So, Spider-Man. He does whatever a spider can, which apparently includes swinging overhead, spinning a web any size and catching thieves like flies. However, it seems that what spiders are best at is accruing enemies (just ask the worlds approximately 427 million Arachnophobes), and seen as our favourite wall-crawler has all the abilities of a spider it should come as no surprise that he has made his fair share of enemies during his 55 years in publication. Indeed, he has one of the greatest rogues galleries in all of comics, but who are his best villains, the elite of arachnid adversaries? Well, I guess we need a list.
Honourable Mentions: Rhino (Alexi Sytsevich), Sandman (Flink Marko), Scorpion (Mac Gargan)
10. Electro (Maxwell Dillon)
I know, it's shocking to see such an electrifying villain kicking off our list, but I guess he just couldn't galvanise enough support to make a charge up the rankings. One of the earliest Spider-Man villains, Electro debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #9 back in 1964, where he gained his powers after being struck by lightning whilst repairing a power line, because that's how science works. Since then he has grown strong enough to take control of New York's power supply and kill a person with a single touch, but he's still completely useless against rubber, which is great because it gives me an en-tyre-ly new line of puns to go down (Sorry), and he can still electrocute himself if he's in water when fully charged. Makes you wonder why he tried to team up with Hydro-Man in Spider-Man: Reign.
9. The Vulture (Adrian Toomes)
The latest Spider-Man foe to be brought to the big screen, Vulture is also our first example of one of Stan Lee's favourite Spider-Man villain themes, animal based villainy (see also: Chameleon, Rhino, Scorpion, Jackal, Black Cat, Hammerhead etc. etc. etc.). Debuting in the second ever issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, Toomes was an inventor who used a flight harness of his own invention to commit crimes after discovering that his business partner had stolen all of their funds. Marvel have tried their hand at replacing Toomes in the role three times (due to the fact that, with Toomes being an old man they felt it made Spider-Man look like a bully picking on an OAP), however none have been successful and none have received a second chance in the role, with it always returning to Toomes.
8. Kingpin (Wilson Fisk)
Introduced in the 50th issue of TASM, Wilson Fisk was designed from the off to be the most intricate and complicated villain Marvel had at the time. He was a ruthless killer and a doting family man (once even giving up his life of crime when his wife threatened to leave him), a master criminal and a respected business man, a giant with both immense strength and deceptive speed and agility with enough skill in hand-to-hand combat that he can and has fought Captain America to a stalemate, yet who never really needed to use any of it due to his intelligence, wealth and power over other criminals. Though, probably better known now for his struggles against Daredevil, Kingpin still takes time out of his busy schedule to ensure that Spider-Man doesn't go without, such as ending Spidey's Civil War experience with a bang, literally, by ordering the hit that nearly ended Aunt May's life.
7. Mysterio (Quentin Beck)
It must be really hard to look this cool when you're wearing a goldfish bowl on your head (and quite hard to breath I'd imagine), but somehow he does it, whilst also managing to look like the most prototypical super-villain ever. Another one of Spider-Man's earliest enemies, Mysterio has been around since TASM #13 of 1964. Whilst he has no powers of his own, Mysterio has enough tricks up his sleeve to be able to hang with heroes who can literally punch through steel. He is an expert in special and practical effects, utilising holograms, projections, smokescreens and misdirection to his advantage. He also has a tremendous knowledge of chemicals, specifically hallucinogens, alongside skills in the field of amateur magic (so not the kind Doctor Strange uses), robotics and his hand-to-hand combat training from his days as a Hollywood stuntman. I mean, if you're going to take on superhumans without having any superpowers of your own, that's a pretty good skillset to have. Plus his costume is amazing, dunno if I mentioned that already.
6. Lizard (Dr. Curt Connors)
Comic books often steal ideas from classic literature. Superman is a combination of numerous Greek Mythology tropes, combined with a dash of Tarzan, a template which is used for a few other characters, such as Black Condor or Ka-Zar. And if you want to get more recent wth your classic literature, how about The Strange Case Of Doctor Banner and Mr Hulk, which obviously takes inspiration from Jekyll and Hyde. And that's where Lizard comes in. Like the Incredible Strop, Lizard is another variation on the Jekyll and Hyde trope of a good scientist taking a serum that transforms him into a monster. Now with Dr Connors the serum was in an attempt to use a lizards ability to regrow its tail to regrow his lost arm. Yeah, that didn't work. Which provided Spider-Man with one of his more difficult foes, because since their first meeting in TASM #6, Spidey and Dr. Connors have become close allies, with the good doctor helping the webslinger out on numerous occasions (most notably in the 100th issue arc that saw Spider-Man grow 2 extra pairs of arms when trying to create a serum to remove his spider powers). However, it is never long before the Lizard is back again, trying to destroy humanity so reptiles can once again inherit the Earth.
5. Kraven The Hunter (Sergei Kravinoff)
Have you ever got bored. Like, really bored. What did you do to relieve that boredom? Read a book? Watch TV? Try to hunt down a kill a superhero just to prove you can? Not the last one? Then you obviously are not Kraven The Hunter, because after finding that killing the deadliest animals in the world with his bare hands wasn't thrilling enough for him anymore (I repeat, dude got bored punching lions to death), he decided to try and kill Spider-Man, because why not. I mean, sure. The half-brother of fellow Spider-Man foe, The Chameleon, and son of a Russian Aristocrat who fled to America during the February Revolution of 1917, Kraven has heightened senses, strength, reflexes, speed and stamina, as well as a slowed aging process (the dude is in his 70's btw) thanks to a concoction of herbs, poisons and jungle plants. And it is also worth noting that he was the villain for what is arguably the greatest Spider-Man story of all time, "Kraven's Last Hunt/ Fearful Symmetry", so that get's him points as well.
