Poll Position: Rank badness

If comic book nerds love one thing, it's the opposite sex. Or the same sex. Really, sex of any kind, but aside from that, if comic book nerds love one thing, it's arguing about rankings. This year I plan on embracing my inner nerd nature fully, and thus I begin by lobbing a virtual parcel of dynamite into the frothy nerd-swirl of a comic book rave by asking:

{democracy:165}

I bet that's the first time you've heard the words "frothy" and "nerd" in the same sentence and not broken out in a nervous sweat.

On your marks ... get set ... ARGUE! Next Tuesday the poll will close and we'll have our official ranking by the HeroMachine community of the greatest villains of ALL TIME!


DoomLand never did overtake DisneyWorld's numbers.
  • Dark Pheonix: Having appeared in far fewer stories than anyone else on the list, the Phoenix Force (via Jean Gray) has had a huge impact on fans for decades. And I respect Marvel for keeping its (her?) exposure so limited, an impulse that is almost impossible for comic publishers to ignore. Leaving the death of billions and the possession of one of their more popular character to the main storyline where it first appeared heightens its impact, much like the death of Gwen Stacy standing stark and powerful in its historical moment.
  • Darkseid: Superman doesn't have the most spectacular rogue's gallery, which when you're dealing with someone who is, by virtue of his marketing power alone, virtually indestructible, isn't hard to understand. But Darkseid's sheer malevolence and granite-faced evil manage the feat. Besides being one of the few to go toe-to-toe with Superman, Darkseid has also spawned (literally, in some cases) a number of other classic characters, from Granny Goodness to Mister Miracle to DeSaad.
  • Dr. Doom: IGN argued that Doom is really the Fantastic Fifth, such an integral foil to the Four that without him, they would not be nearly as successful. His force of personality elevates him to the same stature as the front-line villains against whom he struggles. The scene from "Secret Wars" where he's being flayed by The Beyonder and yet struggles on in his quest to make its power his own is, for my money, one of the all-time classic bits in comics history. Plus you have to love anyone who refers to himself in the third person. "Doom hungers! Doom would like his Twinkie now, knave! No one denies Doom his creamy filling!" Awesome.
  • Lex Luthor: Lex makes it on the list pretty much by riding Superman's coattails. Cape. Whatever. I do think it's interesting the way Luthor has evolved over time in response to the prevailing cultural concept of what the most pressing evil is, from the "mad scientist" of the Fifties to the "Greedy Corporate CEO" of the Me-First Eighties and Nineties. Plus, as a Bald American, I appreciate that someone would be so ticked off at losing his hair, he would turn to a life of super crime. Finally, someone to show the world how much our fleshy noggins appall us!
  • Galactus: Galactus is like the Borg of the Marvel Universe, relentless and implacable and utterly powerful. Unlike the Borg, he never had a "Hugh" or scantily clad vamp version of himself, which is definitely to his credit. But come on, dude eats planets. Dark Phoenix makes the list for killing billions but that's like a mid-day snack for Galactus. And he can pull off a giant purple magnet helmet!
  • Green Goblin: Were his nefarious exploits limited to killing Gwen Stacy and taunting Spider-Man, he'd probably not make the Top Ten. But over time, Norman Osborne has evolved to become a world-class villain, having managed to control his madness long enough to appropriate control of significant chunks of the United States government. That suppressing the Green Goblin portion of his personality has led to his greatest triumphs just sets up the inevitable fall. I'd rank him as the most recent addition to the list, but definitely a worthy one.
  • The Joker: Much like his arch-nemesis, The Joker has the unique ability to be reinterpreted by a multitude of writers and artists without ever losing the essence of what makes him great. I find that remarkable. Whether he's the madcap prince of comic crime of his early incarnation, or the maniacal murderer of Miller's "Dark Knight", or even the chilling anarchist of the latest film, The Joker manages to mirror Batman's various incarnations like a twisted, evil mirror.
  • Kingpin: My favorite version of the Kingpin is from the Frank Miller "Born Again" Daredevil series. This vast, bloated, cold-blooded criminal businessman, driven by a blood thirst to pursue even the most insignificant threats to his kingdom, brooding like a disgusting spider over his empire ... he's just the best "Mob crime lord" archetype out there.
  • Magneto: Another "mirror" type villain, Magneto's complex world-view forces you to treat him as more than just another spandex-clad yahoo out for world domination. Even while you deplore his methods, a part of you can't help but understand why he does what he does, and even sympathize with his goals. None of which prevents you from fearing him, which to me is the hallmark of a great villain.
  • Red Skull: My sense is that the Red Skull's star has fallen in the last twenty years or so, and I don't know how much longer he'd make this list. But he's still the best Nazi-style villain in the offing, and as the quintessential Captain America villain, I think he still merits inclusion.

