Chris Peruzzi is a comic book superhero historian who is passionate about how today's comic book heroes are the new mythology for America.
Heroes are easy to write. For the most part, they are a little better than the “every man,” with a working moral compass. They usually have a physique that would take years building in a weight room. The package comes with a love interest, a job, one defining personality asset, and a mission statement. Unless he’s Tony Stark or Reed Richards, he’s probably not rich, so he has a lot of the same problems that the average joe has.
Look in the mirror—eighty percent of what you need to write a good hero is staring you back in the face.
Good Villains Are Hard to Come By
The real challenge is coming up with interesting villains. A good villain is always interesting. He’s bent, defective, has all of the bad habits we try to avoid. He doesn’t always need money. Many times he has it in buckets. Look at Doctor Doom. He’s the monarch of a country. You don’t get much higher on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs than “monarch of a country”.
Of course, with Doom, it’s never enough. He’s a megalomaniac who’s uber-smart—a sooopah geenius. He wants it all plus three. He not only wants to rule the world, but he wants to humiliate his intellectual rival, Mister Fantastic, and when he’s not doing that, he’s trying to free his mother from Mephisto’s prison in Hell.
On top of his ambitions, he’s an arrogant butt-hole with a face that would make you vomit.
Is he interesting? Yeah! I look forward to any new Doctor Doom story in The Fantastic Four title. Even his guest shots in The Avengers are good.
The Tragic Flaw
The classic villain has a tragic flaw—some quirk in his personality that keeps him from succeeding in his dastardly plans. For example, let’s take the Hulk’s arch-enemy, the Leader. He was a janitor who essentially was in a gamma accident that made him as smart as the Hulk is strong. He’s a genius on a level that no one can reach. His downfall? He’s got the emotional restraint of a nine-year-old.
What About Female Villains?
Sometimes you just have something more than just a manipulating, gold-digging b*tch who’s out to build her own power base. The ones that have metahuman powers to go with their black twisted soul can really wreak havoc in a hero’s life. They’re pretty bad. They strike at the hero’s heart and cause all sorts of emotional trauma.
Although it does happen from time to time, It’s not often you see the hero get into a knock-down, drag-out with a female opponent. The hero needs to find another way around this. Good examples of this are Amora the Enchantress and Moonstone.
Interesting villains make interesting heroes.
5 Marvel Bad Guys You've Never Heard Of
These guys are repeat offenders that really haven’t made a name for themselves. They may even have some powers that are pretty significant, however, they can’t get a name for themselves.
- The Corruptor
- The Controller
- The Master of the World
As I said in Five Marvel Heroes You’ve Probably Never Heard Of, there are the villains that just can’t make it in the bad guy game. Some are just sad excuses of a bad guy that the hero gives a few love taps to or maybe just a firm scolding to get them off the path to the dark side. Some of them just have bad planning or some kind of serious inferiority complex. Some may just have unreliable powers. These guys may only appear in a one-shot.
Here are some baddies that you may rarely see but should know when you see them.
1. The Corruptor
Ever have a really good friend that just goes whacko for no reason whatsoever. Ordinarily, your friend is a good guy, gives to the poor, stays out of the pool hall, and then one day he’s selling drugs to girl scouts.
The Corrupter may be the reason for this kind of behavior.
Jackson Day was your typical custodian (has anyone figured out why custodians are always prey to these types of accidents and why they rarely fight for the good guys?) has an accident at a chemical factory. The heated chemicals fell on to him and affected his body and mind, turning his skin to a sickly blue and made him evil. With one touch from his hand, he can make other people susceptible to his suggestion.
If he says nothing to them or gives them no orders, they’ll just have some garden variety selfishness and bad behavior. The psychoactive drugs permeate through his sweat pores and make his touch a “touch of evil”. ("Touch of evil" should be said with a menacing laugh.)
He used his powers against Thor and got him to go on a rampage. After that, he tried to take over all the gangs in New York using regular people behaving badly that he could easily control.
He hasn’t really made many appearances for a while. He was last seen fighting Union Jack and his team of unknown international heroes. He’s still just as bad and still just as deadly.
2. The Controller
I have to say that this guy had one of the best fights I’ve seen illustrated.
