Oct 10, 2012

Spider-Man's Greatest Villains #130-121

Not to be confused with Spider-Man: The Parkour Years, which chronicles all those times he fought Screwball.
(Spider-Man: The Parker Years, art by John Romita Jr.)

Spider-Man may soon be Superior, but for now, take a look at ten more of his superior rogues gallery!  And for every villain we've covered so far, check out this handy list.

#130 - Carlyle

"Science Squid?"  "Crap."

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #43 (2002)

Created By: J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr.

What's His Deal: To cover up his financial misdeeds and criminal past, Nexen Industries executive Carlyle murdered the company's CEO and hired Otto Octavius as a consultant, only to drug the then-retired supervillain and reverse-engineer his arms, using cutting-edge technology to build his own battlesuit so he could steal enough money to get out of Los Angeles.  Unfortunately for him, Spider-Man happened to be in LA at the time, visiting Mary Jane on a movie set; doubly unfortunately, Octavius escaped the deathtrap Carlyle had left him in.  Spider-Man and a very pissed-off Doc Ock put this pretender away.

Why He's Great: I love this guy.  He's just such a douche, and his armor looks awesome.  JMS' run featured very few traditional Spider-Man villains, preferring instead to use a more mystical set of villains (about which more later) - but when he did feature someone like this, who was just a straight-up dude in crazy armor who robbed banks, I felt that his stories flowed a little more naturally.

What Should I Read? Amazing Spider-Man #43-45 should be readily available, and are among the highlights of JMS' tenure in Amazing.

#129 - Belladonna

She'll steal their Seoul in South Korea, make Antarctica cry uncle - from the Red Sea to Greenland, they'll be singing the blues.
(Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #47,  written by Roger Stern, art by Marie Severin and Bruce Patterson)

First Appearance: Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #43 (1980)

Created By: Roger Stern and Mike Zeck

What's Her Deal: Narda Ravanna and her sister, Desiree Vaughn-Pope, built a fashion and cosmetics empire together, but it came crashing down when their rival Roderick Kingsley smeared their reputations.  Seeking revenge, Ravanna used her chemistry expertise to become the poison-gas-wielding woman of mystery Belladonna, and struck at Kinglsey's American operations, bringing her into conflict with Spider-Man when her lackeys stole chemicals from Peter Parker's ESU lab.  When her hireling the Prowler (actually the Cat) lured Spider-Man into a trap for her, she tried to kill both of them off; when they both escaped, Spider-Man had to save her from the crazed Cat, then handed her over to the police.

Why She's Great: Spider-Man has a ton of great villains - otherwise, this would be a really short list.  What he doesn't have a lot of, however, is great female villains.  He has even fewer female mastermind-type villains.  So when one does show up, she demands attention.  Belladonna has an interesting gimmick, a cool look, and she can even mix it up with Spider-Man a little.  Unfortunately, we saw very little of Belladonna, even after her rival Roderick Kingsley achieved greater prominence during Stern (and later, Tom DeFalco)'s Hobgoblin storyline.  Why nobody's brought her back to mess with the Hobgoblin, I don't know...

What Should I Read?  Well, she only has three appearances (PPTSSM #43, 47-48), so you might as well grab them all.  They're by Roger Stern, so you know they're good.

#128 - Freak

I can look at a guy like Kevin Costner and see a giant peach grub.

First Appearance: (human) Amazing Spider-Man #546 (2008); (mutated) Amazing Spider-Man #552 (2008)

Created By: (human) Bob Gale and Phil Winslade; (mutated) Bob Gale and Phil Jimenez

What's His Deal: Searching for a fix, the heterochromic drug addict known only as Freak broke into Dr. Curt Connors' lab and snorted several beakers of animal stem cell serums.  Unsurprisingly, this transformed him into a hideous mutant freak.  His monstrous rampages attracted Spider-Man's attention, but due to Freak's drug-addled carelessness, typically ended with his own death - which his powers enabled him to survive, in a new mutated form each time.  He was eventually recovered by Norman Osborn, who used him for medical experiments.  During a battle between Spider-Man and Osborn, the Freak escaped, and later sought Dr. Octopus' bounty on Menace and her newborn infant.

Why He's Great: I'm a sucker for crazy animal monsters.  Also, as depicted above, the Freak once paused mid-Spider-Man-fight to smoke meth, which is hilarious.

What Should I Read?  Gale and Jimenez' introductory Freak storyline, while a little hokey at times, is solid fun.

#127 - Delilah

Amazingly, has never fought Doc Samson.

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #414 (1996)

Created By: Tom DeFalco and Mark Bagley

What's Her Deal: A super-strong and durable enforcer for the Rose (Jacob Conover), the deadly Delilah first encountered Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) while attempting to assassinate Detective Garon Lewis.  She soon became embroiled in her employer's gang war against the Black Tarantula; after she killed the Tarantula's chief henchman El Uno, the Tarantula snapped her neck, but immediately healed her with his mystical powers. Humiliated, she threw herself into the gang war and teamed up with aspiring super villain Ricochet (actually Peter Parker in disguise after...forget it, long story), but was nearly killed by the Tarantula's hireling, the vampiric Bloodscream.  By the time she recovered, the Rose had fallen; she briefly joined the Scorpion's Spider-Man Revenge Squad, then relocated to LA, where she sought revenge against Ricochet for abandoning her, unaware that the identity had been taken up by a different man.

