Angelus presents: DC Comic's Greatest Villains Part 4 - The Final Five.
I finalize my 'series' of my personal top 20 DC's greatest villains list that I began two years ago. This time I finish the countdown from 05 to 01.
So here it is, after two years my final contenders are ready. I have been conflicted about this list but my top five have always been the same. Some may find this a bit cliche but at least I am honest.
My criteria have been simply been subjective; my own personal feelings towards to characters. Some have made more of an impact than the other, some are simply there because they "must". What I mean by "must" is that they are so iconic and such a big part of what the DC Universe is. Others simply made such an impression on me.
So here we go! I hope you like the final five!
If you want to know a little bit more, check out my previous articles here:
Part 1 here
Part 2 here
Part 3 here
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? They both die, as shown to us back in 1992 in “The Death of Superman” when the Man of Steel met the Ultimate Destroyer. Few supervillains deserve the label of “super”-villain as much as Doomsday.
Formerly known as the Ultimate, Doomsday was born during the prehistoric times on Krypton, ages before the Kryptonian race had evolved to supremacy. In a world where the absolute tenets of the survival of the fittest reigned supreme, it was a cruel and horrible world.
The alien scientist Bertron was searching to create the perfect living specimen. Bertron team would send a baby onto the surface of Krypton, where it would be killed by either the elements or the grotesque monsters that inhabited it. Each time they collected the baby’s remains and cloned it again, making it better than its previous version. Through decades of this process, the being that would one day kill Superman was forced to endure countless deaths. Eventually the memories of these deaths would be stored in his genes and therefore a hatred for all life. Eventually through the amazing process of evolution, Doomsday would become immune to what killed him before, making him virtually immortal. In time Doomsday would achieve the position as the premium monster on Krypton, killing every creature that attacked him. In time Doomsday would also turn on his creator.
Doomsday would eventually escape Krypton and went on an interplanetary killing spree. He would land on a planet where non-other than Darkseid was about to wed a princess, for his own malicious schemes. Just as Doomsday and Darkseid were to meet in combat, Darkseid was forced to flee as the battle had caused the planet’s atmosphere to become toxic and therefore completely worthless to Darkseid. Doomsday would also across paths with even Green Lanterns, killing hundreds. Even the powers of the Guardians were not enough to finally end his miserable life. Finally, he would end up on earth and this set in motion the infamous storyline: “The Death of Superman”.
In a battle of beyond epic proportions, Superman quickly found his match. Never had such a fiend displayed such terrible power. In the final stage of their battle, Superman seeing no other way to protect the millions of citizens of Metropolis, Superman acknowledges that lethal force was the only way to stop him. Both beings of massive power then dealt simultaneous fatal blows to each other. Doomsday lay dead, killed by Superman, but at a terrible price; the greatest superhero of all time died as well. However this would not be the end of the monster that killed Superman, nor the end of Superman. There’s a lot more to cover of Doomsday story after he achieved the impossible but I won’t write about it here.
To claim Doomsday as one of the most powerful supervillains ever created is without a doubt rightly so. His name Doomsday represents everything this character is: doom incarnate.
04. Lex Luthor
As synonym to Superman as Joker is to Batman, or Sinestro to Green Lantern, Lex Luthor is without a doubt one of the most well-known supervillains of all time. Appearing in Action Comics #23 in April of 1940, Lex Luthor has set the standard of supervillainy ever since his creation.
What possibly can be said about Lex Luthor that we don’t already know? Not so much. In fact we all know his story in some way or another, so I will keep this short and direct. His desire for power is as impressive as his intelligence. Originally depicted as the stereotypical mad scientist, he was reimagined as a Machiavellian industrialist and a genius criminal.
Luthor have had several origins and reboots over the years but essentially his ideals have stayed the same: killing Superman and claim the position as humanity’s rightful champion. Luthors view on Superman is interesting in that he believes Superman is an obstacle for human progression. Lex Luthor and Superman are completely opposite in their beliefs, but they are both linked in a circle that never ends.
