Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Review: The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris

Rating: 4 ½ out of 5 Stars

Bottom Line: A fun look at the less-celebrated comic book crime fighters that's hard to put-down.

Subtitled "Half-baked Heroes from Comic Book History", this fun little book takes us beyond the A-List comic book superheroes and even beyond the B and C listers.  Super-powered crime fighters have been smashing it up in comics since the late 1930's, and quite a number of costumed do-gooders have paraded across the four color pages since that time.  Plenty have stood the test of time (Superman, Batman, Captain America), but plenty more came and went with little in the way of fanfare.  And this book focuses on that latter group.

Author Jon Morris runs the blog Gone & Forgotten, which as he describes is "dedicated to the bottom of the comic book barrel".  And many of the characters in this book come from the nether regions of that very barrel; from the Golden Age all the way to more recent times.  Here's a look at just a few of characters he covers in the book:

Bozo the Iron Man: Before the clown adopted the moniker and before Tony Stark donned his iron accouterments, this character was running around in the pages of Smash Comics.  He was a (perennially smiling) robot who started out as a bad guy but was set on the path of good when crime fighter Hugh Hazzard swiped his controls.

Doctor Hormone: This aged scientist (whose real last name is apparently Hormone), turns himself young again then decides to "bring the mighty power of hormones to benefit the world".  That seems to mostly involve turning people young and old, but you do what you can to fight crime, right?

Dynamite Thor: Having apparently no relation to the Norse god, this mortal was particularly adept at using explosives to subdue the bad guys.  That of course set a great example for the children reading the comic . . .

Fatman the Human Flying Saucer: Um . . . this guy was fat (though apparently still rather athletic).  Oh, and after an encounter with aliens, they gave him the ability to turn into a human flying saucer.  Hijinks ensue . . .

Squirrel Girl: You can't have a book like this without this dubious character who appeared in the pages of Marvel in the 90's.  She had the "relative strength, speed, and talents of squirrels".  And a tail.  And she could communicate with other squirrels.  She apparently kicked Dr. Doom's butt, though.

Those are just a sampling of the characters that Norris covers in the book, and he does so with plenty of wit and also a great love for the source material he is poking fun at.  This is the type of book that you pick up and suddenly find that an hour or more has passed as you flip through the pages reading about the next crazy comic character.  Consider it a great bathroom reader and a must have for any comic book afficianado who wants to delve beyond the major players in the industry.   And at only $14 for the hard cover (the current price on Amazon as of this writing), it counts has a bargain in my book.

Buy it now in Hardcover or for the Kindle from

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