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Top 5 Most Fabulously Underrated Characters

Welcome back to Comical Musings!  We are so happy that you stuck with us through the hiatus and we have been chomping at the bit to bring you all of the content that we have been stockpiling.  As it stands right now, we should be able to provide at least one new blog post a week for the rest of the year!  So, yay.  As a way of thanking you for continuing to read, share, and support Comical Musings, we bring you a double-sized top five list for November.  It’s the month for giving thanks and we give thanks for your readership.

Look how happy Feral, Bone-Claw Wolverine is that we’re back…oh, he kinda’ always looks like that. Maybe we should run…


In comic books, there are characters that are typically written certain ways and there are tried and true concepts that sell.  The entirety of the visual storytelling industry is based on the hundreds of characters that inhabit these fictional worlds.  Marvel has Spider-Man and Wolverine and God knows that Iron Man moves units.  DC relies heavily on the big three of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.  In recent times, both companies have elevated B and C list characters and supported them into relevancy through event books and crossovers.  Let’s face it, not every character can be a Wolverine.  Through all of this, there still seem to be some unsung heroes in each universe.  There are always characters that for some reason, end up underrated or under-appreciated.  It is in the spirit of celebrating these folks that we present to you the Top 5 Most Fabulously Underrated Characters for each universe.

 

Marvel:

 

5. Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic:

Suggested by JK Leo, this one makes tons of sense to me.  As the smartest man in the world, Mr. Fantastic can’t seem to catch a break.  In the Fantastic Four, he is often overlooked as people see the rocky exterior of the Thing or the glowing personality and fiery charm of The Human Torch.  Even Sue Storm steals the show from her husband as writers have found more insidious and violent ways to utilize her powers in recent years.  Yet, Reed abides.  He leads the team and is typically consulted, in crisis, by every group of super-people on the planet.  Reed’s name is “Mr. Fantastic,” but the half-hearted innovation that many writers give to his power set, the credit that he receives for his position in the Marvel Universe, and adoration that he receives from fans is anything but.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Dr. Strange / Dr. Fate:

Friend of Comical Musings, John M. suggested we bark up the mystical tree.  Look, Dr. Strange and Dr. Fate are kind of the same.  It’s kind of embarrassing, but also kind of true.  Each universe needs a supernatural magic guy and for whatever reason, they both are MDs.  Mystical characters are fan favorites with writers, but all of that favoritism rarely generates compelling stories that launch them to stardom.  Dr. Strange is a stalwart in books like Avengers and Defenders, but Dr. Strange solo books are usually looked over as un-inspired.  There is so much continuity red-tape surrounding Hector Hall, that Dr. Fate is regularly choked out of stories.  These insanely powerful and relevant characters are criminally underrated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Hank McCoy, Beast:

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.  Beast is featured in tons of different stories.  He is a founding X-Man, a teacher at Wolverine’s school, an Avenger, a Defender, and a genius scientist.  He can also whoop your ass with brute strength and animal reflexes.  One thing Beast seems to be incapable of doing is being drawn the same ANYWHERE.  In every title, we are always delighted to find out if Beast is going to be drawn as a lion, a monkey, or simply a blue dude.  For being so important to the Marvel Universe, it seems that no one cares about him enough to make him look right.  This isn’t why he is underrated, but it is a glaring symptom of neglect.  Although Beast is featured all over the place, his rightful position is number three on this list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Man-Thing:

Man-Thing is an elemental and magical force of nature.  He also exists as the guardian of the nexus of all realities.  His power set is incredible as he can silently teleport anywhere (even alternate dimensions), he has inhuman brute strength, he can regenerate his form (even resurrection), and burns anyone who has fear in their heart.  Man-Thing is so freaking cool and I didn’t even know it until I read Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts.  You probably didn’t know until you read this list.  He is deeply feared and respected by magical creatures, but can’t get much respect from readers in the mainstream market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Miles Morales, Ultimate Spider-Man:

Miles is the spiritual successor to the mantle of “Ultimate Spider-Man.”  Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s famous run on the fiercely popular Ultimate Spider-Man series lasted for more than one hundred issues (an amazing feat in modern comics).  To make things even more epic, <SPOILER ALERT> the conclusion of the first volume of the Ultimate Spider-Man story ends in the death of Peter Parker.  Bendis kills one of the most known and beloved characters ever in what was his most popular story at the time.  To make things eve more shocking, Bendis starts a new Ultimate Spider-Man follow up with a younger, multi-racial, teen getting a different variation of the spider powers and taking up the great responsibility that comes with great power.  To read that, it sounds like the most ham-fisted, doomed, “money grab” move ever…but it’s not.  Miles Morales is a wonderfully fleshed out character.  He is easy to relate to and Bendis is quickly succeeding at making us care about another kid in tights.  The reason that Miles is number one on the list is that although he is a great character, he is not iconic.  He may delight me monthly with his adventures and grow up into a legitimate placeholder in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, but to the average consumer, he will always be “that black kid in the Spider-Man costume.”  He deserves far better than that.

