Reviews > Published on June 3rd, 2015

Bookshots: 'The League of Regrettable Superheroes' by Jon Morris

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History!

Who wrote it?

Anyone who enjoys throwbacks to the Golden or Silver ages of comic books or who appreciates the evolution of storytelling that plays out in the pages of the popular graphic medium will get a kick out of this book.

Jon Morris: cartoonist, graphic designer, and weird superhero aficionado. Check out his blog Gone & Forgotten.

Plot in a box:

No plot, true believer! It's basically an encyclopedia of the weirdest superheroes ever to grace the funny pages.

Invent a new title for this book:

You Probably Don't Remember Me, But... The Superhero Edition

Read this if you like:

Superheroes. How many times am I going to have to type that word in this review?

Meet the book's lead(s):

The Bouncer, The Clown, Doctor Hormone, The Eye, Invisible Scarlet O'Neil, Kangaroo Man, Stardust the Super-Wizard, Brother Power the Geek, Captain Science, Gunmaster, Pow-Girl, AAU Shuperstar, NFL Superpro, Thunderbunny

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

I don't know, probably some dude named "Chris."

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Most of these characters seem to live in cities overrun by mobsters and/or absurdly themed villains, so no thanks.

What was your favorite sentence?

How many other heroes would be proudly celebrated by a caption describing how he "experiments on a dying infant"?

The Verdict:

This is one of the easiest books that I've ever had to review, because it's fairly obvious from the title and cover who's going to enjoy this read. If you aren't interested in comic books or superheroes at all, then you aren't going to find much in The League of Regrettable Superheroes. Even if you are a fan of today's major Marvel and DC characters, if you aren't huge on the history of the funny books, then this still might not be for you. However, anyone who enjoys throwbacks to the Golden or Silver ages of comic books or who appreciates the evolution of storytelling that plays out in the pages of the popular graphic medium will get a kick out of this book. I'm not sure about the title, because many of the heroes were popular for a while when first created, but the back cover blurb gets it right: these certainly are among "the strangest superheroes ever to see print." Included with each entry is at least one issue cover, a description of the character's powers and background, and a post mortem detailing how and why the character faded into obscurity. Some entries also include full comic book pages to give the reader a better sense of the adventures that the hero went on in his or her title.

Part coffee table book and part serious history of some of the under-explored aspects of a popular medium, The League of Regrettable Superheroes is one of those books that would make the perfect gift for someone whose interest in comics goes beyond watching The Avengers whenever it's on TV. This is definitely one for the superfans, not those with a mere passing interest. Paralleling the comics of those bygone eras, the text of the book can be a bit repetitive through no fault of the author. In the early days of comic books and superhero newspaper strips, publishers were constantly copying each other and mimicking popular characters' backstories and power sets. The repetition shows in the book, but as it's essentially a reflection of the historical period, it isn't particularly obtrusive. Besides, between Doctor Vampire (not actually a vampire), The Eye (actually an eye), and Ultra, the Multi-Alien (it's complicated), there's certainly enough weirdness here to keep things interesting.

About the author

Brian McGackin is the author of BROETRY (Quirk Books, 2011). He has a BA from Emerson College in Something Completely Unrelated To His Life Right Now, and a Masters in Poetry from USC. He enjoys Guinness, comic books, and Bruce Willis movies.

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