Obscure Animals and Superpowers Part 2: The Villains

2 weeks ago I wrote about some obscure animals I wished were superheroes. In the evolution of the writing I ended up just making up the characters myself. It was a fun exercise and I could clearly see how Stan Lee was able to be so prolific when he just let his imagination go yet still had a deadline to meet. But a huge part of his creative energy came from working with talented artists. So I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was when iFanboy reader DC decided to draw the very heroes I had described and post them to his blog, A Sketchy Situation.

Further comments on that post suggested more obscure animals I could write about, so I figured, why not come up with a few villains for our heroes to face off against? And yes, I’m hoping I can bait DC, or any other interested artist, into crafting some more designs based on my ramblings. Project Rooftop here we come!


My greatest oversight was probably the Aye-Aye. It’s a lemur outgroup that fulfills the same ecological niche as a woodpecker. But it doesn’t have a beak so how does it do this? It’s has a creepy long middle finger. Hence the world’s fascination. And by world, I mean animal nerds like myself.

Patrick Kirkpatrick was always being picked on. And why not? He was a nerd. Bullying came with the territory. But Patrick saw an opportunity to change things when the government was looking for scientists to design weapons systems. Patrick used his zoological knowledge in combination with government resources and tech to create a set of gauntlets based on the creepiest of all lemur, the aye-aye. Unfortunately, a ‘freak’ explosion in Patrick’s lab destroyed all his work, and evidence of arson cost him his job. But it was no matter, because now Patrick had the tools he needed to pick back at all those that had picked on him for so long. He works with a team, but make no mistake, Patrick Kirkpatick is now The Captain!

Favorite type of termite: The Queen! (they’re are-nemeses after all)


Renee Urbino had always been a city girl with no love for nature. She’d take the bus to the gym to run on the treadmill instead of just running to the gym and back. She could climb every route in the air-conditioned climbing gym, but couldn’t remember the last time she’d deigned to touch a real rock. So when she headed to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival she expected that should wouldn’t go anywhere near actual wilderness. But a drunken night found her in the hands of kidnappers, who were sure they could fetch a handsome price for a pretty alemão. Renee’s head was still pounding from a hangover when she heard the door to her room unlock and open, but instead of any of her captors, there stood a gangly fuzzy bird.

“How did you open the door?” she asked.

The bird held up its wing to reveal that instead of flight feathers, there were functional fingers!

The bird then shook violently, shedding feathers and fuzz, undergoing a catastrophic molt right before Renee’s eyes and transforming into a fine adult specimen.

“Thank you so much for saving me!”

A voice emanated from the animal, “Yes, but now you must do something for me…”

And on that day, Renee too was transformed. She lost her love of cities, and instead became an advocate for the forest, determined to stop human encroachment on nature, through any means necessary. She is now, Hoatzin, Defender of the Forest!

Favorite video game: Pokémon

Mimic Octpus

Everyone joked that Amisha Tippettra should have been born with gills. An avid SCUBA diver and devout pescetarian, it seemed like she spent more with marine life than with people. What nobody realized is that her frequent trips beneath the surf were an attempt to find the voice. The voice that had been calling her all her life it seemed. Whispers wafting through the curtains carried by the ocean breeze while she slept. Telling her to hide, pretend to be something else, get away from aggressors by changing clothes, behavior, and habitat. She never knew what it meant, only that the answer was under the surface of the sea. But one day, she sees the source of the voices, it looks just like a rock, but then it doesn’t, it looks like a sponge, or a flounder, or a snake. Constantly shifting size, shape, and color faster than her eyes could focus. But this was mere distraction, because Amisha didn’t notice the tentacle reaching around behind her, slowly turning off her air. By the time she noticed it was too late. 7 more suction-cup laden arms wrapper around her tight as she struggled to breath. She finally came eye-to-eye with the demon that had haunted her all these years. And she saw it change size and shape until it looked just like her, before she slid into the abyss. Thus, what arose from the waves was not Amisha at all, rather a grotesque imitation with a sadistic pleasure for trickery and subterfuge known as Mimic Octopus!