 

 

 

 

DC:

 

 

5. Swamp Thing:

Now, the reason that Swamp Thing is number five on this list and not higher is because recently, this book has been a hot seller.  The creative team of Yanique Paquette and Scott Snyder are moving some units with a terrifying story and wonderful art.  The reason that Swamp Thing makes the list is because he is an incredibly powerful and elemental force of nature, yet if he is without a good writer, he fades into obscurity.  John M. rightfully suggested him for the list.  It took years to get Swamp Thing to a place of respect, but for what he has been all of this time he is underrated.  Hopefully a long and storied run by Snyder will remove him from the list all together.

*Note from Hal*

It’s a shame that until DC’s New52 Swamp Thing was best known for two terrible movies and a decent TV show rather than for being the first mainstream comic to ABANDON THE COMICS CODE.

 

 

4. Dr. Strange / Dr. Fate:

Friend of Comical Musings, John M. suggested we bark up the mystical tree.  Look, Dr. Strange and Dr. Fate are kind of the same.  It’s kind of embarrassing, but also kind of true.  Each universe needs a supernatural magic guy and for whatever reason, they both are MDs.  Mystical characters are fan favorites with writers, but all of that favoritism rarely generates compelling stories that launch them to stardom.  Dr. Strange is a stalwart in books like Avengers and Defenders, but Dr. Strange solo books are usually looked over as un-inspired.  There is so much continuity red-tape surrounding Hector Hall that Dr. Fate is regularly choked out of stories.  These insanely powerful and relevant characters are criminally underrated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Elijah Snow:

Hal suggested Elijah Snow.  While Planetary is a Wildstorm title, Wildstorm is a DC imprint and Elijah is too good to pass up.  Elijah Snow is the main character in the universe-spanning epic, Planetary from the superstar creative team of Warren Ellis and John Cassaday.  We are treated to rich characters with deep connections to each other and a brilliant sci-fi story that dips into all different genres in quirky and creative ways.  Elijah snow is the hub of the story wheel and all of the spokes connect to him.  We is written beautifully and really drives the series to unexpected places.  As the single-most important character, the fact that many don’t remember him or wouldn’t think of him for this list justifies his position on it.

 

 

2. Captain Marvel/Shazam:

If you have a character that is magical (see number 4) and can beat down Superman, you would think that he would be utilized often.  For Captain Marvel/Shazam, this is not the case.  His super-powers are nearly infinite, but his readership is minuscule.  Case in point, in the backs of the New 52 Justice League comic books, they ran a Captain Marvel/Shazam story that was critically praised as excellent.  The reason that it had to run a few pages at a time in another publication is because DC is smart and knows that Captain Marvel/Shazam books don’t/can’t sell.  Due to this inconsistency, Captain Marvel/Shazam is relegated to only being a part of great stories.  The sad part is that if you think about stories that have featured Captain Marvel/Shazam (Kingdom Come, Batman/Superman Public Enemies, etc.) he is always the best part.  A character that is critically successful, but hopelessly under-supported is underrated.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Booster Gold:

Booster Gold is a sell-out, arrogant, jerk-face.  Hal loves that in a hero.  Booster Gold is self-absorbed to the maximum and literally has worn sponsorship patches on his spandex uniform.  He is lovable in that way that you love people that you don’t trust, but make you laugh.  Booster Gold comes from the future and is cheating at super-heroics by using knowledge from that future to thwart crimes here in the past.  <SPOILER ALERT> He also saved the entire DC Universe in the 52 event crossover.  Nobody remembers that though…  He has earned his bad rap, but his accomplishments and abilities define him as underrated.  Booster has always had a heart of gold buried deep in his selfish star-emblazoned chest, he just rarely follows it.

About Scott Deaux

Favorite Comics: Lazarus, Essex County, Chew, Superior Foes Of Spider-Man, Age of Apocalypse stuff, The Nightly News, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, Pax Romana, Avengers, NEXTWAVE: Agents Of Hate, Sweet Tooth, We3, others... Favorite Quote(s): "Journalism is just a gun. It's only got one bullet in it, but if you aim right, that's all you need. Aim it right, and you can blow a kneecap off the world." - Warren Ellis "People who hold signs go on...to hold many other things" - Eddie Pepitone

13 comments

  1. I totally agree with your take on Catpain Marvel but you should know Shazam is not his name it’s Captain Marvel. Shazam is the name of the wizard that gave him his powers. the comics are all called shazam due to a legal snafu with Marvel comics.

