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.
(Click here for our Top 100 Heroes List!)
(Also click here for parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of our list so far!)
60. Gorilla Grodd
Real Name: Grodd
First Appearance: The Flash #106 (1959)
Enemies: The Flash, the Justice League
“It is the Flash we shall be concentrating on from this moment forward — Flash and Flash alone! Soon he shall be on his knees, begging our mercy.”
Telepathic gorilla alert!
How can you not love this big jerk? Sure, he’s pure evil, has no qualms about killing babies, and actually has a giant spoon for combat and eating people’s brains out of their heads, but he’s a giant telepathic gorilla! Nobody’s perfect.
Truthfully, though, Grodd sucks. He’s a master planner/manipulator type that can also read and control minds and has the strength, speed and durability of an enhanced gorilla (which may be the greatest sentence ever written). He’s allied himself in the past with the likes of Lex Luthor’s Inustice Gang, Amanda Waller, Deathstroke, Brainiac… you get the idea. The point is don’t trust the big gorilla that’s eating that dude’s head with a spoon.
While Grodd has a bone to pick with pretty much everyone affiliated with the League, it’s really the Flash he hates (mostly the Barry Allen version). Flash has been monkeying in his business (pun very much intended) since day one, thankfully, or we’d probably all be either a gorilla’s food or slaves at this point. Combat spoon, indeed.
59. Vandal Savage
Real Name: Vandar Adg
First Appearance: Green Lantern #10 (1943)
Enemies: Immortal Man, the Flash, Justice Society of America
“Send me your superheroes from past, present or future. I’ll kill all of them.”
Vandal Savage is an immortal that has been around since man lived in caves. Over the thousands of lifetimes he’s lived he doesn’t ever seem to change too much: the guy just flat out sucks. There are a surprising amount of immortals in the DC universe, and he knows pretty much every one of them, and they all hate him. The JLA hates him, the JSA hates him, his own daughter hates him, hell I hate him.
Besides being immortal, Savage is very strong and has enhanced speed, durability and healing, as well. All of his time on earth has allowed him to learn every language and master every martial art, form of combat, and weapon there is. He also has enhanced intellect, a ruthless streak a mile long, and all the time in the world. He’s a long-term planner, this guy.
While he often crosses paths with members of the JLA, or the whole gang, it’s really the JSA that grinds this guy’s gears. They’ve been a pain in his ass since the 1940’s and they’re STILL AROUND?!? Man, he hates that.
58. Angstrom Levy
Real Name: Angstrom Levy
First Appearance: Invincible #16 (2004)
“ATTACK! Go! Spread out! Move across the globe–destroy everything in your path! Make them see Invincible. Make them fear Invincible. Make them HATE Invincible!“
You could easily put Conquest or number of other Invincible villains at this spot, but for my money Levy’s the worst of the bunch. He’s kind of like Kang, or Rick Sanchez from Rick & Morty. He has the ability to travel inter-dimensionally, and communicates with countless other versions of himself. He blames Invincible for the accident that caused his appearance to be so… brainy… and concocts horrible plan after horrible plan to get revenge.
He once kidnapped Invincible’s mother and baby brother and smacked the baby around and broke Mark’s (Invincible’s) mom’s arm before he found them and stopped him. He then decided to gather up all of the Invincibles from other realities where Mark had gone bad and then sent them all after our Mark. See? He’s an ass.
This incredibly facially challenged sack of crap has no qualms about hurting anyone (clearly) to get what he wants, and what he wants is always selfish. He may have kind of/sort of turned over a new leaf before the end of the series and his final fate, but I for one don’t believe it would have stuck for more than a week. This dude sucks.
57. Talia Al Ghul
Real Name: Talia Al Ghul
First Appearance: Detective Comics #411 (1971)
Enemies: Batman, Robin, Ra’s Al Ghul
“Tell me, or you will spend the next decade in a white light of pain.”
The daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul, former lover of the Batman and mother of Damian, you would think one of these traits would probably be the defining one for Talia, but that’s not the case. She’s long past caring what her ‘beloved’ thinks of her, she’s long past caring what Damian thinks of her, and she’s tried to kill her father more times than not. The head of the horrible criminal organization Leviathan, Talia may in fact be more dangerous than her father and his League of Assassins ever were.
