The Legion Of Regrettable SuperVillains by Jon Morris (book review).

‘The Legion Of Regrettable SuperVillains’ by Jon Morris is a sequel to his ‘The Legion Of Regrettable SuperHeroes’, only this time showing a selection of super-villains who are equally inept across the Golden, Silver and Modern Ages. For those keeping count, for the Golden Age 55, Silver Age 32 and Modern Age 32, a grand total of 119, with some of these in five or more groups but described in clusters. Each has at least two pages, often with comicbook art to show who to look out for or possibly to avoid these fools. If you know your comicbooks, then you will certainly have come across some of them. How inept is for you to decide, certainly some of them aren’t the brightest villains in the bank for choosing decent names although I suspect their writers just saw them as one-shots, never to be seen again and didn’t care beyond the story.

You’ll have to buy the book to see all of them, let alone wonder if Jon Morris missed any out. I’ll pass comment on some of them. Brickbat is as near to looking like a certain other bat character with his cowl but then wears a green suit that conceals a variety of poisonous gas bricks to gas people with. I agree with Morris, what’s wrong with just bashing people with regular bricks. You also get a variety of characters with names that got popular later like with the Crow and Spider-Man, the earlier version didn’t have a hyphen and fought big red cheese Captain Marvel. There’s the Crime Merchant who does everything, including selling ideas, on the cheap. What about the Dark Archer who throws his arrows without a bow.Although the focus is on a ventriloquist villain called Splinter, the picture of the heroine named as Granny Gumshoe with a stick has to be worth a chuckle.

When it comes to the Silver Age, I was surprised Modok was included just because he had a big head instead of Arnim Zola who literally took his head off and replaced it with a television in his torso and a camera on the top of his neck. If that’s isn’t bizarre I don’t know. Not one of Kirby’s better characters. Then again, why include Batroc The Leaper just because he uses savate as his fighting technique?

One villain I love the name of is Dr. Cesspoole but when you realise his opponent is Stumbo The Giant, you do have to wonder if the Harvey Comic characters were made for each other.

A character I was glad to see here was Egg Fu, literally a giant Humpty Dumpty but with no one to put him together again. I remember reading the story back in the 1960s and have a memory that he/it was one of several giant eggs and that Wonder Woman’s dialogue was full of ‘@£!@&&’ and only in later years discovered the Amazon was just a pottymouth at that time.

Probably one of my favourite villain’s powers belongs to Phantasmon who can generate nasal lightning. At least he won’t have any problems with nostril hair nor chest hair when he wakes up in the morning.

I’m less sure about the inclusion of Marvel’s Stilt-Man as I remember Daredevil having problems toppling him so he was hardly a pushover (sic). Tall heroes and villains can always be imposing and as shown in the sequel, when Stilt-Man fell over, his stilts did retract.

Over at DC, one of the Flash’s villains was The Top is included but not Marvel’s Human Top aka Whirlwind, who had a similar power and a foe of Giant Man. As you’ll note from reading this book, after a while you will start to explore your own knowledge as to who Morris might have left out. It’s a force of habit with us geeks but every bit of knowledge has a starting point.

Including Dr. Bong from ‘Howard The Duck’ should have been expected but writer Steve Gerber wrote a variety of even crazier villains for the title, so why no Hellcow? A bovine vampire has to be a really crazy idea.

The oddest thing is that would expect many of these characters to have been created by the less well-known creators but the likes of Will Eisner, CC Beck, Jerry Siegel, Otto Binder, Steranko and so on do crop up. Did the super-heroes need that much of an advantage to beat them?

There is far more in this book and will certainly give you food for thought in discussion. I do wonder if there is a possibility of a third book in this series looking at regrettable supporting characters and how these needy types rely on being rescued from situations they put themselves in to ensure their dependability with their pal super-heroes. In the meantime, have a read of this book.

GF Willmetts

March 2017

(pub: Quirk Books. 257 page medium hardback. Price: $24.95 (US), $26.95 (CAN), £12.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-59474-932-2)

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