Thursday, October 23, 2008

Top Ten Rogues Galleries In All Of Geekdom

Surely there are many awesome superheroes; but what makes a superhero truly great? Not his powers, not his costume... but his rogues. You can have the coolest hero with the coolest powers and the coolest costume-but who would give a damn if he or she only fought Captain Lame-o and his goon squad. Here at Geekanerd, we take our villains seriously; they can make or break a hero (ha, sometimes literally!). We also take our lists seriously-so I present to you our TOP TEN ROGUES GALLERIES IN ALL OF GEEKDOM! Also, as an added bonus, the super hero with the lamest rogues gallery... but we'll get to that later.

Firstly, a quick rundown on the criteria. To reach "Rogue" status, a villain needs to plague a hero. No single serving villains here. Secondly, to reach "Gallery" status the villains need to be aware of each other and have some sort of interactivity-whether its a healthy rivalry or the occasional team-up. Alright, enough of the rules, To The List!

#10 Darkwing Duck
First on the list, a cartoon you may have forgotten about-but we here at Geekanerd never will. Not only was this show Disney animated hi jinks at its finest, but it also had the finest villains in your afterschool cartoon lineup. The most common problem with superhero villainy is a painful lack of attention to character personality. Far too often, a villain is simply a vessel for a superhero specifically designed to fight a hero. Same character, different costume. But this Rogues gallery has a varied array of personalities rarely seen in children's tv. With characters like Negaduck, Megavolt, Bushroot, The Liquidator, and Quackerjack; there is no personality overlap. From the willing-to-do-Anything-evil Negaduck to the timid Bushroot (and then of course the bizarre Liquidator who only speaks in TV-ad-speak); its hard to imagine that these characters came from the same studio that gave us the dullest characters ever: Huey, Dewey, and Louie (no no, they're totally different, see? They have different colored hats!)

#9 Freakazoid
This show never gets enough love. Now that it's out on DVD, if you haven't seen it, well you better rectify that. Of course the star attraction is the hilarious and insane Freakazoid-but that doesn't mean his villains don't steal any of the show. The Lobe, Cave Guy, CandleJack, Arms Akimbo, Waylon Jeepers-only a hero as nuts as Freakazoid could deal with this freak show. Some of the funniest moments in all of villainy come from this rogues gallery. The Candlejack episode alone is one of my all time favorites.

Hit the jump for the best Rogues Galleries (and the worst)...

#8 The Venture Brothers
This one may be a bit of a hard sell-most of the villainy occurs off screen in an implied continuity that we are only partly privy to. But, the show takes its villainy very seriously-going to great lengths to create a villainous society with rules, bylaws, statutes and other boring stuff you wouldn't ordinarily associate with villains. And as far as "plaguing" the protagonist goes-you never feel that frustration more than you do on The Venture Brothers-with each attack eliciting hardly more than the lackluster "alright, everyone to the panic room." Of course there's the obvious The Monarch; followed by Dr. Girlfriend (now Dr. Mrs. The Monarch), Baron Underbheit, Phantom Limb, Sgt. Hatred, and even David Bowie... but then you have the implied villainy of The Power Plug, Mecha Mouth, King Gorilla, Mr. Monday, The Intangible Fancy-who knows what any of them did... but you can rest assured that with names like that, their deeds were truly villainous.

#7 The X-Men
Enough funny stuff, let's get down to some serious Superheroics. The first true blue superhero comic to make the list is everyone's favorite team of social outcasts! And their list of rogues is even longer than their ever expanding team roster-You got your Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (who's team roster supplies enough rogues for the Avengers and the Justice League combined), you got your Mr. Sinister, your Apocalypse, your Hellfire Club, your Dark Phoenix, your Sentinels... really, there aren't too many people the X-Men haven't fought over the years. Hell, give Prof. X a nasty helmet and even he'll smash you into a new continuity

#6 Captain Marvel
SHAZAM! *Bonus points if you now what all those letters stand for* Captain Marvel may be a surprise to you, but his villains are all quite memorable-and perfectly fit the pulpy goodness that is Captain Marvel. Each and every one of them could have come out of a pulp magazine from the '20s; Dr. Sivana (the ultimate archetype of your Mad Scientist), Mr. Mind (a planet conquering worm from beyond), Black Adam (a reverse Captain Marvel-getting his powers from those dirty Egyptian gods), and even Captain Nazi (ok, so you would be hard pressed to find him in a '20s pulp mag). Not only are they all great throwbacks to a simpler time, but they've all been given the modern treatment and feature prominently in current DCU affairs. Black Adam is one of my favorite DC characters from the past 2 years!