As one my favorite supervillains of all time, Thaal Sinestro always keeps it interesting. Ever since his appearance Green Lantern Vol. 2 #7 from August 1961, he has been an influential villain that truly gives a clear and visual definition of what it means to be fallen from grace. In so many ways, he is like a previous incarnation of Darth Vader from the incredible Star Wars saga, after all what is the Green Lantern mythology if not the Star Wars of comics.
The whole concept of a hero gone evil is such a tragic event in itself but to know that the hero does it out of some misplaced belief that he is actually helping is even more tragic, and is only a small part of what Sinestro is.
EDITORIAL NOTE:There is no secret that my favorite superhero is Hal Jordan, man, pilot, Green Lantern. And as favorites goes, Sinestro is also my favorite supervillain but out of respect I simply cannot put him at number one.
Ever since Hal Jordan’s return back in 2004, Sinestro’s popularity among comicbook readers has grown. Geoff Johns has truly revitalized the franchise and made Sinestro popular but we must not forget that Emerald Dawn Part 2 established the basic origins of what came to be essential to the character.
Thaal Sinestro is a native to the planet Korugar in space sector 1417. Here his life was dedicated to anthropology. Originally his story was as following: while researching a site, the Green Lantern Prohl Gosgotha crash landed there, apparently dying. Sinestro was given the ring of power and defeated the reason for Prohls crash; a Weaponer of Qward. Prohl however turned out to be still alive after this incident, needing his ring back to call for help. Sinestro knew this meant that he would be a Green Lantern anymore allowed Prohl to die instead and overtook his post.
In the retcon it was the Green Lantern Jewelius Black who chose Thaal Sinestro as her student, and eventually Abin Sur would have an influential role.
As a Green Lantern, he would soar through the ranks and become hailed as the greatest Green Lantern. His sector was almost devoid of crime under his protection. Sinestro’s desire for order was innate, however not without dark side. As the years passed, Sinestro became disillusioned with the Green Lantern Corps. He became fixated upon not only protecting his sector but on influencing it as well in matter that a Green Lantern should not. In order to preserve justice on Korugar, he eventually conquered the planet and put himself as their leader, unknown to the Guardians.
Sinestro’s prowess was so great that he was eventually assigned as a mentor to a number of rookies showing similar promise, the greatest of which would be his last student, Hal Jordan.
The Guardian Ganthet himself had specifically requested Sinestro’s assignment to the earthman, and their friendship would eventually become legend.
Throughout his time in the Crops, Abin Sur was Thaal Sinestro’s best friend and trusted confidante. Sinestro’s would even fall in love and marry Abin Sur’s sister, Arin. Abin would tell Sinestro of Blackest Night; prophecy of crisis that would affect the universe. Sinestro would later bring Abin Sur killer to justice with the help of Sur’s successor, Hal Jordan.
On their first diplomatic assignment, Hal proved to be reckless and Sinestro believed that he was a waste of his time. Then upon returning to his home planet of Korugar, they were met with very much opposition and Hal discovered that Sinestro forced his planet to worship him and that he had a very strict and unjust set of rules.
After being gone so long, Korugar's citizens rebelled and Sinestro lost control. After a short battle, Hal knocked some sense into Sinestro and he realized that he must hide for the Guardians will punish both of them. After hiding in one of Earth's prisons with Hal Jordan, Oan manhunter brought him in to Oa and he was tried. After Hal testified against him, Sinestro swore revenge against Hal and the Corps right before he was banished to Qward in the Antimatter Universe. There, he met the Weaponers of Qward, who helped him forge a yellow power ring to counter the Green Lantern Corps.
