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Eight Stupid Ways Comic Book Villains Were Defeated

Chris Peruzzi is a comic book superhero historian who is passionate about how today's comic book heroes are the new mythology for America.

Some failures are epic

Some failures are epic

It takes a lot of work to be a villain.

There’s a lot to be said about planning, organizing, henchmen training, and hunting for semi-dormant volcanoes as real estate for your secret base. Successful villains know what palms to grease and can do a good evil laugh from their diaphragm.

And that takes a lot of work.

Some villains, despite doing almost everything right in their plotting, forget that obvious critical detail that allows those damn heroes to survive nearly perfect deathtraps. However, they shouldn’t lose too much hope. There are plenty of comic book villains that have made incredibly stupid mistakes, and some have survived to tell their tales.

Joker and phenomenal cosmic power don't mix.

Joker and phenomenal cosmic power don't mix.

8. The Joker Loses Godhood Because He Can’t Stop Thinking of Batman

Mister Mxyzptlk was tricked by the Joker into giving him ninety-nine percent of his powers. The Joker recreated reality in his vision and essentially became God.

Despite all of Superman’s efforts, he just couldn’t beat the Joker – even with the help of Mxyzptlk and the Spectre. Worst of all, Batman was tortured continuously by the Joker and kept killing and resurrecting him every day.

Ultimately the Joker planned to destroy all that was. Superman realized that the Joker’s weakness was the existence of Batman, himself – that as many times as he killed the Batman he needed him alive to obsess over and that the Dark Knight defined him. Hence the Joker could never destroy existence because Batman would be destroyed with it.

In trying to "not think of Batman", he kept bringing him back. The experience drove Joker into catatonia.


Easy come. Easy go.

Easy come. Easy go.

7. Thanos Forgets He Needs the Infinity Gauntlet

The funny part was this wasn’t Thanos’s first time as God.

He first gained godhood when he stole the Cosmic Cube. Ironically, he screwed up the same way–which is extra points on the stupidity scale. In what was one of the most deviously contrived quests done in Marvel Comics, Thanos gathered all six of the Infinity Gems and mounted them on his own gauntlet to become the master of all time, space, reality, power, mind, and soul.

He did this to woo Death by eliminating half the life in the universe. In a snap of his fingers, half the life in the universe disappeared. All of the heroes of the Marvel Universe (that survived) gathered together to fix everything. After subduing all comers, Thanos claimed his place as God by leaving his body unattended and became Eternity.

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The problem was that by doing that he left the source of his power with his mortal body...where it was instantly grabbed by his tortured “granddaughter”, Nebula–who undid everything Thanos made.

Sources: The Thanos Quest vol 1&2, The Infinity Gauntlet issues 1-6

Starro, the giant starfish conqueror

Starro, the giant starfish conqueror

6. Starro the Conqueror Is Beaten by Quicklime

Those of us who know who Starro the Conqueror is, know him for being as a dangerous viral-like menace.

Starro, himself, is a large starfish creature capable of making mini-drones that control entire planet populations into becoming a hive mind. Unfortunately, Starro’s biology is really too close to that of an Earth starfish and succumbs quickly to quicklime–oops.

Let me repeat that—quicklime. It's what people use to keep their lawns fresh.

The Justice League of America’s team mascot and most annoying hep-cat ever created in comics, Snapper Carr, fresh from working in his parents' garden and covered with quicklime was immune to Starro’s powers. He helped the JLA heroes to cover the creature with calcium oxide (quicklime) to defeat it.

Source: The Brave and the Bold #28


5. Skrulls Invade Earth Only To Be Transformed Into Cows

There’s a real need for organization and research before planning an invasion.

If Starro had known about quicklime and starfish, he might have given Earth a pass and let his drones do all the work. In the case of the shape-changing Skrulls in the Marvel Universe, we have something a little more elementary. The Skrulls acknowledged that the Fantastic Four were the premier defenders of Earth. With that, they used their amazing impersonation powers and technology to frame each of the members in various crimes and embarrassing situations.

Then, the Skrulls captured the team and lost their advantage shortly afterward. The FF arrived at the Skrull mothership and convinced the Skrull leader that the B-movie monsters of Strange Tales and Journey into Mystery were real. As they'd never seen the earth movie technology of Roger Corman, it frightened the aliens away and got the fleet to withdraw.

The only ones left were the original Skrulls that framed them. Reed Richards hypnotized them into believing that they were cows and figured that they should live their lives peacefully in a pasture.

