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Die Laughing!

by Lee Drake 4 years ago in comics

Eight comic characters that could rival Deadpool.

Go to any comic-con (or any con for that matter) and you will see hundreds of Deadpools. The character was massively popular, even before the movie. His irreverent humor, impossible abilities, violent tendencies, and borderline insanity are all part of the charm that draws people to him. Little do people know, but Deadpool isn’t the only character like this. Below, you will find eight more characters (in no particular order) known for the same qualities.

Lobo (DC Comics)

Much like most of the characters in this list, Lobo was created as a parody of popular characters at the time. Keith Giffen, co-creator of the Main Man, has said that he doesn’t quite understand the popularity of the character, but he’s not knocking it either. Making his premier in Omega Men #3, Lobo went through many changes to become the ever-lovin’ bastich that people love today. He owes no loyalties to anyone but himself, his current employer, and the race of Space Dolphins that he loves. So, unless you are a psychic porpoise that floats around space, it’s best to steer clear of this brutally violent and insane bounty hunter.

His abilities include an ability to regenerate body parts, withstand a full force punch from Superman himself, clone himself from a simple drop of blood, enhanced strength and agility, and a genius level intellect. Lobo has crossed paths with a good majority of DC’s heroes and villains. It’s taken some major effort on them to put up with him as long as they do, much less survive the encounter.

The Tick (New England Comics)

SPOOOOOOON! The world stops with a collective groan of exasperation as the Blue Bambino drops from the sky. The Tick has no origin. Nobody knows where he came from or how he got that blue suit, not even the Tick. All that is known is that the Tick has an unquenchable thirst for dispensing justice to the gritty, dirty, nasty, dirty, filthy, dirty scum of world that he will suck up like a large child with a milkshake!

Ben Edlund originally created the Tick as a mascot for New England Comics’ newsletter. Soon after, the Tick was spun off into his own independent comic series. This series was a light-hearted parody of popular comics of the time. Unlike Deadpool and Ambush Bug, the Tick is surrounded by superheroes that are as equally bizarre and humorous as he is. What seems to set him apart from them is that, while they are perfectly accepting of life outside heroing and treating it like another day at the office, the Tick is the Tick; twenty-four/ seven. While he initially comes off as being dumb, the Tick has moments of intelligence that prove the exact opposite. One time, the Tick called out a superhero in disguise even though this disguise was fool-proof (it was a pair of glasses, wink wink). The truth is that the Tick has a severe case of amnesia and greets the world with the naiveté of a child. He is also known for his unwavering moral code that will not be broken at all cost. If you were kidnapped and the Tick were to save you, you’d get saved. Of course, half the city would get destroyed in the process.

Ambush Bug (DC Comics)

In a far-away galaxy, a man places a precious cargo onto a rocket to allow it to escape the death of their home planet. As the planet begins to crack and rumble, the man waves a tear-filled good bye. The rocket fires off toward a destination that is known to no one. Sound familiar? It should! That’s the origin of the one and only Ambush Bug!

At least, that’s the way he tells it. One day, Irwin Schwab found this rocket and the suit inside. Irwin has some psychological problems that cause him to not truly understand the world around him, so even his real name is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is that his bizarre sense of humor, teleporting power, fourth wall breaking, and enhanced agility draw a lot of parallels to our friend, Deadpool. In fact, the only real differences are that Ambush can’t take off his costume and is, for the most part, not violent. Still, this doesn’t stop him from causing trouble for the other heroes of the DC universe. Ambush Bug began as a bizarre antagonist to the Justice League before becoming enamored with the idea of being a hero. Funny thing is that fighting other superheroes, he can hold his own. Other bizarrely comical characters, on the other hand, are known to beat him fairly quickly. So, I guess Ambush Bug’s only weakness is his own world view.

The Mask (Dark Horse Comics)

Everybody knows the Jim Carrey movie. On a lesser level, everyone knows of the sequel and the cartoon show that spawned from it. Go looking for the original comics and you are in for a bit of a shock. The Mask, or Big Head as he is called in the comics, is definitely no hero. If anything, he is the villain of his own book. One day, meek Stanley Ipkiss was shopping for a gift for is girlfriend. Finding an antique jade mask, he tries it on and turns into a cartoonishly violent monster. The problem with cartoon violence is that it doesn’t work out well in the real world. Big Head goes on a rampage and brutally murders everyone that has made Stanley’s life hell.

The Mask originally appeared in Dark Horse’s Mayhem Comics, eventually spinning off into a series of mini-series that furthered the story. When the movie was released, the ultra-violence was toned down in the comics to coincide. While the character is more like the Joker than Deadpool, his imperviousness to damage and cartoonish nature would make anybody laugh darkly before he smashed their head with an oversized hammer.

