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Saturday, 16 May 2015

The League of Regrettable Superheroes Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History


The League of Regrettable Superheroes
Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History

257 pages
Book Dimensions: 7" x 9"
Full colour
UK £17.99  US  £24.95  CAN  $26.95 
 Release Date: 2nd June 2015
 Available as an ebook
E-Book ISBN: 978-1-59474-783-0
ISBN: 978-1-59474-763-2

For every superhero hitting the big time with a blockbuster movie, there are countless failures, also-rans, and D-listers. The League of Regrettable Superheroes affectionately presents one hundred of the strangest superheroes ever to see print—from Atoman to Zippo—complete with backstories, vintage art, and colorful commentary.

Drawing on the entire history of the medium, the book celebrates characters that haven’t seen the light of day in decades, like Natureboy, Dr. Hormone, Thunder Bunny, and more. It’s a must-read for comics fans of all ages!

Jon Morris is a cartoonist and graphic designer. Since the late 1990s, he’s operated the blog Gone & Forgotten, an irreverent look at the weirdest and most unfortunate stories and characters comic books have offered. In 2001, he was invited to participate in a superheroes-themed episode of the public radio program This American Life, a popular and frequently rebroadcast episode.

Well, as soon as I heard about this I thought "another comics hipster mocking comics" and to a degree I was right.

Firstly, the book is sturdy and the paper quality also light card in quality so it's going to take a lot to "accidentally" damage them.  It's a "coffee table book" -or these days one that goes onto the book shelf to display your comic coolness.

The introduction title says it all: "Super Heroes Are Big!" which is something the UK publishing crowd appears to have forgotten about.  Making fun of super heroes is nothing new since Not Brand Ech! and even Mad Magazine did it.  I guess they call this "kitsch"?

There are some characters whom, as a comicker, you seriously have to look at and think "Were there a lot of drugs around?"  

There are characters like 711 a man wrongly convicted of a crime who escapes his prison cell each night and deals with the bad guys before returning to the cell by morning.  No, not that wacky.  But then you have......

Aww, and here I thought everyone had forgotten about Dr. Hormone...drawn by Bob Bugg -I'm not kidding you.  And it's all written in black and white in this book so it's proven. You know, Dr. Hormone could well have treated Timely's character The Whizzer (a character left out of this book).  In case you did not know, the boy who grew up to become Timely's speedster supreme was a sick kid whose father injected him to save his life...with rabies.  Marvel re-thought that origin years later!

One I still think to be the campest (we do NOT say "the gayest-looking" any more) was The Bouncer and I write no more but leave a cover to issue 13 to say it all.

But also included in this book are characters such as Mother Hubbard, Amazing Man (What??), The Black Dwarf (later to become The Blue Monk), Bozo The Iron Man, Captain Tootsie, The Clown, Dr. Vampire, Dynamite Thor, The Eye (another "Whaaaat?"), Fantomah, Funnyman,  Justin Wright (Just 'n' Right), Madam Fatal, Zippo and Holo Man....

As well as one that almost turned my young stomach when I saw it years ago.  Of course, I now realise that DC was trying, very badly, to be as hip as Marvel Comics.  Massive fail, DC!

It goes on and on and I suppose the real question has to be "is this book worth buying?"  The answer to that is "Yes!"  In comics we can get very over-reactionary when it comes to fun being poked at our medium but there are cases when you have to sit back, relax and just say "Turn off, baby. Enjoy a chuckle!"

This is an enjoyable book and though there are some characters I can't see why they would be included -Rom Space Knight for instance that even to this day is legendary (if screwed over by Marvel/Disney comics) because of the whole Dire Wraith saga that seems forgotten...oh, no, it was ripped off for Secret Invasion wasn't it?

But overall it's fun and that is just a continuation of what comics should be...Fun!

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