Thursday, May 8, 2014

True or False: Batman Has the Best Rogues Gallery


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30 comments:

J.A. Morris said...

False.

I'm going with Spider-Man's villains as the best rouges gallery.

Edo Bosnar said...

As an unmitigated Marvel boy, I say false as well.
As for the best, I'll second J.A.: Spidey's.

Doug said...

Let me try to enhance the conversation a bit.

Of the Batman's rogues, and of those of any other hero who might have a better or more interesting rogues gallery, who has the best rogue? Does the Joker beat all? And, which Batman foe might prove a worthy challenge for your hero of choice?

Man-Bat vs. Spidey or Daredevil might be interesting. I wonder if in regard to DD the radar vs. sonar angle would factor in? It might provide some cool visuals, depending on artistic interpretation.

Doug

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I don't quite know how to answer your questions Doug. And I'm not sure as to whether I want to say true or false to the main question. So, I will throw out this thought.

My main experience with Batman is the '66 TV show. To me, the format of that show pretty much drove home the concept of a rogues gallery. Every episode began with some little vignette on that week's villain and what they were up to followed by a call from Commissioner Gordon to Batman where he'd say something like "Brace yourself Batman...it's the Joker!" So every time you turned on that show, the one thing you wanted to know, and found out right away, was who was going to be this story's villain. And it set the stage for everything that followed.

So "Best"? - not sure. I'd say "First".

Tom

david_b said...

Tom brings in a great point.

In a popular sense.., who had the first 'Rogues Gallery'..? It's that answer that may define the relationship (protagonist/antagonist) we now commonly associate with the concept, and I'd agree it was most popularly Dozer's Batman series, as Flash's gallery (perhaps Spidey's and DD's..) was pretty much patterned after Batman's. Let's define best..:

1) Who has the most inspired, most developed anger or angst against our hero, collectively..?

2) Whose personality/agenda can exist outside the relationship with the protagonist (ie, how are they defined as villains outside the relationship..?)..?

3) Who (or whom) has caused the greatest challenges or woes for our hero..?

4) Which gallery defines our hero the most..?

I'd still vote on Spidey's gallery, primarily for the Goblin. As mentioned previously, except for the dual-knowledge of secret identies, Gobby would probably only rate as your standard C-list villain, who would have been elevated if he had killed Gwen (perhaps at random..) even without knowing Peter's identity.

DD's foes have more singularly and collectively have gone against DD, much like the Flash, whose gallery have held actual club meetings..

Batman's gallery, by comparison, run typically either more gangster (Two-Face, perhaps Riddler), more hog-nuts (Joker, Mad Hatter, Harley. King Tut) or the weird (Croc, Poison Ivy, Penquin, Clayface, etc..) in terms of branding (or a weird mix of all).

So I suppose if you're going for the 'most colorful' of galleries, it would be a hard decision between Bats and Spidey.

I'll contend that Batman has the most world-wide popularity, thanks much to most of the different series (Dozer's and TAS), but in terms of how Marvel Silver and Bronze stories went regarding depth of worry and angst, I'd give it to Spidey.

Doug said...

So Joker or Green Goblin?

Imagine if the Joker ever knew that Batman is Bruce Wayne...

Doug

William Preston said...

When I was a teen, a guy sold me a huge stack of early Iron Man comics. A lot of his antagonists from those issues struck me as interesting and have stayed with me. Likewise, Thor. Spidey's got some obvious great ones, but he's also had a huge host of "people who punch" and who do little else.

Anonymous said...

Imagine if the Joker ever knew that Batman is Bruce Wayne...

To be fair, some interpretations have strongly indicated that he does know -- it just doesn't matter. After all, he's not trying to 'beat' Bruce Wayne...

Still, gonna have to say false. Flash's rogue's gallery actually call themselves "The Rogues", so y'know they get points for that. :-)

Murray said...

Just to throw in a new name, I'm going to suggest the Legion of Superheroes.

Fatal Five always chilled my spine. Legion of Super Villains. Time Trapper. Computo. Mordru. The Khund.

Of course, this ends at our beloved Bronze Age. Afterwards, the rogues gallery is shaken and stirred as often as the Legion itself. Which makes me pause and observe that Batman's rogues have so much weight because they're very time-locked. Each reboot of Batman is certain to bring along the old gang of miscreants. Marketing is king, after all.

Humanbelly said...

Y'know, a book that I enjoyed for the first 3 or 4 years of its existence was Image's INVINCIBLE. . . and that book did develope an enjoyable supporting cast/rogue's gallery of its own.

