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Jul
13

It’s a Bug’s life

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With the next Marvel movie quickly crawling our way, and thanks to a weird article I read online about science guys finding ways to control cockroaches with their minds, I have bugs on the brain. In an attempt to feel less antsy I have assembled a list of insect-related comicbook characters for your buggy enjoyment.

From the giant black and white bug monsters of the 1920s to the web-slinging heroes of today, insects have always been a popular theme in the world of Science-Fiction. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, the insect world is full of the most alien-looking critters on the planet, and for various evolutionary reasons so many humans have an intrinsic fear of insects, making them the perfect monsters.
Which then makes the idea of possessing insect-abilities, or control over insects so exciting. Realistically though, giant insects are scientifically impossible, and although buggies have often proven to be great sources of inspiration we have yet to discover a way to splice in some of their buggy goodness… but thats where comics are better than real life.
So lets do this!
Superheroes and Villains that are in some way insect-based! In no particular order…

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Ambush Bug (DC)
Real Name:  Irwin Schwab*
First Appearance: December 1982

Ambush Bug is very much a Deadpool character in the DC Universe in regards to his wacky demeanor, and being a delusional idiot.

According to his Wikipedia entry he has some sort of teleportation powers, and dumb luck. He seems to share DP’s ability to somewhat break the 4th wall and be aware of things outside of his own book.

Origin is also pretty weird… “Brum-El of the planet Schwab sent his clothes from his supposedly doomed planet, hoping that his wardrobe would survive, only to have it intercepted by a giant radioactive space spider. In the resulting crash, only two articles of clothing survived: the Ambush Bug suit, which was subsequently found by Irwin Schwab; and “Argh!Yle!”, an argyle sock with a Doctor Doom-like complex, complete with metal mask.”
Yea his enemy is a sock or something…

*apparently this might not actually be his name, could just be another delusion of his… Ummm I don’t know.

 


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Beetle (Marvel)
Real Name: Abner Jenkins*
First Appearance: August 1964

Abner is a B-list villain at best; an ambitious mechanic that makes cool beetle suits and gets beat up by Spider-Man and Friends on the regular. He’s received many upgrades over the years, sometimes with help by The Tinkerer, hes gotten his hands on Stark tech, he was in the Masters of Evil at one point!… but loses time and time again, well thats life as a villain.

Tired of being pummeled by the good guys Abner joins the Thunderbolts at one point, with a new suit, new look, new name, Mach.
Power-wise – typical abilities that come with techy suits. Flight, energy projections.

*The Beetle title has been used by a couple of villains over the years. Most recently it is being used by Janice Lincoln, daughter of Spidey villain Tombstone. She sports a very similar suit, which is nice because its what always comes to my mind when I think of Marvel’s Beetle.

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Blue Beetle
 (DC)
Real Name: Ted Kord / Jaime Reyes
First Appearance: November 1966 /Feb 06

Though Ted Kord is most likely the first name that comes to mind when discussing The Blue Beetle he is actually not the first or original hero to go by that name. There were actually 3 heroes who appear in a number of books published by a variety of companies since 1939. The rights most recently owned by DC Comics who bought the rights to the character in 1983. (before that it belonged to Charlton Comics)

When DC acquired the character in the mid-80s he was integrated into the DC Universe via the Crisis on Infinite Earths story arc. Neat.

Ted is a normal guy insofar as his physical abilities, yea hes a wicked athlete and whatnot but he doesn’t have any Beetle powers. Ted is a genius inventor, detective, crime-fighter, rich guy, which makes him very Batman… except with an attitude similar to Spider-Man.

I actually really like this guy, especially so because of his buddy buddy team-ups with Booster Gold. Blue and Gold forever!!

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Now, in 2006 we were introduced to a new Blue Beetle, a Mexican-American teenager who gains a crazy suit with an attitude when he accidental bonds with an alien scarab… which is neat because Dan Garett, the BB before Ted Kord was an archaeologist that gained mystical powers from said scarab… but now its alien.

