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My Top Ten Favorite Supervillains – Number 4 – Juggernaut

29

Oct

Posted by Steve

Juggernaut.jpgNothing can stop him. Seriously, nothing at all can stop this guy. He’s been beaten up, banished to an asteroid, smashed by the Hulk, weakened, and at time forgotten, but he still keeps coming. My fondness for the heavy hitters of the comic books has been pretty well documented, and this guy is no exception. Cain Marko has family ties to Charles Xavier, and a mystic crystal that makes him practically invincible, superstrong, and virtually unstoppable. As with most Marvel character types he’s got his catchphrase, and it’s always fun to see how writers incorporate, “Nothing can stop The Juggernaut” into his dialogue in various stories.

While I’ve never been a big X-Men fan, I’ve always enjoyed stories of The Juggernaut as he faces off against other heroes in the Marvel U. Some of my favorite battles have come between him and the Hulk, and that little feud is still as undecided as it’s ever been. Let’s face it, when you have the unstoppable force meet the immovable object, it’s 411_2.jpggonna be explosive. One of my all time favorite Juggernaut stories took place when he fought The Mighty Thor during the Acts of Vengeance story that ran through Marvel comics in the early nineties. It was in this story that we were first introduced to the New Warriors, but we also got to see what happens when godlike power meets the mystical might of the unstoppable Juggernaut. It was a good two issue battle.

To me, there’s just something about a villain that has to be phased through a concrete floor to be stopped, and even then our heroes are just buying time. Juggernaut is scary in his stature, so the minute he shows up, practically any hero is going to be a bit intimidated. From there, it’s a slugfest where the hero is just trying to stay alive while he or she figures out not how to stop Juggie, but to get away from him and minimize the damage done.

In fact, the only times we’ve seen Juggernaut be handled well by our heroes are times when Professor X gets into his head. Unfortunately, the helmet he wears prevents that from happening. So, the goal is, get the helmet off of him and let Charlie do his thing. Easier said than done. Especially if Charles Xavier isn’t around, or it’s one of the many times that Prof. X is dead. (Which happens more often than you may think.)

hulkvjug.jpgHe’s big, he’s strong, he’s scary, and he gives The Hulk a run for his money. As far as supervillains go, there’s not much to not like. Then they did the whole thing where they made him a good guy. (Who’s they? You know…THEM.) I’m not a big fan of that sort of thing in comics, but his return to being a baddie was done really well in the pages of The World War Hulk X-Men crossover.

Ultimately, his look, his powers, and the sheer action packed slugfests we’re treated to whenever Juggernaut shows up are reasons that I love this character. I’m sure, based on his association with the X-Titles that he has his share of soap opera-ish drama. I know that he and She-Hulk had a short-lived relationship. However, it’s not the drama that draws me to this character. It’s the kid in me that loves every minute of a comic stuffed full of big panels and splash pages of heroes slugging it out with the big guy. I’m a sucker for a Juggernaut story, and if he’s on the cover, I will probably buy the book. For me, he’s worthy of being on anyone’s favorite villains list.

My Top Ten Favorite Super Villains – Number 5 – Mysterio

23

Oct

Posted by Steve

MysterioPoint.gifI honestly feel like I should have built up the return of this particular column to the website. Frankly, I didn’t know it would be coming back. I was looking back through some of the most recent posts though, and I realized how few of them are actually me writing MY opinions. I figure if I can’t get a podcast out in a timely manner, (well…the Big Honkin Show seems to come out weekly) then the least I can do is drop a little science concerning a little list I started a little over a year ago.

I’m sure some of you are scratching your heads right now. Once again, you are calling my geekdom into question. You went back to the archives and saw guys like Bizarro, Absorbing Man, The Leader, and then you saw THE JOKER floating nowhere near the top five. You see someone like Mysterio in the title and you think, “That Big Honkin’ Steve…ha ha ha… he sure is funny…isn’t he?” It’s hard to imagine after what’s been done to this character on a couple of the Spider-Man video games, and because of the fact that he has a FISHBOWL on his head that he could be in anyone’s top ten. Of course, I’m the guy that put people like Doc Ock, Darkseid, and The Green Goblin in my honorable mentions list.

