Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Fifteen Greatest Super-Villains in Comics.

Not that long ago, put up a list of who they considered the top 100 comic book villains. Since I'm a bit of a stickler for lists(and villains), I happily read through their list to see who they placed at #1. According to IGN, the #1 top villain of all-time was Magneto. Magneto?!? Sure, Magneto is a great villain with an awesome look, but there is NO WAY I'd classify him as THE greatest villain of all-time... Hell, I wouldn't even call Magneto the #1 villain in the Marvel Universe! Since I've been looking for a weekly feature to add to this blog, and as I've already stated, I LOVE lists, I figured I'd give making a list of my favorite villains a try.

In order to create my list, I dug through both my Marvel and DC Encyclopedias, jotting down names of those who I felt deserved a place on my list of infamy. It should also be noted that I'm only listing characters from the big two, the Marvel and DC Universes. Obviously I haven't read EVERY comic book ever published, so my facts on some characters may be incomplete. That's where my fellow comic book fans come in. My main reason for making this list is to get a dialogue started with those of you who would also consider yourselves comic book fanatics. Whether you agree or disagree with my picks, I'm hoping for some comments from you, the readers. Well, without further ado, onto the list.

15)Doomsday- Doomsday's claim to infamy is the fact that he was the creature who "killed" Superman back in the 1990's. Unfortunately, that's about the only thing Doomsday has ever done... Since then, Doomsday has popped up sporadically throughout the DCU to create havoc, but has always been summarily defeated. Most recently Doomsday was beaten to death by an angry mob of Kryptonians on the moon. Although recently Doomsday has been portrayed as little more than a c-list villain, I'll always remember him as the bruising monster who finally brought down the Man of Steel.

14)Mr. Sinister- Mr. Sinister has always been a favorite of mine based on look alone. The guy just LOOKS evil! However, this isn't a list of who looks the most evil, it's a list of who has DONE the most evil. Right from the start Sinister was bad news. Prior to gaining his powers, Sinister was a scientist in 19th century England, who was obsessed with the theory of human mutations. Sinister went so far as to dissect the corpse of his own dead child to further his scientific research. After gaining his vast powers thanks to Apocalypse, Sinister continued his study of humanity in as amoral a fashion as possible. Sinister's most infamous act would probably be his role as the mastermind of the Mutant Massacre. Sinister hired a band of assassins(the Marauders)to wipe out a society of sewer dwelling mutants called the Morlocks. Before they were ultimately stopped by several X-teams, the Marauders managed to kill hundreds of Morlocks.

13)Magneto- Yes that's right, I wouldn't even place Magneto in the top ten! Magneto is a great villain, when he wants to be... That is my main issue with Magneto. He isn't always a villain. I almost hesitate to refer to Magneto as a villain. Magneto's goals are at times almost admirable. Sure there's crazy Magneto who wants to kill/subjugate humanity in the name of mutant supremacy, but then there's also the other Magneto who is willing to isolate himself and like-minded mutants away from a hateful humanity. For a portion of the late 1980's, Magneto was actually the reformed leader of the X-Men! While Magneto does have his moments of good behavior, bad Magneto is almost unsurpassed in his acts of vengefulness! Magneto's most infamous actions occurred during the "Fatal Attraction" storyline where he struck the planet Earth with a massive electro-magnetic pulsewave, which knocked out all power to the planet and downed all airplanes. Think about all of the death a planet-wide blackout would cause in hospitals alone... However, Magneto wasn't done yet. Before he was finally stopped by Prof. Xavier, Magneto managed to tear the Adamantium coating off of Wolverine's bones... Through his skin! The scene where Magneto completely and utterly destroys Wolverine is among my favorite comic book scenes of all-time.

12)Cassandra Nova- Yes, it's yet another X-villain. I grew up reading X-Men comics, so their enemies are closest to my heart. Cassandra Nova is the "twin" of Professor Chareles Xavier, founder of the X-Men. While still in her mother's womb, Cassandra attempted to kill her twin brother, but was stopped by a telepathic blast from Prof. X. Cassandra's body was stillborn but her mind lived on until she became powerful enough to create a new body for herself. Cassandra's most infamous act would have to be the decimation of the mutant island of Genosha. Cassandra sent a cadre of wild Sentinels to Genosha, where they murdered some 16 million mutants. Although Cassandra has done little else since that act, killing that many mutants easily earns Cassandra a spot on this list.

