The Inferior Five are the progeny and heirs of the Freedom Brigade, a team of costumed adventurers of an alternate earth, Earth-Twelve, from before the Crisis on Infinite Earths. After the Brigade retired, they pressed their children into following their legacy using their gifts and powers, a task they only followed halfheartedly.
After nearly 20 years of peace, thanks to the Freedom Brigade eradicating crime in Megalopolis, a new villain, Dr. Gruesome, surfaced. Mayor Boswell summoned the Brigade from retirement, but the Patriot and Lady Liberty took the opportunity to contact their former teammates to encourage their children to follow in the superhero business. Using the Freedom Brigade's former headquarters as a base, the five new heroes, after much struggle, manage to defeat Dr. Gruesome, albeit by almost pure chance.
The new team quickly learned that many of their skills clashed and left them incredibly ineffective. They were initially well-received by the public, thanks in large part to their famous parentage, earning plaques and Awkwardman being interviewed about his father's origins. Originally intending to call themselves the Fearsome Five, the people of Megalopolis mockingly called them the "Inferior Five", a name they came to embrace, much to Merryman's chagrin. In spite of this, they often were victorious, usually out of sheer luck. Most other members of the superhero community looked down on them, some even attempting to replace them as the de facto heroes of Megalopolis, such as the Kookie Quartet and the Cobweb Kid.
The Dean of an Academy for Superheroes contacted the five to act as teachers for his super-powered students. The students, with the exception of Levitation Lass, rebelled, refusing to listen to the Inferior Five. After dealing with a villain attack (Awkwardman and the Atavast Angel Fish sneaking off together), the Inferior Five instead contacted the Freedom Brigade to fill in the teaching positions, enacting much more disciplinary actions on the rowdy students.
Only a few of their adventures were documented involving the old foes of their parents, a visit to Asgard to meet the Norse Gods, where they befriended Thor, and even a trip back in time where they met Merryman's ancestor, the Crimson Chrysanthemum.  Often times, they stumbled upon criminals involuntarily while either searching for possible base locations or living their day-to-day lives.
During the Crisis, moments before Earth-Twelve was destroyed with the rest of the multiverse, the Monitor rescued who and what he could from various surviving Earths, the Inferior Five among those. When the Anti-Monitor's Shadow Demons attacked, the Inferior Five were seen behind Lois Lane reporting on the events, just before Dove was slain. It's possible that the extent of the Crisis was never explained to them, as they encounter Captain Carrot of the Zoo Crew, asking if they can get to Earth-12 from there.
Dumb Bunny was later reunited with her half-sister, Angel O'Day, a detective of the Angel and the Ape detective agency. Discovering a plot by Gorilla Grodd, she called in the rest of her team to help. During a confrontation, she was seemingly killed by the gorilla, and imprisoned with Angel, Merryman and White Feather.
White Feather told Angel that Merryman had feelings for Athena, but swore Blimp, Awkwardman and himself to secrecy. Athena was later revealed to have only been paralyzed, and they managed to escape and defeat Gorilla Grodd. After Sam Simeon used the Green Glob to heal her, she and Merryman began a romantic relationship.
However, because Earth-Twelve was erased during the Crisis, the Inferior Five and all of their exploits were forgotten, and they ended up in Comic Book Limbo, a land of forgotten heroes, villains, and other characters. Here, they met Animal Man. Merryman explained that it was a land of characters waiting to be written back into continuity. They helped him escape, but remained trapped there.
During Final Crisis, Superman, Ultraman, and Captain Marvel crash along with the Ultima Thule in Limbo, where they encounter Merryman, having named himself the King of Limbo (despite it being meaningless). He leads them to the Library of Limbo which contains only one story, written by the monkey from the time Animal Man was in Limbo. As Limbo is attacked by the Dark Monitor Mandrakk's shadow demons, Merryman rallies the people of Limbo to fight, asking Superman to remember them.
Out of Time
Sometime in the future, Lightning Lad discovered a primordial black hole heading straight for Earth. He alerted Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy and they set out to recruit the Doom Patrol to help save the world. However, they ran into a number of anomalies, such as the Time Bubble changing places and a mysterious ball of fluff caught in the machinery.
