Poll Position: Greatest villain organization

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.

{democracy:187}

Without further ado, we race to the Bat Cave of Judgement!


Run! They're CANADIAN!

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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!"
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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? 
  9. 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.
  10. 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?

30 Responses to Poll Position: Greatest villain organization

  1. The Legion of Doom! Dreaded foes of the Super Fools!

    The originals! Accept no substitutes! Or Solomon Grundy will crush you!

  2. “Meanwhile at the Legion of Doom”

    Yeah, my favourite supervillian team up… although I just like it when Joker interacts with people.

    Other villianous organisations:
    – Injustice League (the legion of doom, without the vader swamp base)
    – Masters of Evil
    – The Empire (does that could as villainous organisation? they’re pretty bad)
    – Veidt Enterprises (classing them as villainous really depend whether you think the ends justify the means)

  3. I’m jewish, so I’m bious.

  4. it’s okay thejay even 4th gen german-americans think so.

  5. being in dark horse, marvel,and dc, the nazis had to do the most damage so they got my vote.

  6. being in dark horse, marvel,and dc, the nazis had to do the most damage so they got my vote.

  7. oops sorry double comment

  8. “A group of villains funded by taxpayer dollars is pretty darn sinister in my book.”

    Sounds like Goldman Sachs to me 😆

  9. I went with the nazis, not just beacuse i’m jewish, but also beacuse they’re one of the reasons for the creation of Superman, Captain America and meny other classics.

  10. Let’s see who we can eliminate from this list:
    I love me some Viltrumites, but let’s face facts. If you have to explain to everyone who the Viltrumites are, then they can’t be that great. Invincible was awesome, but it seems like only 5% of comic book nerds have even read it.

    Omega Flight? Being a Canadian, I can assure you I’m not offended by your criticism of this group. I was thinking, “Seriously, you put Omega Flight here?” Really, the whole Alpha Flight series seemed to compound my Canadian inferiority complex to my American neighbors. Which explains why I never got into it.

    I want to eliminate the Nazis because they seem a little too obvious. I mean history’s greatest evil giving us the likes of Hydra, the Red Skull, Baron Zemo, Axis Amerika, various publications’ clones of Adolf Hitler….where was I going with this? Right, the Nazis deserve to be put back on the list.

    Again, I love Legion of Doom, but putting your secret base in a swamp always seemed to say to me that Lex Luthor wasn’t as smart as he let on.

    “I, Gorrila Grodd, had to kill three alligators to get here today, Luthor! This had better be important!”
    “Yes, Grodd. I’ve assembled you all here today to…choose a new masthead for our Legion of Doom stationary!”

    I mean, if you want to put your Darth Vader helmet base somewhere that is both accessible, and yet remote and desolate, you could always have stuck it in Detroit. (Ooooh, too soon?)

    The Skrulls seem like a good idea on paper. In execution, however, I think they have a worse batting average than most on this list. I mean, Deadpool once infiltrated them, convinced them to create Super Skrulls based on him, then convinced his Super Skrull counterparts into killing the genetic engineers that created them, and finally, watched his Super Skrulls blow up because their healing factor was out of control (which he knew would happen).

    Sinestro Corp isn’t on your list, and that makes me sad. Yellow Lanterned bastards would have gotten my vote easy.

    Oh well, I guess I’m going to pick…ummm…the Nazis who I put back on the list I guess? I’m having a hard time picking anyone else, because the scope of their goals is just not that grand, or because of the other various shortcomings I listed.

  11. Surprised HYDRA was left off. Anyway, I picked the Brotherhood.

  12. Nick Hentschel

    Thanks for bringing up the Empire, Frevoli. And yeah, HYDRA should be there, too. Maybe COBRA?

    Ultimately, I’ll have to let the Legion hedge the Nazis out slightly, because they were the very first ones to pop into my head, even before I saw the options. Besides, i can think of no greater show of contempt for the Nazis, no harsher poetic justice, than to let them lose even at being the worst! 😉

  13. @Myro – It’s never too soon to make fun of Detroit!

    This is a fairly tough poll. I might have included a few others including several others mentioned plus the Kree and AIM.

    Of the choices though, I’m going with The Brotherhood. The complexity of the groups motives and tactics set them apart from the very basic and simplistic M.O. of the other groups. The fact that they see themselves as virtuous sets them apart from the pack. Ask most of the rest why they exist as a group and you’ll either get revenge, money, or take over the world. These are simple and often uninspired reasons to band together.

    The Brotherhood pulls off the racial superiority factor from the Nazis, the maliciousness of the worst of them, and the raw power to pull off most of their schemes. Throw in the fact that they believe themselves the heroes of the tale and you get a truly epic villain team.

  14. Even only by comic book standards, the Nazis.
    I mean, what other group could possibly cause Steve “Captain America” Rogers to team up with Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk? What other group could lead to the Joker saying “I may be a criminal lunatic, but I’m an American criminal lunatic!”?