Favorite fish: Flounder

Shape-shifters are often seen as some of the least scientifically plausbile characters around. iFanboy has burnt out many a neuron thinking about the physiology behind Mystique’s pregnancies, and mostly to no definitive conclusions. But as Dr. Ian Malcom loves to remind us, “Life finds a way.” And this time, life found the mimic octopus. I know there’s already a Doc Ock out there, but his powers really have nothing to do with actually being an octopus, so roll with me on this.

Water Bear

Chunk Kapowski was a bruiser with a heart of gold. His toughness was only outmatched by his kindness, making him the perfect candidate for a radical experiment in outer space. Armadillo Aerospace wanted to see how the toughest people they could find dealt with a ship that had far less radiation shielding than required. Chunk was an easy choice, but of course was never told the true plan for his mission. The vessel was also filled with Tardigrades, whose ability to survive in even the most extreme environments made them the perfect companions for the ill-fated crew. Once in orbit, the affects of the radiation began to take hold, slowly crippling all in the crew save Chunk. In frustration, Chunk lashed out, smashing one of the tardigrade containers, covering himself in the irradiated microscopic animals. The water bears coated his skin, fusing with his very cells, and while Chunk writhed in pain his newly formed carapace hardened his hand enough to punch right through the hull of ship. Killing all inside except himself. After re-entering earth’s atmosphere unassisted, Chunk has lost much of his compassion and humanity, but he had gained an impressive power set and new name: Water Bear!

One important aspect of a villain is their ability to survive after apparent death. And no one is better at that than Water Bear. High altitude, deep depths, no oxygen, radiation, fire, ice are all as comfy as a soft bed to Chunk. If things get too tough he just shutdowns for a bit until conditions are more to his liking. It makes him unpredictable as an ally in a fight, but you know he’ll be there for  round 2.

Favorite extreme habitat: Alaskan Winter


So there’s my villain team to antagonize the good guys, as all villains should. Will art appear in the comments? Will valor triumph over obscurity? Will I be informed of even more obscure animals to feature? Only time and commenters will tell!


Ryan Haupt is very annoying to visit a zoo with because he spouts off all the information on the sign before you’ve even walked up to it. Hear his spout information in a less annoying way on the podcast Science… sort of.


  1. Decoy Octopus was a villain in Metal Gear Solid, though he didn’t have Octopus themed powers.

  2. Aye Aye! Yes.

  3. How have I lived my whole life with no knowledge of this Water Bear! Deny God now atheists! I dare you!!

  4. Immortal Jellyfish? Axolotl? Pistol Shrimp? The underwater world is full of weird ass animals lol

    Cordyceps though have got to be the big bad unstoppable disease of this universe. Imagine if they infected humans. That would be the token hero/villain team-up that is required to stop an unbeatable, world threatening threat. Dunno what cordyceps are? Check out this horror:

    The villains here though are truly intriguing and more than a tad creepy.

    DC we are looking at you, kid lol

    • Cordyceps are disgusting! Glad they don’t infect people.

      There was a link off there to a parasitic wasp that lays eggs inside a caterpillar. Pretty gross as well. The insect world is not pretty.

    • For whatever reason parasites just seem like easy targets as villains. Parasites do make up a huge amount of the biodiversity of our planet, so I often wonder how we’d view their lifestyle if we’d evolved as parasites too. Which I guess applies to some people… But hopefully you get my point. Definitely obscure, but too easy to hate.

  5. I was really holding out for a villain called Honey Badger. Becase, as you know, he’s nasty-ass and don’t give a sh*t.

  6. Oh you baited me alright. You baited me good. One might even call you a master enticer.

    The Captain: http://i.imgur.com/yKlrE.jpg

    Shall try to have the rest up tomorrow.

  7. Last but not least, Water Bear: http://i.imgur.com/xbTV5.jpg

    I kind of feel bad for the guy.