HB

Dr. Oyola said...

I am gonna have to say false. . . like everyone else. It is a close second to Spider-Man. The second Tuesday of every other month, I'd give it to Batman.

I really love the animal theme of most of Spidey's foes - even the cornball ones. Vulture, Rhino, Beetle, Dr. Octopus, Tarantula, Kangaroo, etc. . .

And then you have greats like The Shocker, Electro, Kraven, Sandman, etc. . .

Sure, I like Penguin and the Riddler and the Joker (sometimes), but most of the Batman villains are forgettable. I like them most, however, as depicted in TAS.

Actually, if we were going by cartoon alone, I'd pick Batman.

P.S. It has been taking me 4 of 5 refreshes of the captcha code to get something legible lately!

david_b said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
david_b said...

Maybe it's just me, but again, I'd like more of folk's idea as to what would make them 'best'..

Certainly the crimes/situations verge on 'spectacular' perhaps for the Batman gallery, but depth..?

Spidey's line-up has you there. Again, as I wrote the other day on a separate subject, it's more on Marvel's style vs. DC, both Silver and Bronze (although I do see DC emulating Marvel more in the 2nd half of the Bronze years..).

Marvel has the age-old reputation to build on the internal conflicts of heroes more, while an example of DC's Silver Age villainy could be summing up (slightly-biased here) just how many nefarious embrellas could the Penquin muster up in this month's battle in one of Batman's mags.

If you usher the 'gang-mentality' back into this discussion, then I'm liable to go with the FF's Frightful Five or Flash's Rogue Gallery. There's more comical arrogance in those teams than anywhere else, and it's a hoot to read.

Pat Henry said...

I'd have to say Batman has a terrific rogues gallery for the World's Greatest Detective, with most of his first tier of rascals highly motivated to deliver mysteries for him to solve.

Spider-Man's main foes are instantly recognizable, though, both in their identities and powers. You know what each does, visually, what amazing powers most are capable of, in a way you can't know with a Penguin or a Two Face. That really makes them inspired.

david_b said...

Well, another slight vote for Batman's gallery is 'imitation being the sincerest form of flattery', most memorable..:

Batman's Catwoman, later Spidey's Black Cat. I don't recall any of Spiderman's gallery influencing others..

Batman's Joker, Flash's Trickster.., Daredevil's Jester, etc, and the list goes on.

Point to Batman.

Anonymous said...

I gotta go with Spidey's villains. Batman's second, then maybe Flash.

Mike W.

david_b said...

As for DC galleries, I always liked the Titans's nemesis team the 'Brotherhood of Evil'. Phobia was a pretty potent villain, digging into your noggin to bring out your worst fears.

Of course, that being said, I'm sure stepping into the shoes of their Silver Age villains like 'Ding Dong Daddy' and the like could conceivably be quite daunting.

William said...

Boy, this is a tough one. It seems that the general consensus is that either Batman or Spider-Man has the best Rogues Gallery in comicdom. And for me, it's almost a dead tie between them... Almost.

But in answer to the question as it was posed, I guess I'd have to say "false". (all in lower case).

Only because, if you put a gun to my head and made me pick one, I'd have to go with Spider-Man's rogues. The main reason being that (with few exceptions) most of Batman's main villains are fundamentally just oddly dressed criminals and/or lunatics with no real super powers. (Such as Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, Two-Face, Ventriloquist, etc.) And honestly, for the most part, the police should be able to handle most of these villains without Batman's help.

Not so for Spidey's bad guy's. Most of them have extreme super powers that make them more than a match for the normal cops. And so, they absolutely need someone like Spider-Man to handle the situation when a guy like Doc Ock, or The Sandman starts raising a ruckus.

So, I guess it comes down to who would win in a fight if it was Batman's arch-enemies versus Spider-Man's. On sheer power alone, I'd have to go with the web-slinger's rogues.

J.A. Morris said...

One thing I'll add:
I thought the Goblin was pretty cool before I knew he was Osbourn or that he knew Spider-Man's identity. My first exposure to him was the 60s cartoon and the Spidey Super Stories comics. He had a bat-glider and a bag of tricks, that was good enough for me.

dbutler16 said...

I'm going to play the DC advocate and say True. The Joker, Scarecrow, Ra's Al Ghul, Two-Face, Catwoman, not to mention the second tier of Poison Ivy, Riddler, Mr. Freese, Hush, Bane, and Penguin (maybe better not to mention Penguin). Spider-Man's villians are cooler looking, visually, but I think Batman's foes are better foils, though the Green Goblin is an awfully good archnemesis.

