Everyone knows nothing makes a good hero like a great villain. Sherlock Holmes needed Moriarty, G.I. Joe needed Cobra, the rebels needed Darth Vader, etc. Nothing makes a story better quite like an interesting, intriguing, and yet hated adversary. Readers tend to flock to the villains they love to hate. The best villains bring something out of the hero that nobody else does, or force the hero to push themselves further than before to find a way to win.
We wanted to make a top 10 list, but that’s impossible. There are just too many good choices, and we couldn’t agree on any of it. So, we increased the list, and increased it, and increased it (honestly, we probably could have kept going, too). So, before it gets too out of hand, here are our choices for the 100 best villains in comics.
90. Granny Goodness
Real Name: Goodness
First Appearance: Mister Miracle #2 (1971)
Enemies: Big Barda, Mr. Miracle, New Gods
Of all of Darkseid’s goons, Granny Goodness may be the worst. And one of his guys dedicates his entire life to torture! Ol’ Granny here is in charge of breaking people and remolding them in Darkseid’s name. She’s so hateful and evil that her appearance has become more haggard and elderly as time has gone on, despite the fact that New Gods do not age. She has trained every member of the Furies, and psychologically tortured (and often physically; they like to torture, Darkseid’s people do) and manipulated Scott Free, aka Mister Miracle. Whenever she shows her Large Marge-like mug there’s pretty much a 100% chance that you’re totally screwed.
89. Mirror Master
Real Name: Evan McCulloch
First Appearance: Animal Man #8
Enemies: The Flash
Like most Flash villains there have been more than one version, but McCulloch is the most villainous of them all. Able to use his mirror gun to transport between reflective surfaces was the shtick for a while, but eventually he started to be able to transport without the gun, and even dragged the Flash into the mirror world for a crazy ass adventure. See, he doesn’t just hop between mirrors, he can travel through any reflective surface, and he controls access to the portals so you can be chasing him and try to jump through the ‘portal’ he just went in and instead jump face first into a mirror, or window, or ice, etc. He can trap people inside reflections, too, so that’s fun.
88. Atrocitus/Red Lanterns
Real Name: Atros
First Appearance: Green Lantern #29 (2008)
Enemies: Guardians, Sinestro, Green Lantern corps
Head jerkass of the intergalactic not-quite-zombies-but-sort-of-28 days later-ish Red Lantern Corps, Atrocitus has been a pain in the Green Lanterns and Guardians’ collective backsides’ for a very, very long time. Unlike the Green Lanterns whose power is based in will, or the Sinestro Corps whose power is based in fear, the Red Lanterns’ power is based in rage. If you are full of enough rage to summon a red ring to you and accept it, it makes all of your blood pour out of your pores, your eyes, nose, ears, mouth, etc until it’s been entirely replaced by what is, essentially, Liquid Rage ™.
Although Atrocitus does have major issues with the Green Lanterns, his problems are really more with their diminutive, dick-ish bosses, the Guardians than anything else. He also has a real, real, mad-on for killing Sinestro, and one of his most trusted lieutenants is an Earthling cat with a ring on its tail, so you might think ‘hey, he’s not all bad’, even though he looks like something from the minds of Wes Craven or Clive Barker. But then he’s pulling a Nova and yanking your guts out through your mouth while he’s spraying blood everywhere and you think maybe, sometimes, it’s ok to judge a book by its cover.
87. Purple Man
Real Name: Zebediah Killgrave
First Appearance: Daredevil #4 (1964)
Enemies: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage
This walking bag of shit has the ability to compel others to do whatever he says. Something about the pheromones he emits and a certain quality in his voice makes him more compelling than the majority of telepaths. So, does he use this ability for anything remotely good? Hell, no! He’s a thief, a coward, and a rapist. Technically he’s a murderer, as well, although it’s hard to prove he killed someone by suggesting they kill themselves. While he’s got a grocery lists’ worth of truly evil deeds under his belt, his years’ long subjugation of Jessica Jones has got to top the list.