11)Deathstroke the Terminator- What can I really say about Deathstroke? He's one of those characters I just can't get enough of. Deathstroke is the DC Universe's top assassin, as well as one of the deadliest hand to hand fighters around. Deathstroke has repeatedly butted heads with the Teen Titans as well as most of the DCU's top heroes. At one point, Deathstroke convinced his daughter Ravager to wear a fake eye made out of Kryptonite in an attempt to kill Superman. Although instantly deadly to Kryptonians, Kryptonite will eventually cause cancer in humans, as it did to Lex Luthor. While Deathstorke's awful act of child abuse was pretty bad, his most infamous moment would have to be his role in the destruction of the city of Bludhaven. It was Deathstroke who dropped Chemo on Bludhaven during "Infinite Crisis", killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people in that city.

10)Apocalypse- An immortal mutant from ancient Egypt, Apocalypse is destined to plague the X-Men not just today, but into the far-flung future as well. Possibly the first mutant, Apocalypse has been around since 3,000 BC. With assistance from alien Celestrial technology, Apocalypse managed to become(virtually)immortal. Being immortal, Apocalypse has the luxury of waiting for the right moment to strike at his enemies, the X-Men. In almost every timeline, Apocalypse emerges victorious, if not in the present, as seen during the "Age of Apocalypse", then in the distant future, such as where Cable grew up. While Apocalypse has many evil acts under his belt including his creation of Mr. Sinister and Exodus, the transformation of Angel into Archangel, or the time he merged with Cyclops to become Cyclopolypse, his true moment of infamy would have to be when he poisoned the infant son of Cyclops with a deadly techno-organic virus. Cyclops' son, who would grow up to become Cable, was one of the few beings in creation Apocalypse viewed as a potential threat, and to prevent a future battle with the infant, Apocalypse poisoned the child. If not for the intervention of a member of the Clan Askani(who were a group from the future dedicated to defeating Apocalypse), the infant who would grow up to become Cable would have died a very painful death.

9)Brainiac- The intergalactic conqueror named Brainiac has been repackaged into a much more interesting/dangerous character in recent years thanks to the genius of Geoff Johns. The pre-Action Comics #850 history of Brianiac is quite confusing and contradictory. First he was a humanoid creature, then a cyborg, then a hybrid humanoid/robot, in other words, it's pretty difficult to pin down who or what Brainiac is. For the sake of keeping things somewhat simple, I'm just going to concentrate on the current incarnation of Brainiac. Brainiac stays to himself on his ship, sending out an army of drones to conquer alien civilizations. The Brainiac drones then bottle and shrink down the conquered alien cities and transport them onto Brainiac's main starship. Brainiac then studies and absorbs all of the knowledge he can from these captured alien civilizations. Brainiac's moment of infamy would have to be his role in the death of Superman's adopted father, Jonathan Kent. After being defeated by Superman and having the bottled cities of Metropolis and Kandor stolen from him, Brainiac launched a missile at the Kent farm which resulted in Jonathan Kent suffering a fatal heart attack.

8)Darkseid- Right off the bat, you kind of know that a guy who rules a planet named Apocolips is going to be bad news. Calling Darkseid bad news is probably a bit of an understatement. Darkseid is pure, unadulterated evil. Plain and simple. Many villains are interested in conquering a country, while the more ambitious villains want to take over an entire planet. Darkseid's goal is to conquer the entire universe! That's setting your sights high. In order to accomplish this feat, Darkseid is perpetually in search of the Anti-Life Equation, which would allow Darkseid the ability to control the thoughts and actions of anyone who has come in contact with said Equation. While Darkseid has done plenty of lousy things, among them the murder of his own son, the hero Orion, Darkseid's moment of infamy has to be the whole "Final Crisis" story which climaxed with the "death"/displacement of Batman. After finally activating the Anti-Life Equation on Earth and taking control of most of the beings on the planet, Darkseid struck Batman down with his Omega Effect, presumably killing the Dark Knight. While it appears the Batman wasn't killed, instead he was sent backwards through time, ridding the present of one of the greatest heroes of all-time is a major accomplishment, and is reason enough to include Darkseid on this list.