I have always been fascinated with the character of Mysterio. I know that his story has gotten a little convoluted because a writer thought it would be cool to kill him off a few years back in the pages of a hero with whom he was not known to often run up against no less. Then he came back…then he was someone else…then he was dying…then he wasn’t…a lot of things happened to the character of Mysterio (especially Quentin Beck) that caused him to be cheapened, confusing, and it seems as of late forgotten.

mysterio.jpgPrimarily a Spider-Man villain, I was first introduced to Mysterio in reruns of the old sixties Spider-Man cartoon that used to come on TV when I was just a little kid. I was always fascinated by him, and he’s probably my favorite Spider-Man villain of all time. His origins and abilities are unique, his look is memorable, and he is one of those characters with so much potential to be bigger than he’s ever really been.

What’s not to like about the character of Mysterio? A special effects genius that uses his talents for a life of crime. He appears in a fog that dissolves Spider-Man’s webbing and dulls his Spider-sense. He uses illusions, robots, animatronics, holograms, and lights to throw any who may oppose him off balance. One cool scene I remember comes out of the Amazing Spider-Man storyline “The Return of the Sinister Six.” In it, Mysterio uses an Earthquake machine coupled with his sense bending fog and a little projector to make the drivers of an armored car think a bridge has been shaken into collapsing. He was then going to rob said armored truck had Doctor Octopus not interfered and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Whether solo, or fighting with the Sinister Six against the wall-crawler, Mysterio has often given Spider-Man a run for his money. I honestly think the character could be easily adapted to the big screen and I would even try to see if his look couldn’t be replicated from the comics as closely as possible. I know, I know…the guy is tights, a cape, and a fishbowl. Put them together correctly, though and you have yourself a faceless, classic looking supervillain. Mysterio’s look was the first thing that attracted me to the character. He’s so different than anything else out there. On one hand his look is typical comic fodder what with the tights and cape, but it’s the dome (often completely bubble-shaped) cover over his entire head that sets it all off. What’s behind that mask? Is it alien? Is his face scarred? Disfigured? In the end, the answer is “no,” but the look is still captivating and causes the imagination to work while reading a Mysterio story.

mysterio2.jpgMysterio suffered a defeat at the hands of the Power Pack and, I guess to a lot of writers in the Marvel bullpen lost some credibility. (Even though Franklin Richard, often cited as the most powerful mutant in the world, is part of said Pack of Power.) After that, in the pages of Daredevil he crafted a scheme and went after Daredevil with some really messed up stuff. Daredevil won. Mysterio killed himself. He was dying anyway, having been diagnosed with a brain tumor and cancer after exposure to all the gasses and stuff he used over the years. (Don’t even get me started at how ticked I get about comics trying to be “too real.”)

1989_01_amazingspider_man311_todd_mcfarlane.jpgI honestly think the reason Mysterio was killed off was because there are a lot of people who don’t see his potential. I, on the other hand, think Mysterio is one of the greatest concepts for a villain anywhere. Here’s a guy who has a mastery of practical effects and illusions, it’s not a stretch to say he began to develop hologram tech and couple that with today’s CGI tech. Suddenly, you have a guy that, along with his hallucinatory gas, and hypnotic suggestions, can make anyone believe anything he wants. HOW DO YOU BEAT THAT?

His unique look coupled with formidable abilities are what has always made Mysterio one of my favorite Super Villains. While I know I’m most likely alone in how high he is on my list of favorites, Mysterio will always be one of those characters that I enjoy reading.

My Top Ten Favorite Super Villains – Number 6 – Bizarro

28

Nov

Posted by Steve

bizzaro1.jpgThere’s something about a hero’s twisted duplicate that makes that villain intriguing. For one thing, the reader gets to see the darkest side of our hero through the doppelganger. Added to that, the power set of the villain will give our hero pause as he struggles to find a way to basically defeat himself.  The character of Bizarro was the first and to this day, in my opinion, the best doppelganger super villain.  Bizarro takes all of the elements of the “negative” version of the super hero and adds a touch of sympathetic character.  His “backwards speech,” while annoying and sometimes confusing, is also endearing at the same time adding a certain innocence that belies the danger of the creature.  The idea that this one time clone of the Man of Steel actually has an in-continuity planet out there somewhere populated with other Bizarro characters opens the doors for countless possibilities to complicate the life the World’s greatest super hero.

