We often talk about the dearth of superheroes of color in comics, but with DC Comics‘ big Villain Takeover announcement, villainy is on the mind. Sure people of color are often villainized in all media, but I don’t mean racially stereotyped street thugs, purse-snatchers, and terrorists here. I mean Supervillains. As in, those big time baddies who give the heroes a serious run for their money. The big guns. The arch-nemeses. After all what’s a hero without a villain? So where are the supervillains of color who can contend with the smarts of a Lex Luthor, the universe-shaking scale of a Thanos, or the seriously horrifying crazy of a Joker? Well, here are a few candidates who are or could be, if given a little more panel space, all-stars on the evil-doer honor roll (or rather, dishonor roll.. ba dum!): (*mind the Spoilers)
Lady Deathstrike (Yuriko Oyama)
Despite her negligible role in the 2003 X-men 2: X-men United movie, Lady Deathstrike has actually had a much larger presence in the Marvel universe. Daughter of Lord Dark Wind who created the process that gave Wolverine his adamantium claws, she rocks her own adamantium weaponry. She’s taken on big guns like Captain America, Rogue, and Sabertooth, and she’s the one responsible for Sunfire losing his legs. Her main beef is with Wolverine, and she gives him plenty of trouble and often. She’s even allied with other big baddies like Doctor Octopus and obviously William Stryker. Se’s a trained assassin and a bit unbalanced mentally, which makes her deadly and unpredictable. But more than that, she’s so determined to be a fatal fighter that she has willingly undergone mainy alterations, including replacing parts of her body with stronger artificial parts and undergoing various “upgrades” that have given her a healing factor and the ability to interface with computers. At this point she’s just clearly more badass than the un-killable Wolverine.
The archenemy of Aquaman, Black Manta has an interesting back story. Experiments in the Arkham Asylum to cure his childhood autism, left him cured of autism but exorbitantly violent. He killed the scientists who experimented on him and escaped. His childhood obsession with the sea left him determined to conquer it, and he’s given Aquaman a serious run for his money, including killing the Sea King’s son. In the late 70’s it was revealed that behind the mask this ruthless supervillain was actually Black and he was fighting to rule the seas in order to give Black people a refuge from the subjugation they faced on land. He’s probably one of the most complex and dynamic superheroes of color on this list.
Obviously. Don’t let the movies fool you, The Mandarin was a legitimate foe of the heroic Iron Man. In fact, given his taste for technology-based evil schemes, he’s a perfect foil to Tony Stark’s technological heroics. And indeed he’s caused a lot of trouble for the billionaire. He’s thwarted all of Stark’s attempts to extend Stark Enterprises into China, and he’s made many close attempts on Stark’s life as well as his loved ones and even the whole of the U.S. Like any villain he rarely wins the day, but he always manages to escape and live to try another genius plot.
Originally a mercenary tasked with killing Al Simmon(Spawn), Bruce Stinson committed suicide in hopes of becoming a Hellspawn like Spawn,but instead he was resurrected in Hell as Lord Chapel, a horseman of the apocalypse. Later he and Bruce Stinson separated into two different entities, and Stinson returned to Earth and went back to being a good guy, while his evil counterpart continued wreaking havoc. It took a whole gang of Image’s best superheroes to take this guy down.
Holocaust (Leonard Smalls)
Present at the events of “the Big Bang” in the Milestone Universe, this small-time gangster acquired the power of pyrokinesis and dubbed himself Holocaust and quickly rising in the criminal world. Holocaust has managed to defeat the Teen Titans and Static, and was only matched with Cyborg, Superboy, and Kid Flash teamed up against him to rescue Static, whom he had kidnapped. In order to defeat him for good, Wonder Girl and Statichad to send him into the very core of the Earth, but even they were certain he’s probably still alive in there somewhere.
And a shout-out to…
Frenzy (Joanna Cargill)
This is one tough lady. Frenzy has gone up against tons of the big guns – including Beast, Rogue, Hellion, She-Hulk, the Scarlet Witch, and X-23 – and she has lived to tell the tale. Her steel-hard (almost) unbreakable skin means she can survive a good deal of punishment, though X-23‘s adamantium claws managed to break through on one occasion. But she’s more than a woman with tough-skin. Even after her fellow villain Magneto fried her brain with a laser and the sweet Charles Xavier decided out of the goodness of his heart to revive her, Frenzy’s immediate reaction upon waking was to try to kill Xavier. While so many villains straddle the villain-hero line and have on-again off-again alliances with the good guys, Frenzy is unrelentingly a villain. Or rather, she was, until the 2011 Age of X storyline had her falling in love with Cyclops and joining the X-men… Oh well.
Who are your favorites?