Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Case Files #78: The Inferior Five

The comedic superhero, the character whose whole purpose is to have silly adventures that offer humor for the reader.  But sometimes those characters come back in interesting ways that have little if anything to do with the original vision of just something funny.

That brings us to the Inferior Five.

Who are the Inferior Five?  Well, they were five comedic superheroes that joined forces to fight the forces of evil like their parents before them.  DC published their adventures, during which they were known to both team up or oppose parodies of established heroes from both DC and Marvel.  The line-up was…Merryman!  The Blimp!  Awkwardman!  White Feather!  And…Dumb Bunny.  Sorry, Jenny.

What were their powers?  Well, Merryman was their leader.  He was the smart one, indeed the only one smart enough to know how pathetic the others were.  Like Captain Carrot, he was also a comic book artist.  Physically, he was pretty weak.  His parents were take-offs on patriotic heroes like Uncle Sam and Miss America.

The Blimp was the son of a Flash parody.  He could fly, but lacked speed.  He did alright when the wind blew the correct way.

Awkwardman was the son of a Superman type and a female Aquaman type.  He had strength and could breathe underwater, though he had to douse himself from time to time to stay alive.  Oh, and he was clumsy.

White Feather’s dad was a Green Arrow parody.  White Feather himself was an archer…and a coward.

And then there was Dumb Bunny, originally the daughter of a Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor pair, she was very strong…and not very bright.  Once again, sorry, Jenny.

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OK, so, humorous superheroes are hardly unique to the Inferior Five.  I mean, a relatively recent issue of The Brave and the Bold had them teaming up with the generally more serious (though not by much) Legion of Substitute Heroes.

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So why bring them up?  Well, they do tend to appear from time to time, but in some interesting ways.  One such appearance was by writer Gail Simone in the pages of a Villains United mini-series that came out as part of the Infinite Crisis.  Only this bunch was called the Superior Five and they were villains.

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Aside from Jongleur (Evil Merryman), this group didn’t last long.  And even then it was mostly because Gail Simone liked to toss the guy into group scenes of villains.

But the more interesting case came from Grant Morrison.  Morrison, while working on proto-Vertigo series Animal Man, came up with Limbo.  What was Limbo?  Limbo was the place forgotten comic book characters went.  Animal Man went there while on a quest to get answers as to why his family died, a storyline that memorably ended when Animal Man got to the real world and met Morrison himself, and Morrison explained he could do whatever he wanted as the writer of a fictional comic book hero.  But Morrison wasn’t a bad guy and, as this was his final issue, he ended his run by putting Animal Man back in the real world with his family alive and well again.  Among the many characters Animal Man met in Limbo was the Inferior Five.  Merryman was something of a tour guide.

It’s probably worth noting Limbo was not a one-way street.  Characters who went there, if they were remembered, could return to the “real” world.  That would include one fellow Animal Man crossed paths with briefly, one Mr. Freeze.

But Morrison wasn’t done with the Five or Limbo.  During the Final Crisis, Morrison wrote a Superman side story where the Man of Steel, along with some alternate versions of himself, went to Limbo looking for components needed to defeat the final evil of the Final Crisis.  Merryman greets Superman as the King of Limbo.  When the time came, Merryman led the charge of forgotten characters to help Superman save the day.

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So, really, keep an eye out.  The Five tend to just pop up at random, either together or individually.

 

 

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