FW Presents: Morts!

The Network All-Stars get together to talk about MORTS - comics characters who were never ready for prime time - a suggestion from Patreon supporter Chris Lewis. Join Siskoid, Shagg, Ryan and Chris on their wild ride through dud-ville as they seek to explain - and redeem! - their favorites.

Relevant images and further credits at: Morts! Supplemental

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37 responses to “FW Presents: Morts!

  1. Fun episode gents! This should be a recurring theme. I love the Morts. You know someone is a dyed in the wool comic book lover when they have a list favorite Morts.
    Shagg, if you haven’t already read them, track down Marvel Fanfare 31 & 32. It’s a two part Captain America story written by JM Dematteis, guest starring Frog-Man. It is without a doubt Frog-Man’s greatest moment!!!
    My own personal favorites,
    The villain Paragon from Justice League of America 224. He had a great look and a great power. In my opinion he had great potential as a recurring DCU villain.
    As for hero, Frog-Man’s former teammate Ollie Osnick The Spectacular Spider-Kid and later, The Steel Spider. He had a really cool look as Steel Spider! Too bad he ran afoul of Scorpion/Venom.
    Also, Captain America’s pal D-Man.

    1. I assumed none of you laughed because it was too plausible, and you were trying to remember if there really was a Gymkata in Suicide Squad. I know I was.

    2. I want a gymkata minute show – just to hear the explanation of a pommel horse placed in the middle of the town square

  2. Great episode and great group of morts.

    I find the Frogman story compelling because I think that 80% of the comic fans I know own that issue. And almost all of them admit it is because the White Rabbit cover caught their eye. Indeed, it is in my collection.

    My favorite mort is The Purple Piledriver, a villain from the 70s and 80s Superman books who would run into things with his head and demolish them. He clearly has no shot against Superman but he keeps trying.

    Loving these Patreon shows and the wild suggestions.

  3. That was delightful. Frankly, if this episode had finished and nobody had celebrated the glory of Razorback, I’d have been straight round FW HQ and started flipping over tables. Chris saved all your arses.

    Second-place Mort for me might be D-Man – always my favourite of Cap’s fugitive team during Gruenwald’s Cap No More storyline. Physically the most powerful of them all, but unsure of himself, had a heart condition and was quite ineffective. Plus he had a costume that was a garish rip-off of both Wolverine and Daredevil. But man, I loved that big soft lummox.

  4. Ultimate Mort to me was The Monitor.

    Arms dealer? Secret helper for the good guys? Guy just set up to die?

    Hell, he makes Slipknot look like Deadshot!

  5. Frog-Man was clearly made to be a goofy character, so he’s immediately disqualified. Mort-ness is like a cult movie– the audience decides, not the filmmaker.

    Among the things I’m known for is supporting Martian Manhunter’s extended cast and New Bloods. Take your pick.

    Marvel Comics were pretty much always a shared universe, but especially once Stan Lee wrote everything. It all “matters” and is part of one large continuity, so there’s greater value in every character and concept. DC Comics barely has continuity of any kind before Marvel, and has spent its entire existence since nursing an inferiority complex about not being Marvel. You can’t redeem your Morts if you can’t accept the presence of uncool things because you’re terrified of being seen as uncool, and overt self-consciousness is inherently uncool.

  6. Loved this episode guys. It’s very difficult to define a mort in comics as there are so many characters who have failed on so many levels so many times. Even some of my favourites have had many a failed series. Are Cloak and Dagger morts? They have repeatedly failed to sell. What abou

    1. Lost that mid sentence…

      I was going to say what about Green Arrow or Silver Surfer or Aquaman or Spider-Woman or Firestorm or Dr Fate or any of the other big names that have failed to sell repeatedly. They could be defined as morts. I do like the element in your definition that they have to be obscure enough that they are not brought back. I have a few favourites that I wish we could see more of. My absolute favourite mort is Crimson Daffodil from the Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger. He was clearly introduced as a joke character but I feel he has so much potential. I’m probably entirely alone in this assessment.

  7. This was fun, and I concur with those who said you could do it again. For clarification, a few more definitions of the word “mort” follow.

    1) In hunting, the note sounded on a horn when the quarry is killed

    2) In fighter pilot speak, a pilot who dies in combat — or simulated dies in simulated combat, e.g., “Dunker was a mort in the first five minutes. He’s already back in the squadron debriefing.”

    3) Fourth of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels and the first to focus on the character Death

    4) A three-year-old salmon (I kid you not. I was as surprised as you are. No, I don’t know the etymology.)

    See also mort de rire, the source of French texting abbreviation “MDR,” or “died laughing” (Siskoid can tell us if that’s in use on our side of the Atlantic.)

    1. We say it, but I don’t have friends who LOL like that. I don’t represent the whole of French-speaking America.

      Another definition of note is that in certain card games, a dummy or useless card is called a mort.

