The PoP! Stars narrow it down to the cream of the crop in categories ranging from (but not limited to) Comics, Movies, Toys and Geek Culture in general. This is the PoP! Top 6-Pack.
Superhero comics have changed in many ways in their nearly eighty-year existence, but the aspect of them that hasn’t changed is that a quality superhero story needs a good villain to really capture the reader’s attention. The Marvel Universe is chock-full of iconic and popular antagonists, from classic baddies like Doctor Doom and Thanos to newer heavies like The Hood. While some of these villains remain at the forefront of the Marvel Universe, several others have faded into the background or have all but disappeared. Here are six such villains who most deserve a push from one of Marvel’s team of talented writers in order to reclaim some of their earlier glory.
Thomas Fireheart, a.k.a the shape-shifting mercenary known as the Puma, was one of the more interesting villains in Marvel Comics during the Eighties and Nineties, mostly because he was never portrayed as a purely evil character. Originally hired by The Rose to assassinate Spider-Man, Puma grew to respect the wall-crawler after witnessing him performing some altruistic acts. While he has fought alongside Spidey just as much as against him, he never truly eased into the role of a hero, which makes him a truly unpredictable and dangerous character. Aside from a few brief appearances during the Initiative era, Fireheart has been all but ignored by Marvel’s current writers, but his status as a CEO of a profitable company paired with his short temper and occasionally bloodthirsty nature could make him a prime antagonist for a number of Marvel heroes in several current books.
Owen Reece, a.k.a. The Molecule Man, has been one of the most powerful and volatile villains in the Marvel Universe since his introduction in the pages of the Fantastic Four back in the sixties. Reece enjoyed a brief period of notoriety in the mid-Eighties as a major player in both of Jim Shooter’s Secret Wars miniseries, but the decades that followed didn’t give him as much to do in the realm of supervillainy. He was last seen in the pages of Bendis’ original Dark Avengers run, where he was supposedly destroyed by the Sentry, but as we all know, hardly anyone stays dead in the Marvel Universe, and with Reece’s ability to manipulate molecules, bringing him back to the land of the living would be a cinch and would give the Marvel heroes yet another powerful baddie to deal with.
The deranged former physicist turned embodiment of pure sound Ulysses Klaw was a fairly prominent villain during the Silver and Bronze Ages of Marvel Comics. He has been a recurring member of the Masters of Evil and the Frightful Four and has tussled with nearly every prominent Marvel hero on at least one occasion. Lately, though, aside from a surprise appearance early on in Mark Waid’s current Daredevil run, his profile in the Marvel Universe has been relatively low. Perhaps since he is known as such a team player, we may see him in yet another incarnation of the Masters of Evil or any other team of super-powered baddies ready to take on one of the several Avengers or X-Men teams currently running around the 616.
This cocky, agile French mercenary has been giving Captain America headaches since 1966, but aside from enjoying a moderate cult following among some comic readers, he hasn’t had much to do in current Marvel continuity. After a brief stint with the Thunderbolts and registering with the Superhuman Registration Act after Civil War, Batroc went rogue and clashed with then-Captain America James “Bucky” Barnes. He was last seen stealing the remaining parts of the original Human Torch android, which should make for an interesting storyline once someone on Marvel’s deep staff of writers decides to explore it. Regardless, Batroc has never been one to stay out of trouble for too long, so hopefully he’ll appear again soon. His involvement in next year’s Marvel Sturios film Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a pretty good sign that we’ll be seeing more of Batroc the Leaper in the pages of Marvel Comics in the months to come.
A good villain is supposed to elicit strong feelings from a reader, but its rare when that feeling is a mixture of fear and pity. Created by J. M. DeMatteis during his underrated Captain America run in the early Eighties, the human / rat hybrid known as Vermin was once geneticist Edward Whelan but was transformed into his cannabalistic alter ego in an experiment conducted by Baron Zemo and the bio-android known as Primus. He served as Zemo’s lackey for a brief time until he was incarcerated by S.H.I.E.L.D. After escaping custody, he tussled with a number of costumed heroes including Spider-Man and Wolverine. He was an important character in DeMatteis’ celebrated “Kraven’s Last Hunt” storyline and in his early Nineties run on Spectacular Spider-Man, but in the past decade, he has been relegated to supporting status in titles such as New Avengers . In recent years, he has popped up in Amazing Spider-Man, but he has yet to be portrayed with the same mixture of pathos and menace as he was during the Eighties and Nineties. Like many compelling comic book villians, Vermin is not a purely evil character but is an unfortunate victim of circumstance who fights mostly for his own survival. This makes him one of the deadliest beings in the Marvel Universe and makes him an ideal combatant for one of Marvel’s “street-level” characters.
Aside from some Sixties-era sexism in its early days, Marvel has long been associated with inclusion and equality, which makes it obvious that one of its earliest villains would be a character whose modus operandi would be to spread pure hate around the world. The original incarnation of the aptly-named Hate-Monger was a clone of Adolf Hitler who tangled with the Fantastic Four and Captain America and allied himself with like-minded villains like the Red Skull, with later versions of the character taking up the Monger’s mantle to try to make the world free of immigrants and minorities. One of these incarnations was one of the earliest victims of the mysterious vigilante known as Scourge in the mid-Eighties. The latest version of the Hate-Monger fought with the Black Panther during Fear Itself and is still at large following that story. Racism, xenophobia, and hatred of certain segments of the American population sadly still exist in this arguably more enlightened age, which means that a character such as the Hate-Monger still has a great deal of potential as a legitimate villain in the current Marvel Universe.