For the last several years, the '90s have been looked upon with great reverence and nostalgia. Plenty of good came from that period of time, particularly in regards to comics. This is the era from which Deadpool, Cable, and the X-Force were born. Characters that are now beloved members of the DC canon were birthed from this period as well. These heroes and villains include Bane, Harley Quinn, Jesse Quick, Static and more. However, not every character from the '90s has garnered pop culture prominence, though. While the aforementioned characters are household names because of appearances in television or film, countless others are essentially lost in time -- forgotten.
For better or for worse, the world of comics has moved on without certain heroes and villains. A number of reasons are the cause for such neglect. Chief among them seems to be a character’s lack of usefulness or their being perceived as forgettable. It’s unfortunate, especially since so many great creations have long sat in the hallowed halls of the DC archives, unused and apparently unwanted. However, there are admittedly a few who are best kept untouched. In this list, 15 of them, the good and the bad will be remembered. Even the most forgettable characters are deserving of acknowledgement.
15 LADY BLAZE
Lady Blaze is undoubtedly the strangest and most well known of entries on this list. An obscure Superman foe who gets her start bartending in Metropolis nightclubs, Blaze has gone on to accomplish fascinating feats. For one, her nightclub gig is merely a cover. The villain is actually a demoness who takes souls at will and never shies away from abusing her immense power. In addition to the Man of Steel, Lady Blaze’s ambitions have pit her against Shazam.
A rebellion in Hell, led by her and her brother, Satanus, also demonstrates her formidability.
The 2008 miniseries Reign in Hell, in which the rebellion takes place, is written by Lobo co-creator and Justice League International writer, Keith Giffen. This series takes a deep dive into DC’s too often overlooked occult lore, offering these characters and several others a chance to shine. Unfortunately, barring Batman: The Dark Knight (2011) and a brief role during the New 52 continuity, Blaze has been an absentee villain. However, she certainly should not be counted among the forgettable characters the '90s. Her appearance alone is striking. But so, too, is her craftiness and willingness to go through great lengths to achieve her goals. If any of DC’s characters created during the 20th Century’s last decade deserves another chance, it’s this one.
14 THE HECKLER
Lobo is one of DC’s wackiest and well known foes. It will surprise few, then, that the intergalactic bounty hunter’s co-creator is also responsible for another off-the-wall character. Keith Giffen, along with Mary Bierbaum and Tom Bierbaum, parented Stu Moseley aka the Heckler. Though his name and costume suggest he may be a Silver Age Flash rogue, Heckler is actually one of the good guys. The hero calls Delta City home, protecting it from enemies whose get-up and antics are as bizarre as his. His yellow, black, and white suit is heavily accentuated by the words “Ha Ha." Needless to say, the Heckler's appearance makes him all the more striking.
He debuts in The Heckler #1 in 1992 -- the series is short-lived, lasting only six issues. Giffen cites Bugs Bunny as a major influence for the Heckler’s creation. This is evidenced in the oddness of the world that surrounds Heckler, his lack of an identifiable origin story, and the cast of characters that fill out the few stories in which he features. The character makes a handful of appearances after his solo run, but none are worthy of note. Given that he lacks superpowers/special skills and typically fights eccentric mob bosses, celebrities, and killer robots, it’s no wonder he’s been cast aside.
This character arrives in the world of DC in the early '90s during Dan Jurgens’ (“The Death of Superman”) Justice League run. What makes Bloodwynd especially fascinating is his backstory. He’s a descendant of African slaves who crafted a gemstone, the Blood Gem, to get revenge on their barbarous slave master. Funneling their fury into the gemstone using ritual magic, the slaves were able to harness the power of necromancy. With this power at their disposal, they trapped their master’s soul inside of the gemstone. For generations the relic is passed down in the family, and Bloodwynd wields it upon his introduction in Justice League. However, technically, Martian Manhunter wields the gemstone when readers first encounter Bloodwynd.
The hero has all the powers expected of a sorcerer with abilities that involve necromancy.
Bloodwynd’s most interesting ability involves him inflicting whatever anguish was felt by the dead onto their killers. Such a skill is undoubtedly derivative of the Blood Gems’ having been created from the rage of enslaved African peoples. Since his debut, the character has featured in a number of stories and has even had supporting roles in some DC Rebirth arcs. For some reason, though, he’s never risen above his station as a guest character.
