Yeeeeeeesssssss! I love doing these! They are the best part of my job, and I never get tired of writing them. For those who aren't familiar, this is a regular series of mine in which I go back into DC's old character guide and pull out some of the weirdest and most obscure characters I can possibly find. Who's Who was DC's answer to Marvel's old handbooks, and as such was a definitive catalog of all their characters and teams, and oh, my god, does DC have some weirdness in its history. Now, since this is like the fifth time I've done this, and I'm running out of innovative ways to explain it, let's get on with the show.
10. The Invisible Destroyer
We are off to just the best start.
I have a HUUUUUUGE soft spot for early silver age DC villains, and the Invisible Destroyer is like my secret favorite. I mean, look at him! He is an invisible man who wears a helmet! That's adorable!
Name is kind of a misnomer though. I mean, he's not invisible. I can see him. He's right there.
The Destroyer is actually a figment of the imagination of physicist Dr. Martin Phillips, who is most likely suffering from the guilt of the horrors he caused as an atomic researcher in the "˜50s. Like, seriously, no wonder his mind created a gaudily dressed villainous fiend to cause chaos. I read that Robert Oppenheimer had the same problem. Eventually, Green Lantern annihilated the Destroyer and he was never seen again. Although he was kinda never seen in the first place. Ba-dum-tish.
It's okay to be mad about that pun. I kind of am, and I wrote it.
Hi, everyone, meet Ira Quimby. Quimby was kind of a moron, and kept suggesting dumb crime ideas to his criminal bros, so they ironically nicknamed him IQ. You know, because criminals are jerkfaces.
One day, Quimby figured out a way to get one of his weird plans to work and became a gadget-wielding supervillain. And of course, he took his newfound skills and took to the skies to challenge a hero worthy of his might. The only hero on his playing field. Who was that hero? The one, the only, Hawkman!
Yep, Hawkman. That raving, stalking, screamy, medieval, weapon-wielding lunatic. Hawkman discovered that it was an alien artifact that made IQ smart enough to pull off his capers and caught the guy for good. In fairness, getting hit in the skull with a mace a couple of times probably reduced his intelligence quite a bit. But I do think it's appropriate that one of Hawkman's most prevalent villains is a dude ironically nicknamed IQ.
IQ was eventually locked up in a maximum security prison which"¦uh"¦seems like overkill, maybe? Just a tad?
Oh, holy hell, is that one metal name.
Like, Ironwolf? How do you not make much better use of a character called Ironwolf? Oh, I'm sorry, apparently I'm wrong. Apparently, his full, in use name isn't Ironwolf; it's Lord Ironwolf.
Oh, my God, I just got weak in the knees saying that name. If you are physically capable of saying Lord Ironwolf without instinctively throwing up the horns and woo-ing, then I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you don't have a soul. Lord Ironwolf is from an alien planet. On this planet, he owns many trees. Like, a metric crap ton of trees. But these aren't just any trees; these are trees that produce anti-gravity wood. And you know what that means"¦SPACE BOAT! Lord Ironwolf and his flying space boat! With his first mate, Shebaba O'Neal, which is another bomb dot net name. Oh, and his boat? It's called the Limerick Rake.
New theory: Lord Ironwolf is the greatest DC character of all time. Objectively.
Look, not everyone has a skillset that makes it easy to become a supervillain. For every dude who naturally knows a lot about riddles or fear toxin, there's a dude who has to make a supervillainous identity out of his own dumb skill.
And Javelin was one of those poor dudes. Javelin was an Olympic athlete who decided crime was a better career path. And to be honest, he probably wasn't wrong. I mean, God, did you SEE the Rio games? But anyway, Javelin decided to use his javelin-throwing skill for crime by employing gimmicked tech Javelins. Like Captain Boomerang, but somehow dumber. Javelin tried to steal a jet engine from Ferris Aircraft, but got his butt handed to him by Green Lantern.
Oh, so you're saying that magic ring that can conjure anything from one's imagination is apparently better than sharp, pointy throwin' sticks? Huh, what a total surprise. Javelin has been thought dead three times, twice due to his own javelins and once because he was hit by a car.
So never let your stupid skillset or inability to accomplish anything keep you from your dreams.
6. Jonah Hex (Hex)
Okay, okay, shut up for a second. I am gonna explain this one.
Yes, I know that Jonah Hex himself is not obscure at all and is pretty notable. But I'm not talking about standard Jonah Hex, I'm talking about the time period when he was simply the Man Known as Hex. And, since his Who's Who entry devotes a full page to this period of time, I'm making an executive decision and saying it counts. So at some point during his cowboy days, Hex was time snatched and sent to the year 2050. There, he learned that a nuclear holocaust had occurred in the year 2045, which quite honestly given the current state of things feels late.
Like, I would've guessed sometime in the next three to five years. But, yeah, Hex was a super future post-apocalypse cowboy, which sounds rad as hell. Well, he was until he returned to the past, and got knocked out and shot at the age of 66. Poor Hex, you shoulda stayed in the post-apocalypse.