7)Ultron- Ultron's "life" started off inauspiciously enough, it was created to assist Dr. Hank Pym with dangerous lab work. Unfortunately for Pym and the world, Ultron was created too well, and developed its own free will, along with a hatred of its father, Pym. Since those early days, Ultron has continually upgraded itself in an attempt to destroy Pym and his teammates, the Avengers. Ultron wants nothing more than to rid the Earth of bothersome humans in order to create a robot Utopia. To that end, Ultron has created several other robotic characters in the Marvel Universe, most prominently the longtime Avenger, the Vision. With every loss, a newer model of Ultron inevitably sprouts up with a new plan to dominate humankind. Some of Ultron's plans border on the ridiculous, such as the time it attempted to cover humans with metal in an attempt to help humanity attain robotic perfection, to the horrendous. Ultron's most infamous moment is the genocide of the entire nation of Slorenia. Ultron systematically murdered every man, woman and child in Slorenia is order to create a headquarters for itself and its robot army. Although the Avengers were able to halt Ultron's plans at further genocide, that act proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Ultron is one villain not to be trifled with.

6)Cyborg Superman- The man who would become Cyborg Superman started out as a scientist by the name of Hank Henshaw. Henshaw and his crew of three others, including his wife Terri, took a spaceship built by Henshaw into space for scientific exploration. Sounds like Marvel's Fantastic Four, no? Like Marvel's First Family, Henshaw's ship was struck by cosmic radiation and the ship wound up crash landing back on Earth. That's where the similarities to the Fantastic Four end. Two of the crew members die almost immediately upon returning to Earth and Henshaw's body falls apart. Eventually Henshaw is able to place his consciousness into a robotic body and he rushes to his wife, the sole remaining crew member not affected by the cosmic radiation. Terri goes nuts at the sight of her presumed dead husband running around in the body of a robot(and really, who wouldn't go crazy if faced with a similar situation?)and she winds up committing suicide. Not having any reason to remain on Earth, Henshaw places his consciousness in the craft that brought the infant Superman to Earth all those years ago and goes out into the universe to explore. While in the Kryptonian spacecraft, Henshaw discovers that the cosmic radiation that hit his spacecraft and wound up killing his crewmates and his wife was accidentally created by Superman. From that moment onward, Henshaw has dedicated his existance to avenging himself on the Man of Steel. Henshaw has done much, including becoming the leader of the Manhunters and joining the Sinestro Corps. However, Henshaw's most infamous act would easily be the destruction of Coast City. While posing as Superman following Superman's "death", Henshaw(with some assistance from Mongul)destroyed Coast City, as part of a plan to transform the Earth into Warworld. Besides being the home of over 7 million people, Coast City was also the home of the most famous Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. Hal was in space during the destruction of Coast City and upon learning of its destruction, Hal slowly went mad, eventually being taken over by the Parallax entity. So not only was Henshaw responsible for millions of deaths, he was also directly responsible for the breakdown of one of DC preeminent heroes.

5)Thanos- Thanos was born on Saturn's moon Titan to Mentor, the leader of Titan's Eternals. However, Thanos was born with a genetic defect that had him resemble a member of the Deviants, the sworn enemies to the Eternals. Due to his unusual look, Thanos was an outcast in Titan society. Thanos eventually became obsessed with Death, and wanted to do everything in his powers to please "her". To win the affections of Death, Thanos embarked on a mission of genocide of nearly unmatched proportions. Thanos killed millions of fellow Eternals by destroying a nuclear reactor on Titan and dissected his own mother(while she was still alive!)to determine why he was born different. From there, Thanos began travelling the galaxy killing whatever he could to please the object of his affections. Without a doubt, Thanos' moment of infamy came during the "Infinity Gauntlet" saga. After attaining the 6 ultra powerful Infinity Gems, Thanos became a god. Still trying to win the affections of Mistress Death, Thanos killed half of the beings in the universe with but a thought. Eventually Adam Warlock managed to wrest the Infinity Gems from Thanos and undid his evil deeds, but Thanos can always lay claim to the fact that for a time he had caused the death of trillions of beings, a feather in the cap of any self-respecting villain.

4)Lex Luthor- The greatest foe of the greatest hero in the DC Universe. Lex Luthor is among the smartest men in the DCU, and he uses all of his intellect and resources to "save" the citizens of Metropolis from that alien "invader", Superman. In Lex's mind, Superman, with his amazing powers and acts of super-heroics, is causing the people of Earth to become lazy and complacent, never bothering to lift a finger to help themselves since Superman will gladly do the job. In reality, Lex is insanely jealous of the handsome and popular Superman, and covets Superman's position as Metropolis' hero. Lex feels he should be the man the public adores, not an alien from another world. Throughout the years, Lex Luthor has put dozens of Machiavelian plans into motion with the express purpose of ridding the planet of Superman, by any means necessary. Lex became president of the United States, was indirectly responsible for the destruction of Topeka, Kansas, turned Superboy against his teammates, and that's just for starters! Even though those previously mentioned acts are bad, I'd consider Lex's role in the destruction of Metropolis to be his most infamous act. Although he wasn't directly responsible, it was Lex's missiles that wound up leveling the city of Metropolis.

