regrettable supervillains

regrettable supervillains Jon Morris’s The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains is a natural sequel to his The League of Regrettable Superheroes. Let’s face it: Without anyone to fight against, the superheroes are just a bunch of folks running around in funky spandex underoos. Let’s also face that very few supervillains will have the gravitas of Magneto, the moral certainty of Thanos, or the creepy menace of the Joker. Morris is here to once again tell us about all the also-rans who didn’t let their deficiencies stop them.

No matter the shape, size, or strategy of the four-color finks gracing these pages, every one of them had the potential to join the ranks of comicdom’s icons of iniquity. It was only poor sales, inopportune timing, and occasional overshadowing from bigger baddies that consigned so many of these scoundrels to the scrapheap of comic book history. Until now!

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Morris documents a remarkable assortment of semi-menacing figures that are very much the products of their times. The thirties and forties saw an awful lot of gangsters and confidence men–as well as Mother Goose, Satan, and Captain Black Bunny–before the comics went to war. The fifties and sixties ushered in a bunch of do-badders like Cat Girl and Tino the Terrible Teen, who would fit comfortably in a Batman episode. The seventies and beyond took both oddly concrete and weirdly conceptual turns, with Generic Man, Captain Law, and Uzzi the Clown all serving up exactly what their monikers promise.

regrettable supervillains
MODOK, as lovely as ever

Several of these menaces to society did go on to have fairly (by Regrettable standards) long careers. Batroc the Leaper hassled Captain America over multiple issues. The Human Flying Fish caused trouble for Aquaman, on and off. Swarm stuck around to threaten Black Widow, Ghost Rider, and a few lesser X-Men. And MODOK became the go-to adversary for Marvel, taking on Ms. Marvel, Deadpool, Iron Man, the Hulk, and a slew of other A-list superheroes.

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The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains offers an evildoer for every taste. These are a few of my favorite also-ran bad guys:

From the Golden Age of comics (1938-1949):

  • Nazis: Captain America wasn’t the only Nazi-puncher of the Golden Age. Nazis were a favorite–and obvious–target for pretty much everybody in the 1940s. It’s not like Captain Murder, the Human Fly, and Mister Banjo didn’t deserve it.
  • The Jingler: “The Jingler (aka “the Jingler of Death”) begins his career not as a vile poet, but merely a pretty bad one.”
  • Reefer King: “One Mary Jane-laced menace is the so-called Reefer King, a shady dealer of ‘funny cigarettes.’ (At no point in this story are the illicit cigarettes referred to as marijuana or cannabis.)”
regrettable supervillains
Mod Gorilla Boss–stylish and surly

And from the Silver Age (1950-1969):

  • Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man: “Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral…it’s all three! That’s some good science.”
  • The Human Flying Fish: “a villain so remarkable he deserves two adjectives in his nom du crime.”
  • Mod Gorilla Boss: “We never learn his name, nor how he discovered his transformational fluid, or even why he was into mod fashion. In fact, the story sheds absolutely no light on the backstory of this bizarre villain.”

And lastly from the Modern Age (1970-present):

  • Ghetto-Blaster: “Ghetto-Blaster hearkens back to a trend in comics when writers clearly named the villain after something sitting on their desks or stored in the hall closet.”
  • The Golden Fuhrer: Proving that Nazis never go out of style for punching–“Who knew that the reanimation of Nazi corpses could be such a good career opportunity?”
  • Tapeworm: “Tapeworm would be one of the most unnerving supervillains in existence even without considering that apparently he smells terrible.”
***
regrettable supervillains
Good ol’ reliable Nazis

The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains relishes the inherent silliness of these awkward bad guys, but it comes across to me as less gleeful than Morris’s earlier book on superheroes. The tone may be unavoidable, though, since villains are not generally known for their fun-loving ways, and their roles are by definition dark. But there are still plenty here who are not so much wicked as just cranky and misguided. There are even a handful who occasionally turn good. Morris’s snarky descriptions of the unlikeliest criminal minds continue to be a fun read.

Overall, The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains serves up some truly remarkable examples of how polite society’s fears get translated onto a comic books pages. It’s an interesting, four-color peek into the back pages of history.

Deadpool 2
What a feelin’
***A Few Spoilers Ahead***

Deadpool 2 is everything the first one was, and more. The violence is even more ridiculously over the top, the profanity so ramped up that even Colossus drops an f-bomb, and the emotional core of the story remains as believable as ever. I laughed. I cried. I laughed and cried at the same time. And I didn’t even have a spike through my head.

The Plot Thickens

Of course Ryan Reynolds is back as our loveable hero, as is Morena Baccarin as his one true love, Vanessa. Brianna Hildebrand returns as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Stefan Kapacic as Colossus, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, Karan Soni as Dopinder, and T.J. Miller as Weasel. Joining the party are Josh Brolin (fresh off killing half the universe) as the responsible, world-weary Cable, Zazie Beetz as the super-confident Domino (who’s mutant power is handled with great, casual good cheer), and Julian Dennison as the damaged and dangerous Russell. And in a stroke of inspired hiring, David Leitch (of John Wick and Atomic Blonde) is onboard to direct the mayhem.

Deadpool 2 begins not long after the first film ends, with Wade getting in touch with his maternal side. But that is only the set up. After a horrible personal tragedy sets things in motion, Deadpool embarks on a heartwarming journey to protect Russell, a dangerous fourteen-year-old mutant. But it’s complicated, because Cable shows up to prevent his own horrible personal tragedy by killing the kid before things go too far.

