World's Worst Super Heroes Part Deux!
posted by Mike on 8/21/02
Being the kind of guy I am, I always keep a close eye on the opinions of my work, whether they be positive or negative. I think this is a must for anyone looking to have their work viewed by an audience, simply because the reader’s opinion, regardless of what it may be, is the most important thing. This applies to everything from novels, to short stories, to… sigh… top ten lists.
When one decides to write a top ten list, it is inevitable that many who read it will think that potential contenders are left out, and thus feel the need to write the author and let them know about it. Repeatedly, and often with such colorful phrases as “How the fuck could you leave THIS ONE out, you dumbass!” or “worst.list.ever” or my personal favorite, “Someone must have gotten their 'Seanbaby Starter Kit' in the mail.” I received these comments and more in regards to my top ten worst super heroes article, some by personal email, but many in the comments section on Fark.com (I got some good remarks as well, but it’s the bad ones I pay most attention to, for the reasons stated above.) While some suggestions were rather inane (one guy brought up the Atom, a super hero so small that he could be defeated by a common garden hose, and who also spent a brief amount of time as a guest star on the Super Friends… another mentioned Electrawoman and Dynagirl, a semi-regular 15 minute skit on Sid And Marty Kroft’s Super Hour) some won my attention… so much so that I felt I HAD left out some heroes who were more than eligible to be considered some of the worst heroes in history.
As I was reading through the Farkers’ comments, one suggested that a list of twenty would’ve been more appropriate. What can I say? 3000 words an article is about as long as my attention span usually lasts. Regardless, I have decided (being the ever-consumate aim-to-pleaser that I am) to amend my top ten list by adding numbers 20-11. So without further ado, I present for your edification (and inevitable Farker humor) The 20-11 Worst Super Heroes Ever!
Thing Rings, gimme some bling bling!
20) The (Saturday Morning) Thing:
If there’s a super hero out there who hasn’t been made into a cartoon, leave it to the geniuses at Hanna Barbara to take everything cool about the character and fuck it all up. Back in the late 70’s, HB was attempting to rekindle an interest in the Flintstone’s waning popularity. First they released The Fred And Barney show, which pretty much followed the concept of the original, but lacked the satire that made the original so funny. When sparks didn’t fly, they decided it needed an edge. So they tacked on a new show to the tail end of it, and released it as Fred And Barney Meets The Thing.
Now as most of you know, the Thing was a member of the Fantastic Four. Named Benjamin Grimm, The Thing was one of four astronauts who had been exposed to strange radiation while on a space mission, leaving him with super strength and a body made out of solid rock. While not interesting enough to have a comic of his own, he was still a noteworthy character. But in this incarnation, he was Benjy Grimm, a dork who went to Centerville High School, and cavorted about with a cast of sidekicks who were pulled straight out of the pages of Archie. When danger threatened, Benjy would leap behind some bushes, bring the two halves of his magic ring together, and scream “Thing Ring, Do Your Thing!” Bang! Zap! Kapow! He instantly became a 30 something year old man made of rock, who had a Brooklyn accent and a penchant for blue speedos.
This Thing had no arch rivals. The closest he had was a band of teen hoodlums called the Yancy Street Gang, led by the villainous Spike. While Benjy did occasionally lock grips with giant octopi and various other monsters, he more often than not saved the day when Spike and his buddies committed their foul deeds, such as jay walking, shoplifting, or getting naked with his girlfriend. This did not sit well with either kids or fans of the comic, and so Benjy The Thing was quickly replaced the following year by number 19 on our list…
Give him a jellybean, and he'll toss you off a cliff
19) The Shmoo
I am, to this day, perplexed by the supposed appeal of this character. Originally seen in Al Capp’s Lil’ Abner comics from the 1940’s, the Shmoo made his Saturday morning debut in a show called The New Shmoo, which later replaced The Thing as Fred and Barney’s super pal on Fred And Barney Meet The Shmoo. Shmoo was a large white amorphous blob with bug eyes and a moustache, who had the uncanny ability to change his shape into anything he desired. Accompanied by his three cohorts Mickey, Billy Joe and Nita, who worked as reporters for Mighty Mysteries Comics, Shmoo and his less than amazing powers served as comic relief, helping to solve caper after caper in what was essentially just another in the long line of 70’s era Scooby Doo rip offs. While he could’ve had a promising career in the porn industry (I can see it now… The Taming Of The Shmoo… A Tale of Shmoo Titties… It Takes Shmoo To Tango… Shmoo Framed Roger Ramrod?… I consider it a lost opportunity), he died a quick two month death in the world of Saturday Morning TV, and was eventually lowered in status to that of a cameo character on the Fred And Barney show, playing a cop, who by coincidence could change into anything. If you never saw the wonder that is Shmoo, consider yourself blessed. To this day, I consider him the inspiration for the namesake character in the Nintendo game A Boy And His Blob, and anyone who has played that piece of shit knows what a bad idea THAT was.
