CONTENT WARNING: SPOILERS AND DISCUSSION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
As a society, we’re fascinated by villainy; we’re intrigued by villains and their machinations so much because it reveals a dark side of humanity that the majority of people will never endure. So, they experience it second hand through those that wear the black hat. The fact that Darth Vader is the face of the Star Wars franchise, or that Heath Ledger won an Academy Award for his role as the Joker, or even that Lebron James transformed himself into a zeitgeist during the 2010-2011 season are all evidence to our secret obsession with “the bad guys”. In colleges there are entire classes devoted to political oppression, and others dedicated to specific dictators like Hitler and Stalin; yet there aren’t many, if any at all, structured around men of peace like Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr.
Comparatively speaking, villains are just more exciting and interesting than their heroic counterparts. Nowhere is this sentiment truer than in comic books. A hero is only as good as the villains that he thwarts, and it’s usually through his rogue’s gallery that he is defined. If Aquaman and Moon Knight had better enemies, maybe their books would sell more copies. But a commercially successfully superhero like Batman would be a totally different kind of hero if he just had to fight the mob.
What always stood out to me about comic book villains in particular, is just how forthcoming they were about being evil. The Injustice League, The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, The Sinister Six, The Masters of Evil and countless other miscreants of malevolence all admit that they are evil and morally wicked. My question is why? Why would a group of people knowingly admit that they are evil? Real villains don’t think that their actions are evil; they think that they’re doing the right thing. No one would admit to being an evil person, nor would they do anything that they thought was morally wrong. As twisted as it sounds, the Nazis thought that what they were doing was the right course of action; they didn’t commit atrocities just to be remembered as history’s ultimate villains.
Evil, pure and absolute evil comes from any act motivated by the desire to be evil. Anyone who does evil in order to be considered evil is a more villainous person than someone who commits evil out of a misconstrued sense of morality or ideals. Most of the evils committed in the real world are perpetrated by sick people or groups with a twisted sense of morality. As for the most part, no one wants to be recognized as an evil person. But, in the world of comics, there are more than a few characters motivated by evil intentions. Below is a list of the 10 wickedest characters in comics. These are characters who knowingly and willingly strive to do evil deeds simply because they are evil. The acts that they do, they do because they know those actions are wicked deeds and that by committing such acts they would be noticed as an evil person.
Evilest Endeavor: Being the deus ex machine behind One More Day. Taking Cynthia Von Doom’s soul.
Mephisto is really a cross between a shifty used car salesman and Robo-Devil from Futurama. He’s dangerous and evil; but at other times he’s way too whimsical and inept. According to Mephisto himself, he was created specifically to be evil. He presides over a realm of the damned and makes pacts with people for their immortal soul. He’s chased after Franklin Richards; he was responsible for One More Day, and most importantly he took Dr. Doom’s mother away from him. He gloats over the damned and exploits desperate people. Mephisto rules over the Marvel equivalent of Hell because that his is purpose. He is made of evil to be evil. Unlike Dr. Doom, or Magneto, Mephisto has no shred of decency or honor. He seeks to propagate evil with every step he takes.
9) Shadow King
Evilest Endeavor: Singlehandedly responsible for the creation of the X-Men.
At this point it’s not really clear if Shadow King is actually an evil mutant, or just a psychic creature made up of evil. What is clear however, is that he is a fountain of gluttony, hedonism, and excess. He is a being who believes that all other people should live to serve him. For those who refuse to do so willingly, he dominates their minds and subverts them to his will, turning them into lapdogs or sex slaves. Shadow King feeds off of hatred, jealousy, and animosity as these negative emotions fuel his power and allows him to continue sowing seeds of rage and abhorrence amongst humanity. His decadently sinister lifestyle led Charles Xavier to create the X-Men to directly oppose mutants such as Shadow King, mutants who would abuse their powers and exploit humanity for their own gain. Shadow King lives to foster hate and revels in the chaos. From his evil however, sprang the X-Men, specifically designed to stop fiends like the Shadow King.
