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Ambush Bug
Ambush Bug on the cover of Action Comics #565, along with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance DC Comics Presents #52 (December 1982)
Created by Keith Giffen
In-story information
Alter ego Irwin Schwab
Team affiliations Uh-oh Squad
Justice League
Amber Butane Corps
Notable aliases Amber Butane of the Amber Butane Corps
Abilities Can teleport anywhere on Earth (exact limits are not defined); green suit provides limited protection from some attacks.

Ambush Bug is a fictional comic book character who has appeared in several DC Comics. His name is supposedly Irwin Schwab, but has mental problems that prevent him from truly understanding reality around him, so even his true identity might be no more than a delusion on his part. His origin is disputed, although the most commonly accepted origin is that Brum-El (a historical allusion to Beau Brummel, as well as a reference to Superman's father Jor-El) of the planet Schwab sent his clothes from his supposedly doomed planet, hoping that his wardrobe would survive, only to have it intercepted by a giant radioactive space spider. In the resulting crash, only two articles of clothing survived: the Ambush Bug suit, which was subsequently found by Irwin Schwab, and Argh!Yle!, an argyle sock with a Dr. Doom-like complex, complete with metal mask.[1]


Publication history

Created by artist Keith Giffen as an intentionally silly character, Ambush Bug first appeared in several Superman-related comic books in the early 1980s. At first, Ambush Bug was a villain, named after a type of insect, and dressed in a green, skintight suit (with two orange antennae) that covered his whole body. Inside his hollow antennae, he carried miniature robot bugs that possessed the ability to teleport him around. After attacking Superman and other heroes (and being little more than an annoyance to them) Ambush Bug decided instead to be a superhero as well. He also fancied himself Superman's friend, which only annoyed the hero even more. The costume apparently then became permanently affixed to his body, and he gained the power to teleport by himself. (Again, it's unknown if this is true or just another delusion of his, as he is seen removing the costume at the end of his second mini-series.) While trying to fix one of the miniature bugs, it exploded, causing a chain reaction and a blast that destroyed all of the bugs and tinted Ambush Bug's costume temporarily black in a nod to Spider-man's costume change during the Secret Wars crossover in Marvel; he then became capable of teleporting even without the bugs (briefly considering changing his moniker to Black Beetle instead).

Ambush Bug became popular enough to be featured in two comic book miniseries and several specials, plotted and pencilled by Keith Giffen and scripted by Robert Loren Fleming. These became increasingly surreal, to the point that some don't consider them to be part of the DC Universe.[citation needed] The series also contains many comic book-enthusiast and DC in-jokes and satire; series editor Julius Schwartz is also a character in the book. Ambush Bug was even kicked out of the afterlife by Death of the Endless, after seeing his name did not appear in any list she carried for the summer crossover series. He also met with Dream of the Endless in the Dreaming, and he accused him of not having a sense of humor as to make a living for himself in Dream's series in that capacity. Dream promptly responded by returning him to the real world while dumping tar on him, covering him with feathers, and leaving him in a dumpyard.

During his own 4-part series in 1985, he picked up a doll and, thinking it was alive, 'adopted' it as a partner called "Cheeks, The Toy Wonder," complete with its own costume. Also during this series, he fought a genuine bad guy named Scabbard (from Thriller, a title co-created by Fleming), who left the story midway through after realizing he was in the wrong comic book (Scabbard believed he was in an issue of Thriller).

In 2001, he made his first appearance as part of a superhero group (albeit a small one) as a member of the "Justice League of Anarchy", which also included Plastic Man, the Creeper, Harley Quinn, 'Mazing Man and The Trickster. This group of DC Universe troublemakers made a one-panel cameo in a series exploring variations on the JLA acronym, the book in question being JLA: Justice League of Amazons.

Ambush Bug is largely considered an absurd character and is rarely used by other writers, though he still exists in the DC Universe and occasionally still appears in some DC Comics. His popularity amongst creators has led to many 'cameos', sometimes with as little as his antennae being visible. In the comics he has become something of a joke to other characters, and has been described as being to real heroes what Ed Wood was to Alfred Hitchcock.[citation needed]

In the "One Million" DC series, Ambush Bug, or at least a version of him still sporting the same costume and mannerisms appears of all places in Hong Kong, China, in the year 11021, working as a bartender, mentioning an attack by Lobo substantially increased his insurance fees. Also, in the same series, in Chase One Million, an illegal user of superpower icons attempts to use Ambush Bug's Power Icon to teleport, and promptly ends up halfway through a wall.

