After a bit of back-and-forth about just what a "villain organization" is, I have arrived at a list of the greatest such groups in comics history so you -- yes, YOU! -- can pass judgement on which is the best of the best. Or worst of the worst, if you prefer.
Without further ado, we race to the Bat Cave of Judgement!
Run! They're CANADIAN!
- The Brotherhood of (Evil) Mutants: You have to admire a group that's able to get people debating the political correctness of including "Evil" in their name. Obviously, they don't think of themselves as evil. Few evil people do, after all. But in a very real sense, their dedication to a goal that in some senses is noble (or at least, understandable) is what elevates them to noteworthy status. They're not just out to kill civilians or rob banks, they're dedicated to the betterment of an entire segment of humanity. Of course that betterment will come at the expense of another, much larger segment of humanity, but that's what makes them evil, no matter what their PR flacks say.
- Hellfire Club: Byzantine power struggles, massive egos, incredible wealth, lust and sex, white bustiers, and powerful mutants. What more could you want out of a villain group?
- The Sinister Six: Doctor Octopus, the Vulture, the electrifying Electro, Kraven the Hunter, master illusionist Mysterio, and the Sandman all got together one day to defeat the man they had failed to destroy on their own -- Spider-Man. What I love most about the Sinister Six is that Dr. Doom turned them down. I bet he gets lots of these sorts of invitations, to the point that he has a form letter he gives to his appointments secretary to return. "DOOM cannot be bothered with your pathetic and puny offer of membership, US Magazine!"
- Viltrumite Empire: For those of you not familiar, this is the race of Kryptonian-like super-powered individuals who are trying to take over the galaxy in the "Invincible" series. If you've ever wondered what Superman would do if he were really a villain, here's your answer times an entire planet full of Supermen. Totally awesome.
- Legion of Doom: They live in a giant Darth Vader helmet in the swamp. 'Nuff said. I've long suspected that Stan Lee slipped the editors at DC this idea while they were all drunk one night.
- Skrull Empire: While a whole planet full of evil Supermen is awesome, at first blush the idea of a whole planet full of Chameleon Boys isn't quite as intimidating. Nonetheless, the Skrulls are so awesome, they can replace other super heroes and no one notices. They have giant green mushroom chins, elf ears, and Hulk skin, and came within a whisker of taking over the entire planet. Plus, they have given us the incredible prospect of the Super Skrull, with flaming invisible stretchy Thing powers.
- Dark Avengers: This is the group of super villains who took the place of the hero Avengers after the fallout from Marvel's Civil War series. Led by Norman Osborn, they did some pretty villainous stuff, all from behind the shield of the government of the United States. A group of villains funded by taxpayer dollars is pretty darn sinister in my book.
- Omega Flight: Look, no offense to our awesome brothers up north, but a lame group of third-tier rejects from an even lamer group of second-tier characters is, like, lame-squared. They were founded to destroy Alpha Flight, whose team motto is "We Still Exist?". Compared to the other villain groups on this list, that's a pretty weak goal. Set your sights higher, guys -- world domination, slaughter of all humans, eradicating the Hundred Thousand Dollar Bar, something with a little consequence, why don't you?
- Frightful Four: At least the Frightful Four were dedicated to eliminating one of the top-tier teams in their universe. They're still just "Opposite of Those Guys" guys, though. Comprised of the Wizard (giant purple pill helmet), Medusa (poster child for Head & Shoulders "Frizz Control" formula), Trapster (formerly known as "Paste Pot Pete"), and Thundra (motto: Who the hell is Thundra?), this is not exactly an all-star cast.
- Nazis: Everyone's favorite punching bag! Some seventy years later and these guys or their philosophical successors are still kicking around in every major comic book publisher's villain stable. There's even a movie coming out this summer featuring them as the main group of villains! I don't see the Frightful Four lighting up the silver screen any time soon, do you? I think not. And what's more fun than seeing a Nazi get punched in the face? Nothing, that's what. Unless it's watching Omega Flight hunt down the last Hundred Thousand Dollar Bar in Ottawa. Plus, you can feel good about beating up Nazis, because they have no overarching sympathetic goals that tempt you into feeling some kind of empathy with them. They're the ultimate bad guy group -- dedicated to evil, since they actually lived they're scary, and they have a wide enough reach to do some seriously messed up stuff.
Looking over that group, I'm going to have to buck the odds and go with the Nazis for the reasons given above. They're just fun to watch get annihilated. Plus, they cross genres -- Indiana freaking Jones and the Blues Brothers both fought them in their movies! I don't see the Skrulls mixing it up in the latest Judd Apatow flick, do you? Of course, some will argue that this diminishes the evilness of the Nazis to the point that they've become too caricatured to be credible. But those people are wrong and stinky.
So which would you choose? And who did I leave off the list that should be on there?