Friday, October 24, 2014

Who's the Worst... Spider-Man Villain?


Redartz said...

There are quite a few candidates here. Interesting that a character with possibly the greatest rogue's gallery in comics also has so many lame-o's. Over 50 years of publishing, apparently you can accumulate an abundance of both the good the 'less so'.

My nominee for worst Spidey villain is the Big Wheel. Truly ridiculous; a crook who rides around in a ferris wheel frame? Even adding weapons, this is still a joke. Even his name conjured up images of the children's vintage tricycle. Not sure if he ever appeared after his introduction; no great loss...

Steve Does Comics said...

I have to go for the Rocket Racer. He's a man on a skateboard. How did anyone at Marvel ever convince themselves that was a super-villain?

Humanbelly said...

With the speed of a psychiatric word-association test response, I spoke it out loud (alone @ the shop, with only my dog, mind you) instantly upon reading the question:

The Hypno Hustler.

Scrolled down, and of COURSE there he was! He's so awful that, rather than being completely forgettable (which should have been his fate), he's become a recognizable inside joke all his own. D'you remember that he was mentioned (derisively) in passing in the first season of Earth's Mightiest Heroes?

But Spidey's been around SO long with SO many titles that I'm sure he's spawned a lame-o rogues gallery to rival anyone's-- even Silver Age DD and Iron Man.

Red 9?
The Big Wheel? (about whom I remember almost no details, except that he was in the same issue as similarly bad Rocket Racer. Possibly not even a villain? But very, VERY high on the stupidest-foe-concept-ever scale. . . )

And, I hate to cast aspersions on beloved foes from Spidey's golden era, but I really do think the mob-team of The Enforcers (Fancy Dan, Ox, and Montana) were impossibly lame even for a 15/16 year old rookie superhero to handle. I was never able to get through an issue w/ them quickly enough-- usually reading through a pervading aura of "you-gotta-be-kidding-me". They were pretty much Spidey's version of the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime. What's amazing is that the characters have hung around for the entirety of the MU's history-- that actually shows some creative ingenuity on the writers' parts to maintain the viability of something so initially weak for so long. . .


Anonymous said...

Paste-Pot Pete (altho he wasn't technically a Spidey baddie, per se)

Edo Bosnar said...

I sort of agree with HB about the Enforcers, in that they're really lame as Spidey villains - seriously, he should be able to take those guys with one or both hands tied behind his back. Same with Man Mountain Marko for that matter. However, the Enforcers have this goofy charm, and I think they would have been better adversaries for someone like Daredevil.

By the way, HB, Razorback is a good guy. And personally, I kind of like him, and I don't think Hypno-Hustler's all that bad - I guess I just have a soft spot for Mantlo's creations.

Anyway, my vote goes to a few of those pro-wrestling rejects or, as Karen and Doug put it a few years ago, members of Spidey's zoo, like Kangaroo and Grizzly.

Humanbelly said...

Totally forgot R-Back was hangin' w/ the angels, Edo-- thanks. I wasn't even 100% certain I remembered him from Spidey, to be totally honest. (Was he from Arkansas, at least?)

Kangaroo would definitely have been in a follow-up post for me. Grizzly-- I don't know, I rather enjoyed that whole arc w/ him & the Jackal (lots of folks REALLY didn't like it, I know), and the fact that he was a low-life has-been was intrinsic to the plot. It was an instance where I thought the balance between Lame and Threat was struck rather well. Boy, when he was done, though, he was DONE.

I wonder if a subset of this discussion could touch on villains/foes who start out solid, and then get "improved" into lame absurdity w/ subsequent incarnations. Example one: Tarantula (who really should have been high on anyone's "lame" list-- but he was so darned charismatic), who started out as a poison-toe-kickin' super-mercenary, but eventually becomes. . . a giant human tarantula (oy). Example two: Silvermane, a chilling, aged, resourceful mob boss (GREAT original story arc!) who 'waaaaaay down the road is resurrected as. . . a killer *yawn* cyborg.


Anonymous said...

The first two that came to mind was 1) Will O The Wisp, a guy so lame his name doesn't even touch. As a bad guy, he spent most of his time trying to get other bad guys to confess to their crimes. He couldn't even get crime right. YOU DO BAD THINGS!!! Not get bad guys to stop being bad, that would make you a GOOD guy, and B) The Shocker!!! I love that Spider-Man would web his thumbs down on his triggers and he, The Shocker, would basically pound himself into submission. It's almost like saying "Dude, you give up" "No I don't" "Yes you do" No I don't" Yes you do" "No I don't" "No you don't" "Yes I do aaarrgh, I just gave up".

