For a while, super-pets were all the rage. Superman had
Krypto the Super-Dog and Beppo the Super-Monkey (Beppo is a jerk and no one
likes Beppo). Batman had Ace the Bat-Hound. Supergirl had a Super-Cat,
Streaky, and a Super-Horse that went by the name of Comet.
Comet was originally a centaur from ancient Greece. He saved
the life of the sorceress Circe, who tried to reward him by turning into a full
human... but then she accidentally turned him into a full horse instead. When
she was unable to reverse the spell, she gave him immortality and superpowers as
a sort of consolation prize, because eternity as a horse is a good deal or
It was in this form that he joined Supergirl's
crime-fighting super-team... but, as it transpired, if a comet passed through
the solar system he was in, he turned human for the duration -- into swoony
heart-throb "Bronco" Bill Starr, rodeo superstar -- and stealer of
Which is kind of a jerk move, because he'd just show up, do
kissy-faces with Kara, then disappear again, and she'd just be left waiting for
the next comet to arrive. You'd think, given that there are at least 4,000 confirmed comets in the solar system, he'd just be
Bronco full-time. But they didn't know that in the 1960s, so we'll give that
one a pass.
So, remember that time that everyone was all mad that Thor was
going to be a woman? Go grab the 1980s run of the Thor comic by Walt Simonson.
Simonson had a spectacular run, but one of the best moments had to be the
three issues in 1986, starting with Thor issue #364, in which Thor was
running around as a frog, transformed by trickster Loki.
It gets better, though. During that time, Frog Thor makes
friends with a frog named Puddlegulp. Puddlegulp, as it turns out, was once a
human (named Simon Walterson) who had been transformed into a frog by a gypsy.
When Thor departs, once more returned to his true form, Walterson finds a
sliver of Mjolnir left behind and uses is to create Frogjolnir, and turn
himself into Throg --
champion of the Central Park frogs.
It's probably safe to say that any moment from the 1960s
comic "Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane" is going to be... not showing up on TV
any time soon. The focus is on, of course, ace reporter Lois Lane, and the
scrapes she gets into trying to get Superman to marry her. You'd think this
would be relatively tame, but no. No.
The particular highlight we've chosen is from 1966's issue
of the Bug-Belle." Lois Lane has gotten hold of an item belonging to
her rival for Superman's affections, Lana Lang -- the Bio-Ring that turns her
into the Insect Queen, able to take the form of any arthropod, because comics.
Naturally, Lois ends up putting the ring on, but the cover is somewhat misleading
-- she uses the ring to help save a child trapped in a burning building when
Superman is unable to attend the scene.
This, because comics, leads to the mysterious
Velvet O'Mara turning up to steal the ring to try to use it to kill Superman,
and Lana and Lois teaming up to get it back. Definitely not the wackiest,
plot-wise, but the time Lois turned herself into a black woman because she was curious about life in the
ghetto? I don't want to touch that with a ten-foot pole.
William Moulton Marston, creator of Wonder Woman under the
pen name Charles Moulton, was a fascinating chap. He helped develop the
polygraph test and he and his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston had a lifelong
polyamorous relationship with Olive Byrne, which should indicate that he was a
pretty unconventional guy.
Wonder Woman was actually Elizabeth's idea, following the
male-oriented comics that sprung up in the 1940s, but Marston created the
actual character, purportedly basing her on both Elizabeth and Olive.
He wrote in 1943, "Not even girls want to be girls so
long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to
be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women
are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness.
The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of
Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman."
The "submissive" part showed up in the comic in
ways that, in retrospect, or to adult eyes, are a little on the pervy side: spankings, wrestling and a whole boatload of being tied up.
Garth Ennis isn't really a huge superhero fan (although
"Hitman" #34 seems to indicate a bit of a soft spot for ol' Supes), so if you
give him a superhero, something ridiculous will probably happen.