#5 The Tick
Ok, back to the silly stuff... and it doesn't get much sillier than The Tick. Not the first, but certainly one of the best superhero parodies, The Tick featured an amazing cast of insane villains. Some of my personal favorites include Chairface Chippendale, The Terror (thumbs up to evil!), The Human Ton and his pal Handy, The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight, and of course The Man Eating Cow. Its hard to go wrong when you've got a guy with a chair for a head, a geriatric nut who punched Teddy Roosevelt, and a cow that eats people.*

#4 Daredevil
Now his gallery maybe the smallest of the bunch, but the strength of its individual members more than makes up for the quantity. Sure, he has a healthy sized stable of regular villains (the Owl, Mr. Fear, *cough* Stiltman), but when you think of Daredevil, you think of 3 villains: The Kingpin, Bullseye, and Elektra. And that's enough. These alone are three of the best villains in the Marvel universe-and their relationships to each other are just as messed up as their relationships to Daredevil... its one bizarre ninja family up in there. And of course Kingpin was originally a Spiderman villain; but when Frank Miller took over Daredevil in the '80s, he stole Kingpin from Spidey's stable and remolded him into the menacing and nuanced crime boss that he is today. Also you'd be hard pressed to find a hero/villain rivalry in comics as heated and violent as the Daredevil/Bullseye relationship... I mean he has killed virtually every woman Matt Murdock has ever loved. That's harsh.

#3 The Powerpuff Girls
Sure, laugh all you want, but few have made better use of their rogues gallery than The Powerpuff Girls. Imbuing incredibly unique and bizarre personalities on their villains, this gallery makes frequent appearances on the show-often not as villains but as villainous bystanders merely inconvenienced by the girls' daring-do. With the likes of Mojo Jojo, Fuzzy Lumpkins, the Amoeba Boys, Princess, and the supremely creepy villain known only as "Him," its hard not to respect the care and creativity that went into crafting these villains. You really know the creators loved these guys-getting particularly impressive mileage out of Mojo and Him. You mock, but I stand by this one-Magneto ain't got nothing on Him. (*insert gay villain joke here*)

#2 The Flash
Here's a rogues gallery that took the concept to its natural conclusion-they've actually "unionized" into a group simply called "the rogues." These guys practically brought the phrase "rogues gallery" from the Pinkertons to comics. And besides being ground breakers, they're also endlessly entertaining. Though technically there are dozens, the main cast includes Captain Cold, The Weather Wizard, Mirror Master, The Trickster, Heat Wave, and The Pied Piper. Though on the surface they all seem to represent the mind numbingly dull gimmicked villains of the golden age-they have evolved far beyond that. Practically defined by their obsessions, this motley crew really represent the working man's villain. They have no dreams of world domination or mass destruction-they simply want to make some money, and to make it fast (ha, Flash pun!) Individually they are pretty unimpressive-but as a band they are not only intimidating, but tons of fun to read. Their personalities mesh perfectly to create a group of begrudging friends defined by an ambiguous "code of the rogues." Even in the current Final Crisis, they opted out of joining the DC villains at large to stick to what they do best... fighting scarlet speedsters and looking for a quick payday.

Now, before we get to #1, we wanted to give you our least favorite Rogues Gallery belonging to a big name super hero. Granted, there are definitely worse galleries out there-but none that belong to such an important hero that deserves so much better... so, here it is:

The Lamest Rogues Gallery: Spiderman
I know we're going to get alot of grief for this one, but hear me out-this isn't just nerd-baiting. He's one of the best and most unique superheroes in comics-so why doesn't he have any unique villains? The Vulture, The Rhino, Dr. Octopus, The Lizard, The Scorpion, The Chameleon, (you see the pattern?) I get it... he's a spider-does that mean he has to fight every member of the damned animal kingdom? Sure sure, there are others, Green Goblin, Hobgoblin, Mysterio, Sandman, Electro... but really are any of them that unique? Their goals and motives are all bland and overused; differentiated by little more than a different gimmick and an alternating rate of maniacal giggles... let's be honest-Green Goblin (his arch nemesis I suppose) is little more than a watered down, flying Joker mixed with a healthy dose of Lex Luthor. I'll give you Venom-he's probably the most unique character in the gallery... but not enough to justify the animal themed, experiment-gone-wrong blandness of the rest of em. Too bad they didn't manage to hang onto Kingpin... he's pretty cool.

