Jul 27, 2013

Spider-Man's Greatest Villains #100-91

"And there I am, without any pants on."
(Spectacular Spider-Man #27, written by Paul Jenkins, art by Mark Buckingham)

Matt Kindt and Marco Rudy's upcoming Marvel Knights Spider-Man series will feature Spider-Man pitted against 99 villains!  Will any of these ones be there?  It'll definitely include some of our previous hundred villains, all available here in handy list format!

#100 - Burglar

Man, those pupils kind of undercut the drama of this scene.

First Appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962)

Created By: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

What's His Deal: A common thief, the man known only as the Burglar learned of a fortune hidden in a Forest Hills home from his cellmate, elderly gangster Dutch Mallone.  When he was eventually released, he robbed a TV studio (running right past costumed entertainer Spider-Man) then headed for Forest Hills, where he succeeded only in shooting the house's owner, Ben Parker.  Hunted down by the vengeful Spider-Man, he returned to jail. Eventually released on compassionate grounds due to his weak heart, the Buglar conspired with the costumed villain Mysterio to gain possession of the house, now owned by Parker's widow May - both unaware that the money hidden inside the house had long since been eaten by silverfish.  The plot culminated in a showdown with Spider-Man, who angrily unmasked - recognizing Peter Parker as Ben Parker's nephew, the Burglar dropped dead of a heart attack.  Years later, Parker's clone Ben Reilly would gain a further measure of revenge by sleeping with the Burglar's daughter, Jessica Carradine.

Why He's Great: I struggled with this one.  Of all the criminals Spider-Man's ever faced, the Burglar had the greatest impact on his life.  On the other hand...he's kind of not a supervillain.  He's just a guy with a gun. He's any guy with a gun - we never even learn his name.  But then on the other, other hand, he makes a return appearance, just like a super villain.  He has an evil plot and everything.  But then on the other, other, other hand (damn, I shouldn't have taken that serum to eliminate my spider-powers), he's not really anyone's favorite villain.  So I compromised - he's not at the top of the list, but he's in the extra-special 100th spot.

What Should I Read?  Well, obviously you should read Amazing Fantasy #15, but you've probably read it already.  Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard's Return of the Burglar storyline, which culminated in Amazing Spider-Man #200, is a great read and was recently collected in trade.

#99 - Menace and the Mutantmen

Fun fact: the Mutantmen are based on Bolivar Trask's drawings of mutants subjugating mankind in an old-ass X-Men issue.  They are not based on that time Leonard Nimoy got really into colloidal silver. 

First Appearance: Untold Tales of Spider-Man #21 (1997)

Created By: Kurt Busiek and Pat Olliffe

What's Their Deal: When the X-Men first emerged on the scene, anti-mutant hysteria reached a boiling point...and Robert McPhee, Spencer Barron, Joseph Velsher, and Vito Garelli saw dollar signs.  Garbing themselves in gimmicked-up super-villain costumes and accompanied by android "Mutantmen", they went on a bank-robbing spree, claiming to be mutant terrorists.  To further add to the illusion that they had mutant powers, they all claimed to be the same individual, Menace, despite seemingly being in several places at once. Before long, however, Spider-Man and the original X-Men got wise to their antics and took them down.

Why They're Great: There's a great scene in their one-and-only appearance where, having been caught speaking to one of his cohorts like a regular guy by Spider-Man, one of the Menaces instantly switches to goofy supervillain dialogue.  I am going to get to pretty much every Untold Tales villain here, because man, it's so good.

What Should I Read?  Haven't I told you to just read Untold Tales of Spider-Man already?  Get on it!

#98 - Aura

Another point in her favour; unlike a lot of super-criminals, she covers up her hair with a wig.  It's just smart thinking, guys.