Evilest Endeavor: Possessing the body of his father with the intent to rape his mother.
Blessed and cursed with the ability to bend reality to his will, Proteus was so powerful that his own body wasn’t able to contain the enormous energies boiling within in. What makes Proteus so menacing isn’t just his unimaginable power, but his anti-social behavior. He’s Sid from Toy Story, an omnipotent being who lords over weaker creatures and derives pleasure from their torment. He’s a sadistic monster who wants to hurt anyone he crosses. The son of Moira MacTaggert, Proteus was able to strike fear and trepidation into the heart of even Wolverine. In an Oedipal turn of events, Proteus hunted down his father, and then sought to violate his mother who spent her entire life trying to save him from his destructive powers. Proteus serves as a cautionary tale of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie; except this version would be titled If You Give a Sociopath Omnipotence.
7) Lex Luthor
Evilest Endeavor: Rejecting universal nirvana because he refused to let go of his hatred for Superman.
Superman is the universal symbol of hope, justice, and goodness, and yet Lex Luthor hates him for this. Even without all of his unforgivable deeds, Luthor’s hatred of someone so pure and noble as Superman is enough to make him an evil person. After all, it stands to reason that someone who despises goodness, cannot support goodness and must be evil themselves. How many times has he imperiled Metropolis, killed innocent bystanders without pause and almost destroyed the entire human race because of his vendetta against Superman? He killed Ted Kord’s father because he refused to sell his company to Lexcorp.; he triggered a massive earthquake in Gotham because a real estate deal went south, and he even cured his own sister of her mental and physical handicaps only to cripple her once more, all to prove that he could save her anytime he wanted. His borderline sociopathic behavior underscores his contempt for not only the man of steel, but the rest of humanity as well.
Evilest Endeavor: Systematically destroying Matt Murdock’s life.
The Kingpin is the summation of every human vice, as he has his hands in every sort of crime imaginable. He is the very worst that humanity has to offer, as not only does he orchestrate evil deeds, but he literally makes a profit off of them. Everything from drugs, murders, gambling, prostitution and illegal pornography, the Kingpin is in charge of all criminal activities on the east coast. It’d be remiss of me to ignore the political corruption that he’s also fostered, from a mayoral level to the innermost levels of the Pentagon, the Kingpin has at times wielded more political power than the president. So long as there is money to be made, the Kingpin cares not for how many lives he has to ruin or who he has to trample over. His vendetta against Daredevil has reached the point where Wilson Fisk only wants to make Daredevil suffer because he is the most morally resolute man Fisk has ever known. In other words, he wants to snuff out any flame of goodness, as it stands to threaten his empire built on human suffering and exploitation. But the Kingpin of crime cares nothing for the hurt he’s purposefully wrought on others, as he’s a monster hiding behind a veneer of high-class prestige. Wilson Fisk isn’t an evil man, he’s evil given flesh.
5) Cassandra Nova
Evilest Endeavor: Genocide.
In the span of a few minutes Cassandra Nova managed to kill more people than Hitler killed during the Holocaust. Depending on the numbers, you can add the fatalities caused by the North Korean famine of the mid-90s and still Nova would have been responsible for more deaths. Coming from the mind of Grant Morrison, we’re still unsure what the hell Cassandra Nova actually is, and how to even pronounce mummundrai. She’s the stillborn twin of Charles Xavier, but, apparently, she’s a Shi’ar urban legend as well…I think. Nova is a genocidal maniac who will do anything possible to ruin Charles Xavier. What makes it all the more sickening is that the 16 million mutants that she murdered were just collateral. Her real victory was in destroying Xavier’s life work. All those people drinking tea and making love were all negligible; she had them executed because it would strike a most devastating blow to Xavier. Despite only appearing in about three other stories after her initial appearance (only one of which was actually a good story), Cassandra Nova introduced herself with a bang by forever staining her soul with the blood of 16 million innocent people.
