With Great Poser …

Who is the lamest superhero, you ask? Most people who don’t read comics (and a few who do) will say Aquaman. But that’s because they’re idiots. Sure, the Superfriends cartoon made him look as useful as a plate of three-day-old tuna – and there were a few early Justice League issues that weren’t much better. I mean, seriously, Martian Manhunter may have had the dumbest weakness (fire) because he was essentially a Superman-level hero with ESP and invisibility and other cool powers and a match could take him out, yet Aquaman was consistently depicted as becoming as weak as limp fettuccine after exactly ONE HOUR out of water. Meaning at 59 minutes and he’s the King of The Seas but 60 seconds later and, bam, he’s lucky Mrs. Paul wasn’t his arch nemesis. Still, he was Atlantean royalty, so that’s gotta count for something! And he could talk to fish, which is more than you can do. Plus, his body was used to the pressures at the bottom of the sea so he had superstrength on land. Face it: This guy was no limpet.

Some fanboys will tell you that Matter-Eater Lad is the lamest superhero. As a native of the planet Bismoll (I did not just make that up), M-E Lad had a unique digestive tract that allowed him to eat anything. So, naturally, the thirtieth century awesome squad, The Legion of Super-Heroes, let him join.

“Oh no! The evil Starfinger has secured himself behind an almost indestructible door!”

“Stand back! I, Matter-Eater Lad, will eat my way through that door!”

“But Superboy or Mon-El could just punch a hole in it.”

“Stand back!”

“But Brainiac 5 can use his 12th level intellect to pick the lock.”

“I said, ‘Stand back!’”

“Karate Kid can kick the door down!”

“I’m getting ready to eat here!”

“Heck, Shrinking Violet can probably go under the door and open it from the other side. Or Lightning Lad can fry the lock. Even Bouncing Boy can probably …”

“I’M HUNGRY FOR SOME JUSTICE!!!”

All that aside, despite what many thought, think or thank, Matter-Eater Lad is actually very cool because he realizes how lame he is. He doesn’t overcompensate. He just pops up and does what he needs to do when it’s needed. He’s kooky, he’s fun, he’s hip. Ergo not lame.

Me, I used to think Marvel’s Daredevil was the lamest superhero because, as I understood it, his power was that he could see. Oh. Yay. That gives him such an advantage over all those villains who were BORN WITHOUT ALL FIVE SENSES! Over the years, I’ve come to know that, while DD may not be the most kick-ass good guy Stan Lee came up with, he does get props for being cool and all. And, yes, I begrudgingly admit that his “radar sense” is more than just sight. Although allowing him to read non-Braille books by running his incredibly sensitive fingers over the print … that may be the lamest use of a power ever, ranking right up there with super-ventriloquism.

And sure there are other contenders as well. Badly conceived, poorly executed, just plain goofy. Not every hero can be a Dark Knight or a Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. For every Flash, there’s a Red Tornado (the Ma Hunkel version). For every Iron Man, there’s a Devil Dinosaur. For every Firestorm, there’s a Vibe. Comic book characters created by serious men and women to be taken seriously among a multiverse of four-color comrades. Some of which fall far short of that goal.

So, who is the lamest superhero? No more suspense. The lamest superhero is called the Red Bee. Assistant district attorney by day, crimefighter by night. He was created back in the Golden Age, a time when pretty much all a guy needed to be a super-hero was a zany name, a cape, a mask, a business suit and a hatred of Nazis (and only sometimes a gun). Wildcat, the Golden Age Atom, Batman, The Spirit, Crimson Avenger, Star-Spangled Kid, Captain Midnight, Spy Smasher, Firebrand, the Black Marvel, the Spider – all these characters had no super powers per se, yet they fought crime with flair and panache and a buttload of pluck. So why is the Red Bee the lamest super hero ever, even by comparison? Take note: His name was Rick Raleigh, a sucky name, even with the alliteration so common to the genre, and he first appeared in Quality’s Hit Comics #1 in 1940. His base of operations was the fictional Superior City, Oregon. Yes, he battled all the evil the Beaver State could dish out. He wore a red and pink costume (no judgment there). His “power” was that he used trained bees to fight gangsters and Nazis. He even had a favorite bee called Michael and the little tyke lived in the Red Bee’s belt buckle, ever ready for the call to justice.

bee bee2

Honestly. Someone thought this was a good idea during the early days of the Second World War. The most evil empire the world has ever known is marching across Europe and the most awe-inspiring adventurer these guys could come up with was a bloke with baggy, transparent sleeves who trained bees?

“Ach du lieber! Der Schweinhund has set loose his stinging insects upon the Third Reich! I am going into anaphylactic shock!”

No, don’t be silly. It’s more like:

“Michael! Attack that squadron of Nazi fifth columnists! Hey, wait a minute … those guys have machine guns. Bees! Enclose me in a protective swarm!”

Blam! Blam! Blam!

“Unnngghhhh… hive pals, save yourselves!”

Thankfully he didn’t last long and when DC Comics revived him in the 80s and beyond he was treated as little more than the joke he is. But still … lame is lame. Lame, lame, lame, lame, lame. So the next time someone tries to tell you that the lamest superhero is Ant-Man, just laugh in his bone-headed face and say, “Obviously you’ve never heard of the Red Bee!”

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