Now, with that unpleasantness aside, I give you the best Rogues Gallery in all of Geekdom...

#1 Batman
You can argue with me about any of the other members of this list (as I'm sure you will), but there's nothing you can say about Batman. Its a fact; he has the best Rogues Gallery. You're more likely to convince me that the sun revolves around the Earth. How do you counter and obsessive loner bent on an impossible war against crime? Well, throw some even bigger loons his way! Gimmicks and powers don't define these villains, that's too pedestrian. These characters are defined by their own brand of crazy-enough mental illness to fill the DSM. And what's even more amazing, is almost each character alone would be enough to drag any other rogues gallery to the top of this list... but they belong to one man! Joker, Two Face, Penguin, The Riddler, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Clayface, The Madhatter, Mr. Freeze, The Ventriliquist... I mean seriously, its not until you get onto the fourth or fifth floor of Arkham before you start to find villains of questionable merit (the Ten-Eyed man anyone?). I mean, most of these rogues galleries are lucky to have 3 great villains... Batman's got dozens! Sure, Superman can fly and shoot lasers from his face... but you know he's jealous of these badguys while he's busy cleaning up another one of Toyman's big robots. It's too bad Batman is too crazy himself to truly appreciate the brilliance he's "inspired" in his villains.

*Thanks to Johnny Zito for letting us use his awesome Tick Sketch! Milkshake baby! Boom!


Anonymous said...

Sweet list guys. I do think you're nerd baiting with Spiderman though. Green Goblin sucks and there are a lot of duds, but Dr. Octopus and Venom are both pretty great.

Just to add one to the list (that, admittedly, me and AHR discussed last night): TMNT. You start with your basic issue evil Ninja (Shredder) and your obvious evil mutant counterparts to the turtles (Bepop, Rocksteady, Mondo Gecko, etc.), but as the show progressed it got more and more awesomely surreal. I mean, come on, Krang? He was a sentient brain with little brain arms. That's gotta be worth some points. Ain't nothing wrong with the Rat King either.


Anonymous said...

ONe other thing you forgot to mention about Spider man's rogues galley


Not Money but look at Sandman, Mysterio, Vulture, Dr.Octopus, Lizard ect;

almost all of them are wearing green...I geuss to contrast with Spider Man's Red and Blue?

In addition I think they went overboard with teen Spider-man's rogues, I mean really...

An old guy named Adrian and a fat guy named Otto?

Lena said...

Love the Darkwing Duck/PowerPuff Girls love. You guys are geekanerd know your stuff.

Anonymous said...

I like that you have some unexpected stuff on here but you need to read Zot! by Scott McCloud. Some of his villians, like Dekko, are probably the most interesting characters in comics - ever!

Degan said...

You know what's funny? I went over my comic shelf while writing this and came across Zot... but I couldn't think of anyone other than dekko... but yeah-he's awesome.

And TMNT was originally at #10-but I wasn't feeling it as much as Darkwing Duck-there were more villains that I enjoyed (though I did always love Krang)

ryan said...

Good list.

I'd mention that while not part of The Rogues, Flash's other villains have a lot merit, especially Grodd and Zoom.

I do think Superman's rogues are pretty decent with Luthor, Brainiac, Metallo, Doomsday, Bizarro (and all of the other riffs on an evil Superman), and Darkseid.

Nick Marino said...

what's with the hate for spidey's rogues??!!!! i can sort of see where you're coming from but i have to disagree. i think spidey's rogues gallery is one of the most streamlined and and elegant collections of villains. the majority of them are totemistic, which is an appealing thing to me (and it seems like you take issue with that). but what's great about it they each have such well defined personalities and in turn have fantastic character motivations.

Albo said...

I have to disagree with my own party here and say I love Spider-Man's gallery. When Degan asked AHR and I if we had any great rogues galleries for the list the first idea out of my mouth was Spider-Man. Norman Osborn alone is such a great great great villain. He's got a lot more character than any of Batman's crazies. Especially that overrated insane clown pansy.

This comment has been removed by the author.
AHR said...

