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!)
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.*
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...
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!