What if instead of a radioactive spider, Peter Parker had been bitten by a radioactive butterfly? He'd be a freaking laughingstock, that's what.
Some ideas for "super heroes" should have never been spoken aloud, and when they were the creator should have been laughed out of the room, preferably through a tenth story window. Instead, seven of them were fitted with origin stories and sent to the presses giving us unintentional hilarity like:
Madam Fatal was Murder She Wrote in the 1940s if Murder She Wrote involved more criminals getting punched in the face by an octogenarian lady. So it's more like that episode of The Golden Girls where Bea Arthur has to rescue Sofia from the Mafia using only her muscular, mannish body and her experience as a female wrestler (it is entirely possible we dreamed this episode).
What Went Wrong?
But like all super heroes Madam Fatal has a secret. Her Mike Tyson-like knock out power is fueled not by hatred of whippersnappers, but by testicles. And no, she doesn't eat them for protein. Madam Fatal is a dude.
And really, who hasn't had a date that ended just like this? Stupid Craiglist.
The Madam's real name is Richard Stanton, a retired actor from New York, who dressed as a woman to rescue his daughter from some kidnappers. Richard liked it so much he decided to continue fighting crime using only his wits, face punching and acting abilities.
By "acting abilities" we of course mean dressing like a woman all the time. That's his superpower. He/she is a superhero in the same way that Mrs. Doubtfire was a superhero.
They could have made it less lame by, well, by doing anything. But more specifically, if the guy had used his super acting skills to disguise himself as a doctor, a policeman or as a fellow crook, using his amazing powers to disappear into any room. But no, Mister Stanton wrestles men while wearing old lady clothes. And we're guessing that when the crime fighting is over, well, he just leaves them on for a little while.
Imagine Olivia Newton John, circa "Xanadu", as a Marvel superhero. Now imagine her powers are really, really shitty. You got Dazzler!
Alison Blaire was a magna cum laude law student who decided to throw away her promising career for a chance of disco stardom. Who wouldn't? Besides you, us and everyone we know. So when does superheroing enters the scene? Well, turns out our plucky lawyer / disco sensation was a mutant who had the power to transform sound into light... and rollerskates.
What Went Wrong?
Turning sound into light is only useful if you are fighting Dracula in the middle of a construction site. But at least she has her music career going on for her, right?
OK, that's a no then.
You may be assuming this whole Dazzler thing was a product of the misguided disco era. You'd be wrong. Dazzler showed up in the early 80s, when all peoples of the world were trying to put disco behind them.
Like all great cultural icons, the character came about as a commission from a record company who wanted a superheroine singer with her own comic. If you wonder why you don't remember any Dazzler records, it's because the whole thing died before they got the chance. Casablanca records abandoned their end of the project by the time the first issue of Dazzler came out in 1981, presumably realizing how ludicrous the whole thing was.
Marvel, in the grand tradition of "Ah, fuck it, what do we have to lose?" began to publish the comic anyway, giving birth to the proud heroine we know as Dazzler.