Last year, I had the pleasure of having my first book, The League of Regrettable Superheroes, published by the fine folks over at Quirk Books in Philadelphia, PA. Although the cat has been out of the bag for a little while, I'm nonetheless proud to announce that the logical sequel -- The Legion of Regrettable Super-Villains -- is slated to debut on March 28th! You can now pre-order the book over on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and probably on the weird superhero book black market. It does thriving business!
To whet your appetite for the new book, every Friday leading up to the release date, I'll be providing brief snapshots of just some of the 108 (!) historically effed-up bad guys covered in the book (and that's not even counting the sidebars).
To start us off, let's begin with the sinister semiotic, villains who precede their names with "Black" and "Dark" and "Shadow" and "Sunlightless" and "Eclipse-oriented." No, wait, you know what? Lets just go for "Black" and "Dark," like I like my men and my coffee!
Created by: Joe Blair and Lin Streeter
Debuted in Blue Ribbon Comics vol.1 No.16 (MLJ Comics, September 1941)
There's probably nothing quite so embarrassing in the super-villain community than accidentally creating your own nemesis, but The Black Hand managed to do just that. In his defense, he hadn't expected that flippant playboy Tommy Townsend would be saved from a savage torture session at the haaaaaand of The Black Hand's men by a giant fucking eagle. Out of nowhere, Tommy is taken away to a distant mountaintop, trained (by the eagle) to fight crime, and returns as The Black Hand's starred-and-striped nemesis Captain Flag! Having messed it up once, The Black Hand returns frequently to make attempts on Flag's life -- this is easy for the skull-faced baddie, whose eponymous mitt possesses the touch of death -- but ultimately ends up literally hoisted on a petard. I don't know if it was his petard or someone else's. I didn't check the ownership papers.
Created by: Unknown
Debuted in Feature Presentation vol.1 No.5 (April 1950)
Undying evil is a common theme in comics, but The Black Tarantula might be doing it wrong. Having terrorized a medieval village -- for love of being evil, evidently, which is the villainous equivalent of "shits and giggles" -- The Black Tarantula finds himself not actually defeated but rather condemned to a graveyard for the subsequent thousand years. Worse yet, the guy got real confessional in the interim. Part villain and part horror host, The Black Tarantula spins his yarn to anyone who'll listen, which is mostly corpses. While he'd begun his career turning guileless maidens into horrible spider-people, these days he spends his time bending the ears of the dead and buried, who probably thought they'd be done with talky boors like this.
Created by: Gene Colan and Len Wein
Debuted in Strange Tales vol. 1 No.173 (Marvel Comics, April 1974)
A classic of goofy villainy, Black Talon is a voodoo villain with an eye on harassing Afro-Caribbean crimefighter Brother Voodoo. There was no way to write that sentence without using "voodoo" twice. Dressed like a professional wrestler with a heavy metal chicken theme, the finger-lickin' good baddie has actually stood his own not just against Brother V, but also against the full roster of The Avengers! Maybe they were having an off-day. Slightly better than the Black Talon's ridiculous San Diego Chicken Of Death outfit, though, is one of his successors who traded in the chicken suit for a duck costume. Personally, I suspect he was just a Disneyland employee with the afternoon off.
Created by: Unknown
Debuted in: Thrilling Comics vol.1 No.26 (Nedor Comics, March 1942)
Archery-themed bad guys are pretty much a dime a dozen, as well as being villains who pretty much write themselves. Arrows suck, you know? I mean, they're great in theory, but they're all sharp and they can get into you if someone relatively far away just dislikes you enough. Or if there's a strong breeze at the archery competition. Lacking gimmicked arrows, like some other villains I could name, The Dark Archer made his name by personalizing the delivery system -- he didn't shoot his arrows, he just stabbed his victims to death with them. Seems to me he could've saved some money on replacement arrows and just bought a decent knife.