I haven't done one of these in a while. But, hey, I felt like shaking off the rust and having myself a little fun. For those who don't remember (and who can blame you), in these segments, I dig out an issue or two from my collection of Who's Who comics, which catalogue the characters of the DC Universe. I flip through and pull out some of the weirdest characters, and we all have some fun and a good-hearted chuckle with the whole thing.
10. Monsieur Mallah
FRENCH MONKEY. Sorry, ape. I know there's a difference, but monkey is way more fun to say. You gotta admit that.
Monsieur Mallah was a simple test gorilla for a mad scientist. The scientist wanted to see how smart he could make a gorilla. And he made him smart enough to talk and be a lab assistant and stuff. Then the scientist got blown up. His brain was placed in a giant metal chess piece, and he started calling himself The Brain. Also, he was now evil.
Mallah assisted because, y'know, when a dude takes you from flinging your own feces to debating Faust, you owe him a few favors. Also, they might be lovers? Like, that has historically been some writers' interpretation. Which is weird, right? Like, straight up bestiality is always weird and wrong. This is why I could never get into Bee Movie. Oh, eventually Gorilla Grodd picked up The Brain and beat Mallah to death with him.
Which is – I'll be honest – hilarious.
Ooof. That sure is a costume.
Like, the bald head, the bare arms and legs. The collar? The mustache?! Jesus Christ on a Holy Cow, that is misery inducing. THE EARS????!!!!!
Duncan Pramble was a research assistant, so we’re already starting off on a weird note. Dude wasn't even a scientist or a doctor. He was a research assistant. I could be a research assistant. I know research assistants. That's not impressive.
Anyway, Dunc accompanied his boss and the Challengers of the Unknown on a mission. He discovered Liquid Light, an elixir that granted him powers"¦as soon as he died. Every time he came back from the dead, he did so with brand new super powers. Unfortunately, the powers were random, and he had no control over what he was getting.
And if he gets a bad power, he's just gotta die and get rid of it. That's bad.
8. Mysto, The Magician Detective
THESE ARE MY FAVORITES. Weird ’50s DC Detectives.
Rick Carter was a pilot who became a stage magician who became a detective in the least sensical career path of all time. The Sims offers more logical career paths. As a magician, he called himself Mysto. Not the best name.
After stopping an attempted murder, he decided to be a detective. That is, uh, not how detective work operates. Typically, detectives show up after the murder has happened. And, y'know, investigate. They aren't preventative.
Honestly, I love writing about comics, but I wouldn't want to write comics. However, the one exception would be if I were allowed to write a Mysto/Captain Compass crossover special. The boat detective and the magician detective working together to solve magic boat crimes.
I am ALLLLLLLLLL IIIIIINNNNNNNNNN for that.
7. Nemesis Kid
Wouldn't be one of these lists without a Legion of Super Heroes team member somewhere on it.
I mean, Nemesis Kid was only a Legionnaire for like, an issue, but y'know. And what an issue it was. Adventure Comics #346 was marketed with the promise that four new Legionnaires would be introduced, but one would be a traitor. Who would it be? Would it be Karate Kid? Or Princess Projectra? Or Ferro Lad? Or Nemesis Kid? Not exactly the hardest puzzle in the world to solve. Hmmmmmmm, who's the traitor? Could it be Villain Lad? No, that would be ridiculous. I'm thinkin' there's something up with this metal boy.
Nemesis Kid is able to develop powers that are contradictory to those of whoever he's fighting. If you have ice powers, he'll get fire. If you are a water type, he'll break out that electricity.
If you go scissors, he'll go rock.
6. Neptune Perkins
For these lists, sometimes a silly name is all it takes to get a second glance. And names don't come much sillier than Neptune Perkins.
The story of Neptune Perkins started with the story of DC's Captain Nemo. This Captain Nemo was a white explorer dude named Arthur Pym, who built and lost the Nautilus. After that, Pym took to land again, and, needing a new name, took"¦Perkins? Why"¦Why couldn't he just go back to Pym? Or stay as Nemo? W-what? Here, let me skim this entry a bit. Pym teamed up with the Germans in 1910…blah blah blah…He built a war island…yadda yadda…He sank the Titanic…Ho-hum. Wait, WHAT?
