The notion of super-villains saving the day might be new ground for blockbuster flicks, sure. There have been oodles of comics over the years which have given readers a chance to root for the bad guys, though. Sometimes, they’re forced to do good by some complication. Sometimes, they’re pretending to be heroes. And sometimes, they’re actually left to their nasty ways. If the Suicide Squad movie has got you curious about “the other half” of super-heroics, here are some great titles worth tracking down and checking out.
When the Avengers were presumed dead for a year, an all-new team of superheroes rose to take their place. Only it turned out these “Thunderbolts” were actually the Masters of Evil in disguise. Led by Captain America’s nemesis, Baron Zemo, their scheme to hoodwink the good people of the world was foiled. Still, the Thunderbolts have gone on to have numerous, drastically-different line-ups and missions since then. At one point, they were even led by Norman “Green Goblin” Osborn, and their roster consisted of serious creeps like Venom and Bullseye.
The Secret Society of Super-Villains
Another outfit that’s gone through many iterations. The Society in the original title were unwittingly assembled by the galactic despot, Darkseid. Once they found out they were being used as pawns in an alien invasion, they turned on their would-be leader, and the comic became about evil fighting an even worse evil. Interestingly enough, Wanted was based on writer Mark Millar’s unused Secret Society pitch. It was originally about a turf war between Batman’s rogues gallery and Superman’s rogue gallery, and the character parallels are actually quite overt.
Not all bad guys get along. Indeed, this batch of rogues initially united over their shared refusal to join the new Secret Society of Super Villains which formed during the countdown to Infinite Crisis. That crossover also revealed that certain Justice Leaguers had been semi-hypocritically wiping the minds of their enemies over the years, so the Secret Six turned out to be something of a neutral party in the cape morality spectrum. Though their ranks have counted Deadshot and Harley Quinn at times, the Six’s mandate for their misadventures is a bit looser and less strictly defined than the Suicide Squad’s.
Before he joined the X-Men as Wolverine, Logan was a member of the Weapon X program’s unsavory enforcement unit, which hunted other mutants down. Years after he escaped the program, a Weapon X security guard he horrifically scared reassembled the team to round up mutants into a concentration camp called Neverland. Its ranks included real stand-up guys like Sabretooth, Mesmero, and Sauron. Over dozens of issues, this Weapon X operated like the X-world’s answer to Suicide Squad–only without the “for the greater good” clause in their mission statement.
Superior Foes of Spider-Man
When Sony announced the development of a Sinister Six movie a while back, the notion of Spidey’s allied enemies taking the lead wasn’t totally without precedent. This series isn’t titled “Sinister Six,” but it does star the team. With a line-up consisting of Speed Demon, Beetle, Shocker, and other oddballs, it follows the often-humorous and largely-offbeat travails of meta crooks trying to navigate a dense crisscross of criminal alliances. And indeed, that’s trickier than it sounds. The book even features a super-villains support group.
Crime Syndicate of America
The designation of which parallel Earth they come from changes over the years, but the Syndicate have always been the evil doppelgangers of the Justice League. Instead of Superman and Wonder Woman, there are Ultraman and Super Woman. And even their origins are dark mirrors of the good guys’. For instance: Batman’s counterpart Owlman is actually Bruce Wayne’s brother, Thomas, and he was inspired to super-villainy after Alfred Pennyworth murdered his family. The CSA haven’t had their own series, as of yet, but they have starred in a number of memorable specials.
What other villain books deserve our attention and acclaim? Drop your picks in the talkback.
Image Credits: Marvel, DC
Featured Image Credit: DC