I hope to come up with more later, but isn't that what makes one so lame, they're forgettable!?!

The Prowler (Now you're climbin' to the top of the company ladder hope it doesn't take too long can'tcha you see there'll come a day when it won't matter come a day when you'll be gone).

Karen said...

I was going to point at the Gibbon, but he looks classy compared to the Hypno-Hustler.

Martinex1 said...

I kind of liked Will O The Wisp but am completely biased because he was in 1 of the three comics that I first purchased. But I still like his tormented not human anymore aspect. However, I never understood Hammerhead. He seemed to escape from Dick Tracy's rogues gallery. And running at somebody and slamming his steel plated noggin into somebody seems like somebody that Spidey would have very little trouble with. Although, I have to say I would probably buy a Hammerhead / Kangaroo faceoff issue (Titled "Head Over Heels") Too bad "Not Brand Eecch" is not still around.

Doug said...

I think the Chameleon could have been used better elsewhere. As mentioned above in several examples, quite a few of Spidey's villains seemed to be mismatched in terms of powerset. The Chameleon would have been better in a Nick Fury or Captain America book.

Of course, not as much as the Cobra as a Thor villain...


William Preston said...

Given someone's mention that the Enforcers might have been fine as Daredevil villains: It's useful to distinguish between foes who are just intrinsically lame and foes who seem, as someone else wrote, "a power mismatch." Wild inconsistency regarding Spidey's strength and reactions led, many times, to odd match-ups. (I don't think Marvel Team-Up ever ran into that problem.)

This puts me in mind of the Kingpin, who was used well by various Spidey writers, and shown as tough (Spidey would often reflect, as I recall, "I mustn't be fooled into thinking he's just fat; that's muscle!"), demonstrated his power in gangland-style ways, with minions and behind-the-scenes power and people with guns. Daredevil made the mistake of thinking him purely a mobster when Miller crafted their first encounter. Then Kingpin decked DD, making the point (in essence), "I'm a Spidey villain, so I must be tough enough to take you, punk."

Anonymous said...

How about the White Rabbit? I guess she was *intentionally* lame, but then I have to believe the Hypno Hustler was too.

Or maybe Humbug? He was a joke, but it was even worse when they tried to make him more serious in Heroes for Hire.

Mike W.

Anonymous said...

I nominate the poor man's Hammerhead: Ramrod. He appeared in Amazing Spider-Man 221. He wore a steel beanie and charged at Spidey, hitting buildings. Perhaps he was hoping that a concussion would make him forget that when he wasn't Ramrod he was known as Lonesome Pinky.

There are so many double entendres with names like Ramrod and Lonesome Pinky that I will not make one out of overabundance of choice.

Humanbelly said...

Y'know, the point about Hammerhead (and Ramrod)not really posing a reasonable threat to Spidey is a really good one. He's not innately "super"-- he has the proportionate strength of. . . a big, middle-aged thug. His whole subdue-with-a-head-charge schtick would (even in the shamelessly science-optional older MU) require superstrength in his legs at the very least. He's not faster, he's not physically invulnerable-- and a steel-plated head is simply not sufficient to knock down a brick wall or (hoo-boy) penetrate the hull of a nuclear reactor. But. . . he wasn't actually "lame" was he? 'Cause even in the context of the stories he was an absurdly anachronistic figure, and was quite fun.

Well, until he too got "improved" down the road via actually dying, and becoming a ghost, and then SOMEhow (lordy, I cringe to remember) being scientifically re-integrated into the living world again. Wow. Now that was lame.

So many of Spidey's other early villains, though, had that same disconnect-- where they really had no innate superpower to support them, and yet were somehow able to repeatedly go toe-to-toe with him in battle. The Vulture, for pete's sake, was an OLD guy with a winged power pack that may have arguably had some exoskeletal enhancement-- but one punch to the jaw? He's done and likely in the hospital. And Doc Ock, of course, was only the arms and that was IT. Yet how many times did they slug it out? At least near the end of my time of reading Spidey, that bell rang for someone, and had Ock succumbing to TBD from years of horrendous head-injuries.

But those guys-- lame? Nah! Bite yer tongue! They were AWESOME!


J.A. Morris said...