      1. Thanks. The card definition is familiar, now that you say it.

        >”I don’t represent the whole of French-speaking America.”
        What about you AND Bass? Because if you told me something was generally true about French-speaking America, I’d be inclined to believe it (despite your improv talents). If Bass then confirmed it, I’d have to assume it was as certain as death and taxes. You’ve already discredited old Alpha Flight comics, and I don’t really have an abundance of other sources.*

        *I would never put serious money on what the OHOTMU girls told me, because there would always be a possibility they were just messing with me. And I guess I would trust Caillou cartoons, but it’s been a long time since my kids watched those, and I didn’t retain much.

        1. Well, we’re all Acadians, and that means our reality is very different from someone living in Quebec. We mix French and English as a matter of course, so naturally adopted English texting norms. Quebec, I don’t know. The French really wanted all their own cyberspeak and that stuff is just unnatural to our ears (which is reverso logic because they use a lot of English words while we use what they call “Canadianisms”, and then Quebec is the place that found a legal need to translate “hamburger” and “hot dog” – I guess a different person is in charge of the cyber stuff at the Académie).

          1. All I remembered about Acadians from school was that some of them settled in southern Louisiana, so I just spent a few minutes looking up the history of your people. I see our Cajuns came by their self-reliance and independent-mindedness honestly.

          2. After the Deportation, Acadians too far South to ever make it back on foot (in the Caribbean for example) went to Louisiana because it was Spanish territory and thus Catholic. Acadian—‘Cadian—Cajun, fun how language works.

  8. Impressive podcast. Most impressive. Let’s see my favette mort’s.

    1. The Head Hunter. She’s an Albino with bright red hair. And she wares a suit and is very rich and can make those whom lost it all. She can remake their fortune… how ever to get that. She gets to put their head on a wall. Leading up To Namor. When his girl friend at the time her brother needed Head Hunter’s help. So Namor agrees to let his head on the wall. This Pisses off Namorita. Shocking. Turns out she didn’t kill the people on the wall.

    Their put in suspended animation And just in the wall behind it. Any way she frees Namor and they beat the head hunter. She’s a descent villan. And created by John Byrne. When he was doing his run on Namor, Right after his run on She-Hulk… so at the height of his fame…. and no one remembers her…so mort.

    2. The Wrath…. ok every one knows him. Still the opposite of Bat Man kind of cool.

    3. Manslaughter an assassins’ whom joins the Defenders. That can mess up Moon Dragons mind. ] Manslaughter has minor psionic talents, telepathic powers enabling him to perceive the activity of the autonomic nervous systems of other people. He can use this to influence the peripheral vision and subliminal hearing of others, making him invisible and virtually inaudible from a person’s peripheral senses.

    4. Ruby Thursday. The woman has a ruby for a head that she turns into what ever she wants. And she chose to do this to her self. And she was created by Steve Gerber.

    5. Nosfaratia Kind of a Bat Man joke in the She-Hulk right when the 89 movie came out. Also a John Bryne character. A warped version of Bats Movie bit.

    6. The Phantom Blonde. The daughter of the Blonde Phantom. Wanda Louise Mason, Kevin Maguire Even drew the cover to her first appearance. She-Hulk #23 She didn’t have any powers, but she was a decent hero. Good enough for Jen to let her team up with her. Steve Gerber made her the Phantom Blonde. Since he was writing the comic at the time after Bryne left for a bit.

    7. She-Hulk 2. This lady’s name is Lyra. She’s from a diffrent future. Ware the Hulk’s DNA is mixed with Thundra’s And brought back to modern time ware Jen kind of raises her, As the work for SHEILD and she goes to high school. And she kind of working for Bruce…sort of.

  9. For more capoeira, you want the Marc Dascasos classic Only The Strong.

    Red Dart fought Air Wave and the Atom in an Action backup.

    Am I the only one that hears the Muppets as the backup singers in Convoy?

