I love comic book villains. Like, a lot. A LOT, a lot. I've written countless articles about great fun/weird DC villains, and now it's time to expand on that to include the Marvel side of the equation. And why not start with everybody's favorite wall crawler? Now, you might disagree with the content or order, but it's just my opinion. There's no such thing as an objective value judgment about which comic book bad guy is better. But here's my personal list of favorites. Please enjoy!
10. The Chameleon
As the first costumed villain Spider-Man ever fought, The Chameleon has always held a special place in my heart.
Dmitri Smerdyakov (I DARE you to spell that name without checking Wikipedia) was a Russian spy. Instead of screwing with international presidential administrations, however, Dmitri began stealing the plans for a missile defense system. He used his skills as a master of disguise to impersonate Spider-Man, framing the wall crawler for his own criminal activities.
After being defeated, he returned to sic his half brother, Sergei Kravenoff (aka Kraven the Hunter), on the web slinger. Although he's gone up against Iron Man and the X-Men before, he always finds his way back to Spider-Man. The Chameleon doesn't get nearly enough credit as a classic Spider-Man foe, and he’s really underused.
If you're looking for a good Chameleon tale to keep you busy, I'd recommend Pursuit, in which Spider-Man tracks down the master of disguise after Chameleon builds two robot duplicates of Richard and Mary Parker, just to mess with Spider-Man. It's good.
9. Mr. Negative
I figured I should throw in at least one post-Brand New Day Spider-Foe. As the first and most enduring, Mr. Negative earns that spot.
Martin Li was a member of Chinese gang The Snakeheads until he was kidnapped and experimented on, along with teenagers Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen. All three became linked with the mysterious Darkforce Dimension and came away with super powers. Tyrone became Cloak, Tandy became Dagger, and Martin became Mr. Negative. He was split into a good half and an evil half. Like Two Face! But with cooler looking minions.
He and his devil-masked minions – known as the Inner Demons attempted to conquer the New York underworld with a bio-weapon called The Devil's Breath. Negative battled Spider-Man for a while, until Norman Osborn took control of SHIELD and appointed The Hood as the new lord of the New York City Underworld. Negative didn't like this and went to war with him.
When last seen, Mr. Negative was loose in China, attempting to conquer Shanghai while being pursued by Cloak and Dagger.
8. The Shocker
You shut up, The Shocker is GREAT. Like, so great. Herman Schultz is my main man.
Schultz was a high school dropout with engineering talent who turned to crime. He built himself two gauntlets that could blast air at a high vibrational frequency, and became"¦The Shocker. That's right, his gauntlets weren't electrical in nature, but vibrational.
He once successfully blacked out New York City's power grids in such a way as to spell out his own name, which is pretty baller, I gotta admit. He was a member of the Masters of Evil, the Sinister Syndicate, and Boomerang's incarnation of the Sinister Six. He eventually wound up in prison and got assigned to the Thunderbolts B-team before breaking out and winding up six-armed and pissed off during the events of Spider-Island.
After his time in the Sinister Six, he wound up single-handedly beating down The Punisher, and the head of Silvermane crowned him as the new don of New York City. How long this lasted, I do not know.
Lonnie Lincoln was a boy in Harlem. Unfortunately for him, he was born with a horrible skin condition that left him white as a ghost. But don't feel bad for Lincoln, because he was an a-hole, through and through.
He bullied his only friend, classmate Robbie Robertson, until he had exactly zero friends. He dropped out of school, filed his teeth into points, and started street fighting under the name Tombstone, because that's a logical career path. He rose through the ranks as a professional thug, eventually taking on more of a command role.
Around this time, he had his wonderful daughter Janice Lincoln. Janice would go on to become a prosecutor"¦and the newest criminal to take on the identity of The Beetle.
Tombstone has also faced off against Daredevil, Darkhawk, and Moon Knight in his time, although he's best known for his role in the nineties Spider-Man animated series. I mean, I'm guessing that's where you know him from.
Mysterio is the best. Like, if I was just weighting this list based purely upon which characters I liked most, Mysterio would be firmly in the Number 1 spot.
Quentin Beck was a special effects technician and stuntman who couldn't manage to break out as an actor. He used his prowess with effects to become the super villain Mysterio, the best Marvel villain ever. I mean, look at that costume!!! That fishbowl!!! The eye clasps!!!!! The gloves!!!!! DAT FISHBOWL!!!!!!!!!
Mysterio once used his own cancer as a distraction to kick Spider-Man in the balls. That is a villain. Dude shotgunned himself in the head, stranded himself in an alternate universe, and still came back from both. Mysterio is such a charming dude and lovable loser that its impossible not to like him.