The scarab turns out to be alien tech controlled by The Reach, but it was damaged so its now more like IronMan’s JARVIS with a “humans are stupid” attitude. This BB joins the Teen Titans since he is still too new for JLA, last I have heard not much has been happening with this character. Lame.

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The-TickThe Tick (New England Comics)
Real Name: N/A
First Appearance: July 1986

If you are a 90s kid you most likely remember this big blue character from the Saturday morning cartoons that aired on Fox.
Other than the antennae The Tick doesn’t really have any Tick related… anythings. He is insanely strong and almost invulnerable, also a bit on the crazy side. In one episode he threatens to suck a man’s blood with a straw, but that never actually happens, so thats probably not one of his things.

You probably also remember his sidekick Arthur, who wears a white moth suit.

Oh and there was also the live-action show starring Patrick Warburton! Which in my opinion needed a second season.


Swarm (Marvel)2967244-002+copy
Real Name: Fritz von Meyer
First Appearance: July 1977

“Fritz von Meyer was born in Leipzig, Germany and became one of Adolf Hitler’s top scientists. Escaping capture after World War II, he became a beekeeper or apiarist in South America, and discovered a colony of mutated bees. Intrigued by their intelligence and passive nature, von Meyer attempted to enslave the queen bee, but failed and the bees devoured him, leaving only his skeleton.”
Thank you Wikipedia! I remember this guy from some the Ben Reily Spider-Man days but didn’t realize he had such a colourful history!

Power-wise Swarm is… made up of bees. So he can fly, and manipulate his body/bees into various forms. He can apparently also shapeshift and turn intangible. Neat.

Another tidbit of info, albeit a spoiler:
Fritz von Meyer’s skeleton, the focal point of his consciousness, remained behind as his only remains until they were devoured by Venom.

 

 


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B’zzd (DC)
Real Name: N/A
First Appearance: July 2007

B’zzd is a Green Lantern from the planet Apiaton, assigned to sector 2261. His partner is the Living Planet known as Mogo, an odd pairing to say the least. B’zzd is basically a space fly with a GL ring; which he often uses to make giant constructs such as a locomotive, or a roller coaster.
As the story goes his biggest fear is to be stripped of his ring, and be just another bug. This guy dreams big!

B’zzd died fighting Mongul II.

Although small and relatively new the character actually made an appearance in the GL movie, and got a tiny action figure packed in with Mattel’s unmasked Hal Jordan.

 

 

 


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Miek (Marvel)
Real Name: N/A
First Appearance: April 2006

We meet Miek on planet Sakaar which is where Hulk ends up after his Illuminati buddies on Earth decide to catapult him into space. Miek is a member of an insectoid race, referred to as “natives” by the pink Sakaaran people.
Miek starts off as a small fragile hiveling but after hanging out with Hulk and his Warbound for some time Miek develops a taste for violence and a thirst for vengeance, leading him to ‘evolve’ into a badass king bug of sorts.

In the Planet Hulk story arc Miek develops a relationship with a Brood warrior simply known as No-Name, they actually go on to reproduce and make gross hybrid babies. Yup.

 

 


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Killer Moth (DC)
Real Name: Drury Walker/Cameron van Cleer
First Appearance: February 1951

Killer Moth’s story has gone through some changes over the year but at the core of it it remains a pretty fun character. Here is an excerpt from good ol’ Wikipedia about the original run: “The original Killer Moth was a prisoner identified only by his prison number, 234026. While in prison, he reads a newspaper article about Batman and decides to set himself up as the “anti-Batman,” hiring himself out to Gotham City’s criminals to help them elude capture by police. Upon his release, he uses the hidden proceeds of his crimes to build a “Mothcave”, modeled on the photos of the Batcave in the newspaper article he read. Killer Moth also establishes a false identity as millionaire philanthropist Cameron van Cleer. In this guise, he becomes friends with Bruce Wayne. Meanwhile, he promotes himself to Gotham’s criminals using his identity as Killer Moth, giving them each an infra-red Moth-signal. In his first job, he rescues some criminals from the police and then uses his Mothmobile to defeat and capture Batman and Robin. The duo escape and lead Killer Moth to a climactic battle on Gotham Bridge in which he is defeated.”

