Top 15 DC Comics Villains
1. The Joker: Was there any ever doubt that he'd be #1? I mean, Joker isn't even my favorite, but I agree that if there was ever a villain who was such a perfect foil for their heroic counterpart, its Joker. The guy's chaos incarnate to Batman's control and calculation. And he has this sickening sense of humor with everything he does, like when he paralyzed Barbara Gordon. Need I say more?
2. Darkseid: Not just a villain, but a force of nature. Darkseid is a villain that can go toe to toe with Superman and can even beat him into the ground, but chooses to act through pawns. He only gets his hands dirty when he needs to. That's the sign of a master manipulator. In almost every incarnation out there, from the comics version to the animated version from the DCAU, Darkseid has been shown himself to be nothing less than a brilliant strategist and tactician. Is that really any surprise though? After all, the guy is the ruler of the war-planet Apokolips and the dreaded rival of Highfather and the gods of New Genesis. That can’t be achieved by being all brawn and no brain. To compound on this, this New God achieved to at one point endanger the lives of almost every DC character. His acts of villainy include things like brainwashing Kara into attacking Superman and on a larger scale, harnessing the power of the Anti-Life Equation to wage the cosmic war that was Final Crisis.
3. Lex Luthor: How can a mere mortal be a match for Superman? He's Lex Luthor, that's why. I know ppl say that it makes no sense that Superman would preoccupy himself with Luthor, but in my opinion, the fact that Luthor has no powers makes for better storytelling. Luthor's power comes from wealth and influence, which are two very real sources of corruption. Also his motivation, that he sees Superman as the usurper to his birthright (being the beloved son of Metropolis) and that Superman is a dangerous threat that must be taken out is the sign of a multi-layered character
4. Ra's al Ghul: A centuries old terrorist who wants to "save" the world from the cancer of men, Ra's is unique in the fact that he believes he is the good guy. He thinks that man will eventually cause the Earth to die and does whatever he can to prevent that. Its just his methods that make him go head to head with Batman. Also the fact that Ra's first approaches Batman as an ally, seeking to bring him into his family is something really unique in a villain
5. Sinestro: This guy...I love this guy. He's my personal favorite. Rounding out my top 5 with a non-Superman/Batman enemy, Sinestro is someone who has become one of DC's most hated and loved villains. In my opinion, he's kind of like an alien version of Lucifer: he fell from grace after being the greatest of the Green Lanterns. The thing about Sinestro is that he kill because he thinks he's right. He hates the way the Guardians do things and wants to correct that and in some cases, like in Sinestro Corps War, he's actually succeeded. Believe it or not, Sinestro's always done what he thinks is right, but its just that he thinks its right to rule by fear.
6. Black Adam: The first to wield the power of Shazam (other than the Wizard himself), Captain Marvel's villainous counterpart is arguably more interesting than the hero himself. As the former ruler of Khandaq, Black Adam's main goal was to provide his people protection from the "ravages" of the West and from outside influence. This led him to target the meta-human community, which he saw as an unwelcome influence on his people. When he couldn't do this through intimidation, he did it through diplomacy and the Freedom of Power Treaty. 52 is one of my favorite stories with this incredible villain.
7. Catwoman: Sometimes sex is a man's greatest weakness. Catwoman personifies this. She represents the temptation that Bruce faces: losing himself to desire and passion. She is arguably the villain that's gotten the closest to Batman. However, its not just that, but also the fact that she walks the line between hero and villain often. She's just as likely to go after scum-bags as she is to steal.
8. Deathstroke: An expert combatant and all-around badass, Deathstroke is a hired killer who seems to be without a conscience. He approaches death and destruction with an almost business-like demeanor. This is probably due to his troubled past: ya know the fact that his son was killed before his eyes and his wife then tried to kill him because she blamed him. What I love about Deathstroke is the fact that he can take down an entire squadron of Justice Leaguers without breaking a sweat like he did in Identity Crisis. Not bad for a Teen Titans villain, huh?
9. Professor Zoom: Even with the cliché "reverse" motif, any villain who has managed to make time his b**ch as effectively as Eobard Thawne has definitely deserves to be hailed as one of the greats. Thawne is the definition of sociopath, willing to take down anyone who gets in his way. That includes his baby brother and his own parents. He's also proven to be quite the pain in Barry's um...tuchus, being responsible for both the deaths of his wife and his mother. Zoom also showed his time-travel mastery to seriously screw with the DC Universe in Flashpoint, leading to the events that would spawn the DCnU. All I can say is "Zoom, zoom."
