The 6 Dorkiest PSA One-Off Comic Characters
Comic books have been many things over the years, such as a place where corporate partnerships lead to awkward superhero tie-ins or a place where Hostess fruit pies are the be-all, end-all of the universe. One of the most fascinating types of comics are the public service announcement comics, trying to teach kids to say no to drugs or the dangers of carbon monoxide. A lot of times, these PSAs feature either the heroes talking to teens about the problem or they fight one of their classic comic book villains.
But sometimes, a brand new, PSA-specific villain is created to take on classic superheroes and that’s what we’re talking about today! The weirdest, silliest, creepiest one-off comic book villains created for ancient PSA comics!
I just thought this would be fun. Comic book professionals went to the trouble of writing and designing these characters. They’re like NFL Superpro or Combo-Man, but far less interesting or entertaining. By all accounts, these villains might even be canon. Maybe they’ll be re-used in a real, legitimate comic book one day. I can only hope. But until then, let’s check out the first and only appearances of some very educational comic book villains!
6. Myth Monster
Buckle in, because we are kicking things off with a bang here! Who is the Myth Monster, the Master of Lies? He is none other than an enemy of King Arthur himself, a creature conjured by the evil witch Morgana Le Fey! It was only through truth and honesty that King Arthur vanquished the beast, and the mighty Merlin cast him forever into an amulet prison — until some goober kid from Connecticut found the amulet and brought to show & tell one day, unleashing the Myth Monster on his school. Now free after hundreds of years of imprisonment, the Myth Monster immediately…started spreading lies about kids with disabilities. Fortunately for everyone involved, Peter Parker just happened to be at this random high school, and he helped the students and teachers understand the truth about disabilities, diseases and the like. And the truth destroyed the Myth Monster! This whole adventure was put together in collaboration with the National Association of School Nurses and the Epilepsy Foundation of America.
5. The Troglodyte
Of course comic books should be used to teach reading! Why not? The Amazing Spider-Man: Adventures in Reading was all about teaching children the importance of reading, and of course the villain was an illiterate monster called The Troglodyte. How does he come up with a name that complex if he can’t read? Not important. This feral villain stole a transporter device and chased Spider-Man and a group of school children through a bunch of classic literary stories, like the Jungle Book, War of the Worlds and, I’m pretty sure, King Arthur again. If only Merlin could have warned Spidey about the Myth Monster!
4. Professor Plaque
You best believe this one is about dentists. And again with Spider-Man swooping in to save the day! Apparently, the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing is afraid to go to the dentist. Which, honestly, makes sense. Ben Grimm grew up on the mean blocks of Yancy Street, what does he know about routine visits to the dentist? Especially now that he’s the Thing. Does he even have normal human teeth? Well Spider-Man and the rest of the Fantastic Four show the Thing that it’s totally safe to go for a cleaning — until the dentist is kidnapped by the evil Professor Plaque, who doesn’t want children to learn about proper dental hygiene…so he kidnaps one singular dentist. Not a great plan. Our heroes rally and save that one, lone dentist and the day is saved.
3. Asthma Monster
I lied. Not all of these characters are one-offs. Some of them, like the Asthma Monster, have made at least two appearances to trouble our favorite superheroes with their weirdly specific villain identities! The Asthma Monster has twice come to trouble Captain America (thankfully leaving Spider-Man alone this time). Like all classic Scooby Doo villains, the Asthma Monster is actually just a disgruntled guy in a weird suit. And he’s created an “Aller-Gun”, which he uses to give people asthma. That’s pretty hardcore. The only people spared are two kids in Midville who already have asthma, and their medication saved them. So they team up with Captain America to take down the Asthma Monster by blasting him with inhalers. Absolutely. The villain reveals that he suffered from Asthma as a kid and wanted the whole world to know what it felt like. Comics are always trying to make their villains relatable.
And wouldn’t you know it, the Asthma Monster returned only a couple years later for a second PSA! Broken out of jail by the Allergen Gang, the villain sought revenge on the kids who put him away last time. But Cap came back and once again they all blasted the Monster and the Allergen Gang with more inhalers, defeating them for good. Then a doctor showed up and helped the Asthma Monster — real name Daniel Tyler — develop an actual, medically-advised treatment plan for his asthma. It worked so well that the Parole Board apparently forgave his prison break and let him finish his sentence as community service. The former Asthma Monster gets a job coaching a children’s swim team, because apparently he’s a good role model?
2. The Prodigy
And with that, we’re back to Spider-Man comics. Because apparently he’s a real popular hero. Who knew? So anyway, Spider-Man takes on The Prodigy, an alien posing as a human to convince teenagers to have unprotected sex so that he can get an army of newborn baby laborers for his home planet. Why not just kidnap the teens? You’re clearly not thinking like an alien conquerer. The Prodigy has persuasion powers using his voice, and he uses that to convince teens that teen pregnancy and STIs aren’t so bad. So get to knockin’ boots, kids! He even takes them back to his sex mansion on his sex helicopter, which Spidey spots and stows aboard, seeing as how he’s very suspicious of some horny teens climbing into a helicopter. Spider-Man put a stop to the villain’s schemes by shooting webbing down his throat to cancel his powers. And that’s not graphic at all.
Smokescreen is another villain so heinous that he required multiple appearances — and multiple heroes! The combined might of Spider-Man, Storm and Luke Cage were required to take down Smokescreen, a villain able to emit a smoky, noxious gas to harm young athletes. He’s also both a smoker and possibly a Nazi? Way back in the early 1980s, Luke Cage, the superhero, was also coaching a high school track team, as a superhero. When one of his runners started acting weird, Cage teamed up with Storm and Spider-Man to tail him and find out he’d started smoking. But unlike a normal teen who picks up smoking to look cool, this kid was under the sway of the villainous, tobacco-themed villain Smokescreen, complete with a ridiculous 1980’s costume and an “SS” logo on his chest. Yeah, possible Nazi. Smokescreen intended to take over the mafia by fixing high school track & field events. Not exactly the best villain plan.
But the American Cancer Society was not about to let a good idea go to waste…or a good script, apparently. Smokescreen was given a full 90s makeover for a return appearance in the late 1990s, ditching his Tobacco Nazi outfit for something sleeker. But what he didn’t ditch was the script. Apparently, Marvel took the exact same script from the 1980s comic and just hired some 90s artists to redraw the whole thing. So we’ve got 1980’s-level cheesy dialogue and scripting with extreme 1990’s art, all so that Luke Cage, Storm and Spider-Man could once again teach high school track & field runners not to smoke. Because I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.