Once it’s had a chance to dehydrate and season a little, old shit is easier to handle than new shit. With new shit you get so hung up on the smell that it’s hard to value the form and texture of the shit itself. Old shit has been sitting there for a while in the grass, waiting patiently for you to come along and appreciate it, or just step in it. Yep, I like old shit and so do folks like Alex Ross, Grant Morrison, and my dog Trixie.
Oh my God, what the fuck am I going on about? Way to stretch a metaphor to the point of breaking, Dave.
I was going somewhere with the old shit analogy. Just be thankful I stopped myself before I stopped talking about nutty old shit. I think my point was, it’s OK to like old stuff, provided nostalgia doesn’t blind you to the fact that new shit can be pretty good, too. Wallowing in old shit is insular and regressive and unsanitary – if you’re just listening to old Freedom Rock all the time you’ll never get exposed to all the awesome new rock out there.
Let’s abruptly segue away from the poo talk and chat about old school villains.
Man, they don’t make villains like they used to, do they? Sure, there are some exceptions – I thought Prometheus from JLA was pretty cool, and Bearded Dude from Brubaker’s Captain America run, and Cassandra Nova from X-Men was creepy as hell – but most of the heavyweight comic book bad guys were created in the last century. Let’s face it – Doom reigns supreme. How you gonna top that? (psst... click on the picture of Doom to find out what his favorite breakfast food is. Thanks to Dave Lartigue for the pic.)
I've always been a sucker for minor villains in pretty much any medium (e.g., my love note to Arnold Vosloo and his character Pik from Hard Target). The arch-villain's henchman in the Bond movies is often more interesting to me than the arch-villain himself. While you could argue that Kobra is not a minor villain, let's face it, he's not on the A-list. Anyway, after this lengthy and feculent preamble, let's look at some bad ass bad guys.Deadline - In comic books, if you've got a good character design you're half way there. For whatever reason, Deadline really works for me. I dig his armor, his little Mister Miracle hover discs, and his "NO" logo. A super-tech assassin who can phase through walls, Deadline first appeared in the pages of Starman (the purple and yellow version of the character). Talk about the minor leagues, yeeesh. He's appeared in Aquaman and Flash and Suicide Squad, but has never really caught on with the general public. Except me - I think he's neat-o.
Black Manta - What a cool costume. This Aquaman villain has the distinction of being a member of the Legion of Doom on the SuperFriends cartoon, where I think he was just called "Manta." Black Manta has appeared in tons of comics, but never seems to get the respect he deserves - perhaps because his initials are B.M. I described Black Manta's most hilarious and noteworthy appearance right here, which should give you all the reasons you need to love him as much as I do.
Titanium Man - An armored relic of the Cold War, Titanium Man could have been called Iron Man's Whipping Boy with some accuracy. This Russian juggernaut of emerald evil has been around longer than I have, but my favorite incarnation was in the pages of the X-Men/Avengers mini-series, where it was revealed that the green giant was being piloted by the diminutive and encephalitic villain The Gremlin. That's like two awesome villains in one! I particularly dug Marc Silvestri's design of T-Man. As long as you look cool and act like you know what you're doing, people will like you. I will like you. Wolverine is not so sure, however.
Silver Banshee - Come on, give it to John Byrne - that is a fucking awesome character design. I get the impression that this Superman villainess was intended only for one storyline, but artists liked drawing her so much that she keeps popping up. Art Adams drew a particularly busty version of Silver Banshee on one cover, if I recall. She's dreamy, in a Halloween sort of way.
BTW, Rob Zombie wrote the song "Living Dead Girl" about her, no lie.*
Geoff Johns created a fake Golden Age back story for this JSA villain, whose interdimensional trip to Cthulhuland gave him a creepy power. If he takes off his mask and you see his "face," you totally die. How does he shave?
First introduced during Mark Gruenwald's legendary run on Cap, Crossbones has been used to good effect in recent years by writers who are as fond of the guy as I am. I think Kieron Dwyer came up with Crossbones' distinctive pro-wrestler/pirate aesthetic, which is part of his charm.
Kobra - The budget-rate Dr. Doom of the DC Universe, Kobra is my favorite B-list master villain. I love him so much I actually devoted an entire week to him. Check it out here, here, here, here, and here. Oh, and here. Here. Here. And here as well. And finally, here. Man, I had a lot to say about Lord Naga Naga. It's because there's so much to love.
OK, let's wrap this up. I think I'm going to have to do another one of these because I didn't even touch on Bolt, Merlyn, Marvel's Jack O'Lantern, or The Bros. Grimm. Next time, I guess. There's a lot of old shit out there...
*This is a lie.