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Posted by Undeadpool (705 posts) - - Show Bio

Marvel has traditionally been the vanguard of giving a villain their own book once they reached a certain level of popularity. Deadpool, Magneto, Hawkeye, and Venom all started out on the wrong side of the law and all, at one point or another, had their own ongoing book. Even Sabretooth got in on the act and bounced back and forth between right and wrong up until his death in the pages of Wolverine. Most of these hinged in the villains turning over a new leaf and developing as characters, fighting the good fight and all that. And while DC has dabbled in villainous books they were often either limited series and told from an outsider's perspective (Joker) or there was someone keeping the baddies on a tight leash, ensuring they didn't succumb to their villainous ways (Suicide Squad/Secret Six), they've rarely given an unleashed villain their own book. But can villains sustain regular readership while still remaining essentially badguys?

He seems trustworthy

With DC's New 52, we're seeing a whole host of badguys not just featured, but starring in their very own self-titled books. From what we've seen already in the pages of Deathstroke and Red Lanterns (and even Suicide Squad, leashed as they are), there won't be much leaf-turning nor moments of introspection. In fact Deathstroke guns down a group of unarmed teenage mercenaries at the climax of his book. Even if they were mercenaries, the fact remains that he wasn't exactly under any kind of immediate threat from them, they had just helped him accomplish his mission, and again: they were unarmed and herein lies the problem: even if he develops in some way and becomes a better person, which isn't looking terribly likely at present, how are we ever supposed to empathize with someone who has such a casual disregard for human life?

== TEASER ==
It ain't easy running your own club...and criminal empire.

The argument can be made that people enjoy rooting for villains. Just look at Batman: most of the villains are more memorable and have had greater impacts on readers than the rest of the "Bat-family" (Batman himself being, of course, an exception) and the argument can be that the villains are actually the greater draw. But ask yourself this: would you continue to buy a book on an ongoing basis that featured Black Mask torturing people to death? How about the Penguin's trials and tribulations with less-than-savory club ownership? Or even just the Joker being the Joker?

The problem across the board is that it becomes difficult to empathize with people who, on a fundamental level, lack their own capacity for empathy. Brian Azzarello found a solution in Joker by introducing a narrator that the reader could actually relate to and even support to a lesser extent, despite being a criminal. He comes off as a man simply caught up in the maelstrom that is the Joker's every day existence. Most of the best bits of media involve a transformation in the protagonist, they learn and thus they grow, but with villains, their entire purpose is to stay the same.

So far there is no such relatable narrator in any of the New 52 books, again going back to Deathstroke: his handler takes us through an introduction to who Slade is and what he does, but there doesn't seem to be much conflict beyond Slade doesn't really like him. The handler seems perfectly content to let Deathstroke be "The Terminator." Then again, it might be poetic justice to see Deathstroke follow a similar redemptive arc as a Deadpool, a character who allegedly took more than a little inspiration from him, but it doesn't seem very likely as Issue #1 seems to be setting a very definite tone.

Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns bring up an even larger issue in that most of the potential protagonists are fueled by blind, seething rage to the point that they're barely coherent or even sentient in a few cases. I think DC's taking a big chance here. I don't want to denigrate anyone's tastes more than I already probably have, but reading about badass dudes blasting their way through any problems that stand in their way isn't a formula that can stand up in the long term.

Just look at Mark Millar's Wanted for instance. It was a progenitor of a book that seemed like it was going to star a hero, and then turned out to star a villain. Its protagonist indulges every depraved, twisted, id-fueled whim without a second thought and we're supposed to root for him once he uncovers the even-more-evil conspiracy. Even as a fan of most of Mark Millar's books, I had a hard time getting onboard with a character like this, but I knew if I'd found this book at a younger age, a more angry age, I'd have absolutely been for it.

While Red Lantern's concept may not be as hard-edged, it certainly doesn't seem to be for DC's more grown-up readers. It'll be cool to read about Atrocitus vomiting acidic blood on whoever stands in his way in his quest to rule the Red Lanterns for about six issues, but unless the character manages to better understand and wield his power, perhaps a schism between his more controlled methods and the more wild neophyte Lanterns, I don't see reading issue 50 of watching them STILL slaughter whoever crosses their path, but never actually harming the named Green Lanterns.

Badguys don't believe in dentistry, clearly.

Then again there's something to be said for targeting different demographics and not having every telling the same stories the same way, I just think those should be the exceptions rather than the rules. And I'm not saying that every villain needs to see the error of his ways, though. One of the most appealing things about Joker is that he, as Alfred put it in The Dark Knight, "just wants to watch the world burn."

