Over the decades, Marvel Comics has given fans some fantastic characters. Many of them are mainstream names to non-comic fans and have made Marvel tops in entertainment. However, there have been just as many duds in the Marvel canon. More than once, Marvel has pushed a character as a big deal only for fans to turn on them majorly. That was especially true in the 1990s when Marvel was going nuts on collector issues and trying to make new stars. Entire websites are built around noting so many of these horrible characters.
What’s more notable is a character being so poor that Marvel basically quits on them. They can push the characters hard, make them part of a major team like the Avengers or X-Men but somehow, it just doesn’t work. It gets to the point the character is shoved aside and falling to forgotten status. Here are 20 characters Marvel just gave up on to show the track record for creating new stars is a lot harder than it seems.
20 Mattie Franklin
In a 1998 storyline, Mattie Franklin was part of a ceremony that granted her spider-like powers. After briefly replacing a retired Peter Parker, Mattie moved into becoming a new Spider-Woman. Despite how she was pushed by Marvel, she never connected with fans and had rougher bits like her becoming an addict. She was taken out by Kraven in a controversial storyline and while she was given a tribute, it showed how the character never gained the fame of other Spider-ladies.
19 Demolition Man
Even in Marvel comics itself, this guy is dismissed as a total joke. Denis Dugan had been a pro wrestler who ended up aiding Captain America on a mission. He was thus inspired to become Demolition Man or just D-Man for short. Frankly, he had a lot more guts than sense and would end up being shoved around a lot on the lower rungs of the MU. He’s basically been a punchline for huge gatherings of heroes and folks asking why he’s there. When the MU itself doesn’t respect the guy, it’s pretty hard for fans too.
18 Doctor Druid
Basically a poor man’s Doctor Strange, Anthony Druid was a mystic with a power set that never seemed to be defined. For some reason, he was allowed to join the Avengers where he basically crafted illusions and controlled minds. He ended up betraying the team and nearly destroying them. He bounced around for a while before finally being bumped off. He’s returned a few times as a ghostly figure yet fans prefer the Doctor to be retired for good.
17 NFL Super Pro
Fabian Nicieza calls this one of the worst Marvel comics ever… and he wrote it. The concept was a former football star turned reporter discovering a scientist’s super armor that had been intended as advanced NFL gear. He used it to become a hero, taking on enemies like Quick Kick (former kicker turned ninja,) and crime boss Sanction. It’s as laughable as it sounds with Niceza openly admitting he only did four issues to get free NFL tickets. It was sacked after twelve issues and is openly laughed at as one of Marvel’s biggest jokes of the ‘90s.
In a famous 1990s storyline, Thor was stripped of his power and banished by Odin. Eric Masterson (who had been sharing a body with Thor at the time) thus found himself becoming the God of Thunder. When Thor returned, Eric got his own mace to become Thunderstrike. He had some nice bits but his book just had too much “attitude” for fans to get into and the character looked silly. In the final issue, Eric sacrificed himself to stop a major threat and has actually remained gone since. While his son has taken up the mantle, the character isn’t set for a comeback.
At first glance, this might seem a Spawn knock-off but his real story is even crazier. Doctor Kevin Trench saw an armored figure fall fighting terrorists. Unmasking the corpse, Trench was shocked to realize it was an older version of himself. Events soon pushed him into taking up the identity and trying to change his fate. But it was later revealed that Nightwatch was actually a villain named Nighteater who had used magic to make the world forget his crimes. The whole thing was a mess and it’s little wonder Marvel barely touches it today.
14 Hawk Owl And Woody
In 2002, Marvel began a contest where various books got tryouts and the fans could vote on which became a regular series. Hawk-Owl was an obvious Batman rip-off with the twist that unlike Bruce Wayne, he was an inept moron despite his imposing outfit. Woody was his sidekick who was more capable but refused to wear a costume. It failed even as parody and the book ended after six (long delayed) issues. This was clearly a loser in this contest.
Granted, Marvel has had some bad characters playing on stereotypes before, but Shamrock was just ridiculous. Introduced in Contest of Champions, she was every single cliché of the Irish rolled into one. She talked in a thick brogue, wore green and a four-leaf clover and her power was, you guessed it, being incredibly lucky. She can also channel the spirits of those taken in conflict. She vanished fast, popping up as a bartender and showcased what happens when you pander to national clichés.
In an infamous storyline, after Magneto ripped out Wolverine’s adamantium, Professor Xavier mind-wiped him into a comatose state. After his asteroid base was destroyed, it appeared Magneto had somehow been de-aged into his 20s and with amnesia. He worked with the X-Men for a while as he tried to figure out his true path in life. Fans just didn’t accept him and it turned out he wasn’t really Magneto at all but just a clone. The X-Men books never mention him anymore.
