Only so many heroes and villains can be bombarded with radiation before readers attempt to give themselves superpowers by standing in front of their microwave ovens with the door open.
To prevent Randy Marsh-sized tumors, the writers over at Marvel have mined the deep well of creativity and come up with some truly bizarre characters. Ignoring the one-off villains and silly parodies, the Marvel universe still has its share of powerful and iconic characters that are still a bit, well, peculiar.
Despite their oddball origins, many of these characters have gone on to become mainstays in the Marvel universe, earning praise from fans who just can’t get enough of these delightfully strange characters.
Read on to see our list of 12 weirdos from the Marvel universe!
One of the most iconic Marvel characters of all time, the god-like Galactus wasn’t intended to be a mainstay of the Marvel universe. Cooked up by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1966, Galactus was meant to be an enemy that could actually pose a real threat to the Marvel superheroes — after all, he is a giant alien who devours entire worlds for sustenance.
Designed to be awe-inspiring, Kirby and Lee wanted to leave Galactus shrouded in mystery in order to make him more menacing. Fan pressure resulted in an origin story that is impressive for its sheer grandiosity.
Before being known as the entity Galactus, Galan was a space explorer from the planet Taa, existing in a universe that pre-dates the Big Bang. In the chaos of his universe collapsing in on itself in preparation of the coming Big Bang that creates our universe, Galan flies into the “cosmic egg,” a manifestation of all sentience of his universe, merging with it before the Big Bang. Lying dormant for billions of years, Galan emerges as the cosmic entity known as Galactus, and eventually employs a nude bald man who flies around on a surfboard to find him planets he can munch on. Just, you know, not usually in the form of a cloud.
11. Beta Ray Bill
The Korbinites are an alien race who were under the threat of extinction when their galaxy began to explode. They quickly constructed enormous ships in order to transport their people to safety. Entering suspended animation, the Korbinites charted a course into the unknown, but not before electing a champion, someone brave and strong enough to protect the entire race should a threat be discovered. That champion was the every man known as Beta Ray Bill.
Beta Ray Bill was augmented by Korbinite scientists who transferred his consciousness into the body of an equine-like animal native to their planet. This gave Bill super strength, speed, stamina, durability and an extended lifespan. Despite having a somewhat monstrous appearance, Beta Ray Bill is an honorable and courageous being.
When the Korbinite ships appear in the Milky Way Galaxy, S.H.I.E.L.D. sends Thor to investigate. Mistaking Thor for an enemy, Beta Ray Bill attacks him, and the two battle to a standstill. When Bill’s ship (the unfortunately named Skuttlebutt) enters Earth’s atmosphere, one of Mjolnir’s enchantments turns Thor into his human alter ego, Donald Blake, allowing Bill to gain the upper hand. With Bill in possession of Mjolnir, be is granted all of Thor’s abilities.
Eventually, Odin and Thor recognize that Bill is worthy of wielding such a weapon, and Odin has a hammer made especially for Bill, the Stormbreaker, so that he can protect his people. His hammer even let him transform back into his original appearance before being mutated into a nightmarish horse monster!
Fritz Von Meyer was a top German scientist working under Adolf Hitler until the end of World War II, where he evaded capture and sought refuge in South America. Becoming a beekeeper, Von Meyer began experimenting with a colony of mutated bees. During one of his experiments, the bees turned on Von Meyer and completely devoured him. However, due to the mutative properties of the bees — and the fact that this was taking place in the pages of a comic book — Von Meyer’s consciousness was absorbed by the hive, and the colony of bees and Von Meyer became one being known as Swarm.
Swarm often takes the shape of a man; however he/they is really a composite of many individual bees operating under a hive mind controlled by Von Meyer. He/they can take any form and is shown to be able to command large numbers of bees, making Swarm massive in size.
Primarily an enemy of Spider-Man, Swarm has fought the Avengers, the Thunderbolts and has even tried to invade the Jean Grey Institute for Higher Learning, only to be thwarted by another entry on this list, the school’s receptionist/occasional substitute teacher who looks like a floating potato.
The terrorist organization known as Advanced Idea Mechanics created a Cosmic Cube, an artifact of such immense power that it could literally reshape reality. Lacking the computing power to process the sheer amount of information the Cube possessed, AIM forced a technician named George Tarleton to undergo horrific experiments to transform him into a giant, super intelligent head they christen MODOC, or Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing.
Intended to be a living supercomputer that could analyze and study the limitless potential of the cosmic cube, MODOC instead kills everyone, takes over AIM and renames himself MODOK, or Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing. MODOK causes so much grief that IGN placed him at #100 in their list of the 100 Greatest Supervillians of All Time, a pretty interesting accomplishment given the overall absurdity of the character.
