With the movie featuring Marvel’s tiny superhero Ant-Man hitting multiplexes July 17, perhaps it’s time to pay homage to the lesser superheroes of the comic-book genre.
Enter author Jon Morris, a cartoonist and graphic designer, and The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes From Comic Book History. Morris digs deep to shove this meticulously curated group of Spandex-clad characters into the spotlight.
“Right now, we’re in the middle of a superhero boom in movies,” Morris says in press materials, “but most of the heroes who are getting a shot at silver-screen success are the flagship characters — X-Men, Batman, Hulk, Thor, Superman — the characters who always get the attention. I thought it would be fun to shine a light on the lesser-known characters, who, either by design or circumstance, never made it off the ground.”
The colorfully illustrated 256-page book is organized into three helpful sections — The Golden Age, 1938-1949 (Doctor Hormone, The Eye, Nightmare and Sleepy); The Silver Age, 1950-1969 (Bee-Man, Nature Boy and Fatman); and The Modern Age, 1970-present (Squirrel Girl, Thunderbunny and The Ferret).
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Morris includes the superhero catchphrases, vintage comic-book covers and artwork, character backstories and commentary. And his favorite superhero?
“I have a great deal of affection for The Red Bee, probably my favorite superhero of The Golden Age,” he says. “He was a two-fisted assistant district attorney whose sole superpower was that he had trained a single bee, named Michael, to help him fight crime.
“I like to say of him, ‘Few have tried so hard to do so much with so little.’”
He had us at Thunderbunny.
— Celeste Williams
The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes From Comic Book History
by Jon Morris
Quirk Books, $24.95