Even the best creators can strike out now and then. While Kurt Busiek and George Perez were fantastic on their run of Avengers, they couldn’t make Silverclaw work. Maria de Guadalupe Santiago was born in a South American nation and granted magical powers to change her shape into animals. She was a foster kid for Avengers butler Jarvis and used her abilities with the team. The character just wasn’t very well developed and came off as a big cliché at times. She was ignored by her own creators and has barely been seen since, serving as a misfire for an otherwise great Avengers run.
They tried, but Avengers couldn’t get readers to care about this guy. Delroy Garrett had been an Olympian who was disgraced for drug use. He joined a cult that allowed him to unlock his potential and become a superb athlete. He was forced onto the Avengers for political reasons and spent his time bad-mouthing them on being down on his race. That never won fans over and it wasn’t helped by him discovering he was used by the cult. He later became 3-D Man to fight a Skrull invasion but fans didn’t get behind him and he has fallen to the wayside.
It takes a lot to be called the “worst X-Man ever” but Maggot qualifies. First, his mutant power is that his digestive system forms two huge worms that eat through anything that return to give him power. How are readers supposed to go along with that? There was also his bizarre slang that was nearly impossible to understand. He joined the team at a rough time and just couldn’t win folks over. He seemed to have been bumped off but later returned yet many fans with this guy would be crushed like an insect.
8 Judas Traveler
The 1990s Spider-Man stories were marked with bad stuff. Judas Traveller was introduced as a mysterious immortal being with reality-warping powers. He had some odd idea of “understanding evil” and putting Spidey through some baffling tests. The character just seemed too weird for a Spider-Man comic and his entire act didn’t win fans over. Eventually, it was revealed his “reality warping” was just creating mass illusions and he basically bought into his own act as a powerful guy. He’s not been seen since and few fans are sad to see him gone.
7 The Slingers
In a 1998 storyline, Spider-Man was forced to take on four different costumed identities in order to escape a manhunt. Afterward, four teens were approached to take on the roles of super-strong Prodigy, shadowy Dusk, armored flying Hornet, and athletic Ricochet. The book had some appeal but just didn’t click with fans and axed after 12 issues. A couple of the characters have popped up now and then but for the most part, the Slingers are as forgotten as many of Spidey’s antics in the 1990s.
In 1993, Marvel did a big deal with all their Annuals featuring a brand-new character. Not one of them made any sort of impact whatsoever for the books. The worst had to be Adam-X, which is everything wrong with the ‘90s in one package. He had a backwards cap, a weird appearance, and the power to “burn blood.” Amazingly, the idea was to reveal him to be the missing brother of Cyclops but that never came to pass. He’s basically been shoved to the side and even the most hardcore X-Men fans can barely remember the guy.
Marvel went all out for this guy, openly calling him “Marvel’s latest, greatest super-star” in his initial appearance. He was originally Wundarr, a childlike being from another dimension that the Thing befriended. He later transformed into a super being who looked like some sort of hippie and boasted of using his powers for peace. However, his powers were confusing and his goofy outfit didn’t lend itself to a great superhero. In the end, he was pushed aside and never lived up to Marvel’s hopes for him.
4 Kal-AOL Turner
Marville might very well be the worst comic the company has ever published. It was written by then-Marvel President Bill Jemas and was infamous for covers showing a scantily-clad redhead who never appeared in the books. The insane plot has Kal-AOL Turner, the son of Ted Turner (still alive in the 51st century) sent back in time to save the world. Despite his lack of powers, Kal goes around in adventures that bring up questions on evolution and how Wolverine is actually an otter. The reviews were horrific so no shock this character hasn’t appeared since.
3 Lifeguard And Slipstream
Chris Claremont may have been the greatest X-Men writer ever but he could come up with duds now and then. In X-Treme X-Men, Lifeguard and Slipstream were siblings who got involved with the team. Davis gained the ability to create “warp waves” that made it look like he was surfing on thin air. Dove could manifest gold skin, wings and other skills. Neither of them made any real impact and not helped by how Davis was basically anti-mutant despite being one himself. When the book was canceled, so were the duo and few miss them.
2 Ulysses Archer
For a time, the CB radio craze was all over the place in the 1970s. Leave it to Marvel to wait until that fad has nearly passed before jumping onto it. U.S. 1 focused on Ulysses Archer, who gets a metal plate in his head that allows him to pick up CB signals. He’s soon outfitting his truck to fight crime and getting on crazy adventures on the road. It got even wilder as the later issues had him driving the truck through space. He’s popped up now and then but given how the craze has died down, it's little surprise Archer was flattened.
There have been some Avengers teams that make a reader shake their heads and ask “why?” Among them was a team comprised of Captain America, Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, Thor, and Gilgamesh. The legendary warrior was part of the Eternals race who had fought around for centuries. Between his nutty costume and his flat personality, fans never bought him as an Avenger at all. After being badly injured, he left the scene for quite a while. It’s fitting that “The Forgotten One” has been forgotten by a lot of Marvel fans.