How do you determine “best” or worst” when it comes to comic book characters? Whatever you do, you’re liable to step on the toes of someone whose favorite character ends up on your list. When it comes to our list of Marvel’s 15 worst, we based it on several factors. First, the character needed to make his or her debut in the ’00s. We’ve given ourselves a little wiggle room in that if the character debuted in a different incarnation before the ’00s and made a change afterwards. Second, we tried to consider the character’s visual appearance, along with his or her originality (or lack thereof) and storyline in general. There were an awful lot of derivative characters created during this time period, and that’s reflected on our list.
Finally, we considered the character’s use going forward from that debut, and what that character’s introduction meant to the comics they appeared in. You’ll find that some of these characters mercifully slipped into obscurity shortly after their debuts, while others have continued to have an impact on the Marvel Universe (and we’ve even seen their names appear in marquee lights). There are certainly some worse-worst characters we had to have missed, but these 15 definitely stood out amongst the crowd.
One of the recurring themes on our list will be characters who unnecessarily complicate things that don’t need to be complicated. So we start with Morlun, who made his debut in June 2001’s Amazing Spider-Man #30. Morlun is a vampire who scours the multiverse, looking to devour animal totems. As it turns out, Spider-Man is an animal totem.
While the rest of us thought Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and given his powers by chance, Morlun knows that the spider was deliberately passing the totem to someone else before its own death. A freak lab experiment now becomes a small moment in a much larger, convoluted set of laws and supernatural mumbo jumbo. Morlun’s character would go on to star in the “Spider-Verse” event, and though we liked some of the new Spiders introduced there, we can’t get over how jumbled Morlun’s introduction made Spider-Man’s origin.
HydraCap isn’t the only strange version of Captain America to hit the comic pages. The man who would become Anti-Cap developed a deep hatred of terrorism at 13 years old, after his girlfriend was killed in an attack. Rejected by the Navy, Anti-Cap was recruited by a military program that sought to create other super soldiers that could be used in the fight against terror.
Wearing a uniform similar to Captain America’s, but without the real Cap’s moral compass, Anti-Cap waged his own war. Eventually, the real Cap and the Falcon were sent to take him down. Facing defeat and the prospect of capture, Anti-Cap knelt on some train tracks and committed suicide. Anti-Cap made his debut in Captain America and the Falcon, where the poor fellow was saddled with some really questionable art. At least HydraCap has replaced him as the “Worst Version of Captain America Ever” for now.
You just have to hate a guy who experiments on Colossus, right? Besides that, Ord, who made his debut in the third volume of Astonishing X-Men, has one of the sillier designs for a character who is basically just a guy in inexplicably Asian armor. Ord is an alien whose race experiences visions of the future, which they call “timeshadows,” and in one of these visions, Ord’s homeworld gets destroyed by a mutant from Earth. This puts Ord on a collision course with he X-Men.
What ensues is an inexplicably convoluted tale of trickery and deception, and features Ord swinging around a bladed weapon that he claims can cut through anything. That’s not very original, and we’re glad Ord got beaten up by his own world’s army when he got home.
The Green Goblin is a classic Marvel supervillain. The Hobgoblin, though originally a bit of a Green Goblin knockoff, has gone on to be great in his own right. But then Green Goblin became a good guy, and that good guy became a bad guy, and Hobgoblin started franchising, and somewhere along the way Jack O’Lantern became a demon and the goblin stuff just got out of control.
The end of the Goblin line is Lily Hollister, who is revealed to be the goblin-serummed Menace in Amazing Spider-Man #550. The introduction is supposed to be a head fake, because readers up until this point only know Lily as the lovely daughter of a mayoral candidate. When her true identity is revealed, it’s not nearly as shocking as the creators have hoped. Menace is, for us, one goblin too far.
Who doesn’t love fonts? Seriously, check out the documentary Helvetica, and your world will be rocked. Typeface must have watched that movie too many times, because now he goes around using weaponized letters to attack street thugs and goons. When Spider-Man takes notice, Typeface turns his twisted calligraphic skills towards the wall-crawler’s direction. Typeface makes his debut in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #23, and has made just a smattering of appearances since then.
Typeface’s look and M.O. remind us of a character that would be part of Batman’s rogues gallery, introduced in the ’60s and then made extra creepy by a modern creator. But Typeface never reaches that level of success, and just makes us long for the days when schools taught cursive to third graders.
Poor, poor Remiped. In some respects, we should probably celebrate Remiped. For a long time, mutants in the X-Men books cried about the weight of being different from everyone else, while, at the same time, they looked gorgeous and manifested powers that let them blast walls, read minds and fly. It wasn’t until modern writers started getting their hands on the books that the average X-Man or X-Women didn’t look like a member of a rich suburban high school’s Homecoming Court.
Remiped certainly doesn’t fit into any of that. As far as we can tell, his mutation is flippers. That’s it. Flippers. Hard to go toe-to-toe with someone who can turn ambient electricity into power blasts when the best you can do is come a close second to a seal in a swimming race. Poor, poor Remiped.
Sometimes, you make the room. Other times, the room makes you. The latter is the case when it comes to Danger, the character that shows what happens when smart technology gets a little too smart. The Danger Room was an element of the X-Men comics for a long time before it became sentient. In the third volume of Astonishing X-Men, though, the Danger Room builds itself a feminine-looking body, takes the name Danger, and begins assaulting the X-Men. By this time, she’s already convinced the depowered Wing to commit suicide.
Danger would go on to play an important role as a friend and foe of the X-Men, but could never shake her beginnings as a treacherous playground for the mutants. The next time you go and get the milk from your refrigerator, make sure it’s not looking back at you, judging.