When thinking about obscure DC superhero teams, very few names instantly come to mind. Of course, the Doom Patrol, which has a live-action television series in development, is the most notable of the bunch. The Freedom Fighters represent another group of unsung but notable heroes. However, few know of the Hellenders, the Metal Men, or Justice League Task Force. This entry, though, is all about the Darkstars, who made their comic debut in 1992’s Darkstars #1. Writer Michael Jan Friedman, best known for writing Star Trek tie-in novels, and artist Mike Collins (Judge Dredd, Teen Titans, Justice League) created the team, who are essentially intergalactic police officers.
If the Darkstars sound derivative of the Green Lantern Corps, it’s because that is precisely the point. Their superiors are Controllers, ancient Maltusian peoples who, akin to the Guardians of the Universe, were in want of a way to restore order to the universe. Thus, the Darkstars are formed. The Darkstars comics ran for nearly 40 issues from 1992 to 1996. Their history is a complex one. Disbandment by the Controllers and fatalities in a battle against some New Gods crippled their numbers. Yet, they still appear from time to time, most recently featuring in DC Rebirth’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.
11 BLOODY MARY
Bloody Mary, as a historical figure and a popular culture icon, has appeared in a number of stories throughout history. Some would argue the name and the myth surrounding it are inescapable. But one little known facet of all the above rests in the confines of DC-centric lore. This version of Bloody Mary is a vampire and a member of the Female Furies, the small legion of warriors led by Darkseid loyalist, Granny Goodness. Created by Karl Kesel (Batman and Superman: World’s Finest) and (Spelljamers, Elseworld’s Finest: Supergirl and Batgirl), Bloody Mary first debuts in Hawk and Dove.
Her powers are akin to those of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as her vampirism allows her to suck the blood of her victims.
Afterwards, Bloody Mary is then able to wield control over their minds. Since her first appearance in the “Girls Night Out” Hawk and Dove issue, the villain’s role has been rather limited. Her most notable guest appearances, barring the above, feature in Adventures of Superman and Wonder Girl books. Unfortunately, her stint in Wonder Girl ends on a tragic note in “Clash of the Titans” issue in 2008. A fight alongside her fellow Female Furies against God Killer results in Bloody Mary’s death. The character has yet to return.
Few Justice League villains are considered memorable. Some of the most formidable were initially rogues of individual characters, before making the transition to cosmic threats that warrant the League’s attention. Darkseid and Doomsday are counted as such foes. Dreamslayer does not fit into the same category. Created by writers Keith Giffen (Justice League International), Gerard Jones (Green Lantern), and artist Bart Sears (Legends of the Dark Knight), Dreamslayer is blatantly inspired by Marvel villain Dormammu, who’s seen in 2016’s Doctor Strange. Dreamslayer first appears 1990’s Justice League Europe #15, a JLA spinoff which ran from 1989 to 1994.
A group of terrorists known as Extremists are led by Dreamslayer. They destroy the planet Angor with a nuclear blast that launches him into another plane of existence, where he eventually gains the abilities necessary to ensure he makes it back to Angor. From there, he and the Extremists begin their path Earth. Their primary goal? To take control of the planet and all life on it, of course. An arduous fight with Justice League Europe leads to the villain’s defeat. He may not be the most well known of League foes, but there’s always room for a character’s return, evidenced by his appearing in DC Rebirth’s Justice League of America.
Conduit’s comic book life is so short-lived that no one should be surprised for never having heard of him. This obscure Superman rogue debuts in 1994’s Superman: Man of Steel. Not a full year passes before the character meets his demise in the 711th issue of Action Comics. Nevertheless, Conduit’s connection to Clark Kent/Superman gives him a compelling backstory.
Evidently, it was never enthralling enough to warrant the character receiving further exploration.
Born in Smallville on the same day that Kal-El’s ship crash lands, Kenneth Braverman grows up with the future hero, unaware of the way in which their lives will later change. The two boys are friends during childhood. However, a rivalry in their teen years develops into jealousy on Kenneth’s part. Throughout this time, Kenneth battles medical struggles, stemming from his being affected by Kryptonite radiation. While Clark’s in college, Kenneth searches for answers, eventually enrolling himself in a government program for experimentation purposes. These experiments transform his illness into superpowers, which inevitably pits him against the Man of Steel. There is no doubting that Conduit is interesting -- how many other stories could be mined from such a foe? It’s hard to say, especially since precious little has been done with him since.
