This was a hard decision to make. I was inspired by this recent look at the worst X-Men of all time, a list I endorse. While most of the characters mentioned came long after I stopped giving a rat’s ass about the X-Men (mid-1980s), I am aware enough of idiocy like Maggot to understand that this is not how superheroes should look.
For most of my life, I have considered the worst superhero of all time to be Garfield Logan, aka Beast Boy, aka Changeling, who is apparently now Beast Boy again, even though he’s an adult. I thought his powers were stupid (he can become any animal, but they’re all green). I thought his personality was heinous early-80s Bill Murray horndog lite (he kept referring to women as ‘so round, so firm, so fully packed’). And even though he was the only green kid on Earth, he felt the need to wear a mask to protect his identity. Oh, so stupid.
I have, however, revised that opinion after flipping through some of the old comics here at the Weather Station. And now I say Beast Boy’s moronity pales in comparison to the 70s cheese evil that is Vartox. He’s an alien from what would appear to be a disco porn planet, a flying powerhouse with abilities that rival Superman’s, except they’re “hyperpowers,” not superpowers. So he has hyper-strength, hyper-vision, etc. Which is another way of saying he has exactly the same powers as Superman, only stupider. And he was always drawn in crotch-oriented poses, as you see above. This was unfortunate, considering his costume.
Vartox wears a brown uniform that consisted mostly of bikini briefs and a tiny little vest, all of which show off his brawny, hairy, Sellecky bod. He caps this off with thigh-high boots.
With his moustache and receding hairline, he looks like a small-town American cop who goes to the city on weekends to act out his fantasies. In the picture at left, he looks like my Grade 6 teacher, Mr. Chase, who never dressed like this but gave me nightmares for other reasons, some of which might involve hip waders.
When I first saw a comic featuring Vartox, I was about 8 or 9. And I thought he was stupid. Now that I have a box full of them, thanks to Chris P. Bacon, I think he’s an icon of a really bad period in American costume, facial hair and spandexery. He’s a scary stereotype of 70s style. And so was Vartox.
I want you to imagine this scene: You’re falling from a burning building. A flying man swoops in, catches you, and bears you to safety, snuggling you in against his sweaty, hairy chest. As you descend, you realize he has never contemplated bikini waxing. And there isn’t much spandex between you and his hyper-bulge.
I don’t know what became of Vartox. I know he was rebooted in the post-Crisis DC universe, a reboot which basically meant he got long pants, but kept the boots. This is what I call a reboot Fail.
The time is right, though, for a Vartox revival; if the creators’ tongues were firmly in cheeks, it could be a real hoot.