8. Rocket Raccoon
Most folks know Rocket from the wildly successful 2014 film, Guardians of the Galaxy. In the movie, Rocket is a fast talking smart aleck who happens to be an anthropomorphic raccoon. He is also shown to be a master military tactician, and to be incredibly loyal to his friends. All of these traits mirror Rocket’s comic book counterpart, however the movie is quick to gloss over Rocket’s origins. Fear not reader, as decades worth of comic books will be able to clear that up with a ludicrously complicated backstory!
A long time ago, an alien humanoid race settled on a planet in the Keystone Quadrant star system. These aliens proceeded to build a large complex to house all of the invalid and mentally insane of their society, along with robot caretakers. A nearby sun goes supernova, and the resulting radiation showers grant the robot caretakers sentience. No longer wishing to be servants to the aliens, the robots began to genetically alter the animals of the planet into intelligent beings who could take over for them. The animals protected the humanoid aliens while the robots moved to the other side of the planet and provided them with technology, weapons and toys (to placate the humanoid aliens, of course).
Before meeting up with Star Lord, Rocket had his share of adventures. He thwarted the plans of an nefarious mole Judson Jakes, who had planned to steal the sacred text, Gideon’s Bible (because, The Beatles), to enslave the planet. Rocket was also instrumental in ending the “Toy War” between two rival manufacturing companies that saw his girlfriend, the otter Lylla, being caught in the middle. Are we wrong to think a Rocket Raccoon prequel should be in the works?
You can’t have Rocket without mentioning his equally bizarre, yet lovable, BFF Groot. Another member of the Guardians of the Galaxy who quickly became a fan favorite, Groot has a fascinating back story that was not delved into during the movie adaptation, possibly due to his limited vocalization capabilities.
Groot is a Flora Colossi from Planet X. Despite being geniuses (they learn via photosynthesis), they are incredibly hard to understand due to the stiffness of their larynxes, making everything they say sound like “I Am Groot”. The tree sapling that would eventually be known as Groot did not get along with his fellow tree like creatures, preferring the company of the small, squirrel-like “maintenance mammals” that managed Planet X.
Witnessing the mistreatment of one such maintenance mammal, Groot intervened and killed one of his own, resulting in his banishment from Planet X. With nowhere to go, Groot decided to explore other galaxies.
As an adult, he was captured and placed into a prison, where he met Rocket Raccoon and developed a friendship with the heavy weapons expert. Groot has since gone on to many adventures, and was even a candidate for the job of nanny to Luke Cage and Jessica Jones‘ daughter, Danielle.
The writers at Marvel were really ahead of their time when they created the alien known as Mojo. Essentially a parody of television network executives, Mojo is the hideous leader of a world where everyone is addicted to his gladiator-like television programs.
Seeking to drive ratings, Mojo became interested in Earth, primarily with the adventures of the mutant superhero team the X-Men, and captured the mutant known as Psylocke. Mojo then implanted Psylocke with bionic eyes that doubled as interdimensional cameras that allowed Mojo to record and broadcast all that Psylocke could see, resulting in a ratings bonanza.
When the X-Men ended up being one of the Mojoverse’s favorite programs, Mojo continued to connive and subvert the X-Men and their allies into ridiculous and often mortally dangerous situations, all so that he could broadcast the exploits for his own personal gain. When the X-Men proved to be far too cunning for his traps, he even tried to create versions of the X-Men that he could control. However, all of them were failures, save for the X-Babies, who are childlike clones of the X-Men, the cutesy weirdness of which should really have their own entry on this list.
Mojo is a bizarre and intentionally horrific character who mirrors our society’s preoccupation with celebrity. Intended as a joke but proving to be a formidable foe, Mojo is probably even more relevant now than he was when he debuted in 1985.
Steve Harmon was a high schooler who worked as a clown at a local carnival in New Jersey. One day, two of his fellow classmates are abducted by a group of evil clowns who used an interdimensional gateway disguised as a fun house mirror to escape. Grabbing a large mallet as a weapon, Steve followed them.
After he entered the portal, Steve’s molecules were stretched over 3741 dimensions, causing a rift that alerted several of Marvel’s more-aware beings, including Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man and Howard the Duck. Steve’s body was reassembled as unstable molecules dubbed ectoplasm, essentially making him a living cartoon character.
In addition to looking like a Looney Toons character, Steve now had the ability to alter reality to resemble that of a cartoon in order to manipulate things to his advantage. Living up to his namesake, Slapstick has a bizarre sense of humor that often result in practical jokes carried out on his fellow superheroes, as well as having a tendency to break the fourth wall (although everyone that appears with him on panel just assumes he is talking to himself).
Since his introduction in 1992, Slapstick has appeared in most of Marvel’s main story arcs in some capacity. Most recently, he’s been working for Deadpool as one of the Mercs for Money. Fun Fact: Slapstick beat out fan-favorite Spidey villain Carnage for best new character in a reader poll back in 1992.
