Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review of The League of Regrettable Superheroes

Book #31. The League of Regrettable Superheroes, by Jon Morris. Hardcover.  

This is a delightful look at a range of bizarre comic book characters from throughout the nearly eight-decade history of the medium. Morris covers characters with strange names, strange powers, strange costumes … anything that makes them “regrettable.” For each character, we are presented a page of text (sometimes more) and a page of their comic adventures (sometimes more).

Beginning with the Golden Age of Comics, Morris mentions a few characters that I had heard of, including Nelvana of the Northern Lights and Vagabond Prince. The Vagabond Prince was created by comics legends Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, and was discussed in a book I reviewed a few years ago. But this section also included a range of bizarre characters that were total unknowns to me, including Captain Truth, Doctor Hormone, Lady Satan, and Fantoman. Reading about these characters was certainly an eye-opening experience.

Moving into the Silver Age of the 1950s and 1960s, we are faced with some characters or concepts who have re-appeared in comics over the years. This list includes, Dial H for Hero, B’Wana Beast & Congorilla. And of course there are many that have disappeared, and most of them deserved to. I don’t think I’ll need to track down stories featuring Gunmaster, Nature Boy & Brain Boy.

But the section on the Modern Age of Comics (from the 1970s onward), includes a range of characters I am familiar with, such as NFL Superpro, The Human Fly (whose adventures are occasionally podcasted about here) and US 1 (whose stories have been reviewed here and here). And Morris even includes the Super-Sons of Batman and Superman, which are indeed bizarre stories, but which my daughter Emily talked about with Michael Bradley on anepisode of his podcast.

Even my beloved ROM Spaceknight appears in this section, mostly because it was based on a toy, which I suppose is fair. And there are certainly some obscure characters listed in this section, such as Slapstick, Killjoy, and Thunderbunny.

To anyone interested in comic book history, and with a sense of humor about comic book history, I recommend this book. It was always interesting, and I even learned a few things.

Source: public library

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