Rather than pick one of those ten, I want to sit back and hear your arguments for why you'd rank them the way you do. What criteria do you use for picking one over another? Is it sales, or impact on the main titles in which they appear, or personality, powers, or what? Is it important that we sympathize with our villains as we do with Magneto, or is it all right to find them completely alien as in most incarnations of Galactus?

Can't wait to hear what you all come up with!

40 Responses to Poll Position: Rank badness

  1. I’d put Ra’s al Ghul on the list before Red Skull.

    I haven’t really decided on my answer. If I were going for my favorite, it would be the Joker. But if I’m thinking about which one of them is the greatest at being the worst, I don’t know.

  2. I myself don’t consider Galactus a villain, he does what he does becuase he has to. He is literally a higher life form that must devour planets in order to live. IMHO, he’s no more evil than a Hurricane or Earthquake.

    I put my vote into Doom. Sheer willpower, genius, and the uncanny ability to always come back. Not to mention unshakable and indestructible overconfidence. One of My favorite Doom stories is the graphic novel ‘Emperor Doom’ – where he successfully conquered earth and brought about a peaceful utopia. And was utterly bored by it. In the end he allowed a small group of heroes to ‘defeat’ him.

    Magneto would be a close second, he’s pulled off some pretty evil plans in his time, all in the name of Homo-Superior. He out’s thought and reason behind his plans, and never does anything half way.

    Kingpin is just a thug. Yeah, I said it a thug. Green Goblin and Joker are Insane, and insanity is not necessarily evil, or villainous, it’s just somehting a Hero has to deal with upon occasion. These two are one level up from Thug.

    I don’t know a lot about Lex Luthor, but a Criminal Corporate CEO?? No, not getting my vote. Maybe as the evil scientist he’d be on my radar, but not as he is today.

    I don’t know a lot about Darkseid or Red Skull either, never read much they were in.

    Missing from the List; Thanos. Thanos Quest and Infinity Gauntlet are one of my favorite story lines. He Brought everyone; hero and villain to their knees – all becuase he had to have Death as his consort.

  3. Man, this is hard.

    I finally went with Darkseid, but I have to confess, I don’t actually read Superman comics. So I’m pretty much going off the Superman animated series and Justice League Unlimited. And by that standard, I should probably have chosen the Joker. But I do read some Batman, and the Joker in the comics has never entertained me like the BtAS Joker.

  4. I ended up going with Darkseid, with Doom and Osborne rounding out my top 3. Sometimes with evil, a little sophistication and intelligence is called for.
    But like Geneh above, I noticed that not including Thanos was a major omission, Jeff. Someone who just arbitrarily kills off half the universe as a gesture of misguided, well, for lack of a better term, let’s call it “love,” is pretty messed up on the morality scale.

  5. TheRandomHERO

    The Joker, his portrayal in the comic book world and hollywood have been so splendedly well done. Even though his insanity is shown differently in every world, it’s unwaivering. He does what he does purely cause he enjoys it. There is nothing more dangerous or more villianous then someone who does what he does for the enjoyment of it. No goal, no need for domination, or inhalation, there is no end to is madness. With all other villians I’ve seen, they have a target goal, and once that goal is reached, that’s the end. Like with Doom, once he got what he was going for….it was the end. The Joker? there is no end. Even if he got The Batman somehow, he’d just keep doing what he does. That is the ultimate evil. Kinda like the idea of Satan, he’ll do what he does till the end of the world. And possibly past that given the chance. As would the Joker.