Bizarro was first introduced way back in a Superboy comic when Superboy was exposed to a duplication ray.  The result was an imperfect duplicate of the Boy of Steel.  Since then, Bizarro has been the number 1 member of the Bizarro World Thrae,  a clone created by Lex Luthor, and the machinations of a Joker/Mkyzptlk team up.   He’s been a comedic character, a dark and sinister foil for Superman, and a tragic figure in the Superman mythos.  In every incarnation, he has presented multiple problems for Supes though.

bizarro.jpgBizarro is a great villain to me because of how sympathetic the character is. Bizarro is a villain that often doesn’t mean to be as menacing and destructive as he actually is. As an imperfect duplicate of Superman, he shares with Superman his desire to be a hero, his desire for acceptance, and his desire for love.  Often, the latter causes Bizarro to set his sights on Superman’s love, Lois Lane.  Never inteding to hurt Lois, Bizarro gets himself in trouble by forcing himself on her and expecting her love.  Of course, Superman won’t (and quite honestly can’t be expected) to tolerate this, so Bizarro will find himself having what he considers love to be taken from him.  His desire to be a hero can be humorous as it is scary.  In his mind, he is doing the right thing even when people are being hurt and dying.  He’s bascially the special needs Super Villain.  I don’t say that to be funny, rather to shed light on what makes Bizarro so sympathetic.  The last time we saw Bizarro, his desire for a relationship with his father caused him to kidnap Jonathan Kent and take him to a world that Bizarro basically created…a Bizarro World.  While this action had to be rectified and Superman had to go save his father, there is a touch of sadness to the idea that Bizarro longs for the same relationship that Superman was able to have with his father.  Both of them.   It is an interesting quandry for Superman because not only does he often have to trade blows with his imperfect duplicate, he also often has to find a way to teach Bizarro why he can’t continue the behavior.  While Superman has to defeat him, he also doesn’t harbor ill will toward him.

Bizarro.jpgWith the imperfect duplicate of Superman comes a power set rivaling that of Krypton’s Last Son.   The key to remember is Bizarro isn’t the OPPOSITE of Superman, rather he is, as has been stated, and IMPERFECT DUPLICATE.  Ideally, Bizarro would have the exact same powers, weaknesses and intelligence.  With the imperfections comes a few differences in the power set.  While Superman has heat vision, Bizarro has freeze vision.  Superman’s cold breath is imperfectly mirrored in Bizarro’s heat breath.  The Man of Steel can’t see through lead, but Bizarro’s x-ray vision can only penetrate plumbum (Latin for lead).  Bizarro does possess the ability to fly, invulnerability, and super speed.  His super strength is often portrayed as being greater than Kal-El’s.  In the recent “Escape From Bizarro Worl” storyline, it was revealed that under a blue sun, Bizarro has the power of Bizarro vision which allows him to create other Bizarro beings.  It was in this way he populated the new Bizarro world.

Because of these similarities and differences in powers, a battle between Superman and his dark reflection is always a fun read complete with great action and Superman actually getting to do something fans enjoy seeing him do…punch someone.  The one advantage Superman may have on Bizarro is his weakness to blue kryptonite which doesn’t affect Superman at all.   The problem?  Blue kryptonite is more rare than the green stuff that hurts and kills Superman.  So often that particuliar plot device can’t be used to save our hero’s skin.

Bizarro’s biggest weakness as a readable villain is probably his “backward” speech.  Hello means good bye, good bye means hello, if Bizarro says he wants to save someone, it usually means he wants to kill someone, and on and on it goes.  The problem is there are apparently no set rules for the way Bizarro talks so from one writer to the next he may be completely coherent or completely confusing.  However, when done right, the Bizarro talk can be funny and a bit endearing.  Yes, I used the word endearing.  It really helps the reader realize that this guy isn’t just not all there, but there is something seriously mentally wrong with the guy in a (as I said before) special needs kind of way.

