April Fool

DC Entertainment has a long, storied history of comedic characters. These April Fools have many functions in the DC Universe. Sometimes they’re comic relief; sometimes they serve as parody. In at least a few cases, they’ve been used as ways to critique and satirize the comics industry as a whole. While a rather large roster of humorous characters exists in the DC Multiverse, we picked five examples to share with you in honor of April Fools’ Day. They include Ambush Bug, Section Eight, Bat-Mite, the Inferior Five and the Condiment King. Don’t be an April Fool: read on!

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April Fool #1: Ambush Bug

Our first April Fool, Ambush Bug, first debuted in DC COMICS PRESENTS #52 by Paul Kupperberg and Keith Giffen. Much like a similar fourth-wall-breaking character from another comic company, Ambush Bug (AKA Irwin Schwab) started out as a quippy villain. He fought Superman and the Doom Patrol with his teleporting bug suit.

After his defeat, he traveled to the future and started acting less evil and more madcap as he became a nuisance to the Legion of Substitute Heroes. After this appearance, Irwin developed a rather unhealthy obsession with Superman in the backup pages of ACTION COMICS. He tried hard to become Supes’ best friend. He also developed his fourth-wall-breaking skills around this time, speaking to the reader and commenting on the writer and editors.

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ACTION COMICS #560. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

This led to Irwin getting his first miniseries. Starting here, it gets kinda fuzzy how much of Ambush Bug’s appearances are canon. In these three miniseries, plus a handful of specials and origin issues, Ambush Bug spoke with DC editors, most prominently Julius Schwartz, who became a character in many AMBUSH BUG books. He also raised his “son” Cheeks, a plush toy, and makes him his partner in his superheroics.

Irwin also fought his sworn enemy, Argh!Yle; an evil, anthropomorphic argyle sock with a metal mask suspiciously reminiscent of Doctor Doom’s. Most of Ambush Bug’s books told mostly nonlinear tales, with pages upon pages of unrelated gags that poked fun at a number of things, from forgotten Silver Age characters to various popular artists and writers. After a brief stint with the Doom Patrol in the pre-Flashpoint Universe, Ambush Bug hasn’t shown up much in comics.

He was last seen co-hosting the Channel 52 backup ads in various New 52 books.

April Fools #2: Sixpack and Section Eight

First appearing in HITMAN #9 by Garth Ennis and John McCrea, out next April Fool, Sixpack, led an interesting life. A familiar face at Tommy Monaghan’s go-to bar, Noonan’s, Sickpack dressed in an ill-fitting shirt, with a cape, a mask, a tiny bowler hat and yellow, almost constantly soiled pants. You see, Sixpack was a serious alcoholic who dreamed daily of fighting various supervillains and teaming up with his best friends, the Justice League of America. Constantly drunk, Sixpack always believed these tales. He even went so far as to create his own super team: Section Eight.

First appearing in HITMAN #18, Section Eight consisted of Sixpack (drunk guy), Dogwelder (welds dogs to people), Flemgem (shoots mucus at people), the Defenstrator (believes he’s the Terminator, and constantly throws people through a window he always holds).

The later members include Bueno Excelente (can fight with the power of “perversion”), Jean de Baton (Frenchman who hits people with a stick), Shakes (uncontrollably shakes) and Friendly Fire (can shoot powerful beams, but only hits himself or his teammates). This motley crew tries to fight evil, but their mainly useless powers just get them brutally beaten. Eventually, nearly all of them die when extradimensional demons vaporize them.

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ALL-STAR SECTION EIGHT #1 page 2-3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

They reappear in ALL-STAR SECTION EIGHT and SIXPACK AND DOGWELDER: HARD-TRAVELIN’ HEROEZ. Most likely a figment of Sidney Speck’s, an off-the-wagon alcoholic art critic who looks suspiciously like Sixpack, imagination, this new incarnation tried to recruit various heroes to the team. They were last seen teaming up with John Constantine in space, where Dogwelder gave his life to weld two dog stars together and save the Earth.

