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Comics 411: The Greatest Justice League Villains

March 24, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we discussed our Favorite Wonder Woman Stories Here’s what some of you had to say:

Prez Gar: “Challenge of the Gods, which was part of the Perez run. Diana defeats Area, and Zeus wants to reward her by bringing her to Olympus, as his newest lover. (Which would be Creepy AF now that she’s been retconned into being his daughter. But, considering he married his own sister (Hera), it’s not as creepy as it could be.) Diana turns him down, and so he punishes her by sending her into Hades.”

Benjamin Kellog: “”The Legend of Wonder Woman” covers the Golden Age period without a lot of the overt racism and sexist undertones that sour most modern readers when they look through Marston’s output. Even better, you don’t have to be steeped in decades of continuity to enjoy a full, satisfying tale. I’m still waiting for the sequel.”

So many great comments! Big thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts!

This week we discuss the…

Greatest Justice League Villains

So…the Snyder Cut. What did you think? Pretty…yeah. As I mentioned on Twitter, bad clay is bad clay, I don’t care who is sculpting it. It was frustrating to get through and just…not that good to me. I’m still waiting for Warner Bros. to get their act together and do these characters…justice. 

Anyways, I thought it would be a good time to go back and look at some of the League’s notable villains.
Might as well start with the big guns and Darkseid leads the way. Created by Jack Kirby in 1970 (first appearing in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134, of all places), Darkseid is one of the most powerful beings in the DC universe. He is the ruler of the planet Apokolips, and his ultimate goal is to conquer the Universe. Pretty simple. His main power, the Omega Beams, is a form of energy that he fires from his eyes or hands as either a concussive force or a disintegrating energy which is capable of erasing living objects and organisms from existence. He also has super-strength and invulnerability that can only be challenged by a handful, like Superman. When it comes to causing trouble, Darkseid has been at the center of a number of epic storylines like The Great Darkness Saga and Final Crisis. He’s the kind of supervillain that you see and know something big is going down.

Just like Starro. Starro has the distinction of being the first villain to face the original Justice League of America. A bad guy in the shape of a starfish doesn’t sound scary on paper but Starro is an intelligent alien life form capable of generating clones that act in accordance with the original’s will. The clones are parasites and can attach themselves to someone’s face, taking control of the host’s central nervous system. It has been revealed that Starro came from a race of parasites that conquered planets with “motherstars” that release spores to take mental control of a population. When a mother star arrived on the planet Hatorei and enslaved its psychically gifted native people, a single survivor takes control of an infant Starro queen, allowing him to mentally control the entire parasitic race. Assuming the name “Starro the Conqueror” the being is empowered by a huge army of drone soldiers controlled by spores, allowing him to conquer entire galaxies. Not sure how that will look on the big screen but it works well on the comic book page. Starro has fought the Justice League many times over the years, and while he was first, his character never really interested me.

The Avengers have Ultron and the Justice League has Amazo! The android Amazo was created by Professor Ivo and fought the original Justice League of America. What makes him dangerous and different is his ability to duplicate the powers of superheroes, like the strength of Superman or the speed of the Flash. Like Starro, I never got excited about Amazo. His personality was too one-note and while he was dangerous, his reason for being was too plain for me. I would love to see him with a new spin and more personality added.

Now personality is something Despero has! The alien ruler from the planet Kalanor, and in addition to a genius intelligence, he possesses a third eye on his forehead capable of mind control, illusions, telekinesis, and telepathy. Despero is also empowered by the “Flame of Py’tar”, a mystical source of power that grants him massive superhuman strength, durability, and the ability to alter his mass (from human-sized to massive). He can go toe-to-toe with Superman and not flinch. Despero is a supervillain I want to see more of. He has the power to fight the League and the intellect and just needs the right storyline to kick him into Darkseid level badness.

Another one who has the potential to be huge is Prometheus. I’m talking about the second one, not Curt Calhoun. Prometheus is like Batman. He possesses no superhuman abilities but has undergone intense physical and mental training and utilizes an extensive range of equipment and technology. He also possesses the “Ghost Key,” which allows him to teleport himself and other objects and persons to and from a dimension called the “Ghost Zone.” Cool name, cool look, cool powers. He too would benefit from some big storylines to raise his awareness level and get him with the big boys.

OK, now we have the teams and this is where it gets messy. The Crime Syndicate of America (An evil version of DC’s top heroes from an alternate Earth), the Secret Society of Supervillains (A who’s who of the DC ‘s supervillains), Injustice League (Very similar to the Secret Society of Supervillains, filled with the bad guys), and I’ll throw in the Royal Flush Gang, a group of card-themed supervillains. OK, I’m kidding about the Royal Flush Gang.

Wait. How could I forget the…Legion of Doom?

Each of these teams have fought the League and done a fine job. Too often though, the villains will have the upper hand and then turn on each other, allowing the League to turn the tables and save the day. Also, lineups change so often (outside the Crime Syndicate), it’s hard to get a sense of their power and ability.

I have a couple others like Lex Luthor, Vandal Savage, Ultra-Humanite, and the Extremists but those are my major ones. I will say that I thought Sinestro has the makings to be a great Justice League baddie. The Yellow Corps could do some serious damage and it breaks him free of the Green Lantern centered tales. Probably just me.

Who’s the Greatest Justice League villain to you?

And no naming Batman!

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!