4. Carnage (Cletus Kassidy)
Need I say more? The picture just spells it out for you. So, what happens when you take the off-spring of the Venom Symbiote, a creature that amplifies its hosts darker and more aggressive feelings whilst giving them powers equivalent to Spider-Man, and then apply that new Symbiote to Cletus Kassidy, a psychopath and serial killer who killed his Grandmother when he was only a child, tried to murder his mother by electrocution and then gutted the family dog, pushed a girl who rejected him in front of a moving bus, burned down the orphanage he was living in after his parents both tried to kill him and for an encore went on to commit 11 further murders as an adult. You get this. Fun fact, Carnage was originally meant to be the second Venom, as Marvel were planning to kill off Eddie Brock but then got cold feet because of the characters increasing popularity. Speaking of which.
-2. Venom (Eddie Brock)
Daddy Carnage actually tied up 2nd place, getting equal votes with the character we'll get to next, but I just thought it'd be a nice segue to go from Carnage to Venom. Either way, our top 3 decimated the competition, with Venom getting double Carnage's votes. But yeah, Venom. So, back in the late 70's a fan wrote to Marvel, suggesting a new suit design for Spider-Man that would be created by Reed Richards and increase Spider-Man's webbing capabilities and ability to stick to walls. It was mostly black but had a large red spider emblem on the chest and stomach. Jim Shooter (who was Editor-In-Chief at the time) loved the idea and paid the fan $220 for the rights to use it, but then couldn't come up with a good story to introduce it, so the idea lay dormant. Fast forward a few years to Secret War, a crossover where various Marvel heroes and villains are taken from Earth to do battle on an alien planet for the purpose of selling toys. During that series, Spidey's costume gets destroyed and he finds a machine that makes him a new one, one that looks very much like the fans idea, only with a white emblem. This later turns out to be an alien parasite called a Symbiote and Spidey abandons it because he discovers that it was trying to permanently bond with him. Unfortunately for the wallcrawler, the Symbiote later finds a new host in the form of Eddie Brock, a shammed reporter exposed as a fraud by Spider-Man. Fuelled by their mutual hatred for Spidey, they become Venom, with all of Spider-Man's powers only much stronger and immune to his spider-sense. Fortunately, unlike his "offspring", Venom has a strong sense of morality and has recently become somewhat of an anti-hero, after a brief spell being bonded to Mac Gargan (otherwise known as Scorpion) that is.
-2. Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius)
There are some names that could only exist in the world of comic books. Names like Lex Luthor, Edward Nigma or, indeed, Doctor Otto Gunther Octavius. Can you imagine meeting a man called Otto Octavius at a party? Or receiving a job application for an Otto Octavius? Or going to your local GP for a check up and hearing the words "Doctor Octavius will see you now"? And of course the man called Doctor Otto Octavius would end up with two extra mechanical limbs after an scientific accident. I mean, you've got to hand it to Stan Lee, the nominative determinism is strong with this one. Anyway, Doc Ock. Well, he debuted in TASM #3, he was the first villain to actually beat Spider-Man in their first encounter, he founded and was the leader of The Sinister Six (a group of Spider-Man's 6 greatest foes), he was the villain chosen by Marvel to team up with Lex Luthor in the first Spider-Man/ Superman crossover, he killed Captian George Stacy (father of Spider-Man's first love Gwen and Peter Parker's mentor at the time) and he's tried to marry Aunt May at least 5 times. Let's just forget about that other thing shall we. You know, the inferior incarnation.
1. Green Goblin (Norman Osborne)
It was always going to come down to these three. I think we all expected it, but who would win? I'm sure no-one is surprised that the Goblin came out on top, but I doubt anyone would have been surprised if either Venom or Doc Ock won either. So why Norman? I mean, the character was killed of and didn't appear for 20 years right? True, however, if we are simply looking at time active in the comics, then Venom has still been around less time, even if you cut out the 20 year break. So, why Norman? Well, quite simply, no other Spider-Man villain has had the same impact as Green Goblin, not just on Spider-Man but on comics as a medium. In comics, Goblin has gone from purely messing with Spider-Man's life to basically taking over the world. He's been behind all of the largest anti-Spider-Man plots in recent memory, from the clone saga onwards. And outside the realm of the printed page, Green Goblin was the character Marvel chose to use in their stand against the Comics Code Authoritiy's regulations on the depiction of drugs when both Marvel and DC were asked by the US Government to run anti-drug storylines, leading on a relaxation of the Code. He was also the first Spider-Man villain to be depicted in film (yes, since then we have seen Doc Ock, Venom, Sandman, Lizard, Electro, Rhino and soon Vulture, but Goblin was the first). And let's not forget the impact that the death of Gwen Stacy had in both the fictional and real worlds. Not only was it a turning point for Spider-Man as a character, but it ended the Silver Age of comics and set a new precedent in comic book story telling, by killing of a main character, the leads love interest, it showed that heroes truly could be fallible, that they wouldn't always win. Would DC have allowed Iris West to die or Aquaman lose his son if it wasn't for Gwen's death? What about Jason Todd? Would they have been bold enough to put his life to a telephone vote had Marvel not already pulled the trigger on one of their beloved characters? Would Marvel have felt secure enough to end the Dark Phoenix saga with Jean Grey's apparent death had they not already done so with Gwen? It's hard to say, because we can't tell if any of these things would have happened if the original hadn't (unless anyone has a spare cosmic treadmill lying about). But just the fact that Green Goblin was the one to do it, the villain who actually beat the hero, is why he takes top spot on this list.
So what do you guys think? Anyone we missed out or left off? Anyone who should be ranked higher/ lower? Let us know in the comments below.
And with that