Top 10 Bug-Themed Comic Book Characters– Geek Culture Countdown Podcast!
On this episode, the Geek Culture Countdown is crawling your way with a list of the Top 10 Bug-Themed Comic Book Characters. While many people might see them as pests, these characters have infested popular culture by crawling, flying, and stinging their way into our hearts!
We’re taking a peek into geek culture and counting off our Top 10 fandom favorites. Let Your Geek SideShow presents… Geek Culture Countdown!
In this bi-weekly podcast, we’re picking topics from across all of fandom- best catchphrases, top telepaths, coolest hero headquarters, and more! Join us as we count down a curated list of geek culture notables, and see if any of your favorites made the list!
This week, we are buzzing with excitement to bring you the Top 10 Bug-Themed Comic Book Characters. These heroes and villains take their names from any number of crawling, stinging, and flying insects that may be small in stature, but are big on power. While many people might see them as pests, these characters have infested popular culture with the help of additional films and television series bringing them to the spotlight beyond their comic book origins.
Follow along to find out if your favorite creepy crawlies made their way into this super-powered swarm. Let’s get started!
HM: Spider-Man, Scorpion, Black Widow, The Tick (Arachnids)
In the interest of keeping this list focused and fair, we elected to leave out any arachnid-themed character, including every hero with spider, scorpion, or tick powers. That left out notables like the entire Spider-Verse of Marvel characters, as well as Spider-Woman and Black Widow, the humor character The Tick, and villains like Scorpion. What follows is just a list of typical bugs, or “insect” characters.
These creepy crawlies might make their way into another podcast in the future, so stay tuned!
10) Ambush Bug
Ambush Bug, whose real name is apparently Irwin Schwab, is a delusional character who was created in parody of many famous superhero tropes at the time. He was introduced in DC Comics Presents #52 as Brum-El of the doomed planet Schwab. Ala Superman’s origin, he sent his clothes off-world in hopes of saving them, but a radioactive space spider intercepted the escape pod. All that remained of Brum-El’s wardrobe was the Ambush Bug suit and Argh!Yle!, an argyle sock with a god complex.
Ambush Bug was originally a villain, capable of teleporting anywhere in the known DC Comics Multiverse. His suit also contains robot bugs and provides him some degree of protection. He eventually becomes a hero of sorts, though many of the characters in his supporting cast are also parodies of other famous superhero stories. This bizarre character is even plagued by Jonni DC, who polices DC Comics continuity and punishes Ambush Bug for breaking canon.
Originally debuting in the Micronauts comic series based on the collectible toy line, Bug was first known as Galactic Warrior. Since he did not actually resemble the Micronauts toy with that name, he was changed to Bug and became an original Marvel character, who featured in over 70 issues of Micronauts comics, before appearing in Captain Marvel, Annihilation, and Guardians of the Galaxy books.
Bug is an agile fighter who channels many of his powers through his helmet, which grants him greater visibility through the red bug-like lenses. His antennae allow him to communicate with other antennae-having creatures, and he can cling to walls. James Gunn even revealed that Bug was in an early script draft for the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, since he joined the team in the comics in 2010.
The pyromaniac Garfield Lynns, better known as the Firefly, is a DC Comics criminal who received a revamp following DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. Firefly began as a criminal who played with lighting and visual effects to successfully pull off robberies, but in the dark reimagining he became a sociopathic, core member of Batman’s rogues gallery, though not nearly as popular as the other Gotham City villains.
Firefly wears a fireproof battle suit and is always equipped with a flamethrower, incendiary ammunition, and explosive agents. He compulsively sets fires, and once burned himself in a chemical explosion before having developed his protective costume. Lynns also uses a jetpack for high-speed flight and quick getaways.
7) Killer Moth
Killer Moth was once an unsuccessful small-time criminal named Drury Walker, who adopted the persona of a millionaire philanthropist named Cameron van Cleer to befriend Bruce Wayne. Under his Killer Moth persona, he then went head-to-head with Batman and Robin using his weaponry like an infrared Moth Signal and his Mothmobile.
The character debuted in 1951, but was largely seen as a joke, portrayed in most appearances as incompetent and dressed in a bright purple, green, and orange costume. While he himself has no inherent superpowers, he uses tech like a cocoon gun that fires sticky threads, and he was once metamorphosized into a giant part-moth creature with wings, an exoskeleton, and acid spit. He has appeared in numerous animated series like The Batman and Teen Titans and was even in an episode of the live-action 1960s Batman show that never aired.
Though her powers are not typically insect-themed, Mantis has a bug codename and an alien appearance that includes antennae and green skin. Though not every version appears this way, Mantis undeniably has origins in insect-theming. Mantis actually debuted in Marvel Comics, but appeared in DC Comics as a character named Willow, and then in Eclipse and Image comics as Lorelei. She is an expert martial artist and is believed to be the Celestial Madonna by a Kree sect called the Priest of Pama.
Her powers of empathy allow her to mentally influence many types of life, especially as seen in the MCU with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In addition, she has complete meditational control over her body and its various autonomic functions, and can separate her physical and astral forms to project her consciousness across space. Mantis is extremely powerful and should not be underestimated.
Mantis was also featured in our Top 10 Plant-Powered Comic Book Characters episode!
Karen Beecher-Duncan debuted in 1976 in the Teen Titans series, and also became a prominent member of the Doom Patrol. At the time of her premiere, she was the girlfriend of Mal Duncan, also known as the Herald, a member of the Teen Titans at the time. Karen was a scientist and devised a bee-themed supersuit in order to help her boyfriend look good in front of his team- she then attacked the Titans, escaped, and returned later to explain her plan. The Teen Titans offered her membership and she and the Herald moved to the Titans West team.
