Superman’s C-List Villain Team

I have said that I am jealous of Batman’s villains because they are “better” than Superman’s. That is true, but you know whose villains I enjoy even more than the Great Fleidermaus Detective’s? Spider-Man’s. That guy has a ton of villains who are just plain fun. And it isn’t even his a-listers I’m talking about. I barely care about Spider-Man’s big villains. What I like is his c-listers. They are so good they could and have headlined their own books while still being c-list super-crooks, not brilliant criminal masterminds or maniacal killers. That is what I want for Superman’s foes. I want him to have his own equivalent to the Sinister Syndicate. So let’s work on that, shall we? (I will do it. You can just sit there.)

I don’t know what name this team would have, if it had any. In my ideal world, I would find a name that was once used in some obscure Superman comic that would fit this team perfectly and reclaim it. At the moment, I have not found that name. I would NOT however, call this team the “Superman Revenge Squad”. I’ll probably do a post about those guys someday, but they aren’t these guys. These are the guys who mostly don’t want revenge on Superman. They just want to do crimes when Superman isn’t around. There probably wouldn’t even be a permanent roster. They’d be more casual criminal acquaintances than an actual team.

Mostly I will be plucking very obscure supervillains for this. There are some more mainstream ones who’d fit in, though. Off the top of my head, Metallo and Livewire would work. Anyway, at least, I don’t have enough to say about either of them to merit their own posts, so I’ll cover them here today.

Metallo, a cyborg thug with a heart of Kryptonite, is without a doubt the highest ranking of the villains I will propose for this group. He’s also the one most likely to be involved in plots that go beyond the parameters I just set for the team. He is the type who’d go out for revenge on Superman. He would probably be perfectly willing to work for Lex Luthor or whomever instead of doing bank jobs or whatever. But he’d do those smaller crimes too. He’s not picky. And for this group to work, they need at least one notable criminal in the batch. Metallo works.

Livewire, an electrically-powered sassmouth criminal, on the other hand would probably think she’s too cool for this crew. But being a supercriminal isn’t easy. Sometimes she’d need the money and working with a team can be better than working alone. I don’t know that she’d be especially loyal, though. She’d also probably think she’s on top of things enough to manipulate the rest of the group, but that may not always be true.

And that’s it for villains anyone has heard about. I’d also throw Timebomb into this. I think he’d fit into the group too. Next week I’ll start throwing out some of the others I think belong here.

Who Should Superman Beat Up?

I have recently been seeing bits of this new Spider-Man game that just came out, and thus my jealousy of other non-Superman superheroes is rising up again. I know I already solved the lack of a good Superman game by saying they should be making a game about Jimmy Olsen, but even I am aware how unrealistic that would be.

If a Superman game ever happens, it would star Superman. And they would probably want it to still be like these Spider-Man and Batman games where the hero fights through armies of crooks. That wouldn’t be great for Superman. It is an iconic image of the Superman mythos: he stands before a crook who empties a gun into his chest and Superman just stands there, unharmed. Just because you have a gun, doesn’t mean you win anymore. Superman is in town. To accurately make a Superman game, you would have to replicate that. He would not be a good fit for the style of gameplay that the recent Spider-Man and Batman games have. This should be solved by making combat against supervillains (Metallo, Parasite, Clawster, and so on) a special event and the rest of the time you’d be doing journalism and saving civilians.

But no. It wouldn’t happen that way. If you only get to taste combat during boss fights, you would never get to enjoy it, right? Superman needs hordes of goons that he can beat up on. Today I will provide some examples of baddie hordes one could use:

Aliens seems like the easiest way to. There is a whole army of Kryptonian criminals waiting in the Phantom Zone to fight. But if it were me making this game, I would be saving most of the aliens for the sequel, so I will focus on Earthly threats.

Robots is a good place to start. I would make it a mandatory requirement of this game that the robots from the Mechanical Monsters short show up. That is a must.

My next thought is Toyman. His army of robot toys would provide a lot of variety for baddies. You could have green army men as his main troops. Giant teddy bears as the muscle. He had flying monkeys once on Supergirl, so throw those in. Toyman offers a lot.

A non-robot source of a variety of enemies would be Funnyface. As I explained before, he can animate characters from comics, so he could bring forth any number of sci-fi or fantasy foes worth our fists. (Similarly, Mxyzptlk offers a means to fight any and every thing, of course, but I would rather save him for non-combat stuff.)

If we absolutely need Superman to be punching actual people, we can do that a couple different ways. The main way, the way which Absolutely Will be in a Superman game if they ever make one, is to give mobsters super high-tech weaponry. That’s fine, but a batch of Intergang crooks with fancy guns is not particularly interesting. It’s downright boring. It can be in there, but it has to be the least of Superman’s worries.

Luckily, Superman has a villain called Riot. He has the power to create multiple forms of himself and run amok over the city. That means there could be massive battles against dozens of enemies that are actually one guy. I am actually pretty sure he actually showed up in the Superman Returns game, so lets take that and improve on it.

Another option that occurs to me is criminals who are using Tar. In a storyline during the 90s, I can’t recall if it was in one of Superman’s books or in Steel’s, there was a drug called Tar that would turn its users into superhuman brutes. I like the idea of including them because it could be required to administer an antidote to defeat them, thus changing up the gameplay a little.

Finally, a pretty obvious one: Lex Luthor. He is an obvious opponent for the game (too obvious for me. I would not have him as the big bad.) But he would be a plausible source of robots, and of human opponents. In some stories LexCorp has a security force of guys wearing power armour (Iron Man style). That means enemies who can fly around as a precursor to the Phantom Zone criminals to be fought in the sequel. And after Superman beats them Lex can issue a press release about how those guys were disgruntled employees using stolen equipment and so on.

