In order to have a great superhero in comic books you also need a great super villain. But the best villains are not the ones that just want to take over the world. They are the best because there is something else to them. Their story is sometimes as good, and even better than some of the heroes they fight. I guess a certain part of a comic book reader wants to relate not only to the good guys, but also the bad guys. Here are some of the bad guys in comics who I understand and why it is almost possible to justify their actions.
While Magneto has in the past toed the line between good and evil, he is mostly known as the leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. He has been a villain in the Marvel Universe that has given the X-Men and other heroes the most trouble. He is charismatic and a great leader which makes him one of the most dangerous characters ever created; not to mention that his power to control magnetism is as awesome as you could want, but why is he evil?
Magneto is a holocaust survivor who saw his family murdered by the Nazis during World War II. He saw what discrimination did to his people then and while trying to rescue Magda, the girl he loved, he killed a mob when his powers manifested at a time he could not control them. As a mutant he once again felt like a part of a group that others rejected and feared and that was the thing that made him angry at humanity. Feeling the need to protect mutants he became a leader that was always ready to fight first and ask questions later. For a better understanding of Magneto check out the Magneto Testament series.
One of the more successful graphic novels of all time was the Watchmen. Ozymandias was a part of the group and while most of the story people thought of him as a hero, in the end we all found out that he was the brains behind the explosions in several cities around the world. If you were to say that someone blew up New York City you would automatically assume that he did it because he is evil, but there is so much more to the story.
The Watchmen graphic novel takes place in the 1980’s in a different type of Universe. Richard Nixon was still president and the cold war was about to explode between Russia and the United States. Ozymandias or Adrian Veidt is the smartest man in that universe and he sees no other way of stopping the nuclear destruction of the planet than framing Dr. Manhattan for the destruction of New York City. His plan worked and instead of destroying each other and the rest of the world, the Americans and the Russians united against the common foe. In the end we discover that Ozymandias killed millions “to save billions”. That leaves him as someone whom people have debated whether he is a hero or a villain.
Loki is the Norse god of mischief and the main antagonist to Thor. There is a lot more to his story besides the fact that he is the god of evil and mischief. Although Odin raised him as a son, Loki was actually the son of Laufey (a frost giant). Odin picked him up because he was the size of an Asgardian, because he was just a baby and as a way to appease his dead father who a week before finding the baby had cursed Odin for not helping save his life. Before finding the baby, Odin killed Laufey in combat so Loki was raised by the guy who killed his dad.
Although Loki was raised as an Asgardian and as an equal to Thor he never was. He tried to deal with it but after years of unequal treatment something snapped in his head. You can call Loki’s situation “daddy issues” all you want, but being the “Jan Brady” of Asgard for all eternity does not sound like a great deal for anyone. Being raised by the guy who killed your dad, then given the title of “god of evil and mischief” while never really being an equal to your brother can really do things to your psyche.
Victor Fries or Mr. Freeze is a batman villain, but nobody can accuse him of not having a heart. The problem is that Mr. Freeze is a villain that needs money and lots of it, but not for personal riches. He needs the money because his wife is terminally ill. He builds a freeze ray to keep her in a frozen state until he can develop a cure, but the process goes wrong and his wife dies which drives Fries insane.
As a result of his wife’s death he decides to search for those he thinks are responsible. Although in the sixties people considered Freeze (then known as Mr. Zero) a joke, he has become one of the more popular villains in the series, perhaps because of his story.
General Thunderbolt Ross
General Ross is one of the main antagonists in the Hulk comics and he is the father of Bruce Banner’s love interest Betty Ross. Ok he is the father of a big green monster’s love interest and that is enough to become its enemy, but there is more to the story. General Ross was in charge of the Gamma Bomb project that Bruce was working on at the time of the accident that made him the Hulk.
His idea is to hunt and destroy the Hulk, but only because he thinks that the monster is dangerous. His chasing of the green monster becomes an obsession and that is why Ross becomes a villain. You may wonder why the general is so obsessed with the Hulk; For once he is a military general who would like to use it as a weapon. Also if you consider that the beast has destroyed entire cities, it makes Ross’ hunt of it almost justifiable. Even the superheroes in the Marvel Universe have seen the threat and exiled Bruce Banner to another world in order to get rid of the beast, but the plan backfired and made the Hulk even angrier.