April Fool #3: Bat-Mite

Our third April Fool is a mischievous fifth-dimensional imp named Bat-Mite. First appearing in DETECTIVE COMICS #267 by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff, Mite arrived in the 3rd Dimension to try and help Batman fight crime. Bat-Mite was Batman’s biggest fan. He even made his own costume in tribute.

Mite used his fifth-dimensional reality warping powers to prolong Batman’s fights by creating extraordinary obstacles for Batman to overcome for his own enjoyment. This justifiably annoyed Batman, who scolded Bat-Mite and told him to leave this dimension. Saddened, Mite complied, but he came back often to watch his favorite crimefighter in action.

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DETECTIVE COMICS #267. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Mite also would fight against his rival from his home dimension, Mr. Mxyzptlk. The two would argue whether Batman or Superman was the greatest hero. Once, they even destroyed every single Multiversal reality after Mxyzptlk accidentally killed a Silver Age Batman. They put it all back to normal eventually, though. While Bat-Mite means well, almost all of his appearances end up being nuisances for Batman or any other hero he comes across.

More recently, Bat-Mite showed up as a possible figment of Batman’s imagination when he adopted his Zur-En-Arrh personality during BATMAN R.I.P. by Grant Morrison. Most recently, Mite starred in his own miniseries during the DCYou era of the New 52, causing mischief for heroes such as Hawkman, Booster Gold, and the Inferior Five.

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April Fool #4: The Inferior Five

Speaking of the Inferior Five, they’re our next April Fools. The team first appeared in SHOWCASE #62 by E. Nelson Bridwell and Joe Orlando. First conceived as an obvious joke team, their members included Merryman (a circa-late-60s Woody Allen pastiche who dressed as a jester), Awkwardman (superhuman strength and clumsiness), Blimp (the power to fly at incredibly slow speeds), White Feather (an incredibly cowardly archer) and Dumb Bunny (an unfortunate dumb blonde stereotype who has the intelligence of a small child and super strength).

The Inferior Five lived on Earth-12 and tried to fight evil. They battled in the Oz-Wonderland War with Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew. They made multiple appearances both in their own short-lived series and in guest appearances.

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SHOWCASE #62. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Eventually, they faded into obscurity, and where there’s a nearly-forgotten Silver Age DC character, Grant Morrison isn’t far behind. Morrison brought Merryman to the pages of ANIMAL MAN, where he served as the titular character’s guide to Comic Book Limbo. Eventually, INFINITE CRISIS erased the Inferior Five from reality, and Merryman became a mere concept forced to remain in Limbo forever.

During the FINAL CRISIS, Superman met Merryman in Limbo, and they fought side by side against the realm’s destruction. Much later, in the New 52 BAT-MITE series, the Inferior Five were somewhat redeemed by writer Dan Jurgens. The biggest change he made was to make Dumb Bunny into Tough Bunny. She dresses the same, but she no longer acts like a toddler in an adult’s body.

April Fool #5: The Condiment King

First appearing in BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, our last April Fool eventually made the leap to comic books as well. His first in-universe appearance was in BIRDS OF PREY #37 by Chuck Dixon and Marcos Martin. Condiment King (AKA the amazingly named Mitchell Mayo) tried to commit crimes with a condiment gun. It shot ketchup, mustard, mayo, and relish, but at the same speed as a regular ketchup dispenser, proving a threat to few. He’s the supreme example of a joke character. In every appearance, he’s easily apprehended and rarely, if ever, provides a fight to whoever catches him.

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BIRDS OF PREY #37. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

He eventually showed up in the Rebirth universe in Tom King’s BATMAN series as yet another joke character. Condiment King escapes Arkham before Batman and Catwoman easily apprehend him. He was last seen in a somewhat larger role in the pages of HARLEY QUINN.

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April Fools!

As you can see, DC is chock full of humorous heroes as well as bizarre villains. From Condiment King to Section 8, they’re all pretty ridiculous to varying degrees. We only scraped the surface, though, and there are many more to discover! Which are your favorites?

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