Marvel’s latest relaunch, "Marvel NOW!," seems to be centered around a divide among Marvel’s heroes, with <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/29855-new-marvel-now-divided-teaser-pits-another-marvel-star-vs-lower-profile-character.html">teasers</a> showing established heroes contrasted with newcomers and, frankly, D-Listers. (No D-Man... yet?) <p>Maybe that’s not nice to say, but is a guy like Slapstick really a cut above? Sure, you’ve also got the Prowler, who’s a little better off, but there’s no denying that some of these teasers feature some real oddballs. <p>But Marvel has also proven there’s room for goofy characters to catch a break in their line. Just look at Squirrel Girl, herself a graduate from a previous version of this very list. Or even Rocket and Groot, two bizarre concepts that paired up to become household names. <p>Turning potential duds into fan-favorite studs can be difficult work. For every one of these ideas that works, many simply don’t make it off the ground. But we thought we’d honor the ones that did – and still do – defy the odds by taking a look at ten Marvel characters who are seemingly lame, but are actually pretty cool.
On paper, Cypher has the worst power of all time. OK, maybe not the worst (there <i>is</i> a mutant whose power is supersnot, after all), but certainly the most useless in a fight. A polyglot, Doug Ramsey is able to understand and speak any language he hears instantly. While he may seem useless in a world where universal translators are a thing, there may be something below the surface that doesn't actually suck. <p>Though longtime <I>New Mutants</I> writer Louise Simonson said that no one ever loved Cypher til after he was killed off, he often played a key role in the team's greatest victories. After his recent resurrection, he also managed to combine his linguistic talents with a knack for computers and programming, widening his usefulness and enabling him to aid Cable in defeating a massive Master Mold, and later join the last iteration of X-Factor.
Created as a movie and music tie-in with Bo Derek as the proposed actor to portray her in all media, Dazzler is the gimmickiest, disco-est, most ridiculous concept Marvel has ever let come to fruition. Somehow surviving the death of her proposed tie-ins, Dazzler has grown to be one of Marvel's most popular mutants. <p>And why not? Call it cult status, but the fact is Dazzler kicks ass. Her ability to turn sound into light has been expanded in creative and crafty ways time and time again, and her look has evolved from disco queen, to aerobic video model, to an angst-inspired, darker look, and finally to her current style that combines elements of her previous looks with a modern twist. Still, Dazzler has somehow captured our hearts and fought tooth and nail to earn our respect, even earning a slot on the new all female Avengers spin-off <I>A-Force</I>.
What a world, when one of the craziest, most inaccessibly wacky plot lines from Walt Simonson's legendary run on Thor can become a cult favorite character. While Frog Thor is undoubtedly outwardly bizarre, his appeal is undeniable. <P>Though his initial appearance was short lived, lasting only an arc, the character later returned as part of the Pet Avengers, a concept that combined a whole host of ridiculous characters into an irresistible cartoon adventure. <p>Frog Thor did resurface as one of the many protectors of Battleworld in <i>Thors</i>. And though he hasn’t been seen since <i>Secret Wars</i>, if he shows up in "Marvel NOW!" he wouldn't be the first anthropomorphic Marvel character to make the most out of a second chance... just look at Rocket Raccoon.
Jack of Hearts looks like a disco playing card threw up. The product of convoluted storytelling combined with a bizarre aesthetic, Jack of Hearts was the kind of character most writers have nightmares about. But, in his brief stint at Marvel, Geoff Johns leaned into the character, making him a key part of his Avengers team. <p>Though Jack of Hearts still maintained the elements that made him terrifyingly hard to love, he managed to be something of a break out character for Johns's run, even when he departed for space towards its end. Jack died in “Avengers: Disassembled,” and is one of the few characters who has yet to permanently escape that fate. But if a guy like Slapstick can get a crack at Marvel NOW!, when is Jack gonna get a turn?
