Comic books have always been a bit of an easy target when it comes to mockery. Sequential art tends to encourage wild ideas; after all it has the infinite special effects budget of a novel and yet at the same time can show the reader all the action it wants in as much detail as the writer and artist desires. Add this to how easy it is to access comic books and wackiness ensues. And we mean wacky.
So much so that you could probably write quite a few books on how weird various comic book characters are. Which is exactly what Jon Morris did a couple of years ago with The League of Regrettable Superheroes. His follow up book, The Legion Of Regrettable Supervillains is pretty much more of the same, but that’s no bad thing. This is a hilarious coffee table/reference work of all the sillier bad guys one can find in a comic book.
Morris runs us through the history of comics, starting with the Golden Age (the ‘50s) and up to (pretty much) modern times. With the whole of comic book history to play with, he’s focused almost exclusively on American books, but that’s no bad thing; you have to narrow the search somehow.
The book is beautifully designed; lots of full colour illustrations of the hapless baddies in question, and a page of gleeful observations from Morris. This is a book to hand around friends whilst giggling. There is, however, a lot of love poured into this work. Though it’s intended to entertain, it’s also a bit of a tour of comics history and some of the choices are clearly there to draw the reader in to this remarkable work of comic book history.
The characters displayed are as silly as one would expect. We have villainous bunny rabbits, a man who fights heroes by filling bricks with poison, and someone who can generate nasal lightning. Of particular note is The Top, a speedster, just in case you’re wondering, rather than something more modern. There’s also Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, a Doom Patrol villain who is remarkably tame for Doom Patrol, a comic that once had modern art as a villain. Some of the choices rather underline that these comic books were of their time, whilst others seems ready for a Marvel movie reboot sometime soon. Fun, and worth a look.
THE LEGION OF REGRETTABLE SUPERVILLAINS / AUTHOR: JON MORRIS / PUBLISHER: QUIRK BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW