More than one villain has claimed their cruelty to be the work of one of the many heroes of the Justice League. Many others are simply born out of chance. For some, it was even their birthright, the natural progression of their genetic structures. However, villains aren’t as far from heroes as we all like to think they are, they exhibit the same strengths and weaknesses, adaptability and wit, constant over-achievers, but the one thing that truly separates them is their deeds. What was that quote that made the internet explode after Batman Begins (2005) released? Ah yes. “It’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.”
So, here are a few DC bad guys you probably haven’t heard of, who deeds have been truly rotten, regardless of who they were (are) on the inside.
Ragdoll, in The Batman (2004-2008), “From Ragdoll to Riches”, Season 2 Episode 9.
Ragdoll is a lesser known villain of the grand theft variety, preferring to steal jewels, private finances, specific works of art, etc. The adversary he finds himself most faced against is Batman, the constant Crusader of Justice, never taking a break “because crime never takes a break”. Despite his unaesthetic outward appearance, lanky and gangly (yes, I know they mean the same thing, and he is STILL both), he is still a formidable opponent to face, less for his violence but more for his escape artistry. The Ragdoll gives double jointed a whole new meaning, being capable of twisting his body into a variety of shapes, as per his pleasure. Following his comic book anthology, the first Ragdoll was Peter Merkel, a triple-jointed thief and a member of the Injustice Society and the Secret Society of Supervillains, before being followed by one Colby Zag, who used the name in his acts of serial violence and murder. Finally, the original Ragdolls son took up the mantle, Peter Merkel Jr., to become the third Ragdoll and join the Secret Six, along with such villains as Bane, Catman, and even Scandal, daughter of Vandal Savage.
2. MONSIEUR MALLAH (& THE BRAIN)
Monsieur Mallah (far left), The Brain (second from the right), and other members of The Brotherhood Of Evil, in Teen Titans (2003-2006), Episode 64.
Monsieur Mallah is the right-hand man of the genius known only as “The Brain”. Because, yes, you guessed it, he is a brain. A giant brain in a glass case, and a just barely functional robot body, a special device that allows him to communicate with Mallah. Monsieur Mallah acts as his arms and legs. And what a pair of arms and legs indeed. Monsieur Mallah is, in fact, a gorilla, who was an ordinary gorilla until an experiment of a mad scientist gave him human intelligence. The brain of that mad scientist was then placed into that unique device to allow function even beyond death and injury. Together, Monsieur Mallah and the Brain are the head of an evil syndicate known as the Brotherhood of Evil, that aims to rule the world, by any means necessary. So far their plans have failed thanks to the interference of the Doom Patrol and the Teen Titans (even working together – Ref. Teen Titans (2003) Episode 53).
3. THE ULTRA HUMANITE
The Ultra Humanite and Lex Luthor, in “Injustice For All – Part 2”, Justice League (2001 – 2004), Season 1 Episode 9.
The Ultra Humanite’s name was once Gerard Shugel, a renowned and brilliant scientist. But when he was afflicted with an incurable ailment, he chose to work towards transferring his incredible intellect and superior brain into the body of a rare white gorilla (I’m starting to feel like I should give the “no animals were harmed during the making of…” disclaimer in this post). Having successfully transferred his mind into this super-strong creature, the Ultra Humanite now seeks to look for the perfect era in which one of his stature and knowledge may truly rule the world. His allies are the Time Stealer and the Injustice Society. And he spends a solid portion of his time fighting off the JSA (Justice Society of America, i.e., the Justice League circa. 1940’s, without Superman, but way more badass), and Power Girl (basically a parallel universe version of Superman/Supergirl – Ref. Crisis on Infinite Earths).
4. HECTOR HAMMOND
Hector Hammond, as depicted in DC Comics: The Ultimate Character Guide, written by Brandon T. Snider.
Some of you may or may not know this character but he was once a dashing, debonaire and brilliant scientist, working for Ferris Aircrafts, the company owned and operated by Carol Ferris. If you remember from a previous article, Carol is the love interest (and, I love saying this, boss) of Hal Jordon, the first Green Lantern of Earth. As follows all the usual cliches, Hammond was P. B and Jelly of the relationship between the two and often sought to split them up. Once a jackass, I say… I’m not going to finish that thought. In the midst of Hammond’s experimentation with an alien meteorite he didn’t fully understand, he was given telepathic powers, allowing him to delve into the most intimate thoughts of any people around him. But as a result, his physical body was affected, causing his brain to swell to enormous proportions, and paralyzing the rest of his body. Blaming the Green Lantern for his affliction, during an incident occurring between the two, Hammond spends his days plotting his revenge against this defender of galaxies.