  2. Thanks David! I got it fixed up. Thanks for reading and enjoying the post!

  3. In DC’s New 52 the character has been officially renamed Shazam.

  4. Now they all say “Captain Marvel/Shazam.” Friendship IS magic!

  5. A couple issues I’d disagree with, though some of it may just be neglect on my part.

    Reed Richards: Personally, I never really liked the Fantastic Four, but at least since seeing his part in Civil War, and later various interactions between Reed and either Stark or Parker, I have at least grown to respect him. Personally would not underrate him myself, especially as he always has been the leader of the Fantasic 4 (at least that I’m aware). I find it a little shocking to hear he’s so underrated. As a side note, during all of AvX I kept wondering why the hell he was never brought in!?

    Miles Morales: Your number one Marvel spot? Here I was thinking the kid was overrated. I admit I haven’t paid attention to the sales charts, but at least in my local area Miles has retained all the previous U. Spider-Man customers and brought new ones in. Outside of the original uproar of this being a PR/sales move, I usually come across hearing good things on him. Even that he’s counted as one of the main three in the Ultimate Universe right now (along with Captain America and Shadowcat). I suppose to those who don’t read comics at all and don’t really read blogs/reviews on him but know about Miles that he would be “that black kid in the Spider-Man costume”, but those that paid more attention beyond that innitial news-frenzied hype it seems to me would not count the kid as underrated. Personally, I think he’s overrated (and hopefully within a week I’ll finish up my little rant on that).

    Otherwise, it seems a good list. Personally I’d maybe think of tossing Scott Summers on there, but that may be for he’s one of my favorite Marvel chars. He’s leader of the X-Men and in a lot of X-titles, respected (or at least was) by Captain America, General Ross, and a lot of others. Still, most the time I just hear people moan and complain about him just for he’s Lawful Good, straight arrow type with the “lame eye lasers” (not an actual quote).

  6. With regard to Beast: “LOL, draw him like a monkey…”

  7. Mr. Adverb,
    I always enjoy your insights.

    With Reed, I struggle to find stories about him or even images where he is singled out. To me, he is constantly upstaged. The only times I see him come to prominence are when he is a villain. I think that a part of the problem might be that he has essentially two powers:
    -One of the top 3 smartest people on Earth
    -Stretchy (rarely utilized to it’s fullest extent)
    Maybe he is too spread out between them. JK Leo is a Fantastic Four historian, so maybe he will weigh in and tell us what’s up. I heard that Hickman’s “New Avengers” book is going to be the adventures of The Illuminati so you should see him pop into mainstream popularity as he is a single entity on that team.

    Miles is one of my favorites. I think that that might cloud my judgement a bit. He is developing into much more than a placeholder in the Ultimate U. I do still think that there is no way that he will ever live up to the mantle that he has adopted and therefore no matter how much PR is put behind him, he is not Peter Parker. I look forward to reading your feelings about it in your WordPress Blog.

    I know that you love Cyclops and when we do a Cyclops post, I am totally going to tag you in it. I love the dynamic of having him in prison or “making him the new Magneto.” He is a great hero and might (even if it is briefly) make a better villain.

    Thanks for reading and sharing.

  8. Guess I can’t really argue that Reed is under utilized. I’m not sure if that still counts him as underrated by just Marvel writers though, or the fan base completely though. Suppose if he really had a large fan grouping though that Marvel would be using him a lot more. Like Wolverine and Spider-Man. I may be mistaken, but due to some follow up preview thing I caught in a Ultimate comic, they at least seemed to have put Reed as a super villain for a short period. Or maybe just a misunderstood hero, due to how Reed’s POV was sort of putting it. That could have been really interesting, though I’m not exactly sure what issues such a story would have taken place in to check up on it. Reed in some aspects is like Scott though. Granted one has eye lasers and the other stretches and is super smart, but both are great leaders and at least usually seen as straight laced goodie goodies.

    I’ve ranted more on Reed than I figured I would though, so I’ll ignore Miles and just leave that for whenever my blog post on it finishes ^_^

  9. In the latest Wolverine and the X-Men, Beast looks almost horse like… wth?!

  10. Wow, how did I stumble back to this old post? Long back (pretty sure AFTER) this post though, I read somewhere a post about geniuses and advanced technology within comic worlds that save having super beings and vigilantes, is otherwise meant to be much like our real world. After all, makes things easier to relate.

    Tony Stark and others were pointed out, but Reed Richards was mentioned a lot. That with Reed’s intellect he could stop the energy issue here, along with figure a way to cheaply feed the entire world, not to mention probably cure cancer and aids in his downtime. Reed could do so much more than he is allowed to. The reason argued was this was to help keep their world like ours.

    Thinking about that, and restumbling across this article, I can’t help but think this may be a strong reason why intelligent characters, especially Reed, do not shine. They are purposely shackled and restrained, and as such cannot be used to their full potential. And if they can’t be used to their full potential, well they end up far less interesting than they could be.

    A similar complaint is actually used in regards to Superman. Just instead of intelligence, he’s often hard to write really good stories for as he’s so freaking god-like.

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