Following the Crises on Infinite Earths, Sinestro was captured and imprisoned within the Central Power Battery. After being converted into energy inside the Oan power battery, Sinestro waited for the opportune moment to strike back. In the battery, Sinestro also spoke with Parallax, which was the source of the yellow impurity in all Green Lantern rings. When Parallax gained control of Hal Jordan and turned him insane, Sinestro knew that his time was near. Eventually after defeating the entire Green Lantern Corps in his attempt to drain the power of the Oan power battery, it came down to Hal and the Guardians. In their sted, the Guardians released Sinestro to fight against Hal as the lesser of two evils, and even gave him a green power ring. Much verbal torture occurred on Sinestro's part and he even enraged Hal Jordan, the greatest Green Lantern ever, to have a bloodlust. A great battle went on and both sides had their attacks hit, but Hal was winning. Eventually it came down to a one-on-one without their rings and Sinestro did what was necessary to bring Jordan over the edge, he allowed him to snap his neck. After this, Hal gains the power of the battery, goes on a rampage as Parallax, and is eventually defeated. After this, he becomes the new host of the Spectre while his real body was elsewhere.
This would not be the last of Hal Jordan or Sinestro as soon followed Green Lantern Rebirth and the War of Light.
What is so interesting with Sinestro is that what would be his downfall was his totalitarian belief in order. He wished to help his people and do as much good as he could possibly do but power corrupts. In this respect, Sinestro is like an intergalactic dictator. But even still, there is some part of him that still believes in goodness. During the War of Light, he made the Guardians authorize lethal force, which was something Sinestro believed was necessary for the greater good.
Another unique aspect of Sinestro is that he and Hal were very much alike but their ending points are so vastly different. Though some part of Sinestro understands his wrongs on Korugar, he blames Hal for what happened to him. At Sinestro’s trial, Sinestro trusted Hal so much that he believed Hal would understand. Hal did somewhat understand his actions, but that was no excuse. Several years later, staying at his sciencell, waiting for his executions, Hal meets Sinestro for a talk.
As shown over, Hal states that Sinestro actions have killed hundreds of Green Lanterns, that some of them he used to call friends. Sinestro’s response still makes me wonder what path Sinestro walks and is a defining part of who he is. Sinestro answers: “No. I called them colleagues. I never called them friends. I never called anyone a friend except for Abin Sur and then you.” Sinestro goes on reminiscing the “old days”. You when you think you have figured out Sinestro, he surprises you. I would even go so far as calling him an anti-anti hero, if there ever was one.
And when the Blackest Night came, Sinestro stood with the other Corps against the darkness. He believes in life, he even believes in some tenets of the Green Lantern code but his view is too radical to be accepted.
In an interesting and wonderful turn of events in War of the Green Lanterns; Krona is about to kill Hal Jordan. Hal tells Krona about how everyone has flaws; that life is subjective. This stirs something within Sinestro and makes him help Hal. It is not hard to see that Sinestro understands that he and Hal are somewhat mirrors of each other yet the same. Both hailed as the greatest Green Lanterns, both questions the Guardians, both became mavericks and eventually renegades. And even though Sinestro found a different light, he still worked for the same end as the Green Lanterns but with different means.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Sorry about the long picture but it's such an essential part of who Sinestro is. Also such an epic throw-down. It shows that Sinestro however misguided he becomes, he has some kind of belief in good.
Did Sinestro fall into the abyss and lose himself or did he simply gaze into it for a time and turned away? Even though he is not a Green Lantern anymore, maybe he just forgot the meaning of the oath and maybe there is still some part of him that can be redeemed. At the end, Sinestro gets a Green Lantern ring, and the Guardians expel Hal Jordan for finally saving the universe.
Sinestro and Hal has a special relationship that is unique in the sense that they were friends and colleagues, teacher and mentor. In some way Sinestro became a father-figure for Hal, a source of inspiration. Sinestro calmed Hal, helped him letting go of his anger. One cannot say this about Batman and Joker or Superman and Lex Luthor. Sinestro and Hal were more than friends. And even through their battles against each other one cannot fully claim Sinestro to be a villain. He is something more.
