#2. Mary Marvel
Captain Marvel was a little boy who could become a superhero by screaming "Shazam!" It was unapologetic wish fulfillment directed at young readers. Still, Fawcett Comics was worried that dumber children were having trouble relating to the character, so they created Captain Marvel Jr., a little boy who transformed into a little boy, perfect for readers with less elastic imaginations. Then they added the Lieutenant Marvels, three hillbilly Shazams to make their illiterate readers happy. Finally, they came up with the idea of a rabbit version -- Hoppy the Marvel Bunny -- for readers who were shitty assholes. Oh, I almost forgot -- after all that, they came up with this weird idea of making a girl one. Handicapped kids got their own Barbie before girls got their own Shazam.
The '40s shouldn't have expected much from a teenage girl who, by my count, was a seventh-rate Shazam knockoff, but what they got fell short of all expectations. Mary Marvel had three working brain cells, and two of them died trying to figure out a sanitary napkin. Her enemies were usually cranky teenagers with no powers who routinely eluded her by throwing something in her eye and walking away while she fussed.
She also might gossip with herself about you as you make your escape.
Mary had any shortcoming you'd care to name. She couldn't fight or solve crimes, and her reflexes would often take four or five pages to kick in. However, the most hilarious aspect of her idiocy was that she was incapable of seeing through even the crappiest of disguises.
"GOOD GRIEF! I WAS LOOKING FOR A MOON-FACED BIRD MONSTER MAN IN AN ORANGE COAT WHO DIDN'T HAVE A HAT. HOLY MOLEY, ALMOST."
Disguises haunted Mary Marvel's entire career. A change of slacks or a well-placed hat would throw her right off your trail. If you punched a puppy with your left hand and waved to Mary Marvel with your other, she'd apologize and ask you if you saw anyone run by left-handedly. She died a virgin because every time one of her beaus changed clothes she mistook it for a first date.
"GOOD GRIEF! I WAS LOOKING FOR A WOMAN WHO DIDN'T JUST CHANGE HER CLOTHES IN FRONT OF ALL THESE PEOPLE. HOLY MOLEY, ALMOST."
After hundreds of criminals used clumsy disguises to escape, Mary started to realize she had a problem. Unfortunately, problems aren't easily solved for the stupid. Her solution of assuming everyone was a villain in disguise had terrible consequences of its own. Here is an entire page from a Marvel Family comic that I did not edit in any way:
"HOLY MOLEY! AN OBJECT TO THE FACE AND A DISGUISE -- HOW COULD THIS FIEND KNOW BOTH MY WEAKNESSES!?"
Torpedo was a man in a flying suit who shouted every single thought that entered his head. This wasn't at all unusual for a superhero, except that Torpedo's alter ego, Brock Jones, was an insurance salesman. This meant that as Torpedo flew through the city, he often screamed information about insurance into the sky. If this was some type of weaponized dullness, it worked, because no one interesting ever attacked him.
And sometimes he screamed about how much he liked the "Sound of Music." Look, a lot of this comic book shit doesn't make sense.
Torpedo screamed to himself so often that he lived in a constant state of ambush. He never heard anyone coming. And what's strange is that this never changed, even when he began thinking to himself. For some reason, Torpedo couldn't hear approaching enemies over the sound of his own thought bubbles. Look here at this battle, where he's surprised three different times by the same guy in the same fistfight. And that guy is using a rocket pack.
"BLAST, I'M DROPPING MY COFFEE. ARRGH! FALLING COFFEE! AS IF FROM NOWHERE! HUNH!? WHY IS MY LAP BURNING AND WET!?"
It was truly impossible to not get the drop on Torpedo. In one issue, he sneaked into an office building at night to read insurance files, probably because some writer was being kept up by a new baby and he decided putting that in a comic was the best way to tell all children to fuck themselves. Now, this was the perfect kind of stealth mission where Torpedo would have the opportunity to finally hear someone coming. Instead, he is sneaked up on by four men quietly yelling over the sounds of their howling rocket packs. With those reflexes, he must have already been crawling into bed with his parents before realizing he walked in on them having sex.
"BLAST, HE'S SWINGING A FOOT TOWARD MY CROTCH! ARGH! SOMETHING HAS IMPACTED ON MY PENIS! I WAS CARELESS! IT'S A FOOT!!!"
I'm getting ahead of myself. It's important to understand the daring origin story of Torpedo before talking about his crippling idiocy, lack of reflexes, and inability to see or hear out of his hat. It started when Brock Jones witnessed Daredevil battling an old man in a jet suit. Their fight smashed a wall, dropping rubble on all three men. Brock decided that anyone fighting a superhero couldn't be all bad, so he pledged to the dying old man that he would carry on his legacy, whatever it might be. Then he bravely waited for the guy to die so he could take his clothes. You know, looking back on this as an adult, Torpedo might have just been some insurance salesman looting a corpse. And speaking of looking back on things as an adult, was "Funky Cold Medina" a song about drugging and molesting transvestites? Where were our parents!?
"*SNIFF.* I DON'T KNOW WHO YOU WERE, BUT I'M TAKING YOUR SWEET JET SUIT, ASSHOLE."
It's really just dumb luck that Brock put on a dead man's suit in front of the one blind superhero, but when Daredevil gets up, he can't tell the difference between them. He's also too embarrassed to admit he's blind, so he tries to arrest Brock for murder. What a mix-up! It was like that episode of Three's Company where Jack catches Janet wearing Chrissy's earrings and face after her corpse is found in the trash.
"WHAT!? NO! I ONLY STOLE AN UNREGULATED NUCLEAR TURBINE SUIT FROM A DEAD BODY AT A CRIME SCENE. THAT'S NOT A CRIIIIME! HEY, WHAT ARE YOU POINTING AT? I'M OVER- WAIT, ARE YOU BLIND?"
"BLIND!? WHAT? HA! HA! THAT'S CRAZY, TALKING AIR CONDITIONER!"
For some reason they let Brock keep the Torpedo, which allowed him to fly and throw turbine-enhanced punches. Unfortunately, his inability to shut up had a serious effect on the accuracy of those jet-punches:
"WHAT WAS THAT SSHH-STOOMM!? HOLY FUCKING SHIT, DID I JUST PUNCH MYSELF IN THE FACE!?"
The great Torpedo died the same way he fought crime -- screaming at air while someone walked right up behind him and hit him. In honor of his legacy, they even stripped him naked and stole his clothes. Comic fans will never forget his final words ... "AGGHH!"
AGGHH, beloved hero. AGGHH, forever.