Anonymous said...

I think we've gravitated toward Bats and Spidey because they each have something unique that makes them suited to having their own gallery. As mentioned by others, Batman is a non-superpowered detective. So, he can't really go up against the heavy hitters and vice versa for the villains. And I think Spiderman being a loner led to the development of his unique group. Interestingly, they both had long runs in team-up books. So the Brave and Bold and Marvel Team-Up took care of fans desires to see them with other heroes and villains. But, within their own mags they more or less stuck to their usual baddies.

But, just to end on something different, how about Thor? Love all the evil all-powerful gods - Loki, Pluto, Hela, Mangog, Enchantress, Executioner, Ulik, Galactus, High Evolutionary, Wrecking Crews, Living Planets, you name it!

Tom

Redartz said...

Have to give this point to Batman,grudgingly. The Joker counts for a lot, plus there are so many cool psychos (Two Face, Killer Crock, Scarecrow, etc. Then there are "Harley and Ivy"; not too many heroes have such a pair of female opponents.

I'd rank Spidey's gallery a very close second. But for the sake of discussion, I'll add the Fantastic Four. Quite a gallery of their own: Namor, Frightful Four, Mole Man, Annhilus, Galactus, Molecule Man, and some guy in armor with a mask and green cloak. What was his name...

Anonymous said...

I'll go against the grain here and say true - Bats has the most interesting blend of pyschos (Joker), bizarre oddballs (Killer Croc) and obsessive personalities (Riddler) in all of comicsdom, DC or Marvel included.

Spidey is a close second, though - his rogue's gallery is full of animal-inspired foes (Vulture, Lizard, Beetle, Doc Ock, Rhino, Grizzly, Jackal, Tarantula) but of course it's always been the Green Goblin who gave him the most grief - he was the one foe who knew his secret identity, Peter always subconsciously held back from going all out when battling ol' Gobby since he knew Osborn was unstable, and we all know that little incident with Gwen Stacy changed his life forever.

Most people will argue that it's a tossup between Spidey and Batman. My opinion? Let's just enjoy all the colourful villains who battle our heroes!


- Mike 'Bring on the Bad Guys!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Fred W. Hill said...

Well, joining late again, but let's give Batman kudos for having perhaps the two most famous comics villains, namely the Joker and Catwoman, even if much of their fame comes from the tv show and movies. Even with the mega-success of the various Marvel movies, outside of the world of superhero comics enthusiasts who haunt blogs like this, I suspect the Joker & Catwoman remain better known than Dr. Doom, Magneto, Green Goblin, etc. Then there's the earliest rogues gallery, namely Dick Tracy's many strange-headed foes. But I've gotta join those in this crowd that root for Spidey's legion of lotharios. Spidey's baddies weren't by any means the sole reason I preferred to read his stories over those of Batman or Superman, but they were certainly part of the reason. Spidey had so many great villains that several became regular baddies in other mags, primarily speaking of the Sandman, Rhino and Kingpin. In his prime Silver & Bronze age glory, Spider-Man stories mixed in colorful, dangerous villains with Peter Parker's ongoing personal dramas, all of which drew my pre-adolescent self to Amazing Spider-Man.

Edo Bosnar said...

I'll just chime in again to elaborate on my choice: with the exception of the Joker and R'as al Ghul, Batman's crew really doesn't impress me as much. Also, I'm kind of a romantic, and really don't consider Catwoman part of the rogues gallery.
Spidey, meanwhile, just has a much more overall challenging bunch of opponents, plus several who reach (or even surpass) the Joker/R'as level of menace: Green Goblin (and later Hobgoblin), Dr. Octopus, the Jackal (also later Carrion), and Kingpin (o.k. he was used to better effect as a Daredevil nemesis, but still). He also has a sort of "second string" of bad guys who can be deceptively challenging and dangerous: the Lizard, Kraven, Mysterio and even the Vulture.

Pat Henry said...

Echoing on what others have said, one thing Marvel did well was bring the villains in close to the heroes and their parallel lives. So many of Spidey's foes were also friends and foes, and family of friends and foes, of Parker.

Doom and Richards went to college together. Xavier and Magneto were young allies, etc.

At DC there was always a distance, although some effort was made to give Luthor a long rivalry w/ Superman. Bats had an unsual attraction to Catwoman (and vice versa), but it was never as personal as the rivalries at Marvel.

Vintage Bob said...

