Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Underused villains.

Mighty World of Marvel #53, Radioactive caveman the Missing Link holds the Incredible Hulk aloft
There can't be many of us who've not at some stage in our lives wanted to smash a pink, radioactive Neanderthal in the face.

Sadly; for most of us, such an act can never be more than a pipe dream.

For the Hulk however it became dramatic reality in the pages of Mighty World of Marvel #53, a comic that shall always linger in my memory as the oldest issue of that mag I had in my collection.

From what I can recall of it, that issue featured two stories; the Hulk's first-ever encounter with the Missing Link, and the Fantastic Four's meeting with the Enfant Terrible.

In the Hulk tale, having seen off the Rhino, our hero returns to New York just as the Chinese unleash their own version of the Hulk on the city.

That version is the Missing Link, a caveman revived by nuclear tests, who quickly mutates into something else altogether.

I admit it, I loved the Missing Link. He managed to make even the Hulk sound articulate, and his tendency to explode at inconvenient moments could only be viewed as appealing.

Sadly, no doubt thanks to that tendency to randomly explode, it was several years after his first appearance before the Missing Link returned, by which point he was called Lincoln and working in a mine. After that, he was never seen again during the era when I was reading comics, and I have no idea if he's been seen since.

While it was disappointing, such an absence does raise the issue of villains you always felt didn't appear enough in comics.

Some of them were plain baffling.

For instance, there was the Lizard's long long absence from the pages of Spider-Man between his initial appearance and his eventual return in John Romita's tenure.

Even more markedly, the Scorpion - having been used twice in the Steve Ditko era - managed to go missing throughout the whole of the John Romita and Gil Kane epochs before finally reappearing well into the Ross Andru one.

Of course, those were the lucky ones. Although initially ignored, they did go on to become major foes.

But others weren't always so fortunate.

So, which villains did you always think were bafflingly underused?

And, for that matter, which were used too often?

10 comments:

Boston Bill said...

This is an easy one - The Brain Drain from Invaders 2. A brilliant Nazi scientist with a super strong robot body (strong enough to manhandle Cap) and a bell jar with a floating brain and eyestalks inside of it.

He could have been their Dr Doom. Whenever Roy needed a super-powered threat, it could have been Brain Drain that cooked him up. I LOVED him.

Final appearance (sigh), Invaders 2 !?! (I read that they brought him back in Alpha Flight, but I doubt it was the same).

Steve W. said...

There is something strangely irresistible about an evil brain.

Dougie said...

Egghead was a deeply unappealing Ant-Man villain whom Roy Thomas overused in Avengers, although the stories were great.

I don't know if these Bronze Age Daredevil villains ever made a comeback: Damon Dran, the Dark Messiah and Terrex. DD really seemed out of his league which made them more interesting than The Owl or Mr. Fear (or the Penguin and The Scarecrow, as I tend to think of them).

I was always surprised Pulsar Stargrave was never revived at DC.

Anonymous said...

The original Red Guardian in Avengers #43-44 (1967) had potential as a counterpart to Captain America, but it never came off. His duel with Cap was interrupted by outside interference, then he apparently got killed saving the heroes from the villains. I heard he later turned up in a Black Widow solo mini-series or something, but still no one-on-one showdown with Captain America. Even Titanium Man had a full-length duel and two rematches with Iron Man in the 1960's. As for over-used villains, I would say Doctor Doom and Magneto. In each case, it seemed as if Marvel thought that that villain was the only suitable match for Reed Richards and Professor X, respectively.

cerebus660 said...

Underused? Daredevil's enemy The Purple Man, definitely. He had the power of... being purple... or something. And that's a pretty impressive power.

In fact, a lot of Daredevil's early foes were sorely underused: the Masked Matador, The Plunderer, the Tri-Man, the Leap-Frog etc.
Was it because they were innovative and ahead of their time? Or was it because they were just crap?

Anonymous said...

Underused? I agree with "Cerebus" a lot of DD villains were underused for me was Boomerang (who I first saw in an early DD story in MWOM around '73 and only once since) I haven't seen Mr Hyde in years either - overused lex Luthor and the Joker Zzzzzzz - McScotty

Aggy said...

I will admit to some bias with this one as he appeared in one of the few comics I owned growing up (a fact more than made up for in my adult years).

Modular Man

1st appearence Rampaging Hulk 2 when he is mailed by some generic bad guys to a hospital where Killer Shrike (another candidate for under used villians) is comatose.

The nurses open the package to find a strange mass of parts which, as it's a comic story, they take the time to build rather than call security. Wacky hi-jinks ensue before a writer change killed the story dead.

Flash forward to Marvel Team-up 90 Spider-Man & Beast. Modular Man with Killer Shrike without his memories steal microwave technology. The reasons for this are long and complicated, lets just pretend they needed to microwave a sandwich. Modular Man aborbs radition, grows to enormous size before Beast jolts him with lightning and makes his essence leave his body and disperse.

But lets focus on the key bit, he could be boken apart and posted to wherever you want. Just think on the savings for Master Criminals on transportation costs!

Steve W. said...

But what if he got lost in the post?

Paul Mahon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Mahon said...

Alpha, the Ultimate Mutant. Created by Magneto in The Defenders first run, vs. The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. He shot into space and was never heard from again. Unus the Untouchable was in that group also. I don't recall ever seeing him again either.

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