Why She's Great: Ah, Tom DeFalco villains.  A lot of them have a certain...cadence to their speech that I really dig.  Delilah takes it to extremes, as you can see here.  And it's not just that panel.  She's Constantly talking like this.  It's actually kind of endearing.

What Should I Read?  Much like her employer the Rose, Delilah is a constant fixture in DeFalco's post-Clone Saga run on ASM.  She does feature in DeFalco's portion of the Identity Crisis storyline, which is collected in a recent trade.  Check it out.

#126 - Humbug

(Amazing Spider-Man #306, written by David Michelinie, art by Todd McFarlane)

First Appearance: Web of Spider-Man #19 (1986)

Created By: David Michelinie and Marc Silvestri

What's His Deal: When ESU entomology professor Buck Mitty's funding was cut, he sought revenge and money to continue his research, using the power of amplified insect sounds as the costumed Humbug!  In this guise he clashed repeatedly with Spider-Man, who mostly made fun of him - and deservedly so.  After surviving an assassination attempt at the hands of Deadpool, he turned over a new leaf and joined Misty Knight and Colleen Wing's Heroes for Hire, where he endured a litany of misfortunes; in short order he was decapitated by the Headmen, mutated into a horrible bugman by alien insects, and finally mercy-killed by his teammate Shang-Chi.

Why He's Great: I mentioned that he fights Spider-Man with amplified insect noises, right?  Humbug is another guy who was created to suck, and he sucks admirably.

What Should I Read?  Humbug's first two appearances, in Web #19 and Amazing Spider-Man #306, are consistently hilarious.

#125 - Massacre

Weirdly, this issue came out the same day as Power Man and Iron Fist #4, which also featured a villain whose evil nature stemmed from the chunk of metal lodged in his brain.  Did Slott and Fred Van Lente both watch a documentary on Phineas Gage on the same night or something?

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #655 (2011)

Created By: Dan Slott and Marcos Martin

What's His Deal: Stockbrokers Marcus and Judy Lyman were the victims of a car bomb left by a disgruntled client; the explosion killed her and embedded a metal shard in his brain, destroying the section of his brain that felt remorse, pity, and regret.  Outfitting himself as the villainous Massacre, he took a number of hostages at his old firm, killing several just to make a point to the police.  Having just sworn that "no one dies" in the wake of Marla Madison's death, Spider-Man, clad in a new armored suit, saved all of Massacre's hostages and even saved Massacre himself from police gunfire.

Why He's Great: Massacre wasn't really designed as a recurring foe; much like the Sin-Eater, he was an irredeemable killer presented as a challenge to Spider-Man's sense of right and wrong.  And in that role, he served admirably, and made that story one of my all-time favourites.  I don't necessarily want this guy to become a recurring foe, but I imagine Slott could craft a return for him on par with Peter David's second (and final) Sin-Eater story.

What Should I Read?  Read No One Dies.  It's the most affecting Spider-Man story of the decade.

#124 - Tracer

Your mother's a tracer!
(Amazing Spider-Man #525, written by Peter David, art by Mike Deodato Jr. and Joe Pimentel)

First Appearance: Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 (2005)

Created By: Peter David and Mike Wieringo

What's His Deal: Apparently created by other machines to serve as their god, the robotic Tracer went on a rampage to test his powers. During a bank robbery, he wounded Spider-Man and escaped, then sent machines across New York City haywire.  He infiltrated Avengers Tower and freaked out Aunt May to provoke Spider-Man into another fight.  Detecting that Spider-Man was dying (don't ask), however, he shut himself off and told his worshippers to cut it out, out of respect for the soon-to-be-dead.

Why He's Great: Created as part of the kinda-awful The Other storyline, Tracer is that crossover's highpoint.  I'm often not a fan of robot villains, as they often lack personality, but Tracer has a personality, and is in fact kind of a smarmy dick, so I'm cool with him.

What Should I Read?  Read the first three issues of The Other, ignore the last nine.  And in fact, the middle issue of those three is drawn by Pat Lee (or whoever Pat Lee was paying probably not paying to do his work for him), so ignore it.

#123 - Mister Fear (Fagan)

Nyeh.  He-Man.
(Web of Spider-Man, written by Gerry Conway, art by Alex Saviuk and Keith Williams)

First Appearance: Marvel Team-Up #92 (1980)

Created By: Steven Grant and Carmine Infantino

What's His Deal:
The nephew of Larry Cranston, the third Mister Fear, businessman Alan Fagan took up his uncle's costume and fear gas to become the frightful Mister Fear!  After failing to defeat Spider-Man and Hawkeye, Fagan tried to manipulate the recently-widowed Betty Brant into killing the web-slinger, but she overcame him as well.  Recently, Fagan has tried his hand at team villainy, working with Crossfire's "Mind-Control Mafia" and the Hood's villain army.  Fagan even spawned his own villainous legacy when his illegitimate daughter Ariel Tremmore used a sample of her father's fear-gas-saturated skin to transform herself into the monstrous Shock.