There's never really been a better summation of how Joker works on a fundamental level: there is no motive, there is no why, it gives Bats a challenge unlike any other he's faced. His villains are almost always motivated by some bigger force be it money, power or influence, but Joker? Joker just wants people to die.

Would those machinations be enough to form an entire book around? Frankly: I'm hoping they find some way to make these villains more relatable since, at this point, the books rely on us forgiving the villains for being...well, villainous.

Staff
#1 Posted by The Mighty Monarch (2238 posts) - - Show Bio

I could totally read an ongoing series about The Joker being The Joker.

#2 Posted by n25philly (96 posts) - - Show Bio

A bunch of angry people in red vomiting blood. How could that ever get old?

#3 Posted by _jackbauer (157 posts) - - Show Bio

Immediately after reading Deathstroke, I knew I wouldn't be following the series; he isn't a likable character.

The book seems tailored for a younger audience.

#4 Posted by Kairan1979 (16746 posts) - - Show Bio

It could be interestin to see limited series about Penguis and the problems of being club owner/supervillain in Gotham City. As I remember, Penguin was interesting in Gotham Underground.

#5 Posted by TheMess1428 (2176 posts) - - Show Bio

I want to see Deathstroke get some of the elements from the Teen Titans cartoon version. That version was pretty bad ass.

#6 Posted by Ganthetsward20 (687 posts) - - Show Bio

A joker ongoing would make me very happy, I dont really see the red lanterns as bad guys. There victims acting out on feeling and i feel that its sorta touched in that way in book one of RLs with Atrocitus saying something to the effect that he's loosing his rage. They (or He) seems to be looking for "redemption" by being the vengence for the universe. Deathstroke is a mastermind and i think his book will continue to be awesome in issue two and so on. SS is pretty untame theyre getting ready to kill a stadium of people for the govt. If they keep throwing stories like that they may lose readers mass murder has its limits. But thoes are good personalities to play around with. Each offers something to make the book good and will keep it moving.

#7 Posted by Iridium (134 posts) - - Show Bio

I was, almost, on board with Deathstoke until the last page or so, when he walked in and wiped out the teenage team, saying they were "competition". That killed it for me (and for them). Just seems like that was Joker-level crazy, not ultra-intelligent assassin. If they had, in any way shape or form done anything to cross him, fine, but that the book could devolve into a simple bloodbath at any moments raises some plot questions, for me at least.

As for the Red Lanterns, given most are supposed to be virtually mindless beasts (I know they laid the foundation for some to get a more control) I am concerned over what potential dialogue there could be. Plus there are a few panels showing the Red Lanterns just milling about. So, they are so consumed with rage that they are wait patiently for some orders, or are they just that obedient. Hmmm ... again, have a few doubts.

#8 Posted by Or35ti (1101 posts) - - Show Bio

Well said. I'm excited to see how these things play out. I bet some of these characters, especially Slade, are gonna be changing a lot tho

#9 Posted by Mbecks14 (2068 posts) - - Show Bio

I'd love a Joker and/or Luthor series. Those are some very under-published characters. The new Red Lanterns series has turned me off to them. They're supposed to be mindless and evil and that's what i want them to be. They should make a Sinestro Corps book once he rejoins their ranks

#10 Posted by NightFang (10057 posts) - - Show Bio

@The Mighty Monarch said:

I could totally read an ongoing series about The Joker being The Joker.

Yeah, it would be like Tales from the Crypt with Joker.

#11 Posted by Mega_spidey01 (3078 posts) - - Show Bio
@NightFang said:

@The Mighty Monarch said:

I could totally read an ongoing series about The Joker being The Joker.

Yeah, it would be like Tales from the Crypt with Joker.

#12 Posted by Mega_spidey01 (3078 posts) - - Show Bio

i want a taskmaster villian book from marvel 
from dc clayface would make an interesting villian for an ongoing series. 

#13 Posted by chalkshark (1189 posts) - - Show Bio

My first inclination towards Red Lanterns is to wonder where the story can possibly go. A bunch of vengeance driven, alien rage-aholics don't seem to hold the potential for much character depth, & their likely stories would probably become fairly repetitive over time. Magnificent visuals will only carry a book so far. That said, Marvel's Incredible Hulk spent his first two decades breaking everything in sight, without bothering to build a single shred of character development. So, conceivably, Red Lanterns could end up running for a good long while. I guess it depends on how much of the comic buying public needs the kind of cathartic release, through excessive violence, one should expect from the title. 
 
