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Showcase #62 featuring the Inferior Five
|First appearance||Showcase #62 (May–June 1966)|
Nelson Bridwell (writer)|
Joe Orlando (artist)
Mike Esposito (inker)
Merryman (High Intellect, Weakling's Body)|
Awkwardman (Flawless in water, clumsy on land)
The Blimp (Could fly only when propelled by tailwind)
White Feather (Skilled Archer, Scared of people looking at him)
Dumb Bunny (Super Strength, Terrible Grades)
The Inferior Five (or I5) are a parody superhero team appearing in books by the American publisher DC Comics. Created by writer E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Joe Orlando, the team premiered in the DC Comics title Showcase #62 (1966).
The premise is that the characters were sons or daughters of members of a superhero team called the Freedom Brigade, a parody of the Justice League of America. Most of the Inferior Five were takeoffs of other popular DC characters, though Merryman's appearance was modeled on Woody Allen.
After appearing in Showcase #62, 63, and 65 (1966), they got their own title which lasted twelve issues. The first ten had new material and were published from 1967–68.
Issues #11 and 12 were published in 1972, and titled Inferior 5 (using the number 5 rather than spelling out the word) and were all reprints, except for the covers. Nothing changed with the alteration of the title.
The team has appeared only sporadically after their series was canceled, with Showcase #100 being their only new appearance during the Bronze Age of Comic Books. Other appearances include one or two panels (there is disagreement over whether the characters in one panel are the Inferior Five) in Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Oz–Wonderland War #3 (March 1986), and the Grant Morrison-written Animal Man series. They appear in one panel in JLA: Another Nail as Flash and the Atom take a trip through many dimensions.
Although the Inferior Five's original stories made frequent references to other prominent DC heroes, The Oz–Wonderland War #3 revealed their adventures to have occurred on "Earth-Twelve," which had its own doppelgangers of the JLA, the Teen Titans, etc., meaning that any such references were out of continuity in relation to the heroes of DC's primary Earth-One.
Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, where the Five were seen in background cameos, the team's sole "continuity" appearance as a team was in the 1991 Angel and the Ape miniseries, where it was revealed that Angel and Dumb Bunny are half-sisters. Members of the Justice League of America had cameos in the series, indicating that the Inferior Five now existed on the post-Crisis Earth.
The Inferior Five appear in issue 17 of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comics. The Inferior Five team up with the Legion of Substitute Heroes in The Brave and The Bold #35 and with Bat-Mite in Bat-Mite #5 (Dec. 2015).
Steve Gerber proposed a Vertigo version of the Inferior Five as a send-up of the "dark 'n' gritty" comics of the period, but this was rejected. Gerber later claimed that DC refused to publish anything with the title on the grounds that it would make them look "inferior" for publishing it.
- Merryman (Myron Victor, occupation: comic strip artist) A "98 Pound Weakling", he is the son of The Patriot and Lady Liberty (parodying Uncle Sam and Quality Comics' Miss America) and a descendant of Yellowjacket and the Crimson Chrysanthemum (obvious takeoffs on the Green Hornet and the Scarlet Pimpernel). The team's leader, he wears a jester outfit, having decided in the team's first appearance that if he was going to make a fool of himself, he might as well look the part. He is highly intelligent, making him the only team member who is thoroughly aware of the team's disadvantages. Although trained in martial arts, he is physically a weakling with little practical ability to use such skills. He returned in Final Crisis as leader of the residents of Limbo, leading them in assisting the Supermen of the multiverse to fend off an attack from Mandrakk the Dark Monitor, causing Superman to reflect that anyone could be a hero.
- Awkwardman (Leander Brent, occupation: beachcomber), son of Mr. Might (parodying Superman) and the Mermaid (parodying Aquaman). He is super-strong and able to live underwater, having inherited powers from both parents, but is also very clumsy. In keeping with his half-undersea heritage, he requires periodic contact with water, which can consist of simply pouring it over himself with a watering can. His codename is a pun on Aquaman; his surname "Brent" rhymes with Superman's surname of "Kent."
- The Blimp (Herman Cramer, occupation: diner owner), the obese son of Captain Swift (parodying the Flash) who could fly like his father but, as he lacked his father's speed powers, could only fly at super slow speeds — with a tail wind. He was one of the few superheroes to attend the funeral of Booster Gold.
- White Feather (William King, occupation: photographer), son of The Bowman (parodying Green Arrow) and an unidentified woman. He was a superb archer when he did not think anyone was watching; people made him nervous (as did just about everything else). His surname "King" parallels Green Arrow's surname "Queen", and his codename is a reference to the traditional symbol of cowardice.
- Dumb Bunny (Athena Tremor, occupation: model), the stupid but super-strong daughter of Princess Power (parodying Wonder Woman) and Steve Tremor (parodying Steve Trevor). In later continuity (revealed in Angel and the Ape Vol. 2 # 1), she is still the daughter of Princess Power; however, it is revealed that her father is actually Professor Theo O'Day. Shortly after Athena's birth, Professor O'Day left Princess Power and fell in love with a non-powered woman. Together, they had a daughter, Angel Beatrix O'Day (who is Athena's half-sister). After Angel's mother died, Professor O'Day reconciled with Princess Power and raised Athena and Angel together. As Dumb Bunny, Athena is described as "strong as an ox and almost as intelligent." She is named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena. Although her surname "Tremor" is still given in current continuity, she is the daughter of Professor O'Day instead of Steve Tremor. According to the end of The Brave and The Bold #35, Dumb Bunny actual appears to be extremely intelligent, as she clearly understands a scientist and explains it to the other people. Since her father is a professor, the "Dumb" roleplay may be her "trick" and also not wanting to overshadow "Merryman".
In the miniseries Villains United, the Inferior Five were paid homage as a group of supervillains who are tentatively known as the Superior Five. Each member has the abilities of an I5 member but, aside from being evil, are serious and modernly styled characters. They consist of:
- Tremor (Awkwardman)
- Hindenburg (The Blimp)
- Splitshot (White Feather)
- Lagomorph (Dumb Bunny)
- Jongleur (Merryman)
Little has been seen of these characters except for one panel in Villains United #4 and a few shots of them in the background in the same issue. They are among the imprisoned supervillains in Salvation Run. Jongleur is one of the villains sent to retrieve the Get Out of Hell Free card from the Secret Six.
In other media
- The words Inferior Five, Metal Men, The Trenchcoat Brigade, Monster Society of Evil, and Tornado Twins appear in the background in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Mayhem of the Music Meister."
The series and characters have been recognized in the field, being awarded a 1966 Alley Award for Best Humor Title: Costumed.
- McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
Writer E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Joe Orlando knew what was in a name when they unleased the Inferior Five in Megalopolis.
- Eury, Michael (July 2013). "Back Seat Driver". Back Issue!. TwoMorrows Publishing (65): 2.
- Nevada #1 text page
- January 23, 2005 post to the Howard the Duck Club (members only)
- "Final Crisis Superman Beyond 3D" #1–2 (October 2008)