The team at Marvel have created some great villains in their time, but no-one would say that each and every one was a great success. Many of them did, indeed, smell. Here's my pick of the worst ever villains. And hey, if you think I missed anyone who really deserves to be on this list, then drop me a line and argue the case, I might just be pursuaded to change it!
- Facade. The robot from Web #114-#116 who kills Lance Bannon in a pointless farce. A robot with no history, and no future in Spider-Man, that's for sure. A dangling plot line best left dangling.
- The City Stealers. The robot-suited losers who tried to steal Manhattan for ransom in Marve Team-Up #28. One of the few stories that Marvel later apologised for.
- Hypno-Hustler. From Spectacular #24. This was another story and villain that must have been born from an overwhelming dead-line and a severe lack of sleep.
- Skinhead. The neo-nazi bad-boy from Web #57, who started out as a skinhead, and ended up as one big blob of Spider-Man-Eating pseudopodic flesh. Yuck!
- Peter's Parents. The long-running "Return of Peter's Parents" storyline ended laughably with "Lifetheft". That three part story revealed that Peter's parents were robots, created by Chameleon in an attempt to extract information from Peter as to the identity of Spider-Man. Wow, Chameleon had money and knowledge to reproduce a couple of people who've been dead for 20 years as androids, and yet wasn't bright enough to capture Peter and drug him, or transform himself into Aunt May and ask him, or just damned well figure it out from all the evidence. Sheesh! You gotta weep.
- The Martians. First appearing as Martians in Amazing #2 as part of a plot to overtake the world, aided by The Tinkerer. Spectacular #50 revealed them to have been humans dressed as Martians, in an apparant step to make the original story more believable. They failed.
- Shadowforce. Appeared in X-Factor & Spider-Man 3 part limited series. A dehydrated, ready-for-action, single-use disposable para-military force with detailed pasts, powers and codenames that nobody gives a damn about. Merely chosen as being representative of many such teams, including Warzone, Cell-12, The Jury, The Cadre, etc, etc. Please, if you can think of any more, let me know and I'll make a top ten list of dopey para-military teams.
- Solo, Annex and Warrant. OK, sometimes you can't afford a whole para-military team. In that case, you could just go for a formula-ridden vigilante figure and load them up with high-tech weapons until they can hardly walk. Give them a mysterious past, a couple of emotional weaknesses, maybe a personal teleport system - et voila! One waste of good comic paper!
- Spark. From Web #75 - again merely representative of a bad run for lousy villains in 1991/1992. That period of Web also produced forgettable appearances from The Headsmen, The Avant Guard, Whisper & Pulse and Firebrand. At that same time, Spectacular also produced the unmemorable characters of Corona and Knight & Fogg.
The Big Wheel. The reminder from Amazing #183 that when you buy your super-powered death machine from The Tinkerer, you should take some time at home and read the instructions before proceeding on a rampage of death. Heck, at least take time to figure out where the brakes are!
Right, that's ten - but I can't finish the list without this one...
- WHO. Can you remember Amazing #155, when an unknown identity is killing at will. Who-dunnit? Well, let's just say that 32 pages is a long story for one bad pun. If you've read the story, I'm sure you'll have to agree.
This is just my pick, I'm sure you have your favourite list of dumb villains. I wanted to include Phreak from Web #35, The Slug from Web Annual #4, Jeremiah, Grey Gargoyle, Nightmare, Photon, and most of the Frightful Four! Still, this was a good sample.