3)Dr. Doom- Dr. Doom is probably one of the most recognizable villains in all of comicdom. The armor, the mask, the attitude, referring to himself in the third person, Dr. Doom is a true classic. Doom's battles with the Fantastic Four are legendary, and it would be impossible for me to list them all. Doom's longtime feud with the Fantastic Four stems from little more than professional jealousy. Doom considers himself Mr. Fantastic's intellectual superior, and he will not rest until his claim is proven right once and for all. Besides ruling the nation of Latveria with an iron fist, Doom has also stolen the power cosmic from the Silver Surfer, stolen the powers of the all-powerful Beyonder, scarred the face of the Thing, tried to trade Franklin Richards to Mephisto for the soul of his mother and nearly killed Mr. Fantastic(he would have too, if not for the last second interference of Hyperstorm). Dr. Doom's most infamous act would come in recent years, when in an effort to defeat the Fantastic Four once and for all, he resorted to using only magic and transported Franklin Richards to Hell, where the child was tormented by the many demons there. It takes a special kind of evil to banish a child to Hell to get at the child's parents.

2)Red Skull- The Red Skull is a Nazi who served in World War II directly under Adolph Hitler. That alone should get him mention on this list. However, it is the Skull's actions not just during the War, but after as well that earn him such a lofty place on this list. During the waning days of WWII, the Red Skull was placed in suspended animation and he was eventually awakened in the modern era by the forces of HYDRA. From that point on, the Red Skull has plagued Captain America in particular and the world at large in general. The Red Skull has many nefarious acts under his belt, but most of his really evil actions would involve his usage of the Cosmic Cube, an item with the ability to warp reality itself. The Skull has used the Cube to switch bodies with Captain America, alter the personality of the Falcon, and basically torment his arch-nemesis, Captain America. The Red Skull was eventually "killed" thanks to possessing the Cube by Russian businessman, Aleksander Lukin. Before dying though, Skull managed to switch his mind into Lukin's body, causing the two to share one body. While in Lukin's body, the Red Skull managed to reach the pinnacle of his villainous career, the assassination of longtime foe, Captain America. Although Skull didn't deliver the killing stroke, it was his plans that wound up ending the life of the Star-Spangled Avenger(although it seems that accomplishment may soon be null and void). Regardless if Captain America returns or not, his death, along with all of the Skull's other crimes are reason enough to place the Red Skull at #2 on this list.

1)The Joker- For a character with no real superpowers, the Clown Prince of Crime as been responsible for a horrific amount of crimes over the years. It's not just the amount of criminal activity that makes the Joker such a menace to the citizens of Gotham City, it's the seemingly random way he'll attack the denizens of the city. There is very little rhyme or reason to the Joker's antics, by his very nature he is completely chaotic. From the "Last Laugh" storyline where the Joker sent out an army of "Jokerized" super-villains to do his bidding, to the "Emporer Joker" story where he gained the powers of Mr. Mxyzptlk and created trouble on a global level, the Joker is one of the gravest menaces of the DC Universe. From basic street crime to planetary trouble, the Joker has done it all. The Joker has taken a special interest in not just his arch-enemy, the Batman, but also Police Commissionor Gordon. The Joker has paralized Gordon's daughter, Barbara(the former super-hero Batgirl)as well as gunned down his second wife, Sarah Essen. The Joker's reasoning for his attacks on Gordon seems to be little more than wanting to prove that anybody can be driven insane. Although the Joker has taken a special interset in Gordon, nothing compares to the relationship between Joker and the Batman. The Joker has managed to push Batman as close to the brink of murder as possible with his actions. During the "Hush" storyline, if not for the intervention of Commissionor Gordon(of all people), it seems likely the Joker would have finally met his end at Batman's hands. The first Robin(and current Batman)Dick Grayson also came close to killing Joker, nearly beating the villain to death during the "Last Laugh" story. While I could choose from several acts, to me, the Joker's most infamous, horrible crime is his role in the "A Death in the Family" storyline. In this story, the Joker manages to capture Batman's teenaged sidekick, Robin(Jason Todd), and proceeds to beat him nearly to death with a crowbar. After finishing with the gruesome(and gory!)beatdown, the Joker blows the boy up, just seconds before the Batman arrived to rescue his sidekick. Although Jason wound up returning several years later due to the events of "Infinite Crisis", nothing could erase the monsterous actions of the Joker towards Jason. The Joker's beating of Robin with that crowbar will go down(in my mind at least)as one of the most appalling acts of evil in comic book history. Joker, you have definitely earned your place atop this list of villainy

