Somebody--I think it was Aquaman--once noted that criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot. Which is why so many superheroes prey upon crooks’ apparent fear of the mysterious and supernatural. And let's face it, when shopping for frightening guises, a hero could do worse than flip through Mother Goose and the Brothers Grimm for inspiration, what with all those wolves and bears and diabetes-inducing candy houses. Here are a few crimefighters from The League of Regrettable Superheroes who apparantly drew on fairy tales and other fantastic literature for their personas...to varying degrees of success.
Mother Hubbard: Rather than a traditional cape-and-muscles-type superhero, the cackling, wizened Mother Hubbard was a straight-up witch of the old-fashioned variety. She came complete with pointy hat, flying broom, and a penchant for speaking in nursery rhymes. Alerted to evil by a series of startling physical alarms—her blood boils, her hair curls, her bones creak, and possibly her corns throb—Mother Hubbard divided her time between typical comic book villains (eg. vicious Nazi agents) and terrifying menaces out of a Goya painting (e.g. baby-eating ogres and cruel gnomes who pried the eyes out of children’s heads with crowbars while they slept). Not for the faint-of-heart was Mother Hubbard, but she got the job done.
The Mad Hatter: Is there anything more “mad” than wearing a hat on your chest instead of your head? At the very least, it suggests a less than devoted relationship with sanity, which may be one reason why the heroic Hatter named himself after the Lewis Carroll creation. Certainly the character's lavender bodysuit, with what appears to be rabbit-skin briefs, boots, and gloves (not to mention cape), imply he's got a screw loose. AND he chose, on occasion, to threaten crooks in forced doggerel (though he wasn't as dedicated a rhymer as Mother Hubbard). If all that wasn't enough to convince his foes that this guy might be at least a little off-kilter, at least they'd be baffled long enough for a sucker punch to the jaw.
The Vagabond Prince: Sort of prince and pauper all in one character, greeting card writer Ned Oaks was the impoverished secret heir to a swath of prime urban real estate. As is so often the case, he coped with this turn of events by creating a costumed crimefighter persona, donning togs more appropriate for a marching band than busting crooks. Along with his sidekicks Chief Justice and The Jester, The Prince enjoyed a colorful but brief career confounding criminals with pseudo-Arthurian and cod-Shakespearean blathering. (The Prince: "Odds Bodkins!" The Jester: "Faithless Varlet!" Chief Justice: "Aw, wet potato chips!")
The Black Dwarf: Whether this diminutive do-gooder was inspired by an eighth crony of Grumpy and co., or by Walter Scott’s 19th century novel of the same name, is up in the air. The one thing that isn’t up in the air is The Black Dwarf himself. Crimebuster and ex-all-American athlete Shorty Wilson stands only about five feet off the ground on a good day, but that doesn’t make him any less deadly an adversary of crime. (It doesn't make him a dwarf either, but "The Black Short Guy" lacks pizzaz.) Armed with a pair of twin automatics, garbed in a cloak and a gaucho cap, and backed by cadre of ex-crooks (like munitions expert Nitro, wall-crawling Human Fly, and Shorty’s ominously-named girlfriend Arsenic), The Black Dwarf made short work of evildoers a twice his size. And he never whistled while he worked.