Okay, let's face it ... Spidey has the greatest rogues gallery in existence, right? Right. So what's so special about this vast array of villains? Simple: the ability to create villain team-ups where every face is recognisable; the opportunity to pitch colourful foes against each other; and, most importantly, the chance to see metallic tentacles flail, pumpkin bombs fly and a poor little web-headed blood-smear caught in the middle. So let us tarry no longer and begin:
Shocker & Trapster (Peter Parker: Spider-Man #85 & 86):
Quite a modern one to start with. I'm not sure why, but for some reason Shocker and Trapster seem to work pretty well together. It's an odd match-up as, usually in super-villain couplets, there's a sort of 'brain and brawn' thing going on. In this case neither of these two provided any great cognitive power (mind you, what do you expect from a human quilt and a guy who used to call himself Paste-Pot Pete?). But wait, there's more: Schultz and Petruski didn't really seem to contrast each other in any other way either, what with both of them sporting projectile weapons and similar 'common thief' personas. If there is a contrast to be found it's in the nature of each villain's weaponry; while both projectile, they differ in their effect on the subject (i.e. a certain unfortunate wall-crawler). Trapster's powerful solvent serves as an immobiliser while Shocker's blasts are very much tailored for serious injury or, in extreme cases, a rather more permanent form of immobilisation. This small difference seemed to be enough to constitute a decent team-up, but it is hardly as classic as many of those to come…
Shocker vs. Electro (The Spectacular Spider-Man #157):
C'mon, admit it ... everyone wanted it to happen; a face-off between Spidey's two shock-powered super-villains. Unfortunately, this little encounter was just that ... little. In fact, it's only about three panels long ... just enough time for our man (Anticli)Max Dillon to get a swift shock in the guts and be left gasping on the floor. We expected more, but it still goes on the list purely on the merits of how good the words 'The Shocker vs. Electro' sound.
Green Goblin, Hobgoblin and Demogoblin (Web of Spider-Man #90):
While only the product of the original Mysterio's mind-tricks, this team-up still felt good (as did the team-up of the Venom symbiote with a giant Galactus robot which was also featured in this issue, although it was another illusion). This one is a bit iffy really and wouldn't even be on the list if it weren't for the fact that it's the only time the three goblins were placed together like this, but I figured no-one would really be too bothered about this one making the list as, let's be honest, if a Spider-Fan can't suspend disbelief, who can?
Sandman vs. Hydroman (Amazing Spider-Man #217 & 218 and Sensational Spider-Man #26):
Big showdown number two and no less anticipated. After all, Bench and Mann (or Baker or Marko or whatever the hell he's calling himself these days) are similar enough in principal, so it was only a matter of time before they traded blows (with ridiculously oversized fists no less). They actually did so twice, both times with similar conclusions; let's just say it was a 'male bonding' experience. So why so far down the list? Well, as with most super-villain face-offs, this one looked better on the cover.
Hobgoblin and Green Goblin (Spectacular Spider-Man #259 ... 261):
Ah, okay, now this one's little tricky. It did actually happen, so that's one in the eye for number 8, but there are other ... ahem ... complications. I tend to refer to this as the team-up between the two original goblins (Roderick Kingsley and Norman Osborn) which is, in a way, true; however, while the team-up does contain Osborn and Kingsley, Norman isn't the actual Goblin with whom Hobby forms a partnership. The Green Goblin role is assumed by the mysterious fifth Goblin (the first four being the two Osborns, Bart Hamilton and bloody Phil Urich), working under the supervision of our man Norman (who didn't officially resume his Goblin role until just after 'The Gathering of Five'). On top of all that, there was no real substantial proof the Kingsley WAS the original Hobgoblin anyway ... he just claimed to be (and you know how audacious these Hobgoblins are). So, while Kingsley does team-up with the man who was the original Green Goblin and does fight alongside a bloke in the Green Goblin costume in the same story, I still feel a wee twinge in my spine when I say that this is an 'original goblins' team-up. Well, at least I didn't try and explain the second clone saga.
Hobgoblin vs. Green Goblin (Spectacular Spider-Man #261 and Amazing Spider-Man 316):
Ok, I'm not going through it all again, but the Goblin/Osborn/Kingsley situation is pretty much the same as last time except it's Hobby versus Normy and Gobby this time. As much as it was a comic-book inevitability that Osborn and Kingsley would have to team-up, it was even more necessary for the satiating of the masses to have them face each other; some would even claim that the only reason Kingsley turned out to be the original Hobgoblin was so that this encounter could occur (fair enough if you ask me). I mean, Osborn couldn't just let Kingsley get away with his bastardising of the goblin guise ... so how does he get him back? Why, by playing him for a sucker and taking over all his multi-million dollar companies of course (don't ya just hate it when that happens?). However, the resulting disappointment of a fight could just be the pretext to a mighty showdown on the horizon.
