Whelp, the Fanholes did their list of LAMEST Spider-Man villains, so I will now counterbalance it with a list of my personal FAVORITE Spider-Man villains.
Go web, go!
First Appearance- Amazing Spider-Man # 13 (1964)
Obviously, one of the most unique-looking villains ever. Lots of cool gimmicks, nice "mythology" build up around him over the years. Nothing is what it seems, so you can take or leave bits of his continuity as you please.
Many people were pissed when he offed himself in Kevin Smith's Daredevil run, but in retrospect, I kinda thought his whole campaign there was a nice expression of his potential unleashed, even if it wasn't against Spider-Man. And besides; it's been undone now.
I love it when all incarnations of a character meet or team-up, and I dug Peter David's Mysterio story in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Seeing the Beck, Berkhart, and Klum Mysterios all in the same story was cool. And while I usually shy away from the more mystical elements in comics, I wouldn't have minded seeing how a more “supernatural” Mysterio would face-off with Spider-Man, at least briefly.
|If Jeph Loeb had done this version, he'd call it “Rysterio”.|
Dan Slott eventually retconned away most possibility of legit mysticism, as well as Beck's suicide, as just more man-made illusions. I guess that's the best way to keep Mysterio in Spider-Man's more “grounded” world. But some writers really tend to stretch Mysterio's capabilities and expertise to unbelievable levels.
COUGH, Mark Millar, COUGH, Brian Michael Bendis, COUGH.
|Why couldn't you have created the illusion that Old Man Logan was a good story, Mysterio??|
9. Black Tarantula-
First Appearance- Amazing Spider-Man # 419 (1997)
Before Ed Brubaker "dawg'd" him up over in Daredevil, this dude was a big noise under Tom DeFalco during his run on Amazing Spider-Man just after the Clone Saga.
Head of a South American crime empire, rumored to be immortal, possessed of super-strength, durability, concussive eyebeams, and the ability to heal others' injuries. DeFalco dropped hints that he had some kind of past with someone at the Daily Bugle, and his ex-wife became a friend of Mary Jane's.
After being built up for several months in the shadows, he finally debuted properly during the “Spider-Hunt” storyline. The Black Tarantula beat and unmasked Spider-Man in their first encounter, leaving Peter wounded and on the run from bounty hunters looking to collect the reward on his head.
Their second fight was more of a Juggernaut-esque affair with Peter desperately holding the powerhouse Tarantula at bay, even having to use his departed “brother” Ben Reilly's impact webbing and stingers in the fight. It ends in a stalemate, with the Tarantula gaining respect for Spider-Man's ironclad perseverance.
|Stay back or I'll faint all over you!|
Unfortunately after this, he never appeared in 616 continuity proper again until Ed Brubaker brought him back in Daredevil and reduced him to the status of a local gangbanger. He went on to become a supporting cast member of Daredevil, but the stature he once held was lost. Thankfully, most of his badassness and personal mythology was maintained in his son Fabian, who was a recurring character in DeFalco's Spider-Girl series.
I guess I might be a bit of a hypocrite for liking him, since I really dislike Morlun, and the Black Tarantula shares many of the same traits as him. But I feel like the Black Tarantula was eventually given enough substance to overlook that. Plus, he's much cooler-looking than Morlun and at least he has a spider-motif.
First Appearance- Spectacular Spider-Man # 25 (1978)
I'm talking the original, scary one that was a failed clone of Miles Warren. One of the first "horror" stories I read in Spider-Man, Carrion would leave phrases like "The Dead Walk, Parker" written in various places like Peter's apartment and ghoulishly float around and look creepy. Spider-Man had to team-up with (dios!) the White Tiger to take him down.
Carrion also had a lame-o minion named “Darter” and created a “Spider-Amoeba” clone to absorb Peter, which eventually backfires as Spider-Amoebas do, and eats him instead. It was all admittedly a bit silly.
|We've all had days like this.|
But still, Carrion freaked me out a bit when I first read this story, and he does make for a macabre visual.