While Bizarro isn’t as menacing as he was on Superfriends (yes, he was meant to be menacing and batantly evil), as twisted as he has been portrayed on Superfriends, or as loveable as he was portrayd on Superman the animated series, he remains one of the more interesting villains in the rogues gallery of Superman and is worthy of a slot on anyone’s top ten list.

My Top Ten Favorite Super Villains – Number 7 – The Joker

26

Oct

Posted by Steve

435659793_d1cce15ec2_o.jpgHe has been written as a twisted killer, a harmless prankster, a petty thief with elaborate plans, a sadistic murderer bent on revenge, and an anarchist. In any incarnation, though, he’s been completely and utterly insane. He is the Joker, and he is Batman’s greatest foe. There has been a resurgence of recognition and interest in this character in the past year mainly due to Heath Ledger’s amazing portrayal of him in THE DARK KNIGHT. The same thing happened in 1989 with Jack Nicholson’s portrayal. The Joker is obviously an interesting character, and whenever he is brought back into the public conscious by a great actor, people pay attention.

What makes the Joker so interesting? There are several things to me. Surprisingly, his intelligence is one of those things. The Joker, despite his obvious insanity possesses an amazing intellect. The Joker is also scary. He is a twisted version of something that is supposed to bring joy to people, and that adds to his freakiness factor. Finally, in his insanity, and his scariness, and even his intellect, he is a perfect foil to Batman, but he is such a good villain (oxymoron) that when he shows up against other heroes he works really well too.

One cannot deny that the Joker is insane.  He is.  While it’s not an insanity that I feel should absolve him from his crimes, no one  can tell me the guy isn’t completely crazy.  Methodical? Yes.  Conniving? Yes.  Crazy?  YES!!!!

What makes the Joker crazy is not the fact that he doesn’t realize that the atrocities he commits are bad.  Rather, it’s the fact that they are bad and he enjoys every minute of it.  From killing Jason Todd to crippling Barbara Gordan and everything in between, The Joker relishes the chaos and pain he causes.  Especially if it’s Batman feeling the pain.  His laughter is the laughter of a madman truly enjoying his work.  His scemes, or “jokes,” make him laugh and that’s all that really matters.  He’s kind of like the Andy Kaufman of criminals.  It doesn’t matter if everyone else is angry, or doesn’t get the joke.  He is amused, and that’s what matters to him.  It’s almost narcissistic.  No one makes The Joker laugh except The Joker.

kjoke.jpgIn the midst of his insanity, The Joker possesses a twisted intelligence that is mind boggling when one really thinks about it. He makes what he does seem so easy. One of the more compelling stories involving The Joker in my opinion takes place after he is presumed dead. Two Face begins committing crimes all over Gotham taking his instructions from a radio. After several issues of Batman attempting to catch Harvey, and finally thwarting his plan, we are taken to a hospital bed where someone is speaking into a microphone broadcasting a signal to Two Face’s radio. As the panels pull back, it is revealed to be The Joker. While the concept is very “comic booky,” the thought that The Joker could pull off that type of maneuvering while convalescing in a hospital bed reveals an intelligence and a resourcefulness that belies Joker’s obvious insanity. In fact, all of his schemes, while seemingly spur of the moment “fun,” reveal a certain ability to figure out all of the angles in a give situation. Intelligence.

When it comes to the bottom line, though, the Joker is downright scary.  He’s not scary because he is a mass murderer who takes pleasure in his crimes.  Though, certainly, that is scary enough in and of itself.  He’s not scary, because he lurks in the shadows or seeks to strike fear into the hearts of those he terrorizes.  He’s scary BECAUSE HE’S A CLOWN!  I’ve never had a fear of clowns.  In fact, I’ve never quite understood that fear.  Clowns are funny to me.  Clowns bring joy.  The art of being a clown is like any other.  It requires a certain discipline and knowledge.   It requires the ability to evoke a whole range of emotions from sympathy to laughter.  By taking the guise of a clown, The Joker takes something meant to be innocent and fun and turns it into something twisted and diabolical.  That is scary.

