Jon Morris's new book is a statement of amused nostalgia.

Looking back over the last 75 years of superhero comics, it hones in on the characters who didn't quite catch the imagination in the same way as Superman or Spider-Man. Characters like Bee Man and Superhombre, Doctor Vampire and Congorilla. Heroes too silly, too scary, or too unoriginal to find an audience.

Morris clearly has an affection for the form. Here are five things we learnt from his book:

1 Origin stories ...

... were clearly not as important in the 1940s as they became later. The stories behind the characters in the early pages of the book are often never told (often because the comics aren't around long enough) or take a while to arrive. As someone who always found origin stories kind of dull I rather like this reluctance but I may be alone in this. What it did was add an air of probably unintentional mystery. So, for example, we never know where Frank Thomas's 1939 creation The Eye, a disembodied giant floating eye comes from. And do we really care? Personally I don't want to know the origin story of a giant floating disembodied eye. The fact that it exists is cool enough.(Oh yes and one does wonder if Stan Lee and/or Steve Ditko was aware of The Eye when they created the Eye of Agamotto for Doctor Strange.)

2 Early superheroes are pretty scary and bizarre>

It's not just a disembodied eye. There's Fantomah, a jungle queen who just happens to be able to transform her head into a blazing skull; Speed Centaur, a crime fighter who is half-man, half horse; Mother Hubbard, a crime-fighting witch, and Madam Fatal, a man who dresses up as an old woman to combat evil. Less scary than unexpected, that last one.

3 So are the stories

Fantomah, the creation of Barclay Flagg, aka Fletcher Hanks, has a merciless yet baroque idea of justice. As Morris reports: "She banishes one villain to a dinosaur-populated asteroid, transforms a pair of jewel thieves into creatures resembling a cross between grasshoppers and dandelion leaves, and in one spectacular feat demolishes a squadron of military bomber planes - and all occupants therein - with living sandstorms and a flying formation of jungle lions." That's better than turning villains over to Commissioner Gordon.

Then there's Alan Mandel and Danny Barry's creations Nightmare and Sleepy, which turns out to be a wrestler dressed in white skeleton suit and his teenage manager also draped in white. But a luminous skeleton suit is really quite normal compared to their enemies, most notably a corpse "that steals living men's faces".

4 All hail Joe Simon

Joe Simon was for a long time the creative partner of protean comics creator Jack Kirby, co-creating Captain America with him. Simon's later creations recur throughout Morris's book. (Simon is vying with Superman creator Jerry Siegel for the most superhero misfires, it would appear from a rough count). Simon is responsible for the likes of such long-forgotten characters as Spy Boy and The Jigsaw Man (the comic even pleads "Don't Laugh" to readers on the cover of its first issue).

But it's two infamous comics that deserve most attention. Simon's 1968 comic Brother Power The Geek, sees a tailor's dummy brought to life by lightning who then hangs out with hippy friends. It lasted all of two issues. Five years later Simon returned with Prez, a series launched during the Watergate scandal based around the country's first teen president. Simon was in his mid-fifties by the time Brother Power came out and into his sixties when Prez appeared and for years both comics were criticised for their outdated visions of young people and the counterculture. But from this distance maybe it's worth pointing out that for all their failings Simon is clearly on the side of youth against the status quo. Oh and evil robot chess pieces.

5 Who wants to be a superhero anyway?

We prefer superheroes when they're presented as a form of Olympian ideal. But what if your superpowers come in another form? Would you then still want them? Say, perhaps, you end up as a giant pink rabbit clad in spandex. How Olympian would you feel? As Bobby Carswell, the alter ego of Martin Greim's 1982 creation Thunder Bunny puts it: "I have great power, but I become a rabbit to use it?

I don't know if being a superhero is worth it."

Over to you.

The League of Regrettable Superheroes,by Jon Morris,Quirk Books,£17.99