  6. Doom got my vote, though it was hard to pick him over Magneto.

    But in the end, overbearing ego, big-time brains, vast wealth and his own country get the vote. Not to mention Doom has one of the most classic bad-ass costumes ever.

  7. I voted for the Red Skull because he is the antithesis to everything, as an american, I stand for. He is an utter monster who wants to destroy everything. This is just so different to the universal acceptance America stands for. He strives only for hate in a world longing for peace. He is pure evil. I do believe the others are worthy, but none match the pure evil of Johann Schmidt.

    My next choice would be Magneto, as his motives are not out of evil, but of acceptance. He just wants his kind to be accepted and the only way he knows how to achieve his dream is through violence. And that’s why he doesn’t get my vote. He’s not truly a villain, but more like an activist who has reluctantly turned to violence.

    Thirdly, I would’ve picked Doom for the reasons lifted above.

  8. I’m going to get a little frothy here Jeff and ask.
    Why wasn’t Onslaught on the list?”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onslaught_(comics)

    After all, this guy basically cleaned house with the Marvel Heroes.

  9. With regards to both Onslaught and Thanos, this isn’t a body-count list or a raw power list. It was intended as a measure of “greatness” and neither of those characters has had the kind of raw, boundary-crossing, title-defining impact of the others. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve been involved in good stories and are excellent villains, but they’re not as integral to the medium (or at least the titles wherein they primarily appear) as the other guys I picked. In my opinion, of course.

    I mean, can you imagine Superman without Luthor? The two are practically inseparable. Same with Magneto and the X-Men, or Batman and the Joker, or the Red Skull and Cap. The Flash, for example, has dozens of villains, but none of them have the same storytelling heft, the same impact on the collective psyche of the book’s readers, as these ten.

    You could easily pick out a dozen characters who have more raw power, or who have killed more sentients, or who have committed more unspeakable acts, than a lot of these guys, but that’s not really the point I was going for.

    I guess one way of thinking of it is, which villains have achieved headliner status, on par with the biggest of the big heroes? If you were to ask a casual or non comics fan, the odds are pretty good they’ve heard of these guys. Onslaught and Thanos and their ilk? Not so much.

    Granted, this is all just my opinion, but that’s part of the fun — mocking the list-maker for making a shitty list is a time-honored part of the foam-flecked nerd debate and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  10. Lol, Foam-Flecked nerd debate? Nice. πŸ™‚

    I get where you are coming from now, but by those criteria, I’m not so sure I would have included Glactus and Dark Phoenix in there with Magneto, Doom, Joker, et al.

    And just to clarify, my interest in Thanos could probably be summed up in the Thanos Quest story; his motivation, ruthless tactics, cunning, combined with his power is why I would categorize him as truly Villainous. Body count aside.

    I mock you and your list, you list maker! :p

  11. Jeff (9): With all due respect, you asked the wrong question then. What you should have been asking is “Which villian is the best foil for their respective heroic nemesis?” You asked who the most evil villian was, and I answered according to what that question meant to me.
    Now excuse me as I wipe my ranting nerd spittle off the face of my phone.

  12. DOOM: To the ones known as “Geneh” and “The Imp”, you have choose wisely. When “The Day of Doom” falls upon the Earth– where fear, pestilence, and death will darken the whole of mankind, and all shall cower before Doom– Doom shall see to it that both of you have a suitable change of attire. The rest of you…sub-creatures will remain trembling in amber-tinged filth because madness gripped your bladders, erupting its contents upon you.

    And as for you, Hebert, you may believe your silence a coy stall tactic, that Doom will overlook it as mere indecisiveness. Doom will not. I expect tribute now. As for the rest of your patrons, they’d serve their best interests in choosing Doom. You all have been warned…

    πŸ™‚

  13. Myro (11): I’ll grant, I don’t usually think these things through very thoroughly — I’m more of a “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” type — but the actual poll question is:

    Who is the greatest comic book villain of all time?

