Get used to seeing the name Rob Liefeld, because it will be popping up a lot on this list. The one-time Levis commercial star and world-renowned worst comic book artist in history teamed up with writer Louis Simonson in March, 1990 to create a character that embodies everything that sucked about comic books in the 1990’s. Glowing eye? Check. Giant shoulder pads? Check? Cybernetic limb? Check. Ridiculously huge guns? Check? Superfluous belt and thigh pouches? Check. Convoluted origin? Oh my God, check.
The only thing more ludicrous than Cable’s physical appearance, is his absolutely insane, paradox-riddled existence, which involves cloning, enough time travel to make Doc Brown look like a rank amateur, and — because this was the 90’s, and anything “techno” or “cyber” was totally rad — Cable was born with a “techno-organic” virus that threatened to kill him.
Cable has spent the past 25 years time-hopping around the Marvel universe, repeatedly failing at the three things he basically exists to do – control/cure his techno-organic virus, rid the world of the villain Apocalypse, and protect the “Mutant Messiah,” Hope. The virus keeps consuming and/or killing him, Apocalypse still pops up to do…whatever it is he does, and if my comic book research is accurate, he most recently got his ass handed to him by the Avengers while failing to protect Hope yet again, leaving her in a middle of a war and about to be gobbled up by the Phoenix Force. Nice job, asshat.
Cripes, just look at this guy – giant red Dracula cape, spikes, skulls, chains, and…more pouches? What in the bloody blue hell does a dead man encased in a magical, Satanic suit of plasmatic armor need to keep in a set of thigh pouches? A toothbrush? Tums? Steroids? (Hey, it was the 90’s after all.) At any rate, yeah, Spawn. What a terrible, terrible character.
Ol’ Spawn here was an oh-so-clever abbreviation for “Hellspawn,” and he was created by superstar artist Todd McFarlane (who is, to be fair, much better than Rob Liefeld) in 1992 as part of the initial launch of the creator-owned company Image Comics. He was once a CIA black ops badass named Al Simmons, but he was double-crossed and murdered by his boss, so in order to return to Earth and see his wife again, he got rooked into a Faustian deal with a demon called the Malebolgia, who transformed him into this poorly designed clusterfuck of spikes and chains. Seriously, Spawn looks like what would happen if one of Spider-man’s enemies punched him into the coat check room of the local Goth bar.
So why is Spawn so overrated? Well, probably because he’s nothing more than a walking symbol of empty, juvenile fantasy-fulfillment; the embodiment of adolescent predilections for gratuitous splash pages full of boobs, blood, and blades. Spawn is a character that has done absolutely nothing to deserve his iconic status in the comics world. Seriously, think about it — in over 200 issues of meandering nonsense, can you name a single memorable or critically acclaimed Spawn story? Don’t try to answer that, you’ll just hurt yourself.
If there is a more overrated villain in comic book history, I certainly can’t think of who it could be. Venom hs amassed a legion of rabid fans based solely on the fact that he…looks kinda cool? That really is the main issue with Venom — he’s not a character, he’s just a visually striking design.
Venom started out life in the mid 80’s as a blob of black goo on an alien world that took a liking to Spider-man, and bonded with him to create his spiffy black costume. Soon Spidey was acting strangely, and found out that the costume was a symbiotic alien that was trying to consume him. Spidey then used church bells and fire to separate the symbiote from his body permanently, but the alien goo found a new host in Eddie Brock, a disgraced reporter with a pro wrestler’s physique and a serious mad-on for Spider-man. Together Brock and the symbiote formed Venom, and they set out to make Spider-man’s life a living hell in a couple of truly classic Spidey stories.
The problem is Venom was never meant to be anything more than a temporary antagonist for Spider-man, but when that initial Symbiote saga storyline exploded and resonated with fans, Marvel saw dollar signs and decided to keep bringing Venom back over and over again, telling the same story repeatedly because Brock’s character was so thin. When the Spidey vs. Venom conflict had exhausted its potential, Marvel turned him into an anti-hero and spun him off into countless other books and eventually his own ongoing series, all of which were absolutely God-awful. Venom was exploited, watered-down, and completely over-exposed. Any threat or menace he once held vanished forever amidst a sea of foil covers and guest appearances with Ghost Rider.
Hey bro, sweet trenchcoat. Remember when those were cool for like, six months in the mid-90’s? Now the only people who wear them are subway flashers and fat teenagers who read R.A. Salvatore dark elf novels and listen to a lot of Type O Negative.
Gambit here is undoubtedly the most overrated X-Men character of all-time. He’s got all the prerequisite qualities of an abysmal 90’s creation: a mysterious, convoluted past involving Mr. Sinster (that guy’s ridiculousness could fill an entire article of its own); a horribly designed costume with one of those goofy and unnecessary headpieces that allowed his super-cool 90’s bangs to hang over his black and red eyes [OH MY GOD GAMBIT IS SO RAD, LOOK AT THOSE BLACK AND RED EYES]; a “totally extreme bro!” mutant power that allowed him to charge objects with kinetic energy , which he used solely on playing cards – because he’s a gambler, you see, Mon Ami?
Also, whenever Gambit is featured heavily in a story, readers are subjected to page upon page of irritating phonetic cajun dialog like this: ” HELLO DERE MON CHERE, I AM DE RAGIN CAJUN, AND I GAH-RUN-TEE DAT YOU ARE DE HOTTEST T’ING SINCE MY GRANDADDY’S CRAB JAMBALAYA OH HO HO HO!!” Ugh. It’s been almost 25 years of this, dude. Please just shut the hell up.
Deadpool started off as a lame Rob Liefeld-created ripoff of DC’s Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke The Terminator (writer Fabian Nicieza even named Deadpool’s true identity Wade Wilson because of this), in X-Force. He had all the usual 1990’s attributes – mysterious past tied into the Weapon X program (are you sensing a pattern here yet?), as well as the obligatory big swords, big guns, and pouches everywhere. In the mid-1990’s, first under writer Mark Waid, then Joe Kelly, he started to become a “funny” character – spouting off rapid-fire insults and jokes, talking to himself, and eventually breaking the fourth wall to address the reader with amusing observations.
The only thing more annoying than Deadpool’s lame fourth-wall breaking and constant, grating one liners, are the legions of fanboys who think Deadpool is the single greatest comic book character OF ALL-TIME. It’s like they’ve never seen a character in a red costume with black and white eye-pieces in his mask hurling wisecracks and one-liners at this enemies. Wait a minute, that sounds kinda familiar, hmmm…
Oh yeahhhhh….that guy.