The Non-Expert

One-Hit Wonders

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we help a reader who wants to know: What’s a superhero worth these days, anyway?

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


* * *

Question: Non-Expert,

It seems like interest in superheroes is at an all-time high, with the TV show Heroes and all the movies. And comic books are cool again. So I got out the comic books I collected when I was in high school to see if any of them are worth any money now. In the collection I found a copy of Nightmask no. 1, which I remember being a big deal when it came out (it was part of Marvel’s “White Event”). Do you know if it is worth any money now?

Thank you,
Travis Sackor

Answer: Ah, wither Nightmask? While we thrill nightly at the adventures of Madam Magma, Blinding Justice, and the other metahumans who fill our skies and keep our cities safe, the sad truth is that for every Silvershot there are countless costumed has-beens and never-weres, mystery men who struggle for the American Way in relatively anonymity.

(At most, your copy of Nightmask no. 1 is worth a buck and a half.)

Yes, Nightmask was a “big deal” when he first strutted across the world stage. But he is not alone in having only a brief moment of glory, before quickly fading from the public eye.

Here are 10 more such forgotten heroes.

Captain Cling

Motto: Master of Static Electricity

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: In 1993, Captain Cling disrupted the high-profile robbery of the Cosmic City Savings & Loan. He first touched the assailant on the back of the hand, giving him a mildly painful electric shock and causing him to drop his weapon; he then rubbed the perpetrator vigorously against his hair and left him stuck to the ceiling for the police to take into custody.

Where is he now? Killed in 1997 while trying to end Snuggles the Bear’s 13-state killing spree.

The Pun-isher

Motto: “What’s for lunch?” (In a 1994 New York Times Magazine profile, the Pun-isher said he had adopted this as his battle-cry because the answer—”Soup or gyro!”—was a play on his chosen profession of “superhero.” “I pointed out that ‘gyro’ is actually pronounced ‘GUY-row,’” wrote the journalist. “The Pun-isher claimed to have known this already, but was visibly crestfallen for the remainder of the interview.”)

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: When Shatterglass took the crew of the space shuttle hostage, the Pun-isher was first on the scene, and squared-off against the supervillain in a live, nationally televised duel. Unfortunately it quickly became obvious that the Pun-isher had no combat training whatsoever, as his sparring technique consisted of shouting “What kind of shoes do ghosts wear?” and “What do you call a crab who plays baseball?” He was eventually punched into unconsciousness.

Where is he now? After his release from the hospital, the Pun-isher retired from superheroics. He is currently lead joke engineer at Laffy Taffy Industries.

Bunny Slipper

Motto: “Oh! Oh my hip!”

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Bereft of superpowers, Tina “Bunny” Moyer fought crime the only way she knew how: by pretending to slip on the pavement outside the headquarters of major supervillain societies and then initiating massive, fraudulent lawsuits against them. She grabbed national headlines in 1996 when her $3.4 million settlement effectively bankrupted the Corpse Corps.

Where is she now? Moyer left crimefighting in the late 1990s to embark on a lucrative career of demanding hush money from pop stars in return for not alleging they molested her toddler.

The Grammarian and Gerund

Motto: “Crime is something up with which we shall not put!”

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Changed the grammatical person of the First Cosmic City Bank robbery from third to first, such that they committed the crime rather than the original perpetrators, and returned the money afterwards.

Where are they now? Americans never took to the “Diagramic Duo,” as they found their abilities to change the tense of events, switch subject and objects at will, and alter adpositions (putting a criminal “near” a prison abruptly “into” the prison, for example) confusing and elitist. The pair fought on in relative obscurity for a number of years, until both were defeated at the hands of the ROTFLMAOer.


Motto: Just Some Guy

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Bitten by a radioactive man, Man-Man gained the proportional speed and strength of a man. Dressing in his trademark costume of an Old Navy T-shirt, Old Navy jeans, and comfortable sneakers, Man-Man gained office-wide prominence after using his newfound abilities to capture the Filcher in the act of taking Post-It Note pads from the company supply closet for his personal use.

Where is he now? Despite his awesome powers, Man-Man was killed in 2002 by his arch-nemesis cholesterol.


Motto: “Who let the dogs out?”

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Single-handedly defeated M.U.R.D.E.R., Inc., by getting “YMCA” stuck in their heads, leaving them unable to concentrate on their plans for world domination.

Where is she now? Overcome by her own powers, Earworm now resides in Apsis Asylum, when she spends her days rocking in a corner of her cell and humming the theme from Tetris.


Motto: “I’m feeling lucky!”

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Zillion!’s ability to technopathically access all content on the internet proved invaluable to the Justice Squadron, as they raced to unravel the mystery of Doomsday Summer.

Where is he now? Zillion! was dismissed from the Justice Squadron in 2005 after months of unreliable behavior. Often in the heat of battle, when his services were most needed, he could be found staring into the middle distance, miming swordfights, and muttering under his breath about his Level 60 Night Elf Hunter.


Motto: “Hear me roar.”

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Tireless defender of feminist principles, the Lioness defeated Mr. Big in 2002 and overthrew the white male patriarchy.

Where is she now? Porn.

Exploding Lad

Motto: “Welcome to Boomtown!”

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: When Blue Oblivion opened a stargate in Ohio, allowing hordes of alien Soul Ticks access to our planet, it was Exploding Lad to the rescue. Rushing to the scene, he used his metahuman ability to detonate violently, destroying the portal and saving America.

Where is he now? Strewn about the Greater Akron area, as he belatedly discovered his power to be a one-time-only kind of deal.

The Decider

Motto: “Fool me once, shame on, shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.”

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: With his keen strategic insight and steely, indomitable will, the Decider transformed Iraq into a stable, prosperous nation, and a model of democracy throughout the Middle East and around the world.

Where is he now? While battling Planeshift in the mid-1990s, the Decider was ripped from his homeworld of Earth-W and hurled through the dimensional barrier to Earth Prime. The people there, recognizing his greatness, soon elected him president, but when he attempted to repeat his success in Iraq, he was undermined at every turn by a nefarious band of villains calling themselves the Democrat Party.