10. Brainiac: I felt really conflicted about not including Brainiac in the top 10 last time, but I just didn’t want to overstuff the top 10 with just Superman and Batman enemies. However, recently I have had to capitulate to this villain’s awesomeness. Brainiac is an awesome villain because he’s basically just a scientist who wants to gain and absorb knowledge. However, that want leads him to capture cities in jars in order to assimilate their knowledge. This creepy city-collecting hobby of his doesn’t go over well with Superman, for obvious reasons, causing him and the Man of Steel to come to blows on numerous occasions. One of the most memorable versions of this villain for me was the DCAU version that I remember watching as a child/young adult. And I’m so excited to see the that Grant Morrison is embracing the classic “coming of Brainiac” storyline in his run on Action Comics. Brainiac truly is a villain for the history books!
11. Maxwell Lord: Lord belongs on this list because of his key role in recent years as a major villain for the DCU. Lord was able to turn Checkmate into his private war-machine and take control of Brother I, right from under Batman’s nose, giving him both knowledge of the DCU’s heroes and the ability to create and control OMACS. When Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, discovered what he was doing, Max didn’t even hesitate to kill one of the JLI’s main members and Booster Gold’s closest friend. He then went on to almost kill Batman and Wonder Woman by pitting Superman against them (something few villains have managed to do). However, Max’s place on this list is probably due to one action. Not his own, though, but Wonder Woman’s. He’s here because of what he made Wonder Woman do: he made her kill him. Indeed, in probably one of the most controversial moments in the history of the DCU, Wonder Woman snapped Max’s neck, killing him, because it was the only way to free Superman from his mind control, an action that would ripple throughout the DCU for years afterward. An action that even caused a rift in both the relationship between DC’s heroes and the general public and Diana’s own relationship with Batman and Superman. The fact that he was able to bring out this violent side in the Amazon means that he was able to push her to the absolute limit. He would eventually return to the DCU and attempt to exact revenge on Wonder Woman in the Generation Lost arc, which I thought was phenomenal. Lord is a lesser-known villain who was able to strike at least a few major blows to the DCU.
12. Two-Face: Harvey Dent is a truly unique villain. Along with Jason Todd and Joker, I think Harvey stands as one of the greatest failures of Batman’s hero career, if not the greatest. The promising ADA Harvey Dent was transformed into the villain Two-Face as the result of a coordinated attack by Gotham criminals, a truly tragic origin for any villain. He’s a tragic figure in the fact that he could have been and should have been Gotham’s savior. However, fate and circumstance turned the city’s White Knight into a crime figure, himself. Now, Two-Face, much like the way fate turned his life upside down, he simple lets fate decide everything, including his own actions, through the simple flip of a coin. Two-Face will always be a symbol of the fact that the bad guys can get to the good guys and bring them to a level where they can’t even tell right from wrong anymore.
13. Ares: I think Ares is really overlooked as a villain. I think he makes a great foil for Wonder Woman in the fact that he represents everything she hates, but what she sometimes must embrace to save the day. Powered by the constant energies of war and conflict, Ares speaks to the violent side of Diana, and he brings it out in her. Because of his constant source of psychic energy from the wars of man, he, along with Athena and Aphrodite, have been able to wrest control of Olympus away from his father Zeus. He is fundamentally opposed to the very idea of the Amazons, given that they are supposed to represent peace and love as opposed to the very source of his power. Like everyone else on the list, he's done some pretty villainous things like creating Genocide from Wonder Woman's own dead body and manipulating Zeus and Hera into destroying Themyscira for him. He’s manipulated the very gods of Olympus and has taken out his wrath on the Amazons and I believe that his actions have impacted Diana in a way that few others can.
14. Gorilla Grodd: I remember Grodd most clearly from the DCAU. That version of him was one of a cunning, brilliant, and motivated super-criminal whose intellect was on par with Luthor’s and could even go toe to toe with Flash and walk away smiling. Also the fact that he’s a gorilla is something really unique to me. I know that DC Comics is filled with talking gorillas (Ultra-Humanite, Titano, Monsieur Mallah, Solovar, and Congorilla, just to name a few), but I don’t think any one of them is as famous, accomplished, threatening, or layered as Gorilla Grodd. In both the comics and the animated incarnations, Grodd genuinely believes in the superiority of gorilla-kind over mankind, a clever commentary on supposed human mastery of the animal kingdom. He wants to establish dominion over this lesser species and has made several attempts to wipe all traces of humankind from the face of the Earth. I can’t wait for him to pop up in the New 52 Flash title!
Krona: A villain whose clout has really risen in recent years, Krona I think has proven himself to be a force to be reckoned with. His actions, which were revealed in the recent War of the Green Lanterns story arc led to the destruction of the Sector 666 and the birth of another one of Green Lantern’s villains, Atrocitus. This former brother of the Guardians simply wanted to make a point, that emotion was necessary to police the universe, and he sacrificed the lives of billions to get that point across. However, the deaths of these innocents only proved that Krona was right. The Manhunters were not an effective police force and with a simple change of their programming, Krona was able to make them massacre an entire sector. You have to love an activist willing to do anything for his cause and these actions will place him in the villains’ hall of fame for a long time to come. I’m actually kind of saddened that he died and is still dead even post-Flashpoint because I would have loved to read more with this awesome villain.