Article is co-written by James Golbey, from Dump Trumpet & Avi Abrams. - link

Superheroes vs. The Evil Marketing Mastermind

Superheroes were always cool. Even back in the seventies when Batman was synonymous with "camp", and comics were "for illiterates" - there was a general feeling that being a superhero was THE job.

(post stamps issued by DC Comics)

Since then, pop culture rules have changed a bit, and now superheroes are again considered "ultra cool". New darker Batman speaks like he needs a spoonful of cough mixture, CGI-laden Spidey swings on realistic webbing and the lesser heroes find themselves thrust into the movie spotlight - as Marvel and DC fight to the death at the box office, at the toy store or right here on good ol’ www.

Sometimes the results are less than impressive. And this is where we come in.

Here’s an irreverent look at some of those superheroes of legend. All of them boast movie credentials and with that comes the inevitable glut of products, art and other web goodies.



The superhero among all superheroes, Clark Kent’s alter ego was the noblest, most heroic, most ethical, most boring whitebread ever to hit the newsstands.

The story of the logo:
Superman was the first character of the "superhero genre" to sport an emblem on his chest. The original costume designs didn’t even use the "S", but with the evolution of the character came the idea to combine some kind of shield and the first letter of his name into a symbol for Superman.

The original shield was based on the shape of a police officer’s badge, but as the comic became more successful, artist Joe Shuster changed it to the more recognizable "knight’s shield".

The followers of Superman (these guys who really, really want to fly) could be a strange bunch:

(image credit: Indra Jaya)

Worst Artwork:

Superman hooks up with a Spidey Girl in a Bollywood (atrocious) movie:

This portrait is not bad, per se, but reveals a hitherto unknown side to Superman psyche:

(image via)

Even heroes can have a bad day:

(image credit: Robert)

3 little-known Superman facts:

1. There are now sixteen different types of Kryptonite. Ranging from the most well-known green, through every color the DC writers could come up with - and landing on pink with Supergirl #79 (the pink kryptonite apparently turns Superman stereotypically gay).

2. When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster first developed Superman he was a bald, telepathic villain who wanted world domination. Not unlike Superman’s arch enemy Lex Luthor in fact.

"The Reign of the Super-Man" in the fanzine Science Fiction vol. 1, #3 (June 1933).

3. Jimmy Olsen has been turned into the following things during his time as the perpetually young cub reporter/photographer. A gorilla, a hippie, a Viking, a werewolf and a giant turtle boy. A giant what?..



The story of the logo:

It’s a bat, right? Well, yes but the original costume was very different.

(image via, read more info there)

Bob Kane, credited as Batman’s creator, had a very different design when the character was just taking shape. Bill Finger (well-known among comic fans, but who has never made it big like Lee, Ditko or Kirby) saw the sketches and decided to make a few changes.

Batman's first appearance in "Detective Comics #27" May, 1939

Kane recounts that Finger told him to make him more like a bat, give him a cowl instead of a small face mask and make slits for eyes instead of eyeballs, take the red out of the costume (which looked like a union suit), color it dark grey to make it more ominous, remove the wings and replace with a cape and to give him gloves. From what we know Bob Kane did originally draw the bat logo. But who really created Batman? Hmmm...

Weirdest Toys:

Batman's Hamster Cage. Hamsters would make great side-kicks for Batman, oh yes sir, they would.

Worst Artwork:

...is probably this dancing PINK Batman from a French poster:

(image credit: Bat-Blog)

Er, maybe just a little wrong angle. Good car, though -

3 little-known Batman facts:

1.It was the Batman movie that introduced the Batcave; the comic only showed a secret tunnel leading from Wayne Manor to a barn and mentioned "secret underground hangars"

2.Batman’s secret identity is actually now known by eight people: The three Robins, Alfred the butler, Superheroes Superman and Azrael, Batgirl and a mute inventor who worked with the Penguin, Harold. Couldn’t he have written it down?

3. Burt Ward as Robin mentioned a “Holy _____” line 352 times in the TV show’s 120 episode run. Holy overkill, Batman!



Another hero that’s guilt-ridden and often helpless. But we all love Spidey and hate spiders. Go figure.

The story of the logo:
the missing webbing under Spiderman's armpits

The logo is clearly a spider but don’t be fooled by artist Steve Ditko’s apparent crudely drawn spiders on the costume. Stan Lee instructed the artist to make sure it looked like a costume that a teenager might design. This element of the costume’s charm has now been replaced. As had the original webbing under Spidey’s armpits which artists slowly shrunk down and eventually phased out.

Weirdest Toys:

There’s quite a lot to choose from in this category. Peter Parker fighting cavities; Spider-Dog; Spiderman plush pillow...

(images via)

And then there’s this strange Mary Jane statuette - washing Spiderman's costume, while he is dressed in something else... or not.

(image via)

Sometimes ordering a toy with your meal leads to spontaneous creativity:

(image credit: Agnis)

Spiderman can speak Engrish, too:

(image credit: Ben Peters)

Worst... or maybe coolest? artwork

Trust Japanese to bring schoolgirls into everything:

(image credit: Alex Senson)

Spiderman in India... it definitely affected his character:

(image via)

Spiderman and Captain America get acquainted with a waffle:

(image credit: Kathy)

3 little-known Spiderman facts:

1. You all know that Peter Parker’s parents died leaving him with his aunt May and Uncle Ben. But what's not that well known is that they died in a plane crash and were government spies. So here we go. Good piece of trivia.