Forget the terrible ways she’s adapted into other media 90+% of the time. The Talia Al Ghul of the comics is as cold, deceptive, manipulative, cunning, ruthless, intelligent, powerful and dangerous as villains come. Even people like Vandal Savage, who normally don’t give any women opponents/competitors a second look, have second thoughts before dealing with, and certainly before crossing, Talia. The only person who never seems to care is Batman, which always bites him in the ass. At least he got the craziest Robin out of their relationship.
56. Cyborg Superman
Real Name: Henry “Hank” Henshaw
First Appearance: As Henshaw: Adventures of Superman #466 (1990), As Cyborg Superman: Adventures of Superman #500 (1993)
Enemies: Superman, Green Lantern corps
“I’ll write Superman’s legacy — and it’ll be written in blood!“
Hey, remember this piece of shit? I sure do! I went into detail about what a sack of crap this guy is on the podcast here, but the reader’s digest version is that Hank here is sort of like Marvel’s Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, but a worst-case scenario version. Like Reed he went into space with three friends, but that’s about where the similarities end. Upon returning to earth they found new, fantastic powers, but the powers killed each of them shortly after. Henshaw’s consciousness survived thanks to his powers, and he started to inhabit the ‘bodies’ of machines. He got up to villain shenanigans and was promptly beaten by Superman, as is to be expected. When Superman was killed by that a-hole Doomsday, Hank inhabited he body of one of the Superman robots at the Fortress of Solitude and used incomplete data he had to pass off being the resurrected man of steel.
He had everyone fooled, until he pulled one of the biggest dickhead moves of all time and tried to murder the Eradicator and Superboy before revealing he was in league with Mongul, was in charge of Warworld, and then nuked Coast City, hometown of one Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern. Defeated by a revived Superman, he was thought gone. Years later he resurfaced, again in a Superman robot body, but now in charge of thousands upon thousands of Manhunters, the robotic predecessors of the Green Lantern Corps. As one can imagine, he got up to a whole hell of a lot of no good.
In fact, pretty much any time this guy does anything it’s no good for anyone but him.
55. The Void
Real Name: Robert Reynolds
First Appearance: The Sentry #1 (2000)
Enemies: The Sentry
“The truth! I am the inevitable horrid truth of everything, little one. I am where everything goes to die. I am the suffocation of all that you hold dear. The end of hope. The hidden laid bare. I am the end of all lies.“
What do you get when the most powerful superhero in existence has a split personality that exists solely to balance out the good deeds the hero does? You get Bob Reynolds, aka the Sentry, and sadly, aka the Void. As the Sentry, Bob is the strongest guy there is, more than capable of taking out Asgardian gods and throwing down with the Hulk. But for every bus full of kids the Sentry saves the Void crushes one. For every city the Sentry prevents from being leveled the Void annihilates one. As powerful a force of light as the Sentry is, the Void is the equal of that for darkness.
He can be portrayed a little nebulously (see Brian Bendis’ portrayal in New Avengers, Dark Avengers and Mighty Avengers), but one thing is for certain: the Void is terrifying. Even the Hulk is scared of him. The last time he reared his ugly head, during the siege of Asgard by Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers and H.A.M.M.E.R., he was only able to be stopped by a combination of Bob holding the Void back (he just wanted this horrible cycle to end) and an enraged Thor putting every last bit of power he had into a massive kill shot.
That said, it’s only a matter of time before the Void returns, likely more powerful than ever before.
54. The Governor
Real Name: Brian Blake, AKA Philip Blake
First Appearance: The Walking Dead #27
Enemies: Rick Grimes, Michonne, prison survivors
“KILL THEM ALL!“
Think he was bad on the television show? You have no idea. This bag of shit is such a vile monster that even when you see what Michonne does to him- and it’s beyond disturbing- you still think he got off light.
The leader of a small town called Woodbury during the zombie apocalypse, he uses his position to kill people and take what is theirs. He then feeds the people he kills to zombies they keep chained up for ‘fight night’ and keeps the zombified heads in fish tanks in his room for when he wants to ‘relax’. There is also the matter of the little girl zombie he keeps chained up and feeds. Possibly his daughter, possibly not, but we know for sure that he pulls her teeth out and tries to make out with her, he beats and rapes Michonne nearly to death, cuts off Rick’s hand, and is the cause of the loss of the prison as our survivors’ sanctuary and directly kills Tyrese and Hershel, and indirectly causes the deaths of Axel, Patricia, Billy, Lori and baby Judith.
