The Top 5 compelling Villains of comic-dom

Posted: April 28, 2009 in Comics, List
Tags: , , , , , ,

I have been extremely lax and lazy with my blogging and also been tied up to an extent with the huge amount of reading that I have done over the past few weeks. I blame it all on Vince Flynn, whose books with its mixture of US politics and counter-terrorism, with a compelling main character who simply put is Jack Bauer (he of the 24 fame) on Speed are quite unputdownable and Raymond Feist, quite simply the best fantasy fiction author after the great JRR, who transports you to a totally different and a magical place. Plus with a 10-day break where I had gone to Indore, blogging decidedly became a low priority. What better way to get back to blogging than to blog about my favorite topic: Comics. We take a look at some of the most compelling villains in comics

5. Norman Osborn aka Green Goblin –

Green Goblin

Green Goblin

Spiderman’s arch enemy, Norman Osborn & Green Goblin are both obsessed with Spiderman wishing nothing more than his death. Borderline schizophrenic and totally psychotic, Norman Osborn was responsible for one of the early murders in comic book history when he killed Spiderman’s sweetheart Gwen Stacy. Osborn after maintaining a low profile over the years shot into limelight recently when he was appointed director of Thunderbolts, the government sponsored initiative to bring in superheroes who refused to accept the Superhuman Registration Act, which precipitated the event Civil War. With a team of super-villains under his control, Norman Osborn managed to gain power while keeping his Goblin personality under check through medication. A brief spell where the Goblin assumed control, led to Goblin killing a member of the Thunderbolts team and proved that Osborn was quite mad and not always in control. Norman Osborn’s rise to power was complete when he was responsible for firing the bullet that killed the Skrull queen, who was leading the alien invasion of Earth and was acknowledged in the eyes of the public as a super-hero. With Tony Stark’s subsequent humiliation and failure, Osborn is now quite the hero leading his own team of Avengers and protecting the planet seemingly, while he has forged alliances with all the other baddies and also has converted the Thunderbolts into his covert hit squad. For a man, who seemingly has everything, Spiderman still remains his touchy point and causes him to drive to the Goblin persona easily. However, Norman Osborn remains the biggest challenge for Marvel heroes as he is remains inarguably one of the brightest, twisted, scheming, cunning and quite insane mind that they have encountered in quite some time.

4. Sinestro –



The greatest Green Lantern and now their greatest enemy, Sinestro was a control freak who ruled over the planet of Korugar as a dictator. Overthrown by his prodigy Hal Jordan and stripped of his status as Green Lantern by the Guardians, Sinestro turns over to the dark side, in this case yellow and swears eternal revenge on the Guardians and Hal Jordan. And so in collusion with the the fear entity Parallax, he contrives to drive Hal Jordan into the evil side and almost destroys the Green Lantern Corps. He forms the Sinestro corps as a counter to the Green Lantern corps fashioning rings that thrive on fear. But in his own twisted way, Sinestro believes that all his deeds are for the good of the Green Lantern Corps. During the course of the bloodbath which was the Sinestro Corps war, he welcomes the new law that the Guardians pass related to usage of lethal force and remarks to Hal Jordan, that this was something that he was always after. Sinestro wants a great pro-activeness from the GLC and believes that to control chaos, order and discipline are important and that is achieved only through fear. Even more interesting, is Sinestro’s relationship with Hal Jordan. Both men had a healthy respect for each other in their early days and counted each other as very close. Since then, while they have been sworn enemies, there is still a reluctance from either side to do much harm on one another.

3. Magneto –



One of the most compelling villains ever, Magneto being in the 3rd place is because of his lack of activity over the past few years. A victim of the Holocaust (for all those interested, please to read Magneto: Testament, among the most brilliant comic on the Holocaust), Magneto aka Eric Magnus Lansherr was determined that mutant would never be persecuted the same way just because they were different. Magneto is a mutant himself, being the master of magnetism. Along with Charles X Xavier, Magneto works for the emancipation of the mutant race. However, their methodology differs as Magneto’s megalomania demands that human beings accept mutants as the superior race and the next stage of evolution. Another facet of their difference lies in the acceptance of violence. Magneto not averse to violence, often threatens governments and UN to get his way. Briefly the ruler of the mutant nation of Genosha, Magneto found peace in his life. However, with the annihilation of Genosha, unlocked a feral rage in Magneto and he went on a rampage. He was also responsible for forcibly removing Admantium from Wolverine’s body,through his control of magnetism. Magneto was among those mutants who lost their power due to the effects of the House of M event. Still Magneto remains the example of a fallen hero who switches over the other side due to his belief in a right cause and is strangely a tragic figure despite all his villainy.

