Over the course of eighty years, DC Comics has introduced any number of great super heroic characters, many of whom have gone on to have long and lasting careers in comics. But alas, some others were struck down before their prime, managing only a few, or even a single solitary appearance before retreating back to comic book limbo. Here, then, are the five best forgotten DC super heroes
THE HUMAN CANNONBALL: Debuting in the Lois Lane strip in SUPERMAN FAMILY #188, this creation of writer Tom DeFalco and artist Win Mortimer was an out-of-work circus performer who decided to start up a career as a costumed adventurer. Equipping himself with a jetpack, the Human Cannonball started following Lois Lane around, figuring that she would get into trouble and he’d be able to come to the rescue just as Superman does–and he’d get good press while doing it! Unfortunately, the Cannonball was a bit of a klutz who as often caused more mayhem than he solved, something that gave Lois welcome additional complications in her stories. After a short run of appearances, the Human Cannonball vanished, never to be seen again. it’s possible that one too many hits to the head put him out of the game.
MIND-GRABBER KID: Direct from the pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #70 courtesy of Denny O’Neil and Dick Dillin, Mind-Grabber Kid is a would-be hero who discovered he possessed mind over matter abilities and set out to become a super hero. But his debut was overshadowed by the exploits of the Justice League of America, so when a cadre of aliens made mental contact with him, he told them that the JLA were actually powerful criminals threatening the world and set the two parties against one another. The Creeper also got involved in this melee for some reason. In the end, though, Mind-Grabber Kid came to regret his jealousy of the other heroes and walked off, vowing to work on himself. He showed up again decades later as an awful pseudo-villain called Mind-Eater, but the less said about that the better. Grant Morrison showed him a bit more love in his SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY: BULLETEER series.
THE CRUSADER: The very first DC super hero active in Detroit (predating the Justice League’s relocation there by decades) the Crusader battled crime and fought to keep his city safe. He was secretly Don Powers, a former police scientist who was a friend of Aquaman’s–not that he trusted the Sea King with the secret of his dual identity as the Justice League considered the Crusader’s methods too violent. The Crusader had bigger problems, though: he was losing his sight, going blind. To compensate for this, he created a satellite that would help to monitor crime in the Detroit area. Unfortunately, a side effect of the satellite’s broadcasts were the stimulation of a weird green algae which threatened to overrun the city. But the Crusader was too driven by his mission to worry about the opinions of some lefty environmentalists–and so it was a tragedy when he tripped over some wires he couldn’t see and fell from the rooftops, breaking his neck on the ground below. RIP. Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo chronicled the Crusader’s final moments in AQUAMAN #56
ANTI-LAD: Not even the Legion of Super-Heroes whom he petitioned to join know who Anti-Lad is, apart from a baffling “photo-grid” they have of him. That’s because Anti-Lad is from even further in the future than they are, the 75th Century to be precise. He was a young historian studying the timestream, in particular the moment when Superboy joined the Legion. But his time-scope somehow affected the past, causing Superboy to be rejected for membership. In order to put things right, Anti-Lad equipped himself with a computerized visor whose technology would appear like magic even in the 30th Century and then went back in time, where he framed himself for Superboy’s failures. The Legion decided to test Superboy again, history was restored to its proper course, and Anti-Lad returned to his future time, all memory of these events wiped from the minds of the Legionnaires. But not from the pages of SUPERBOY & THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #204, which is where Cary Bates and Mike Grell told this story.
KID PSYCHO: A true hero, Kid Psycho was native to the 30th Century, where he was born a mutant with the ability to project impenetrable force-fields and an oversized cranium. Kid Psycho petitioned the Legion of Super-Heroes for membership but was turned down. Undaunted, he journeyed to 20th Century Smallville in order to prove himself to Superboy and ask for his help in petitioning the Legionnaires. But once the Boy of Steel returned with the would-be champion to the 30th Century, he learned the full truth: the Legion had determined that every time Kid Psycho used his powers, he was shaving off about a year from his own life. Unable to admit him on moral grounds, the Legion instead created a special designation for him as the first of the Legion Reserve, who could be called upon only if the situation was dire enough. This all took place in SUPERBOY #125 in a story by writer Otto Binder and artist George Papp. Many years later, Kid Psycho would perish during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, his shields no protection against the deadly anti-matter wave consuming whole universe.