The Top 10 Villainous Mad Scientists In Comic Books

The Top 10 Villainous Mad Scientists In Comic Books

The Top 10 Villainous Mad Scientists In Comic Books

Join me as I take a look at the best of the many villainous evil doctors that have plagued comic books for generations...

Mad scientist are the morally ambiguous doctors that are more than okay with committing unspeakable acts in the name of science if they believe that the ends justify the means. Having appeared for decades in science fiction, horror films, literature and comic books, these are the dastardly foes we love to hate. And speaking of comic books, I have brought you here today to take a look at the ten best (or worst, depending on how you look at it) mad doctors in comic book history. Whether they're creating surgical abominations, resurrecting the dead, building time machines or trying to conquer the universe, the only criteria for a character to be on this list is that they have to be a mad scientist (of course), they have to be a villain and they from the comic books. Shall we begin?



One of Superman's greatest and most intelligent villains, this robotic adversary doesn't quite make it onto the list because he isn't a scientist. While the character has the characteristics of a mad scientist, he doesn't have a doctorate and he technically isn't a scientist, which disqualifies him from being listed. He is still a great villain nonetheless.

Doctor Sivana

Doctor Sivana was the arch-nemesis of Shazam for decades before Black Adam took on the role in modern Shazam comic books. For this reason alone, Sivana gets an honourable mentioning.

Doctor Death

Doctor Karl "Death" Helfern is known for his skeletal appearance and his tendency to create chemical weapons. The fact that Doctor Death is the first super-villain that Batman has ever faced is reason enough to give him an honourable mentioning, however, he would have appeared on the actual list had there have been enough space to include him. This is one creepy villain that will give you nightmares.

Norman Osborn

Norman Osborn, otherwise known by his Green Goblin and Iron Patriot personas, is Spider-Man's arch-nemesis and one of the greatest villains in the Marvel Universe. What keeps him from appearing on the actual list is that, while the character CAN be considered a mad scientist, Osborn doesn't follow the specific tropes of your typical mad scientist. I think the character fits the role of criminal mastermind and psychotic super-villain (a la the Joker) much more than he does a mad scientist. Though a great villain, Osborn is not a great mad scientist.


Drum roll please...

10. M.O.D.O.K.

First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #93 (September 1967)
Publisher: Marvel
Enemy of: Iron Man, Captain America, and Howard The Duck

I must confess that Hector Hammond was originally going to take this spot on the list. However, even though I'm a bigger fan of Hammond than M.O.D.O.K from reading Geoff Johns' Green Lantern, I must admit that M.O.D.O.K. is more of a mad scientist than Hammond, hence why I replaced Hammond on this list.

A silly character with a giant head and a tiny body should have made this character one of Marvel's worse villains but, for one reason or another, that isn't the case. I mean, how can you NOT love a character whose name is an acronym for "Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing?"

9. Professor Pyg

First Appearance: Batman #666 (July 2007)
Publisher: DC Comics
Enemy of: Batman, Damian Wayne, and the Batman Incorporated

Easily one of the best things to come out of Grant Morrison's Batman saga, Professor Pyg is just the right kind of weird to be both hilarious and terrifying at the same time. For those who are unaware of what Professor Pyg does, Pyg is a drug addicted mad surgeon who kidnaps people and turns them into twisted zombies called "Dollotrons" that are forced to obey his every command. Professor Pyg is not to be confused with the Dollmaker, who is more or less a rip-off of Professor Pyg created by Tony S. Daniel for the New 52.

8. The Ultra-Humanite

First Appearance: Action Comics #13 (June 1939)
Publisher: DC Comics
Enemy of: Superman, and the Justice Society

The Ultra-Humanite is a scientist with super-human intellect who is known for his role in the Golden Age era of the DC Universe. The Ultra-Humanite was the first super-villain Superman ever faced who served as Superman's arch-nemesis until he was killed off and replaced with Lex Luthor. In many ways, the Ultra-Humanite was the prototype character for Lex Luthor. The Ultra-Humanite was created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel to be Superman's polar opposite. While Supeman was a powerful hero who relied on his strength to save the day, the Humanite was a crippled scientist who relied on his intelligence to carry out his maniacal schemes. Though forgotten by the modern comic book audience, the Ultra-Humanite's important role in comic book history is cemented.

7. Bolivar Trask

First Appearance: X-Men #14 (November 1965)
Publisher: Marvel
Enemy of: X-Men

A major player in the mutant side of the Marvel Universe before his death, Bolivar Trask is the owner of Trask Industries and the inventor of the original Sentinels. This scientist's fear and hatred of the mutant race is what led him to create the Sentinels and it is what led to the near extinction of the mutants in the classic Days of Future Past storyline. Trask may not be truly evil but that doesn't make his actions, or many of the actions of his creations, any less horrific.

