?Call me crazy, but I love a good pun. Samuel Johnson called them “the lowest form of humor.” To that, I say, “More like Samuel Lameson.” Okay, that wasn’t that remarkable, but like so-bad-it’s-good movies, truly great puns simply get the laugh juices flowing over their sheer genius/awfulness. Warren Peace from the amazing but often-underrated film “Sky High,” which also boasts the priceless line “the cafeteria staff requests sidekicks stop ordering hero sandwiches,” embodies the perfectly punny naming tradition long held in pages of comics. Like Ranger Park, the park ranger, from Futurama or pretty much every single character on Disney’s Kim Possible, some of the best puns in pop culture come from characters whose names walk that fine line between a wink and nod to the audience and a drop kick to the face with absurdity.
The comic book heroes and villains on this list all hold names that make you grin with glee at their whimsical brilliance. Each name hints at the character’s power or backstory in a way that not so much breaks the fourth wall as playfully gives it an elbow nudge — and here’s Topless Robot’s 10 favorites.
10) Rex Sloan, Rex Splode
?Robert Kirkman’s Invincible holds within its pages a few characters that sport pun-tacular superhero names — including Atom Eve and Dupli-Kate. But when Rex Splode burst onto the scene in the series’ second issue, he caused an explosion of laughter over the sheer ridiculous awesomeness of his name. The guy gains the power to blow himself up and he actually chooses to name himself Rex Splode? You both hate him and love him for it. It’s surprising supervillains even stand a chance. You think’d while they’re chuckling at his name he’d take the opportunity to explode their faces off.
9) Julio Richter, Rictor
?Created by Louise and Walt Simonson in 1987, occasional X-Man Julio Esteban Richter was born with the uncanny mutant ability to cause earthquakes. Granted, having the exact same last name as the person in which the scale to measure the magnitude of earthquakes was named seems like one hell of a coincidence, but I guess that’s why he chose the codename Rictor? Because it sort of sounds like Richter, but not quite? Really though, that just makes it seem as if he can’t spell. Either way it’s better than if they went with something like Julio McQuakerson.
8) Allen Adam, Captain Atom
?Often times in comics you see characters with captain in their name, but Allen Adam actually worked his way up the ladder to gain the title as a military officer as a Charlton Comics character (later acquired by DC). All this happened, of course, before he gained his atomic powers, but talk about luck. His military rank already grants him the name Captain Adam and then he accidentally gets powers related to energy and atom manipulation? It’s like destiny thought to itself, “Captain Adam, eh? You know what’d be hilarious…”
7) Harleen Quinzel, Harley Quinn
?Besides being one of the most entertaining and psychotically adorable characters in comics, Dr. Harleen Quinzel also wins at the game of comic life for her side-splittingly comical nom de guerre. The character lampshades her own name by early on acknowledging its similarity to harlequin before her mental break, but that still doesn’t diminish its creativity. Add in the jokes that come with the name Harley (she herself asks the Joker to “rev up his Harley”) and you get one of the most punnish names in comic history.
6) Jubilation Lee, Jubilee
?Well, congratulations, Jubilee. You did it. You finally managed to make your way onto a list not about terrible and ridiculous characters. Jubilation Lee, the X-woman with the power to shoot fireworks. Jesus. You were created just for that joke. Go ahead and celebrate — with your damned fireworks power — and then get back in the X-Mansion basement where you belong.
5) Edward Nygma, The Riddler
?Like a riddle itself, in order to get the joke of Edward Nigma you first have to solve the puzzle. And in that moment, you can’t help but grin at the brilliance of Bill Finger when he created what became one of Batman’s most recognizable foes. Unfortunately, the cinematic gem Batman Forever committed the cardinal sin of puns by having Batman not only explain the joke, but explain it in excruciating detail. “Mr. E… Mystery… Enigma… Mr. E. Nigma… Edward Nigma!” Thanks, Bruce. We got it.
4) Julian Gregory Day, Calendar Man
?Apparently, after creating the Riddler, Finger wanted to top himself with a new Batman villain, and just said, “Fuck it. Let’s do this,” and then created Julian Gregory Day — the Calendar Man. Good lord. He actually managed to cram in a calendar reference into every part of the character’s name. However, things took a turn toward the ridiculous as Day’s whole gimmick revolves around crimes committed on specific days and often while dressed in holiday themed costumes. Awesome as your name is, you lose all credibility the moment you knock over a Hallmark on Valentine’s Day dressed as Cupid.
3) The Big Bad Wolf, Bigby Wolf
?As if Fables wasn’t awesome enough, writer Bill Willingham decided to give one of his characters a play on names that simply blew the house down. When the Big Bad Wolf of legend came over to the mundane world, he decided to make his human name Bigby Wolf. Pure. Genius. It’s so good, it makes you immediately side with him against those asshole little pigs because no one with that awe-inspiring a sense of humor could be all that bad. Add in the fact that he single-handedly bitch slapped the Adversary, and we’re pretty sure at this point the B in Big B stands for badass.
2) Frank Einstein, Madman
?Obviously, the Madman part isn’t a pun; it’s just accurate. But when you reanimate an unidentified corpse who’s got bluish-green skin and you need to give him a name? Obviously, you name him after your artistic and intellectual heroes: famous lounge singer Frank Sinatra and legendary physicist Albert Einstein. What? No joke here. Carry on, people.
1) Scott Free, Mr. Miracle
?Jack Kirby, you magnificent bastard. Already one of the greatest comic creators in existence, Kirby once again showed the world his terrifying genius when he created the character of Mr. Miracle as part of his Fourth World epic. Kirby bestowed upon his creation the power to escape from anything and the single most brilliant punny name in the history of everything, everywhere. That name? Scott. Free. It’s just too perfect. It’s everything a good pun should be–simple, to the point, and goddamn hilarious. He should have that shit printed on business cards. “You were trapped in a box, tied in a straight jacket with your hands cuffed behind your back while fighting Darkseid! How’d you get away?” “Scott Free.” Grin. Hand business card. Walk away.