Marvel Comics may rule when it comes to their assortment of superheroes (at least, in some folks’ opinions. We know, it’s all subjective). But what is almost certainly not up for debate for most people is who has the best villains. And the answer is almost always DC. Heck, just for the villains of Gotham City alone! But figure in all the other DC Rogues Galleries? It’s nearly unbeatable. But not every hero, or hero team, has the same level of villainy to fight against. Here are our top ten choices for the best DC Comics’ rogues galleries, from least to most impressive.
Once upon a time, Shazam (or Captain Marvel, as he was called then), was so popular he even outsold Superman. And at his 1940s peak, he had a lot of bizarre and imaginative villains. Characters like the intelligent worm from Venus, Mister Mind, and his Monster Society of Evil, or the evil giant robot Mister Atom. Many of those villains were very era-specific. These days, the only ones still around much are Sivana, Sabbac, and Black Adam (who, somehow, got his own movie recently). Still, Shazam has more memorable villains than Aquaman, who pretty much has only two that people remember. So Billy Batson’s baddies made the cut for tenth place.
Notable villains: Doctor Sivana, Black Adam, Mister Mind, Ibac, the Monster Society of Evil, Mister Atom, Sabbac, Captain Nazi.
9. Wonder Woman
Much like Marvel’s Iron Man, Wonder Woman is a fantastic character with only a handful of iconic adversaries. Her main classic villains, Ares, the Cheetah, and the witch Circe, are all indeed great. But many of her other enemies don’t seem worthy of the Amazon princess. Silver Swan and Doctor Psycho are ok, and Doctor Poison always had potential. Yet, almost all of them seem too easy to defeat for an Amazon goddess. Newly created adversaries who could give her a run for her money are often discarded after just one storyline by the next creative team. And it’s a true shame, because Diana herself rocks. She deserves so much more.
Notable villains: Cheetah, Ares, Circe, Paula von Gunther, the Silver Swan, Doctor Psycho, Medusa, Veronica Cale, Angle Man, Giganta, Maxwell Lord, and Hercules.
8. The Justice Society of America
The Justice Society of America was DC’s first super team, and their villains had to be pretty hardcore to take on so many of America’s best “mystery men.” In the 1940s, the JSA faced off against quirky bad guys like Rag Doll, Solomon Grundy, and the intelligent ape the Ultra-Humanite (DC loves its intelligent apes). Not to mention, many random Nazis during World War II. In the modern era, they faced off against criminal kingpin Roulette, and the mental powers of the Psycho Pirate. They also upgraded C-list villains from random DC titles like Eclipso and Kobra into truly worthwhile adversaries.
Notable villains: The Ultra-Humanite, Vandal Savage, Solomon Grundy, Rag Doll, the Shade, Roulette, Kobra, Eclipso, The Injustice Society of the World, the Axis Powers.
7. The Legion of Super-Heroes
The super teens of the 30th century were one of DC Comics’ earliest superhero teams, and were a cult favorite for decades. The LSH faced super villains and super villain teams from across the cosmos, many of which had to be pretty formidable to take on a super team that often had at least 20 members. Both Suberboy and Supergirl were on the roster. But the best recurring Legion villains often were worthy of their adversaries, and included a demigod that controlled time and space, and even a future version of Darkseid himself. Not too shabby.
Notable villains: The Fatal Five, the Time Trapper, the Legion of Super-Villains, Universo, Mordru, Computo, Darkseid (future version), Starfinger, the Dominators, the Khund Empire.
6. The Teen Titans
In their original ‘60s incarnation, the Teen Titans had mostly forgettable villains. But when their ‘80s reboot as the New Teen Titans became a big success, they suddenly fought bad guys worth their salt. We’re talking about characters like the interdimensional demon Trigon, and the alien Blackfire. (Both characters were related to members of the Titans). But when you also factor in the mercenary Deathstroke, suddenly the team’s baddies feel like they’re on a whole other level. In recent years, they have elevated the Titans villains thanks to media exposure on the animated Teen Titans series, and the more recent Titans live-action show.
Notable villains: Deathstroke the Terminator, Terra, Trigon, Brother Blood, Blackfire, the Fearsome Five, the Brotherhood of Evil, Cheshire, the H.I.V.E., Superboy-Prime.