Heh Mothmobile, how is this guy not a Tick villain?

Drury doesn’t have any special powers, just a snazzy suit and a few gadgets… unless you factor in the time he sells his souls and becomes some sort of moth monster. That just seems to be a common occurrence for bug characters.


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The Human Fly (Marvel)
Real Name: Unkown
First Appearance: September 1977

This character stands out from the crowd as he is based on an actual person. Which is rare in comics.
As the story goes, the nameless hero was in a car accident, after reconstructive surgery much of his skeleton was replaced by steel, which leads to him dressing up and going by The Human Fly.
HF, being the nice guy he is, goes around performing daredevil stunts for charities, helping children with disabilities.

Along the way of course he would run into trouble, criminals trying to rob the charities and the sort.
The main reason I chose this picture << over others is that I have this comic, it was one of my first, and really not all that exciting….

The character was based on real-life stuntman Rick Rojatt. The comic book carried the tag line “The Wildest Super-Hero Ever — Because He’s Real!”, and photographs of someone in a Human Fly costume appeared in the books. Jim Shooter, a high-ranking member of Marvel’s editorial staff at the time of publication, said in 2007 that the photos were indeed of Rojatt.

*Other than the name The Human Fly doesn’t actually have any kind of Fly abilities or attributes, which makes me wonder why they went with the name… also why did I add him to the list?


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Bug-Eyed bandit (DC)
Real Name: Bertram Larvan
First Appearance: September 1966

Until I started digging around online for buggy comicbook characters I had no idea who this guy was, and I don’t think I am alone in that department. The funny thing about that is that since he is apparently an Atom villain he will actually be in The Flash show, played by Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead)! How unexpected! I wonder how she will look with a beard…

The character isn’t overly complex, an inventor down on his luck, creates an army of robotic insects which he then uses to steal monies and stuff.

If nothing else it would be neat to see how this costume lends itself to the live-action show, and played by a female. Assuming that Cisco will be the one naming her… not his best work.


30982-4550-34489-1-fly-theThe Fly (Impact Comics/DC)
Real Name: Jason Troy
First Appearance: August 1991

Now here is another character few would recognize, and if you do recognize him chances are you recall the character from the Archie Comics that he was loosely based off of.

I remember having a few of these comics back in the day (where the hell did I get these?) and thinking he was pretty cool. He was very Captain Marvel-like in that he was a teenage boy that turned into a MAN when his powers were activated. Which of course always makes for an entertaining character.

“High school student Jason Troy is given a simple class assignment by a substitute teacher: design a model super-hero for the 1990s. Jason turns his homework in on time…but then, through the power of a strange talisman, he becomes that hero, a hero known as the Fly. But for all the power he’s been granted, the Fly is still a boy in a man’s body!”

Personally I would like to see a reboot of sorts.
But of course thats crazy talk, we all know comicbook companies only like rebooting characters that people already know and follow.
 


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Spider-Man (Marvel)
Real Name: Peter Benjamin Parker
First Appearance: August 1962

Nothing to really say here. You all know his story.

Just felt necessary to add him since he is the best known insect-powered hero around… remember that time he turned into Man-Spider? Good times.

 

 

 

 

 

 


I have saved the best for last! Well, maybe not the best but the hottest one… this month anyways…
Behold the Ant Men!

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Ant Man (Marvel)
Real Name: Hank Pym
First Appearance: September 1962

The original Ant Man, one of the founders of The Avengers, the creator of Ultron, Dr. Hank Pym!
Pym is the discoverer of subatomic particles he dubs ‘Pym Particles’, he devises a means of shrinking himself, primarily for science but later becomes so much more. Pym also creates a cybernetic helmet that allows him to communicate with ants.. because.. reasons.

I would argue that Hank Pym is by far one of the most complex Marvel characters, due to his mental instability he ends up with various personas, ie Giant Man, Goliath, and of course Yellowjacket… and then Wasp down the road.
I’m curious as to how much of the comic book Hank Pym we will see in Michael Douglas’ version, I really hope we at least get some flashback scenes showing Pym as Ant Man, its bad enough he was already stripped of Ultron and his Avengers Member status.