Morbius. When I read his early appearancdes, I get the feeling Roy Thomas was trying hard to make Morbius part of the rogues gallery introduced during the Lee-Ditko era. He never seemed very interesting to me.

William said...


Worst… villain… ever!!!

Anonymous said...

How does Spidey stop the Enforcers?
Three quick punches oughta do it.

Anonymous said...

I gotta disagree with the Prowler about the Shocker. (Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write).
The Shocker was cool! Sure, he was kind of a one-trick pony, but he managed to give ol' Web-head a lotta grief. Even had him on the ropes a few times. He deserves his place in the pantheon of classic Spider-foes.
He did pretty good for a safe-cracker with a gimmick. mp

Anonymous said...

Prowler ol' buddy you all heard from me early yesterday 'cause it was a public holiday (Divali) in T & T!

Yeah have to agree with Anonymous above, Shocker was OK in his limited way as a Spidey villain; JA ol' pal I luv ya but I gotta disagree with ya on Morbius - I thought the Living Vampire was a cool character, way better than many others like Grizzly, Gibbon, Kangaroo or any other animal you name except Rhino, Vulture, Beetle ... sheesh, what's up with all of Spidey's foes being named after animals? I'm giving up readin' Spidey if he ever faces ... the Platypus! :)

Yeah, it's always been a bone of contention for me (and apparently Roger Stern too!) as to how Spidey could have so much trouble with some of his not-so-super adversaries like Tarantula or the Enforcers. A guy with class 10 ton strength, spider-reflexes 40 times faster than humans and a spidey-sense to boot shouldn't even break a sweat against these guys. In the case of the Vulture you could argue his exoskeleton augments him greatly, or in the case of Doc Ock the explosion which grafted his arms to him gave him quasi-superhuman abilities.

- Mike 'the ring tailed lemur' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

I think you could make a case that they maybe made Spider-Man a little TOO powerful, so that they had to up the caliber of his opponents. Back in the day a normal(well, not super-powered) goon like Kingpin or Tarantula could cause him trouble.
I think that made it more interesting.
The same thing kinda happened with Wolverine. Now he's invulnerable. Galactus couldn't kill him.(Yawn)
I like the Vulture! Does he have to have super-strength or speed to make him interesting?

Teresa said...

Rocket Racer - I hated that character. So annoying and mundane. Which leads me to the next guy. "Skin Head."
BTW, Rocket Racer made an appearance with "Skin Head." So it was crap times two.

Skin Head: "Edward Cross is the son of Chaim Cross, a rabbi living in Queens. As a young Jewish boy, Edward was picked on against because of his heritage. As he grew older, he became a fierce Zionist to defend that heritage, but as a man he became what he most hated-a Nazi skin-head. Just as an abused child grows to be an abusing adult, Edward Cross, the victim of racism, became a racist himself. "

Humanbelly said...

OMG-- Teresa, this. . . this was a real, true Spidey foe-??? Are you kiddin' me??

Man, who was the writer? Heck, who was the EDITOR? It sounds like a swipe of Steve Gerber having a black businessman fund the Sons of the Serpent in the Defenders. . . only much more offensively contrived.

I vote we give you the win on this thread, friend-- that's a whole 'nother level of lame-!


Anonymous said...

I just love that Teresa said "crap". And times two at that.

The Prowler (I wanna be a sledge hammer).

Anonymous said...

On the subject of power mismatches, I agree that the Enforcers would have been good recurring enemies for a less-powerful hero. Or at least two of the three would have: Fancy Dan and the Ox.

When people on comics boards laugh at the Enforcers, they seem to mock Fancy Dan the most, and I don't know why. I mean, he is supposed to be a world-class martial artist; that might not be enough to defeat Spidey, but it would make him quite a formidable fighter.* And the Ox is as strong as a man can get without superpowers.

But Montana?

A guy with a lasso. He always struck me as what I might expect from a European cartoonist who had to come up with an American bad guy but didn't know much about the States.

But my vote for all-time worst has to go to the Hypno-Hustler. Cowboys at least have a timeless appeal, but HH will always be stuck in 1978.

*Although, when the Big Man first introduces Dan, he explains how great the guy is by saying he is "entitled to wear the coveted black belt." You'd probably have to say something a tad stronger these days.

-- Rusty

Dr. Oyola said...

I have a soft spot for some of the terrible villains though.

Hypno-Husler is an obvious choice, but I keep waiting for him to come back.

