Tuesday, May 28, 2013

DC Comics Presents: Five Ridiculous Characters Ripped From the Pages of Who's Who

I grew up reading superhero comics. There hasn't been a day in the last twenty-plus years where I wasn't interested in the adventures of costumed crime-fighters and masked vigilantes. This is probably true for a lot of long-time comic readers, though there are some that may take the genre just a little too seriously. Myself, well, I like to embrace the oddball aspects-- the brightly colored costumes and the silly codenames. That's all part of the fun.

To celebrate that love for the weird and obscure, I'm gonna be digging into the long boxes. Finding dusty, old back-issues and taking a look at some of the strangest comic characters ever to be conceived. And there is no better place to start than in the pages of Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe.

Originally published in 1984, Who's Who was a 26-issue series that served as an encyclopedia-style introduction to many of the characters and locations that populated DC's numerous series at the time. It was a perfect companion piece to the Crisis On Infinite Earths maxi-series that was also being published at the time, since it featured literally hundreds of characters, many of whom readers would not recognize or even know. Of course, there are some heroes and villains that lurk in the pages of old Who's Who that even the most dedicated of DC fanboys have probably never heard of [or, at least, wish that they hadn't].

Let's take a look at the first five that really jumped out at me.

Not a dream, not a hoax. That is indeed Kite-Man, whose real name is Charles "Chuck" Brown and really, I feel like I don't need to say anything else about him. His entry in Who's Who, under Powers and Weapons, states, "He is a poor leader and even poorer hand-to-hand combatant." I'm not sure how readers were supposed to believe this guy posed any kind of threat to Batman or that one time it took the combined might of Hawkman, Hawkwoman and Zatanna to defeat him. Oh, and he somehow managed to survive plummeting to his death, off-panel, during Infinite Crisis simply so a different writer could have Bruno Mannheim kill and devour him in a later comic.

His only real claim to fame is that the creators of the Batman: Brave and the Bold cartoon series decided to include him in multiple [!!!] episodes, where he was voiced by Jeffrey Combs.

I'm not sure how I feel about Big Sir. Essentially, he has an eight-year old mind that's trapped in a monstrous body and he was manipulated by the Flash's Rogues' Gallery to attack the Scarlett Speedster. There's a certain amount of sympathy that you feel for the character, until you realize that his real name is Dufus P. Ratchet and the reason he assaulted the Flash was because the Rogues' told Dufus that the hero had killed a small mouse. Also, I'm not sure why the Monitor, who designed the armor that Big Sir wears, decided on open toe sandals to complete the costume. It just seems like an odd choice.

I know exactly how I feel about Chroma and it's bad. Just awful. He randomly appeared during an outdoor concert and started singing about the end of life on Earth. He briefly battled Infinity, Inc. and later explained that he sang his songs of doom and destruction to study human reactions. It turned out that he was actually a visitor from space and he, uh, was studying us and how we respond to aliens singing about death and stuff. I don't know. He's probably not the worst character that Roy Thomas ever created, but he might be close.

Dr. Spectro is another color-themed villain and, depending on whether I do a future installment or not, he probably will not be the last. Tom Emery hails from an "unnamed Midwestern town", where he was originally a pool hall owner. He was mistaken for a costumed villain that didn't really exist, part of Captain Atom's fictional "biography", and when a reporter offered him money for information, he made up a story about being that criminal. It wasn't until he was revealed as a fraud that he actually decided to don a hi-tech costume and really become Dr. Spectro. Apparently, one of his weapons is a prism projector that can induce hallucinations in people. A "maximum" of eight people can be affected at once.

Marlene Simmonds is actually the second person to adopt the Marine Marauder identity. The first, her brother, originally menaced Aquaman during the late '70s. Marlene, however, used her ability to communicate with sea life to commit robberies which led her into a confrontation with the Outsiders. Of course, her telepathic abilities didn't stop an octopus from wrapping her up in its tentacles and dragging her down into the murky depths. One appearance and she was never heard from again.

It's a fate that every character on this list should have likewise suffered.


  1. So bad just so terribly bad these characters are but hey I kind of like Kite Man lol.

    1. the worst of the worst, for sure, but i'd still love to see any one of them as an action figure.

      thanks for visiting the blog..!