Welcome back to my homage to the underused, underrated and downright under appreciated villains from Marvel’s rogues gallery. If you haven’t read part one you can check it our right here. N.b. These characters are in no order other than the order in which my fanboy brain conjures them.
So then… Shall we?
In 1950s America as Frederick Wertham and his noxiously phobic book “Seduction of the Innocent” waged war on comics, the industry decided to retaliate in the only way it could… By censoring their comic books (especially horror comics) and created what we know today as the Comics Code; an attempt to sanitise their output and give comics a more wholesome image.
In the late 60s X-Men writer Roy Thomas envisioned a vampiric-werewolf like character by the name of Karl Lykos (classic Marvel wordplay). Unfortunately the puritanical Comics Code meant that he couldn’t… So instead, in a stroke genius he and Neal Adams created their hybrid creature with all the abilities of both mythical monsters; the thirst for life force and hypnotic powers of Dracula, as well as the transformations and duality of the Wolfman but with the distinct difference being that he was a Pterodactyl-Man.
No shit. A Pterodactyl-Man.
To top it all off he named himself after the lord of evil from the Tolkien books. A wholly unique character that I would hasten to add is a much more terrifying concept than either of his inspirations.
The Red Skull was the protégé of Adolf Hitler, Sin is a protégé of The Red Skull and that rotten apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Daughter to possibly the most evil man in the Marvel universe there relationship had rocky start as after seconds of her being born he goes to throw her off a cliff just for being female…and you thought you had issues. After being convinced by one of his female operatives that she could train her and make her worthy enough to be heir to The Red Skull he let her live. Sin is a sadist. A merciless killer and who would do anything to please dear old dad but he still struggles to see her as anything more than a woman. After The Red Skull’s death she had her own face blown off and now resembles daddy dearest. like father, like daughter.
When you were a kid did you ever dream about owning your very own theme park?
Ever dream about being rich?
Ever dream about killing people in that theme park for the sake of private gain?
What the Hell is wrong with you?
Roll up! Roll up!
Ladies and Germs, welcome to… MurderWorld, a perverse themepark run by the eccentric engineering genius and assassin Arcade.
Whereas most assassins would keep it simple and opt for offing their targets via the traditional guns or maybe knives, Arcade has a flair the extravagant, the morbidly entertaining, and the gruesome! MurderWorld is much like the X-Men’s Danger Room but with a vioent nutcase in a polka dot bow tie at the controls. Grotesque and deadly hard-light holographic projections are the main attraction at this theme park as well as robotic duplicates and automated traps.
Cross The Joker with The Riddler and you have Arcade.
That’s how awesome he is.
While he’s probably one of the LEAST effective assassins in the MU, by heck he does put on a good show!
EDITORS NOTE- Arcade and MurderWorld feature prominently in 1992’s 16-bit masterpiece Spider-Man and the X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge we pay homage to this and many other superhero videogame classics here!
Imagine Dr. Moreau but with enough cosmic power, technical know-how and resources to create an exact duplicate of planet Earth. A driven sociopath looking for the next evolutionary leap for his ‘New-Men’ no matter the cost to himself or others. A man who became Marvel’s allegory for God during his appearances in Warlock (in fact the whole book was a cosmic biblical allegory). His mental instability means his depiction from good to evil to yawningly indifferent has flopped around a lot, but there is no mistaking his power level and genius. He went toe to toe with Galactus when the latter threatened his Counter Earth. I think it is about time for Herbert Wyndham to evolve…
Speaking of religious allegories, Mephisto has to be my favourite! Created by Stan Lee & John Buscema to be a Satanic antagonist for the Christ-like Silver Surfer. There was a time where Satan was a bona-fide Marvel character, but to appease the Comics Code and/or conservatively Christian readers, they stated that other demons were masquerading as Lucifer to play upon those ancient human fears if Devils, Hellfire and damnation. However Mephisto does does the Satanic thing better than anyone, tempting heroes with their most fervent desires in exchange for their souls. Every hero in Marvel Universe has fallen afoul of Mephisto one way or another and has tormented every single one to breaking point. The Prince Of Lies is pure evil and he wouldn’t have it any other way… But I’m still waiting for Marvel to give this devil his due.
