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This month’s release of Spider-Man: No Way Home marks Spidey’s ninth film since 2002. By now, we feel like we know Peter Parker better than Mary Jane does—but what about the other, lesser-known characters in the multiverse? Armed with about 2,500 comic books, Denver couple Shawn Marek and Jen Stansfield host the weekly podcast Worst Collection Ever, which introduces listeners to B-list superheroes and underexplored storylines that (arguably) deserve more time on the big screen.
Shawn Marek: Beast and Wonder Man were members of the Avengers during the 1970s, and when they weren’t fighting villains, they were often enjoying the nightlife. “Wonder Man can be overly serious, but Beast drags humor out of him,” Marek says. So maybe it’s not surprising that blue-furred Beast was more successful with the ladies.
Jen Stansfield: For a glorious span from 2009 to 2011, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy operated as the Gotham City Sirens. “Having three female characters leading a book, especially then, was huge,” Stansfield says. We got to see famously mistrustful Catwoman learn to be vulnerable and some truly wild battles, like when the trio duked it out with a villain hell-bent on turning Earth into a giant forest (which actually doesn’t sound too nefarious in hindsight).
Most Ridiculous Weakness?
Shawn Marek: Gifted with telepathy, shape-shifting, heat vision, and more, DC’s Martian Manhunter is so powerful, he once made Superman bleed. A lit match, though, can bring the titan to his knees. At first, fire simply burned him. But now, even the sight of flames causes Manhunter—who, remember, has heat vision—to collapse. “I assume it’s because they don’t have fire on his home planet, Mars,” Marek says.
Jen Stansfield: The magic rings worn by members of the Green Lantern Corps used to be powerless against anything yellow. “Batman once painted a room yellow,” Stansfield says, “just to play a joke on one of the Lanterns.” The strange Achilles’ heel disappeared after the Green Lanterns defeated Parallax, a villain who lived in the rings’ central battery.
Favorite Niche Superpower?
Shawn Marek: A Marvel mutant named Cypher once had the ability to speak any language. “It would be so useful,” Marek says. Sadly, the publisher killed Cypher off in 1988 as part of a plotline that provided more emotional depth to his super team. Also, drawing a guy talking to people is probably way less fun than depicting Wolverine decapitating them.
Jen Stansfield: Stansfield likes Kitty Pryde, aka Shadowcat, but reacts to her ability to pass through walls like this: “Cool, but why?” (To steal stuff, like Pryde, played by Elliot Page, did in the X-Men movies.) Apparently, Marvel execs didn’t find the power interesting either; there was a Pryde solo film in the works, but in 2019, the slated director said it wasn’t happening.