Thursday, June 9, 2011

Super summer showdown, round eleven: the agents of chaos

In this final round, we see a bunch of villains who, in the words of Batman’s butler Alfred, “just want to watch the world burn.” For the heroes, that makes them unpredictable and dangerous. For us, the observers, that makes them a blast.

Contest #101: The Joker (DC) vs. The Green Goblin (Marvel)

The Joker is the ultimate psychopath, a brilliant but insane villain who finds humor in others’ misfortune. He doesn’t have a single superpower – he just knows how to push all the right buttons. The Green Goblin is also insane, but has a few more gadgets up his sleeve. For him, it’s Halloween every day as he rides around on a flying scooter throwing “pumpkin bombs.” Classically coolest: tie. Most badass: The Joker. Most firepower: The Green Goblin. Most heart: The Joker. Most compelling character: The Joker. Overall winner: The Joker. He was already a pretty versatile bad guy, but Heath Ledger’s performance of him in The Dark Knight put him over the top as the best comic book villain ever.

Contest #102: Obsidian (DC) vs. Venom (Marvel)

Obsidian is the mentally unstable son of the original, World War II era Green Lantern – the one who wears red and whose weakness is wood, not the one who wears green and whose weakness is the color yellow. (Uh… just trust me on that…) He has the power to merge with his shadow and send tendrils of it out to envelop people, among other things. Venom is one of Marvel’s most interesting villains, even though it was portrayed horribly in Spiderman 3. It is an alien symbiote that merges with its host, forming a kind of black, skin-like covering. Once attached, the creature enhances its host with special powers. Oh, and turns the host evil. Classically coolest: Venom. Most badass: Venom. Most firepower: tie. Most heart: Venom. Most compelling character: Venom. Overall winner: Venom.

Contest #103: Poison Ivy (DC) vs. The Enchantress (Marvel)

Poison Ivy is a botanist supervillain who can control plants. She can also use plant toxins to hypnotize men and bend them to her will, The Enchantress is one of Thor’s Asgardian kin, who – among other things – uses magic to bend men to her will. Classically coolest: tie. Most badass: tie. Most firepower: The Enchantress. Most heart: tie. Most compelling character: Poison Ivy. Overall winner: This is a tough one, but Poison Ivy has me in her spell.

Contest #104: The Riddler (DC) vs. Arcade (Marvel)

The Riddler is a crook who seems less interested in getting rich than in leaving elaborate but solvable riddle clues that allow Batman to ultimately thwart him. Arcade is a crook who seems to only be interested in creating elaborate, carnival-ride-like death traps for heroes to ultimately escape from. Classically coolest: The Riddler. Most badass: tie. Most firepower: tie. Most heart: The Riddler. Most compelling character: tie. Overall winner: The Riddler.

Contest #105: Black Manta (DC) vs. Mole Man (Marvel)

Black Manta is one of Aquaman’s arch-nemeses, a man with a super-powered diving suit and an irrational desire to conquer Atlantis. Mole Man is a man who fled underground from the world that he perceived had betrayed him, periodically returning with a horde of subterranean goons to try to conquer the surface and exact his vengeance. Classically coolest: Black Manta. Most badass: Black Manta. Most firepower: tie. Most heart: Mole Man. Most compelling character: tie. Overall winner: Black Manta. His ellipsoidal diving helmet is much cooler than Mole Man’s thick 3D-glasses look

Contest #106: Cyborg Superman (DC) vs. Ultron (Marvel)

Cyborg Superman is a villain who is half machine and half organic replica of Superman. (What did you think he would be?) When Doomsday (temporarily) killed Superman, Cyborg Superman claimed to be the real deal and cuased all kinds of mischief. Ultron is a bad Skynet prototype: a virtually indestructible robot originally built by Hank Pym (Ant-Man) to aid humanity, who instead decided to destroy it. Classically coolest: Ultron. Most badass: Ultron. Most firepower: tie. Most heart: Ultron. Most compelling character: tie. Overall winner: Ultron.