Okay, then. Pym's son, Ross, thought his dad was a dick, so he married a Titanic survivor and fathered a son. That son, Neptune Perkins, was a so-called Human Dolphin. Presumably, they meant that in the good at swimming sense, and not in the commits murder and sexual assault for fun sense. Seriously, dolphins are evil.
He fought with the All-Star Squadron before retiring from heroism to become a senator, because this one really needed something crazy to end on.
Sometimes you look at a character, and you could never in a million years guess what their whole thing is. Because this sword and sorcery-looking MF-er is actually a Rock God.
Jim Rook, frontman of The Electrics (the fictional DC Comics band, not the real Christian folk-rock ensemble), found himself transported into an alternate dimension known as Myrra. There, he was bequeathed the Sword of Night. The sword had a built-in danger sense, and it can make someone tell the truth. So it's like Sting meets Wonder Woman's lasso. Although to be fair, every sword compels people to tell the truth if you just threaten to stick it in "˜em.
Anyway, Jim came back from Myrra, and opened a nice little bookstore. That's nice. Years later – and presumably motivated by the death of independent bookstores – he transitioned to bar ownership.
And also joined Shadowpact, which I'll get around to reading/writing about next month.
4. The Nuclear Family
Man, nuclear science sure is crazy, right?
Dr. Eric Shanner was a scientist working during the early days of atomic research. (which is weird, because I thought he was an artist whose work I loved in that Convergence: SHAZAM book, but whatever). Unfortunately, safety regulations weren't really a thing back then, so Shanner was irradiated. He then spread it to his entire family, and they all died. Yeesh.
So he built a robot version of himself, and robot versions of his whole family, and gave them all super powers. What powers? Well, they can each imitate a different stage of a"¦nuclear"¦blast. Double yeesh.
I dunno. That just feels in poor taste. Maybe it's because I live in California, and there's a 50 percent chance that I'll be nuked by a foreign power and a 50 percent chance I'll be nuked by my own president’s incompetence, but regardless. Like, people have actually been annihilated by nuclear weapons. And they’ve died. Horribly. And these guys were created in the ’80s, when nuclear war was troublingly close to happening. I'm just saying"¦yeesh.
3. Ocean Master
Aquaman has never had a super great rogues gallery. I should know; I've written extensively about them. But Ocean Master is one of his most notable villains.
Orm was Arthur's half-brother. That has always remained true. What changed repeatedly was how that relation came to be.
At his inception, he was a human who was jealous of Arthur and decided to raid Atlantean cities. Later on, everyone decided that it made more sense for him to be an Atlantean who was jealous because this land lubber lost son was the new destined king. Which is how he totally became Water Loki.
It's shocking to me that no one ever made this comparison obvious in text. Ocean Master is a whiny jerk who just wants to be king. I think the reason he doesn't get more love is just that he just looks worse and has a dumber name.
He's kind of a dweeb.
2. The Outsider
Batman comics from the ’60s were so rad.
Seriously, the first couple of Batman Showcase volumes are a good time if you've never read them. The thing is, they were mostly about trying to get the comics as close to the ’66 TV show as possible. So Aunt Harriet had to be added. And to do that, Alfred needed to go. So he was crushed by a rock. It was a big rock.
But around the same time, a mysterious new foe who called himself The Outsider appeared. You see, Alfred's body was stolen by a scientist who tried to revive him, but he only succeeded in turning him into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man's tumor-riddled cousin. The Outsider had no memory of being Alfred. He was also evil, so he decided to kill Batman, but Batman made him normal again, and everyone forgot this ever happened. But I remember.
Because those comics were great.
1. The Peacemaker
Ah, yes, Christopher Smith, the man who loved Peace so much that he decided to shoot people for it.
Chris was a diplomat who tried to solve everything non-violently, but when a warlord appeared to be unstoppable through peaceful means, Chris decided, "Ah, well. Screw it, guess I have to use all these guns I have lying around!" And he became The Peacemaker.
Okay, that's not fair. He didn't "have all those weapons lying around". He made them. Because making guns was apparently a hobby of this totally normal diplomat who wasn't ready and waiting to snap.
Also, Peacemaker was a Charlton Comics character, which means he was allegorically represented within Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen. So you might not recognize Peacemaker, but you'd probably know him better as The Comedian.
And there we go. More odd, beloved comic book characters, all wrapped up in a tight little package. I can't wait to do another article like this.