Fuck this guy.
Real Name: William Baker AKA Flint Marko
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #4 (1963)
Enemies: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four
“The Death of Spider-Man.” It would be my masterpiece. It would be glorious…and best of all… it would last forever.”
Man, Steve Ditko was great at designing villains. Nearly all of the villains he created in less than 40 issues of Spider-Man have stuck around to this day, and nearly all of them are still sporting that great Ditko look to some degree. The Sandman, appearing way back in Amazing Spider-Man issue number four, has been a constant thorn in both the web-slinger’s side but the Fantastic Four’s, as well. He’s a founding member of both the Sinister Six (hates Spider-Man) and the Frightful Four (hate the FF). His powers have always made him a tough match up for any hero, and if his heart’s really in the fight you might be totally screwed.
Sandman’s entire body is comprised of- you guessed it- sand. You can punch him as hard as you want, it’s not going to do a damned thing. Early on he was stopped in some rather silly ways, like with a giant vacuum cleaner or with water, but as his mastery over his power has grown over the years, so does the threat he poses. Really, the only thing that prevents him from being much higher on this list, and pobably having a lot of superhero kills under his belt, is that he’s often just not that committed to the whole villain thing. For a time he even tried to go straight and even got a spot on the Avengers reserve members (remember that?)! He’s sadly gone back to his more villainous days since.
52. The Lizard
Real Name: Dr. Curtis Connors
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #6 (1963)
“Connors have picture of you in brain. When Lizard was dumb, Lizard was your prey. Lizard take monkey brain. Lizard no longer dumb. You are prey.“
Speaking of terrific Ditko villains, Curt Connos’ Lizard has been a pain in Spider-Man’s butt since way back in Amazing Spider-Man issue 6! A bit of a tragic figure, Connors turned himself into the Lizard (by accident, but still)! Dr. Connor is missing an arm, and he has never really ever been able to deal with that loss in any kind of healthy way. Instead he became obsessed with the abilities many lizards have of regrowing lost tails and even limbs. He thought he had the serum created to regrow human tissue, but instead of years of trials and testing to make sure that, you know, it worked, he injected it into himself. At first it worked, but then he mutated into the Lizard! The change causes a different persona to come out, and it is not a friendly one.
The Lizard can command reptiles and even communicate with the ‘lizard brain’ part of our brains, causing all kinds of reactions. He’s also monstrously strong, incredibly fast, and likes to swat the crap out of people with his tail before he rips them to pieces with his giant clawed hands and feet, not to mention the giant teeth waiting for you in that ugly mug. Spider-Man has mostly been able to keep the Lizard from doing something horrible, but sadly that has not always been the case (see the incredible Amazing Spider-Man: Shed to see what I mean!). Poor old Doc Connors, it seems, is never done paying the price for his mistake.
51. General Zod
Real Name: Dru-Zod
First Appearance: Adventure Comics #283 (1961)
“Kal-el is above revenge… but I… I. Am. Zod.”
For the life of me I don’t get why Zod hasn’t been a bigger DC villain over the years. He’s like a non-stupid Bizarro. He’s awesome enough that he’s been the main villain in two Superman films and Superman himself considers Zod such a big threat that he’s either banished him to the Phantom Zone or straight up killed him (depending on which continuity you’re looking at. Good old DC).
This guy is scary. He’s got all of the powers of Superman plus a lifetime of military training behind it. If I were running DC I’d have my big summer crossover event be Zod just taking everything over and having a full year of publishing under like a KNEEL BEFORE ZOD banner and just have evil Kryptonians crushing everyone.
He might not have the comic book pedigree of some of the other entries on our list, but Zod is awesome enough that he almost cracks the top 50 anyway.
That’s it for part 4! Be sure to join us for part 6 when we get into our top 50 entries with the likes of The Skrulls, future MCU baddie Kang the Conqueror, and the unstoppable Superboy Prime!
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