This encounter was preceded by a clash between Harry Osborn and Jason Macedale years before; ironic really since it was to be nearly years ten years before we would see their predecessors battle.
Kraven the Hunter and Vermin (Amazing Spider-Man #293&294, Spectacular Spider-Man #131&132 and Web of Spider-Man #31&32):
It's debatable whether this was a team-up, a face-off or both; nonetheless, this was one of the many things which made 'Kraven's Last Hunt' such a damn good story and therefore cannot go unnoticed. Despite being of better quality than the previous two team-ups/face-offs there is very little that can be said about it ... quality speaks for itself.
Adrian Toomes vs. Blackie Drago (Amazing Spider-Man #63):
There's only room for one vulture in this world and Toomes was it; so, when Blackie Drago took on the Vulture identity, after arranging an 'accident' in the prison machine shop which injured Toomes to the extent that Drago could convince him to disclose the whereabouts of his secret set of Vulture wings and flying harness, it was not going to go unpunished. Toomes challenged the impostor to battle and proved just how much of a weak little pussy…cat Drago really was (hell, he only took down Spidey 'cos Peter was suffering from a rather nasty cold).
The Sinister Six (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, Amazing Spider-Man #334-339, Spider-Man #18-23, Spider-Man Unlimited #9, Amazing Spider-Man Vol. II #12, Peter Parker: Spider-Man Vol. II #12):
There simply is no better villain team-up than the Sinister Six, originally containing Doctor Octopus, Electro, the Vulture, Kraven the Hunter, the Sandman and Mysterio, but later, due to Kraven's death and Sandman's liability, incorporating (at various times) the Hobgoblin and Gog (remember the Savage Land story from ASM #103 and 104?). There was an issue of Spider-Man Unlimited which promised 'The Sinister Six' on the cover, however this was subject to a slight inaccuracy ... there were seven of them. The seven in question were Scorpia (yeah, I know ... everyone's favourite who-the-hell-was-she-anyway super-villain), Hobgoblin (Macendale), the Vulture (in his youthful state), Electro, Mysterio, the Beetle (well, he was never going to do anything on his own was he?) and the Shocker (this isn't a 'Deadly/Lethal Foes' reunion is it?). Does this count? Does anyone care? No is the short answer and, coincidentally, the long one as well.
The latest manifestation of the Sinister Six consisted of Mysterio, Sandman, Electro, the Vulture, Aloysha Kravinoff (Kraven's son), and Venom (sort of). I wont bore you with the details, but needless to say, it was quite fun. Incidentally, the only rogues to have featured in all of these sinister consortiums are Max Dillon (Electro), Adrian Toomes (the Vulture) and Quentin Beck (presuming that WAS Becky Boy under everyone's favourite fishbowl in the latest incarnation of the group). So, now you know what the best super-villain team-up is, but what's the best face off? Need you ask?
Venom vs. Carnage (Amazing Spider-Man #361-363, 378-380, Spider-Man #35-37, Spectacular Spider-Man #201-203, Web of Spider-Man #101-103, Spider-Man Unlimited #1&2 and Peter Parker: Spider-Man Vol. II #10):
The big one, the top dog, the numero uno honcho, the head cheese and so forth. Every time these two meet it's clobberin' time and, while the Maximum Carnage story may have disappointed a lot of people (actually I've never read it ... it's difficult to get hold of all the parts in Scotland and they didn't distribute the graphic novel over here either, but if there are any Spider-Fans out there who think they can help me ... please ... then please e-mail me. Oh and use an obvious title for the e-mail, I already get far too many e-mails telling me to 'make it bigger' ... I like it the way it is.), but you have to admit there's nothing cooler than a symbiotic showdown and they happen just rarely enough to be cool every time.
I am, of course, placing this at the top of the list purely on the merits of the original 'Carnage' storyline as it truly rocked (y'know, the way the Transformers, Police Squad! and Celebrity Deathmatch rocked). The hatred between these two is unquenchable and it's one of the few grudges in the Marvel Universe where readers can relax, safe in the knowledge that these two will NEVER decide to resolve their differences and just team up to pound Spidey's lycra-clad little butt (unless you consider Venom devouring the Carnage symbiote a team-up); talking of the webbed one, I haven't really mentioned him much have I? Oh well, I'm pretty sure that, if you've read this far and understood it all, you know who Peter Parker is better known as.
Anyway ta-ta for now, True Believers, I'll see you all next PPP. 'Nuff Said.