Sunday, December 8, 2013

Who's the WORST... Sub-Z List Character?

Doug:  Today's topic comes right out of the comments on our Thanksgiving post, believe it or not.  Our old pal from the Avengers Assemble! boards, Starfoxxx, remarked that two of the characters in a panel we posted might possibly be the worst sub-Z list characters ever created -- Glamour and Illusion.  So I thought -- what the heck?  There has to be some discussion and/or argument on a claim as bold as that one!  Today's it -- who are worst characters ever created, and why do you feel that way about them?

Doug:  I'll start -- and I really know nothing about this little guy other than he soils Daredevil's original togs (as well as Wolverine's mask) and also apparently stinks.  Literally stinks.  And I think at one point he (like everyone else in the Marvel Universe) was made an Avenger.  Oh, jeez...  I offer you: D-Man.


Edo Bosnar said...

Man, Doug, that's harsh. Couldn't D-man have at least made the D-list?

One that comes to mind for me is Frog-man, the son of one-time clueless villain Leap Frog, who decides he's going to be a hero with a "cooler" name.

Rip Jagger said...

I rather liked D-Man, but I get your point.

The Z-List character who used to get on my last nerve was the always annoying Jack Norris, the husband of Barbara Norris the Valkyrie, who inserted himself into her life when she was with the Defenders. The guy was a grade-A buffoon and I hated it when he showed up moaning about their lost relationship. He seemed so divorced (pun intended) from the reality he was confronted with that he was totally unsympathetic after a very short time.

Gerber loved him I guess, because he kept inflicting him on us. I wanted him selfish ass gone, but alas it took far too long.

Rip Off

david_b said...

I'll probably ruffle some feathers with some of my opinions since I haven't kept up with any more-modern (post-2000) story arcs, but from I can gleen from seeing, here are a couple.. (again forgive any ignorance on my part):

1) Old School..? Batmite. A clear saturday-morning-cartoon entity created decades before in 1959. Perhaps a step up from Bathound and Bathorse, but far more irritating.

2) Winter Soldier. 'Seriously..?' Bucky worked against Stan's no-sidekick stance long enough. Sooo..? 'Course, bring him back.

3) USAgent. See comment under entry #2. From the handfull of WCA issues with him, I never saw the reason to have two Caps, one good, the other a annoying, hardnose creep.

As for villains, Edo gave me the idea of similar DD villains, like the Matador. Fun as part of the
Emissaries of Evil, but like Stilt-man and Leap Frog, are more laughable than anything.

Gerber should have brought more of 'em back to life in the pages of Howard the Duck.

Redartz said...

From the 80's world of Amazing Spiderman, I nominate Biff Rifkin. He was 'Peter Parker's rival when he was dating Debra Whitman. A preppy cartoon; I think he was designed to be annoying and this goal was achieved...

As for villains, the Big Wheel has to be near the bottom of the list. Seriously, a fellow who rides around in what appears to be a modified Ferris Wheel? I doubt the Kingpin lost much sleep over the competition.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I forgot about the Big Wheel...I think I blocked him out. I agree with Edo about Frog Man, but I always found his sometime-partner Ollie Osnick to be even more annoying. (Although he came back years later as Steel Spider, looking incredibly buff!)

I'd have to go with Captain Ultra (a superhero whose lifelong dream be a superhero) and at DC...maybe some of the Marvel Family. (Tall Marvel? Hillbilly Marvel? Seriously?)

Mike W.

Anonymous said...

I kind of like D-Man. They wrote a sad result for him in the Pulse series from the early 2000s. It was actually the first I ever heard of him, but he felt real (i.e. like he had a history), which is all the continuity I ever need.

Z-List is hard to define. Some characters are terrible, but have returned a few times. . . like Madcap.

I really disliked Puma from the 1980s Spider-Man. The modernization of the "positive" Native American stereotype and tied into the Beyonder no less.

Oh yeah, I think the Beyonder is Z-List.

