When Bruce Wayne set out to turn himself into the Dark Knight, he spent years travelling, studying and training. He also invested untold millions of dollars from his inheritance equipping himself and his ever-increasing fleet of bat-themed custom vehicles. It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be as effective in their crusade against crime without that kind of backing. So let’s take a look at those who try anyway…

10. Griff the Invisible

Sad, lonely office worker Griff (Ryan Kwantan) feels invisible to all around him – something he puts to good use at night when he uses his powers of invisibility to fight petty crime in his local neighbourhood. Eventually this also extends to his workplace where he starts taking revenge on the office bully through a range of pranks. Teaming up with a girl who can walk through walls, he’s a potentially a force to be reckoned with.

Crime-Fighting Effectiveness – Useless. Sadly Griff’s ‘powers’ only exist in his own head, and although he feels invisible this doesn’t protect him from recriminations from those he fights against.

9. Spider-Man

The most superpowered character on this list, but that doesn’t mean he has an income. Whilst Bruce Banner and Steve Rogers became The Hulk and Capt. America through government funded lab work and Tony Stark is the Scrooge McDuck of the superhero world. Peter Parker’s laboratory accident, on the other hand, occurred on a field trip through his government school, and the additional equipment was rigged up using left over materials in his aunts basement. Whilst he’s moved onwards and upwards over the decades he’s a webswinger of humble origins.

Crime-Fighting Effectiveness: needless to say he could have the rest of this list dangling upside down by their feet within moments. His powers combined with his scientific know-how make him formidable indeed.

8. The Mask

The image of the wealthy banker does not apply in this case. Stanley Ipkiss is put upon at his job and in his home. His extremely modest abode is borderline squalid and his transport matches. It’s only through luck her happens upon Loki’s mask, turning him into the cartoony scourge of the criminal world. Even though he helps himself to the bank vault, he uses the dosh to charm Cameron Diaz instead of improving his living arrangements.

Crime-Fighting Effectiveness: very good – if you can kelp him focused on the task.

7. Tank Girl

Not many people have it easy in any dystopian future. Whilst the elite hang out in skyscrapers and brothels with Malcolm McDowell and Iggy Pop, Rebecca Buck is the other end of the spectrum living in makeshift digs in the vast desert. The politics of the waterless landscape have little bearing on Buck and her commune until the powers that be attack and throw her in prison. During her escape she takes command of a tank, and that’s the extent of her assets. No hide-out, no gadgets and no superpowers – just a stolen tank and attitude.

Crime-Fighting Effectiveness: you’d be surprised what can be achieved with a tank.

6. The Mystery Men

An entire team of home-made superheroes! When corporate sponsored Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) is taken out of the fight by Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush) the only ones left to pick up the fight are The Shoveler (good with a spade), Blue Raja (throws forks and spoons), Mr. Furious (gets really mad), The Spleen (deadly farts), Invisible Boy (only works if no-one is watching), The Bowler (throws a bowling ball possessed by her dead father) and The Sphinx (terribly mysterious).

Played by William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, Ben Stiller, Paul Reubens, Kel Mitchell, Janeane Garofalo and Wes Studi respectively.

Crime-Fighting Effectiveness – Although a rocky start, they did manage to pull together at the end and become celebrity heroes.

5. Defendor

You can’t help but feel sorry for Defendor aka Arthur Poppington. He doesn’t fit in the world and try as he might, he simply cannot understand people’s behaviour. Nonetheless he has a clear sense of right and wrong and is determined to battle injustice with his home-made weapons that involve marbles and bees. Defendor becomes a tragic figure, losing his life in the battle against the mob but not before becoming an inspiration to rest of the city.

Crime-Fighting Effectiveness: his methods are clumsy but brutal, which proves highly effective against petty thugs. Unfortunately he’s not as well suited to the bigger picture.

4. V

This superhero isn’t quite a crime-fighter as he is the instigator of social change, something Kick-Ass and Defendor also achieve to a lessor extent. V doesn’t fight your conventional petty criminals but agents of a corrupt government who used him as the victim of experiments and unleashed a plague onto the population. Equipped with a Guy Fawkes themed outfit and an arsenal of knives he makes quick work of his foes and leads a revolution against the dictatorship he opposes. Being an underground hermit, he outfits his den with banned works of art and literature.

Crime-Fighting Effectiveness: if you consider evil political regimes as criminal, then he proves extremely effective. Against your more traditional criminals, however, he doesn’t seem to care.

3. Crimson Bolt

Sexy.

Frank D’Arbo (Rainn Wilson) had suffered a life of humiliation of ridicule, but had found one gem of happiness in Sarah, his wife. When she leaves him for a local drug dealer, Frank’s suppressed anger finds an outlet in The Crimson Bolt. Dressed in makeshift super-hero costume and wielding a painted wrench, he took to the streets to right the wrongs of society and take down the gangster who took his wife. At his side is Boltie, his tag-along sidekick.

Crime-Fighting Effectiveness: Pretty good, all things considered. He does stop quite a few crimes before taking down the big bad guy and all his armed henchmen. Plus his tagline – “Shut up, crime!” – is gold. Sadly, he loses points for occasionally wigging out and delivering wrench justice to line cutters.

2. Rorschach

To say that Rorschach is a troubled individual is like saying fish like water. Suffering abuse from his mother and neighbouring youths from an early age, Walter Kovacs became a brutally violent and angry individual. In later years he directed his rage into his crime-fighting persona and took to the streets. After an incident with a child kidnapping case he descended into psychosis, only viewing the world as black and white and devoted to his extreme form of justice.

Crime Fighting Effectiveness: Very good. Equipped only with a grappling gun, it’s Rorschach’s ability to improvise weapons and pure brutality in their use that makes him dangerous.

1. Kick-Ass

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is your typical comic book nerd – something plenty of people reading this list can relate to. Naturally he asks the question many have pondered: with the massive number of fans out there, why hasn’t someone put on a mask and taken to the streets? So that’s what he does…assemble a costume out of a wetsuit and goes out to fight crime. During which he gets his ass kicked. Kick-Ass is a driven, motivated character that is genuinely doing it for the good of his fellow man and as ill advised as his actions are it’s difficult not to respect his reasons. Being from a working class household he makes do with what he has, including reaching out to people via social networking.

Crime-Fighting Effectiveness: Sure he got stabbed during his first foray into the world of crime, but that left him with nerve damage making him almost immune to pain. Combine that with his drive to do what is right, he does manage some effective work.

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