As far as series focusing on villains go, I think it depends solely on the writer. A great writer can sell a series about any character, good or evil. Some villains, like say, Dr. Doom, already have strong established characterization, & a fully realized environment to build from.  The adventures of a street level crook, like,... oh, I don't know... Electro... might be a little tougher to get up & running, but it wouldn't be impossible. You write the character first, the costume second. You tell a good story, people will want to read it. 

#14 Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus (6885 posts) - - Show Bio

It is interesting in the least to show the Red Lanterns finally given their own book considering their capacity for darkness and evil in the past. In a way it shows them walking that fine line between right and wrong now and I think that's where the mystique of the book will make it survive and thrive (in addition to Peter Milligan writing the book). That being said though, it is at the very least hard to try and make an ongoing volume that deals with villains walking the dark side for consistent issues over and over again. Like you said, its hard to empathize with characters who have no empathy at all. It would then depend on what drives the villainy in the villain that would bring interest in the character to readers. You have your "suspect zero" types like the Joker who have absolutely no motive to kill, maim and destroy other than the wish to have mayhem and chaos. Some fight for profit (Deathstroke). Others are corrupted by principle (Darth Vader). Some are supernatural in origin (take your pick). In the end, such a volume would only work to individual readers but not readers as a whole. For my part I have to have the villainy and the heroism side by side, which is why I like Marvel's run on G.I. Joe for instance, to show what path brought the man to eventually become Cobra Commander. That's the historian in me again though talking, wanting to ask the burning question of "why"...and where the character has come from and where it is going. If this can be accomplished in volumes about individual villains, then that might be a formula for success.

#15 Posted by cyberninja (10413 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm not a scientist or anything but I'm pretty sure humans can change. 

#16 Posted by iaconpoint (1363 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't think I like the idea of villains finding redemption and turning face. One of the things almost everyone loves about Joker is that he's never had a crisis of conscience about killing anyone except Batman. Not even Harley. We see people like Magneto, Venom, Riddler go back and forth, back and forth yet Luthor, when written well enough, gets more attention than Superman in his own book, even when his methods are CLEARLY selfish and evil. Giving Slade and Atrocious some depth and making them interesting without giving them a "normal" conscience and making them "good" is the burden of the writer. Hopefully, they can deliver.

#17 Edited by fps_dean (255 posts) - - Show Bio

Well the first villian that should get their own series I would think would be Luthor. He basically threw his plans for life away to prove himself better than Superman but there is a lot that could be done with him.

We'll see how Red Lanterns turns out, I just picked up the first two issues because they were good in the GL series and may prove to be very interesting. It is definitely unique, so I thought I would give it a shot. It could very well be the first series that I drop...

But who wants supervillians to play nice? That would be boring.... Green Lantern would turn into Hal Jordan and Sinestro going out to the bar for a drink and talking about when they used to not get along?

#18 Posted by elayem98 (458 posts) - - Show Bio

@The Mighty Monarch said:

I could totally read an ongoing series about The Joker being The Joker.
#19 Posted by ErikMcAlister (32 posts) - - Show Bio

The only problem with reading a story based on a villain, is that every issue will be a disappointment. Villains don't win. Our favorite superheros win. That's why we read them. They're winners.

#20 Edited by Bluefox170 (382 posts) - - Show Bio

When your talking "empathizing" with Deathstroke you have to ask yourself how people empathize with someone such as Boba Fett. Slade isn't evil for the sake of being evil. He's a killer for hire. Hypothetically, your favorite mainstream cash cow justice league super hero is pinned down by some villain when deathstroke recieves a job to take out said villain. Once he/she is out of the picture I'm certain that the reader will have no problem "empathizing" with Slade, but your hero should steer clear of his goal. Regarding the slaughter of the young adults, he's Deathstroke the Terminator, NOT Deathstroke the Teenage Villain Guidance Counseler. They most certainly are competition in his field of expertise. Judging by the recent Titans series (which flowed over into the dcnu for slade quite nicely) his world was turning upside down very quickly and I dont blame him for the way he gets things done. In fact there's nothing to blame. This story has Slade at his best, and you don't HAVE to empathize. Kyle Higgins has made it clear that he's someone to fear. Not someone you would want to invite to dinner.

Honestly, I don't think there are enough villain books. I would read Joker, given it had a top notch writer. I know a few guys that would like to see more lobo on the shelves.

@Mega_spidey01 said:

i want a taskmaster villian book from marvel from dc clayface would make an interesting villian for an ongoing series.