2. Lex Luthor –

President Lex

President Lex

A brilliant scientific mind and a shrewd corporate businessman, Lex Luthor however is defined primarily the hate he has for Superman. Lex Luthor’s life is devoted to the destruction of Superman and all that he stands for. Lex feels he deserves to be the first citizen of Metropolis and is peeved when the city adopts Superman as their favorite son. From his early portrayal as a megalomaniac conqueror who wants to take over the world, to the current description of a suave businessman, Lex Luthor does not possess any superpowers. That, however has not stopped Lex and he even became the President of the United States, much to the chagrin of Superman and was one of the few moments where the man of steel could not do anything. While his term did not last long, as he was exposed for being the baddie that he always was, Lex proved that he was extremely driven and could achieve anything. Often the leader of all the baddies and wanting to take control, Lex also has won the enmity of Batman.  Brilliantly played by Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns, Lex Luthor of the movie shares all the traits of the Lex of the comics – Brilliant, Scheming, Ruthless, Devious, Remorseless.

1. Joker –



Without doubt, the Villain among Villains, Joker would be fresh in the minds, due to the superlative performance of Heath Ledger. Joker has so many origins story that he himself does not know how he became the Joker. However, what he does know is that Batman is a source of good fun and without Batman, life would be boring for him. Joker has been depicted in various iterations from a loony, harmless persona to a mass murderer and a terrorist. A seminal book that examines the relationship between Joker and Batman is Alan Moore’s Killing Joke, where the Joker shoots and paralyzes Barbara Gordon and making Commissioner Gordon look at the shots of his daughter captured on film in an attempt to drive him mad and thus prove that any ordinary man can lose his mind due to a bad day. A vicious killer when he wants to, Joker’s murder of the 2nd Robin, Jason Todd is another instance where he toys with Batman almost daring Batman to kill him. While the Joker is not much of a team player as he is eminently unreliable, he still takes affront when not invited in any super-villain team up and kills Alexander Luthor for not inviting the Joker to be part of the Secret Society of Super-villains. While he was part of the Injustice League, he tries his utmost to bring about mutual infighting in the team and questions Luthor’s authority at every turn. Joker’s meddling does not stop with Batman alone. He literally warps Superman’s world in the Emperor Joker storyline. While playing a key but not a defining role in the Batman R.I.P. event, the Joker is currently lying low but it wont be longer before he tears Gotham apart.

While this completes the list, there were a few who deserved honorable mention but were edged out by these 5 villains on account of sheer personality. The other include Sabretooth, Bullseye, Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin, and Venom.

  1. Bharath says:

    hey Vinay, nice list.. Totally agree with you putting the Joker on top of this (not so)illustrious list.

  2. vinayvasan says:

    Joker deserves to be on top and as Michael Caine tells in Dark Knight “Some people just want to watch the world burn”, this description fits the Joker perfectly. What is interesting is the metamorphosis the character has undergone. Owing to a fear of censors, Joker in the 1970s-80s was portrayed as a comical figure who could do a wild gag but definitely not menacing or homicidal. But once the dark ages started, Joker has been the most chilling, terrifying and unpredictable villain

  3. danjewish says:

    Can’t argue with that top 3. Solid all around. Although I may have gone Riddler at 5.

  4. vinayvasan says:

    Well Riddler is kind of no longer a bad guy now. He is straddling the fence as far as his activities go but I am not ruling him becoming a baddie again ala Two-Face. But Norman Osborn is truly dangerous as he is cunning enough to build a nice popular image for himself while scheming secretly to take over the world. All this when he is pretty much in charge of HAMMER, which is the new SHIELD

  5. Kandarp says:

    Hey Vinay – just came across your blog 🙂

    What about Cobra from Mandrake and Rastapopoulos from Tintin !!

  6. Vinay says:

    Cobra, not really mate.. He is just the usual baddie.. No back history or complexity in him…

    Rastapopoulous, to an extent yes, but again, while villainous, he really does not strike terror the way a Joker would. Again there is no complexity or compelling reason for his villainy. He is more like the Joker of 1960s-70s, when comics operated under the Comic Authority code and thus could not show violence or blood. That Joker was just fooling around, it required the bronze age of comics for things to turn darker and ensure Joker was the dark crazy psychopathic character he was always meant to be

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