6. Spencer Smythe

First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #25 (June 1965)
Publisher: Marvel
Enemy of: Spider-Man

This spot on the list was originally reserved for Alistair Smythe, but considering that Alistair Smythe first appeared as a lunatic who lurked within the Kingpin's basement, I'm not even sure Alistair has a doctorate. I guess it's only appropriate that the original creator of the dreaded Spider Slayers make it onto the list instead. Originally creating the Spider Slayers for profit to sell to J. Jonah Jameson in order to incapacitate Spider-Man, Smythe eventually went mad with hatred for the web slinger and began building the Slayers to actually...slay Spider-Man.

5. Doctor Arnim Zola

First Appearance: Captain America #208 (April 1977)
Publisher: Marvel
Enemy of: Captain America

There's just no killing this machine of a man. The Swiss-born Arnim Zola was a Nazi scientist during the second World War before being recruited by the terrorist Nazi splinter group known as HYDRA. As a member of HYDRA, Zola came into conflict with Captain America several times before being diagnosed with a fatal disease. As a result, Zola immortalised himself by transferring his mind into a mechanical body. Every time you think you've destroyed Zola's consciousness, he simply returns with a new and improved body. This is just one of the many reasons why he is one of Captain America's biggest villains and why he deserves this spot on the list.

4. Mr. Freeze

First Appearance: Batman #121 (February 1959)
Publisher: DC Comics
Enemy of: Batman

Though at one point considered to be a joke, modern incarnations of Mr. Freeze have turned the character into one of the most tragic villains in the DC Universe. Victor Fries was happily married to Nora Fields until she was diagnosed with a terminal disease. Heart broken by the news, Fries cryogenically froze Nora so that he could have time to find a cure. When the corrupt corporation who developed the cryogenic technology found out about Nora, they attempted to pull the plug on her cryo-machine but, after a conflict with Fries, an accident occurred that made it physically impossible for Fries to live outside of sub-zero temperatures. The accident confined him to a refrigerated suit. Believing Nora to be dead, Fries attempted to murder those he believed caused Nora's "death" but his plans were thwarted by Batman. Fries later discovered that his wife was alive and began committing crimes with the goal of finding a cure for her.

The New 52 re-imagined Fries as a mentally ill scientist who worked at the cryogenics division at Wayne Enterprises. One of the subjects at this division was a woman named Nora Fields, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness in the 1930s and volunteered to be cryogenically frozen. Fries fell in love with Nora's body and began having delusions that he and Nora were married and that he joined Wayne Enterprises to find a cure for her illness. When Wayne Enterprises' C.E.O. Bruce Wayne learned Fries' obsession with Nora, he attempted to shut down the division, which led to a confrontation that resulted in an accident that confined Fries to a refrigerated suit. The delusional Fries now seeks to cure his "wife" and have revenge on Bruce Wayne.

Whether truly involved in a tragic event or simply victim to mental illness, Mr. Freeze remains one of Batman's greatest adversaries and one of the best mad scientists in comics.

3. Doctor Doom

First Appearance: Fantastic Four #5 (July 1962)
Publisher: Marvel
Enemy of: The Marvel Universe in general

Doctor Victor Von Doom, or Victor Van Damme, is one of Marvel's most famous villains and he is a bit...different from other mad scientist. In the Marvel Universe, science and magic are one in the same, which is why Doom is one of the few characters that is simultaneously a dark magician and a mad scientist. When Doom was a child, his mother, a witch named Cynthia Von Doom, was taken from him by a demon. Doom, who would grow to become dictator of the fictional nation of Latveria, vowed to free his imprisoned mother from her hellish prison, no matter what the cost.

2. Doctor Octopus

First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #3 (July 1963)
Publisher: Marvel
Enemy of: Spider-Man

Doctor Otto Octavius was a highly intelligent nuclear physicist and robotist who was often mistreated at his job until he was driven mad in an accident that grafted his self-made mechanical tentacles to his body. Doctor Octavius became obsessed with proving his superiority over the rest of humanity, including his mortal enemy, Spider-Man.

The 2004 film, Spider-Man 2, gave us a different, more sympathetic take on the character. In the film, Doctor Octavius was a Frankenstein-eque character who became so obsessed with his work that he couldn't see the harm it was doing to his surroundings and to others, even after it cost his wife her life.

Regardless of what specific incarnation, Doctor Octopus remains Spider-Man's greatest enemy behind Norman Osborn.

1. Lex Luthor

First Appearance: Action Comics #23 (April 1940)
Publisher: DC Comics
Enemy of: Superman

Lex Luthor and his ongoing war against Superman provide what is perhaps the ultimate brain vs. brawn story. Granted that Lex Luthor has become much less of a mad scientist than he used to be, that aspect of the character never completely went away. Superman may a god motivated by moral integrity and responsibility but that doesn't make the genius of Lex Luthor any less of a threat, as he uses his intellect and often science against the man of steel, even controversially building a warsuit to match Superman's physical strength in battle. Superman and Lex Luthor have one of the best hero/villain dynamics in all of comics and I doubt that will change in the many years to come.

I have just listed what I believe to be the greatest mad scientist in all of comic books. However, there are hundreds of other evil doctors that obviously didn't make the list. Who are your favourite villainous mad doctors in comics? Are there any characters that should've been on this list that weren't? As always, leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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