In 2002, Ennis was working on "The Punisher" with Darick Robertson, and ol' Frankie teamed
up with Wolverine to take down an army of mafia bad guys. Because Ennis doesn't
really like Wolvie a great deal, he decided to have some fun -- by having the Punisher blow Wolvie's face off
with a shotgun, shoot him in the man-parts, then park a steamroller on top of
Yep. Pretty sure Marvel's not going to want to put that on
Archie Comics' "Mighty Crusaders" ran from 1965 to
1966 for seven issues, then from 1983 to 1985 for 13 issues, then in 1992 for
eight issues. The comic has, as you can tell, had a pretty rough go of it. It was supposed
to be Archie Comics' attempt at superheroes, but it just didn't take off.
Let's be honest: if a villanous sorcerer from outer space
named Phantasmon, written by Jerry Siegel and able to shoot lightning out of
his nose, was unable to keep the book afloat, it probably had much bigger
Any character from the "Legion of Super-Heroes"
is probably cheating a little bit, because they're kind of meant to be
ludicrously over-the-top, but they did get their very own cartoon series in
2006, and even Matter-Eater Lad -- who can eat anything -- got billing.
Arm-Fall-Off-Boy was probably a little too weird even for
that, though. A superhero from the 30th
century, his power is that his limbs just come off, and he can then use them to
whack villains with, which would be a useful skill if you can't find, say, a
lead pipe or a baseball bat. He's not a member of the Legion, because nerves
during his tryout caused him to fall apart. Quite literally.
Over the years, your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man has
been transformed into an actual spider a few times, but possibly the most
bizarre is the time Spider-Man was kissed by a new villain called The Queen,
which infected him with genes or something to slowly transform him into a giant
spider that she could mate with, because reasons. (If you want to look it up,
it's 2004's "Spectacular Spider-Man" #17-20.)
And it totally worked. Over the course of four issues, Peter
Parker transforms into a giant ugly spider... but not just any giant spider, a
giant pregnant spider. Long story
short, the spider dies and from its distended abdomen emerges Parker, with
brand-new spider-powers, with which he is able to dispatch The Queen. Yep. The whole
thing was a crazy set-up to give Spider-Man web-shooters that are part of his body rather than external gadgets and spider stings in his forearms.
Daredevil has seen quite a respectable reboot in his own TV
show, but prior to then, the poor chap really went through the wringer.
One of those wringer-moments was the "Shadowland"
mini-series in which he got possessed by an actual, real-life demon. Matt
Murdock had defeated his enemies, the ninja clan known as the Hand, and rather than let a bunch of
murdering ninjas run around doing ninja murders, he decided to rule them
That's when Beast of the Hand, the demon the hand had been serving for
centuries, decided Matt's body looked pretty comfy and took up residence.
A bunch of his mates try to stop him, but it
takes a chi punch from the Immortal Iron Fist to literally punch the demon out
of Murdock's soul. Which... OK, as silly as the whole premise is, that's kind
The Crimson Avenger, AKA Albert Elwood, made his debut in
"World's Finest Comics" #131, a talented inventor who wanted to help Supes and
Bats put away the evil, thieving Octopus Gang. Although talented, his
inventions were a bit... odd, and the ensuing comedy of errors turned our
heroes into helium balloons.
If you're going to get meta, you have to do it well. A
little subtlety is never misplaced. The time the Fantastic Four had to travel
to the afterlife in "Fantastic Four" #511 was more like being walloped with a
Dr Doom had possessed The Thing, you see, and the only way
to stop Doom was to kill Grimm. Which, deed done, Mr Fantastic, the Invisible
Woman and the Human Torch decided to go to heaven and get their friend back...
where, behind a closed door, they find "god."
Who turns out to be, well, you already know who.
Look, we love Jack Kirby. Jack Kirby is incredible. It just sort of seems a
bit, well, arrogant, for a comics writer to write a story that analogises
creating comics with being a god.
The first issue of "The Avengers" ran in 1963, and saw our heroes assemble for the
first time: Iron Man, Hulk and Thor. Due to an early misunderstanding, though,
the Hulk is accused of causing a train to derail, so our green hero runs away and joins the circus. Which is to say he flees and
hides out disguised as a robotic clown.
The "robot" part was cover for his super-Hulk-strength, to explain why he can
simultaneously juggle a horse, a seal and an elephant, or lift a cage full of
It's not that we don't want
to see this happen in an Avengers film, but sadly... the likelihood is pretty