...Making The Hershey Highway a safer place...
18) The Ambiguously Gay Duo
Frankly, I got a huge kick out of these animated shorts, but public opinion seems to dictate that they really blow (in more ways than one) so I felt obligated to them include them here. The Ambiguously Gay Duo was a semi-regular short on Saturday Night Live’s Saturday TV Funhouse skits, written and animated by former SNL cast member Robert Schmigel. Their super powers were standard Superman mainstays, such as heat vision and the ability to fly, but it was their “friendship” that made them unique. Named Ace And Gary, they played out gay stereotypes throughout each episode, often flying astride one another, thrusting into each other’s asses as they shot red beams from their eye sockets. They congratulated each other’s good work with a loving smack on the ass, drove a penis-shaped super car (which they used to destroy a giant ice monster in one episode by repeatedly ramming it into the creature’s ass) and often won their battles due to the villains being so distracted by trying to figure out whether they were really gay or not. The TV Funhouse bits were eventually dropped from SNL, and briefly reappeared as a 30 minute long show on Comedy Central, hosted by an idiot and his foul-mouthed puppet friends “The Anipals,” though Ace And Gary were not revived for the new incarnation. They have numerous fansites (mostly comedy sections on gay porn sites, judging by my Google search) and all the episodes are available in their entirety for download, if one should so choose to subject themselves to such things.
He's not just Gomer Pyle's catchphrase, ya know...
Shazam was a late 70’s live action show based on the hero Captain Marvel, who was a popular comic and serial character in the 1930’s. Ultra low-budget to the extreme, the show revolved around the life of young Billy Batson, who’d somehow managed to become friends with the spirits of the legendary heroes Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury, from which the name Shazam was derived. Each week, Billy drove around in a beat up old van with his advisor, an old geezer named Mentor (no, really.) Whenever villainry struck, a tiny red alarm light on the dashboard would go off, and the spirits of the heroes would appear and consult with Billy on what he should do. He would then yell “Shazam!” and be transformed into Captain Marvel, who was essentially Superman in a red costume with a yellow lightning bolt on his chest. Once he had defeated the bad guys by flying around in a wire harness and bending steel bars made of foam rubber, he would transform back into Billy, and Mentor would go over the moral lesson of the week that he’d learned by beating up on those weaker than himself. The show was a success, but it was determined that a female character was needed to pull in the young girls out in the audience, so another hero, an Egyptain goddess named Isis (think Wonder-woman in a slinkier outfit) was added and the show was retooled as the Shazam/Isis Action Hour, and then rapidly disappeared. I have vague memories of watching this show, which may explain why I spent the Saturdays of my fourth year running around in my underwear with a red blanket tied around my neck yelling “Shazam!” at my grandmother.
Winnie the Pooh can kiss my crimefighting ass!
Superted began his life as an old, worn out Teddy Bear who’d been found by a polka-dotted alien named Spottyman. Spottyman felt pity for the used up toy, so he took Teddy to Mother Nature, who endowed him with superbear powers and transformed him into SuperTed, defender of the meek. Each week SuperTed and Spottyman (who hailed from the planet Spot) would dispense ruthless Ruxpin justice to baddies such as Texas Pete and the Skeleton. He was often accompanied by Spottyman’s sister Blotch, and occasionally buddied around with a “hoparoo” named Speckle. To say this show was purile would be an understatement. Though it did occasionally TRY to appeal to an older audience by poking fun at everything from Star Wars to the Grand Ole’ Opry, it was kiddy fare through and through, enjoying a brief run on Nickelodeon before being syndicated in 1995. His adventures are still available on video tape, and audio adventures have been spotted (no pun intended) from time to time… but a word to the curious. No, these tapes will not endow your Teddy Ruxpin doll with super powers. Believe me, I know. Oh yes, I know all too well…
Dorkman, the fifth Village Person
I briefly entertained the idea of doing a solo article on Nightman for my Glen Larson series, but after all the mail I got asking why he hadn’t been included in my top ten, I decided this would be a better place to bring his… ahem… talents to light. Nightman appeared in syndication in the mid 90’s, the brainchild of Buck Rogers/Automan/Battlestar Gallactica/ Manimal creator Glen A. Larson. Nightman was a saxophone player, trying to make a living in San Francisco. One day, he was playing for change on the trolley, when God decided to make His opinion of the man’s musical ability known by striking him with a bolt of lightning. When he awoke, he found he had the uncanny ability to sense the evil in men’s hearts, along with various other super powers. By coincidence, he happens to run into a young genius who has designed a super suit for the military, and is looking for a candidate for trial runs. Kenny G Force dons the suit (which looked like the super suit from Meteor Man, with the addition of a red eye sensor that was apparently only for looks), and becomes Nightman. Even I cannot properly describe how truly awful this show was. And regrettably, I don’t have to, as reruns are still showing to this day in syndication… in fact, I seem to recall catching it at 4 AM on WGN recently… then I caught a case of the “this show makes me wretch” pukes. Trust me friends, those hours are for sleep time, not high quality television.