Trigon facing off against Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash, in Justice League Vs Teen Titans (2016).
Any fans of the teen titans will probably know this evil-doers name. But for the rest of you, here’s the gist. There was once a group of people from earth, who abandoned this planet and its violent ways to start a pacifists sect on an interdimensional planet called Azarath (please, bear with me). It was said that this sect of pacifist using carefully constructed spells channeled all of their dark energy and exorcised it into another dimension, creating the demonic beast of absolute power, Trigon. Trigon, is, in fact, the father of Teen Titans hero, Raven, having been sired by him and human sacrifice offered by worshippers of his cult on earth. In fact, Raven was said to have been sired to allow him a clear passage from his other-worldly prison to Earth, so he may rule this planet and turn it into the lava-drenched pit of hate he so enjoys soaking in. Though there were a few near misses, the Teen Titans never let him win, be it in the 2003 Teen Titans show, or the more recent Justice League Vs Teen Titans Movie (2016).
An Orange energy construct of Larfleeze, made by the only Orange Lantern himself, to battle Green Lantern Hal Jordon, in Green Lantern: The Animated Series (2011-2013), “Larfleez”, Episode 23.
We all know the Green Lanterns, whose precious rings are fueled by willpower and concentration. And there are some who know the Yellow Lanterns, who thrive on the power of fear, such as Sinestro (former green lantern), and even Batman almost became one, an optimal candidate. But there are numerous other power rings, that gain their energy from various other strong emotions. One such ring created was the Orange Ring, powered by the energy source, the Orange Light of Avarice. Though there were once many bearers to the Orange Rings, as shown in the Green Lantern Animated Series, soon there was just one. Larfleeze, the last Orange Lantern, made a deal with the Guardians of the Galaxy, against their better judgment, allowing him to be the sole keeper of the Orange Light. For the most part, he remains content with his shiny trinkets on the distant planet of Okaara, but on those rare occasions he resurfaces, his greed pushes him to aim to own everything in the universe.
7. THE TRICKSTER
The Trickster, and one of his patented Snot Guns, in Justice League Unlimited, “Flash and Substance”, Season 3 Episode 5.
The Trickster is one of my favorite underrated Supervillains. Largely because he’s not a supervillain at all. A villain, maybe, but not from his heart of hearts. Not the original at least. Jesse James was the first trickster, a former circus acrobat, and later a member of The Rogues, a group of Flash’s mortal enemies. The Trickster enjoyed silly pranks, practical jokes and dangerous gadgets (including shoes that made him walk on air) to commit his numerous crimes. He was caught multiple times by the Flash, who eventually came to see this struggling and unbalanced mind for what it was: A man in need of help. James later went on to help the Flash in numerous cases by becoming an investigator for the FBI. His criminal passions were taken up years later by his son, Axel Walker, who took on the persona of the Trickster once again for crime. The original Trickster was actually played in the live-action TV Series, The Flash (2014) by Mark Hamill, who was also the incomparable voice actor of the Joker in Batman the Animated Series (1992), and also did the voice acting for The Trickster in Justice League Unlimited (2004-2006).
8. LADY SHIVA
Lady Shiva and the Dark Knight, in Chapter 3, Batman: A Death In The Family.
This dark-haired diva makes rare but notable appearances in the never-ending history of the Dark Knight. She appears most recently in Batman/Superman: Public Enemies (2009) as one of the numerous enemies facing Batman and Superman to bring them to Justice, but her most memorable occurrence, in this writer’s opinion, has to have been in the groundbreaking classic, Batman: Death In The Family. This arch follows the story of the second Robin, Jason Todd, and his quest to find his true mother, with only 2 hints, a withered old birth certificate that has only fragments of his mother’s name, and an old contact book to find their real identities. Lady Shiva is approached at a terrorists training camp, and first, my favorite Caped Crusader, ever the confident man, sees no challenge in her. He changes his mind quite quickly after a few “Ker-Thunks!” and “Ther-Ackks!” to the face. Lady Shiva is one of the most deadly fighters on the planet. She thrives in her career as an assassin for hire, though she took a brief sabbatical to enter the world of heroism as “the Jade Canary” in the Birds of Prey for research purposes, before soon returning to her preferred cold-hearted world of crime.
