5.03.2009

My Spider-Foe Five

Spider-Man does whatever a spider can and more, for what spider could handle a rogues gallery like his? Here are my five favorite Spider-Man villains:

1) Venom:
When I started collecting comics, I remember Spidey showing up in the third issue of Transformers wearing a very cool black costume, one that could morph into his street clothes with a simple mental command, and which could produce webbing so he didn't need to carry web cartridges. This was before I'd read Secret Wars, so I didn't know about the alien symbiote he'd picked up after his original costume was damaged. By the time I was collecting Spider-Man, he'd switched to an ordinary fabric version of the black costume after using the tolling bells of a church tower to supposedly destroy it. Enter Eddie Brock, a reporter whose career is ruined when he publishes a story revealing the true identity of a serial killer named Sin Eater. Brock's source turned out to be delusional after Spider-Man caught the real killer, and with no job and no reputation he finds himself suicidal. A devout Catholic who knows that killing anyone, even yourself, is a sin, Brock finds himself going from church to church praying for forgiveness for what he's about to do. His dark journey leads him to the weakened symbiote, who senses someone with a common hatred of Spider-Man. It bonds with Brock, sharing its memories of its previous host so he now knows Peter Parker's secret identity. To this day, one of the greatest cliffhanger endings of my comic book reading days was the one in which Peter's wife Mary Jane sees what she thinks is Peter in the shadows of their apartment, until he grows that horrible toothy grin for the first time and growls, ”Honey, I'm home....” In those days, Venom was a truly scary foe, not just for knowing Spider-Man's secrets but because he didn't trigger his Spider-sense and could sneak up on him at any time. It was definitely disappointing when his Spider-Man 3 appearance was crammed into the last 15 minutes of the film.

2) Hobgoblin:
Hobgoblin has a complex history and several alter-egos. He was first introduced as a second generation Green Goblin after discovering a hidden cache of the original Goblin's equipment including his glider and pumpkin bombs. I liked the color scheme of the Hobgoblin's costume better, as well as the added hood. The identity of the original Hobgoblin was a bit of a mystery at the time he was introduced, with several suspects amid the cast of characters. The Hobgoblin I was most familiar with was Jason Macendale, the former Jack O'Lantern who took over the Hobgoblin identity, and eventually bonded with a Demon.

3) Shocker:
Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends first introduced me to this villain, in a memorable episode in which he seriously injures Aunt May. Feeling responsible for her condition, Peter reveals his origin story to his superpowered allies for the first time, and nearly quits being Spider-Man before stepping up again at the end of the episode to take the villain down. Shocker wears a slickly designed padded costume, and weilds a pair of vibro-shock gauntlets that can vibrate the air in front of them and create devastating blasts.

4) Mysterio:
Of all Spidey's villains, a guy with a big sphere over his head was always the easiest for me to draw. Mysterio was Quentin Beck, a movie special effects expert who uses technology and chemistry to create illusions. Whether sending machines, holograms, or hallucinations at our hero, he was a formidable foe manipulating scenarios from behind the scenes. I once read an interesting theory about the Spider-Man movies that the different characters portrayed by Bruce Campbell for his cameo appearances in each film would turn out to all be Beck playing various roles, until he was finally revealed as Mysterio in a sequel. Though likely wishful thinking on the part of fans, it would be a really cool way to go.

5) Rhino:
I admit this last one is a bit of an unusual choice, given other classic major foes like Green Goblin or Doc Ock that I haven't even touched upon. Rhino isn't some evil genius, and doesn't have cool powers like Sandman or Electro. He's just a lumbering brute trapped in a Rhino costume. But, for me, the greatest Spider-Man battles have been the ”David and Goliath” scenarios in which Spider-Man faced larger, stronger foes like Firelord or Juggernaut. Spidey constantly hopping around, tossing out distracting wisecracks while the slower Rhino tries to land a punch, any one of which would be devastating if they landed, is an iconic scenario.

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6 Comments:

Blogger TheWriteJerry said...

Wow, my list is completely different:

Green Goblin (original)
Electro
Kingpin
The Lizard
Kraven

5/04/2009 7:52 PM  
Blogger Rey said...

1) Venom
2) Kraven
3) Hobgoblin
4) Green Goblin
5) Electro / Kingpin

5/05/2009 12:56 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

I know Kingpin was more of a Spidey foe in the Lee/Ditko era, and there have been some good Kingpin stories over the years like the gang war, but I tend to think of him as more of a Daredevil foe. And outside of Kraven's Last Hunt, I was never really a fan of that character.

I probably should have given Norman Osborn some respect though and worked him in to my list somewhere. I also remember a really cool Electro storyline in which he realizes Spider-Man sticks to walls through a form of static electricity, and since he controls electricity he can negate that ability. Both of those characters could easily have made my list, maybe in place of Shocker and Rhino.

5/05/2009 7:39 AM  
Blogger TheWriteJerry said...

There was a run in the early 80s written by Tom Defalco that I consider one of the best Spidey runs ever, perhaps one of the best in comic book history. He had Spidey mostly squaring off against the Sinister Six and it was just good old-fashion comic book fun. I'll have to find the issue numbers online (I think it was in Amazing Spider-Man); I bet they can be had for cheap.

As for Kingpin - yeah, modern era Marvel really did make him more of a Daredevil villain,, but he had some classic stories in Spider-Man.

5/05/2009 9:17 AM  
Blogger Fistful Of Donuts said...

I'm completely with you on the first four, and I especially enjoyed what you wrote about the Lethal Protector. But Rhino? Really? He's always been my least favorite.

My list would be

Venom (The originalEddie Brock version is my favorite, but I also like the current Venom/Scorpion version.)

Carnage (No Carnage love in the comments?! Come on, fellas!)

Doc Ock

Sandman

Hobgoblin (I could never keep the various incarnations straight in my head)

5/05/2009 7:11 PM  
Blogger MCF said...

Carnage was a bad idea that heavily diluted the original. I know making slight changes to existing characters to create new ones was a big trend in the 90s; I own every issue of Thunderstrike, for example. War Machine and U.S.Agent had their merits as well. And I put Hobgoblin in my list and alluded to Demogoblin before mentioning Green Goblin. But Venom was SCARY when he first appeared, and the symbiote was something unique. After that psycho Kassady got a suit, it seemed like everyone had a symbiote. I think I had one Venom comic where he fought like six or seven.

Jerry, I think the Gang War I mentioned was from DeFalco's run on Amazing. Even though I started collecting in the Michelinie/MacFarlane era, I did pick up a bunch of the back issues leading up to it. I'm working my way through season 2 of the Spec Spidey cartoon now and they did a pretty cool adaptation with Hammerhead, Silvermane, Doc Ock, and Tombstone(since the show doesn't use Kingpin).

5/05/2009 10:54 PM  

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