15 Weird Stan Lee Characters You Haven’t Heard Of
This morning we woke to the said news that comic writer Stan Lee had passed away. The industry legend played a major hand in building the Marvel Universe as we now know it and was the face of the company for decades. He achieved more in a long, creative career than anyone before him or since and his mark on pop-culture is almost without par. So many of his creations are household names and the centre of a multi-billion dollar industry. Stan Lee died 95 years old having achieved something unrepeatable.
We all know his best creations – Spider-Man, Avengers and more – and we might take the time to assemble some features on those. But we must remember that Stan the Man was incredibly prolific. It’s because he planted and tended every seed of creativity he summoned there’s plenty of weirdness and, yes, cringe once you look past my beloved X-Men. Let’s take a moment to shine a light on some of the oddities produced by Stan Lee’s remarkable imagination that may have escaped your notice.
First Appearance: Ravage 2099 #1 (Dec. 1992)
As part of Marvel’s 2099 imprint, in which classic characters were reimagined in a far flung sci-fi universe, Ravage 2099 was a corporate CEO turned mutated dystopian superhero. Ravage was one of the few major titles created by Stan Lee following She-Hulk in 1980 and is very much his take on the trends emerging during the era with big-muscled hardcases with giant guns. He didn’t strike much of a chord and only ran 33 issues.
Tales of Suspense #56 (Aug. 1964)
This former soviet agent and foe of Iron Man is either the most secure man in the Marvel Universe or a seriously dedicated Brony. As you can no doubt guess, he has a mechanical horn that shoots lasers out of his forehead. Ok, so maybe you didn’t guess that. Whatever.
Backstreet Project One-Shot (Aug. 2007)
When a spaceship crashes near a pop music concert the band get turned into the CYBER CRUSADERS. They go from being plain old Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, A.J. McLean, Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson (or as some may call them, The Backstreet Boys) become Ninja Man, Illusioneer, Ordnance, Top Speed and Power Lord respectively. Thus they were the world’s most generic superheroes. This really wasn’t anything more than a vanity project, we have no idea how Stan got involved!
Daredevil #10 (Oct. 1965)
Sure, why not. This C-lister has actually gone on to be a regular background member of the Marvel canon.
Just Imagine…Stan Lee’s Batman One Shot (Nov. 2001)
Yes. THAT Batman. THE Batman. But not.
This marketing stunt from the turn of century gave an alternate take on the DC universe. His take on Batman was unfortunately weak, recasting Bruce Wayne (or Wayne Williams) as a, African-American wrestler in a bat costume.
Nightcat #1 (Apr. 1991)
Eleven years to the day Marvel after launched Dazzler, a failed attempt at a comic/musician cross-platform that would include a movie starring Cher, The Village People, KISS and Robin Williams, came Nightcat. Described as the ‘first comic character based on a real person’, the singer turned vigilante. Model Jacqueline Tavarez was the visual basis for the character and the comic line launched alongside a real world album. They both flopped.
Tales to Astonish #38 (Dec. 1962)
He’s the standard evil genius villain trope with…a head shaped like an egg. That’s about it.
You can be forgiven for not knowing this one because, you know, it didn’t happen. This family friendly animated series was about Arnie himself (who worked with Lee on the show) leaving politics to fight crime. Then Arnie had himself a big not family-friendly infidelity scandal.
Amazing Adventures #1 (June 1961)
This very early character saw a Western doctor visiting the Orient and learning about mystic powers from an ancient, wise Tibetan man. And yes, it does sound like Doctor Strange…if Doctor Strange got his powers by turning Asian. Oof, that’s uncomfortable in hindsight.
Strange Tales #108 (May 1963)
Ok, honesty time. I don’t know anything about his guy but look at him! He’s awesome!
Fantastic Four #15 (June 1963)
Speaking of awesome! This guy has a fantastic name, especially in a decade before that word got overused to death, and a fantastic design! A creation of the Mad Thinker and foe of the Fantastic Four, among others, this unusual and little known bad guy is always awesome.
Goom and Googam
Tales of Suspense Vol. 1 #15 (Mar 1961) & Tales of Suspense Vol, #17 (May 1961)
No doubt you’ve heard of Groot, the talking tree from Guardians of the Galaxy but it’s less likely that you know Goom and Googam who also fare from Planet X. The large headed alien father/son team look like play-doh creatures but are pure Stan and Jack radness.
Tales of Suspense #47 (Nov. 1963)
I just love a villain with a single gimmick, one of the reason I consider Spider-Man to have one of the all time great rogue’s gallery. The Melter does what he says on the tin – he melts things. For Iron Man this is certainly a problem. This guy needs a big screen appearance at some point, just think of how much fun he would be to watch!
‘Stripperella’ Episode #1 (TV) (June, 2003)
Stan Lee was always one to team up with a real life person to create a new character. In this case the real life inspiration was Pamela Anderson at the peak of her television fame. Her animated counterpart was, you guessed it, a stripper and secret agent of the Bond type. It didn’t last long.
The Guardians Project
The Guardians Project (2011)
It would appear that most people would rather just forget this one. An in-universe hockey fan designs thirty superheroes, each one based on a different National Hockey League team. Then they come to life. It’s a stretch even for Stan Lee to drum up 30 new characters and some of them just looked like reskins of his classic characters. It’s just…thirty? Did you expect them all to be gems? I mean, how is that not just Cyclops?
We’ve taken a few weak jabs at some of these ideas but they have all put a smile on our face. And as some of these attempts slip into the background it’s he’s genuine heroes who will live on. Rest in Peace, Generalissimo.