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Ant Man (Marvel)
Real Name: Scott Lang
First Appearance: April 1979

This is the Ant Man we are being introduced to in the MCU, played by Paul Rudd, Scott Lang is a very different character, not a scientist, but a thief. Scott Lang was an electronics expert who turned to a life of crime to better provide for his family. When his daughter Cassie got sick he breaks into Pym’s lab and takes his Ant Man gear, one thing leads to another and he ends up using said gear to save the Doctor that was to save his daughter.
When Scott goes to return the Ant Man suit he discovers that Pym knew all along and he lets him keep it, provided he joins the side of righteousness… soooo not quite the same story that I gathered from watching the Ant Man trailers but they at least stuck to Scott starting off as a criminal, presumably with a heart of gold.

 

 

 

 

 


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Ant Man (Marvel)
Real Name: Eric O’Grady
First Appearance:  December 2006

Since I am completely unfamiliar with this Ant Man other than a few issues of Remender’s Secret Avengers I will once more turn to Wikipedia for the 411.
‘Eric O’Grady is a low-level agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who stumbles upon Dr. Henry “Hank” Pym’s latest incarnation of the Ant-Man suit in the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. A man of very few morals and willingness to lie, cheat, steal and manipulate in order to get ahead in life, O’Grady immediately steals the armor for his own selfish plans, which include using his status as a “super-hero” to stalk women and facilitate his thievery. A running theme with the character is his evil side clashing with a desire to be accepted by others, which leads to Eric vowing to renounce his evil ways and become a proper hero, leading to a cycle of the character relapsing and vowing to “change”.

So hes basically the scummy Ant Man.
At one point O’Grady is killed by The Descendants (group of synthezoid, androids built to run like humans) and is brought back as an LMD (Life-Model Decoy) in order to take down the Secret Avengers from the inside… as the evil android O’Grady he goes by Black Ant. Neat.


Last but not least is another founding member of The Avengers that has thus far been getting no love from the MCU, and has strong ties to the Ant Man mythos, the winsome Wasp!

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Wasp (Marvel)
Real Name: Janet Van Dyne
First Appearance:  June 1963

Jan, much like Pym, has gone through so many changes and has evolved so much over the years that it would be difficult to sum her up in a short paragraph. Ability-wise she is similar to Ant Man in that she can shrink and in some occasions grow, as well as communicate with insects. Though her Father was a scientist – leading to her meeting Hank, Jan is usually portrayed as a socialite, a fashion designer, very much not a scientist. Nonetheless she is a key component to The Avengers dynamic, making her absence in the movies that much more infuriating. In 2013 Marvel ranked Wasp at #5 in their list of the 50 Greatest Avengers. Here is what they had to say:

Why She’s #5: “For a lengthy period, it seemed like giving the Avengers their name would be the Wasp’s most lasting contribution to the team. Despite being a charter member, she tended to remain in the background, lending moral support and following the whims of Hank Pym. But when her husband lost control, lashing out at her and ending their marriage, something changed within Janet Van Dyne. She not only became chairperson of the Avengers, but perhaps the most potent and resourceful leader Earth’s Mightiest Heroes had ever seen.

“Combining her ability to win over her teammates with an underrated strategic mind, Wasp led the Avengers through both good times and some of their darkest hours, including the Masters of Evil’s siege, which she bucked the odds to overcome. Even when she hasn’t been in charge, Janet has remained the heart of the group, bolstering the spirits of her allies and encouraging them never to give up. If the Avengers themselves voted on this list, it’s likely the Wasp would take the number one spot.” – Ben Morse


Thanks for reading my unnecessary list of insecty heroes! Hope it was fun and that you learned something new!
Maybe next time before you will hesitate before squishing a poor defenseless bug and ponder on the possibilities that may come from studying these amazing tiny creatures. Enough chit chat, I’m off to go see Paul Rudd shrink!

antsss

 

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