Saturday, August 4, 2012

Happy 50th: Spider-Man's Best Villains

       The geniuses of the comic book world (writers, artists, producers and more) have stated that there are two heroes who have the largest and greatest rogue’s galleries: Batman and Spiderman. In his 50 years in the superhero biz, Spiderman has come across a large array of strange, creepy, unique and ultimately timeless villains; villains who have become just about as well-known or recognizable as Spiderman himself. I’ve chosen a select number of rogues based on their popularity, individuality, how much I personally like them and how large their impact were on our hero’s life.

Otto Octavious a.k.a Dr. Octopus
      Doc Ock first appeared in issue #3. He quickly became a fan favorite and soon appeared again, becoming the first villain to make a second appearance. His character is one of the more unusual of the rogues. A bright, scientific mind in control of four, unbreakable mechanical arms, capable of matching all of Spiderman’s acrobatic abilities. Counting all these factors and a lot more I didn’t mention, Doc Ock is definitely one of the best villains, not only in Spiderman’s comics, but in all comics.

Eddie Brock & Cletus Cassidy a.k.a Venom & Carnage
      Venom is the black suit bonded to Eddie Brock making him, what the majority of fans call, their favorite villain. Mainly because of his similarities to Spidey (same powers, similar design etc). Venom is one of the deadliest of foes and always seems to make an appearance in important story arcs. The black symbiote eventually had a red and black offspring that bonded to serial killer Cletus Cassidy, creating Carnage. An even more deadly and ruthless opponent then its “father”, it takes the combined force of Spiderman and Venom to defeat him. The Carnage symbiote even appeared in the “Ben Reilly Saga” after bonding with Reilly to create Spider-Carnage. Venom and Carnage certainly are “the world’s favorite symbiotes.”

“The Animal Kingdom”
      The great thing about Spidey’s villains is that the majority of them are based on animals, like Spiderman himself. This makes for some interesting fighting match-ups and creative titles. Well-known villains from Spidey’s Animal Kingdom include: The Lizard, once Peter’s friend now transformed into a half-man half-lizard. The Scorpion, initially created by J. Jonah Jameson and a scientist to capture and destroy our hero. And The Rhino, a science experiment that permanently fused unbreakable armor to his skin and making him mad for money and obsessed with “squashing no good insects”, I mean arachnids. Many other animal based baddies include Vulture, Iguana, Puma and even Doc Ock can be considered in this category. Its not too often you get a large group of great villains, its even more rare when they fall into a relatively similar category.

Prof. Miles Warren a.k.a The Jackal
      Its funny, I did some research before writing this article, not a whole lot but I checked other people’s lists of Spiderman’s best villains and no one seems to have placed Jackal among their ranks. But why not? The guy is capable of creating duplicates of Peter’s loved ones, duplicating himself, convincing Peter that he is just a clone and ultimately ruining Peter’s life over the course of several years. That looks pretty good on a super villain resume. Sure, the stories he was featured in did get a little out of hand and made you feel the way you did when you started watching Lost half way through, but it wasn’t because of the Jackal’s character. He did create all those clones to help complicate the stories, but you can’t blame him for trying to be a good super villain. If you’re still not convinced, pick up “The Clone Saga” and you’ll soon see how great a nemesis the Jackal is.

Norman Osborn a.k.a The Green Goblin
      The Green Goblin first appeared in 1964, and 48 years later, he’s still causing trouble in the Marvel Universe. The character Norman Osborn didn’t actually appear until 2 years after, but it wasn’t long before Spiderman realized they were one and the same. Green Goblin always had an edge over Spidey’s other villains, because he was the first to discover his secret identity. Since then he’s caused Peter nothing but harm, which would include throwing Gwen Stacy off a bridge to ultimately meet her demise. Osborn’s character was interesting though, having a Jeckal and Hyde complex. A successful, determined businessman on one side and an evil, murdering super villain on the other. Many new characters have taken up the mantle of the Goblin including Osborn’ son Harry, but none could ever surpass the “greatness” of Norman Osborn.

      Once again, I’ve only chosen a select few of Spidey’s greatest villains and I’m sure your lists will look slightly different then mine, but there is no denying these villains are incomparable. Doomsday & Beyond continues to celebrate Spidey’s 50th birthday by examining his best supporting characters, so stay tuned.

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