Zito! Sorry for not crediting you - I found the illustrations for this article so that's entirely my bad. You're credited now - your drawing is awesome, the Mad Bomber What Bombs At Midnight is my personal favorite of the Tick's baddies.

And Albo; let me know when Marvel releases The Best Norman Osborn Stories Ever Told, maybe I'll give it a flip-through.


Thanks for the link; glad you dig the sketch.

I agree with your whole list except for the x-men. The x-men villains were too soapy for me.

I would have replaced them with Superman's baddies: Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Metalo, Bizzaro and Parasite - my favs at least.

I'd be interested to see a list of the worst after reading your accurate assessment of Spidey's gallery.

r said...

Great article! I wasn't familiar with The Flash rogues (beyond names)- I love the fact that they meet together. I also agree, in part, about Spider-man's rogues. I really like his villains, but it seems like there is no clear arch-enemy. Batman has Joker, Superman has Lex Luthor. I think Spider-man's is Green Goblin, but it feels like writers want Venom to be it. Or maybe it's poverty- Joe Quesada didn't seem to like Peter being successful and happy, so maybe Spider-man's greatest foe is poverty.

Tim said...

I'm surprised Dick Tracy's is not here...

Court said...

You have got to be kidding. Venom is the most interesting of the spidey villains? He's black, has the same powers and hates spiderman because he got him fired for faking a photo. That has to be the lamest motive/origin ever and the matching powers is just boring. You think the Goblin is just a retread of Luthor/Joker? Was Luthor also someone Superman looked up to for inspiration and the father of his best friend? Did Luthor drop Lois Lane off a bridge forcing Superman to accidentally kill her while trying to save her?

Who cares if most of his villains are based on animals? Their powers are interesting and some of them have much better back stories than the psychopathic nutjobs that Batman fights every day. I'll take the tragic Curt Conners over most of DC rogues any day.

Oh by the way, if you weren't nerd baiting, you wouldn't have even acknowledged that you didn't choose Spider-Man.

Stan the Man said...

Well... *ahem* we will have to agree to disagree about Spidey's sinister assemblage of assailants, but you completely left out not only a huge contender, but one that was a direct antecedent to your number one pick — Dick Tracy. His rouges gallery is easily equal to if not better and larger than Bats, plus he came first! Maybe you have to be an ossified octogenarian like me to remember back that far, but still... you have to give it up for Chester Gould.


Richard Marcej said...

I agree with Stan the Man, how in the world could any list of Villains not include DickTracy????? Especially since your #1 finisher "borrowed" a lot from Gould's cast.

AHR said...

Yeeeeah...we missed the Dick Tracy villains. That's not good. The Gnerd staff had a meeting to brainstorm the candidates for this article and well....guess we missed one.

The Dick Tracy live-action movie came out when we were just old enough to be excited by it, so we really have no excuse for this oversight.

Bishop said...

I wouldn't say Spider-man has the worst Rogues Gallery, after all, his Rogues are pretty much just as literal as the Flash's. I think Spider-man's rogues were just created to be more playful and ridiculous. They were usually average criminals who somehow gained superpowers, so Spider-man could basically fight idiot goons and have a lot of ammunition for snappy dialog. I think the lack of interest on many people's part with his rogues is that they often aren't that devious, unless Doc Ock (great villain) or the goblin brought them together. I think that's why Ult Spider-man did so well. Spidey's rogues are the perfect comedy fodder, but most of them are less than diabolical. You may not necessarily think of Spidey's rogues as an intriguing group, but I'd almost say that his rogues are the best for single shot issues. They don't need to have a long drawn out storyline, it's great to see Spidey wail on rhino as he bounces off walls and calls him names.

Anonymous said...

Should Gambit really be included in the collage of the X-Men's rouges gallery? He was a member of the team more than he was an adversary.

Bagelman said...

Loved the DarkWing Duck spot.
And I'll agree with you wholeheartedly on the Spidey's Rogues issue. To me, they seem to re-use the same guys. Isn't Venom basically the same enemy as his own black outfit, and awfully similar to Lizard? And Green Goblin and Hobgoblin and Vulture - I tend to clump them all together in my mind. I'm in no way a comic expert, but that's just always kind of been my impression of Spidey's crew.
And ya... Shame on you for missing Dick Tracy. Shame, shame. hey. At least you admit it.

Waldo said...

I hated the freakazoid so much. Whenever that thing was around I would just change the channel Ugh