You don't have to be crazy to put on a shiny costume and battle evil - but it doesn't hurt. Here's our list of the ten most awesomely insane superheroes. Ever.
10. Creeper. By day, he's Jack Ryder, a loudmouthed TV pundit, sort of like Bill O'Reilly with better hair. And then by night, he dresses like the Joker, only in weird leafy underwear and yellow body makeup. The Creeper's superpowers come from freaky implants inserted into his body, which inject him with drugs and give him various powers. Unfortunately, those drugs also make him totally psychotic - not unlike the Joker - and he starts to think "Jack Ryder" and the Creeper are two different people. Basically, it's a miracle that someone didn't mistake the Creeper for the Joker and shoot him years ago.
9. The Chief from Doom Patrol. Best known for Grant Morrison and Rachel Pollack's weird excursions, the Doom Patrol were originally a superhero team made up of freaks and monsters who were too extreme to join the Justice League, the Titans, or even the Outsiders. But then it was revealed that the Chief, the team's leader/scientist, actually engineered the accidents that turned them all into monsters, on the theory that it would make them better people who could save the world. Nice idea, Chief.
8. Professor X, from the X-Men. The suave, bald leader of the mutant supergroup suffered from multiple personalities - which are going to be a bit of a theme in this superhero roundup. At one point, his personalities included the psychopathic Onslaught - as far as I understand it, Xavier attacked Magneto telepathically and as a result, he absorbed all of Magneto's dark impulses, which combined with his own suppressed emotions, to create a supervillain personality known as Onslaught. Another messed-up Xavier personality was known as the Entity.
7. Hank Pym. The creator of the evil Ultron was also several crackers short of a snackbox himself. A brilliant inventor, he couldn't decide what identity to take on: Ant-Man, Giant-Man or Goliath. The strain of trying to be as cool as Iron Man and Captain America drove him over the edge, and he started to become abusive towards his wife Janet and the supervillain Elfqueen. And then he decided to create another personality, Yellowjacket, who was the bad-ass that Hank could never be. Finally, when the Avengers confronted him about his loonitude, he created a giant robot to destroy them. Oh well. Poor Hank.
6. Spellbinder. Erica Fortune gets the dimension-hopping power of the Spellbinders and uses it to fight the evil Zxaxz, who comes from another reality. Unfortunately, the more Erica uses her abilities, the more they drive her power-mad and turn her into a maniac. And then she gets trapped in Zxaxz's dimension, where she has to learn to pronounce "Zxaxz." When she finally gets back to Earth, she's so nuts she attacks her own family, thinking they're rival Spellbinders, and kills the man she loves. Oops.
5. Rorschach. Okay, where do we begin? Well, there's the obligatory multiple personality - he believes his mask is his true face, and he doesn't quite believe in his "other" personality, Kovacs. He's sociopathically violent, and goes around in a dirty outfit muttering behind his inkblot mask. Creator Alan Moore has said Rorschach was his attempt at showing how Batman would actually be in the real world - a "nutcase."
4. The Incredible Hulk. Is the Hulk a superhero? Well, he's been in the Avengers and the Defenders, and he's fought supervillians, such as the U-Foes. Just wait until the U-Foes are robbing your house, and then we'll see how you feel about the Hulk's superheroism. In any case, he's undeniably nuts. Mentally scarred by his abusive dad, he repressed all of his anger, until a Gamma explosion released that negative personality - as the Hulk. Later, Bruce Banner went into couples therapy with his other personality - no lie! - and psychiatrist Doc Samson managed to merge them into a single green dude. For a while, anyway. Then the repressed rage started coming back. I'm not even getting into the gray Hulk or the weak human Hulk, or the Maestro, or the Green Scar. Honestly, if you still need proof that the Hulk is nuts, just consider the fact that when he was hiding from the Avengers, he disguised himself as a robot clown. Case closed.
3. Rose And Thorn. Here's a hero whose only superpower is schizophrenia. When she's Rose, she's nice and well-adjusted, but then at night she turns into Thorn, who goes around mashing bad guys into putty for fun. In her most recent miniseries, written by Gail Simone, she actually got "cured" of her split personality, just in time to be attacked by a serial killer.
2. Moon Knight. Marvel's answer to Batman (sort of) suffers from a really insane split personality. He doesn't just have his superhero identity and his civilian identity - he has a number of civilian identities, all of which he believes are real, separate people. There's his "real" personality, Mark Spector, plus his sassy alter ego Jake Lockley. I picked up a ton of the Doug Moench/Bill Sienkiewicz issues of his comic for 10 cents each, and they were so psychotic and angsty they were hard to read. Moon Knight spends pages and pages standing around and saying "If only I could become Jake Lockley, I could solve this. But no! I'm not worthy any more!"
1. Batman. Okay, maybe Bruce Wayne hasn't always been depicted as a loon, but he certainly often has. Especially in the last couple of decades, when Bats was ground zero for the move to "deconstruct" superheroes. Alan Moore had Batman sharing a demented laugh with the Joker at the end of The Killing Joke. Alan Grant and other writers played on the idea that Batman was as disturbed as the baddies he hunted - and Grant even had that Skinnerian psychotherapist, Arkham, lock Bats up in Arkham Asylum with the rest of the crazies. More recently, Grant Morrison had Batman creating a fantasy "backup personality" for himself in case he ever got drugged and driven over the edge. A crazy plan for a crazy situation, or just the ultimate proof that Bats dances over the edge? Perhaps most tellingly, back in the late 1980s, Steve Engelhart had Batman utter the classic line, "My world goes crazy sometimes, but I don't." Which is like saying, "I'm a nut, but I'm in denial about it." It's okay, Bats.
This io9 flashback originally appeared in April 2009.