He fought and defeated the Avengers all by himself. Then, after he’d gotten what he wanted, he had one of the best brawls against Kree Captain Marvel that I’ve ever read. The first fight against the Controller, Marvel lost after getting the Avengers Mansion piled in wreckage on top of him. After Marvel went through his cosmic metamorphosis from Eon, he fought the Controller again and may or may not have beaten him were it not for the intervention of a cosmic cube enhanced Thanos the Titan. Thanos, being Thanos, had no faith in the Controller and left him for dead… somewhere.
His story is pretty normal. Basil Sandhurst’s a jerk research scientist who gets involved with a lab accident… blah, blah, blah. His brother, the cause of the accident, creates a unique suit of armor that is powered by the brain waves of other people. The benefit for the Controller is that he can not only control the people with “slave discs” attached to the base of their skull, but he draws strength and powers from them as well. The more people he has under his control, the stronger he gets.
Normally, his chief opponent is Iron Man—you know, the armored suit thing. However, he’s been known to fight other people or groups outside of Iron Man’s title.
Like the Corruptor, his big thing is controlling people. One of the reasons that he really had it in for Captain Marvel was because even after he put a slave disc on Marvel he couldn’t control him. Marvel had a symbiotic relationship with Rick Jones and were more than one mind, making the disc powerless. That didn’t stop the Controller from opening a six-pack of whoop-ass on him.
Like the other villains in this article, they bring the Controller out every so often to give heroes a bad time. The easiest way to defeat the Controller is to go against the armor or to break the connection between the Controller and his slaves.
3. The Master of the World
The Master is Marvel’s answer to DC’s Vandal Savage.
He’s a caveman who found an alien ship. The aliens, known as the Plodex (the same alien race that spawned Marrina from the original Alpha Flight), essentially make their battle strategy by finding the dominant life form on the planet, figuring out their vulnerabilities, and making something that will easily beat them.
Guess who the lab rat was.
They experimented on this caveman, Eshu, for 40,000 years. They dissected him and reassembled him—several times. I think they may have been a little lax on the anesthetic. Each time, they improved his body and improved his intelligence. He eventually is able to mentally tap into the spaceship of the Plodex and use it to enslave the aliens. The cost was that he couldn’t leave the ship.
Eventually, he tricks his opponents from Alpha Flight to destroy the ship, freeing him from its control.
Calling himself, the Master of the World, he is virtually immortal, the helmet and armor he wears allow him flight and illusion-casting. However, without the armor, he’s a badass, too. He knows all the human pressure points and has acquired all of the combat fighting styles that have evolved over the last forty thousand years. He has great agility and his body allows him to run at speeds up to 60 mph.
His primary opponents are the Canadian super-team, Alpha Flight. As the Alpha Flight title has been discontinued, we know that he’s still at large, only waiting for a talented writer to discover him again.
This guy almost made the lame list. He’s really that bad. Remember, I promised villains you’ve probably never heard of. This guy is best left unsung.
Let’s say you have a really fun talent like tap dancing. If you were a kid in the 1940s, you might even make a start in show business. Well, that’s Tatterdemalion, aka Arnold Paffenroth. He was a child star and part of a child-star tap-dancing team. Because he wasn’t stupid, he saw that the types of movies that would call for tap dancers would not last forever. He took all of his money and invested it into a Vegas casino. When the mob came in and drove him into ruins, he became penniless… and a little insane.
When he went really off the deep end, he found some resources to make some gloves that emit solvents to dissolve clothing and paper. As he seems to be waging war against the rich, he uses the gloves to dissolve currency.
Although he’s a member of the criminal crime-fighting group, Night Shift, he’s really not someone you want to have as your teammate as his hygiene is terrible and his body odor is so bad that it can make you cry.
The last heard about Tatterdemalion was that he’d really lost his mind and was convinced that space aliens were using radio signals broadcast directly into his head from smokestacks of fast-food restaurants.
Nightshade is the type to beg a bouncer to let her into the supervillain nightclub, insisting that she’s a real supervillain. But all she is is a gifted scientist with genetic expertise. However, sometimes that can be enough. She was able to use pheromones on her body to attract men and turn them into werewolves. How horrible is that?
