I’ve had a lot of time to think lately. Like many of you, I’m not a huge fan of too much mental downtime, though I would love if my brain would let me spend a little more time sleeping. I’m surviving, though, in part by deep diving into old manga, in part by changing careers (somepony just submitted a nonfiction book proposal and is still waiting to hear about that horror novella), and in part by keeping up with these comics A–Z challenges. So far we’ve done emotions, the arts, heroes, and folklore/mythology. Where to next?
I think the villains deserve a chance to shine. After all, they’re the ones who keep things interesting, aren’t they? What fun would the heroes be if they didn’t have anyone to challenge them?
A: All for One
My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi
Despite being primarily confined first to his lair, and then to the Tartarus prison, All For One has proved a resourceful villain, popping up at various points during My Hero Academia’s lengthy (and still ongoing) run. Known primarily as All Might’s nemesis and mentor to the League of Villains’ Tomura Shigaraki, All for One’s quirk (superpower) allows him to steal and retain the quirks of others, including a Life Force quirk that has allowed him to live, and collect powers, for over a century. He can only use one quirk at a time but can switch at will. The only power he can’t steal is One for All, which he himself accidentally created and is now held by All Might’s successor, Izuku Midoriya.
In addition to his stolen quirks, All for One’s abilities include: enhanced strength, speed, and durability; enhanced senses; and genius level intellect.
B: Briar, Yuri
Spy X Family Vol. 3 by Tatsuya Endo
Yuri Briar is Yor’s brother and a Secret Police agent who specializes in torture. He doesn’t know that Loid Forger, the man his sister has married both for his convenience and for hers, is Twilight, his nemesis and his agency’s number one most wanted; then again, neither does Yor. And neither man knows Yor is The Thorn Princess, one of the world’s most deadly assassins. Yuri does know he doesn’t trust Loid with the sister who raised him, who would come home covered in blood with the books he’d been coveting and zero explanation and he isn’t going to let some man ruin her life.
Look out, Twilight.
Secret Six, Vol. 1 by Gail Simone, Dale Eaglesham, and Brad Walker
Thomas Blake turned to crime after he got bored hunting large game and proceeded to squander most of his fortune instead of…not doing that. He did said crime in a suit sewn from cloth he acquired in Africa and believed to be imbued with a mystical power that gave him nine lives (did I mention his hunting career focused on jungle cats? It did). The majority of Gotham’s heroes and villains found this woo woo to be uproariously ridiculous, and can you imagine the Penguin thinking you’re farcical?
Blake eventually turned in the suit and returned to Africa to live with a pride of lions. When those lions were slaughtered, Blake decided to avenge them by becoming a mercenary (despite his whole thing having been sport hunting large cats) and joined the Secret Six (a sort of villainous Justice League that becomes a very weird little family. King Shark does a musical number…stuff like that) to make the whole tit for tat thing easier. After the poachers were caught, he decided to stay with the team and has been with them on and off since.
Catman is an expert in hand to hand combat, is skilled with blades, and has above average intelligence. He also has a Catmobile and an anger management problem.
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness by Kou Saskura
Dracula has declared war on the human race and Ted’s (yes, Ted) father took up his sword and joined the force marching out to meet the dark lord. Rosalee, a young nun, has discovered an unconscious stranger and is trying to nurse him back to health. Isaac, one of Dracula’s generals, is abroad in the land, searching for Hector, one of his compatriots who has gone missing.
A werewolf interrupts dinner!
Rosalee takes apples into town and disaster ensues!
I am laughing so hard right now.
Elektra Lives Again by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley
Suffering from mental illness after the murder of her mother, Elektra’s father sent her for residential psychotherapy and training in martial arts. Sure. Why not? Supposedly, she got better.
She met Matt Murdock when her father was Greek ambassador to the United States and they were both studying at Columbia; fellow thrill seekers Matt and Elektra quickly forged a bond based on adrenaline and sex.
After tangling with the Hand, who assassinated her father, Elektra fled her connections, including Matt, and became a bounty hunter and mercenary. She and Matt reconnected when she returned to New York for a job, but found themselves at odds when she agreed to work for the Kingpin. A brief team up to capture Bullseye, who was out of control due to a brain tumor, turned tragic when he murdered Elektra (I bet it was super cold in that fridge).
As I am sure you are aware, it didn’t take.
Purged of the Hand’s influence by her resurrection, Elektra went solo, making friends with Wolverine, opening a dojo, joining a dance company (?), and generally faffing around. She helped Doctor Strange knock someone off so he could be resurrected in a new body, freelanced for S.H.I.E.L.D., fought some Super Skrulls, joined Heroes for Hire, joined the Thunderbolts (with Deadpool, the Punisher, and Agent Venom—now that’s a team for you).
At the moment, Elektra tends to pop up occasionally in other people’s books, her ends justifying her means.
Villains are so much fun, aren’t they? Personally, I think it’s even more important for the baddy to be interesting, fleshed out, detailed than it is the hero. More mayhem next time on A–Z.