5BC: Five Best Forgotten Marvel Heroes

Just as with DC, Marvel also had a history of introducing new super heroic characters in the pages of their stories. Some of these went on to long and storied careers. Others faded after only a few, or even one, appearances. Here are the five best forgotten Marvel heroes.

RAZORBACK: The creation of writer Bill Mantlo and artists Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito, Razorback rode the short-lived Citizen Band Radio craze of the 1970s. He was a super-powered trucker from Texarkana whose rig, named the “Big Pig”, was remote controlled. This hero of the midwest came to New York in search of his sister, who had fallen in with the cult of Brother Power. This all happened in PETER PARKER, SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #13. His mission accomplished over the next couple of issues, he was thereafter as promptly forgotten as CB Radios themselves, until John Byrne brought him back for an encore in SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK.

THE BLUE SHIELD: This colorful crime-fighter waged a one-man war on the mob starting in DAZZLER #5 after his father was gunned down by gangsters. His belt allowed him to generate a protective force-field which made him impervious to bullets and the like. Introduced by Tom DeFalco and Frank Springer, he went on to make scattered incidental appearances across the Marvel Universe over the next few decades, but never achieved that elusive headline status that every super hero craves.

STINGRAY: Probably best remembered for his distinctive manta-ray-style costume (which was red and yellow in his first appearance), Stingray was Walter Newell, who had earlier turned up in the Sub-Mariner series as an oceanographer. Tasked with bringing in Prince Namor, who was suspected of working with aliens to steal the oceans of the world (!!!) Newell developed his underwater battle rig in SUB-MARINER #19 courtesy of Roy Thomas and Marie Severin, and did battle with the prince of the deep. Thereafter, he’d become a recurring figure across the Marvel landscape, eventually leasing his floating island Hydrobase to the Avengers after their Mansion headquarters was destroyed. But he, too, never quite made it to the big time, despite logging more appearances that just about anyone else on this list.

WHITE ZERO: Not truly a figure from the Marvel Universe at all, White Zero wasn’t even a real super hero! Rather, he was Harvey Norton, citizen of New York in the future year of 2040, who got to live out his fantasies of heroism in the holographic playground of Comicsville. But an encounter with the mysterious Monolith in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY #5 by Jack Kirby inspires him to try to make his fantasies a reality, and he signs up for the space program, eventually becoming an astronaut and giving his life to rescue a cosmic princess. The Monolith returned to convert the dying Harvey into a “new Seed”–and that’s the last we ever saw of White Zero. A strange fate for a Jack Kirby creation.

THUNDERBOLT: Veteran William Carver became the super-fast Thunderbolt after a combination of a lightning strike and the experimental cobalt treatment used to save his life speeded up his reflexes a thousandfold. Carver debuted in the pages of LUKE CAGE, POWER MAN #41 by Marv Wolfman and Lee Elias, where he used his speed to wreak vengeance on the underworld after his kid brother was gunned down. (He and the Blue Shield would have had things to talk about.) Unfortunately, his career was cut short by the very thing that made it possible–his powers were killing him, causing him to rapidly age every time he used his speed, and so he expired from old age just seconds after bringing his brother’s killers to justice.

4 thoughts on “5BC: Five Best Forgotten Marvel Heroes

  1. Actually, Carver debuted earlier, in Daredevil #69 (later reprinted in Jungle Action #23, where I first read the story). He didn’t become a superhero until Power Man #41.

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  2. That Sub-Mariner plot sounds like a tribute to a Bill Everett story from the Fifties where Namor actually does conspire with aliens to steal all the water from Earth! “The Hidden World” from Sub-Mariner Comics #36.

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