86. Dr. Light
Real Name: Arthur Light
First Appearance: Justice League of America #12 (1962)
Enemies: Cyborg, Green Arrow, Teen Titans, Dr. Light (Kimiyo Hoshi)
Man, while we are talking about piece of shit rapists…
Arthur Light was a rather formidable JLA villain before he was lobotomized by Zatanna after being discovered sexually assaulting Sue Dibny, the wife of JLA member the Elongated Man. For years after that he was an afterthought- easily handled by the Teen Titans. When his mind was restored, he regained the edge he had lost and became truly scary again. Able to manipulate light waves, he can become nearly invisible, create blinding flashes of light, focused laser like blasts capable of great damage, flight, and more. He took out dozens of members of the Teen Titans and Green Arrow and his whole team all at once! Still, it’s hard not to want Hawkman or someone to knock his head clean off of his body.
Real Name: Daken Akihiro
First Appearance: Wolverine: Origins #11
Enemies: Wolverine, Romulus.
It’s true that these days he is a citizen of Krakoa and has found a place in the family unit surrounding Wolverine (Daken, X-23, Scout), but before that he was one of Logan’s most dangerous enemies to date. The true, biological son of Wolverine, he also has the same enhanced senses and claws, as well as the insane healing factor. But he may be even faster than his father, and while Wolverine was able to escape Weapon X and the masterminds behind it to the protection of Alpha Flight then the X-Men, Daken never had such luck. Conditioned to hate his father and be the ultimate assassin, he made for one horrifying combination, and one heck of an addition the Wolverine’s rogue’s gallery.
Real Name: Kevin MacTaggert
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #125
Enemies: Moira MacTaggert, Professor X, X-Men
Nowadays he’s one of the most crucial members of mutant society and revered by all as a member of the life giving The Five, but for quite a while old Proteus here was one of the X-Men’s worst villains ever. Born with the ability to warp reality, this power was so great that it would burn out his body, leaving him a being of pure energy that would have to hijack others’ bodies to survive. His turn to the side of the angels, or at least the mutants, is a welcome one, as he is way too scary to have running around with grudges.
Real Name: Surtur
First Appearance: Journey Into Mystery #99 (1963)
Enemies: Odin, Thor, Asgard
While he was mostly played for laughs in his most famous appearance to most people (the MCU’s Thor: Ragnarok), Surtur is no joke. This eternally cheesed off giant rage monster made of fire has one goal: the destruction of the kingdom of Asgard and bringing about the fabled Ragnarok: the death of the Gods. He has actually done so more than once, it turns out, as the Gods were caught in an endless cycle of resurrection. That means he’s actually destroyed Thor, Loki, Odin, and all of Asgard MULTIPLE TIMES. Surtur, and his fire kingdom in the land of Muspelhiem, is straight up terrifying.
Real Name: Quentin Beck
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #13
Hey, it’s old fishbowl head! There have been a couple of different Mysterio’s over the years, but nobody touches the original, Quentin Beck. He goes back a very long way with the old web head, having appeared nearly 900 issues ago! Mysterio creates illusions- ones so powerful that they can fool anyone. Ask Wolverine in the story “Old Man Logan”, he’ll tell you! Or Daredevil in “Guardian Devil”! Hell, 9 out of 10 super-heroes agree that Mysterio is a real pain in the ass. That said, you kind of have to love the guy. His powers lead to some really excellent “Gotcha!” moments, and his look, while bizarre, is legitimately one of my favorite villain designs ever. Really any of the Steve Ditko Spider-Man villains are great, but Mysterio is one of the very best. He’s also a founding member of the greatest villain team ever: the Sinister Six!
Real Name: Bastion
First Appearance: X-Men #52 (1996)
Enemies: All mutants, the X-Men
As a villain of the X-Men in the 1990’s it’s surprising to no one that his full backstory is complex and relies on years of familiarity with what came before. Suffice to say, he is a human/sentinel hybrid of the highest order. He can do everything a Sentinel can do as his body is the result of fusing a Nimrod (an unstoppable future sentinel) with a Master Mold (a sentinel that builds other sentinels), and that means he’s really, really, REALLY good at killing mutants. His most famous victim was Nightcrawler, but as mutants found a way around that pesky ‘mortality’ thing, his ‘victory’ has been taken from him. This guy is an ass, but he’s insanely dangerous.
That’s it for this time; join us in part 3 of our countdown for all-time jerks such as the Anti-Monitor, Electro, and Barracuda!