9 Times Comic Characters Who Are “Gimmicks” Defeated Super Strong Foes

Squirrel Girl Has Defeated Several Powerhouse Villains And Even Subdued Galactus

Comic books triumphantly detail the exploits of iconic superheroes who selflessly face down holy horrors and cosmic threats with their perfect physiques, awesome costumes, and incredible powers and abilities. By thrilling generation after generation of fans, characters like Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man have become part of not just American comic book or popular culture, but world culture… and then there are the superheroes no one takes seriously. Purposely designed to be humorous or throwaway characters, or simply because it’s almost impossible for creators to design new superheroes as cool as Batman or Wolverine, comic books are filled to overflowing with silly joke characters.

Whether because of a bad costume, an ill-conceived code name, or ridiculous superpowers, many “joke superheroes” have been relegated to laughing-stock status by fans, and sometimes even by other superheroes within their own fictional universes. There are some, however, who have – often in one issue or even in a single panel – been able to shrug off decades of life on the D-list by accomplishing incredible feats or by punching way out of their weight class. If you think the characters on this list are weirdos, losers, or jokes, think again: These superheroes have accomplished things that rival or even surpass the feats of the greatest superheroes of all time!

1. Forager Saved Batman And Prevented Anti-Life From Destroying The Universe

Forager Saved Batman And Prevented Anti-Life From Destroying The Universe

A member of a race of insectoid humanoids that evolved from “micro-life” during the conflict between New Genesis and Apokolips, Forager was gifted with superhuman strength, speed, and reflexes. Despite this, he and his entire race were derided as “bugs” and treated as an inferior species by the New Gods of New Genesis. Despite their prejudice towards his people, Forager sought out the aid of New Gods Orion and Lightray when the bugs were threatened and even helped them to defeat the villain Mantis. Despite this, many of the New Gods still considered the insectoid species subhuman. 

When the universe was threatened with destruction by the living embodiment of the Anti-Life Equation, Forager was actually one of the eight heroes from Earth and New Genesis chosen to stop one of the four Anti-Life bombs targeting different planets. Partnered with Batman and sent to stop the detonation device on Earth, Forager saved the Caped Crusader from being strangled to death by a hulking Anti-Life “zombie.” The battle took Batman out of the fight, but Forager mustered the strength to leap through a gaping hole in the zombie’s torso and smash the controls of the bomb with only a second to spare.

Forager perished in the resulting destruction of the bomb, but saved the Earth and earned the respect of Batman. After explaining to the others how Forager saved the day, Orion joked, “Who would have thought the bug had it in him?” earning the New God a sock in the jaw from Batman and a lesson in humility from High Father.

2. Plastic Man Shut Down A Demon-Possessed Martian Manhunter

Plastic Man Shut Down A Demon-Possessed Martian Manhunter

One of the oldest – if not the oldest – “joke” superheroes still appearing in comic books, toys, and possibly even in a feature film is Patrick “Eel” O’Brian, AKA Plastic Man. A small-time hood who set aside his criminal ways after gaining the power to stretch every part of his body, Plastic Man first appeared on the scene in 1941, the same year as Captain America and Wonder Woman. His zany adventures combined comedy and action, with a heavy reliance on slapstick humor, and being a “goofball” would define his character for the next 80 years.

After an adventure that saw him shattered into pieces and abandoned at the bottom of the ocean for 3,000 years, O’Brian forced himself to forget his powers and his life of adventure as Plastic Man and focus on his young son. However, when the Martian Manhunter became possessed by a demonic entity and went on a rampage, Batman sought out Plastic Man for help.

When his son revealed that he also had superpowers, O’Brian snapped out of his stupor and joined the JLA in confronting Martian Manhunter. With a mind as malleable as his body, Plastic Man was immune to the Manhunter’s telepathy, which had been keeping the rest of the JLA at bay. Stretching to titanic proportions, O’Brian countered and contained the possessed Manhunter’s shape-shifting ability. His actions allowed Martian Manhunter to break free of the demon’s hold and earned him the respect of Batman and the rest of the JLA.

3. Squirrel Girl Has Defeated Several Powerhouse Villains And Even Subdued Galactus

Squirrel Girl Has Defeated Several Powerhouse Villains And Even Subdued Galactus

With her youthful exuberance, bushy tail, and cute-as-buttons squirrel sidekicks, Marvel’s Doreen Green does not exactly strike fear in the hearts of villains as the superhero, Squirrel Girl. Even with strength on par with Spider-Man, a dexterous, prehensile tail, and a slew of other superhuman squirrel attributes and abilities like climbing claws and powerful chomping jaws, Doreen is constantly underestimated by villains and heroes alike.

