Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Aaahhh, villains. We love them so much. Don’t we?

I mean, we love the heroes and all their trials and tribulations. But secretly, we can’t wait for the villain to walk on-scene, announce their presence in a startling manner, and just start tearing everything the hero has worked for to shreds, killing the people they love, stealing their cosmic power…whatever.

We love them so much, they don’t even die. Any of them. I remember an old Marvel role-playing game supplement I had. I described the “rules of villain”. Basically, it went something to this effect:

  1. If the Villain dies, then the heroes don’t find the body. In which case, the villain didn’t really die and will return to fight another day.

  1. If the Villain dies and the heroes find the body, than it isn’t really the villain’s body. It’s a robot duplicate, a clone, someone they stuffed into their costume at the last possible minute…whatever. The villain will return to fight another day.

  1. If the Villain dies and the heroes find the body and it really is the villain’s body, than the villain transferred their mind/ consciousness/ soul/ essence into another body, or a cloned body, or a robot double, or something, at the last minute. The villain will return to fight another day.

  1. If the villain dies and the heroes find the body and it really is the villain’s body and they didn’t engage in some sort of mental/ spiritual transfer escape plan, than the villain is dead. BUT, the villain’s son, daughter, brother, sister, father, mother, cousin, uncle, aunt, spouse, ex-spouse, best friend, domesticated house pet, or old baby sitter will become the NEW villain. They will adopt the old villain’s means, armament, powers, and costume and, in a sense, the villain will live on through them and return to fight another day.

You get the idea.

But from the legendary rogue’s gallery of Gotham city to the downright bizarre X-men bad guys, comic books would be bad soap operas without these guys. Well, okay, they are bad soap opera’s- but at least they have kick-ass action scenes imbedded in them. First you’ve got your tragic villains- the ones that you’re not sure if you loathe or are supposed to sympathize with? Guys like Magneto, Doom, Ra’s al Ghul…in fact, when I was reading X-men in the nineties, I didn’t know a single female reader who wasn’t infatuated with Magneto. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love Ian McKellan as magneto. Would never ask for a different actor. But back in the day, they drew magneto like he belonged on the cover of those romance novels that you glance at while your waiting in line at the grocery store. He was always wearing these flowing robes with his chest exposed and Rogue was usually swooning into his arms. But beyond that- you felt Magneto’s pain. You felt bad for the guy. He was trying to do the right thing, from his perspective.

Doom had his moments too. I mean, he was no prince- but he had a code and he lived by it. He didn’t always have the right reasons, but he’d do the right thing sometimes. I remember this issue of Fantastic Four where a young, innocent Latverian woman got shot. Doom flipped out and started yelling about “Who DARES do this in Doom’s country!?” and promptly disintegrated the assassin.

Than there’s the guys that you love to hate. The really, really bad guys. Luthor, Darkseid, Apocalypse, Mr. Sinister, Bullseye…the list goes on and on. Say what you will about Aquaman, but I’m serious- Black Manta is a scary S.O.B. I was a big Arcade fan for a long time- although he rarely makes the rounds in Marvel comics these days. He would set up these amusement parks loaded with deathtraps (Murderworld!), and people would pay him to take whoever they wanted bumped off to it. Usually these were super-heroes who busted out in no time flat- but you could actually imagine normal people struggling to survive these sick, bizarre scenarios Arcade dreamed up while he sat back and watched. He was one sick puppy.

But of course, then there’s the villain of villains. The guy who’s so scary, other villains won’t even work with him. The “clown” prince of crime himself- the Joker. He’s like Hannibal Lecter if the guy did crystal meth and ran around in a purple suit. And the thing is? He’s FUNNY. You laugh, and then you’re like: “Oh god, did I just laugh while he pushed that old lady down the steps? That’s horrible!” But it is funny, in this sick way. Anyone who makes Batman worried is someone we should be terrified of. But as you rush out to reserve tickets for this summer’s blockbuster movie, you don’t need ME to tell you how Joker is the quintessential comic-book villain.

I was always a big fan of the nemesis villains- the ones that are exactly like the hero, but warped? I always found them interesting. Like Venom and Sinestro. And lately, I’m all about Superboy Prime. He freaks me right the &(*% out. I kind of love that even an “evil” superman is going to walk around, thinking of themselves as the “good guy”. Superman just is that squeaky clean- even his evil double is more righteous than psychotic (although, he most certainly is psychotic).

I reserve one other category too. That’s the “this villain is so ridiculous crazy and powerful that the hero doesn’t have a chance in hell” villain. I don’t know why, but somewhere in the mid nineties this was a big trend. People just started coming up with these guys whose power just seemed unreal. Like Carnage and Stryfe. Or Bane- I mean, I like everything they’ve done with Bane and the whole venom (the drug, not the villain) thing. But a guy who has the tactical expertise and willpower of Batman and who’s built like the Hulk? AND he waits until Batman has the stuffing beat out of him BEFORE he goes to fight him (i.e. Knightfall)? It was a little much wasn’t it? I mean I think Knightfall was awesome, but still…

Of course, there are some who just…stand out.

And that’s why I want to bring your attention to a very special kind of villain. That villian’s name is M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing).

M.O.D.O.K. is a freak.

He is &(*$ hilarious though. I can’t really take the credit for popularizing what a totally brilliant concept this character is- it came to my attention recently that an entire internet community has built around this guy. I’m not going to try to steal their thunder- I think their efforts speak for themselves.

I would direct you towards the following article to best explain.

I totally lost it on the last line of the second to last paragraph.

M.O.D.O.K. also appears to have a blog on Marvel.com. Search for Blogdok.

And I would strongly suggest you try to get your hands on a copy of The Journal of M.O.D.O.K. studies. This is a REAL publication written by people who have come together to analyze the character M.O.D.O.K. I don’t think they are still publishing, but if you can find a scan or something on e-bay…

All of these results speak for themselves. I can’t say any more on this subject. M.O.D.O.K. must be experienced to be understood.

I will say this- I highly recommend checking out Marvel Super-Villain Team-Up # 1-5, just published this last year. I don’t think it’s collected yet…but the storyline is called “M.O.D.O.K.’s 11” and it involves M.O.D.O.K.’s ex-girlfriend. That’s all I’m going to say.