Well, I think I have proven that you can have a variety of goon hordes in a Superman game. I suspect that next week’s post will also be about a hypothetical Superman game.

The Bad Boy With Toys

Toyman is one of Superman’s longest serving villains. But what’s he good for?

Of course, Toyman is an archetypal supervillain. He’s the kind of criminal who has a specific theme (toys) and uses them for all manner of crimes, be it robbing banks or breaking out of prison or just straight up seeking to “show them all!” He’s ideal for appearances where he’s not the main threat, but just to add a bit of action. He’s a good cameo character. You want to start the story with a fight scene that isn’t tied to the main plot? Have Superman foiling a giant cymbal monkey sent by Toyman. Or have him capturing Toyman’s radio-controlled submarine that is smuggling stolen gold. Or have him burning up the paper stealth bombers that Toyman had sent to attack city hall. The options are endless.

But can you build actual plots about a colourful criminal while staying true to my insistence that all the characters should represent something appropriate to Superman missions? Well, obviously, if you’re starting with Truth and Justice you don’t even need to go further. Criminals are threats to Justice. But criminals aren’t just a threat to others, but to everyone else. Over the years, Toyman has been depicted as mostly-harmless old fool who can be easily reformed and live a life of goodness and as a ruthless remorseless killer who could never be reformed. I’d want that pendulum to stop somewhere in the middle. Let’s have a Toyman whose arc is about determining if criminals can and should be welcomed back into society, and if they’d want to. Worth noting: On the currently-running Supergirl show, Toyman’s son Winn is a character and has to deal with the fact his father was a crazy supervillain. That’s good. Let’s keep that up.

Also, he’s often been depicted as a friend and partner of the Prankster. Supervillain friendships are great, so let’s have more of that as well.

Let Superman Have A Corpulent Crimeboss

Obese Mobster In A Suit makes for a good comicbook villain. The reigning Obese Mobster In A Suit in comics these days is obviously the Kingpin of Crime in the Marvel Universe. I admit, he does the job well. But Superman had two such characters in the 40s making the Kingpin a latecomer. Today I am proposing that one of those two characters (but combining elements of both) should be brought back to the Superman franchise.

I’m not looking to fat-shame anybody or anything, being overweight can be a result of many things after all, but if a villain is openly greedy and self-serving, obesity can work as a signifier of that. It’s a fine line to run, but I’m saying that the villain(s) I am offering up today is not a bad person because he’s fat, but is fat because he’s a bad person. It isn’t true of all fat people, but it is true in this case. I think that, if we make that message clear in the stories, we could do this right.

Firstly, there is the Tycoon of Crime (also known as Mr. Blob). With only two appearances in mediocre stories about four decades apart, I can’t claim that he’s ever been important. I admit, if he was the only Obese Mobster In A Suit to work with, I’d not consider this worth the effort. But the other Obese Mobster In A Suit I want to bring back is from the radio, so I don’t have any actual images of him, and thus the existence of Mr. Blob is useful for my purposes. The villain I want to bring back is the Laugher.

The Laugher appeared in multiple stories in the 40s, including being one of the villains to try to buy kryptonite from the Scarlet Widow. In those episodes he was described as being even fatter than the Tycoon of Crime is shown (the Laugher has “three chins and a belly large enough for six men”) and wears fancy suits and covers himself in jewelry. He is called “the Laugher” not because he cackles maniacally like the Joker, but because of his habit of chuckling whenever he finds something amusing. Think Dr. Hibbert, except he’s amused by crime. Given the chance, I’d cast the Laugher in the role of a capo working for the Widow and I’d say he financed the early criminal careers of criminals who amused him, such as the Toyman and the Prankster. Thus he’d be tied to the other parts of the franchise and I could have Lois and Clark bring down the Laugher as a bit of a victory step on their way to bringing down the Widow. And I’d definitely keep the Tycoon’s whole deal as a corrupt businessman. It just fits.

Bring Back The Scarlet Widow

The Scarlet Widow is an elderly woman who runs a crime syndicate. She’s ruthless and innovative and was rightly called the most dangerous woman in the world. I like her and think she should be brought back.

To make Metropolis a seedy-enough place to house the corruption our intrepid reporters fight against, you’re gonna need a crime syndicate or two. Sure, there’s been a few criminal organizations in Superman’s history, some worth using (I’ll probably write about Intergang someday), but the Scarlet Widow is my favourite and since I am always right, that means we have to bring back the Scarlet Widow.

The Scarlet Widow appeared in multiple episodes of the 40s Superman radio show. As I said, she was an elderly woman there, and I liked that. She was Ma Gnucci and Mr. Burns combined with a dash of spider motif. When the movie serials adapted her story for a visual medium, I guess they decided that you can’t let old people be seen, so they cast an attractive younger woman as seen in the picture accompanying this post (and also they called her “The Spider Lady” just to dumb things down, I guess). The internet also tells me that a version of the Superman stage musical also brought the Scarlet Widow back decades later, but I have found limited information on that. In any case, younger Scarlet Widows don’t do it for me. Give me an elderly evil mob boss behind the scenes making Metropolis more dangerous for Superman and his friends. With a criminal career as long as hers, she’d definitely have a history of striking against Daily Planet reporters like Perry White, and she could be behind the creation of a few of the lesser super-criminals who have cropped up since Superman’s arrival.