Guy once saved Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers. Seriously, Ends of the Earth: Check it out. Worth a read, for sure.
The only reason Eddie is this low on the list is that he's spent way more time as an anti-hero or straight-up superhero than he has as a villain. But he was a pretty terrifying villain at the beginning of his run.
Edward Brock was a journalist whose career was accidentally ruined when Spider-Man disproved his news article claiming to know the identity of the villainous Sin-Eater. Eddie had a crisis of faith and headed to church in the dead of night.
The same night, coincidentally, that Spider-Man was in the bell tower of that same church, ripping his new symbiote costume off his body. The symbiote found Brock, and the duo united in their hatred of Spider-Man. Venom appeared slowly in a trickle of comic book moments – slowly, but effectively, building up his presence.
He's vicious and tenacious, and really, REALLY hates Spider-Man. And he has an incredibly solid visual design.
Hands down, the most underrated Spider-Man villain. Like, NO ONE gives Hobgoblin the credit he deserves.
The mystery of the Hobgoblin is in itself respectable, just for taking YEARS to be revealed due to numerous factors that were out of the hands of the creators. But the first Hobgoblin was Roderick Kingsley, a fashion designer with criminal connections throughout New York. Kingsley discovered a cache of abandoned Green Goblin equipment and modified it, turning himself into"¦The Hobgoblin.
As the Hobgoblin, he tussled with Spider-Man a number of times. He never won, but never had his identity revealed, either. He even managed to make Flash Thompson and Ned Leeds both take the fall for being the Hobgoblin. Years later, he returned to the identity and was exposed when he killed his successor, Jason Macendale, the Jack O'Lantern-turned-second Hobgoblin. In recent years, Kingsley made an empire selling established super villain identities to new upstarts.
After all, it’s good to be the King.
3. Black Cat
And, of course, the Marvel Universe’s femme fatale had to make this list. Felicia Hardy has been the subject of some great comic books and some terrible ones (cough, cough…Spider-Man and Black Cat: The Evil that Men Do…cough, cough), but overall she's one of the best characters out there.
Felicia Hardy was the daughter of a noted cat burglar and trained herself to take after him. She ran afoul of Spider-Man, and faced off with him on numerous occasions, sometimes as a romantic foil. She eventually became a full-on hero in her own right.
She later returned to thievery. But this was around the time Doc Ock was in control of Peter Parker's body as the Superior Spider-Man. Upon apprehending Black Cat, Spider-Man beat her down viciously and severely, leaving Cat with a grudge and a desire for vengeance. After that, she began working her way up as a crime boss.
Good for her.
2. Doctor Octopus
Obvious entries are obvious, but that doesn't mean I can avoid placing them.
Doctor Otto Octavius has had a long and storied career throughout all of Spider-Man history. Before we get further into this, I need to tell you that Ock's dad was named Torbert. This was important. I'm sure you agree.
But anyhoozles, Octavius was a brilliant scientist. But a radiation leak and resulting explosion caused the good doctor's new invention (a set of mechanical arms) to be fused to his body. He took to crime, and spent a long time fighting Spider-Man, incensed that the teenager beat him during his initial crime wave. Their fights culminated when Spider-Man beat him severely, causing him to develop arachnophobia. Then he died. And came back.
He tooled around for another few years before a lifetime of head trauma caught up to him, slowly driving him to an early death. He kicked off a vicious new set of schemes that culminated with taking over Peter Parker's body. He began to operate as the Superior Spider-Man, devoted to fighting crime in as ruthless a manner as possible. Eventually, he ceded control back to Peter and died. Again. And then recently he came back. Again.
1. Green Goblin
DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHH. I mean, God, seriously, who didn't see that coming?
Hands up: Who is surprised?
There shouldn't be any hands up right now.
Norman Osborn is easily the greatest Spider-Man villain ever, hands down. The father of Peter Parker's buddy Harry, Osborn was the owner of Oscorp. He was plagued by mental illness from an early age. This was exacerbated when an experimental enhancement formula blew up in his face, driving him completely insane. Adopting the identity of the Green Goblin, he took to crime in a bid to take over New York City's organized crime scene.
After being stopped by Spider-Man, Osborn developed a new arch-nemesis. He stalked Spider-Man until he was able to deduce his secret identity. From then on, the duo traded blows back and forth for decades. Sometimes one came out ahead, and sometimes the other did, but even when Osborn was thought dead after his murder of Gwen Stacy, he never stayed away too long.
And there you go! Ten of my favorite Spider-Man villains! I might do another one of these, because there are so many good ones. In fact, I'm sure your favorite probably didn't even make the list. So, sorry about that! Maybe next time!
But for now, swing on, web heads!