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Are superheroes ultimately fighting a losing battle? Take a moment and think about what would happen if all of the comic book superheroes were 100-percent successful in their job of freeing the world’s regular people from the tyranny and oppression of evil supervillains.
Oh, sure, there would be a relatively uneasy span of time in which evildoers could reappear at any time. Perhaps they’re all at a super-secret mansion inside Mount Everest, nursing their wounds and marshalling their resources in preparation for one more all-out, blitzkrieg attack.
And what if that plot fails? What if all of the last rivals, antagonists, adversaries and foes were killed in the bloody, apocalyptic battle? Haven’t superheroes just worked themselves out of a job?
The point here is that even though the pretty boys and golden girls in Marvel and DC Comics get all the headlines, they wouldn’t be so pretty, nor would they be so golden, if they didn’t have the public’s fear of unspeakably horrible evil villains to assuage.
Sympathy for the Devil
As we learned in the Mel Brooks classic sci-fi spoof “Spaceballs,” “Evil will always triumph over good because good is dumb.”
What is more ambitious: planning and executing a full-fledged takeover of the world or trying to stop it? What takes more creativity, resourcefulness and strategic organization? Would you rather be on offense or defense the majority of the time?
Evil villains give superheroes a reason to get out of their hyperbolic chamber in the morning.
There are more than 200,000 villains wreaking havoc in the Marvel Comics universe, according to the Marvel Universe Wiki. Among this immense list, there are fiendish foes who choose to zero in on one particular superhero with which to do battle.
Here are some examples from the Marvel universe’s distinguished history:
Spider-Man’s Focused Foes – The various incarnations of The Green Goblin and The Hobgoblin, Carnage, Venom, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, The Vulture, The Rose and Silvermane.
Iron Man’s Irascible Irritants – Blizzard, The Living Laser, Obadiah Stane, The Advisor, The Unicorn and Sunturion.
Avenger’s Adversaries – Klaw, Proctor, Death Web, Kang the Conqueror, The Manipulator, The Scarlet Centurion, Ultron, Whirlwind and The Radioactive Man.
Daredevil’s Dastardly Destroyers – Death-Stalker, Mr. Hyde, Mr. Fear, The Owl, Bullseye, Stilt-Man, Shotgun, The Man-Bull, The Jester and System Crash.
The X-Men’s Excellent Enemies – Apocalypse, The Blob, Stryfe, Mojo, Pyro, Sabertooth, The Juggernaut, The Sentinels, The Silver Samurai and Holocaust.
Slippery Set of Snakes
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the ones that get overlooked. This appears to be the case with Marvel’s supervillain squad of snakes, the Serpent Society.
The original purveyor of evil from the Garden of Eden didn’t get a prominent, super-cool secret society in the Marvel universe until 1985, when Mark Gruenwald and Paul Neary expanded on Steve Englehart’s Serpent Squad to create the Serpent Society. The primary victim of this vile organization’s venom is Captain America, along with the other Avengers.
The supervillain credited with founding the original Serpent Squad is the original Viper, who organized the group with his brother, the Eel, and Cobra, shortly after the three broke out of prison. Since then, the membership has included the following:
The next time you run into an evil villain, like at a Comic-Con, upcoming superhero movie opening or the DMV, remember to pat him or her on the back for making comic books cool.