4) The Joker
Evilest Endeavor: Killing Jason Todd, the second Robin.
There’s no way that an insane plea can acquit the Joker of being pure evil. He’s killed too many people in an infinite number of ways to not be evil. Because of his extreme nihilism, nothing and no one matters to him. As a result, he goes around killing people and causing chaos just for fun. He’ll recklessly kill people by running them over or he’ll poison the entire reservoir; as long as people suffer, the Joker is content. Besides brutally murdering Jason Todd, he maimed Barbara Gordon, tried to drive Commissioner Gordon insane, and casually snapped the necks of Gotham’s finest. The Joker has also sold his soul to Etrigan, worked for Ayatollah Khomeni, and finds AIDS to be hysterical. The fact that he finds so many different ways to torture and induce death speaks volumes as to just how much the Joker desires to inflict pain on anyone unfortunate enough to cross his path.
3) Red Skull
Evilest Endeavor: …I mean he’s an unrepentant Nazi…He can turn brushing his teeth into a crime against humanity.
This guy is so evil that he gave the rest of the Third Reich pause, as he was considered an extremist by Hitler himself. When you actively plan for the subjection of the entire planet, and try to facilitate genocide, it’s pretty hard to become any eviler. Red Skull orchestrated the assassination of Captain America, the living symbol of freedom, and even tried to kill his own newborn child because the baby was a girl. His heart pumps nothing but a viscous tar of hatred for Jews, blacks, gays, gypsies, mutants, women, and anyone else who doesn’t fit the image of his “Master Race”. He’s so evil that other villains like Magneto and Kingpin have refused to work with him. In fact, both men have tried to kill him because of his national socialist support. Red Skull is the Adolf Hitler of the Marvel Universe, someone so evil that he’s despised by other villains almost as much as he is by the heroes.
Evilest Endeavor: Enslaving the entire planet with the Anti-Life Equation.
When you’re the god of evil, certain things are expected of you, things like forcing your top general to kill her beloved dog, trading your favorite son away in a peace treaty that you have no intention of keeping, committing matricide, and killing your least favorite son…over and over again. The guy refers to himself as evil and is the despotic ruler of the planet Apokolips, a planet that he tries to make as miserable and hopeless as possible. Darkseid has also spent his entire life searching for the Anti-Life Equation, a formula that would rob the entire universe of free will and hope. He wants people to suffer, and he wants to lord over a hopeless and subordinate population. Darkseid is evil incarnate and has absolutely no qualms about it…at least he’s honest.
1) Kid Miracleman
Evilest Endeavor: Killing the only person who showed him kindness because letting her live would make him “soft”.
Miracleman 14-15 are two of the most graphic and horrifying comics that you will ever read, but they are amazing pieces of literature nonetheless. There is no reason behind Kid Miracleman’s madness, as he just loves seeing people suffer by his hand. He massacres all of London and casually causes the death of millions. Not only does he kill, but he mutilates his victims like some sadistic spider plucking the legs off of any fly that wanders into its web. He flays people to the bone, skins them, and even slaughters children. If not for Miracleman, his psychotic former sidekick would have created a hell on earth, if he even left the planet still standing at all. The one act that exemplified his evil sadism is a more personal act that preceded his devastation of London. After he butchered the hospital that he was living in, KM initially spares the life of the one nurse who was good to him. Immediately after that, he reneges and tears her head off because sparing her life would be an act of goodness. He willing chose not to do good for fear that it would make him less of a monster. KM wants to be a monster and will do anything possible to reaffirm that. There is no explanation for his atrocious acts, and therefore there is no understanding or compassion for his specific brand of evil. His is an unrepentant evil that knows no bounds nor restraints, one who rejects redemption and seeks nothing but destruction.
What villains do you think are the baddest of the bad? Let us know in the comments below.
 In the increasingly controversial Batman: The Killing Joke
 Besides the Hate-Monger, who is literally a clone of Hitler.