Monday, August 13, 2007

The Best Comic Crimelords

As we meet the new bosses in ‘New Avengers’ and ‘Daredevil,’ get your hands dirty with the Top 5 greatest gangworld godfathers in comics

By Sean T. Collins

Posted August 10, 2007 2:35 PM

Crime in the Marvel Universe got a pair of new faces this week, as (SPOILER ALERT) the Hood muscled his way to the top of the supervillain heap in New Avengers #33 and Mr. Fear made his play for Hell’s Kitchen in Daredevil #99. But these two dastardly dons are just the latest in a long line of comics criminals who’ve made readers an offer they can’t refuse. So strap on a wire and have a sitdown with the Top 5 felons of all time, but be warned—you might have to enter witness protection.

5. BLOCKBUSTER (Nightwing)
Okay, so the whole “gigantic powerhouse in an expensive suit” thing had been done before Roland Desmond got there. Heck, he even picked former Batman sidekick Nightwing for an archnemesis rather than take on the big black Bat himself. But the late lord of Blüdhaven went above and beyond the call of duty to get to the top—injecting himself with growth serum, making a deal with the devilish Neron and getting a heart transplant from a talking gorilla. That’s dedication, people.

4. BIG BOY (Dick Tracy)
Revenge is a dish best served cold—and after decades and decades of stewing. The first real villain in Dick Tracy’s notoriously wild rogues’ gallery, this ganglord killed Tracy’s girlfriend Tess Truehart’s father right in front of her back in the ’30s. Half a century later, old, dying, and reduced in power, he decided to launch one last vendetta in order to see Tracy push up the daisies before he himself did. His patience didn’t pay off, of course, but give the old bastard an E for Effort.

3. THE PENGUIN (Batman)
He may be best known as the monocle-sporting, “waugh waugh wuagh!”ing gentlemen criminal immortalized by Burgess Meredith—or turned into a freakshow by Tim Burton—but for a while, Oswald Cobblepot kept the entire Gotham underworld under his umbrella, ella, ella. Taking advantage of the “No Man’s Land” earthquake to make himself the tip of the black-market iceberg, the Penguin ruled the roost until the town’s vigilantes and rival villains alike forced him out. But ensconced in his swanky Iceberg Lounge, the Penguin could swim back to the front of the flock at any moment.

2. THE COLONEL (Sin City: Hell and Back)
Frank Miller’s nasty noir epic has seen more than its fare share of hoodlums, most of whom are divided in loyalty between the Magliozzi mafia and the Wallenquist syndicate. But the Colonel plays by a whole different set of rules. From snuff films and sex slavery to murder for hire—one of which he memorably carried out himself in the scene whose movie version starred Josh Hartnett and Marley Shelton—the suave, utterly amoral Colonel and his army of gorgeous female murderers make run-of-the-mill mobsters seem like a Cub Scout troop.

1. KINGPIN (Marvel Comics)
There can be only one, and when it comes to comics, the gangster also known as Wilson Fisk is the cream of the crimelord crop. Rising to the top of New York City’s organized crime world though a combination of criminal genius, legit business acumen and cold-blooded murder, the Kingpin of Crime has plagued the likes of Spider-Man, Daredevil and the Punisher for years. Beating back challenges with his top-flight legal team and 400 pounds’ worth of muscle alike, the Kingpin always seems to end up in charge, no matter how many sons, wives and assorted underlings try to depose him. And his vengeance is vicious—as Daredevil learned when Fisk completely dismantled his life in Daredevil: Born Again, and as Spider-Man found out when Kingpin put out a hit on Aunt May following Civil War. Long live the Kingpin!

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