Contest #107: Harley Quinn (DC) vs. Crossbones (Marvel)

These are two of the better recent additions to DC and Marvel’s rogues galleries. Harley Quinn is a disciple of the Joker who dresses like a harlequin jester and uses her expertise in psychoanalysis to create chaos. Crossbones is a disciple of the Red Skull who dresses like a member of Slip Knot and uses his military expertise to create chaos. Classically coolest: Harley Quinn. Most badass: tie. Most firepower: Crossbones. Most heart: Harley Quinn. Most compelling character: Harley Quinn. Overall winner: Harley Quinn.

Contest #108: Two-Face (DC) vs. Sebastian Shaw (Marvel)

Two-Face is a former respectable district attorney who was driven mad by an accident that left him scarred on half of his face. Having turned to crime, he prefers to leave a lot to chance – flipping a coin to make crucial decisions, such as, for example, whether he’ll let someone live or die. Sebastian Shaw, portrayed by Kevin Bacon in the new X-Men: First Class movie, is a mutant who absorbs kinetic energy to increase his own strength. On the surface, he is a respectable businessman, but secretly he’s the head of the Hellfire Club, a secret organization seeking world domination. Classically coolest: Two-Face. Most badass: tie. Most firepower: Sebastian Shaw. Most heart: Two-Face. Most compelling character: Two-Face. Overall winner: Two-Face.

Contest #109: Professor Zoom (DC) vs. Speed Demon (Marvel)

An evil version of the Flash, Professor Zoom (also known as the Reverse-Flash) has been a constant thorn in his counterpart’s side. Speed Demon (also known, unfortunately, as the Whizzer) is pretty similar but less of a fixture in his universe. Classically coolest: Professor Zoom. Most badass: Professor Zoom. Most firepower: tie. Most heart: tie. Most compelling character: Professor Zoom. Overall winner: Professor Zoom.

Contest #110: Mr. Mxyzptlk (DC) vs. Loki (Marvel)

Mr. Mxyzptlk is a magical imp from another dimension who shows up periodically just to give Superman trouble. The only way to banish this Great Gazoo prototype back to his own dimension is to make him say his own name backwards. (“Kltpzyxm,” in case you’re wondering. Simple, eh?) Loki is Thor’s adopted brother who harbors a huge chip on his shoulder against his sibling. The “God of Mischief,” a master of magic, shows up periodically just to give Thor trouble. Classically coolest: Loki. Most badass: Loki. Most firepower: Mr. Mxyzptlk. Most heart: tie. Most compelling character: Loki. Overall winner: Loki. He wins this contest hands down, even before Tom Hiddleston’s winning portrayal in Thor.

Round eight score: A big leap for DC, but not quite enough – DC 7, Marvel 3. Cumulative score: DC 54, Marvel 56.

Next: the thrilling conclusion!


  1. green goblin bombs joker to dust.
    venom body snatches obsidian.
    enchantress barbecues poison ivy.
    the riddler riggs arcades base of operations into one big death trap.
    black manta burys mole man.
    cyborg superman serves ultron the moment he switches on.
    crossbones shows a demonstration to harley quinn of what happens if you annoy slipknot, it didn't end well for harley quinn.
    two-face decides sebastian shaws fate, tails, you lose.
    speed demon dies before he knew he had to fight zoom.
    loki teaches mr. mxyzptlk never to have such a stupid name again.

  2. I'm sorry, but Heath Ledger wasn't playing Joker. He was playing some emo retard who cuts himself and gets holier-than-thou about it. Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson and Mark Hamil are the only ones have ever successfully played the Joker ... everybody else who ever tried (and trust me, I'm dissing well over 20 people here, not just Ledger) have failed miserably. You do not get license to take an established character your own way, especially when that character has been in print long enough to be your grandfather. Fans should not tolerate character abuse.

    And to any fans of Heath Ledger who get all choked up over his Joker portrayal because it was the last big thing he did before he died ... move on. Pick a role he actually did well, not something that, had he lived another fifty years, would have been his career-defining low point. And I'm not saying he didn't play a convincing psychotic villain ... indeed he did ... but THAT WAS NOT THE JOKER. If you're gonna make up your own shit, give it a new name!

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