Of course, after this initial storyline, Carrion would never be quite as creepy or effective a villain. The stupid punkass Malcolm McBride one that shows up in Maximum Carnage and elsewhere can't hold a candle to the original “zombie” version.
Definitely one of Spider-Man's more horrific villains, but I do admit he was probably more of a one-trick pony that should have stayed dead...or undead...or whatever.
7. Kraven the Hunter-
First Appearance- Amazing Spider-Man # 15 (1964)
Obviously his big story influences this choice. This guy “killed” Spider-Man and replaced him for two weeks, beating the shit out of Vermin and terrorizing criminals. And when Peter finally escapes, recovers, and confronts him again, Kraven basically has let go of his anger and grudge and tells him "no hard feelings, right?" And then he kills himself. He quits a winner.
|In Soviet Russia, Kraven beats YOU!|
Like Mysterio, I dug the "mythology" around Kraven and his family, but it was pretty much squandered by "Grim Hunt", and the resurrected Kraven has really done dick-all of note since then. He was menacing Kaine for awhile, which sort of worked, thanks to a bunch of retconned history between the two, but clearly he's never going to be as effective as he was in Last Hunt. He's kind of similar to Carrion in that regard.
But he still gets on the list, based on Kraven's Last Hunt alone.
6. Alistair Smythe (Spider-Slayer)-
First Appearance- Amazing Spider-Man Annual # 19 (1985)
Okay, mostly nostalgia at work here, as "Invasion of the Spider-Slayers" was one of the first trades I ever purchased by myself. This guy has never been super-cool in general or anything...but I can't help but like him. He made evil robots, so he was cool to me. Although, check him out in his first appearance...
Yeah, what a creepy loser. But I keyed in on him when he got his “Ultimate Spider-Slayer” upgrade anyhow, so that's what I'm focused on.
One of his lines from his first Ultimate Spider-Slayer fight with Spidey always sticks with me as exceptionally badass-
|I use Smythe's line when someone tells me I can't park somewhere.|
Not much of a fan of his modern (and final) redesign, but at least Dan Slott tried to make him a viable threat again, and his partnership with the Scorpion and other guys that J. Jonah Jameson dicked over was a nice touch.
|BIO-BOOSTER ARMOR SLAYER.|
5. Mac Gargan (Scorpion/Venom)-
First Appearance- Amazing Spider-Man # 20 (1964)
Here's a dude that I always felt should be treated with much more respect than he is. Mac was the original "anti-" Spider-Man, he's twice as strong, he's got cool gimmicks...but he always, always gets chumped-out. I figured he must have some kind of brains, being that he was originally a private investigator, but he's never written as anything other than an uneducated thug.
His first appearance was reprinted in an issue of Spider-Man Megazine that was another early purchase by me, so that might have contributed to my imprinting on Mac.
|Also where I picked up that the Will O'The Wisp was lame.|
I was excited when he became Venom, because I thought he'd finally get a much-needed bump to the A-list. However, it turned out to be not much of an improvement. He didn't have much control over the symbiote and was mostly-reduced to the co-pilot in the relationship, whereas Eddie Brock was obviously the chief focus of his Venom construct. Plus, after One More Day, the knowledge of Spider-Man's secret identity was erased, robbing Mac of his A-list ticket for good.
Still, I can't help but have fondness for him. He's visually-distinct, and I've always liked most of his costumes. Ironically, one of my favorite Scorpion costumes is the John Byrne-designed one...which showed up at the beginning of what I consider possibly the most terrible era of Spider-Man; the Mackie/Byrne reboot. It also showed up in the Playstation Spider-Man game though, where it managed to look snazzy.
|His one weakness is Daily Bugle office furniture.|
Gargan has the dubious honor of being beaten up by Batman, a guy who he should have roughly twenty-times the strength, durability, and reflexes of. But...it's Batman...and Mac's a chump, sooo...
|Uh...he had Scorpion-Wallet-Taking Spray in his belt.|
Also, in one Spider-Man kids magazine that I used to collect, he tied J. Jonah Jameson to the Bugle's printing press, and claimed that after being run through it, Jonah's name would have to be changed to “J. Jonah JAM-son”.