    Obviously the definition of “greatest” will vary from person to person, but it was never driven with the assumption that “greatest” equalled “most evil”. For some it might, in which case I could see how someone like Thanos would beat out, say, Luthor, who isn’t the mass-murdering type. Assuming that murder=evil in your lexicon, that is. And further assuming that any death=murder, but then you have to get into Just War theory, and putting yourself in the big purple boots of Galactus, for instance, and whether as a sentient force of nature he can really be considered a murderer, as GeneH put so well.

    Relative morality FTW!

    Also, I nominate “Now excuse me as I wipe my ranting nerd spittle off the face of my phone” as the Best Sentence of the Week. I tried and tried to work “spittle-flecked” into the post, but it came out “foam-flecked” instead. I think we’ve got a higher class of nerd debate here at HeroMachine.com that results in the upper-crust foam instead of the gutter-spawned spittle. Yeah, that’s right, I played the class card when discussing mucous.

  14. @ Doom: I live to serve, my master.

  15. Well then, in the spirit of true Nerdom, Galactus is more like the Borg than you would like to admit.

    I give you the Silver Surfer. Subverted from the collective, uh, I mean Galactus’ service by the lure of human comraderie and aiding his new human friends against his former master at great cost to himself? Totally Hugh.

    And for the other… Have you met Galacta?

  16. I prefer to pretend that Galacta was just a printing error of some sort.

    As for Silver Surfer being the equivalent of Hugh … hmm. I’d say it’s different more in tone than anything else. Hugh was subverted with sunshine and puppies by the United Federation of Hippies, while the Surfer wrenched himself from Galactus’ servitude through violent will and determination.

    But probably that’s just nit-picking, it’s actually a very good point. To which I wave my hand and say BAH!

  17. Rough parallels at best, but a faulty premise is the core of any good internet debate, so I declare your nuance and tone irrelevant.

    And to briefly detour back to the point, I have to go with Darkseid. His machinations have driven more and more substantial changes to more first tier characters than any other villain in the last ten years.

  18. Darkseid…Doom…Doom…Darkseid…

    In the end, there can be only one!

    DOOM!

  19. William A. Peterson

    Mr. J is a good lunatic, but he’s not really a great Villain, just a very popular one…
    While other villains are more powerful, DOOM is the greatest of them all!
    I was sad to see Ras Al Ghul wasn’t on the list, but he’s a very, very good one, and deserving of inclusion, though not winning…

  20. Watson Bradshaw

    so when I think back to my childhood the villain’s that really scared the pants off me were Doc Doom and the Joker. (because coming from England Doom reminded me of one of the Cybermen, and Joker reminded me of Killer Klowns from outer space, both very freaky)
    But I gotta give it to Doc Doom. Anyone that can take control of a country in a metal mask and green tunic is pretty badass in my opinion.

    http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2011/005/9/b/doctor_vs__doctor_by_docshaner-d36i641.jpg

  21. Joker all the way!!!!!!!!!!!

    “I’ve demonstrated there’s no difference between me and everyone else! All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day. You had a bad day once, am I right? I know I am. I can tell. You had a bad day and everything changed. Why else would you dress up as a flying rat? You had a bad day, and it drove you as crazy as everybody else… Only you won’t admit it! You have to keep pretending that life makes sense, that there’s some point to all this struggling! God, you make me want to puke.” -The Joker-

  22. Cheers, Watson! Even though I’m a Yank, I loves me some Doctor Who. And to see The Doctor pitted against Doctor Doom– I very well may give up a sacrificial nut to see that throwdown. Or better yet, the Doctor vs. Doctor Doom vs. The Daleks. Marvel and IDW (…who publish Stateside Doctor Who comics) need to make this crossover happen!