Big Wheel DID come back or at least a version of his vehicle commanded by Overdrive - who is also a weird villain - but he (and Boomerang, Shocker, the Beetle and Speed Demon - yes, there are five of them) are awesomely funny in the (now ending) Superior Foes of Spider-Man book.

I like all the animal villains - even the Gibbon and Kangaroo.

I'd have to make the unpopular choice and say my least favorite is The Punisher.

Edo Bosnar said...

Osvaldo, re: the Punisher. I actually agree with you to an extent. That is, he works for me when he's portrayed as a villain - which he more or less was in the '70s and even into the very early '80s. However, I hated it when he became a kind of gritty hero/anti-hero/whatever, and had/still have zero interest in the many Punisher series (mini or otherwise) that have appeared over the years.

Teresa said...

HB, Skinhead was something that never should have made it into print. Truly awful. I could barely believe what I was reading. Never thought I would be happy to see Rocket Racer in a book..
As for bad taste and thoughtless characters, Skinhead ranks high up there. Somewhere around DCs "New Guardians" short lived series.

William said...

Here's a handy list of some definite candidates for Worst Spider-Man Villain.

The Gibbon
The Grizzly
The Jackal
(OK, pretty much anyone in a furry animal suit)
The Kangaroo
Mind Worm
Rocket Racer
The Big Wheel
White Rabbit
The Spider-Squad (ASM Annual #11)
Judas Traveler

That's not complete list. But I'm sure somewhere in there is the worst ever Spidey baddie.

Humanbelly said...

And it looks like there are quite a number of (completely subjective, non-scientifically compiled) Worst Spidey Villain lists bouncing around on any number of comic sites out there, too. A comfortably and enjoyably broad enough topic that many can enjoy chiming in on-- that's kinda neat, I think.

One site that I breezed through (and then lost) did draw right up into this decade, even-- although I think most of them cut off right around BND. Two of the later ones that took a LOT of heat were ones that I barely remember-- Spidercide (clone-related) and Morlun (who I think had something to do with that mystical spider-totem baloney). Since we're technically talking "worst" as opposed to "lamest", I do think there's something to be said for their inclusion.

Me, I still prefer the "lamest" angle!


Teresa said...

Spider-Clown....I mean Clone was a big bowl of wrong. People don't like their Superheroes rectoactively erased. Then later the deal with Mephisto.
Poor, Spdey. His deadliest villain is Hack-Rider. )-;

Anonymous said...

Great lists here! I love the obscure villains, and Spidey's got some real doozies!

Humanbelly mentioned my choice---Silvermane was soooo lame and derivative, even as a ten-year old I could see how lame he was!


Anonymous said...

Oh, and Teresa's mention of DC's NEW GUARDIANS------I just picked up the 1st issue for 10-cents----and I want my money back! I figured Harbinger is a legitimate character, with an unfortunate name, but NOTHING was interesting in that comic, just a real mess!


Joe Pilla said...

While I'm certainly not going to argue that Man Mountain Marko shouldn't be on a list of Spidey's least impressive adversaries, I must strongly object to the implication that issue 73 is a ruined by his presence.

Quite the contrary. "The Web Closes!" is part of the terrific "stone tablet" saga, and MMM, improbable a match for Spidey as he may be, is part of the fun of the arc.
There's something to be said for human scale villainy, which really was a hallmark of both the Ditko and early Romita runs. Over the years, the ante has been raised to the point when it seems routine that EVERY foe of EVERY hero is apocalyptic.

(Can you tell I've an inordinate fondness for this story? Its reappearance in MARVEL TALES was one of the very first Marvels I plucked off a newsstand spinner when I happily resumed my affair with comics in 1974.)

I will concede the fatuousness of such notables as Rocket Racer, Razorback, and (sigh) Hypno-Hustler. And it's funny--or sad, I'm not sure which--how many of the losers most cited are from the '70's.
One must remember, however, that somewhere, somehow, there's someone who has a soft spot at heart for at least one of these jokers.
Yes, even The Big Wheel...

Joe Pilla said...

Oh, and please allow me to add that, surely Spidey's lamest adversary (in the '70s or ever)was...

(Wait for it!)

The Spider-Mobile!

Unknown said...

Issue 138 first intro to the webhead as a lad and read the Mindworm story - remember he had some horizontal striped tank top...kind of disgusted.

Michael S. Alford said...

Stilt-Man. I mean...really. Your power is that you're tall?

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