First Appearance: Spectacular Scarlet Spider #1 (1995)

Created By: Todd DeZago and Sal Buscema

What's Her Deal: Married cyberneticists Greg and Ann Herd were hired by Dr. Octopus (Carolyn Trainer) to join her support staff; eventually, they designed costumes for themselves to take a more active role in her criminal organization as the machine-controlling Override and the force-field wielding Aura!  Partnered with the Looter, they repeatedly clashed with the Scarlet Spider and rival crimelord Jason Tso.  Tiring of the supervillainous life, Greg and Ann intended one big score before they retired - Norman Osborn's five-million-dollar bounty on Spider-Man.  Unfortunately, as they battled him, they encountered a band of rival bounty hunters armed with high-tech weapons.  Aura was milliseconds too slow in raising her shields, and trapped a laser beam inside them; it ricocheted repeatedly, tearing her apart.  To pay for her medical care, Override entered Osborn's service, eventually participating in the Gathering of Five, a mystic ceremony that transformed him into the fiery Shadrac.  Strangely, a restored Override and Aura later attended an underworld gathering assembled by Hammerhead years later, during the superhero civil war.

Why She's Great: The concept of a married supervillain couple is a good one - but it's also one that doesn't come up much, with a couple exceptions - Titania and the Absorbing Man, the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend, and I guess...uh, Punch and Jewelee?  I don't read DC.  Anyway, these guys got some character development, which is pretty good for some reasonably generic '90s cyber-villains, and they're cool.  Look for Override a little later.

What Should I Read?  The four-part Spiderhunt storyline, recently collected in a trade, is an enjoyable slice of post-Clone Saga Spider-Man.

#97 - Squid

Don't ask where that ink is coming from.
(Amazing Spider-Man #26, written by Howard Mackie, art by John Romita Jr. & Scott Hanna)

First Appearance: Peter Parker: Spider-Man #16 (2000)

Created By: Howard Mackie and John Romita Jr.

What's His Deal: Chafing under the thumb of his father, Don Callahan and his girlfriend Laura turned to crime, eventually being transformed by underworld scientists into the Squid and Ms. Fortune!  They joined the criminal Wicked Brigade, and briefly battled Spider-Man, but as you might expect, that didn't go so well. Ms. Fortune broke up with him, so the Squid struck out on his own, doing a little murder for hire before being stopped by his dad and Spider-Man.  Eventually, the Squid joined the Hood's supervillain gang and has been a fixture in the New York underworld ever since.

Why He's Great: Well, for starters, I love cephalopods, and I love goofy animal themed-villains, and I love this guy's John Romita Jr. design.    I also like how, despite being a fairly recent creation, the Squid has become a go-to crowd-filler villain - he's turning up in supervillain bars and prison riots, and that's tough to do if you weren't in the OHotMU Master Edition.  Rock on, Squid.

What Should I Read?  Amazing Spider-Man (volume 2) #26 is a pretty decent little Howard Mackie story with some great John Romita Jr. art.

#96 - Sasha Kraven

All that Kravinoff money, and they still couldn't afford a second chair?

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #567 (2008)

Created By: Marc Guggenheim and Phil Jimenez

What's Her Deal: Aleksandra "Sasha" Nikolaevna murdered her own invalid father to marry aristocratic hunter Sergei Kravinoff.  She bore two children for him - Vladimir and Ana, but as he descended into madness and obsession with Spider-Man, he abandoned her to take up with the Haitian witch Calypso. Eventually, his hunt ended in suicide, but Sasha raised her children to take after their father and hunt the spider - but this ended in death for Vladimir and failure for Ana.  Undaunted, Sasha put Spider-Man through a gauntlet of misery and death, culminating in the deaths of Spider-Woman (Mattie Franklin), Kaine, and Madame Web...and the resurrection of Vladimir and Sergei.  This didn't go so well for her, though, because Vladimir came back as a mindless beast and Sergei didn't want to come back at all, given that he shot himself in the head.  This didn't sit so well with Spider-Man, either, who, in a moment of uncharacteristic brutality, gave her the ol' Optimus Prime.  She escaped to the Savage Land with her family, but Kraven was still kind of peeved about the whole thing, and snapped her neck, killing her.