  23. Jeff (13): Point taken, I was slightly wrong. However, I am sticking with my answer, and still believe Thanos has been done a great disservice by not being included. In fact, I dare say that he deserves to make this list more than Galactus. Killing simply for survival does not make for greatness. Killing to capture the attention of the physical embodiment of Death might.
    Which now brings us to the question of what majesty a villian great? Is it their longevity and history? The vast scope of their evil? Popularity among readers? I profess, at least to me, it is a matter of whether said villian is compelling and interesting. A goods villian can grab my attention, while a great one should be able to thrust my attention into a submission hold. Which means paying attention to motivation. Crazy isn’t that interesting, and neither is survival. A seemingly intelligemt, well-reasoned being capable of wonton disregard for the lives of other sentient beings, be it murder or subjugation, is interesting. Osborne made my top 3 based on the fact that once he had been diagnosed and treated for his insanity, while he was on his meds during Secret Invasion and Dark Reign, he was actually more evil. His more lucid moments brought about a man that was thoroughly confident, ruthless, and exceptionally ambitious. When his his demons started reappearing, my interest waned.
    I will give you that being evil may not even be necessary to even make a great villian. Okay, I don’t believe that myself, but hear me out on this one. Wouldn’t Galactus be more interesting (if less villianous) were he to feel remorse for the lives he takes? Or, at the very least, now laments the fact that he can no longer bring himself to care about the death he causes with every world he devours? Or, as another example, one of my favorite comic book villians is Ozymandias from Watchmen. Here is a man that willingly set out on a plan in which he murdered a couple million people and defrauded the world into believing in an imaginary threat, so as to force the two opposing world superpowers away from a path of mutually assured nuclear destruction, and, by his account felt remorse for their deaths, but felt it necessary so that everyone else would live. I will, however, not discuss the movie, it makes me feel cheapened.
    That’s all I have to say on that. As for my “ranting nerd spittle” comment, well I do try to bring enjoyment to the forum.

  24. I’m a comic reader and I’ve never heard of Thanos. He might have done some major things, but he’s not mainstream enough. I would say more people know who Bane is than Thanos and Bane is far from being the greatest.

    I don’t really consider Ozymandias as a villain. He saved the entire planet from nuclear war. He defies villainy.

    I think I’ve got to go with Darkseid on this one. Dr. Doom rules a country, Darkseid rules a PLANET! As has been argued, Galactus is not very villainous. I’d say he’s more of a force of nature. I think Joker and Magneto are more compelling villains and are better foils for their respective heroes. This makes sense considering Darkseid did not originate as a Superman villain.

    Darkseid gets my vote for a few reasons.
    1. His motivations are to enslave all of life with the Anit-Life Equation. That screams evil and villainy.

    2. He has the resources. An army of parademons, the Female Furies, Granny Goodness, and tons of other people at his command.

    3. He is powerful on his own. He can go toe-to-toe with Superman on his own. That takes a lot.

    That’s just my opinion.

  25. It’s the Joker. hands-down. His utter lunacy isn’t the good part, it’s just that you can’t keep him down, no matter what, because, as in his quote by zaheelee, he is omnipresent. And that’s the really scary part. To think that you have his same criminal madness inside you, and it would take over if you couldn’t cope. Excuse me as I shake off these heebie-jeebies.

    Another hat to throw in the “Well why didn’t you include” ring would be Deathstroke. I understand he’s limited by his own popularity, but I always loved him as not just a villain, but a character. Even before he had so many losses in his life, even before he was powered, he had a mind that was shaped as a weapon. I’d hate to see a Doom-Deathstroke team… even though the manipulations the two cast on each other would tear them apart, I think they could bring the world to its knees before they finally failed. And just think, it would only take one final straw for the Joker in all of us to where we’d finally snap…

  26. Even though the joker is the absolute best villain of all time, I have to agree with Brad and say that Deathstroke would be a close second. I mean, how many Titans has he killed/mutilated/brainwashed into stabbing their own eyes out? The body count jusst keeps getting higher.

  27. Victor. Von. Doom.

    The man dared to try steal omnipotence from a being that even the Living Tribunal feared. His scientific genius surpasses all those in the Marvel universe, and only Thanos could be considered more of a schemer.

    Not only that, but he has a magical skill to backup his scientific prowess. He’s second only to Doctor Strange in terms of magical power, and was actually able to get the drop on Strange and neutralise him on one occasion.

    This man sent Reed Richards’ son to hell, just to show how much he hated him. He’s decimated the FF on several occasions, and even the Avengers have had trouble with him. And if you think you beat him, guess what? It was just a Doombot you were fighting.

  28. I’d pick The Joker. He has stupendously crazy plans, and if given the resources to put them in full effect, he’d be unstoppable.