    Although if we’re letting lantern groups in, I’m voting for Necron’s set.

  15. I will say this for the Hellfire Club, by putting their female members in their undergarments when they meet with the high power men of the world they can use sex as a tool. Plus they take a few pictures of the meeting and blackmail the guy later on. This may not make them the best put it should put them above the kids down the street that ring your door bell at 4 am.

  16. Since Cobra isn’t an option, I’m going with the Hellfire Club. Just because Claremont managed to run with a concept like that during the heyday of the Comics Code Authority nonsense. Heh. Maybe the CCA should be on the poll…

  17. I had Cobra on the list at one point, but a) they’re not really a SUPER team and b) they’re not really a COMICS team — I think of them very much more as the animated show and the toys, with the comics purely in a supporting role.

    I had A.I.M. on there briefly too, but they just don’t measure up as a Top Ten group in my book.

  18. Mr.MikeK (13): I will say this for the Brotherhood: most of the other groups didn’t leave much room for defection from the opposing side. However, Magneto made it abundantly clear to the X-Men: “If you’re not with us, you’re against us. But the minute any of you, Charles especially, decide you no longer wish to defend the pathetic human race, and have had your fill of being an X-Man, the Brotherhood will welcome you with open arms.” It always created an interesting dynamic between the heroes and villians when the leaders of each respective group considered the other a friend that just didn’t see the correct way to do things.

    That may, however, have been why I didn’t vote for the Brotherhood. I have too much sympathy for Magneto’s struggle, even if his methods are, at times, abhorrent.

  19. I’m with Myro regarding the exclusion of the Sinestro Corp on this poll; I would have given them my nod. But like most of you I went the Nazis.

  20. I do love seeing Nazis lose. And that’s why I’m not voting for them. I’ll throw in with the Hellfire Club, because with their old-timey outfits, they seem like sinister LARPers.

    (And although it’s neither here nor there, Cobra from the comics is a much better villain organization than Cobra from the cartoons, because they don’t always lose. Either way, though, they do have weirdos in strange costumes, some of whom even have supernatural or genetically engineered powers. And, unlike the others that actually made the list, Cobra has its own band–even if they did have to change their name after that first album, due to a cease and desist order.)

  21. Neon Sequitur

    I’m going for the satirical entry and putting in a vote for the Guild of Calamitous Intent. Hard to root against an evil organization led by David Bowie… sign me up!

  22. I would have put The Masters of Evil on here. Besides the fact that they beat the crap out of Hercules, which is good in my book, they have the word Evil right in their name. And unlike the debatable nature of the Brotherhood, they have no issue with being called Evil. On the subject of the Brotherhood, though, I think the Marauders would be a better pick for a villian team, again because they don’t have the ambiguity of being seen as villians but trying to stand up for mutant rights that the Brotherhood has. The Marauders were just flatout badasses who killed off the Morlocks. Which is again good in my book.

  23. spidercow2010

    I just don’t want, when all’s done, to see “Nazis Win” in ANY context.

  24. Well…. Since you didn’t include Ian T. Healy’s “Legion of T” I’ll guess I’ll just HAVE to go with the Nazis…
    even though I agree it’s bad to see them win at anything.

  25. What is the greatest villain organization in comic book history? Nazi? Hm…fail.
    I hate all the reality stuff in a comic book and so i don´t like the things to associate/relate with them. For seventy years many people need time to work through what took place. But today there are enough other villains in the reality.

  26. William A. Peterson

    I do agree, the Masters of Evil, and the Galactic Empire, both belong on the list, but, really…
    The Nazis win, hands down!
    The Hellfire Club were cool, back when Claremont was writing them, but…
    What have they done to me, lately? 😉

  27. H.Y.D.R.A!!!

  28. Being Jewish, I vote Nazis. I also would have liked to see the Sinestro Corps on here, along with Hydra, and maybe The Hand. Cuz Ninjas are awesome.

  29. Hey Jeff, I’m surprised a longtime Legion fan would leave the Fatal Five off the list. They were one of my favorite villain groups way back when.

    But, yeah, I have to agree though, the Nazis are the ultimate villains. Not just because of their villainy itself, but because of the effects of WW2 on comics. That war, and the Nazis, came to define comics during the Golden Age and set the stage for everything in comics that came after. Comics became as big as they did because people needed an escape from the Nazi aggression and comics were the perfect way to do so.
    So, if not for the Nazis, superheroes may not have caught on in the population at large, and they may have died out as nothing more than adolescent power fantasies.

  30. So, I was discussing this poll with my friends who are cool enough to use the HM3 program to design their characters for our RPG campaign, but can’t be bothered to come to the blog, despite my regular recommendations to do so. One of them mentioned that The League of the Seven Evil Exes from Scott Pilgrim would make a nice addition to the list, but couldn’t be bothered to mention it himself. There you go, Trev, I did your dirty work for you. Too bad you won’t be here to read it.