Why She's Great: Mrs. K here was a great behind the scenes villain.  The Gauntlet put Spider-Man through almost unprecedented levels of misery, and did so in a remarkably clever way - by using a captive Madame Web to predict the future, she was able to noodge things a little so the story wouldn't end the way it was supposed to.  Very meta.  But to make the big leagues, you've gotta put your fists where Spider-Man's mouth is.  And once Sasha actually faced Spider-Man, she lost face.  And also lost her face. It was gross.

What Should I Read?  The Grim Hunt, by Joe Kelly, Michael Lark, and Marco Checchetto, is dark as hell, but it's really good.

#95 - Lightmaster

No, I'm not gonna give you any context for this.
(Spider-Man: The Root of All Annoyance, written by Chris Yost, art by Michael Ryan and Danny Miki)

First Appearance: (Lansky) Spectacular Spider-Man #1 (1976); (Lightmaster) Spectacular Spider-Man #3 (1977)

Created By: Edward Lansky created by Gerry Conway and Sal Buscema.  Lightmaster created by Jim Shooter, Gerry Conway, and Sal Buscema.

What's His Deal: Upset about imminent cuts to Empire State University's budget, ESU vice-chancellor Edward Lansky mounted a spirited campaign to win public support...wait, no, that's what a sane person would do.  Instead he staged his own kidnapping, hired the Tarantula and Kraven the Hunter, and built himself a light-powered super suit.  As the Lightmaster, he battled Spider-Man, who had caught wind of this, and despite his impressive array of light powers, had his ass handed to him.  Since then, he's been all over the place.  He turned into a living light being, he tried to take over Dazzler's body, he got cured, he fought Cloak & Dagger and got un-cured, he turned everybody on Earth pink...in general, he's kind of oscillated between seeking revenge on Spider-Man and just doing stuff to pay the bills.

Why He's Great: Okay, I'm just kind of a sucker for guys with "master" in their names.  There's something very old-school about the Lightmaster, from his goofy name to his byzantine plots (he once tried to kill Spider-Man with a giant light bulb death trap, just like on that one Tick episode) to his Sal Buscema costume design.  He'd be way up on the list if he could find a solid motivation, though.

What Should I Read?  Lightmaster's second appearance, in Spectacular Spider-Man #19-20, features the Enforcers, the White Tiger, the aforementioned giant light bulb death trap, and some solid work from Marvel workhorses Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema.  It's a hoot.

#94 - Grizzly

He's a godless killing machine and he wants our honey.

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #139 (1974)

Created By: Gerry Conway and Ross Andru

What's His Deal: Tarred by the Daily Bugle for his brutal methods in the ring, professional wrestler Max "The Grizzly" Markham was kicked out of the sport.  Years later, the embittered Markham was given a bear-themed exoskeleton by the Jackal as part of his complex plan of revenge against Spider-Man.  His attempted strike on J. Jonah Jameson was foiled by the wall-crawler.  Some time later, Markham had his suit refurbished and gained a rematch with Spider-Man - a rematch Spider-Man threw to get the Grizzly off his back.  He briefly joined the "Legion of Losers", a collection of Spider-Man's least-fearsome foes, and then tried a just-as-unsuccessful career as a superhero alongside the Gibbon.  Since then, he's briefly served with Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts, and has faced foes as diverse as Power Pack, Starfox, and Stephen Colbert!

Why He's Great: I have a great fondness for guys with "face peeking out of the animal's mouth" costumes, and that's what the Grizzly's got.  And for a guy with a goofy gimmick and look, he's been in some pretty good stories - Gerry Conway's original Jackal storyline, JM DeMatteis' second run on Spectacular...

What Should I Read?  ...and Web of Spider-Man #58, which was the first Spider-Man backissue I ever bought, and thus holds a special place in my heart.

#93 - Armada

The Comics Code forbade such discussions at the time, but...he's having sex with those robots, isn't he?

First Appearance: Sensational Spider-Man #0 (1996)

Created By: Dan Jurgens

What's His Deal: Constantly accompanied by a flotilla of small flying robots, all of which he's given women's names, and all of which he seems to think are his friends, David Breyer carved out a career for himself as the techno-mercenary Armada!  He teamed with Mysterio on several occasions to bedevil rookie Spider-Man Ben Reilly, and invariably flipped out when Spider-Man smashed one of his girl-bots.  He's been lying low ever since, although he did show up at Stilt-Man's funeral.

