As <b>Guardians of the Galaxy</b> proved, even little-known and not even <i>human</i> characters can be awesome ass-kickers with the right story and writing. <p>With <b>Secret Wars</b> mining characters from across the Marvel Multiverse such as MODOK, Shang-Chi and more, it may just be the chance some of even lesser-known characters to shine. Indeed, alternate realities have been making some of these very characters, along with many other Marvel mainstays, into cooler versions of themselves for years. <p>Will some of these guys and gals get the spotlight and convince the average reader that they’re as cool as we know they are? Maybe, but here’s why we already think they rock.
<p>On paper, Cypher has the worst power of all time. OK, maybe not the worst (there <i>is</i> a mutant who's 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 New Mutants 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 newest 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 a recently unveiled, angst-inspired, darker look. 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 <I>Thor</I> 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>And, while nothing is confirmed, Frog Thor's presence in several pieces of <I>Secret Wars</I> preview art suggests that we haven't seen the last of the Frog of Thunder. And he wouldn't be the first anthropomorphic Marvel character to make the most out of a second chance... just look at Rocket Racoon.
<p>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 escape that fate, but with renewed interest in Marvel's cosmic wing, there's always a chance he'll show back up, hopefully with better fashion sense.
<p>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 recent mini-series that once again put him in a leading role.
Squirrel Girl is another character who enjoys extensive popularity despite her unlikely nature. Created - somehow - by Steve Ditko and Will Morris in 1992, Doreen Green has the ability control squirrels, including her favorites Monkey Joe and Tippy Toe. <p>Despite being the most intentionally ridiculous character in Marvel's stable, Squirrel Girl has, against all odds, managed to take down villains as powerful as Doctor Doom and go toe to toe with Iron Man. Just goes to show you can't judge a book by it's brown costume and bushy tail. She's now two issues in to her own ongoing solo series, <I>The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl</I>.
<p>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 X-Force. 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 earlier this year.
Has there ever been a better accidental comics 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 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 is more than just an unfortunately named rip-off of Alec Holland. 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>With his status as the guardian of the nexus of all realities, could Man-Thing see a star turn in the multiverse-spanning <B>Secret Wars</B>?
<p>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 comics.
<p>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..