Also known as Leave It To Mega-Beaver
14) My Secret Identity
This syndicated show popped up out of nowhere in the early-to-mid 90’s, and disappeared almost as quickly. It starred Jerry O’Connell as Andrew Clements, a teenager in North Dakota who is one day exposed to radiation by his best friend, the mad scientist who lived across the street (it’s always made me wonder why, after Chernobyl, Russia isn’t chock full of moustachioed KGB agents and hairy-chested super women.) He was super fast, could fly, and was invulnerable. Each week the Doc would counsel him as to how to use his abilities, in a friendship that was most likely inspired by the Marty/Doc relationship from the Back To The Future series. And then he would go out and kick some criminal ass, and much like Clark Kent in the hit show Smallville, he did it in his street clothes, foregoing the usual super hero costume (though he did refer to himself in his diary as “Ultraman,” despite the fact that he suffered from a bad case of Caucasian Round Eyetis, and had no bad dubbing whatsoever.) As the show wore on, the writers focused less and less on his powers, and more on his personal life, until the show became just another teen angst show… this of course sealed its fate, and it vanished with barely anyone noticing, short of myself and the dozen or so WD readers who chapped my ass for not including him in my top ten.
I'll be there for you... when the bullets start to fly/ I'll be there for you... when asteroids fall from the sky...
13) Misfits of Science
MOS began as a two hour made-for-TV movie that focused on Dr. Billy Hayes, a scientist who worked for a genetics research facility called The Humanadyne Institute. While he had no powers himself, he gathered together a group of genetic mutants and formed a super team of sorts, fighting crime and company budget cuts. Along for the ride was his partner Dr. Elvin Lincoln (played by a seven foot tall black actor named Kevin Peter Hall, best known as the man inside the suit in such films as Harry And The Hendersons and Predator), who could press the back of his neck and shrink to the size of 12 inches for 15 minutes at a time. Another member was John “Jonny B” Bukowski, a former rock star who, after being electrocuted on stage, had the ability to channel electricity and fire it from his hands. Also onboard was Gloria Dinallo, played by a pre-Friends Courtney Cox, who had the telekinetic ability to move things with her mind. But my favorite character was Beefeater, a blue-skinned freak who appeared only in the two hour pilot. Beefeater was a scientist who’d been somehow frozen in the 1930’s, only to be thawed out by Dr Hayes 50 years later. The decades in deep freeze had altered his genetic make-up, causing him to have to be kept at a constant zero degrees, or he would die (think Mr. Freeze from Batman, but without the cool suit.) Beefeater could freeze things by touching them, but two things about this character stick out in my mind. First, he had some strange allergic reaction to chocolate. If the team couldn’t control him (which was most of the time,) they’d feed him a chocolate bar, and he’d pass out onto the floor. The other interesting aspect was his vocal skills, or apparent lack thereof. Apparently, Amiela Earhardt’s disappearance had been the big news at the time of Beefeater’s accident. When he was revived, that was the only aspect of his memory that survived, so he wandered around through the entire pilot movie saying “Aaaahmmeeeeliaaaa” ad nauseum. Oddly enough, that was about as creative as the dialogue on this show ever got, though it did build a small fan following. Unfortunately, Dean Paul Martin, son of Rat Packer Dean Martin Sr. and the actor who played the wise-cracking Dr. Hayes, went and flew his plane into the side of a mountain during the second season’s pre-production, and thus the show ended, as he was the biggest name they had. Sickening tragedy, or poetic justice for helping bring such a show to life?
The nausea... IS YOURS!!!!
12) Captain Planet
Of all the cartoons I’ve ever watched, none (short of The Amazing Cities Of Gold and The Super Book) annoyed me as much as Captain Planet. This show began in the early 90’s as an idea floating about in the head of TV mogul Ted Turner. He pitched the idea to 80’s cartoon powerhouse DIC, who fleshed it out for him and got it in production within a year. Before Ted could say “Not tonight Jane, the Munsters are on…in color!” Captain Planet and the Planeteers hit WTBS’s airwaves.