The fear he evokes is a broken reflection of the fear that Batman employs.   However, while Batman employs fear to paralyze the criminal element, Joker uses it to paralyze the good people of the world.  AND HE ENJOYS IT.

While most people place The Joker high up on their list of favorites, I can’t say that he’s ultimately my favorite, but  he is definitely one of the best.

My Top Ten Favorite Super Villains – Number 8 – The Absorbing Man

15

Oct

Posted by Steve

440px_AbsorbingMan_Head.jpgWhat do you get when you cross a boxer, a convict, and a man endowed with powers by the Norse god of mishief? Carl “Crusher” Creel. That’s what.

While no one can ever accuse the Absorbing Man of being one of the top dog villains in any Universe, (With the exception of an attempt at a story arc by Bruce Jones, he’s usually a done in one type villain.) (Actually, that’s not fair. I liked what Jones did with the Hulk..mostly. I didn’t even have a problem with the “evolved” absorbing power of Creel.) I have always liked him and found his power visually interesting. He always puts up a good fight against Thor, the Hulk, and in one instance Quasar, and he’s apparently impossible to kill.

Crusher Creel was a washed up boxer with no future when Loki approached him and gave him a magical , unbeknownst to Creel, but knownst to us gave him the power to absorb the properties of anything he touches. And by anything I mean ANYTHING.

I was first introduced to the Absorbing Man in the pages of the Incredible Hulk, and though his origins are that of a Thor villain, he’ll always be in the Hulk’s rogues gallery to me. In the story, he was beaten by touching the Hulk and absorbing all his strength, however, when he calmed down, he became as weak as Banner and the Hulk readily defeated him.

One of the reasons I’ve always like The Absorbing Man was because of a story I read with him early in my comic collecting years. He was pulling himself out of a river having willed himself back together after a battle with The Hulk. AbsorbingManChain.gifLater on in life, Alex Ross was working on Universe X, and one of the subplots of the story was that some Absorbing Man worshipers were finding pieces of him that had been scattered to put him back together and bring him back…basically from the dead. That’s a pretty formidable foe. No matter what you do to him…he can come back.

With his power, The Aborbing Man can put up a fight with practically any super hero. If nothing worthwhile is around, he’ll start by absorbing the metal from his ball and chain.  From there, he may absorb water, brick, other metals, and even energy.   In one particular battle with the Hulk, Creel absorbed the power of an electrical station and the Hulk used water to short him out and defeat him.  (I mention that to make my point about Creel absorbing energy.)

In one interesting absorbtion, Creel found himself facing off with Quasar.   This was in an earlier issue of the series from the late eighties/early nineties.27875_20060324194803_large.jpgIn fact, this is the first appearance of the Absorbing Man after his fight with Hulk in which he aborbed the electricity. In this fight, he absorbed the properties of Quasar’s power bracelets. In a throwback to the first issue, Creel couldn’t contain the power and it “detroyed” him. He’d return later.

From the cover, hopefully you can see one of my other favorite things about The Absorbing Man. He’s visually interesting. The Absorbing Man is one of those characters that can be given a different look depending on his environment or what he has absorbed. It makes for some very neat looks to the character and he turns out being quite visually interesting.

I’d love to see a story (and this may have happened) where Creel absorbs the properties of Captain America’s shield.  He’d be indestructable, and he’d probably look pretty cool too.  (Get on that Marvel.)

Whether it’s steal, rock, water, sand, electricity, or Quasars power bands, The Absorbing Man has the potential of a different look everytime he’s on the page.   It makes for a great challenge to the artist, and also a great freedom.

While I know that The Absorbing Man may not be the most complex or interesting villain in comics, the truth is he provides good times and good fights.   I think it would be possible to see him join the Thunderbolts at some point, because we know from his relationship with Titania that he has some kind of heart underneath that absorbing exterior.

I suppose that’s where I differ, though, from a lot of comics readers.  Depth of character, as it pertains to a villain, isn’t a prerequisite for me to invest in a villain.  I like a villain that can give our hero a good fight, whether it’s over a thwarted bank robbery, a matter of vengeance, or an attempt to take over the world.

I have always enjoyed a good Absorbing Man story and always will.  That’s what puts him in my top ten.