Howard the Duck (Marvel Comics)

Marvel Comics is littered with dark and gritty characters, light-hearted yet dramatic characters, and characters that push political lines with their powers and stories. Then, there’s Howard the Duck. Howard has no special powers, he has no bizarre backstory. Howard the Duck is… well, he’s a duck. An anthropomorphic duck that enjoys cigars, bad jokes, and naughty women, but still a duck. As a matter of fact, during Marvel’s Civil War storyline, Howard tried to register with the government as a meta-human. He was denied as he is “just a duck.”

Billed (heh) as more of a sidekick in his own book, Howard is usually teamed up with some superhero and used as a comic-foil, every-man in the story. Although he has gained friendships with She-Hulk, Man-Thing, and the Defenders, the book’s humor is more existential with parodies of superheroes peppered in. For a while, Howard was relegated to cameos and obscurity until his popularity sprung back to life due to a cameo in the Guardians of the Galaxy. At that point, Howard suddenly popped up and joined She-Hulk’s law firm, which puts him in the middle of many new adventures, whether he likes it or not.

Rocket Raccoon (Marvel Comics)

Marvel has a tendency to apply changes to their characters from the movies based on them. Except for Howard the Duck, thank God for that. Rocket Raccoon is one such character. When he was originally created, Rocket was just another character in Marvel’s long list of B-level heroes. Genetically engineered on Halfworld as the head of security, Rocket took off on his ship, the Rack N’ Ruin, with characters like the Hulk, Spider-Man, Starlord, and the Star Jammers. Like Howard, Rocket had a massive dry spell in appearances until the Guardians of the Galaxy movie was released. When this happened, Rocket went through a major character overhaul in the comics.

Now a member of the Guardians and best friends with Groot, Rocket is now the team cranky curmudgeon with a sarcastic sense of humor and nigh-indestructibility. When the team broke up in the comics, Rocket and Groot went off on their own wacky adventures across the cosmos. While the humor in this book is more sarcastic and cynical than bizarre, you’ll still feel bad for chuckling at the snarky remarks and dark humor that floods the pages of any book that Rocket is in. Still, you will chuckle… and chuckle.

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (Slave Labor Graphics)

The title says it all. Johnny C., or Nny as he likes to be called, is a psychopathic serial murder that kills people that annoy him. The voices in his head are played out by Nail bunny, a small bunny that is nailed to Nny’s wall, Mr. Samsa, a series of cockroaches that Nny kills regularly and thinks that other roaches are the same immortal bug, and Psycho Doughboy and Mr. Eff, two repainted Doughboy statues that are in Nny’s home. Through many misadventures involving failed suicide attempts, traumatizing the small child next door, and somehow getting away with murders that should have gotten him caught (this is part of the story. NO SPOILERS!), Nny finds meaning through existential conversations with his victims and the various voices in his head.

Jhonen Vasquez, JTHM’s creator, conceived the idea of the character as a child. Vasquez used the comic strips as a means of self-medicating his dark mind. Growing up, he found like-minded

Individuals that convinced him to shop the comic around. The sense of humor is pitch black in this comic and is definitely not intended for children. Also, be prepared for a lot of jokes aimed right at the target audience. It may seem a bit hypocritical for someone who grew up in the goth lifestyle to make vicious jokes at the people in that lifestyle, but they are intended to get the reader to look inward instead of just being mean about it. Vasquez recently bemoaned the popularity of JTHM as many kids came flocking to it after he released his show, Invader Zim. I remember when I was a mallrat and being forced to be the voice of reason for many Hot Topic employees that wanted to dissuade parents from buying the comic that was clearly marked “Mature Readers Only,” for their kids, but couldn’t because they were not allowed to stop a purchase. Fans of incredibly dark and self-deprecating humor are not going to be disappointed by this book, though. Just have a strong stomach.

The Flaming Carrot (Aardvark-Vanheim, Renegade Press, Dark Horse, Image/Desperado Publishing)

What do you do when you have brain damage from reading 5,000 comics in one sitting to win a bet? Apparently, you put on a carrot mask that’s on fire, swim flippers (in case you need to swim), and go out to fight the crime of Palookaville. Along the way, he was able to stave off alien invasions, Communists taking over, and even Death. Carrot has no powers and fights only with his wits, sheer determination, his utility belt full of useless crap, and his ability to slip into Zen Stupidity.

The book was, as with a good majority of the comics on this list, intended to be a parody of comics of the time. The humor was irreverent and off-the-wall, and a well needed break from the seriousness of the dark, gritty comics of the day.

If you noticed, I keep saying “Was.” That’s with good reason. While it was hugely popular among indie comic fans, the release schedule was sporadic as hell. As a matter of fact, there are only 37 issues that have been released since 1984. The reason for this is up for speculation, but suffice to say, good luck finding these issues.

If you can, though, please do! The story is hilarious and definitely worth the hunt.


Lee Drake

Lee Drake is a 16 year veteran of horror acting as well as a published author and very opinionated a-hole. Between dodging classes at Full Sail University, he spends time with his wife and daughters at their home in Orlando, Fl.

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