In 2006, he appeared as part of Firestorm's short-lived Justice League of America in 52 #24. He quips "Hello, room service? Send up a plot and three pages of dialogue right away! The weekly grind is tearin' me apart! Fifty-two!!!" This version of the JLA ends after several people are murdered during a mission.

His powers appeared in proxy in Countdown to Final Crisis #32. Jimmy Olsen briefly gains the appearance of Ambush Bug and subconsciously uses his power of "Dumb Luck" to locate Forager.

He also was referenced in Superman/Batman Annual #1 in a throwaway caption near the end: "Darkseid played chess with Ambush Bug. Ambush Bug accidentally destroyed the universe with the 'Ultimate Clapper.'"

After being championed by DC Coordinating Editor Jann Jones, a new six-issue Ambush Bug miniseries, Ambush Bug: Year None, debuted in 2008, plotted & pencilled by Giffen and written by Fleming, with Jones herself serving as editor. The final issue was published almost a year after the rest of the series. Dan DiDio claims to have lost issue #6 and instead they skipped it to finish off with issue #7.[2]



As A Villain

As A Hero

  • Argh! Yle!- A living sock. The closest thing Ambush Bug has to an arch enemy.
  • Jonni DC
  • Interferer- A former comic writer that gained god-like powers that he uses to "perfect" the universe.

Powers and weapons

A series of panels describing Ambush Bug's suit being grafted to him. It also contains a reference to Spider-Man's black costume.

Ambush Bug's main power is teleportation. At first, this was a function of his suit; Ambush Bug was limited to teleporting to where small receiver bugs were located. Later, after an explosion, Ambush Bug internalized this power. It became apparent, in DC Comics Presents (81), that the Bug must say, "Simon Says," to utilize this power. He has been seen using a large futuristic gun in one appearance. Ambush Bug is also aware of his fictionality, and even events in other publishers' comic books. He even once seemed to be aware of the internal dialogue between Firestorm's component personalities, but then claimed that he wasn't talking to Firestorm. Ambush Bug also shows surprising agility and skill at unarmed combat, such as gouging the eyes of futuristic pirates attacking him from behind without turning around to face them or knocking out members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes with a single attack. However, his unusual way of thinking is also a great advantage to him, and often allows him to guess opponents' tactics and outmaneuver them, often humiliating his enemies in the process. Despite all of this, Ambush Bug's just a skinny man under the costume, and can be hit or humiliated himself with surprising ease by more ridiculous characters; serious attackers like Batman or Superman have great difficulty containing him, but other over-the-top lunatics can duel with him with no difficulty.


The character and series he has named for him have won recognition in the comics industry, including nominations for the R.A.C. "Squiddy" Award for Favorite Limited Series and the R.A.C. "Squiddy" Award for Favorite Graphic Novel in 1992 for the Ambush Bug: Nothing Special. The character was also nominated for the R.A.C. "Squiddy" Award for Favorite Character in 1992.

Other media

Action figures

In 2005, WizKids added an Ambush Bug figurine to their HeroClix line.[3]

An Ambush Bug Minimate was released in 2008, in a two-pack with Lobo.[4][5]

Role-playing games

An Ambush Bug adventure module for the DC Heroes RPG titled "Don't Ask!" (ISBN 0912771607), written by Scott Jenkins, was published by Mayfair Games in 1986.

Video games

Ambush Bug is set to appear in the upcoming MMORPG DC Universe Online.[6]


  1. ^ Greenberger, Robert (2008), "Ambush Bug", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, London: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 13, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5 
  2. ^
  3. ^ DC HeroClix: Collateral Damage Ambush Bug, by Jay Cochran, Toy News International, 12.17.2005
  4. ^ DC Direct listing
  5. ^ DC Direct Solicitations for items shipping March 2008, 16 Jul 2007
  6. ^

External links


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