Posted : September 2010
Author : the admin
Sometimes comic book writers come up with a great character – the powers are all there, the backstory, the design – and then they go to name them. Now, I’m not talking about their real name, but their alter-ego. Sometimes all the amazing powers in the world don’t matter when you saddle a character with a terrible name. Sometimes they fix this for the character down the line, but often the character is stuck with this name for as long as they’re in print. Here are some of the best (worst) ones I could think of.
A self-named character that realized he was making a joke choosing the name, the fact that the writers thought it was amusing is the sad thing. There’s a reason that almost everybody in the world of X-Men calls him Guido (his first name) instead of Strong Guy, many of them refusing to call him that on the basis of its stupidity.
Ok, so he’s not a superhero so much as a villain, but work with me here. While the name is appropriate given his real name, Mortimer Toynbee, and his powers, it’s still a terrible name. The fact that he lets himself be saddled with it in the story just feeds into his boot-licker image and is probably why nobody in the comics or out of them really respects him.
Never mind that she’s also sporting some incredibly bad powers (back when she had them anyways), but her real name is Jubilation Lee. They really just yanked out the -ation and gave her a name. Her superhero name sounds more like a childhood nickname than anything to be called on the field of battle, and in fact almost everybody – superhero, villain, and random man on the street, all call her Jubilee.
One of those that you can respect the powers, but the name is just lacking. While Batman and Superman are still referred to by their alter-egos even by those that know them as Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, I don’t think anybody has ever called Martian Manhunter anything but J’onn J’onzz. If nobody calls you by your superhero name, it’s sorta time to abandon it.
Captain (Insert Name Here)
With the exception of Captain America, anybody named “Captain…” is foolish. Given that I’m pretty sure none of them are actual Captains in a military force, I don’t know why Captain Marvel, Captain Marvell, Captain Fear, Captain Destiny, Captain Cold, Captain Comet, Captain Atom, Captain Boomerang and ALL the others that use the Captain moniker keep at it. At least Captain America was in the military and had the actual rank of Captain.
Not withstanding DC Comics obsession with adding “Lad” to names, this is what happens when another comic book company has an idea for a character and steals the name that you wanted. While I, as a grown-up realize without ever seeing this character that he is going to do something with iron, most 8 year olds probably don’t understand that Fe is the atomic symbol for iron, or that “ferrous” is an adjective referring to iron. While I appreciate DC Comics trying to educate comic book readers, sometimes you just have to dumb it down.
Matter Eater Lad
And so we’re sticking with the whole “Lad” thing. Not only did they saddle him with “lad”, but they also gave him an almost stupidly descriptive name. At least Ferro Lad had a name that while descriptive, didn’t come out and say “I turn into Iron”. Matter-Eater Lad, on the other hand, has exactly zero mystery to what he can do. If you tell somebody that Matter-Eater Lad is coming to help, you can pretty much guess how he’s going to help – he’s going to eat something. The fact that they couldn’t go with with Jaws or something dental in nature is just lazy writing.
At first glance, Doreen Green is a pretty cool character. Superhuman agility, retractable claws, a prehensile tale (a bit inconvenient, but great for balance), and even talking to squirrels could be handy when you consider the sheer number of them. But Squirrel Girl? It’s just not going to inspire fear into somebody like Magneto, or Apocalypse (a name that will inspire fear). I do appreciate Marvel thinking outside the box a bit on her powers, but I really want to believe that they could have come up with a better name for her.
In what world, is a small, migratory bird, a suitable name for a sidekick to a character with a name like Batman? Now, when Dick Grayson grows up he changes his name to Nightwing, a far more awe-inspiring name, but the fact that Batman has kept calling his junior sidekicks Robin implies that he thinks his name is too scary and he’s trying to lighten up his image, or he’s hoping that while everybody is laughing at the name of his sidekick he and Robin will be able to pummel their opponents into submission.
It’s bad enough being the sidekick to arguably one of the most mocked superheroes in history – I mean the Aquaman jokes are legendary. But to just take his name and switch out the “man” for “lad” is not only lazy, it’s uninspired. Hell, calling yourself Minnow, or Guppie, or just about any other small creature of the sea would be preferable to Aqualad. Not only does it perpetuate DC’s unhealthy obsession with “lads”, it also forever associates you with the failure that is Aquaman.
Kurt Wagner is an X-Men favorite. One of their most loved characters, his ability to teleport is something that we’ve all wished for at least once, and his ability to accept people that hate him not only for being a mutant, but because of the way he looks is nothing short of inspiring. But naming him after a worm? It’s actually a bit insulting to such a great character.
Considering that almost nobody in the Fantastic Four actually goes by their alter-egos – given that they don’t hide their identities – it’s almost sad that Johnny Storm, a character with a great REAL name, has such a lame superhero name. Firestorm would have been great had it not been taken, but even just Torch would be fine – most people actually call him that anyways.
Sticking with the Fantastic Four, we have Reed Richards – Mr. Fantastic. In the running for the most pretentious superhero name of all time, he’s basically turning the team into Mr. Fantastic and the Fantastic Four given that his superhero name is also the name of the group. Tone down the ego a bit Reed and change your name that lets people know that you can stretch and bend to amazing lengths.
A character that mimics both Catwoman and Batman all at once. Mimicing the cat motif of Catwoman, while sporting a costume that looks like Batman with a different color scheme, Catman went ahead and combined both their names into one, making him one of the most unoriginal characters of all time. With any number of large cats out there just waiting to have their names used, it’s sad that he went with Catman.
Hank Pym has used a lot of alias’ through the years, but he was, first and foremost, Ant-Man. While I do like the idea of creating a character that can alter his size, my first thought would be to grow (which he would eventually be able to do, taking the name of Giant-Man and Goliath). However, Marvel let Pym shrink, and then topped it off by letting him talk to ants. Sure, there millions of the things around at any given moment, but much like Squirrel Girl, it’s just not a name that inspires fear.
Sure, Kitty Pryde has been going by Shadowcat for a long time now, but there was a time that she was known as Ariel and Sprite. While I will agree that coming up with a superhero name for somebody with her powers that isn’t ghost themed is tricky, she eventually came up with Shadowcat, so why she started with Ariel and Sprite is beyond me. Neither of these imply what her powers are (which the X-Men names tend to do), so I’m beyond curious as to where they came from.
He’s probably more popular now than ever, though with a terrible costume, questionable powers, and a name that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, it’s hard to imagine how. His only real function in the past decade has been his ability to spot Skrulls, otherwise I think it’s fair to assume that the 3-D Man would be off living a 2-D life.
While he’s back to calling himself Luke Cage, at one time this New Avenger actually wanted people to take him serious as Power Man. His costume probably didn’t help things, but pretty much any superhero could use the name Power Man as they almost ALL HAVE POWERS! It’s just uncreative and unbecoming of a pretty good character with lots of depth. Definitely a wise choice to switch back to calling himself Luke Cage.
Negasonic Teenage Warhead
This is what happens when you let goth kids name themselves. Not only is the name a mouthful, it in no way represents her powers (telepathy and precognition). This is easily one of the worst names ever applied to a comic book character.
Quite possibly the dumbest superhero name ever. While Jean Grey is certainly loaded with powers even when she’s not walking around with the Phoenix Force, it’s hard to be inspired to follow anybody into battle when there’s the possibility of shouting “Marvel Girl, watch out!” While it was great when Jean got the Phoenix Force and used Phoenix as her name, the Marvel Girl was a failure that was probably just thrown in there by Marvel writers to associate her with the comics. I wonder if the characters within the books wonder what the hell a Marvel is from time to time.