I also agree with Spidey, Taskmaster would be a GREAT book from Marvel.

#21 Posted by superiorojsimpson (64 posts) - - Show Bio

Boooring! lame. dat joker is so foto shopped. I'm not even gonna spell it right. foto shopped.

#22 Posted by They Killed Cap! (2243 posts) - - Show Bio

I Don't really classify Red Lanterns as villians or Attroticus I guess...they are more anti Heros to me like the Punisher is. I guess the others could be more villinous because they are more mindless than Attroticus.

I think the Joker could have a good book if done correctly. He would need an abstract writer along the lines of an Alan Moore or a Neil Gaimen. You can't really do him the way you would do traditional charecters.

#23 Edited by BatUniverse (111 posts) - - Show Bio

The badguys on his own series or even mini series are great

#24 Posted by Bluefox170 (382 posts) - - Show Bio

@Emac said:

The only problem with reading a story based on a villain, is that every issue will be a disappointment. Villains don't win. Our favorite superheros win. That's why we read them. They're winners.

DCnU Deathstroke would like a word with you.

#25 Posted by The Stegman (24373 posts) - - Show Bio

it always seems to be the case that the more a series focuses on a villain, the more they start to become heroic 

#26 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29500 posts) - - Show Bio

@elayem98 said:

@The Mighty Monarch said:

I could totally read an ongoing series about The Joker being The Joker.
#27 Posted by Mr.Hulk_Smashin'! (2569 posts) - - Show Bio

@n25philly said:

A bunch of angry people in red vomiting blood. How could that ever get old?

Jeez, sounds like when I had the flu!

Tons of fun and originality in this idea! :P

#28 Posted by Clutch (2836 posts) - - Show Bio

Villains for life.

#29 Posted by zackattack529 (1404 posts) - - Show Bio

@RedheadedAtrocitus: i agree, although i am a very big green lantern fan and i admire anything that has to do with that universe. but reading the two red lantern issues that have been released i worry that the series will not keep interest in the long run. i think the writting is pretty good and art is good but i think it wouldve done better as a 6 issue miniseries or something, kinda liek penguin and huntress. and then red lanterns would could tie into the main green lantern story line with major results. and from issue one it is pretty obvious we will have our first human red lantern, which should be interesting..given that the character is interesting enough. i really dont wanna be critical on red lanterns since atrocitus is a really cool character but i have alotta doubts about the series (on-going series rather) unfortunately :/

#30 Posted by RickyKinh (2 posts) - - Show Bio

I think your going about it the wrong way; If they were simply 2-dimensional characters who simply destroy for the sake of destroying then I would agree that the book would be stale and hard to empathize with but on what fuels such actions. What we need are motivations and what caused them to be so deranged.

#31 Posted by zackattack529 (1404 posts) - - Show Bio

@Mbecks14: red lanterns were never evil? more than half used to be good then there rage built up. atrocitus alone was the unfortunate psycologist who lost his family at the hands of someone who was evil. he only sought revenge on sinsetro and the guradians corps. now he has no purpose and is stuck in the middle of good and evil and is trying to figure out a way to spread justice while maintaining his mindless corps and keeping them in check. but no he was never evil and there is subplots so the series actually might hav a chance. green lantern corps spiked the same doubts when recharge came out and green lantern corps became a very good series. so do not doubt red lanterns just yet :)

#32 Posted by Wattup (648 posts) - - Show Bio

Why do the Red Lanterns vomit blood? Is it because they're so angry?

#33 Posted by sesquipedalophobe (4731 posts) - - Show Bio

Villainous thought bubbles have been long overdue, but I imagine the Joker's allure and mystery wouldn't hold its own in a solo title.

Online
#34 Posted by CrimsonInuTears (465 posts) - - Show Bio

Depends on the villain~ ^_^

#35 Posted by Danial79 (2351 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm new to the DCU, and Red Lanterns is one of the titles I have hope for. It's clear that Atrocitus is not just a mindless killing machine, and he wants to avenge the galaxy's wrongs... he just doesn't know how to best do that yet. But that is where the story's potential lies. Also, he is going to give one of his Corps intelligence (most likely Bleez), so therein you have the buddy-movie dialogue that a solo title needs (without getting drowned in captions). I think it has huge potential and look forward to reading more.

And just for the record, I'm a 33 year old family man, not a rage-filled teenager :P

#36 Posted by JonesDeini (3620 posts) - - Show Bio

@The Mighty Monarch said:

I could totally read an ongoing series about The Joker being The Joker.