  10. I remember Shag’s cross-country mort discussion. It was the first time I heard the term and my first exposure to almost everybody on that podcast!
    Ryan’s choice I had never heard of or consciously noticed.
    SIskoid’s choice made me recall their initial appearance in World’s Finest. I remembered nothing about the story except the bizarre cover. I tried really hard to like the post-Dollar Comic World’s Finest. It was too disappointing.
    Shag’s choice I know about only because of Fire and Water shows. I think discussions of Eugene Frog on the network are second only to discussions of Dr. Fate’s First Issue Special.
    Ah, but Chris, hit me in the sweet spot! Razorback appeared in a title I was buying at an age before I was cynical! I had been buying comics for just over a year. I was 13. I thought Razorback (the meaning of which I was unaware, not being a college sports fan) was another legit Marvel hero. I have always LOVED that bit where he picks a fight with Spidey because he thought that’s what super-heroes do! He must’ve read Marvel comics. I had difficulty getting into Marvel in the late 70s, mostly because of all the cross-referential stories. Some writers did it better than others. Mantlo was hit and miss for me in this story. i.e., Flash Thompson’s backstory refers to events in Amazing Spider-Man from more than five years previous. The Hate Monger’s backstory refers to Fantastic Four stories from about ten years previous, and then refers to Warlock stories, in a title that wasn’t called Warlock, from a few years earlier. At least Razorback showed up clean. It was easy to latch onto him.
    In trying to cast my mind back to those days of re-reading the few comics I had, like PPTSS, rather than reading a comic once after I had hundreds and hundreds, like World’s FInest, I can recall a few morts. Superman could stretch a fight with The Purple Pile Driver or Karb-Brak over an issue or two, but Solarman was handily dispatched in a page! The old Teen Titans, Rozackis era, gave us the FlameSplasher twins, villains, and Golden Eagle, loser, a mort no one can like. Speaking of Teen Titans, is Mal Duncan a mort? I like Mal. Terribly underutilized. Most every issue of Spider-Woman introduced a mort. Magnus, Jerry the Fed, Turner D. Century, Scotty, Gypsy Moth…
    Great discussion! Thanks, Patreon people!

    1. Mal SHOULDN’T be considered a Mort, because he was DC’s first black hero. He predates John Stewart by several years, even if he was rarely given much respect over the years.


      1. The second issue of The Other History of the DC Universe focuses on Mal and Bumblebee (Karen). My thanks to Martin Gray and I think others podcasting and commenting on this network for getting me to pick up that series.

    2. Seriously, if you’re at all interested in Mal, do not miss The Other History of the DC Universe #2 from a couple of months ago. Writer John Ridley and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli re-present Mal’s comic history through the testimonies of the man himself and wife Bumblebee. A couple of things are tweaked, but basically it’s all ‘true’ comics history, and it’s gorgeous to look at, to boot.

  11. This was a fun episode, everyone! It was really great to hear you talk about some silly characters, but with such joy in your voices. I could tell you enjoyed talking about these characters as much as I enjoyed listening to it!

    To me, a mort is a character that may have potential, but is ruined by a silly costume or gimmick. I agree with Ryan, these characters are severely out-classed by whomever their nemesis is. I also agree with Siskoid about them being underdogs and, if I may say, they are also the nerds of the comic book universe. They are us and so we root for them.

    I giggled to the cover of World’s Finest with Null and Void where the tagline explicitly says, “Two new super-foes you won’t forget!”

    To me, I encountered a lot of morts in Spider-Man comics; Kangaroo, Spot, Will o’ the Wisp, Ramrod, and Slyde. But on the DC side, to me, no one says mort like Rainbow Raider.

    This was tons of fun. I would love to hear another episode with more of your morts! Keep up the great work!

    P.S. – Marvel, hire Chris for your Razorback voice!

  12. Thanks for a terrific show, although I initially misread that it was about your favourite Marts. Still, lovely Chris gave me a mention.

    Top choice of morts. I do disagree with Shag that the original Dr Light fits the category. In the Sixties he wasn’t a Teem Titans villain, he was a big foe of the Justice League and individual heroes. He lost, yes, but so did every villain. It was only much, much later that writers decided he was a joke – really, the only embarrassment about being crushed by the Teen Titans is if you buy into a narrative that they were rubbish.

    Suicide Squad is the redemption centre for morts – only this week Film Freak from Eighties Batman shows up in the new Suicide Squad comic (see my blog for thoughts on that one!).

    I’ve never come across Black Canary’s Copoeira but he looks awesome. Okay, the cape isn’t very practical for his fighting style, but the colour scheme of the design – wonderful. I do like Trevor Von Eeden designs, this chap reminds me a little of his Count Vertigo. You can’t go wrong with puffy sleeves (see also Firestorm and Firebrand I). I could see Copoeira working extremely well on DCTV, where his dance fighting style would sing – as pointed out in the show, on the comics page his craft is touch to get across.

    I rather liked the final couple of years of World’s Finest – okay the last issue was horribly depressing, but before that there was an outburst of creativity in terms of characters and art styles.

    So will I choose WFC’s Swordfish & Barracuda, Executrix, Cathode or Sonik as my mort? Nah, let’s go back further, to Adventure Comics #414, and Supergirl’s encounter with Vortex! Created by Len Wein and Bob Oksner, he could control centrifugal force, and had a costume with concentric circles. He was Count Vertigo before Count Vertigo, but was more powerful besides. He could create waterspouts, tornados and earthquakes… surely he could have become a recurring villain for Kara, even the name was splendid (so good it was nicked by Zebra Man and a John Byrne Doom Patrol no-mark).

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