Trouble with Comics, The Unluckiest Characters in Comics

The Unluckiest Characters in Comics

Friday the 13th always brings thoughts of bad luck, even to the least superstitious of us. This week we barely avoid the dreaded day, as the 13th falls on Thursday. Good luck for us. Here’s a look at some of the characters with the worst luck in the history of comics…

Uncle Ben Parker — Bucky came back. Jason Todd came back. Gwen Stacy’s clone’s had more revival tours than Kiss. But Uncle Ben? 

Despite the occasional tease — such as when writer Peter David and the late artist Mike Wieringo brought him back, kinda sorta in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, poor ol’ Ben Parker just seems to stay dead, dead, dead.

And staying in the Spider-Man mythos for a moment… 

Harry Osborn — You’d think it would be great, being the carefree son of a multi-millionaire industrialist. The chicks, the cars, the pills…oh, the pills…! 

Even better, though, when Harry’s old man — who constantly berated him for failing to live up to his expectations — died as an accidental result of his own misdeeds, Harry inherited his wealth and even his secret identity as The Green Goblin.

But, Harry failed to live up to his father’s dreams even as a supervillain, continuing to never quite reach Norman’s expectations, and finally dying, poisoned by his father’s own Goblin formula.

Even more unluckily, Harry was reborn in Marvel’s “Brand New Day” storyline, which hopefully will be retconned out of memory eventually. Like his dad, Harry is a character who never should have been brought back, as his revival creates far more questions than answers, and stinks of creative bankruptcy.

Joe Chill — Ever heard of this poor fellow? He was directly responsible for the creation of Batman. 

Now, Joe Chill lived to a ripe old age and never really suffered the fate due him for the double murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. But how unnerving would it be if Batman showed up and confronted you with the truth? 

So of course, Joe Chill did what any sensible hood responsible for the creation of every gangster’s biggest nightmare would do…he told his fellow criminals. 

And, with forgiveness and understanding, those fellow criminals thanked ol’ Joe the best way they knew how. 

He’s really chillin’ now.

And, finally, the all-time champion #1 unluckiest character in all of comicdom…

Shermy — Originally one of the stars of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, Shermy was in fact the first with a speaking role. 

Alas, over the years Shermy faded into the background along with (non-Peppermint) Patty, Violet, and other ultimately minor characters as Snoopy, Lucy and Charlie Brown came to dominate the strip. Ivan Brunetti paid tribute to Shermy in “Whither Shermy,” one of my all-time favourite comic strips (available in full-color in Schizo #4). 

I always look for Shermy to pop up at baseball games and in line for movie tickets as I read along through the decades in The Complete Peanuts, the great, ongoing reprint project from Fantagraphics Books. Alas, with the series now into the 1980s, we’re well past the point where Shermy will ever play a significant role again (his very last appearance came in 1969). It’s a sad way to end up for the guy who started the whole thing off. And people think Charlie Brown is unlucky.

Alan David Doane

Related: Shells: A Modest Proposal 

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