Alienated, ranting about how the world could be perfected if only the fools would listen, plotting intricate schemes, focusing great minds on tiny slights, losing their beloved and scarred by experiments gone awry, revenging themselves on the world, supervillains are where it’s at. Here are some of my favorite
villains–in alphabetical order to avoid retribution.
Dr. Doom (many Marvel titles)
Victor von Doom is the industry standard. He seeks world domination. He has a country, a time machine and “Doombots.” He mixes science and the mystic arts. He’s polite. And he recognizes that supervillainy is about aesthetics. Supervillains focus on process. It’s not that you destroy the hero, it’s how you destroy the hero that’s important. Sure, it causes supervillains trouble sometimes—even puts them in jail or makes them flee their newly-liberated fiefdoms like Latveria or Kahndaq. But there’s more to life than good governance. There’s industrial yet slick armor, uniformed minions, time machines and living by your own code.
Emperor Zombie (Amazing Screw-On Head)
Cheerful is the word for Emperor Zombie. And, despite his flies, Emperor Zombie is amazingly cheerful as he unlooses unspeakable evil or kills Amazing
Screw-On Head’s man-servants one after another. His companions rock,
especially in the animated version (a tommy-gun toting chimpanzee! A
lycanthropic lady!) And he brings his steampunk schemes to fruition in an evil skull balloon.
Harley and Ivy (Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Adventures, GothamGirls, Batman: Harley and Ivy)
Catwoman’s my favorite bat-villain, but right now she’s more an anti-hero—or maybe anti-villain. She is to crime what Batman is to the law. So individually, and especially as a pair, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy
rock the bat-villainy. Harley as the Joker’s long-suffering girlfriend and Ivy as a femme fatale can get stale. But together they expand their possibilities with mallets and carnivorous plants. Who doesn’t like to see the ladies empower each other—especially with super serums?
Huang Yaoshi (Legend of Condor Heroes, Return of the Condor Heroes, Legendary Lovers, Ashes of Time)
Huang Yaoshi isn’t necessarily evil, but he will break even his students’ legs if they cross him. He’s a touchy, well-dressed recluse with crazy powerful
martial arts, a beautiful, talented daughter and the only copy of the ultimate martial arts manual. That all spells hijinx with a capital H. Plus, his wife’s body is frozen in a chamber beneath his house, waiting for the day when he can revive her. I guess I’m just a softie for mercurial hermits who love their daughters and just want to be left alone with their dead wives.
The Idea Men (The Tick)
It’s hard to choose just one villain from The Tick. Man-Eating Cow is neat.
Chainsaw Vigilante’s got a great look with his suit, chainsaw and smiley face mask. But even though I’m trying to focus on single supervillains, I’ll go with the Idea Men because they’ve stripped supervillainy to its essentials: nice outfits, a blimp and a Big Idea—stealing a lot of money so they won’t have to work.
Mojo Jojo (The Powerpuff Girls)
Most chimpanzees who become superintelligent and wear clothes after transformative experimental accidents become heroes, but not Mojo Jojo. Mojo Jojo turns to a life of mad science, crime and despising the “accursed
people!” His oration is great, but what made me love him was his indignant exclamation, after an illegal search of his volcano top observatory lair, “We are citizens! Evil citizens, but citizens nonetheless!” Indignation and self-entitlement are central in mad science and villainous monologues.
The Monarch (The Venture Bros).
The Monarch was raised by butterflies, filled with the toxic sap of milkweed—rendering him immune to all poisons—and tools around in a giant flying coccoon. Sure, there are cooler origins and powers, but the Monarch is true to himself. Where other supervillains might pretty up their motivations, loving Dr. Mrs. The Monarch and hating Dr. Venture are good enough for him.
Monsieur Mallah (Doom Patrol, Teen Titans)
In a world filled with evil gorilla masterminds, it’s hard to choose one. Gorilla Grodd has a mind control helmet, is alienated from the goody-goodies in Gorilla City and plans to turn everyone intogorillas. The Venture Bros.‘ King Gorilla is gay and has sharp shoes. And Mike Mignola’s Kriegsaffe are German. But I have a soft spot for Monsieur Mallah. He’s French. He’s a talented scientist and surgeon. He wears a beret and bandoleer. He knows his ordinance. He’s the supervillain gorilla Che or John Rambo. And he’s so alienated, I have no idea what he’s alienated from, unless it’s the peacable world of mountain gorillas.
Of course, one of the things I like about Doom Patrol is that being a gay French Gorilla genius in love with a brain in a cannister is alienating enough. He doesn’t need another reason to join the Brotherhood of Evil.
Steeljack (Astro City: The Tarnished Angel)
Formerly the Steel-jacketed Man, Carl “Steeljack” Donewicz is super strong and
nearly invulnerable with his steel skin and hair. He’s so metal he scrubs with steelwool in the shower. But it’s not his career as a heavy that I love—it’s the Steeljack who tries to reform, but doesn’t have a chance. And not just because he’s a steel Robert Mitchum, he’s seen as a muscleheaded patsy. Physically and
narratively, he embodies the hangdog sadness of Robert Mitchum’s noirs. Knowing he’s done the right thing is all he gets.