However, if any of them bothered to look at Squirrel Girl’s fight record, they would give her the respect she is due. In her debut appearance, while still in her teens, Doreen took on and defeated Dr. Doom, forcing the Latverian tyrant to run for his life. She subsequently defeated the likes of Terrax and even Thanos, earning her a 7/7 on all six of Marvel’s power indices. But Doreen’s greatest accomplishment was probably her subduing of the planet-devouring cosmic entity, Galactus, a feat few other heroes can claim.

After “borrowing” a suit of armor from Iron Man, Doreen flew to the moon to talk to Galactus. After bonding over their mutual disdain for Thanos, Doreen convinced Galactus to snack on a planet covered in nuts. Galactus agreed and became so engorged with nuts that he passed out, sparing the Earth.

4. Beak Was A Member Of Three Super-Teams And Saved The Entire Multiverse

Beak Was A Member Of Three Super-Teams And Saved The Entire Multiverse

Transformed into a bizarre human/avian hybrid creature with a large beak covering more than half of his face, but possessing little in the way of “powers,” Barnell Bohusk was ostracized and treated poorly by his former friends and classmates when his mutant powers manifested. Scared, confused, and disgusted by his transformation, Barnell fled his home to scrape by on the streets of Rotterdam, Netherlands, relying on his avian eyesight, talons, and limited ability to fly.

Considered a freak and joke by the outside world (and many comic book readers), Beak proved to be a valued friend and ally to many in the superhero community. At the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Beak fell in love with fellow classmate Angel Salvadore, sired mutant children with her, and earned honorary X-Men status.

Despite his meager abilities, he managed to aid the X-Men in battling powerful villains like Cassandra Nova and Xorn/Magneto. He later aided the dimension-hopping Exiles, but was constantly maligned for his appearance and apparent uselessness. Even so, when he awoke into a reality in which Hyperion had gone evil and eliminated every human and superhuman who opposed him, Beak leapt to the Exiles’ aid. With quick thinking, Beak saved the entire multiverse by coming up with the strategy of recruiting two good Hyperions from alternate realities to defeat the evil Hyperion. 

A true hero at heart, Barnell even found a way to continue to help others when his mutations were erased. Donning a powered suit that finally allowed him to truly fly, Barnell joined the New Warriors as the superhero Blackwing.

5. Throg The Thunder Frog Trapped Thanos In Another Dimension With The Help Of The Pet Avengers

Throg The Thunder Frog Trapped Thanos In Another Dimension With The Help Of The Pet Avengers

Writer-artist Walt Simonson’s run on Thor is widely considered one of the greatest in the Thunder God’s publication history. “The Surtur Saga,” “Doom,” and “The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill” introduced powerful new characters, expanded upon and deepened Marvel’s Norse mythology, and changed Thor in ways that continue to influence the character today. Simonson also turned Thor into an amphibian known as the Thunder Frog.

The gimmicky transformation was a hit with fans, but Marvel wasn’t going to keep Thor as a frog for long. Enter human-turned-frog Simon Walterson (get it?), or “Puddlegulp,” as he is known among the Central Park frog community. Gifted with a sliver of Mjolnir that grants him the powers of Thor, Puddlegulp took over the mantle of Thunder Frog, or “Throg.”

Throg proved that he was no joke by taking on Thanos one-on-one, something the real Thor is hesitant to do. When Thanos discovered that the Power Gem adorned the collar of the president’s pet dog, Bo, Throg and the Pet Avengers stepped in to stop the Mad Titan from destroying the White House. During the battle that ensued, Throg kept Thanos busy long enough for the Pet Avengers to turn the power of the Infinity Gems on Thanos himself, banishing him to another dimension.

6. Booster Gold Survived A Head-To-Head Clash With Doomsday

Booster Gold Survived A Head-To-Head Clash With Doomsday

Banned from professional football for betting on his own games, Michael John Carter grew discontent with life as a museum security guard in the 25th century. Swiping a Legion Flight Ring, a suit of powered armor, and a multi-purpose robot named Skeets, Carter traveled back in time to rub elbows with the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman and try his hand at superheroics as Booster Gold. With his knowledge of the future and his willingness to commercially market himself, Carter became rich off of the Booster Gold brand. However, he failed to impress the superhero sect, who mostly considered him an attention-seeking buffoon or “money-chasing fool.”

Nevertheless, despite the admittedly shallow, self-centered reasons that initially drove him to become Booster Gold, Carter has occasionally proven that he possesses a spark of true heroism. When he first encountered the monstrous Doomsday as a member of Justice League America, Booster was excited to “capture it and take it on the talk-show circuit for big bucks.” Years later, and millions of dollars richer, Carter came to the realization that he no longer needed to play superhero, yet he continued fighting for justice.

