Bonnie Burton is at one with insect superheroes
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.