With the gleefully irreverent Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) proving that Marvel Studios could turn just about any oddball character (or five of them, for that matter) into a veritable money making machine, we here at Goliath decided to delve deep into the Marvel Comics catalog in order to take a peek at some of the weirdest, strangest and most insane comic book characters the famed comic production company had ever come up with. While this might’ve been easier if we expanded our gaze to include the DC Comics universe (including independent comics would’ve blown this thing wide open, but alas…), we decided to stick to Marvel for this one, and the company has a bevy of strange characters that we’re happy to spend some time introducing you to today.
Making her first appearance in 1989’s Uncanny X-Men 244, Jubilee is a character that’s taken quite a lot of heat during her time as an X-Men. But really, can we blame the fans? She shoots fireworks. That’s her whole deal. Sure, she was originally introduced as a means to connect the older X-Men crew with a younger, more “hip” viewership (Jubilee was a main character on the early 1990s X-Men cartoon television series, which played heavily into her rise in popularity around the time), but fireworks? REALLY? Technically it’s more complicated than that, as Jubilee’s powers allow her to manipulate matter on an atomic level (kind of like Gambit’s, but less awesome and less Cajun) to produce pyrotechnics from her fingers, but really, at the end of the day, is there anything lamer than shooting sparklers from your fingers? (After much research, we can assuredly say yes, yes there is.)
9. Beta Ray Bill
Beta Ray Bill is an odd-looking character with a fairly interesting place in the Marvel Universe, and if you can get over the fact that he kind of looks like someone mixed up a human, horse and alien all into one, you’d learn that he’s one of the few individuals deemed worthy of wielding Thor’s legendary hammer, Mjolnir. That’s right; we’re talking the God of Thunder, Captain America and this horse looking dude. Beta Ray Bill, who would eventually get a war hammer of his own named Storm Breaker, first appeared in the Thor comics in 1983. He is technically a Korbinite, and his super powers include superhuman strength and speed along with increased durability and an extra long lifespan. Capable of going toe to toe with some of Marvel’s most intimidating characters, Beta Ray Bill was originally meant to act as a villain for Thor, but eventually turned out to be one of Thor’s more trusted allies.
Kind of like Beta Ray Bill, Dazzler occupies a unique space in the Marvel Universe, although for a less impressive reason than being able to wield a mighty hammer. Dazzler, whose super powers include the ability to transform sound waves into light and energy, was introduced as a promotional device to endorse Marvel Comic’s real world partnership with Casablanca Records. A bit of a failure from a business perspective, Dazzler’s forced promotional material was cancelled shortly after the character was introduced, but she stayed in the Marvel canon and was later recruited as a member of the X-Men. Dazzler was also given a brief solo series despite her perceived limitations in both power and origins.
Mainly an enemy of Peter Parker (also known as Spider-Man), Swarm is a villain of ridiculous proportions. A former Nazi sympathizer, Swarm (real name Fritz von Meyer) is a being made up of thousands of bees; technically, that’s all he’s made up of, as a swarm of them constantly circle what is left of his human skeleton (hence, the name). Created when his consciousness was absorbed into the hive mind of a mutated colony of bees, Swarm is an intangible being capable of changing his body’s shape and size on demand (duh, he’s made of bees) and has also been shown to be able to communicate with other insects in the past. First introduced in 1977, Swarm would become one of Spider-Man’s most laughable villains until forming his own version of the Sinister Six some duration after his introduction.
6. Fin Fang Foom
Fin Fang Foom is an oldie but a goodie, but man is he a strange one. First introduced way back in 1961 in Strange Tales, Fin Fang Foom is an alien being resembling a large, powerful dragon with great wings and green scales. Fin Fang Foom, who usually appears as an adversary to Iron Man and his compatriots, is often depicted as beholden to another Marvel villain, The Mandarin (although he has rebelled at times, only to end in his defeat); as his back story goes, Fin Fang Foom came to Earth on the same ship that brought The Mandarin his 10 powerful magic rings. A mighty beast capable of supersonic flight and telepathic communication, Fin Fang Foom is a formidable opponent who has maintained a place as one of the stranger villains in Marvel lore for over 50 years.
Were this any other fictional universe we were talking about, the odds are quite good that MODOK (short for Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing…elegant, we know) would be at the very top of a list of weirdos. The comic book manifestation of a floating head, MODOK must use a hover chair and an exoskeleton to support his mutated head, which is gigantic and takes up most of his person. There are benefits to this awful mutation, however; for his trouble, MODOK is gifted with superhuman intelligence, intuition and strategy bordering on precognition and the ability to mathematically predict the outcome of most any situation (a skill that’s been made light of innumerable times). Moreover, MODOK possesses some slight psychic capabilities, including the ability to telepathically influence those around him. A regular enemy of Captain America, MODOK first appeared in 1967 as a villain in Tales of Suspense.
4. Rocket Raccoon
2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy was a revelation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; it showed that no matter how obscure the characters, audiences were willing to take a gamble on the Marvel brand given the strength of the studio’s catalog so far. This was extremely evident in the very positive reception to Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon, the ornery rodent with the heavy arsenal who won over the hearts of comic nerds and film critics alike. Before his time on the silver screen, Rocket Raccoon was introduced in 1976’s Marvel Preview and eventually ended up joining the Guardians of the Galaxy at the suggestion of Star-Lord (Peter Quill). The result of a genetic experiment gone wrong, Rocket Raccoon is physiologically no different than a regular old raccoon, beyond his intelligence and personality; he is, however, an expert mercenary and marksman. Named after The Beatles’ song, “Rocky Raccoon,” he’s definitely one of the most “out-there” characters in Marvel.
You thought a talking raccoon was weird? How about a talking dog? Because that’s the gist of Lockjaw, the Inhuman who greatly resembles an extremely large English bulldog. Created way back in 1967 and first introduced via the Fantastic Four comics, Lockjaw would find his home in Marvel lore with the Inhumans, a group of individuals given great powers after being exposed to Terragen Mists. Lockjaw, who possesses the ability to transport himself and those around him great distances (we’re talking light years here, people) and even open dimensional rifts leading from one place to the other. Often acting as the guide dog for the Inhumans as they combat evil throughout their cosmic region, Lockjaw is more than a pet as he actively contributes to the effectiveness of the team. He sure looks like a pet though, doesn’t he?
2. Howard the Duck
And we thought the talking dog was crazy. We’re on a roll with the animals, but we promise this will be the last one. Howard the Duck (who also made an appearance in last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, although you had to be extra patient to get a glimpse of him…hint, hint), is exactly what he sounds like he’d be; a giant, talking alien duck who often gets himself into (and out of) trouble with a heaping dose of bad behavior and a good deal of charm (as much charm as a duck can possess, anyway). First appearing in 1973’s Adventure Into Fear, Howard the Duck was given his own film adaptation way back in 1986, but the odds are good that he’ll show up somewhere else given that Marvel has re-acquired the rights to the character. For now, we’ll have to take solace in the pure strangeness of the character.
We’re going to say some words for you, and we want you to try and think on them outside of the context given by last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Ready? Let’s take an immortal, animate tree who can change shape and size at will, reduce his vocabulary to three words (those being “I,” “Am” and “Groot”), give him a talking raccoon sidekick and Vin Diesel’s voice, and hope audience’s everywhere relate to him. It sounds crazy just typing it out, but lo and behold the strangest comic book character in Marvel lore turned out to be one of the studio’s most popular movie characters of all time. Groot, the lovable tree-like figure with the heart of gold, took the world by storm last year after being introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy, but that doesn’t undo how truly odd the character is.