5. Green Lantern
For much of his first few decades, the Green Lantern had only a few notable villains to his name. Characters like the yellow-ringed Sinestro, G.L. Hal Jordan’s love interest/enemy Star Sapphire, and the magnetically powered Doctor Polaris. Since the ‘90s, however, GL’s enemies have grown more formidable, and have added characters like the Red Lantern Atrocitus, the Orange Lantern Larfleeze, and the fear parasite entity called Parallax (which once famously possessed Hal Jordan). Now, Green Lantern’s villains are worthy of inclusion when it comes to DC’s best villain collectives.
Notable villains: Sinestro, Black Hand, Star Sapphire, Goldface, Doctor Polaris, Hector Hammond, Sonar, the Manhunters, Krona, Effigy, Fatality, Nekron, Parallax, Atrocitus (Red Lantern), Larfleeze (Orange Lantern).
4. The Justice League
The World’s Greatest Superheroes need the World’s Greatest Supervillains to fight against. And luckily for DC readers, the Justice League has had quite the assortment of those to battle. From alien conquerors like Darkseid and Despero, to “anti-Leagues” like the Injustice League/Legion of Doom, their villains go hard. They even fought a giant alien starfish. The foes the League faces are usually the worst the galaxy has to offer. They even have evil versions of themselves to fight against, such as Earth-3’s Crime Syndicate, and an android with all of their powers. The League requires top-notch baddies, since it takes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and several others combined to stop them.
Notable villains: Darkseid, Despero, Starro, the White Martians, the Injustice League (a.k.a. the Secret Society of Super-Villains/the Legion of Doom), Doctor Light, the Crime Syndicate of America, the Key, the Royal Flush Gang, Felix Faust, Amazo, Prometheus.
Folks love to parrot the idea that Superman only has one or two “good” villains, Lex Luthor and General Zod. Well, those who say that are only people who know the movies and TV shows. Kal-El’s enemies in the comics are actually pretty darn great. We’re talking about a rogues gallery that includes the malevolent alien A.I. Brainiac, and Superman’s own distorted doppelgänger, Bizarro. Add in the killing machine Doomsday, the kryptonite-powered Metallo, the reality-altering imp Mr. Mxyzptlk, and the Man of Steel has one of the superhero genre’s best assortment of bad guys around. It’s just unfortunate that Hollywood hasn’t recognized there are more than two great Superman enemies to use.
Notable villains: Lex Luthor, Brainiac, General Zod and the Phantom Zone criminals, Bizarro, Doomsday, Cyborg Superman, the Eradicator, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Silver Banshee, Metallo, the Parasite, Mongul, Titano, the Toyman.
2. The Flash
The Scarlet Speedster’s villains, collectively known as “the Rogues,” have a strong similarity to Spider-Man’s adversaries at Marvel Comics. Most of them, like Captain Cold or Heat Wave, are blue-collar criminals. Some are DIY scientists who happen to have a high-tech gimmick to use in their criminal activity. But what makes them different from Spidey’s bad guys is that they have a sort of mutual respect society with their super fast enemy. That makes them all almost frenemies of a sort. Add the Rogues to the manipulative evil of the Reverse Flash, and a brilliant ape in Grodd, and you’ve got DC’s second-best rogues gallery of all.
Notable villains: Reverse-Flash, Mirror Master, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Trickster, the Top, Golden Glider, Zoom, Gorilla Grodd, Captain Boomerang, Weather Wizard, Killer Frost, Abra Kadabra, the Thinker, Cobalt Blue, Savitar, Doctor Alchemy, Pied Piper, the Black Flash, Cicada, Godspeed.
C’mon, who else was going to be at the top of the list? Batman has not only the greatest villains in DC Comics, but also all of comics in general. (Actually, in all of pop culture). Between live-action TV, animation, feature films, and video games, the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery is a smorgasbord of visually memorable and psychologically fascinating criminal minds. Since 1939, Batman’s villains have been the best of the best (or is that the worst of the worst?) Even when listing his most famous enemies, we’re still leaving some big names off the table. That’s how great they Batman’s villains really are. They are truly in a class all their own.
Notable villains: The Joker, the Penguin, Ridder, Catwoman, Two-Face, Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, Hugo Strange, Poison Ivy, Deadshot, Firefly, Mister Freeze, Man-Bat, Clayface, Bane, Scarface, the Mad Hatter, Hush, Black Mask, Court of Owls, Carmine Falcone.