Oh hell yeah, I am so going here! Well I talked about supporting characters the other day so this only made sense.
It’s one thing for a villain to have a worthy adversary. But what makes a real memorable character are the villains the hero has to go up against. For instance, I never read Sherlock Holmes but I know all about Prof Moriarty. That’s because Moriarty was the perfect foe for Holmes despite only appearing in two books! James Bond had several clever villains, starting with the evil Dr.No and including the likes of Goldfinger and Jaws (yeah yeah he was a henchman I know). And I knew who Romulans and Klingons were long before I really cared about Star Trek. The more clever villains you can throw at the heroes, the more remembered those stories become. And yes, comic books are no exception to this. For the really good comic book villains they were not only popular in the books they appeared, but even transcended the medium to appear in TV, movies, and possibly be even more liked than the hero that spawned them!
So today I want to look at those heroes who have several villains that are popular. So much so that they can form their own club (and in at one case, actually do!). Last time many pointed out, rightly so, that limiting the list for five was quite, well, limiting. Never let it be said I don’t listen to criticism, so here now is a top 10 favorite comic book rogue’s galleries. And yes, Marvel is included this time around.
Yeah I’ll be honest. I never read those stories. My only basis for any first hand knowledge is the lame movie that came out years ago. And yes it was a lame movie. But one thing I did gleam from that movie, is that Dick Tracy has a very unique gallery of villains. When looking it up I realized that movie only scratched the surface! Staring with “Big Boy” who was a mobsters. And for some reason these villains had bizarre physical or mental deformities. There was also Pruneface, Mumbles, and Flattop. Weird. I won’t say to much but I think it’s fair to say that Dick Tracy may have been one of the first to have a colorful list of villains.
So who could possibly compete with an Amazon Princess? Oh I don’t know, how about the freaking war god Ares!! This guy meant business! But he wasn’t the only memorable villain. In fact, the most memorable (thanks to Superfriends) was probably Cheetah. Cheetah has gone through phases, from the silly silver age to the much more menacing George Perez version. But she is always a savage opponent. Those two not enough? About Circe, the witch with family ties to the Greek Gods. Others who round her list of enemies include Doctor Cyber and Silver Swan just to name two. Wonder Woman was definitely challenged in her stories.
At first I wasn’t going to put GL on here because no one special came to mind. Oh sure, there was Sinestro who was always bad ass. He was even cool in Challenge of the Superfriends (the awesome Vic Perrin doing his voice didn’t hurt). But who else? Then I looked it up and remembered, Hal Jordan had a pretty good cast of villains! Eclipso, Black Hand, The Shark, Mrwhydden, Goldface, Hector Hammond, and of course the mega awesome Star Sapphire who was in real life Hal Jordan’s girlfriend! And yes Kyle Rayner fans I know he had his own villains, but I never read his stories.
I am not going to pretend that I liked the X-Men. If you follow my stuff you know that I never read the comics, and I never saw the movies. So why are they here? Looking it over I realized that the X-Men had some great villains, starting with the awesome Magneto and ending with the Dark Phoenix. These are two characters even I know without reading any comic books. And when I looked up the list of villains this team fought…wow! The list went on forever! Mystique, Apocalypse, the Shi’Ar. So to prove I have an open mind, I am including this team’s awesome rogue’s gallery out of respect for those who do love them (and I’d never hear the end of it if I left them off). So what about The Avengers? Sorry but aside from Ultron their villains aren’t as memorable or they cross over with X-Men villains. And hey, how can I leave off The Fantastic Four!Â Because aside from Dr.Doom who is awesome I just don’t know much about their villains.
#6.The New Teen Titans
It was either this or JLA and I decided that the Titans were a better choice. For one thing many JLA villains are carry overs from a team member’s main book. Not so for this team. The Titans are turning 50 this year, and why not? These stories by Marv Wolfman and George Perez are still a great read today. There are a few reasons. The characters are written as normal people with normal problems. But there is also the villains. This series gave us some amazing villains including Trigon, The Fearsome Five, Brotherhood of Evil, Blackfire, Mento and The Hybrid, and of course the coniving Terra whose story line “The Judas Contract” remains one of my favorite comic stories ever. And speaking of The Judas Contract, how can I forget the biggest baddest villain of them all. Deathstroke, The Terminator was freaking awesome!!!
