the 1930s to 2000s, including many lesser-known heroes. This D-List of comic book celebrity will be featured in the "Hall of Shame" at the Duke Marketing Club's "Heroes and Villains: The Library Party," to be held Friday, Feb. 24, in Perkins Library.
As a sneak preview, Will Hansen, assistant curator of collections at the Rubenstein Library, and Chloe Songer, T '14 and decorations chair for the party, present five of the least super superheroes you're likely to encounter there. View a slideshow of these superheros.
1. Squirrel Girl
Over the 70-plus year history of comic books, superhero creators have always tried to balance weighty mythological subjects with kid-friendly comic relief, but Squirrel Girl may represent the farthest plunge into implausible comedy in superhero history. First appearing in the pages of Marvel Super-Heroes in 1992, this hero harnesses the ability to communicate with and control herds of squirrels to fight evildoers. She and her superintelligent squirrel sidekick, Monkey Joe, have somehow managed to defeat Doctor Doom and other supervillains.
|View a slideshow of Squirrel Girl and the other superheros.|
You guessed it: Jigsaw is a human jigsaw puzzle, "The Man of a Thousand Parts," able to stretch and disconnect his mechanical pieces. The cover of the first issue of his 1966 series pleads, "Don't laugh at the Jigsaw man!" Predictably, Jigsaw lasted only two issues for Harvey Comics.
3. Matter-Eater Lad
The 1960s in DC Comics were full of wacky, whimsical heroes, from Superman's super-pets to the Bat-Mite, a Batman-impersonating imp from the fifth dimension. But for the combination of unimaginative nickname and odd ability, it's hard to top Matter-Eater Lad, who can chew his way through any substance. He hails from the planet Bismoll (as in Pepto-Bismol).
The transparent "Crystal Warrior" fought the Magma Men in a 1983 Marvel series which served primarily to promote a line of action figures launched the previous year. A sword-and-sorcery concept highly influenced by He-Man and the Masters of the Universe line of action figures, Crystar is one of the failed attempts to build a multimedia franchise from scratch in the 1980s.
5. Impossible Man
A pointy-headed, green alien shape-shifter in purple shorts, this trickster plays pranks on other Marvel superheroes and enjoys tourist activities on earth. The character is often compared to Mr. Mxyzptlk, a classic Superman villain, but suffers from the boredom of omnipotence. One of his adventures includes his taking the form of Jimmy Carter on Carter's inauguration day.
Hero 'Hall of Shame'
Hero 'Hall of Shame'
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