Bug Out

Bon­nie Bur­ton is at one with in­sect su­per­heroes

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Opinion -

Care­ful what you swat at when an in­sect buzzes by your ear, you could end up in­jur­ing a su­per­hero. Not all su­per­heroes are Hulk- sized, or even hu­man­sized for that mat­ter.

But the creepy crawly crime­fight­ers rarely get the same ac­co­lades as the usual line- up of su­per­heroes. Why should Su­per­man get all the glory when Ant- Man wants to rid the streets of vil­lains too? When was the last time you heard of the ex­cit­ing ex­ploits of the Blue Bee­tle?

Spi­der- Man and his other spi­der- re­lated su­per­hero pals don’t count in this in­sect lineup. Nei­ther does the Tick. Spi­ders, mites, scor­pi­ons, and ticks are also part of the arach­nid fam­ily, which means they have eight legs, two body seg­ments, no an­ten­nae or wings. In­sects have six legs and three main body parts.

What makes in­sect su­per­heroes ex­tra spe­cial is the fact that it proves that the lit­tle guy can beat the big, bad bul­lies. It’s the ul­ti­mate un­der­dog hero tale; a comic book ver­sion of David ver­sus Go­liath.

One of the most fa­mous in­sect su­per­heroes is Ant- Man, and he’s very cool, but Ant- Man isn’t the only in­sec­toid su­per­hero we should root for. There’s Wasp, aka Janet Van Dyne. Just like Ant- Man, she can shrink down to in­sect size, but she also has bio­elec­tric stingers and in­sec­toid wings that come out from her shoul­der blades.

There’s a Yel­low­jacket char­ac­ter in the Ant- Man Marvel uni­verse too, but long be­fore that, Yel­low­jacket was crime writer Vince Har­ley by day and a su­per­hero by night from Charl­ton Comics circa 1944. His ori­gin story is rather sting­ing. A gang of jewel thieves at­tempt to mur­der him by pour­ing a box of an­gry Yel­low­jack­ets on him – ouch! But luck­ily, he ends up ac­quir­ing the abil­ity to con­trol the fly­ing in­sects, which helps him fight crime while wear­ing a yel­low and black cos­tume.

Mov­ing on to the Blue Bee­tle. This char­ac­ter was ini­tially in­tro­duced to read­ers by Fox Comics in 1939 as Dan Gar­rett – a po­lice of­fi­cer who gained su­per­pow­ers from a mys­te­ri­ous vi­ta­min. A new 2006 in­car­na­tion saw Jaime Reyes as the Blue Bee­tle, with an alien Egyptian scarab bonded to his spine. When Jaime is in dan­ger the scarab ac­ti­vates and crawls out onto his back, and gen­er­ates a suit of ar­mour around his body.

The Wasp isn’t the only fe­male in­sect su­per­hero keep­ing us all safe. We also have the Bum­ble­bee, aka Karen Beecher. She has no su­per­pow­ers out­side of what her cool hi- tech bum­ble­bee cos­tume gives her, which in­cludes strength, speed, agility, flight and pro­tec­tion. She can also cre­ate painful elec­tric bursts that sting like a bee. But one of her most im­por­tant roles isn’t as a bee hero but as DC Comics’ first black fe­male su­per­hero!

My favourite in­sec­toid su­per­hero has to be Marvel’s Grasshop­per. He was ini­tially cre­ated as a joke by writer Dan Slott, to mock the ten­dency of comic book com­pa­nies to in­tro­duce new, poorly con­ceived su­per­hero char­ac­ters only to kill them off dramatically within a few is­sues. What makes Grasshop­per so great is that his cos­tumed iden­tity keeps chang­ing hands be­cause ev­ery­one ends up dy­ing in the worst ways pos­si­ble. He’s like the drum­mer in This Is Spinal Tap or Kenny in South Park.

I think I love Grasshop­per be­cause even though he’s a bona fide su­per­hero, he just doesn’t get the same level of re­spect that Ant- Man, the Wasp, Bum­ble­bee or even Blue Bee­tle gets. Grasshop­per just can’t catch a break. He’s got great pow­ers due to an im­pres­sive suit, but he never stays alive long enough to en­joy them. He’s un­lucky in ev­ery­thing but he’s still a su­per­hero worth re­mem­ber­ing. Here’s hop­ing Marvel gives Grasshop­per his own movie, even though it might be one of the short­est su­per­hero movies ever made.

They’re proof that the lit­tle guy can beat big, bad bul­lies

Bon­nie reck­ons the Green Hor­net de­serves an hon­or­able men­tion too.

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