Villain: a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime (source Dictionary.com). To me, a strong hero is only as good as his/her villain. In my opinion, weak bad guys can only promote weak good guys. So, I say, bring on the baddies! I’ve read comics depicting bad guys as morons or buffoons, which makes me wonder why any hero would waste his or her time. However, I’ve read some hardcore bad guys, the likes of which demand a reader keep lights on and have some form of weapon in hand while reading. Strong villains help shape strong hero characters. The adversity should be difficult and require Superhuman will to overcome. Here are some the villains I admire, yet fear:
Favorite Villain 1 – Red Skull from Old Man Logan (Marvel)
In the future, the bad guys win; Red Skull opens a can of whoop-ass on the Avengers and doesn’t stop until Captain America is dead. Then he and the rest of the baddies parcel out parts of North America like they are slicing a fresh made apple pie. Defining moment: Red Skull putting his fingers through Captain America’s eye sockets. Years later, this certified villain walks around wearing Caps uniform with Caps dried blood still on it.
Favorite Villain 2 – Traveling Salesman from Severed (Image)
The villain of this story comes in the form of an elderly traveling salesman. This man has an unusual taste for human flesh and particularly enjoys victimizing fatherless boys who seek direction and the American Dream in 1916. Defining moment: it’s not unusual to see an older person remove their false teeth. What a reader might not expect is sharper and more deadly teeth to appear in the place of said removed false teeth.
Favorite Villain 3 – Boogie Man from Stuff of Legend (Th3rd World Studios)
Some villains use physical strength or special powers to overwhelm their prey/victims. In the case of the Boogieman, though, it is a victim’s personal weakness that is used against him or her. If there’s a secret on the team, the Boogieman finds it and exploits it with deadly force. Defining moment: the Boogieman uses Percy the Pig’s cowardice to kill the Colonel by tearing him in half.
Favorite Villain 4 – The Governor from The Walking Dead (Image)
It is the end of the world, and civilized life is a thing of the past. So, it’s easy to see how a psychotic narcissist ends up as the leader of a group of weakened survivors, desperate for a sense of belonging and some stability. When the Governor is first introduced, it is obvious his smile is nothing by which to take comfort. He very plainly explains to Rick, Glenn, and Michonne that he feeds town trespassers to walkers for entertainment. Defining moment: within moments of meeting, the Governor demonstrates his sadism by cutting off Rick’s hand.
Favorite Villain 5 – Nixon Nun from Fell (Image)
Detective Richard Fell has his hands full dealing with cases of all sorts in Snowtown. But, what really has him spooked in his new town is the “Nixon Nun”; named so for the Richard Nixon mask she wears on top of her religious habit. Without muttering a single word, Nixon Nun causes Fell’s skin to crawl, and rightly so, as she always appears on the scenes of heinous crimes. Defining moment: as police look on, Nixon Nun solicits a prostitute for nefarious means.
Favorite Villain 6 – Rat Creatures from Bone (Cartoon Books)
It would be easy to dismiss the Rat Creatures in Bone as brainless lemmings doing the bidding of an ineffective king. And, that would be a mistake. Though they have limited thinking capacity, what the Rat Creatures lack in brains, they make in sheer numbers and teeth/claw size. In large packs, Rat Creatures are quite deadly, destroying everything in their path as they carry out orders from their leader. Defining moment: Kingdok makes easy work of Gran’ma Ben, tossing her around like a rag doll. This is noteworthy as Gran’ma Ben withstood battles with Dragons much more daunting and seemingly treacherous than a pack of rats.
Favorite Villain 7 – General Clarkson from Think Tank (Top Cow)
The military is no stranger to collateral damage and sacrifice. So, what is a general to do when a Colonel does not obey orders? When a Colonel gets wind of a clandestine operation not approved by the President, he attempts to blow the whistle and is met with a bullet from General Clarkson. Defining moment: General Clarkson issues punishment for disloyalty with extreme prejudice, spraying the Colonel’s brain matter all over the resident genius Dr. Loren.
Favorite Villain 8 – The Purple Man from Alias (Marvel)
No need for subtly, Zebediah Killgrave, known as the Purple Man, emits a pheromone that allows him to verbally control anyone, including superheroes. In the Marvel Max universe, the Purple Man presents a formidable foe for Jessica Jones (a.k.a. Jewel), and toys with her for several weeks before he is apprehended. Defining moment: Killgrave initially suggests Jessica take her clothes off, using her nakedness as a way to humiliate her. However, upon learning the Avengers are in the area, Killgrave orders her to attack her teammates instead, with devastating results.
Favorite Villain 9 – Doomsday from Superman (DC)
Possessing enough strength to gut punch Superman, Doomsday entered the DC universe with a vengeance. Arriving on the outskirts of Metropolis, he proceeds on a warpath to the city and destroys any superhero attempting to stop him. Defining moment: with a mighty blow Doomsday kills the Man of Steel, something that has never before happened.
Favorite Villain 10 – Alien Invader from Wild’s End (Boom Studios)
An unrelenting machine with a single objective, to Kill! That is the villain of Wild’s End. Aliens land in the sleepy countryside and wreck havoc on occupants. There are no requests or demands, simply the burning of all organic matter (people) that interacts with the alien. Defining moment: villain issues a resident’s death with a full facial blast of fire. Ouch!
This list is by no means all inclusive, there are tons of great villains out there. Have one you want to share? Leave me a comment.