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Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: The Best Supervillain Groups

May 16, 2018 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Crime Syndicate

I’m Steve Gustafson and thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to check out 411mania’s Comic Book Review Roundtable, every Thursday! Read up on the best reviews and let us know what you’re reading as well. Click to read the latest Comic Book Review Roundtable! The Avengers #1, Venom #1, and more!

Now, on with the show!

Last week we discussed What to Look For on Free Comic Book Day! Here’s what some of you had to say:

Diet Feather with NutraSprite: “Count Nefaria”

Acolyte Of Glorious La Parka~: “My first, immediate thought (and choice if I were asked) was Kang.”

Jeyh: “DOOM in Earth Mightiest Heros, clip can be found on youtube and glad they didn’t just make him another guy. Even though he is mostly a FF villain they can always call him in to just wreck everybody, they even correctly used him in ultimate alliance as the main villain.”

Thomas Stockel: “Morgan Le Fey is a worthy Avenger foe. Kurt Busiek’s and George Perez’s run started strong with Le Fey warping reality, turning the world into an idealized fantasy world with a majority of the Avengers being remade into her knights.”

Dorath: “The Strucker family should be mentioned. Not many heroes get to fight multiple generations of villains.”

poopsadaisy: “Doctor Doom. Sure, he was originally an FF villain but he’s been a menace to the Avengers (and most of the major Marvel heroes) plenty of times”

David Wilkinson: “I’d throw Graviton in there. Also maybe World War Hulk. If you count an opponent as a villain you can throw in the X-Men from the AvX storyline.”

taabr2: “Ultron. He was the villain the Avenger’s created themselves, the one who is personally connected to the most members and the one they feel the most responsible for.”

To read ALL the comments from the column, CLICK HERE! As always, thanks for the input!

This week we discuss…

Best Supervillain Group

Everyone loves a villain. If one supervillain is cool then a whole flock of them is even better, right? Just as a hero is defined by the villain poised against him, so are supervillain teams to forces like the Avengers and the Justice League.

This week we take a look at some of the biggest and baddest out there. One thing that stood out to me is how proud these groups are to advertise that they are, indeed, evil. Instead of attempting to fly under the radar, they buck the system and use “crime”, “sinister”, and “evil” in their names.

Speaking of which, the Crime Syndicate of America is a good team to start with. The evil counterparts of the Justice League, they first appeared back in 1964. The opposite/evil trope has been used a number of times in comic books but this group does it best.

The Crime Syndicate of America originally lived on Earth-Three, a world where history was “reversed” from the real world. Originally the planet had no superheroes and supervillains reigned supreme under the Crime Syndicate flag. Ultraman, Superwoman, Owlman, Johnny Quick, and Power Ring have gone through changes and survived the test of time to be among the elite supervillain groups.

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is another group that has longevity in comics and they also have kept consistent with their ideology in the belief of mutant superiority over normal humans. While the X-Men have always stood against them, their goals have implications for everyone. The Brotherhood was founded by Magneto in the 1960s and the team has had a varied roster ever since.

Another squad with a roving roster is Spider-Man’s Sinister Six. The original incarnation was organized by Doctor Octopus. Ock recruits every supervillain who had crossed paths with Spider-Man over the years and Vulture, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, the original Mysterio, and Sandman answer the call. While the group has had various levels of success, their goal has always remained the same. Poor, poor Spider-Man.

On the flip, Flash has his own Flash Rogues who stand out among other groups. The Rogues share one mission and it’s bad news for the superhero. Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Heat Wave, Weather Wizard, the Trickster, Pied Piper, the Top, and Captain Boomerang have contributed to a number of stellar storylines over the years and it’s due to the level of writing and the groups code of conduct.

The Frightful Four first appeared in Fantastic Four #36 and stand against the Fantastic Four. The Wizard, the Sandman, Paste-Pot Pete, and Medusa made a strong first impression against the First Family, defeating the FF in their first appearance. The team has gone on to include a wide variety of characters like Living Laser, N’Kantu, the Living Mummy, and Deadpool.

Green Lantern can always count on the Sinestro Corps for trouble. Led by Thaal Sinestro, this group has been part of a number of great storylines with epic, cosmic implications.

Speaking of epic, the Legion of Supervillains has been around since 1961 but has spanned to the far, far future. Their one issue is continuity but its comics so we’ll give them a pass. Cosmic King, Lightning Lord and Saturn Queen formed the Legion to stand against the Legion of Super-Heroes. Like the Super-Heroes, the Supervillains have an extensive roster and thanks to some goofy twists in continuity, a changing origin.

Another Legion adversary is the Fatal Five.

Quick aside. They really like to use numbers when naming the groups, huh?

Back to the Fatal Five, they started out by helping the Legion take out the Sun-Eater but when on to battle the group on several occasions. Originally composed of Tharok, the Emerald Empress, Mano, The Persuader, and Validus, the group has caused plenty of problems in our future.

Bringing things back down to a more local level, the Serpent Society. While they don’t seem to stand out when compared to some of the other groups on this list, they’re a funny group to add in. The Serpent Society was formed by Sidewinder as he gathered a number of villains with snake-themed powers. An interesting take on things. Even more unique is the Society is more of a labor union, taking jobs for the greater good of the group. While the group hasn’t made much of an impact, the concept has plenty of potential for future stories.

Another concept team is DC’ Secret Six. Each team has had six members, led by the mysterious Mockingbird, whom everyone assumes to be one of the other five members. The group first appeared in the late 60s but really caught on more recently.

The Injustice Gang/League is another team fighting for attention in the DC universe. The original Injustice Gang’s membership consisted of Libra, Chronos, Mirror Master, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Shadow Thief, and Tattooed Man. The more recent team got more fame and attention, which shouldn’t be a surprise when you have Lex Luthor, Joker, Circe, Doctor Light, Mirror Master, Ocean Master, and Jemm. The best days are probably still in front of them as a group.

One group that haunts me thanks to an incredible storylines is the Masters of Evil. Foes of the Avengers since The Avengers #6 in 1964, with the lineup changed constantly but I want to focus on Baron Helmut Zemo’s Masters of Evil and the “Avengers Under Siege” storyline.

Baron Helmut Zemo assembled a massive team that included Absorbing Man, Blackout, Black Mamba, Fixer, Goliath, Grey Gargoyle, Mister Hyde, Moonstone, Screaming Mimi, Tiger Shark, Titania, Whirlwind, the Wrecking Crew (Bulldozer, Piledriver, Thunderball and Wrecker), and Yellowjacket. Which such power, the Avengers didn’t stand a chance. A classic tale that still stands up today.

I’ll close with my personal favorite group, that has so much potential that hasn’t come close to being tapped is the Hellfire Club. The X-Men foes are an elite social club for the superpowered wealthy whose aim it to influence world events to bend to their own agenda.

The hierarchy of the Inner Circle is modeled on the pieces of a chess set, with Black and White sets of Kings, Queens, Bishops and Rooks. The group has been in a number of great stories over the years but I feel they could be so much more. Time will tell.

Who’s your favorite supervillain group? Who do you think has better bad guy teams: Marvel or DC?

That’s all the time I have. Check out our Comic Book Reviews tomorrow and see you next week!

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