While not the biggest fan I have to admit Captain Marvel had some of the most quirky and yet memorable villains. First was Sivana, who was a classic mad scientist type. Actually this was a whole family but I’m not getting into that. Then there was the clever Mister Mind who was, get this, a two-inch alien worm of high intelligence. Yeah I know, sounds stupid but this villain was really great! How does an inch-worm carry out evil deeds? He has his very own Monster Society of Evil, of course! The list of these villains is huge but they’re all capped off by the awesome Black Adam. Black Adam kind of has he same back story as Lore on TNG. He was the first to get the SHAZAM powers, went bad and ended up banished. But he came back and since he was as strong as Marvel, ended up being one his worst enemies! These stories were goofy and silly but the creative villains made them all worthwhile.
Yeah, so why #4? Kind of high. But the truth is, once you get beyond Luthor and Brainiac (who were awesome matches for The Man of Steel) the villains for Superman get silly more than menacing. And no i am not counting Zod he was not a major villain until recently. But that doesn’t mean that his villains haven’t become memorable. Bizzarro, Prankster, Toyman, Parasite. Metallo was a pretty serious threat with his kryptonite heart, and others like Silver Banshee and Mister Mxyzptlk. Two other villains came around in the 90’s to truly challenge Superman. They were of course Doomsday and the Robot Superman (and Mongul who would become a GL villain). But the biggest and baddest of all has to be Darkseid. Of course it took awhile for Darkseid to become a major Superman villain, but he did.
I feel safe in saying that it was the Flash who made the concept of “Rogue’s Gallery” commonplace. The rogues for Barry Allen’s Flash were so well liked that they were flat out respected. There must have been something about the way those colorful characters were written that fans loved them, even if they were one note characters. Maybe because they weren’t psychotic killers or criminal geniuses, they were small time crooks who simply robbed banks and enjoyed tangling with Flash. In the books they formed a sort of surrogate family amongst each other (I am dead serious) and would gather socially. Captain Cold kept the group together which consisted of Heat Master, Weather Wizard, Trickster, Dr.Alchemy, Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang, and even Reverse Flash, Grodd, and Abra Kadabra. They were kind of goofy in the silver age, and as the comics matures so did their characters. When Barry Allen died he villains remained but in different roles. But they were always The Rogues, and in Central City they had an odd kind of respect and even fandom from people. Wally West had his own unique group of villains but they never matched the classic Rogue’s Gallery.
As you all know I am no Marvel fan, and most often these lists are all DC. Spider-Man has such a good collection of villains that even I know many of them. Thanks to the movie, and that awesome 80’s cartoon show I loved. Some are just so famous you know them even if you’ve never read Spidey. Where do I begin this list? The awesome Dr.Octopus, The Green Goblin, Sandman, Rhino, Electro, Lizard, and many more I am sure I am forgetting. Of course the villain that everyone loves-Venom. The Black Spider-Man story was so awesome even I read it, and I loved Venom. I couldn’t wait for Spider-Man 3! Well, that’s another story. Of course we also have Carnage, Jackal, Grey Goblin, Kingpin, Kaine…..and I think I’ve made my point. Spider-Man may not have been my favorite superhero, but I gotta admire the villains he had to face time and time again.
So who could be #1? Yeah I know, not big shock. Ok my friends, say it with me now:
What can I possibly say here that hasn’t been said to death? Batman has some of the most colorful and memorable villains. They’re villains we really like seeing over and over again, because they are complex. We don’t like a Two-Face story because we love when he flips his coin, we love it because we get a chance to look into this character’s psyche. We don’t love a Joker story because we love when he kills people, it’s because the guy is just so fascinating. Batman has assembled an amazing list of villains, and I will be here all day if I list them all. But for starters, we have The Joker (duh, the perfect enemy for Batman) Two-Face, Riddler, Penguin, Scarecrow, Catwoman, Bane, Clayface, Ras Al Ghul, Talia, Mr.Freeze, Poison Ivy…and those are the A listers! Unlike the Flash villainsÂ these characters aren’t trying to rob banks for kicks. They are either psychotic killers or deeply disturbed people with severe psychological problems. And that is what makes them so fascinating, we want to learn more about these characters and enjoy watching Batman outwit them again and again. These villains were popular in the 60’s (see the Adam West TV show), thirty years later (see the fantastic Animated Series), and today with the Nolan movies and other shows. These characters will probably be with us forever.
Yeah I know, I still left off a ton. So I leave it to you my friends to fill me on the one’s I missed.