Whew... I'm FINALLY done! Hopefully somebody out there will enjoy reading this list as much as I've enjoyed concocting it. I'd love to hear some comments on whether you agree or disagree with my list, as well as why. If you made it this far, I appluad your effort and thank you!


  1. Man, I might have to make my own lists pretty soon. Maybe a top 10 second rate villains list just to make it something different.

    I appreciated the evidences of evil you presented with these villians, they definitely let me see where you're coming from.
    However, I think I will choose a different #1 for my list. The Joker is still too street level in my mind. He is evil and the Emperor Joker thing did give him those powers (wasn't it Batman screaming every night in the Arkham Asylum in the Joker World?), but there's something about those other villains. Red Skull is a Nazi, so I think that automatically makes him rate higher on the infamy scale. But the Joker doesn't discriminate in his crimes, so maybe that is more evil. Hmmmm.

    Cassandra Nova sounds pretty evil, but her origin sounds really dumb. I haven't read those issues, but those "separated at birth/long lost twin" retcons make me angry.

    Great Post, X-Man!!

  2. Thanks for giving this monstrosity a read Kello. The next list will be WAY shorter! I can guarantee that! It took me two days to research(ie. dig through old comic books!), list and type the whole thing up! I'd love to read a second rate villains list, I've stated repeatedly how much I enjoy c-list characters, so I for one would be psyched to check that out.

    When I was putting the list together, I was thinking like you, the Joker's too street level, he can't be #1. But then I kept thinking back to his greatest hits list... Crippling Barbara Gordon, killing the Commish's second wife, blowing away Alex Luthor, beating Psimon to death with a rock and of course the Jason Todd beating. I don't know if you've ever read the "A Death in the Family" trade(although I'm sure you must have), but Jason's death was just horrific! The first time I read that trade I had to be about 10, and I'll be damned if the scene where Joker beats Jason with the crowbar didn't scar me for life! It was just awful! I don't know how the Comic Code let those comics pass through! Anyway, getting back on track, no other villain on the list has put his arch-nemesis through the hell Joker has put Batman and his allies through. It was his effect on Batman and co. that finally convinced me that Joker was indeed my #1.

    Believe it or not, Cassandra's origin is probably even worse than I posted. I skipped all the "Mummudrai" stuff, in an effort to keep things simple and also to remain sane. If you've never heard the term "Mummudrai", consider yourself lucky...

    Thanks again for taking the time to read/comment Kello, and I'll be looking forward to your list of c-list villains!

  3. Wow. This is a very in-depth list. Great job, X-Man!

    I think you nailed the top 4, and I'm very thankful that you ranked Deathstroke so high! He deserves it!

  4. Actually one of the reasons the list is fifteen characters long as opposed to the normal ten is because I HAD to get Deathstroke in the list somehow! I am a HUGE fan of Deathstroke, and not having him on my list would have been a grave injustice!

    Right from the start I pretty much knew which characters would make up my top four, it was just a matter of placing those four bad guys into each slot. I'm still a bit torn about Doom being #3 and Skull being #2... I was real close to swapping them. Any thoughts on the placement of Doom/Skull and where they should be?

  5. You always seem to read my mind, X-Man! I was asking myself the same thing, but it simply came down to the fact that the Red Skull was the mastermind behind one of the darkest days in the history of the Marvel Universe...the Death of Captain America. If Doom ever wipes out the entire Fantastic Four (which would be awesome, by the way), maybe he can then surpass Red Skull as number 2, lol.

  6. Great minds think alike Robert! :)
    Yeah, the tipping point for me was Cap's assassination. The only thing is with all signs pointing to Steve Rogers returning, should the Skull continue to occupy that spot. Back in the mid 1990's Doom had apperently succeeded in killing Mr. Fantastic, even though that was reversed in later months. If Cap does come back, that would put Skull in the same boat Doom is in. Almost(but not quite)wiping out his arch-nemisis.