Bumblebee has the power to shrink to insect-size and her solar powered suit has wings that enable flight, and she can unleash electrical stings. She was a prominent member of the Teen Titans cartoon, as well as Young Justice and DC Super Hero Girls. Bumblebee is often considered the first black woman superhero from DC Comics, but she also shares the distinction with Nubia, Wonder Woman’s sister who debuted in 1973, but who is considered less of a traditional superhero than Bumblebee.
Yellowjacket is a supervillain moniker that has been utilized by several people in the Marvel Universe, including Hank Pym, Rita DeMara, and most recently Darren Cross. Cross is the archenemy of Scott Lang, the second bearer of the Ant-Man mantle. This change was not introduced into the comics until Darren Cross became Yellowjacket in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Beyond the use of his Yellowjacket suit, Cross is a scientist and businessman, having founded the million-dollar Cross Technological Enterprises corporation.
After acquiring both an enhanced pacemaker and a Pym Particle-infused heart during a transplant, Cross became strong, agile, and able to shift his size. While this was uncontrollable at first, his associate Egghead developed the Yellowjacket suit, which enabled size control as well as electrical “sting” discharges and flight.
3) Blue Beetle
Blue Beetle is an identity used by three different heroes across the years since 1939- the original being a man named Dan Garrett, created by Fox Comics and later Charlton Comics. He gained superpowers including flight and energy blasts from a sacred scarab and had both his own comic series and a weekly radio serial. The second and most well-known Blue Beetle was also created by Charlton Comics, later taken over by DC Comics.
Ted Kord was folded into the DC Comics universe during the Crisis on Infinite Earths event, and while he has no superpowers, he has a genius intellect and utilizes themed tech including an airship called the Bug, a BB gun, sight-enhancing lenses, and a protective costume.
The third Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, returns to the origin of a mystical alien scarab that gives the new crimefighter a suit of extraterrestrial armor that enables flight, energy shields, and translation of alien languages. The Blue Beetle mythos incorporates all three men into the legacy of the name and costume, evolving over time after the property came to DC Comics.
2) The Wasp
The Wasp mantle has been used by two women in Marvel Comics, but most notably is the crimefighting name of Janet van Dyne, a socialite and founding member of the Avengers team. Janet came up with the Avengers name itself, served as the team’s chairwoman for a long time, and was even ranked the fifth greatest Avenger of all time by Marvel themselves.
The Wasp is a longtime partner of Hank Pym, also known as Ant-Man, who was spurred into heroism to avenge her father’s death at the hands of an alien entity. Janet has the power to shrink, fly with insectoid wings, and fire bioelectric energy from her fingertips thanks to the cellular implantation of Pym Particles and genetic modifications from Pym. She can also grow in size to giant proportions, but she rarely uses this power.
The second Wasp is a girl named Nadia van Dyne, the daughter of Hank Pym with Maria Trovaya, his first wife. She adopted the name Van Dyne after Janet became her adoptive mother figure, and then became the Unstoppable Wasp using her own scientific prowess to replicate the Pym Particle formula.
There have been several heroes using the name Ant-Man over the years. Most notably, Hank Pym initiated the identity, but it was also passed to Scott Lang (the Astonishing Ant-Man) and Eric O’Grady (the Irredeemable Ant-Man). Thanks to his turn in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Scott Lang has crawled his way to star status, becoming a fan-favorite hero and the #1 Bug-Themed Comic Book Character on this week’s countdown.
Scott Lang is a former thief who inherited the Ant-Man identity after quite literally stealing it. It was originally stolen from Dr. Hank Pym in order to save the life of his daughter Cassie Lang, who had a dangerous heart condition. Leaving the thieving behind, Lang took on the full-time job of being the pint-sized hero Ant-Man after being mentored by Pym. His heroic career was greatly defined by his desire to be a good father to Cassie, and the two have lost each other to death and been reunited several times across the comics.
In the MCU, Scott’s lovable hapless personality mixed with his dedication to fatherhood (and being the world’s best Grandma) shine through as he joins the Avengers as their resident Ant-Man. Though in statue he might be small, he’s the emotional heart of many missions featuring heroes like Captain America and The Wasp (Hope Van Dyne).
No matter who wears the mantle, Ant-Man is the quintessential insect themed comic book hero, making his way to the top of the hill.
So, did we pick the most interesting insects for our countdown? Or should we spray this list down and start again? If we missed someone that you think should be on the list, be sure to check out our blog and send us your opinions at [email protected].
We are proud to bring you pop culture content completely AD FREE, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need your support to help keep us going. If you enjoy the Geek Culture Countdown, please take a moment to leave us a 5-star review on your favorite podcasting platform and help spread the word about our podcast.
Be sure tune in for our other pop culture podcasts as well:
- Join comedian Jeff May and special guests as they talk geek news, nerd history, collecting, and whatever else comes up in Sideshow’s Side Show.
- Catch up with your favorite characters, concepts, and comics across the generations in Then & Now.
- Hear exclusive interviews with celebrities and pop culture industry leaders as they let their geek side show in Look Who Showed Up.
- Then, get all the latest pop culture news with our Daily Briefing, a two-minute breakdown of the biggest geek headlines perfect for your Alexa or Google news briefings.
We wouldn’t exist without your continued support. Thank you for listening, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!