One of the numerous mutants with blue skin, Maggott is one of the most unfortunate characters to ever call himself a member of the X-Men, as well as (probably) the least-known character on this list. Maggott grew up in Apartheid South Africa and was unable to consume solid food. Believing that he was a burden on his family, he ran away and was confronted by Magneto, who showed him his mutant “ability.”
Instead of a digestive system, Maggott had a hollow cavity where two giant slugs lived. These slugs would then burrow out of his body and eat anything and everything in their path before burrowing back into Maggott’s body and transferring the energy to Maggott. This not only gave Maggott sustenance, but it also gifted him with super strength, durability and the ability to see into the past via the “memories” of the objects his slugs had eaten.
Maggott and his gross-out powers were put out of their misery somewhat unceremoniously when it was revealed that Maggott was one of the first to be executed in a mutant internment camp called Neverland, run by Canada’s Weapon X program. Maggott’s demise is further proof that mutantkind’s greatest threat is Canada, apparently.
A large creature resembling a bulldog, save for the antenna jutting out from his head, Lockjaw is part of the Royal Family of the Inhumans. He serves as the Inhumans’ teleporter, being able to teleport not only himself, but nearby beings over great distances. In addition, Lockjaw also has “super-canine” strength in his jaw, hence his name.
Aside from being the Inhumans on-call Uber driver, Lockjaw has also served as the leader of his own superhero team. When Mr. Fantastic visits the Inhumans searching for the Infinity Gems, Lockjaw finds the Mind Gem, which bestows telepathic abilities. Lockjaw reads Mr. Fantastic’s mind and decides to find the Infinity Gems.
Teaming up with Throg, a NYC frog who found a sliver of Mjolnir, Lockheed, Shadowcat’s alien fire breathing dragon, Redwing, Falcon’s hawk, Hairball, a cat dosed with Speedball’s energy bubbles, Zabu from the Savage Land and Ms. Lion, Aunt May’s puppy, they become the Pet Avengers.
The Pet Avengers are successful in obtaining all of the Infinity Gems, and actually defeat Thanos (yep, that Thanos) by stranding him in an alternate dimension. It’s obvious that the planned Inhumans movie has been pushed back due to rewrites that include Lockjaw, right?
2. Howard the Duck
Howard the Duck is mostly known for the 1986 movie of the same name, though the character is much more interesting and endearing than that dumpster fire of a film would lead you to believe. Hailing from an alternate dimension where intelligent life evolved from avian creatures, Howard is thrown into an interdimensional portal that sees him arrive in our world.
The Howard the Duck series has been a purveyor of political and social satire since its inception, focusing on a character who, despite being a walking, talking duck, was normal in a world populated by superpowered beings. He has been shown to pursue a career in law enforcement, drive cabs, work as a private investigator, and has even received lessons in magic via Doc Strange. In addition to his own series, Howard the Duck has been popping up all over the Marvel universe in the forty years since his creation, including major events like Civil War and Fear Itself.
Often finding himself being thrust into the middle of bizarre situations, Howard the Duck is a popular, albeit, odd creation. He is so beloved by comic book fans that he even received thousands of write-in votes during the real-life 1976 Presidential Election.
Now you know why we were so stoked to see Howard’s cameo appearance during the mid-credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy — maybe we’ll finally see the ill-tempered Howard of the comics on the big screen!
Looking like Slimer’s pervy uncle, this floating green blob is one of the most mysterious characters in the entire Marvel universe, introduced during the reimagining of X-Force into a for-profit reality TV-starring superhero group (later known as X-Statix).
Doop acts as the group’s cameraman, following the team into battle in order to film their heroic exploits, although he is often criticized for lingering on “artistic shots” rather than focusing on the action. In addition to being one of the most popular members of X-Statix (various in-universe merchandise has his image on it), he also has a mysterious relationship with Wolverine.
Over the course of the X-Statix series, Doop was shown to possess powers of his own, including flight, superhuman strength, regeneration, and even the ability to bend time and space — though the limits of these powers are never fully disclosed. Doop’s powers are quite possibly infinite. In one issue, Doop pops a pimple on his forehead, sucking everyone into the “Doopverse,” a strange alternate reality. Doop has also gone toe-to-toe with Thor, and has even swallowed Mjolnir and fired copies of it from his mouth. It is during this battle that Captain America claims that Doop is an American superweapon capable of destroying the entire world, and that he was instrumental in ending the Cold War.
Most recently, Doop is serving as an adjunct member of the teaching staff at the Jean Grey Institute for Higher Learning at the behest of Wolverine. Although many see him as lazy thief of office supplies, Doop is actually tasked with protecting the entire school from extraneous threats. Did we mention that Doop has a back-up brain located in his hindquarters?
Who are your favorite weirdos of the Marvel universe? Let us know in the comments!
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