When he once again encountered a military-controlled version of Doomsday on a world without Superman, Booster didn’t hesitate to confront the beast. In a brutal head-to-head fight that played out over nearly two dozen pages of three consecutive issues, Booster Gold took the worst that Doomsday could dish out and kept going back for more. He eventually succumbed to Doomsday’s might, but his selfless determination forever elevated him to the status of a true hero.

7. Ambush Bug Saved The Doom Patrol With Nothing But Words

Ambush Bug Saved The Doom Patrol With Nothing But Words

It’s commonly known that Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld were inspired by DC Comics’ Deathstroke in the creation of Deadpool for Marvel (even if Liefeld now disagrees with Nicieza’s recollection and his own past statements). As far as his personality, however, Deadpool has much more in common with a completely different and more obscure DC character: Ambush Bug. 

Originally a villain (like Deadpool), Ambush Bug was born when ordinary fella Irwin Schwab accidentally intercepted alien clothing transmitted from a doomed planet. The suit granted Irwin invulnerability, the ability to teleport long distances, and cosmic awareness, allowing him to break the fourth wall (just as Deadpool does now). Suffering from mental illness, Ambush Bug runs his mouth non-stop, cracking jokes, speaking to the reader, or rambling nonsensically (sound like anyone?). Typically disregarded as a joke, Irwin would achieve a modicum of respect as a member of the misfit superhero team, Doom Patrol (his initial enemies, just as Deadpool began as an X-Force enemy and eventually joined the team).

In that iteration of the team’s final mission on Oolong Island, Ambush Bug single-handedly defeated the Doom Patrol’s powerful nemesis, Mister Somebody (formerly Mister Nobody), a white shadow entity with the power to drive people insane. When all seemed lost for the team, Ambush Bug whispered into the ear of the Mister Somebody-possessed president of Oolong Island, Veronica Cale, that the comic book series had been cancelled due to the Flashpoint event. Immediately losing interest in the conflict, Mister Somebody released Cale and packed it in.

8. Doop Swallowed Mjolnir And Bested Thor To Win Back Part Of His Brain

Doop Swallowed Mjolnir And Bested Thor To Win Back Part Of His Brain 

Some goofy superheroes simply look weird or have strange powers. Others are hard to take seriously because of their unfortunate or silly code names. Doop has all of these odd-ball qualities and then some. Basically a floating, bumpy, green-bean-shaped entity with arms and a face and a name that rhymes with “poop,” Doop sticks out like a sore, wart-covered thumb alongside other superheroes.

According to Captain America, Doop was created as part of a Cold War experiment, though it may actually be an alien or an extra-dimensional being. Whatever its origins, the mutant community accepted Doop when others would not, and the non-binary creature became a member of the government-sponsored super-team X-Statix, and, later, the X-Men. Doop is even a member of the mutant-only enclave on Krakoa. 

Despite everything that seemingly makes Doop one of the biggest jokes in any comic book universe, the little, green spud is actually insanely powerful, with countless Alpha-class abilities. Unfortunately, its body is constantly degenerating, and at one point, Doop’s brain blew up. Still able to function with its secondary brain, Doop and X-Statix scoured the cosmos in search of its brain chunks, tracking one piece to Asgard.

When Thor intercepted the invaders, Doop swallowed Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, and regurgitated a dozen Mjolnirs back at the God of Thunder. Doop managed to fight Thor to a standstill until the rest of the Avengers arrived and confronted X-Statix.

9. Gwenpool Defeated The Hulk With Versions Of Herself And Thor’s Severed Arm

Gwenpool Defeated The Hulk With Versions Of Herself And Thor's Severed Arm

Initially created solely as just another “Gwen” character for a variant cover of Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #2, the white-and-pink clad female Deadpool was an instant hit. So intrigued were fans by the cover, Marvel fleshed out the nameless one-off character, and a comic book superstar was born: Gwendolyn Poole, an amalgamation of Gwen Stacy and Deadpool from another dimension who fights the forces of evil – and boredom – as Gwenpool.

Gwenpool is gifted with the ability to perceive the comic book structure in which her adventures take place. By accessing the “Gutter Space” around panels, Gwenpool is able to alter, move, or even remove characters from panels. She is also able to interact with versions of herself from other panels and effectively time travel by jumping from one page to the next. 

One of the most notable uses of her powers was in her battle with the nigh-unstoppable Immortal Hulk. After being “Hulk-smashed so hard” that she ended up in “white space,” Gwenpool retrieved multiple versions of herself from previous adventures to distract the Jade Giant. Then, borrowing Thor’s severed arm from Malekith, she summoned Mjolnir and hurled the enchanted hammer at the Hulk, hitting him squarely in his nether regions and knocking all the fight out of the green behemoth.