8. FAT COBRA
Fat Cobra makes his debut in 2007’s Immortal Iron Fist #8 as one of the Immortal Weapons. Extremely long-lived, an incredible fighter, like Iron Fist, Fat Cobra also possesses the ability to focus his chi. As a result, Iron Fist’s abilities are completely watered down. It’s a shame when comic book creators see a successful character and decide to piggyback on his or her story.
There’s a lot to be interested in when it comes to the character of Fat Cobra. Visually, he’s got a totally unique look. His personality is boisterous and fun, and we can almost look beyond his enthusiasm for booze and hookers. But we can never look beyond how his character’s convoluted backstory contributes to reducing the impact of the Iron Fist character.
7. MICHAEL VAN PATRICK
This one’s a bit complicated, and that’s why the character appears on our list. The son of the grandson of a scientist involved in the Captain America program, Michael was raised as an experiment in training and nutrition. Ultimately, he became a man at the peak of human performance, excelling at athletics, and earning awards and a university scholarship.
All that came crashing down, however, when his relationship to Captain America was revealed. He was stripped of his scholarship and most of his trophies. MVP would go on to be recruited into the 50-State-Initiative, where he would get killed accidentally by one of his teammates. That’s when the cloning begins, and you know how cloning ends in the Marvel Universe: with Nazi scientists, triplet Scarlet Spiders and an unhinged Bizarro-MVP renamed KIA.
If Nightcrawler and Flatman had a baby, that baby would probably look exactly like Abyss. But that whole situation would be creepy, because Abyss is Nightcrawler’s half-brother. Abyss’s real name is Nils Styger, and he appeared in mutant books before making his debut as Abyss in Uncanny X-Men #402. There, he encounters Banshee’s X-Corps, is taken prisoner, and then sucks Mystique into an unknown dimension.
The character would pop up from time to time, usually when events concerned Nightcrawler and their father, Azazel. Though Abyss would temporarily lose his powers during the M-Day event, Quicksilver helped him recover them. We’ve included Abyss because we find him to be one of the most derivative characters around, and coupled with a ridiculously backstory, a place on our list is well-deserved.
5. ABIGAIL BRAND
A half-alien who sports Hydra-hair and a very unhealthy attraction to the X-Men’s Beast, Abigail Brand makes her full debut in Astonishing X-Men #6 where she is involved with negotiating with Ord. She’s the last character on our list from a run on Astonishing that places several characters on this list. Why are these characters so dreadfully noteworthy? Like Brand, all of them are visually boring, their histories are shrouded in so much mystery that they slip into tangled cliches, and their motivations are uninspired.
And as for Brand specifically, when she tells Beast that she’s into him because he’s blue and furry just like her father, we know we’ve crossed a line that shouldn’t get crossed. Brand receives a little vindication as the Lieutenant Commander of the Alpha Flight Space Station in the latest Captain Marvel series, but it’s not quite enough to avoid our list.
It’s not even a challenge to criticize a character with a design like Plokta’s. A blob with Eternity’s guts and DC’s Johnny Sorrow’s face, Plokta made its debut in Captain Britain and MI-13 #6. An entity from the Dark Dimension, Plokta has the ability to grant you your most fervent wish. All it costs is your soul.
Captain Britain and MI-13 was a crazy book, befitting a crazy character, and Plokta’s first appearances involve Pete Wisdom, the Skrulls, a reaping of souls, Captain Midlands and the destruction of the mystical barrier that leads to Otherworld. It all sounds very trippy and very British. Eventually, Plokta would turn to fight the on the side of the angels, teaming with MI-13 to battle none other than Dracula.
3. STACY X
Miranda Leevald — also known as Stacy X, X-Stacy, and Ripcord — first appeared at the X-Ranch, a Nevada brothel for mutants. That sentence pretty much sums up everything you need to know to understand why Stacy X appears on our list. She would later to go on to have a sexual encounter with a Welsh pop singer not named Tom Jones and a character named Ultimate Nullifier.
Stacy X has the ability control other people’s pheromones, which doesn’t really seem to make sense when you think about it. How would controlling other people’s pheromones work to control them? If her own pheromones had powers, that would make more sense. As it is, her powers make as much sense as a prostitute with lizard skin. Oh, wait.
A one and done character, the Inhuman Tral made his appearance in ClanDestine #2 in May of 2008. Trial’s tenure on the Marvel Universe stage is so short, it’s a little amazing that he appears on character lists at all. But there he was, waiting for us to find him, and so here’s his chance in the sun.
Tral uses his mind control powers to push a group of natives into attacking three members of ClanDestine, and that goes about how well you’d expect the plans of a purple-headed waterdog humanoid to go. It goes so badly, in fact, that the usually heroic Adam Destine kills Tral in a fit of rage. We’re fans of villains who pop up suddenly and are never heard from again (until Kurt Busiek finds them), but we’re fine if Tral stays dead.
1. WINTER SOLDIER
Life was so much simpler back in the day, before 2005’s new Captain America series revealed that Bucky didn’t die back in World War II like everyone thought, but was instead rescued by Soviet forces and brainwashed into being an assassin named the Winter Soldier. He’s then retroactively jammed into Marvel continuity, shown having an affair with the Black Widow while undercover and murdering Wolverine’s wife.
No other character on our list has had as much impact as the Winter Soldier, so we aren’t arguing the character’s success. But Ed Brubaker’s creation of Winter Soldier out of Bucky’s broken body is the precursor to Cap working with Hydra in the recent “Secret Empire” story. In both cases, writers reached back and crushed the character’s history for shock value. Bucky should have stayed dead.
What other terrible Marvel characters from the ’00s should we have listed? Let us know in the comments!
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