3D man was pretty Z-List, but he too was rehabilitated into something I liked.

I guess almost any character can be made to resonate, sometimes because of its Z-list status, not only in spite of it. :)

Edo Bosnar said...

You know, the Disco Dazzler is, like say, the Hypno-Hustler, a character who should have been Z-list (and largely forgotten by now), but Claremont and, really, Marvel editorial at the time (including Shooter) really seemed to like her and kept hyping her and giving her second chances (even membership in the X-men at one point), so if never an A-lister, she kind of retained this artificial C-list (or at best B-list) status.

Greg said...

Dr. Druid in the Avengers. I don't know if he was "Z-list" or not, but sure seemed that way to me. I liked a lot of what Stern did in Avengers, but not that.

David, I agree about Winter soldier, in the sense that I never thought they should bring Bucky back. The fact that Brubaker did or didn't do a good job with it was irrelevant to me, it just shouldn't have happened. However I will say there was one Winter Soldier story I liked, it was an issue where WS met with Namor at Toro's grave on Christmas Eve to pay their respects. Namor was of course his usual self. I actually liked that sequence. Think it was called Winter Kills?

I never had much use for USAgent either.

Wish I could think of more, off the top of my head.

Doug said...

Storm came up in our favorite Marvel females query a couple of day ago. Would anyone be opposed to adding the Morlocks in general to this list? I certainly could. I stuck with the X-Men far longer than I should have. Truth be told, I could be satisfied with just the first 50 issues of the All-New team.

I'd echo Big Wheel, and the Hypno-Hustler. As long as we're on Spidey characters, how about Razorback? To be honest, I did sort of like him at the time, and wouldn't shy from re-reading those issues. That being said, I'd certainly take a color reprint treatment of Peter Parker Classic.

Definitely also echo Dr. Druid. I'd toss in Marrina as well, but I was never an Alpha Flight reader -- my lack of interest stems only from her inclusion in that Avengers era.

Scourge sort of solved a lot of Z-list problems, didn't he?


david_b said...

I had a whole slew of silly Spidey villains ready to list this morning, like Willow o' Wisp, Hypno and a few others, but I thought we were just focusing on Z-list heroes.

Kangaroo and that Man Mountain Marko dude, anyone...?

Edo Bosnar said...

Will o' the Wisp silly? Granted, the name is not very threatening, but as I recall he was actually a pretty formidable villain.
If you want silly and hapless villains, there's always the Gibbon (who became a hero later, didn't he?) and the Ringer...

Anonymous said...

There are no Z-list characters, only Z-list writers who fail to make a character interesting.

William said...

Triathlon. He's a classic example of a character that was created to fill a niche that didn't need filling. He's also an example of a creator's "pet character". These are bad (or minor) characters that certain creators develop an affinity for, and then continually inflict them on the rest of us.

Fred W. Hill said...

Re the anonymous note about Z-list writers, there have been plenty of generally A-list writers who occasionally hit a foul ball or strike out. Not all of the Marvel Silver Age Lee/Ditko/Kirby output was quite gold -- thinking along the lines of the Tri-Man, the Looter, Toomazooma or the Gibbon. Of course, a truly top-notch writer might later come along and make them interesting. Of course, even with a character like the Looter, Stan was able to make the story amusing (remember, it was Ditko who came up with the character and the plot in which he was introduced). Sometimes those grade Z characters can be a bit fun, if not overused to the extent of wearing out their welcome. But some of those Spidey villains of the late 70s/early 80s, like Big Wheel or Hypno Hustler, wore out their welcome on the cover where they were first seen. At the time I was hooked enough on Spidey comics to buy them despite the ridiculousness of the baddie of the month on the cover.

Anonymous said...

When I even think of "Z"-listers, I first think of that "Defenders for a Day" line-up with Tagak the Leopard Man, Torpedo, Paladin, and Capt Ultra.
Jack of Hearts, Black Goliath, Son of Satan, and White Tiger have subsequently had their own titles, so I wouldn't consider them Z-list anymore.
And Stingray is definitely a Z-lister I have always wanted to get more appearances in the MU.