No doubt, this is a strange one. Beefeater first emerges during Keith Giffen’s Justice League Europe run in late 1990. With JL Europe being a JLA spinoff, the book naturally needed a British sensibility. Enter Beefeater. This patriotic hero is heavily inspired by the Yeomen Warders, those responsible for guarding the Tower of London -- a landmark that has historically acted as a prison, a royal palace, and more. The Yeomen Warders’ influence on the character is most noticeably apparent in the garb he dons and his name, as Beefeater is a byname for Yeomen Warders. DC’s Beefeater differs greatly from his namesake, however, as his luckless demeanor and arrogance never do him any favors.
All in all, the Beefeater is a relatively nice man, one who simply wants to act heroically. This is despite his not being cut out for the job. Following his incredibly brief appearance in Justice League Europe, which lasts one issue, he features in Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin (2009). Beefeater briefly assists the duo, Dick Grayson’s Batman and Damian Wayne’s Robin, in a British prison facility where he is a jailer. Past these few roles, the character’s hardly been of any use. In truth, it’s easy to see why that’s the case.
7 KENT SHAKESPEARE
With 80 years of history under his belt, no one should be surprised at the sheer number of Supermen running rampant throughout the DC Universe. There are too many to count here, many of which are products of the '90s. The well known versions rose to fame during "The Reign of the Supermen" in the period after the Man of Steel’s death. Steel and Cyborg Superman constitute to most recognizable ones. However, no one should discount the Supermen that have long flown under the proverbial radar.
This is where Kent Shakespeare of the 30th Century comes into play.
The character debuts in Legion of Super-Heroes #12 (1990), and Fantastic Four and Legion of Super-Heroes artist, Al Gordon is credited as having created the hero. This iteration of Superman differs from Clark in that he’s not gifted with powers as a result of his alien physiology. Rather, he’s infected by a virus of Kryptonian origin that gives him abilities. These differences amount to his not being as powerful as his more famous counterpart. Kent Shakespeare has super-speed, super-strength, and the like, yet they’re minimal in depth. Perhaps that’s why the character never took off. The few slightly de-powered Superman offshoots that have risen to the top seem to be enough.
There’s the KGBeast, named after the Soviet Union’s KGB. Then there is NKVDemon, so named because of Soviet Union’s NKVD. KGBeast is a relatively well known villain in DC lore, who’s recently garnered even more attention thanks to his prominence on Arrow. NKVDemon/Gregor Dosynski, on the other hand, has yet to receive such cross-media lime light. Thus, this obscure Batman rogue is bound to remain as such for the time being. Created by Deathstroke co-creator Marv Wolfman and Jim Aparo, the latter of whom illustrated The Brave and the Bold, this Russian mercenary makes his debut during Batman #445 in 1990. NKVDemon dies shortly thereafter in #447.
Years later, the character reappears -- however, it isn’t Dosynski in the mantle. A second version named Nicodemus adopts the role and is hired to kill Aquaman. His failure to successfully complete the job lands him in prison where he later dies. A third and final NKVDemon is introduced in Chuck Dixon’s run on Robin in 1997. He, too, does not last for long, though he out-survives both of his predecessors. The third version of the mercenary presumably dies at the hands of the villainous Hellhound in Batman: The 12 Cent Adventure (1994). It seems some things, even in the world of comics and make believe, just aren’t meant to last.
This Nightwing villain debuts in Nightwing #22 in 1998. Writer Chuck Dixon (Punisher, Batman) and artist Scott McDaniel (Daredevil, Green Arrow) created the foe, who’s a former torturer for a secret government agency in Hasaragua. Upon the government’s collapsing, Brutale, real name Guillermo Barrera, escapes the Latin country and flees to North America. When arriving in the United States, Brutale begins work as a hitman for hire, using his skills as a interrogator and torturer to his advantage.
A job in Blüdhaven, working for the villain Blockbuster, puts Brutale on Dick Grayson/Nightwing’s radar.
From there on, the character makes a few more appearances in the comics. His most notable storyline after battling Nightwing has him running with the Secret Society of Super Villains. During the New 52 continuity, Brutale receives a reboot that has him going against Jaime Reyes’ Blue Beetle. Other than a small role in the animated Superman/Batman: Public Enemies film and a brief appearance in Arrow’s pilot season, Brutale’s transition to media beyond comics has been minimal in scope. He’s a compelling villain, of that there is no doubt. But, perhaps, being an assassin under the DC umbrella proves tough where breaking into the mainstream is concerned. For now, it seems characters such as Deathstroke and Deadshot have that particular angle on lock.