It can be said that the Guardians never erred in their judgment before, and he would be considered their greatest mistake, he however would not be alone.
What is Darkseid? Darkseid is death. Darkseid is evil. Darkseid is a means to an end. Darkseid is everything that life is not. Darkseid was created by the legendary Jack Kirby with his first appearance in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 in November 1970. And ever since he has been a powerful enemy of everyone that stands for the ideals of hope, justice, and kindness.
Uxas was born into the royal family of Apokolips, he is the son of Yuga Khan and Heggra. As a young man, Uxas longed to gain the throne of Apokolips but experienced opposition from his peaceful brother Drax. Uxas plotted his whole life to supplant his father, mother and brother. After his father became lost in the Source Wall, Uxas saw his time coming. When a connection to the Omega Realm was discovered, his brother Drax intended to connect with it and assume his godname but Drax interrupted the process and took the power for himself, supposedly killing his own brother in the process. When Uxas emerged, he was Uxas no more; only Darkseid. His mother was quite pleased with Darkseids ruthlessness, having long detested Drax’s pacifism.
Darkseid then wanted to hunt the New Gods of New Genesis, together with his General Steppenwolf. At New Genesis, Darkseid kills Avia, the wife of Izaya, the ruler of New Genesis and an endless war between Apokolips and New Genesis had begun.
The war with New Genesis was going nowhere. Darkseid soon encountered the Green Martians and discovered their belief that the "will" represented a "life-equation". Darkseid theorized that there must an “Anti-Life Equation” which negated the will, and sought to buy time to discover it. Darkseid and Izaya reached a truce known as the Pact: Darkseid would receive Izaya's son, while Izaya would receive Orion. As long as each prince stayed on their adopted worlds, the truce would hold. Darkseid remanded the boy to Granny Goodness' care, always knowing that he would one day escape. However, the Pact was a disaster for Darkseid: not only did Scott Free (as Goodness named him) manage to escape, but the leader of the Female Furies, Big Barda, fell in love with him and followed him. Also, Orion took to the ideals of New Genesis and became the greatest warrior of the Fourth World. A prophecy soon arose that Darkseid would die by Orion's hand.
A somewhat disturbing moment happened in The Spectre Vol.4 #19 when the Spectre, now Hal Jordan, kills Darkseid. However even God's Wrath is not capable of ending this monstereous beings life as his death has been predetermined by some force greater than the Spectre.
There is a lot to say about Darkseid but I can’t possibly fit it all in here. Darkseid would eventually come to despise the Last Son of Krypton and his league of “super-friends”. Some of Darkseids greatest stories are depicted in “Death of the New Gods” and “Final Crisis”.
What makes Darkseid such a great villain is that he is basically evil incarnate. He is an evil god. His belief is the absolute counterpart of Kal-El’s. Darkseid believes that life, hope and freedom are completely pointless.
Also known as one of the most powerful beings in existence in the DC Universe, he is a power you do not want a reckoning with. He has fought Superman many times and given Superman a run for his money. However, he underestimates this character of “hope incarnate’ powers”.
His influence is known across the entire universe. He is almost indestructible, he is beyond strong, beyond intelligent; he is beyond evil. And there are several hints to that he is a necessary evil, meant and protected to exist by a higher force than anyone can comprehend.
In fact, Darkseids reach of evil is so terrible that even one of Marvel Comic’s most powerful villains, Thanos, is influenced by him.
This has become a cliché. But it is a cliché that is right and deserving. The Joker is perhaps the most well-known supervillain in the entire world, a place he rightfully deserves and shares with Lex Luthor.
The Joker is almost an archetype for villains in the modern world. His influence goes beyond comics. The morbid fascinates us; the insane are scary because we cannot understand them. This is one of the reasons why the Joker has endured so long and often quoted as one of the greatest comicbook characters ever made. Though a mortal character; once a normal man who had one bad day, he has become something more. He is synonym with the superhero Batman, and will always continue as a force of insanity.
