Sometimes even comic greats can have terrible ideas — and in a fascinating new book, The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains: Oddball Criminals from Comic Book History, author Jon Morris explores the history of ill-thought and sometimes laughable antagonists you’ve probably never heard of. Below, check out a few highlights, complete with captions Morris has written for EW exclusively, to get a sneak peek before The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains hits shelves on March 28.
THE BLACK TARANTULA
Created by: Unknown
Enemy of: Humanity
Debuted in Feature Presentation vol.1 No.5 (April 1950)
© 1950 by Fox Publications
Poor Black Tarantula, he fell right off the career track at some point between the Dark Ages and his debut (and sole appearance) in 1950. The spider-themed scourge hit his stride terrorizing a medieval village with his tarantula-monsters and occult powers. Unluckily (for him), however, he found himself undone by the timeless power … of love! For his victims, it meant a happy life ever-after but, for him, it meant centuries condemned to a living death in a desolate graveyard.
Created by: Mike Sekowsky and an uncredited writer
Enemy of: Captain Flash
Debuted in: Captain Flash #1 (Sterling Comics, November 1954)
© 1954 by Sterling Comics
The courageous Captain Flash fought a surprising number of menaces in his abbreviated career, but none quite as deadly, implacable and likely to jump out of a medicine cabinet as Mirror Man. A silicon-starved, glassy nogoodnik from a malevolent dimension, Mirror Man comes to Earth to destroy its finest scientific minds. Why? It’s never explained, but at least it gives Captain Flash something to do while running out the clock on his short-lived series. Boasting the ability to disappear into any reflective surface, and to appear from any other, Mirror Man is one of the first alien menaces to make his initial salvo against Earth from the convenience of a men’s restroom.
Created by: Robert Bernstein and John Rosenberger
Enemy of: The Jaguar
Debuted in: Adventures of the Jaguar #4 (Archie Comics, January 1962)
© 1962 by Archie Comics
The nearly-all-powerful superhero The Jaguar – suave, sophisticated, mustachioed and frequently referred to in his own book as “the world’s most attractive bachelor” – has more than mere villainy to contend with. He also has to deal with his mortal enemies developing a major crush on him. Cat Girl, an ancient Egyptian demigoddess possessed of amazing powers, is only one of three of the Jaguar’s phalanx of femmes fatale who can’t decide between killing and kissing him. Eventually, good looks and good deeds win the day, as Cat Girl turns her back on terror and teams up with her heroic heartthrob’s antagonistic admirers to form his backup squad, jauntily titled “The New Jaguar Rescue Team.”
THE GOLDEN FUHRER
Created by: Gabriel Levy and Jim Craig
Enemy of: The Scorpion
Debuted in: The Scorpion #3 (Atlas Comics, July 1975)
© 1975 by Atlas Comics
The thing about Nazis is that they’re like cockroaches and unwanted houseguests; they just never go away. For example, there’s the metal-helmed Golden Fuhrer, a good-for-nothing goose-stepper who launches a plan to revive the leaders of the Third Reich for his own personal army. How does it all fall apart, you might ask? Well, for one thing, the Fuhrer attracts the attention of crusading newspaperman/swinging superhero The Scorpion. And, two, he builds his secret lab and evil headquarters next to “America’s only atomic powered sewage-to-energy converter.” His ambitious plan ends pretty much the way you think; awash in radioactive filth and deposited down a sewer grate.
Created by: Reed Crandall and an uncredited writer
Enemy of: Captain Triumph
Debuted in Crack Comics vol.1 No.6 (Quality Comics, July 1949)
© 1949 by Quality Comics
Ghostly superhero Captain Triumph has his work cut out with him when he faces a killer whose primary weapon is … bad manners. Mister Pointer seemingly has the power to kill with a pointed finger, proving that everything your mom said about pointing being impolite is just the tip of the iceberg. Speaking of ice, that’s actually the secret to Mister Pointer’s fatal finger. The rigid digit in question turns out to be a hand-shaped gun tucked into Mister Pointer’s sleeve, and which is capable of firing needle-sharp poison icicles with deadly accuracy. You might say that his victims … really got the point (although you shouldn’t say that, if you can avoid it).
Created by Bill Woolfolk and Harry Lucey
Enemy of: The Hangman
Debuted in: Pep Comics vol.1 No.30 (MLJ Comics, August 1942)
© 1942 by MLJ Comics
The cover to Mother Goose’s debut appearance promised all sorts of felonious fairy tale antics – complete with a hissing, ill-tempered goose, as advertised in the name. But what readers received inside, instead, was a cross-dressing killer with a yen for mangling nursery rhyme. Obsessed with assassinating his late sister’s ungrateful heirs, at least Mother Goose tried to keep the theme consistently horrible. He kills one youngster with an arrow and grinds the bones of another to make his bread!