  29. Doom is not amused…

  30. I think the Joker is overrated. Way overexposed. You’re crazy, I get it!!! And his M.O. is self-defeating. He’s trying to show that the world is a random and chaotic place by creating chaos, but the chaos he creates only exists because he created it, so it’s not really random at all. It’s more like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Dr. Doom is the quintessential villian. Unlike most villians, he’s actually succeeded in some of the things he’s tried, like taking over his homeland, conquering the world (“Emperor Doom”), and stealing the Beyonder’s powers. And all without the benefit of super powers of his own. And he does it with a clean conscience because he thinks what he’s doing if for the greater good. He’s the villian Lex Luthor wishes he was.

    My favorite villians not on the list:

    Anton Arcane, as written during Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing. Creepiest villian ever.

    Multiple Santa, from the Tick. Because he’s Multiple Santa.

  31. @zaheelee, 26: Thanks for the nod back, and the up-vote on Deathstroke πŸ˜€

    I would also fear a team of Deathstroke/ Joker, but the Clown Prince of Crime would obviously make the team defunct before it could bring anything to full fruition. However, a focused madness in the vein of those two could be rather terrible for all of us.

  32. One of the interesting side-effects of reading all the Golden Age comics I use for the daily Random Panels is seeing some of the classic character archetypes played out in a less successful venue.

    Specifically, the chief enemy of Magno and Davey is called The Clown, who is basically the Joker with an even worse costume. He’s just as nasty and sinister as the Joker, but because he’s in a book that didn’t really make it, he seems faintly ridiculous.

    Yet thanks to longevity and some seriously good writing over the decades, we think of the Joker as a classic, great villain, while The Clown is a silly, forgotten sideshow.

    I have no great insight to add here, I just find it interesting.

  33. @Sutter (30): I’d totally forgotten about Arcane! Yep, he’s definitely one of my all time favorites – those New Un-Men… brrrr. I freaking hate bugs.

  34. 1. Darkseid-He’s an acutal (quasi)immortal god, ruler of an entire planet of almost Superman-level beings, and once beat Doomsday in a fight. Plus, out of everyone on this list he’s the most “evil” in the normal sense of the world. Most villains try to steal things, or take over places, but Darkseid’s goal in life is to aquire the anti-life equation–literally a means of destroying all life in the universe. Now that’s some bad stuff.

    2. Lex Luthor-Of the non-powered villains in this list (Luthor, Kingpin, Skull) I’d say he’s the best, since he goes up against basically the strongest hero in the DC multiverse with nothing but his wits to back him up. When you compare Luthor to some of Superman’s other enemies, it would seem like he should be at the bottom of the ladder, not the top, but he’s constantly out performing beings with far greater abilities, and is often shown as the leader of various groups of super villains. Even though he’s just a normal human, these super-powered baddies look to him as their boss, which is just another testament to his skills.

    3. Doom-Doom is similar to Darkseid in that he’s a major villain, with more power than most of his enemies, and the leader of a large group of people (in his case, the country of Latveria). He’s a perfect example of the super villain archetype, what with his evil–and sometimes ridiculously complex–schemes, giant ego, and seemingly endless supply of power, wealth, and lackeys. He is also able to (usually) fight evenly with the entirety of the Fantastic Four by himself, showing not only his strength, but his skills in strategy and combat as well.

    4. (Tie) Joker-The Joker is one of the (if not the) most dangerous of Batman’s enemies. He’s a sociopath who feels no qualms about killing people to make his point, and in fact is usually shown enjoying it. His methods are a little gimmicky, but they work none the less. Aside from his eagerness to kill, Joker is a master manipulator, and has shown in comics, TV, and films to be a genius at causing psychological trauma and torture to his enemies.

    4. (Tie) Red Skull-An evil scientist with a genius-level intellect, Red Skull was one of the driving forces behind the Third Reich. In most versions of his history, he was one of Hitler’s cheif scientists and is known for his devistating and diabolical weapons, both conventional and massively destructive. He was one of the first enemies of Captain Amercia, and also one of his greatest. While not able to match the Captain phsyically, he was more than a match for him intellectually and strategically.