Why He's Great: There's just something old-school supervillain about Mister Fear that I love.  He's got a ridiculous costume, he's got a gun that shoots fear-gas, and also he's called "Mister Fear".

What Should I Read?  While nominally a Spider-Man miniseries, Tony Bedard and Manuel Garcia's Spider-Man: Breakout is basically five issues of supervillains (in this case, Mr. Fear, Crossfire, Controller, Corrupter, and Mandrill vs. the U-Foes) screwing each other over.  It's delightful.

#122 - American Son

It ain't me - it ain't me - I ain't no millionaire's crazy illegitimate mutant son, no.

First Appearance: (Gabriel Stacy) Amazing Spider-Man #509 (2004); (Gray Goblin) Amazing Spider-Man #514 (2004); (American Son) Age of Heroes #2 (2010)

Created By: (Gabriel Stacy and Gray Goblin); J. Michael Straczynski and Mike Deodato Jr.; (American Son) Brian Reed and Chad Hardin

What's His Deal: After an ill-advised tryst with Norman Osborn, Gwen Stacy fled to Europe, where she gave birth to Osborn's illegitimate twins, Gabriel and Sarah Stacy; she soon returned to America, where she met her end at the hands of Osborn.  After surviving his own apparent death, Osborn relocated to Paris and saw to the twins' upbringing - due to Osborn's mutated DNA, they grew to maturity in a few years.  Having been raised to believe that Peter Parker was their absentee father, and that Spider-Man had killed their mother, the twins menaced Parker's family until Sarah was accidentally shot.  Gabriel fled to one of Norman's hideouts, where he accepted his true heritage, took the Goblin Formula, and became the Grey Goblin!  Defeated by Spider-Man, he eventually became one of Norman Osborn's test subjects as he tried to combine the Super-Soldier and Goblin Serums; after Norman went to jail, he donned the American Son armor that Norman had crafted for his legitimate son, Harry, and tried to become a hero.  He was too crazy for that, however, and tried to kill Harry instead; Harry and Spider-Man teamed up to beat him, and he ended up in the nuthouse.

Why He's Great: Of course, the unpopularity of the aforementioned The Other pales in comparison to that of Sins Past, the story where Norman Osborn schtups Gwen Stacy and produces two bastards with progeria. As much as I didn't like that story, it warms my twisted heart to see something from it keep turning up like a bad penny.

What Should I Read?  Well, Sins Past, despite some nice Mike Deodato art, is pretty dire, and its follow-up, Sins Remembered, is even worse.  So I'm going to recommend the Brian Reed/Phil Briones miniseries, Amazing Spider-Man Presents: American Son, as it takes this continuity castoff and crafted an enjoyable thriller around him.

#121 - Demogoblin

He's like a televangelist crossed with a Ghost Rider villain.
(Spider-Man #47, written by Howard Mackie, art by Tom Lyle and Scott Hanna)

First Appearance: Web of Spider-Man #86 (1992)

Created By: Howard Mackie and Alex Saviuk

What's His Deal: When New York City was besieged by demons, the Hobgoblin (Jason Macendale), still smarting from a defeat at the hands of the Green Goblin (Harry Osborn), made a deal with the demon-lord N'astirh to gain more power.  The demon's influence eventually drove him to become mentally and physically unstable, and while battling Spider-Man, the demon physically separated itself from Macendale, becoming an entity Spider-Man dubbed Demogoblin!  The demon was a religious fanatic, and vowed to purge the world of those it deemed sinners, which it turned out was pretty much everyone.  He did this for a time by hooking up with Carnage and his band of maniacs in their attempt to slaughter the entire city of New York, but eventually turned his attention to criminals alone.  In final battle with Macendale, who sought to reclaim his honour by slaying his demonic spawn, Demogoblin sacrificed himself to save the life of an innocent child.

Why He's Great: Okay, so Demogoblin is an incredibly dumb name.  Once they actually gave this guy some motivation, however, he became kind of interesting, although a demon who hates other demons is kind of out of the Spider-Man villain wheelhouse - he's probably an attempt by the Spider-books to capture some of the heat from the then-crazy-popular Midnights Sons line of supernatural books.  Also, I love his incredibly '90s design.

What Should I Read?  Demogoblin's final appearance, in Spider-Man #48 (by Howard Mackie and Tom Lyle), is actually pretty good and even a little touching.

Next: Would you believe the Green Goblin, Venom, and a living vampire?

1 comment:

  1. My favourite stuff from Demogoblin is stuff where he's fighting Ghost Rider. He just seems to fit better as a Ghost Rider villain.

    --Andrew S.