Top 10: Rogues Galleries by Jerry Whitworth
For the American comic book, superheroes reign supreme. It doesn’t matter if it’s DC, Marvel, Image, or any of the indies. Throw a cape or mask on someone and you got a much better shot than virtually anything else. But, superheroes are useless without another key component: supervillains. Alien invasions and gangsters are great padding, but we read comics to see colorful characters knocking down buildings or placing loved ones in perilous death traps. Imagine a comic book without a Dr. Doom, Joker, or Lex Luthor or a superhero without some Rogues Gallery, Sinister Six, or Monster Society of Evil to battle him or her. It’s a rather depressing notion because what’s the point of dashing off of rooftops or barreling out of a exploding building if there’s no one to legitimately challenge our hero when they survive? Lets see what villains stand atop all others. Though, before we begin, a little disclaimer: I’m purposely sticking to superheroes. With villains for heroes like James Bond, Doctor Who, and Dick Tracy, the list would be too challenging for me to cut to ten.
10. IRON MAN
The armor-clad scientist Iron Man is often troubled by likewise science-inclined enemies. Some of these foes included MODOK and AIM, Blizzard, Whiplash, Controller, Crimson Dynamo, Dreadknight, Iron Monger, Firebrand, Firepower, Force, Ghost, Justin Hammer, Killer Shrike, Living Laser, Mauler, Melter, Titanium Man, Unicorn, Ultimo, Iron Man (sentient armor), Sons of Yinsen, and Mallen. Chief among these, and Iron Man’s nemesis, is the Mandarin, who through use of ten alien rings of science beyond the ken of Earth as it is today formed a powerful China-based organization dedicated to bringing the villain more and more power. Another frequent opponent for the hero is the Maggia, an international crime cartel, whose leader Count Nefaria and his daughter Madame Masque menaced Iron Man for years. Other foes include Hawkeye, Black Widow, Grey Gargoyle, Spymaster, Whirlwind, Mandarin’s son Temugin, and Fin Fang Foom (a Makluan alien that looks like a dragon whose race created the Mandarin’s rings).
9. CAPTAIN MARVEL
A so-called Superman clone, Captain Marvel found his origins in magic, closer to the roots of the Strongman hero archetype of old not only heralding back to Gilgamesh, Herakles, Beowulf, Samson, Hanuman, Raijin, and Sha Wujing, but the hero drew power from heroes (for example, deriving his strength from Hercules), like an avatar but from several beings rather than one. The myriad of villains to face the hero often derived their roots from either mystical origins, organized crime, or that of science fiction. From the magic spectrum, some notable foes include Ibac, Sabbac, Oggar, the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man, the Three Faces of Evil, Blaze (daughter of the wizard Shazam), Mad Mummy, Prince Lucifer, Sabina and the Council of Merlin, Captain Nippon, Darkling, the Four Horsemen, Niatpac Levram, Theo Hagge, and, most notably, Black Adam. A villainous version of Captain Marvel, Black Adam wore a similar costume to his nemesis (though, black in place of red) and also drew power from the gods, only for him it was of the Egyptian set. An earlier disciple of Shazam, Black Adam turned on his master and returned in modern times to battle his replacement. The villain would only appear once during the years the franchise was owned by Fawcett Comics, but when DC Comics licensed the characters in the 1970s he would be a reoccurring threat and reinvented today as a misunderstood anti-hero (still at odds with Captain Marvel). Black Adam would find peace by marrying the heroine Isis and mentor her little brother Osiris until the two were murdered. Adam’s wrath drove him to murder over two million people in the nation of Bialya and slaughter several of Earth’s heroes in a battle that spanned the entire Earth.
Among organized crime, Captain Marvel would find a challenge in dealing with Aunt Minerva and Black Beauty. The former was an elderly crackshot, widowed five times over, she sought Marvel’s hand in marriage and the latter a ruthless operator who killed a crime kingpin and took his role, her downfall came when Marvel tricked her into believing he was in love with her. A conman Marvel had to deal with was his own uncle, Ebenezer Batson, who threw him out when his parents died in order to collect his trust fund and tried to become his guardian when he thought he could gain control of Billy’s Shazam Inc from the youth’s faux-uncle Dudley. Captain Marvel would also deal with America’s enemies during World War II, facing the likes of the Axis Powers and agents like Nippo and Mister Banjo (similarly with Red Vulture during the Korean War).
Much of Captain Marvel’s challenges came from Sci-Fi villains, be it aliens, metahumans, or people empowered with super-science. Some include Captain Nazi (who crippled Captain Marvel Jr), Mister Atom, the Crocodile-Men, Mister Mind and his Monster Society of Evil, King Kull, Chain Lightning, Arson Fiend, Goatman, Evil Eye, Jeepers, and Zazzo. Captain Marvel’s nemesis is the mad scientist Doctor Thaddeus Bodog Sivana. Having faced the hero more than any other villain, Sivana deduced his enemy’s secret identity early on and unleashed his science on the universe in his bid for ruling all of existence. Helping him is his beautiful wife Venus, his equally beautiful daughter Beautia (whom was the Empress of the planet Venus and her father used her to try and seduce Captain Marvel but in time became his ally), his Apollo-like and super-strong son Magnificus (who battled Marvel only to become a friend), and his brilliant other son and daughter Junior and Georgia who take after their father. Sivana has been reinvented over the years, at one time as Billy Batson’s stepuncle and a wealthy business tycoon akin to post-Crisis Lex Luthor.