Talk about a name fitting a concept. This be-mulleted weirdo is called Longshot, and he's a wacky alien from the TV dimension who was genetically engineered to be the perfect film star. Even though Longshot had a well-loved mini-series in the late '80's, he quickly became something of a joke thanks to his bizarre backstory and hilariously dated appearance. <p>But with just a few snips here and there (mainly on the back of his head), Longshot has become a fan-favorite once again thanks to his involvement in Peter David's cult favorite X-Factor series, and a mini-series that once again put him in a leading role just a few years ago.
Ka-Zar may seem like your run of the mill Tarzan rip-off, but he’s the kind of character that could only exist in the Marvel Universe – meaning the lost child of a rich family raised in a world of lost dinosaurs. <p>This Ka-Zar first showed up in comics in early issues of <i>Uncanny X-Men</i>, but broke out in his own mixed bag series in the ‘70’s. He moped around the Marvel Universe for a while afterwards, but got a new lease on life in the ‘90’s when Mark Waid and Andy Kubert launched a cult favorite series. Recent attempts to revive him haven’t exactly gelled, however. <p>Still Ka-Zar is the savage lord of the Savage Land, and he’s got an equally kick-ass wife in the form of Shanna the She-Devil. There’s plenty of room for Ka-Zar in the Marvel Universe – provided the right hook can be found to bring him back to the civilized world.
A flying green blob who speaks gibberish should not work. And yet, the X-Men's resident Slimer lookalike manages to remain popular not just with readers but apparently with ladies (and sometimes fellows) as well. A product of the Weapon X program, Doop seems to be as powerful as he is bizarre. <p>Doop's popularity began, against all odds, with his introduction in Peter Milligan and Mike Allred's <i>X-Force</i>. Doop managed to stand out as quite possibly the weirdest part of a book full of weirdness, and yet he garnered enough fan support to receive his own mini-series and a scene-stealing role in <I>Wolverine & the X-Men</I>. He’s been out of the limelight for a couple years now, but can the world go too long without a guy(?) like Doop floating around?
Has there ever been a better accidental pun than "Giant-Size Man-Thing?" Those who know fear may burn at the Man-Thing's touch, but those who never grew up laugh at his name. Add to his pun-tastic moniker a lifetime of relative obscurity and a movie so bad most people have erased it from their brains, and you've got a monster man who guards not just the nexus of all realities, but the nexus of all bad jokes as well. <p>And yet, Man-Thing isn't just an unfortunately named rip-off of Swamp Thing (he debuted two months earlier, for one thing). He is the keeper of the place where the many dimensions and timelines of Marvel comics come together. He was recently used to great effect in Jeff Parker's <I>Thunderbolts</I> both as a mode of transportation, and as the crux of several important plotlines. <p>Man-Thing had a brief return in the last Marvel relaunch. Could "Marvel NOW!" see him back again?
Comprised entirely of nearly useless and bizarre characters, the Great Lakes Avengers have had a few rides on the merry-go-round, and have often opportunistically changed their branding to match whatever super-team was successful at any given moment. <p>But despite having characters like Flatman, Dinah Soar, Big Bertha, and even Squirrel Girl among their ranks, there's something to be said about a group of characters that manages to hold together despite being collectively unlovable, and who simply want to use their talents to save the world. There's a great comeback story in there, waiting to be told, like the Bad News Bears of comic books.
The breakout character of 1991! After a well received 50-issue solo run that included team-ups with the New Warriors and the Avengers, Darkhawk faded into relative obscurity, trotting out only for cameo appearances and several ill-fitting attempts to reintroduce the character. <p>Despite his Iron Man-meets-Wolverine-meets-Spider-Man vibe, Chris Powell has potential in the hands of the right writer to recapture and redefine his mythology as a kid caught between two worlds, provided he stops being shoehorned into other books. Maybe with "Marvel NOW!," the time will be right for Darkhawk to take flight again.