Now, "SUB" Z-listers...well, I'll have to think a little more about heroes that fall into that category (and I'll try to keep it in the Bronze Age)
....there's way to many villains for me to name.

I love topics like these, and the feedback is great, thanks Doug.


david_b said...

Kudos to Fred for listing the FF's Toomazooma.

Ah, lest we forget other memorable Sub-Z villains like Bloodhawk (Avengers), Spidey's Iquana (Doc Connors pet), Swarm (a guy made of, yes, bees), the Fly, the Grey Goblin (the Norman/Gwen illegitimate offspring)..?, and DON'T ever, EVER cross..



Special mention goes to Chtylok the Che-K'n Kau, the 100-foot, savage land half-cow, half-chicken monster that's "as strong as the Hulk" (this pinched from the comicbookresources forum).

After a while, doncha feel like some editor at the Bullpen must of screamed, 'GERBERRRRRR..????'

Seriously, with all these Z-lister villains, I'll say it again, 'Howard the Duck would still be on the stands'.

Anonymous said...

Leap-frog and the Ringer were cool! (In a messed up ironic sort of way).
C'mon Edo, you're usually the voice of taste and reason in these deals.
But Will-O-the Wisp, as you pointed out, he was cool, I always thought he was a bit scary.
All teen sidekicks are terrible, by their very definition. I couldn't stand Bucky or Toro, and DC should've stopped with Dick Grayson, who did have his moments.
A lot of the swollen cast of the uncountable mutant comics Marvel put out since the 80's were easily forgettable, and all equally obnoxious.
Also, characters like Flag-smasher, Vermin, Zaniac, Onslaught, Hyperstorm, Apocalypse...etc....yeesh.

Anonymous said...

The Looter was a guy who got his powers by banging on a meteorite with a hammer. Also, he had his own personal hot-air balloon to escape with. You CAN'T tell me that's not funny. M.P.

Anonymous said...

Mike Murdock, twin brother to blind lawyer Matt, created by Matt to throw his friends off the trail of Matt being Daredevil. The Sentry, wasn't his whole speil just a hoax? H.E.R.B.I.E.?

Going the baddy route, Razor Fist from Hands Of Shang Chi. I guy who had his hands replaced with swords so he could call himself RAZOR fist? Can't make a fist with a sword for a hand, or eat peas or open a door or wipe your....chin.

Edo Bosnar said...

O.k. David, I'm with you on Bloodhawk (man, were those ever two forgettable issues of the Avengers), but I have to disagree again about Iguana and Swarm - both were used to good, and in the former case, scary effect in the Peter Parker series. Good, solid villains in other words.
Anon, don't have anything against Leap Frog per se, I guess, but his teenage son putting on his costume and calling himself Frog-man just screamed comic relief and/or sub-Z list to me.
As for the Ringer, I liked that story featuring him in Peter Parker #58 (written by Stern and drawn by Byrne - and Colletta; there's something to be said about good writers making even sub-Z list guys seem interesting), but it pretty much cemented his reputation as a hapless, sub-par villain.
H.E.R.B.I.E., by the way, was pretty menacing when possessed by Dr. Sun...

Inkstained Wretch said...

The Elongated Man was the lamest ever. Period. It was especially baffling that DC ever used him when they owned the rights to Plastic Man.

Some of the lesser Legionnaires like Bouncing Boy and Matter Eater Lad come to mind as well.

While I loved All Star Squadron, Roy Thomas' love for anything created in the Golden Age could go a bit too far as in the Tarantula or TNT & Dan the Dyna-Mite. His Young All-Stars creation Flying Fox was pretty lame too, especially given that he was supposed to be a substitute for ... Batman!

Doug said...

Inkstained --



Greg said...

The Torpedo, that's classic. I remember buying the Marvel Premiere issue (I think it was Marvel Premiere anyway)with Torpedo off the spinner rack, thinking it looked cool. Ah to be a kid!