I guess I'll be the major voice of dissent here, but I always hated Batman's rogues gallery. Not that I didn't like the villains. I grew up on the comics of the 60's and 70s, the Batman tv show, etc. It's just that to me, Batman has one of the weakest rogues' galleries of all the various heroes.

I mean, look at his villains. The Joker tells jokes. The Riddler tells riddles. The Penguin likes penguins and has trick umbrellas. The Mad Hatter has trick hats, and perhaps something of a hat fetish. Catwoman is a cat burglar who loves cats. Two-Face is a split personality who flips coins. Tweedly Dee and Tweedly Dum are, um…dumb and dumber? Killer Moth? Sigh. Mainly, Batman fights simple, common, everyday career criminals with weird fetishes and obsessions.

Compare that to Spiderman, who has villains as varied as Electro, Green Goblin, Rhino, the Punisher, Tarantula, the Shocker, Morbius, Kraven, Dr. Octopus, Mysterio, etc.

Or Thor, with Loki, the Destroyer, Pluto, Ego, Galactus, Firelord, Mangog, Ymir, Surtur, Gray Gargoyle, Ulik, etc.

Or the Avengers (if we're counting groups) with Kang, Ultron, Grim Reaper, Graviton, the Lethal Legion, the Squadron Sinister, etc.

Or the Fantastic Four with Galactus, Annihilus, the Frightful Four, Dr. Doom, Namor, Salem's Seven, etc.

Even sticking with DC comics, Flash (for example) has a better, more varied rogues' gallery – Prof. Zoom, Capt. Cold, Mirror Master, Trickster, Dr. Alchemy/Mr. Element, Blackhand, Abracadabra, etc.

In fact, I'd be hard pressed to think of a single hero or group that has a LESS stellar rogues' gallery than Batman. His villain list is underwhelming in the extreme, almost to the point of being boring.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Vintage Bob has clearly never read a Batman comic if he thinks that's all there is to those Batman villains. You claim Spider-Man's villains are varied, but you don't really do them any favors by just simply listing them. By doing that, they just sound like a bunch of people who dress up as different animals. Yeah, that sounds very varied.

Vintage Bob said...

Actually, anonymous, I've read most issues of both Batman and Detective Comics from the earliest material through the late 80s, when I stopped collecting new comics.

I do stand by what I said - Batman's villains were overall pretty boring. A cat burglar, two silly villains who tells jokes and riddles, a fat guy with a penguin fetish and lots of tricky umbrellas, and a D.A. with a split personality - are these the types of foes we should see facing a guy who is supposed to be for all practical pusposes a mix of Bruce Lee, Sherlock Holmes and Einstein? Seems to me Chief O'Hara makes a better foe to those villains! LOL!

I do like Ras Al Ghul, the Spook, and some others. But his main villains, his most popular rogues gallery is just boring. And silly. I mean, really - Tweedly Dee and Tweedly Dum? Sigh.

Spiderman on the other hand, had villains with a lot more variation. Rhino was super strong and could smash through stuff and was very impervious to harm. Mysterio cast wicked illusions and played with your mind. Green Goblin was insane and had superior strength and all sorts of neat gadgets. Electro handled electricity. Doc Ock with his mechanical arms, Tarantula with his acrobatics and lethal kicks...I think Spiderman had a lot more interesting villains with more varied powers, by far. Just take any pic of their respective rogues galleries and compare them.

Anonymous said...


"Rhino was super strong and could smash through stuff and was very impervious to harm. Mysterio cast wicked illusions and played with your mind. Green Goblin was insane and had superior strength and all sorts of neat gadgets. Electro handled electricity. Doc Ock with his mechanical arms, Tarantula with his acrobatics and lethal kicks...I think Spiderman had a lot more interesting villains with more varied powers, by far."

You still don't make them sound very interesting. I can easily counter that and say "Oh well Electro is just a villain who handles electricity," or "Rhino is a strong man who dresses up as a Rhino for some reason."

I get what you are saying, and it's a matter of opinion of course. I'm not saying Spiderman villains are lame, as I actually think he definitely has one of the best cast of villains ever, but I just prefer Batman's rogues gallery. You keep mentioning Tweedledee and Tweedledum, which is funny because I don't think anybody considers those villains to be on the A-list of Batman foes. More like the D-list. Most of his main villains represent a piece of his personality and are psychological extensions.

I myself am more into X-Men villains than Spider-Man villains when it comes to Marvel, though that's probably I'm a much bigger X-Men fan than I am of Spider-Man.

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