Why He's Great: Admittedly, he's another nutty guy in a suit of armor, but it's a nice suit of armor and he's an entertaining nut.

What Should I Read? Amazing Spider-Man #413 is a good done-in-one story by Tom DeFalco and Mark Bagley.  It also features Spider-Man vs. Godzilla, if you're into that.

#92 - Will O'The Wisp

Only Spider-Man could find himself accidentally crotch-deep in a supervillain.
(Sensational Spider-Man (volume 2) #29, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, art by Angel Medina and Scott Hanna)

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #167 (1977)

Created By: Len Wein and Ross Andru

What's His Deal: Overworked Brand Corporation scientist Jackson Arvad was caught in a lab accident and transformed into a bizarre energy being - the Will O'The Wisp!  Left to die by his employers, he was found by criminal surgeon Jonas Harrow and enslaved as part of Harrow's campaign against Spider-Man. Freed from Harrow's control, he waged a campaign of revenge against Brand, frequently clashing with Spider-Man in the process.  Once he'd managed to avenge himself on Brand and stabilize his own molecular structure, he became a force for good, and even briefly joined the Outlaws, a collection of Spider-Man's reformed criminal allies.  Before long, however, he was being manipulated into evildoing again - first by Harrow again, in an attempt to steal the massive android Dragon Man for Roxxon, and then by the Chameleon, in order to serve on his anti-Spider-Man Exterminators.

Why He's Great: Well, for starters, this guy is only kind of a villain - he's not really a bad guy, but he's constantly getting mind-controlled or blackmailed into doing evil stuff.  He does have an interesting power set, a clear motivation, and a spooky look.  The name's kind of a mouthful, though.

What Should I Read?  Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.'s Amazing Spider-Man #233-236, in which the Wisp gets his revenge on Brand with some horrific consequences for Spider-Man and the Tarantula is, I'd say, Stern's best Spider-Man story.

#91 - Mysterio (Francis Klum)

No relation to Heidi
(Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #13, written by Peter David, art by Todd Nauck and Robert Campanella)

First Appearance: (Francis) Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do #2 (2002); (Mysterio) Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11 (2006)

Created By: Kevin Smith and Terry Dodson

What's His Deal: All his life, Francis Klum was dominated - emotionally and sexually - by his abusive older brother Garrison, alias Mister Brownstone.  A mutant able to control minds and teleport, he used his gifts to help his brother become a wealthy tycoon and secret drug lord.  His brother went too far when he tried to rape the Black Cat, however, and Francis promptly teleported inside him, exploding him.  A subsequent altercation with Spider-Man and the Cat left him physically and emotionally scarred; now blaming them for his brother's death, he bought an abandoned cache of Mysterio's equipment and prepared to exact his revenge.  When Peter Parker publicly revealed his secret ID, Francis attacked Midtown High School, where Peter was teaching - unfortunately for him, he ended up there with two other Mysterios *and* the mystical spider-entity Ero, the latter of whom stabbed him in the heart before he teleported away to parts unknown.

Why He's Great: Mysterio, in general, is a great villain; even the third-best Mysterio deserves a place in the top 100, despite his unnecessarily skeevy backstory.

What Should I Read?  I Hate a Mystery (Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11-13), by Peter David and Todd Nauck, is a highly-enjoyable read with not one, not two, but three Mysterios!

Next: Words and paper!  Lava and silver!  Pumpkin and cerveza!

1 comment:

  1. I know people who aren't primarily Spider-Man villains (or who aren't primarily villains in general) aren't going to make this list.

    That said, is it at all possible that you'll write a bonus entry after completing the main list that chronicles said adversaries and includes where they'd fall on the main list based only on their encounters with Spidey?

    Folks like:
    • The Juggernaut
    • Dr. Doom
    • Magneto
    • Titania
    • D’Spayre
    • Plant Man
    • The Punisher
    • Black Cat

    I've been loving this list so far, and would be really interested in your opinion on said characters as well!

    Thanks for all the work you've done on this list so far!