Always liked Stingray too.

Teresa said...

DC: Looker. *Ick* on so many levels. Most of "The Outsiders" franchise was *meh*. I have most of the issues.

DC: The New Guardians. IMHO the worst characters ever. They had the power to quickly offend anyone that was reading the comic book

Marvel: The Crimson Daffodil. He popped up in Cloak & Dagger.
His mutant power is persuasion. For example, he could make you buy his comic book.

Marvel: Paladin. As generic as it gets. His unintended power, make you flip pages without reading them.

Teresa said...

I forgot the "The Red bee."
Costume: Pink blouse. Red overshirt. Red trunks. Pants appear to be spandex with Red/yellow horizontal stripes. Blue boots.
His powers? He had a trained pet bee named Michael, who lived in his belt buckle. There were other bees in his buckle too. They just weren't as smart. He also had a stinger gun.
I actually like him. He is that guy that really wants to be a superhero. (-:

Edo Bosnar said...

Can't agree with you on some of those choices, Teresa. Red Bee (the Golden Age original) is too hilarious to be Z-list. Besides, he's based in Oregon isn't he? That makes him a-o.k. in my book.
As for the Outsiders, I rather liked them, although I stopped reading before Looker came into the picture, so I'll take your word for it.
And Paladin, hmmm, I really liked that issue of Marvel Premiere he was in.

Anonymous said...

Okay, what a great blog, Doug.
So many great memories of these characters---I hadn't thought about Bloodhawk in sooo long!

So I'll consider a "Z" lister as one who never had their own title, and who appeared more than once (not subsequent issues) and I'll try to keep it Bronze Age.

the Contest of Champions "internationals"

the Soviet Super Soldiers,
Condor and Comet from NOVA,
American Eagle,
Black Crow (from Capt. America)
EL AGUILA, ( I loved this guy )
Woodgod (He kinda sucked, IMO)
Aquarian, (ditto)
Rintrah (from Dr Strange)
Blue Shield,
NOVA /Frankie Raye (she showed up in Fearless Defenders, another book I liked that got cancelled),
the Rangers ( loved these guys),
Talisman (from Alpha Flight),
3/4 of the "Outlaws"> Puma, Prowler, and Rocket Racer<,
the Crimson Commando, Stonewall, and Super Sabre (from Xmen),
RAGE (he sucked),
New Universe heroes (boring, IMO),
and the Fallen Angels (lobsters?WTF?)
and Silverclaw


the ANSWER (I liked him),
Mad-Dog (ditto),
Gypsy Moth (ditto),
Daddy Long Legs,
Knight and Fogg (stupid idea),
Red 9,
Volcana (is she still with Molecule Man?),
Sunstroke, Gila, and Butte, (from WCA).. (Sunstroke looked cool, the other two were lame),
Nightshade, Killer Shrike, Fera,
(any Power Man/IF villain, for that matter),
Unus the Untouchable (cool idea),
Tombstone, White Rabbit, Nekra, Mandrill (another favorite),
Frenzy and Tower (from X-factor),
the Lobo Brothers (lame),
the "Scourge" victims,
the UCWF wrestlers (back when wrestling was great, when I was 10 years old!),
the Nightshift (cool idea),
and finally, the ELF from DEFENDERS.

Wow, Inkstained, the TARANTULA!
Now that brings back memories, as I really liked him in AllStar Squadron. Great costume.

And Teresa>> I loved the original Outsiders, but LOOKER was such a LAME addition. And I remember the Crimson Daffodil. How do I remember such trivial stuff? I guess I was such a sponge for info when I was a kid. Now I have trouble remembering where I parked.

Thanks for letting me trip down memory lane, once again.....


O-Bot! said...

How about the Gibbon?

Hoosier X said...

Yeah, leave the Red Bee alone!!! He died bravely, refusing to give up against Baron Blitzkrieg even after he had run out of bees!

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