Not to be confused with the name of Legends of Tomorrow’s time-ship, this Waverider is an actual character. He debuts in the first issue of Armageddon 2001, where he acts as the main character. Writer Archie Goodwin (Iron Man, Manhunter) and artist Dan Jurgens created the character for the crossover event. The premise surrounding Waverider’s backstory is nothing if not intriguing. In 2030, the world is run by a tyrant named Monarch. Earth’s heroes have been destroyed and the will to keep fighting is remarkably low. Certain he may be able to change things for the better, the man that would become Waverider, Matthew Ryder, volunteers to undergo time traveling tests.
His success in this regard gives him the power to time travel at will. However, his abilities exceed even this -- Waverider also has skills involving divination, super-speed, energy absorption and much more. Interestingly, another more famous hero dons the Waverider mantle as well, Michael Jon Carter, aka everyone’s favorite superhero, Booster Gold. With that said, even this version of the time traveler never took off or gained much mainstream attention. However, Waverider can be spotted a few times during Justice League Unlimited, though his appearances aren’t of any significance. Maybe one day he’ll get a chance at the spotlight.
This Batman rogue may be of lesser renown than other villains created in the '90s, such as Bane or Victor Zsasz, yet he is still an enthralling antagonist. Arnold Etchinson, or Abattoir as he is more commonly known, is a serial killer whose first run-in with the Bat pits him against the Jean-Paul Valley version. Marv Wolfman created the character during his Detective Comics run, where Abattoir first appears in issue #625. Believing his family inherently evil, he takes matters into his own hands, killing them all to ensure that others are safe from harm.
Even these drastic actions weren’t enough to appease his unstable psyche.
The time he spends in Arkham Asylum does nothing to rehabilitate the serial murderer. During Bane’s assault on the city to unleash all of Gotham’s criminals, Abattoir escapes. Not long thereafter, he sets out on a mission to annihilate his only surviving family member. Jean-Paul Valley’s Batman thwarts the attempt for a time, but Abattoir’s fatal machinations prove successful. Regardless, Valley leaves the killer to die after their fight places Abattoir in deadly circumstances. He later returns as a ghost and then once more as a member of the Black Lantern Corps in Geoff Johns' "Blackest Night".
2 WHITE MAGICIAN
The 1990 Wonder Woman Annual marks the White Magician’s first appearance, however, his backstory purportedly spans hundreds of years. Asquith Randolph is a warlock who claims to have been alive during the founding of America. Throughout history he’s harbored several titles, the White Sorcerer among them, before settling on White Magician. This William Messner-Loebs creation is definitely one worthy of acknowledgement. The Linda Park co-creator and Dr. Fate writer did not design this magician as merely a man of magic. Once a hero, the White Magician, after his initial troubles with Wonder Woman, makes a pact with a demon.
Continued struggles with the Amazons lead to the White Magician’s concocting a way to transform his own form into that of a demon. This deed is conducted at the expense of two women’s lives, one being his lover and the other Cheetah. Because of this, the women also become demons, blindly following their master’s every request. By story’s end, Diana defeats the magician and the two women regain their original forms. The White Magician dies in an issue of Wonder Woman in 1995, “Blank Madness.” Interestingly, he has yet to return in any significant capacity since then. It’s hard to say whether he would fit in any cross-media ventures or the DC Universe’s current continuity.
The prolific Peter David, whose best known for runs on The Incredible Hulk, Supergirl and more, and artist Todd Nauck (Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man) introduced Harm to the world of DC in Young Justice #4. At a young age, William Hayes’ adoptive sister, Greta, begins seeing signs of his coming villainy. Her premonition goes unheeded and with in years, William’s violent behavior proves her correct. Tempted by a demon named Buzz, William sacrifices Greta for superpowers. Through them, he has super-strength, enhanced speed, healing abilities, etc. A supervillain rises to power as William adopts the name Harm and sets out to wreak havoc on the world. Unfortunately, his adoptive parents are incapable of keeping him under control.
It isn’t long before members of Young Justice cross his path.
After Harm attacks Arrowette, the team tracks him down. Nearly besting them all, Harm flees at the last minute, hearing that the young heroes have back up on the way. He appears a few more times after this, one instance involves his being killed by his adoptive father. Harm doesn’t stay dead, though, returning once more during “Day of the Dead.” He features in an episode of Young Justice, “Secrets,” but differs from his comic counterpart with regards to his backstory and powers.