9. MR. MXYZPTLK
Mr Mxyzptlk in Year Three, Injustice: Gods Among Us.
This mischievous little imp is a minute creature from the 5th dimension that in our dimension (the 3rd), has extraordinary, almost magical abilities to alter the very presence of what reality is and can be for us “primitive” 3-D creatures. This diminutive man in this way resembles other DC characters such as Bat-Mite, frequent Batman character that appears as an unwitting troublemaker and over-enthusiastic fanboy, as well as Nosyarg Ckid, another rabble-rouser that appears for one episode in Teen Titans (2003). However, our Mr Mxyzptlk is more like the angry neighbor kid in Toy Story setting fire to his dolls in his destructive nature. He has appeared in numerous stories, from an appearance in Superman the Animated Series to a much later display of power in Injustice, Year Three. But he always left an out. The only way to beat this compact kick-in-the-crotch, is to get him to say his name backwards. Which Superman manages to do on more than one occasion. The Man of Steel really does have a wit of gold.
10. CYBORG SUPERMAN
Cyborg Superman, as shown in DC Comics: The Ultimate Character Guide, written by Brandon T. Snider.
Cyborg Superman isn’t quite who the name makes him out to be. He was once an astronaut, named Hank Henshaw. During a mission, he was bombarded by a series of cosmic rays that severely damaged his body and the resultant catastrophe caused him to become half man and half machine. Blaming Superman for his interference and the damage caused to his body, Henshaw vowed to ruin and destroy the Man of Steel by any means necessary. He once posed as Superman after the original was defeated in battle, claiming to have been resurrected and proceeded to wreak havoc and discredit the name of our Kryptonian friend, along with another nemesis of his, Mongul. The Man of Steel, of course, rose to the occasion and cleared his name.
Atrocitus, Leader of the Red Lanterns, in Green Lantern: The Animated Series (2011-2013), “Beware My Power: Part 2”, Season 1 Episode 1.
Atrocitus is a dragon-like beast from the outer rings of the territory protected by the Guardians of the Universe, the creators of the Green Lantern Corps. How the story goes (according to Green Lantern the Animated series) is that in the ancient days of the Guardians, as their territory expanded, they were looking for better ways to monitor crime and violence through the known galaxies. In their exuberance and naivete, they created a series of robots, powered by the same green energy of will as the Green Lantern rings, to police the Guardian universe against all crime. But these monitors were uncontrollable and unstoppable. And wiped out life almost completely from numerous planets in the outer rings of the galaxy, triggering multiple civil wars and excessive violence from the frightened inhabitants. The Guardians soon caught the Manhunters and put an end to their violence. But the damage was done. Atrocitus rose up during this time of degradation and strife. And he instilled in the people of these forgotten lands a fire of hatred within their souls to fight against their destroyers, the Guardians and formed the first of the Red Lantern Corps. He led them on a 9-month long crusade toward the absolute destruction of Oa, home of the Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps, and nearly succeeded. Atrocitus’ power was equal to and often greater, powered by his own hate, than the power of the Green Lanterns, including Hal Jordon.
Zoom and the Flash (Barry Allen), in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013).
So here’s a name that I’ve seen popping up a lot on the internet, and I wanted to give some clarity to the subject. Zoom is the nom de plume of the Reverse Flash, Professor Eobard Thawne, a scientist from the 25th century, who replicated the accident that created the Flash (Barry Allen) in our century. According to one storyline, Flash at some point went to the future to catch Thawne and in doing so, ruined Thawne’s life in his own century (according to his perspective), and from then onward, Thawne made it his life’s mission to destroy the Flash. In another storyline, the same man, Thawne, tricks three generations of Flashes, into powering an army controlled by Thawne in another future timezone, with their combined speed force, making Thawne the unimpeachable ruler of the era. Not for long, of course. To me, Thawne holds a special significance due to his role in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013), which when you really look at it, was nothing more than to push Barry Allen just those last few feet over the edge of the abyss that he was so nearly hovering beside. And therein lay the genius of Zoom. The idea followed the concept of a sane man driven mad by a sane-looking madman. Perhaps there was a world in which the actions of Barry Allen, never led to the creation of an enraged Eobard Thawne. One of the many conundrums of the characters. Can there ever really be a reverse Flash without a Flash? (The answer is yes, but you should watch the movie anyway).