Think about that for a second. You’re a guy and you’re walking down the street, smell something strange and are immediately attracted to a woman who you follow home. You are brought into her home and within a few minutes has done something to you to make you into a monster.
She has no powers, just a good working knowledge of genetics and chemistry. The fact that those two commonly learned items hasn’t spawned more of them should make men frightened in the real world.
The writers sometimes take her down from the shelf to show that urban environments have their evil geniuses on a local level.
But here's the real thing—and I hope there is someone from Netflix or Agents of SHIELD reading this article—this villain is ready for television. She is a real threat for Daredevil, Luke Cage, or Jessica Jones. She's a believable character that's a threat.
Bad Guys Have More Fun
Being a good guy is easy with no reward.
Being a bad guy is fun with potential for growth.
The seduction of evil for average human beings is staggering especially among those who go into a janitorial services career, expecting nothing more than to clean toilets and empty garbage cans, whose only crime was to touch and clean up that glowing mass in the corner of the room. The evil genius powers and abilities were just a bonus.
It only goes to show that being evil and being a villain is just like anything else. You have to work hard at it in order to be successful. You have to define success. Is it nothing short than world domination or is it as simple as expanding your liquidity? You have to organize meetings, have a budget, work with a staff, and promote yourself to the underground villain community without alerting the authorities as to your whereabouts.
Sometimes when you’re not heard from in the long story arcs, it means that you’re dead, retired, or so good that no one knows you’re committing crimes that have still gone undiscovered. So there is no real lameness as a supervillain… unless they are so incredibly lame where no amount of justification can explain poor powers, presentation, plan, and execution. Combine that with getting your butt handed to you on a weekly basis and you could be thought of as lame.
It’s when you see characters like Meteor Man (aka The Looter) become homeless tramps that you can see they’ve run into bad times.
© 2012 Christopher Peruzzi
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on April 02, 2013:
Well, at the very least, from a hygiene standpoint.
nuffsaidstan on April 02, 2013:
Great hub, Tatterdemalion gotta be the worst villain ever!
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on September 01, 2012:
Product of a nearly wasted childhood.
Eric Mikols on September 01, 2012:
Gasp, I've never heard of any of them! I thought my knowledge of Marvel was complete! Yeesh, the things I missed...
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on August 07, 2012:
That's okay that you're not. Stick with me. I'll educate you.
Kristi Sharp from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on August 07, 2012:
My youngest son goes on and on about wanting to being a villain....all the time. I have to choose Nightshade because she's a powerful chick who understands how to make wicked cocktails! I couldn't help myself when I saw this title! Great hub! Very creative and fun to read. I am not schooled on the fine details of the comic book world but my two boys and five brothers argue relentlessly over which superhero or villain reigns supreme. -K
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on July 29, 2012:
@ Rcrumple - Don't get me started on golden age or silver age comics that could have been bought or were destroyed through neglect. It makes me cry.
Rich from Kentucky on July 29, 2012:
Great hub! I have to admit, I was a DC fan over Marvel growing up, but Marvel won out in the end. I do remember my mother buying me the 1st Fantastic Four off the rack when I didn't cry after getting a polio shot (yes, I'm that old). If I had only kept it (or got her to buy me ten more copies)! Very Interesting!
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on July 29, 2012:
The Darkhold is a relic that I don't take as a villain.
However I'm going to thank you for my next hub.
Patty Kenyon from Ledyard, Connecticut on July 29, 2012:
Awesome Job!!! Your hubs are always so interesting and entertaining!! Keep up the Great Work!!
Dominique L from Oregon on July 28, 2012:
Does the villain necessarily have to be a person? One of my favorite things in the Marvel Universe was The Darkhold, the Necronomicon like book that ended up driving Blade to kill every supernatural creature the company had produced. That was a fun plot line.
Also, any idea where the name Tatterdemalion actually came from? It sounds like it could mean something in Greek and they chose it for a reason.
Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on July 28, 2012:
Yeah, apologies on that. I haven't figured out the fair use and image permissions on them. I'm playing it strict since going in the apprenticeship.
I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Domenick Dicce on July 28, 2012:
Another great Hub. I am really enjoying reading about these lesser known characters. Since comics are so visual, it would be great to see some pictures to go along with the characters. For now I will just Google Image away.