Joker first appeared in Batman #1 in the spring of 1940. The master minds behind his creations are no other that Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger and Bob Kane.
The Joker is the archenemy of Batman. Everyone knows this. He has been responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman’s life; some of the greatest are the paralysis of Barbra Gordon in The Killing Joke and even the death of Jason Todd.
Joker’s origin story have been varied and numerous. The problem is that he is not sure himself; something I feel is simply great. He often remembers it one way or the other, and prefers to have multiple choices. The most consisted story is that during his first encounter with Batman, he was masking as Red Hood with a gang of other thugs committing robbery in Ace Chemical Processing Plant. He either tripped into a vat of chemicals, or was accidentally pushed in by Batman. Therefrom out, his skin is bleached and his hair turns green because of the chemicals. Whoever’s fault it is, there is no doubt that it was the cataclysm for his insanity.
Once more this is a character that I won’t go into much detail with his actions because they are so well known. The interesting part is his never ending battle with Batman, and what Joker stands for. The Joker is the complete opposite of Batman: the yin to his yang.
In “Batman: Cacophony”, Joker remarks that “Here’s the cold, hard truth Bats… I don’t hate you ‘cause I’m crazy… I’m crazy ‘cause I hate you.”
In the mini-series Underworld Unleashed, The Trickster remarks, "When super-villains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories". As far as truth about Joker’s personality, one word sums him up… unpredictable. One day The Joker may be a harmless clown, on others he can become a crazed super-killer.”
In 1984, with the conclusion of Infinite Crisis, The Joker cruelly murdered the once-hero now villain of the comic, Alexander Luthor, who was a mirror opposite from Earth-Two of Lex Luthor. Alexander Luthor set up a society for supervillains aimed at taking down Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, however he made the deadly mistake of not inviting The Joker. One night Alexander Luthor was trapped by Lex Luthor and The Joker in an alley. The Joker attacked Alexander with an over-powered joy buzzer, which horribly burnt one side of his face. Lex Luthor watched on as The Joker shot Alexander from point blank range with a shotgun, killing him instantly.
It must be said that the Joker's insanity appears to be a strange mixture of violently aggressive psychopathy, nihilism, and fixated narcissism. He has frequently been shown to have no regard for human life, and treats the pain and suffering of others as personal sport. This is something that makes him so terrifyingly fascinating and repulsing.
While frequent attempts have been made to pin down or classify the Joker's 'insanity', none have been consistently proven successful. And every attempt to cure him has proven likewise completely fruitless, as the Joker actively and energetically resists separation from his madness. He spends the majority of his time in Arkham Asylum which is completely inadequate to treat him. Inadequately does not even sum it up, as Joker always escapes. However sometimes he simply returns and stays there for a time, thinking it as his own home.
During the events of “Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth”, it was hypothesized by Arkham psychologists that the Joker actually exists in a state of almost "super-sanity". It is speculated that he redefines his own personality every day. This explains why sometimes he appears as a horribly sadistic lunatic one day while acting like a simple mischievous clown other days.
In a storyline, Joker gained the Philosophers Stone and tried to create chaos on Earth, J'onn J’onzz was able to order the Joker's mind and cause temporary sanity, where the Joker expressed regret and remorse for his actions, and became desperate for a means to make up for them. During “Day of Judgment”, J’onzz takes the Spectre into Joker’s mind along with the rest of JLA. He tries to show the Spectre that within all there is some measure of good, and as they walk through the insane hell that is Joker’s mind, they eventually find a kindly couple living, proving his point of goodness.
A very strange turn of events at the ending of The Killing Joke shows that Joker has some kind of humanity, and he even displays it to Batman but he claims it's too late but appreciate Batmans gesture.
Whatever our thoughts on Joker, he is easily one of the greatest characters in comicbooks ever created. And will continue to be so as long as Batman exists there to give Joker meaning.
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