Woulda been safer.
University of Connecticut student Rip Jagger…WAIT, STOP.
Rip Jagger. I"¦I am so happy that this is a name. I can't believe how much I like that. Can I name my kid that? Can I rename myself that?
Update: Apparently, according to my girlfriend, the answer to both is "Yes, of course." She's the best.
But back to Judomaster. Rip left college to go serve overseas in the army during World War II. While over there, he encountered a group of Japanese citizens opposed to the war, who trained him in Judo. And of course the white dude who has been on Japanese soil for maybe a couple months is instantly the best at Judo because"¦um"¦colonialism? They also give him a costume based on Japanese iconography which, while very sweet, isn't necessarily the best of ideas?
Like, don't wear a costume based on the imagery of the country you are currently fighting! That's just gonna get you shot by some twitchy American soldier during the next All-Star Squadron meeting.
4. J. Wilbur Wolfingham
You know, Superman is one of the hardest characters to come up with villains for. They either have to be hyper intelligent or the strongest creature in the Andromeda Galaxy. So of course, who is Superman's greatest foe? Why, that'd be J. Wilbur Wolfingham, who is a middle-aged con man. Logically.
Wolfingham constantly appears with new schemes and flim-flams. New shenanigans and hijinks. But every time, Superman takes time out of his day to foil these attempts at con artistry. Maybe not the best use of your time, Supes. I mean, I'd personally suggest leaving the middle-aged swindler to like, The Guardian, maybe. Or Red Bee. You know, someone more his speed. You have world ending crises to stop; taking time out of your day to prevent a failed con artist from failing even harder seems misguided.
The best thing about Wolfingham though? According to his Who's Who entry, "No one seems to know what the "˜J' stands for."
3. The Key
Look, as we've talked about already in this list, not all supervillain gimmicks are created equal. Hell, at least Javelin had expertise in a skillset that could easily be weaponized. The Key was not so lucky.
Not content with simply building elaborate key-shaped contraptions, The Key also attempted to give himself psionic powers by injecting himself with various "psycho-drugs" which"¦uh"¦sure is a thing to do.
Listen kids, I don't want to be your uncool high school guidance counselor right now, but I feel I should make sure you know that drugs don't give you superpowers. I've been prescribed codeine-based cough syrup this week to deal with the aftermath of a particularly bad cold, and the only super power it’s given me is the desire to sleep all the time. But The Key eventually did actually gain psionic powers from his drug taking. And terminal illness. Oops.
He didn't wind up dying, but did end up shriveled and weak, so I guess the lesson is simple, kids: winners don't take drugs to give them superpowers to make up for their lame supervillain gimmick.
2. Kid Devil
Meet Eddie Bloomberg. Eddie was an assistant and gofer for his Aunt's production company, a film studio working with Dan Cassidy, aka the Blue Devil. Eddie had an almost obsessive love for Dan, and wanted nothing more than to be the Blue Devil's partner. So he constructed a supersuit and took on the identity of Kid Devil.
With his dumb, dumb outfit. Seriously, Kid Devil's original gear makes him look like one of Jimmy Olsen's secret identities. After failing as a hero for some time, Eddie had a brilliant idea: make a deal with the devil for superpowers.
This idea is, you know, terrible.
It's only slightly better than trying to get super powers through rampant drug use. I'm looking at you, The Key. Anyhoo, Eddie eventually took the codename Red Devil to pay homage to his mentor before losing his powers and dying as a member of the Teen Titans. So remember kids, deals with the devil: totes cool.
1. Killer Moth
A-hem"¦the best Batman villain in my opinion. I mean, just LOOK at him. He's majestic. A beautiful, soaring, magical force to be reckoned with.
Killer Moth was born as Drury Walker, a criminal who recognized that villains needed their own Batman to keep them safe from, well, Batman. Drury thought, "Hey, I could do that", despite the fact that no, no, he couldn't. After being released from prison, he used his criminal fortune to set up a fake identity as rich socialite Cameron von Cleer. Two things: one, you really couldn't have picked a more suspiciously fake name, could you? Like, I have a friend whose go-to fake name is Richard Icognitus, and even that's better. And second, if you have already established a life for yourself as a wealthy socialite, why do you need to go back into crime? You're good. Stop. But he decided to not do that and instead don a garish – and in my opinion, perfect – costume to become Killer Moth.
He fought Batman a couple times, one of which led to him apparently falling to his death. You know, like a moron. Moth returned and actually succeeded in discovering Batman's secret identity before he was shot in the head and had to have the part of his brain containing that knowledge removed. Although "having part of his brain removed" sounds like something that probably happened to Killer Moth before, given his entire criminal career.
And there ya go, faithful readership, another one of these in the can. If you liked it, feel free to check out the other ones I've done and keep an eye out for the next one. Because I love doing these and will most certainly keep it up.