2. Some realistic Spiderman costumes can be had on eBay for $1,025 (link)
But you can get one (not realistic) for only £43.99 - just don't look in the mirror.

3. The webbing in the Spiderman movies is made of a substance called "uhbljknjlkljniuhnhuijk" - According to Wiki answers.



As with a lot of Marvel characters DD oozes the righteous path. Not only is he a hero, he’s a lawyer; and just to add to the totally impossible lifestyle, he’s blind too.

The story of the logo:
The "D" (and later the "DD") on Daredevil's costume is fairly obvious design, but it involved fairly large amount of people to get it together:

Stan Lee helped create the character, but stopped at the design of the costume. Bill Everett was appointed as the designer, but both Don Heck and Steve Ditko worked over Jack Kirby's layouts - so, according to Mark Evanier, another Marvel stalwart, Kirby did help in some capacity to help draw up the costume. Who put the D on it? We may never know.

As for the weird marketing product, here is a pretty abysmal mask, if you ask me:

(more info)

Weird Fact About Daredevil:
Here is how the idea for the Daredevil cartoon unfolded: By day, he pals around with his teenaged niece and his seeing-eye-dog. But when evil strikes, he becomes Daredevil, his dog becomes Lightning, the Super Dog - and the three of them take to the streets in Daredevil’s specially-equipped van.

Now, stop and think about this for a minute: who’s driving the van? Is it the blind guy, the underage girl, or the seeing-eye dog?



Always ridiculed and constantly reinvented by the slightly embarrassed DC Comics Company, Green Lantern has an incredible on-line following; plus with the movie coming soon, it could be that we are heading for a Green Lantern age. Don’t bet anything important on that statement.

The story of the logo:
Martin Nodell, the logo's creator, states that the name came from watching a subway trainman on the tracks with a changing lantern which was going from green to red. Green was GO! and so the simplified green lantern was born.

Weirdest art & toys:

From the coolest robots, to the weirdest "mini-me" - there is no shortage for strange Green Lantern incarnations, and with coming movie tie-in products, we should see a lot more marketing "experiments":

Weird Green Lantern facts:

1.The Green Lantern's ring is entirely powered by will power. Surprisingly for a pun-loving company like DC this is not someone called Will Power.

2.There was a Justice League Of America pilot TV show made in 1997. Green Lantern was one of the six heroes, along with The Flash, "Ice", "Fire", "Atom" and M*A*S*H veteran David Ogden Stiers as the Martian Manhunter. This may sound like a dream to you, but the YouTube never lies.

Now, with the power of Photoshop, anyone can look like a superhero:

(image credit: Pete)

And if you think REAL superheroes are in short supply, they can always be found in Brooklyn:

(image credit: Josh Clark)

Also Read: Strangest Christian Products and Signs

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


AFAIK, loads of other people know batman's identity, not just the 8 people you listed.

For example, Wonder Woman, J'onn J'onzz , Aquaman, Green Arrow, Zatanna, Black Canary, The Atom, Hawkman, Green Lantern, Flash are just the JLA members who know.

There are villans who know it as well, like The Riddler, Ra's Al Ghul, Catwoman etc.

And, there are more people in the "bat-clan" who know, as well. The Oracle (Barbara Gordon), the new Batgirl (Cassandra Cain), all the Robins, Dr Leslie Thompkins.In fact, even Lois Lane knows!

Anyway, great post as usual. Just ignore the rabid comic fan :)

Blogger The Crooked Man said...

Mary Jane isn't doing Spider-Man's laundry, she's discovering his secret identity by peeking at his washing-up, per an interview with Adam Hughes himself.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, the Brooklyn Superhero Supply store is a front for a writing workshop for kids set up by Dave Eggers. There are several, located in major cities across the U.S. and they typically have some insane amazing fake front to them (pirate store, spy supplies, etc.)

Just in case anyone was interested...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your blog!
I want to make a contribution to this posting by giving you the link to that atrocious Bollywood movie (not all Bollywood is atrocious, you know?). Here's the absolutely horrible clip of Superman and "Mary" (apparently that's how Superman called her in private):

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome post!

Do we know who will be playing the Green Lantern in the upcoming movie?

I didn't know so much about his background before seeing this sometime last year.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha at the photoshop of the crooked man!!

Blogger cathikin said...

This was my first visit to your blog, thanks to a friends referral, but definitely not my last. I loved this blog today! I thought I knew something about the JLA members, but not very much apparently. Enlightening and enjoyable.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

cathikin - welcome to DRB! Glad you like it :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The shop in Brooklyn is a writing workshop. You can here Dave Eggers speak about it on TED. http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/dave_eggers_makes_his_ted_prize_wish_once_upon_a_school.html

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Trust Japanese to bring schoolgirls into everything".
And that's a bad thing because...???

Regards & all,
Thomas L. Nielsen

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. umm. Batman in pink looks like my little brother when I was little and I put him in my Sleeping Beauty nightgown. I also dressed him as Supergirl.

Blogger LR Photography said...


Anonymous Hudson Atwell said...

See more strange superhero action figures and costumes at

Blogger Blakeney said...

There's nothing "cool" about an underage kid in that kind of pose.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that on a real spider it's web comes from out of it's butt, while Spiderman's comes out of his wrists? John of Vermont


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