(This scheme backfires at least five times in Skrull cow hybrids, humans eating Skrull beef, humans drinking Skrull milk, which is not real milk, The Kree Skrull War, and “The Secret Invasion”.)

Source: Fantastic Four #2 (Volume 1), Skrull Kill Krew #1 & 2, Fantastic Four Annual #17, Avengers #92-97, Secret Invasion #1



4. The Red Skull Inhales His Own “Dust of Death”

Imagine a chemical weapon that once inhaled would turn your face red and shrink it until there was nothing left but a red skull.

This was one of the signature weapons of the Red Skull. It’s similar to the Joker's “Smilex” gas. At the conclusion of one of the Red Skull's most intricate government take over plots which involved the resignation of Steve Rogers as Captain America, the existence of a shadow government (that the Skull controls), the creation of a new mentally unstable Captain America (John Walker, aka USAgent), and the creation of the Skull’s new “Steve Rogers cloned body–with super-soldier formula”, the Red Skull in his finishing blow managed to fire his dust of death through his cigarette holder at Captain America and then accidentally inhaled his own dust - causing his newly made body to have a permanent red skull.

Smoking is bad for you.

Source: Captain America #350

Kurrgo, master of Planet X

Kurrgo, master of Planet X

3. Kurrgo Shrinks His People And Is Defeated by Mini-Missiles

What could go wrong with making your own people the size of ants?

Kurrgo, ruler of the planet Xanth (or Planet X to some), saw that his planet was going to explode. In a fiendish plan, he kidnapped the Fantastic Four to help him with this problem. Reed Richards created a shrinking gas that reduced the planet’s population small enough to fit into one large rocket (much like Pym particles) so they could repopulate on another planet.

Kurrgo kept the canister of the enlarging gas to himself so he could rule his people as a giant. His plan backfired as he missed the rocket launch and discovered that the enlarging gas was fake. Years later, when he found his subjects settled on another planet (tiny but happy), he attacked them like Godzilla only to be repelled by their tiny advanced yet potent missiles.

Sources: Fantastic Four #7, Marvel Feature #11

Don't screw with Batman.

Don't screw with Batman.

2. White Martians Attempt to Take Over the Earth Only To Be Defeated by Fire

DC Comics has its share of alien shapechangers.

Every so often, those malleable misfits try to take over the Earth. This time it was Martians–only not the nice green kind like J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter. These are the nasty White Martians who were all about warfare.

Each Martian has the approximate powers of the Martian Manhunter (similar to Superman) and can change their shape. Posing as a new superteam called The Hyperclan, these disguised Martians attempted to win the hearts and minds of us Earthlings by performing miraculous good works. Their plan was to make the JLA look bad and destroy them, leaving the Earth defenseless.

They were nearly successful. All the JLA were defeated with the exception of Batman.

The Dark Knight deduced who they were and understood that Martians were physically vulnerable to the presence of fire. He defeated them easily using matches and a bit of gasoline.

After their defeat, The Martian Manhunter hypnotized all of the White Martians to forget who they were and set them all up in jobs as firemen.

Source: JLA #1-4 (1995)

Literally, saved by the bell

Literally, saved by the bell

1. The Sorcerer Gets Defeated By the Postal Service and a Doorbell

The mind can be a powerful thing and those who are psychically gifted should have a responsibility to use their powers for good.

This was not so for the nameless psychic who called himself “The Sorcerer”. When he was younger, The Sorcerer discovered he had ESP and became one of the world’s top psychic researchers (not that Professor X or Doctor Strange ever noticed him). He later traveled to the Far East to develop those powers into telekinesis. Eventually, he combined these powers with Voodoo and technology.

All of this training and mastering had gone on for at least a decade. Without any kind of real rational motivation, he decided that he should demonstrate his power secretly by killing Spider-man. He created a Spider-man Voodoo Doll and put a thumbtack into its forehead (giving Spider-man a huge headache). Then he mailed the doll to Spider-man as a “general delivery” knowing that the post office would do nothing with the package until after Spider-man was dead. He left the return address on the package so the police would eventually trace who had killed the wall-crawler.

Once done he mind-controlled Peter Parker to fly all the way to New Orleans to face his Synthetic Man automation in an abandoned warehouse. Spider-man fought the automation with no success and just as the Sorcerer controlled automation was about to give the final blow, a postman rung the Sorcerer’s doorbell to return the Spider-man doll package that had no address.

The doorbell caused massive feedback to his psychic amplifier, killing him.

Source: "The Reprehensible Riddle of the Sorcerer" Marvel Super-Heroes Vol 1 14 - 1968

© 2017 Christopher Peruzzi

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