Here at That’s Not Current we aim to give you the sort of high quality, nutritious clickbait that’s going to keep you going until teatime at least. This time, we’re giving you our top 10 most overlooked supervillains who deserve more recognition, or even rescued from superhero comics limbo. So again, in true Top of the Pops fashion here’s the countdown from 10 down, and do try reading this in a Jimmy Savile voice to give it that authentic feel…
Created by Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema in the Avengers #72 back in 1970, Gemini was part of Zodiac, a gang of supervillains who I really don’t need to tell you what they were based on. Gemini’s powers were that he had the strength, reflexes, etc of two men. Gemini mainly appeared with the Zodiac fighting the Avengers or SHIELD, but occasionally fought the likes of Marvel’s Tarzan rip-off, Ka-Zar. Gemini has a great, simple costume and concept and although the character is dead, that’s never stopped superhero comics bringing anyone back before.
9) Iron Maiden
Melina Vostokoff was a Soviet secret agent living in the shadow of the Black Widow. Upon the Widow’s defection to the US, Vostokoff came to hate the Black Widow and joined a group of assassins to try to kill her. The name Iron Maiden comes from the metal battle-suit Vostokoff wears to enhance her abilities as a spy and assassin. Now, if that’s not a villain for a future Black Widow film I don’t know what is! Created by Ralph Macchio and George Perez in 1983, the character is still hanging around the fringes of the Marvel Universe.
8) Baron Blood
Baron Blood is a Nazi super-powered vampire created by Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins to fight Captain America’s WW2 superhero team, The Invaders in 1976. I’ll say it again, Baron Blood is a Nazi super-powered vampire. Several versions have popped up as subsequent versions have been destroyed and although currently still dead, Baron Blood is a Nazi super-powered vampire; a concept so astonishingly unexplored that I hope someone reading this grabs the potential of Baron Blood being a Nazi super-powered vampire and does something with him.
7) Mirror Master
The Flash has a great supply of villains he’s built up over the decades, but for me, the Mirror Master is one I’m amazed the makers of the TV programme haven’t yet touched. Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino for the Flash in 1959, and updated somewhat into a Glaswegian crook by Grant Morrison in 1989, the Mirror Master can create illusions, holograms and travel between dimensions. There’s a good TV villain right there but as yet he’s not made an appearance but he still lurks around the DC Comics universe somewhere unless he’s vanished in one of their regular reboots.
Who’s the first super-powered Superman villain? Lex Luthor? Brainiac? Nope, it’s the Ultra-Humanite, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in the pages of Action Comics in 1939. The Ultra-Humanite was initially a mad scientist with a crippled body but a mind more developed than Superman’s. Replaced by Lex Luthor as Superman’s mad scientist nemesis, the Ultra-Humanite sat in limbo until 1981 where he’s revealed to have transferred his brain into the body of a giant albino ape who has his abilities of mind control and telepathy. The character still lurks around having recently having appeared in the Earth 2 title from DC, but is currently dead. Again, this hasn’t stopped bringing anyone back before.
Eclipso has flitted between being an outright villain, an anti-hero and a superhero throughout his long history since he was created by Bob Haney and Lee Elias in 1963. Eclipso is a magical being who, when in possession of a mysterious gem, can fly, have super-strength, invulnerability and a whole load of super-powers that’s saw face off against DC’s most powerful heroes throughout the years. Later it’s revealed he’s the Wrath of God, which is nice. Eclipso is another character hanging around in limbo.
4) Granny Goodness
Created by the great Jack Kirby in 1971, Granny Goodness is one of Darkseid’s most trusted lieutenants who runs his orphanages which produce elite, but brainwashed, warriors to help him conquer the universe. Physically based by Kirby on the American comedian Phyllis Diller, Granny Goodness is a New God, though not one born into the position. She’s fought and killed her way to the top like some sort of super-powered Theresa May. Granny Goodness is still used but deserves a bit more credit for being wonderfully evil.
3) Fin Fang Foom
Fin Fang Foom is a mythical Chinese dragon who returns to rid China from Communism while wearing swimming trunks. I must point out this is 1961 and this was when Jack Kirby was banging out monsters on a daily basis for pre-superheroic Marvel Comics. However, the character did develop into being a big monster who’d come out every now and again to fight the likes of IT! The Living Colossus, Iron Man or Thor. Fin Fang Foom is a big monster. In swimming trunks. At some point an Avengers film has to feature him but he does need to keep the trunks.
Foolkiller started out as a right-wing reactionary tired of peace protesters during the Vietnam War, ecological campaigners, left wingers, dissidents and criminals; so he dons a costume akin to Zorro’s and goes around killing people he considers ‘fools’ with a laser gun that disintegrates people. Eventually stopped by the Man-Thing (Marvel’s swamp monster, all comics companies should have one), the character had subsequent versions which removed the satirical intent creators Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik intended back in 1974. Gerber was a highly political, highly intelligent and amazingly talented writer who would often have ideas that at the time were highly controversial, and I think even today Marvel would have issues with a character like Foolkiller in his original form. Currently in limbo, but it doesn’t take a genius to work out how the character could be used to comment on current affairs and provide a talented writer with a Trump card.
1) Sir James Jaspers
Otherwise known as Mad Jim Jaspers, this is a politician in the Westminster parliament who campaigned to get rid of superheroes fearing them as a threat, and blaming them for the ills of the UK. Jaspers discovers he has reality-altering powers and creates The Fury to murder every single superhero on his Earth. Captain Britain arrives on this increasingly mad Earth, escaping back to his own Earth to find that back home there’s a version of Jaspers there and he too is campaigning to be rid of superheroes while blaming them for the problems of the country.
Created by Dave Thorpe and Alan Davis in 1981, then subsequently written by Alan Moore, Jaspers may have been designed to look like actor Terry Thomas, but it was Moore who injected the character with the rhetoric of an Enoch Powell or Oswald Mosley. In the year of Brexit where the likes of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage stand triumphant, it doesn’t take much to consider how to tweak the character for a contemporary setting. It is true to say the character has been used since the classic Moore/David Captain Britain strip, but the political context is often played down or ignored for the reality altering powers. In the right hands, Jaspers could be used to tell some very interesting stories.
And there you go, there’s my top 10
Let us know in the comments who would be in your top 10.