The show’s premise: Gaia, the spirit of the Earth (a concept stolen from just about every anime ever produced) is saddened over man’s destruction of the environment. So she finds five young people across the globe and christens them Planeteers, gifting them each with a magic ring, which empowers them with the five forces of nature: Wheeler from America gets the power of fire, Kwame from Africa gets the power of earth, Gi from Asia had power over water, The Russian Linka could control the winds, and Ma-ti from South America (though he had an Indian/Arabic accent) had the power of “heart.” And finally, there was the sixth member Saurun from Mordor, who held the One Ring which ruled them all…
When their collective powers were not enough to vanquish the evildoers of pollution, they combined the power of the rings to summon Captain Planet, a green-haired, blue-skinned Elvis Impersonator whose voice had more reverb than a Who concert. His weakness, of course, was pollution. Shoot him all day and he just laughs at you while making trees sprout from your pubic hair. But toss some crude oil on him (also known as Valdezite) and he becomes more flaccid than the Green Lantern’s penis in a banana yellow Trojan.
Nevermind the shitty animation or hashed together scripting… the worst aspect of this show was the villains. Every villain on this show was a polluter of one sort or another, who all seemed to take orgasmic pleasure in littering, dumping oil barrels in the ocean, and shitting in the punch bowl at Green Peace meetings. All of them had corny names such as Looten Plunder, Dr. Blight, Hoggish Greedly, and my favorite, Verminous Skum (his parents must’ve hated his guts… two bucks says his middle name was either Pond or Shaving. No doubt he always had a special treat waiting for him on Gilded Yak Day… sorry… obscure Ren And Stimpy reference.)
One interesting fact about this show was that it often had some fairly big names in Hollywood providing voice work, no doubt to help ease their consciences for polluting movie theaters with their cinematic garbage. Whoopie Goldberg played the voice of Gaia. Other cameos included Ed Asner, Sting, and Elizabeth Taylor, to name but a few. As if this self-righteous posturing wasn’t bad enough, they ended each episode with a 30 second public service announcement about pollution, which always ended with the Captain spewing his laughable catchphrase: “The Power… IS YOURS!” Funny… I thought it was He-Man’s… The show was later revamped to make it more hip… it’s theme song was changed to suit a more “urban” audience, and describes Captain Planet as, and I quote, “The Mega Mack Daddy Of Ecology.” Yeah, he put the hip in “I’d rather be having hip replacement surgery than watching this shit.” Which finally brings us to…
...Fighting for ignorance, hypocrisy, and the Religious Right!
Yes, Bibleman… Scary, isn’t it? I considered including Bibleman in my Christian Cinema article, but now I’m glad I didn’t. He seems much more at home here along with these other super duds. Bibleman has been around on video and in reruns on TBN since 1997. According to Bibleman.com, our hero began life as Miles Peterson, a wealthy Bruce Wayneish character who ruled greedily over his megabucks empire from his stately Wayne… er… Eaglegate Manor. That is, until one night, when he was struck by the Power Of The Lord and decided to dedicate his life to defending helpless Christians from their own spiritual self-defacements. Besides his usual Supermanish powers, he also, like Batman, utilizes various weapons, including “The Full Armor Of God” (which looks amazingly like Nightman’s supersuit with Cross emblems airbrushed on the shoulders) and the “Sword of The Word” A light saber like device which he uses to slash his enemies until what’s left of them falls to their stumps and gives the last few seconds of their lives to Jesus. According to his character profile, his creed, or as they call it, Bible Life Verse, is: Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ because He gives me strength." Perhaps a more fitting motto is “Dress like a Christian Power Ranger and Baptist parents will give you money.”
What’s most curious about this incredibly abysmal show is that Bibleman is played (and produced) by Willie Aimes, who once played a certain rebellious kid named Tommy Bradford on Eight Is Enough, but is perhaps most famous as Scott Baio’s annoying best friend Buddy Lembeck on Charles In Charge… Apparently, Willie became quite the drug addict and rebel rouser in Hollywood, before hitting rock bottom, where so many people often find The Lawd. He became a born-again Christian, and almost immediately decided to devote his remarkable (gack! couldn’t even choke that lie down!) acting talent to convincing Christian children across the country that reading the Bible could help them deflect bullets with their teeth. The show is still in production to this day, the videos always swarming the bottom shelf of Wal-mart’s discount kid video rack. Personally, I’m hoping he’ll turn up in Omega Code 3, and slice Michael York in the nuts with his Holy Light Saber.
And so there you have it, loyal readers and Farkers everywhere. Never let it be said that I am too convinced of my own top ten lists to listen to the opinions of fanboys across the Net when super hero greatness (or lack thereof) is concerned. I will go back to my Dark Crystal Special Edition DVD now, and wait for all of you to write and ask why I didn’t include Powdered Toast Man, Under Dog, Hong Kong Phooey, Captain Caveman, The Mystery Men, The Drac Pack, ManWolf, Speedball, Danger Mouse, and Plastic Man to my list… Next week, I’ll take a break from Larson and shitty super heroes to trip the life Craptastic and cover another four episode TV Sci-Fi blunder, The Phoenix. Until then…