The Situation: Say the word hero and certain images immediately pop into your head. The square jaw. The broad shoulders. Deltoids of compassion. Abs of being kind. But hey, let’s be honest, the dashing good looking heroes are pretty much a dime a dozen. Superman, Captain America, James Bond, Luke Skywalker–I’m not casting doubt on whether or not they’re heroic, all I’m saying is that if you line them all up next to each other, they kind of start to blend together. I think that’s why I’ve always been more of a fan of the ugly or freakish hero.
The Criteria: With the exception of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I think the notion that a monstrous character could be a hero didn’t really take off until the early ’60s when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby cranked out characters like The Hulk and The Thing. Since then, pop culture has welcomed heroes who, on a good day, would make a baby cry just by looking at them. Some are more grotesque than others. I thought about including Hank “Beast” McCoy or Gar “Beast Boy” Logan, but I realized that they’re really just more or less regular dudes who happen to be a bit fuzzy (and blue and green, respectively). The four guys on this list will need more than an EPILADY to make People‘s Sexiest Man Alive issue.
1. Ben Grimm, a.k.a. The Thing
Probably the first of the modern “monster heroes”, The Thing has spawned numerous imitators, impostors, homages, and satires. Sure, he’s a pretty big deal in the Marvel Universe, but he still feels the pangs of not being able to “fit in.” What’s more, he’s the only one on the team who can’t turn his powers off, a fact that Johnny rarely lets him forget.
The hulking and disfigured Vlad serves as sidekick, bodyguard, and big brother to Slasher-hunter Cassie Hack. Despite his appearance, which he tries to hide behind a gas mask, Vlad has a big heart and an overall childlike and naive demeanor.
3. Kurt Wagner, a.k.a. Nightcrawler
When you’re born looking like a furry blue devil, there’s not much hope in fitting in. But, his childhood in the circus taught Kurt to be himself. He stopped using the hologram inducer that Professor Xavier gave him to “look normal” because he didn’t want to hide who he really is. Whether he’s a happy-go-lucky, sword-wielding swashbuckler or an ordained Roman Catholic priest, Kurt’s the moral and compassionate center of whatever team he’s on.
Come on. Look at the cards stacked against poor HB. He’s over six feet tall, weighs several hundred pounds, has bright red skin, cloven feet, horns, and a tail. And, as if all that didn’t make him stand out, do you see that right hand of his?