Bingo it all boils down to great writing/storytelling and great art. Secret Six proves that villains can hold down a title just as well as any hero.

#37 Posted by Alex_Tides145210 (73 posts) - - Show Bio

I like the idea of a deathstroke & Red Lantern series because i've never seen them as really evil (especially the red lanterns thier in it for revenge which from most of the stories so far hasn't been evil). My only problem would be the Joker series especiall if they try to humanise him because that has never been what his character is about

#38 Edited by Migz13 (169 posts) - - Show Bio

Villains no matter how pure EVIL they can be, sometimes have that trait in them that makes them immensely intriguing. Take the Godfather films for example. These flicks center around the mob and their criminal ways but somehow shows a side of them that can be considered 'honorable' in a skewed point of view. I have Azarello's Joker and I think it's a great point-of-view story of Batman's arch-nemesis.

#39 Posted by RareCheshire (190 posts) - - Show Bio

Sometimes it feels as though villains have a better relationship with other heroes than they do with other villains.

#40 Posted by B'Town (2336 posts) - - Show Bio

@JonesDeini said:

@The Mighty Monarch said:

I could totally read an ongoing series about The Joker being The Joker.

Bingo it all boils down to great writing/storytelling and great art. Secret Six proves that villains can hold down a title just as well as any hero.

BINGO. ;)

#41 Posted by difficlus (10679 posts) - - Show Bio

@Emac said:

The only problem with reading a story based on a villain, is that every issue will be a disappointment. Villains don't win. Our favorite superheros win. That's why we read them. They're winners.

not every time though...

#42 Posted by slick23 (460 posts) - - Show Bio

Thats not much of a villain though, right? lol

#43 Posted by ImperiousRix (1069 posts) - - Show Bio

For me, it's fun to read villains every once in a while, especially if there's a bit of a humanity with them. In fact, I consider every great villain to have some bit of relatability about him/her, and that's what would make for a great villain title.

The thing is, though, I'm generally a decent fellow and it BUGS me when I watch horrific things and its meant to entertain me. It's a reason why some of the stuff I've been seeing in Kick-Ass 2 (my little brother is following it, go) is ridiculous. I understand you might see what the villain is doing and think it's despicable and that it's supposed to make you hate them even more, but the way Millar so explicitly shows it and makes light of it in that series just really bugs me. It's why I could never follow a series about a really BAD bad guy.

To each his or her own, though.

#44 Posted by ruckus24 (137 posts) - - Show Bio

I have to admit that I'm not a fan of villain centric comics, however I think Lobo proved that an absolute bad guy can quite handily sustain his own series. I think that the best example of villains carrying a series is probably Sons Of Anarchy. Yes, it does have a bit of a redemptive character with Jax who is the core of the show, but he's still a villian surrounded by other villains. The show is incredibly well written, so it works. The same applies with comics. With the application of enough craft and heart, a villain series can work, and work well.

#45 Posted by irsyadizmi (7 posts) - - Show Bio

@ruckus24 said:

The show is incredibly well written, so it works. The same applies with comics. With the application of enough craft and heart, a villain series can work, and work well.

True. With enough creativity and vivid story-telling, it would probably appease the general population. Plus, die-hard fans of supervillians, who are the minority of us, have something to look forward to.

#46 Posted by Eyz (3095 posts) - - Show Bio

Everytime Deathstroke gets a series or a mini, a character I like ends up dying OUTSIDE HIS OWN BOOK!! (yeah, I hate that)

#47 Posted by Caleb044 (3 posts) - - Show Bio

I wonder if it would be more economical and/or popular if DC just did a sort of DC Universe Presents focused on villain arcs.

#48 Posted by MisterParker (83 posts) - - Show Bio

@B'Town said:

@JonesDeini said:

@The Mighty Monarch said:

I could totally read an ongoing series about The Joker being The Joker.

Bingo it all boils down to great writing/storytelling and great art. Secret Six proves that villains can hold down a title just as well as any hero.

BINGO. ;)

I second that Bingo!

#49 Posted by goldenkey (2927 posts) - - Show Bio

Deadpool can carry his own, we know this. How long was he leading his own Titans team for? As for the Atrocitus, I think the growth of the character is were the story will lay. Wolverine somewhat started out like this. Other then killing thousands of Hand members in Millar's run Wolverine #1 had him killing hundreds of pirates. I have a feeling it will be something similar to Wolverine in that aspact.

#50 Posted by 00 Raiser (442 posts) - - Show Bio

Ummmm The Red Lantern Corps arent really villains. If anything they are the Anti Heroes of the DCU.