These anomalies were revealed to be caused by the Legion of Substitute Heroes. Fire Lad hatched a plan to steal the Time Bubble and save the world before the Legion, so that the Substitute Heroes would get the credit. However, after Night Girl botched their time traveling, they meet the Inferior Five in 1972.
However, the two teams proved to be twice as ineffective, namely causing the Time Bubble to malfunction when Athena's tail got stuck in the machinery. They stole an earlier version of the Time Bubble, leaving the defective one to the Legion of Super-Heroes. Ultimately, they failed to stop the black hole before the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Doom Patrol. The Inferior Five proposed they come to the future with the Substitute Heroes to form a new team, but they refused and stranded the Five in 2010, rewriting their history of ever being sent to Limbo.
The Lukewarm Line is their main mode of communication.
- The Inferi-Car is a non-outfitted vehicle used by the group.
- The Inferiplane is a non-outfitted, orange biplane used to travel longer distances, even though it only has two seats.
- The Gold Bug, the "fastest thing on wheels in 1925", was the crimefighting car of Merryman's uncle, formerly the hero known as Yellowjacket, and his partner Plato. It is outfitted with grapples and a retractable arm with a boxing glove. The Inferior Five used it on multiple occasions.
- The Inferior Five are quintessential 60s characters of the Humor comic book genre. Their series had a quirky slightly campy charm and the comedy is well very much of its time which means some of its references are rather dated and haven't aged well.
- While the team debuted in Showcase #62 and they would have two more appearances in that anthology before graduating to their own solo series for a 10 issue bimonthly run, by the time the tenth and final issue was published, interest in oddball humorous titles had faded away. The original inspiration for the team was to be a direct parody of the Fantastic Four. This was conceived by the editor Jack Miller who also provided the team its name. Jack Miller then assigned the writing to Nelson Bridwell who had previously written for Mad Magazine. Bridwell changed the concept to focus on a team of incompetent children of retired superheroes. It is here that the Inferior Five achieve a few levels of meta-textuality. The Inferior Five, along with Infinity, Inc., are the only teams composed exclusively of children of former superheroes. The Inferior Five debuted first, and as such, they have a technical trivial significance.
- The members of the Inferior Five are Merryman (Brilliant Mind, Weaklings Body), Blimp (Can fly when propelled by tailwind), Dumb Bunny (Super Strong, Low IQ), White Feather (Perfectionist Archer, cowardice), and Akwardman (Powerful in water, clumsy on land). What makes the Inferior Five so special is that they need to be in a team to fight crime. Other teams, such as the Justice League, Justice Society of America (New Earth), and Green Lantern Corps have powerful members that could stop the crime from happening on their own, whereas the Inferior Five have so stupid members with awesome powers and major setbacks (such as fear, clumsiness, or IQ) that make them have to fight crime together.
- The parents of the Inferior Five were all retired superheroes who previously fought crime as the Freedom Brigade. These retired heroes are all gentle parodies of Golden Age DC characters. The Freedom Brigade may be an indirect reference to the Justice League of America which was a successful contemporary reboot of the Golden Age team the Justice Society of America. They are are basically versions of other known DC characters: The Patriot/Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty/Miss America, Captain Swift/The Flash, Bowman/Green Arrow, Princess Power/Wonder Woman, Mister Might/Superman and the Mermaid/Aquaman.
- Inferior Five, as opposed to The Inferior Five, carries the same name, but only has loose connections to the Inferior Five team. Besides the title the blonde character Theresa is often called the nickname Dumb Bunny, and Awkwardman appears captured, allegedly the father of Vance Hutchins.
- 29 Appearances of Inferior Five (New Earth)
- 7 Images that include Inferior Five (New Earth)
- Team Gallery: Inferior Five (New Earth)
Links and References
- Showcase #62
- Inferior Five #1
- Inferior Five #10
- Inferior Five #2
- Inferior Five #7
- Showcase #65
- Inferior Five #4
- Inferior Five #5
- Crisis on Infinite Earths #12
- The Oz-Wonderland War #3
- Angel and the Ape (Volume 2) #4
- Animal Man #25
- Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1
- Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #2
- The Brave and the Bold (Volume 3) #34
- The Brave and the Bold (Volume 3) #35
- Inferior Five #1
- Inferior Five (Volume 2) #1