    5. Magneto-Erik Lehnsherr, better known as Magneto, is the main villain of the X-Men. He’s lower on my list because of his gray-area place in the Marvel pantheon. He’s usually portrayed as an evil mastermind, but his reasoning for most of the things he does is seemingly good. While it’s true that he regularly kills people and performs terrorist acts, he’s almost always doing it in an attempt to equalize mutants with humans. I’ve always thought of Magneto’s brotherhood as sort of a mutant version of groups like the Black Panthers, willing to cause violence in the name of peace and equality.

    6. Kingpin-As Geneh said, he’s basically an overgrown thug. He’s like the Marvel version of Rupert Thorn or Tobias Whale, a big, fat gangster with no real powers who becomes less and less of a threat to the hero as time goes on. In his early Daredevil and Spider-man appearences, Kingpin is a challenging foe, but after a while he just becomes an nuisance.

    7. Dark Phoenix-Phoenix may be almost divinely powerful, but she rarely shows up, most likely because of that fact. She may leave devastation and lasting consequences in her wake, but she’s just not around enough for me to consider her for a higher place on my list.

    8. Green Goblin-Norman Osborn, despite being one of Spider-man’s first enemies, is just terrible at being a bad guy. He’s the one villain with a (sort of) secret identity that seems to be better at being a villain as his normal, law-abiding self than as his super-powered alter-ego. As Osborn, he’s a brilliant, ruthless industrialist, who always seems to make things work out for him. But as the Goblin, he’s a bumbling, idiotic minor-leaguer who never comes out on top no matter how hard he tries.

    9. Galactus-I honestly don’t consider Galactus a villain. He’s a villain in the same way that an ant-eater is a villain to a termite mound. He simply needs to devour planets to exist. And the one time the “good guys” actually decided to permanently stop him, they ended up finding out that his purpose in the universe was to keep a super-powerful entity called Abraxas, who was basically evil incarnate, from destroying everything. So, yeah, not really a villain in my eyes.

  35. I have to go with Doctor Doom on this one. In regards to one point, pointed out by both you, Jeff, and Myro(11): Doom is the best example of a villain/dramatic foil, in my opinion. As for why I think he’s the most evil? Look at the “Unthinkable” arc from Waid and Wieringo. One definition of evil is “the intention of causing harm or destruction.” In that story, Doom claimed Valeria Richards as a magical familiar; sent Franklin Richards to Hell, literally; gave Johnny a version of Reed’s stretching powers, and wanted to see how far he could stretch; gave Sue a version of Johnny’s flame powers, without the pain immunity, meaning she felt the fire burn her; made Ben fight creature after creature gladiator-style; and all because he wanted Reed to admit that he wasn’t as smart as Doom.

    That. Is. Evil.

  36. While reading some comics from the early nineties this afternoon, I remembered one villain that I believe should have definitally made the list. Bane. Why is he so evil, you ask? Because he did something no villain had ever done before. He broke the Bat.

  37. But the thing with Bane is, he’s not iconic. Nobody outside of comic readers is gonna know who he is. He’s just not on the same level of notoriety and infamy as your Dooms and Magnetos. Now granted, they’ve been around much longer, so maybe our geek grandkids will be naming Bane the greatest comic book villain of all time in 40 years. πŸ˜€

  38. To me, Bane was a one-shot villain without a whole lot of potential. Kind of like Doomsday, Bane was made to defeat Batman. After that, they didn’t have any more plans for him. So, defeating Batman is great and all, but it takes more than that.

  39. Interesting debates. I had a HARD time with this one too, and I am not 100% with my choice, but I did work myself up to about 85%. The top of the list for me were Dr Doom, Darkseid, Joker, and Dark Phoenix. In the end, that was the order I put my top contenders from this list in, although those top two were the toughest to pick between. I too would have included Thanos on the list, although Darkseid and Dr Doom would have edged him out since his opponents were rewritten to be less impressive so he could beat them in the Infinity Gauntlet.

  40. I have to agree there. In the novelization of No Man’s Land (fabulously written by Greg Rucka), he was merely a hired thug, put there to destroy documents. Sure, he accomplished something incredible, making the Bat less than he was, but after that… there’s nothing left for a villain.