A good magician never reveals his secrets and Mysterio is the creme de la creme. Failed actor/special effects guru Quentin Beck decided to put these skills to use framing Spider-Man, which didn’t quite end up going his way.
Nonetheless, given that Spider-Man has his spider-sense, Daredevil & Wolverine have their enhanced senses and the fact that Mysterio has pulled the wool over their eyes (so to speak) with just a bunch of smoke and mirrors should earn him an Oscar for special effects.
The mental anguish and torment he has put those characters through is legendary. Mysterio is the master of misdirection; just when our heroes think they’ve got him or even when he appears to be dead, he’s a puff of smoke… or a robot.
His design is wonderfully bizarre but suits his taste for the theatrical. He is another villain who can’t really give the heroes a run for their money physically, but what he lacks in strength he makes up in ingenuity and creativeness. Sadly, his appearances are few and far between.
Now you see him, now you don’t…
“Energy cannot be created or destroyed it can only be changed from one form to another”
The same could be said about evil with our next villain. Ulysses Klaw a technologically savvy assassin who, with use of stolen Vibranium (acquired after murdering the chieftain of Wakanda) converted himself into a being of solidified sound… it’s a bit wacky I know but run with it!
Now, with the power of sound itself at his disposal, he became an almost unstoppable villain. Just when you thought him destroyed he would reform himself and come back for seconds, becoming more and more powerful in each incarnation with better control over his sonic powers.
For Klaw, the more intense the pain, the more exquisite the scream.
Everyone has dark side right? Well Mr. Hyde has two. Because when Calvin Zabo transforms into Hyde he only gets more horrific and more insane. I love a good muscle-bound engine of destruction, but one with an intellect is infinitely more interesting. He again is another villain without a hint of a good side and revels in destroying & mangling anybody or anything that gets in his way. He has held his own against Thor & The Hulk on several occasions but somehow he seems to be a character who settles often with just being a henchman… I don’t think he’s figured out yet that two heads are better than one.
Every hero needs an evil double, all heroes have them and Spider-Man is no different. Mac Gargan a private investigator was given a vast amount of money by J. Jonah Jameson to undergo experiments to become Spidey’s better. Given the powers of a Scorpion and a robotic tail to boot, he was more than a match for Spider-Man but the experiments also affected his mind and he blamed Jameson for his horrible transformation.
I’ve always loved the design of the character as well as the fact that he always brings Spidey & JJJ together in the same room. It’s always fun to see the antagonists bounce off of each-other. Unfortunately I think they took the sting out of this characters tail by making him the host for the Venom symbiote for number of years but now he’s back as an antagonistic arachnid I can’t wait for him to finally get the exposure that’s coming to him.
A Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing. A combination of genetic manipulation and cybernetic enhancements created by the tech-terrorists, Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.)… Marvel just love their acronyms don’t they?
Modok’s overly large brain can make calculations and computations on a level that the human mind could never even comprehend; often several different ones at the same time. His intelligence almost borders on precognition. Additionally, his hover-chair / armour allow him to concentrate his vast mental powers into devastating bolts of psionic energy as well as boasting various other weapons, including a giant robotic body complete with to-scale gigantic cranium.
From the beautifully-ugly Jack Kirby design to the power set, Modok should be a terrifyingly viable threat, although unfortunately Marvel have a tendency to play him like a joke… Which sometimes works, but often doesn’t. But let’s be honest, if you saw Modok floating towards wouldn’t you be scared??
Honourable Mentions: Terrax, Lilith: Mother Of Demons, Blackheart, Wrecking Crew, U-Foes, Ghost, Ana Kravinoff, Morgan Le Faye, Stryfe, Tiger Shark, Shocker, Super-Skrull, Annihilus, Blastaar & The Leader