And because that’s not complicated enough, protecting Russell soon involves Deadpool and Weasel assembling a crack team of mutants, dubbed X-Force, so Deadpool can develop as a human being and show his warm, nurturing side. And also kill large numbers of bad guys and blow up lots of cars, trucks, and buildings. Bill Skarsgård shows up as Zeitgeist, Terry Crews as Bedlam, Lewis Tan as Shatterstar, Brad Pitt as Vanisher, and Rob Delaney as Peter. They briefly round out the X-Force before the team becomes more…streamlined.

Some of the Fun Bits
  • There are already three decapitations before the opening titles roll.
  • Shatterstar has green blood. Lots of it.
  • Dopinder aspires to be Kirsten Dunst to Deadpool’s Tom Cruise in the worst Interview With the Vampire analogy possible.
  • Now we all know what a “prison wallet” is, whether we wanted to or not.
  • As Wade promised Blind Al in the first Deadpool, the cure for blindness is indeed next to the stash of cocaine.
  • I think the “when does this happen” question gets answered pretty clearly in the X-Mansion.
  • Deadpool 2 references too many other Marvel superheroes to keep track of, takes more than a few swipes at DC, turns Yentl’s ballad “Papa” into a recurring theme, and in a scene so disturbingly funny I will refer to it only as “the legs”, resurrects Basic Instinct in the most disgusting way imaginable.
So Go See It!

Deadpool 2Deadpool 2 repeats a couple of tricks from the first film with enough of a twist to keep them from being simply trite. It is familiar without being a retread, and while it doesn’t really break any new ground (after the first, how could it without scratching at NC-17?), it manages to be just as remarkable. And in true Marvel fashion, it proclaims loudly that zealotry is bad, family is where you find it, death is temporary, and time travel fixes everything.

Let’s face it: Deadpool 2 is the hero we deserve.

Deadpool is finally here!
Deadpool is finally here!

Short version: Deadpool was &$#!!@ amazing. From the initial strains of “Angel of the Morning” by Juice Newton to the final notes of “Careless Whispers” by Wham!, Deadpool met, exceeded, and blew away any expectations I had. Hyperbole, perhaps, but when the opening credits list a Douchebag, a Hot Chick, a British bad-guy, and a CGI Character as producer and various cast, you know you are going somewhere where you had better hold on.

In brief, this is the story of how dishonorably-discharged Special Forces operative and sleazy mercenary Wade Wilson accidently becomes the super-powered, super-healing Deadpool because of an ill-advised and illicit attempt to cure his cancer. He comes out with his sense of humor not only intact, but turbocharged. It pairs nicely with his desire for vengeance on the man who messed him up. Hilarity and mad action ensue.

Decapitations, slow motion chaos, exploding heads, car crashes, collapsing dry docked battleships, Hello Kitty and ill-used unicorns abound. There is no down time. I will need to see Deadpool at least twice more to fully absorb the overwhelming tide of snarky references and asides splashed around with depraved indifference for any softer sensibilities. The fourth-wall wasn’t just broken. It was functionally removed, since Deadpool narrated his story directly to the audience. That conceit, beautifully written, provided an immediate connection to the character that the vast majority of comic book movies lack.

While Deadpool was vigorously unpredictable, one part of the story was unexpected. Tucked in the middle of the carnage and joyfully unhinged vulgarity was an honest emotional core. Wade’s and Vanessa’s reactions to his diagnosis of metastasized, terminal cancer and their attempts to deal with it were true, and painfully real. Of everything in this movie, those few scenes were not inflated or romanticized and were able to provide an underlying strength to the rest of the orgy of violence.

Did I mention that this movie was &$#!!@ amazing?

Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead represent the X-Men connection (because, as was often mentioned, budget constraints prevented anyone else from being there) and do their level best to talk Deadpool into becoming a hero. As X-Men related spin-offs go, Deadpool is a remarkably unlikely candidate. He is profane and irreverent in a way the X-Men (and superheroes in general) have never been. It’s almost like they are worried about not being noble and impressive enough, or something. But our Deadpool gives no f’s. He is mayhem in red spandex, to hide the bloodstains. Fortunately for everyone, he’s also willing to consider the hero thing.

The cast was, of course, perfect. Ryan Reynolds was a comedic whirlwind as Deadpool. Morena Baccarin matched him as his girlfriend, Vanessa. Ed Skrein was suitably wicked as Deadpool’s nemesis Francis, with Gina Carano as his sidekick Angel. Rounding out the main cast were Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Stefan Kapičić as Colossus, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al (Deadpool’s formerly-coke-headed roommate), and Karan Soni as Dopinder, the easily-influenced cabbie. And of course Stan Lee had his cameo. It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without him.

It was incredibly refreshing to have a bad-ass character be so funny. Against the looming background of the Marvel Universe and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, it’s good to laugh. Even in those films that display a good sense of humor, like Iron Man and The Avengers, there is an almost insufferable seriousness and self-importance. These are comic book super hero movies. They aren’t supposed to be important; they’re supposed to be fun.

And Deadpool is incredibly fun. It is shockingly inappropriate and relentlessly, effortlessly funny. There were plenty of scenes that made me laugh so hard I snorted. There were some so stunningly rude that I laughed too hard to breathe. Trimming this back to a PG-13 would have been a bad, bad mistake.

To sum it up: going in, I had very high hopes for Deadpool after an inescapable and happily well-done media blitz running up to the movie’s release. The anticipation definitely had a payoff. It was amazing– amazing and filthy and so much fun. Deadpool, FTW.

 

Yay, Deadpool!
Yay, Deadpool!

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

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