Holding for laughs...
4. Norman Osborn (Green Goblin)-
First Appearance- Amazing Spider-Man # 14 (1964)
Not much to say here really, other than the obvious. This guy is probably responsible for the heaviest losses in Spider-Man's career. Gwen, Ben Reilly, Harry (for a time), and yes, even poor little Baby May. No amount of magical retcons can wipe that away.
I know many people were disgusted with his return and reveal as mastermind behind the Clone Saga, but back in the day, it kinda blew my mind. It was one of the first times I had been “there” for a major, irrevocable turning point in Spider-Man history, having bought Peter Parker: Spider-Man # 75 new off the shelf. Even today, that issue still holds up for me, not just as the conclusion to the Clone Saga, but as the solidification of Norman as Spider-Man's greatest foe.
But I do think Norman works better when either Harry is out of the picture/dead...or when he was dead himself, serving as motivation for Harry as the Green Goblin. There's really only one beat to play when both Norman and Harry are in the picture together, and it has been played out for decades now.
Nowadays Norman might have taken a backseat to Doc Ock, and Spider-Man even took a backseat in his own personal priorities for a time there when Norm was pretending to be an Avengers villain. Didn't really care for his role in Superior Spider-Man either. I think the last time I truly enjoyed Norman in a story was when he was heading up the Thunderbolts.
|You bet, Tommy Lee Jones!|
But I will probably always see Norman as Spider-Man's greatest foe, personally. The guy who can get the biggest rise out of him. Hopefully someone will recapture some of that focused enmity between them again one day.
|Also I did her.|
First Appearance- Web of Spider-Man # 119 (1994)
Yeah, yeah, I know. The Clone Saga was horrible and I'm terrible for liking Kaine. But again, it is kind of a case of “imprinting” on some of the first comic issues I managed to buy with my own money.
As a kid, my guess as to Kaine's identity was Peter and MJ's son from the future! I guess my brain was infected by X-Men or something. But he turned out to be Peter's first, failed clone.
|ME ALAN MOORE.|
Always thought Kaine made a better "dark" Spider-Man than Venom did. His warped versions of Spider-Man's powers were always cool to me, what with the precognitive Spider-Sense and the “Mark of Kaine” adhesive/burning hand ability.
J.M. DeMatteis always wrote Kaine with a nice degree of depth in his relationship with Ben Reilly and Peter, and added some real pathos to a character that could have ended up as a joke. I'm well aware some still think he's a terrible remnant of the 90s, but I'm not one of those people. In retrospect, Kaine always seemed to me to be one of the LEAST awful things that sprung out of the Clone Saga.
Plus, he makes a career of killing lamer Spider-Man villains. Grim Hunter, Raptor, The Queen, Shathra, Solus...
|Neck snap, Kaine don't take crap.|
Nowadays he gets to be the anti-hero they were clearly hoping he'd become back in the Clone Saga as the new Scarlet Spider. And I think it is only fitting that he now possesses the “Other” powers that were a cast-off from another story most fans dearly wish to forget. Kaine's a collection of failed ideas who somehow still manages to work as a character for me, and that's why I still like him to this day.
|Kaine still bears his '90s pedigree with pride.|
2. Harry Osborn (Green Goblin II)-
First Appearance- Amazing Spider-Man # 31 (1965)
Chalk another one up along with Kraven and Kaine to J.M. DeMatteis for making me like Harry as a villain so much. The bitterness and venom between Peter and him was expressed so well.
I think Harry was effective to me as a bad guy because his friendship with Peter made it all so very personal and close-to-home. Sometimes being in a tiff with your best buddy is the worst feeling in the world, and it was captured brilliantly under DeMatteis and Sal Buscema. When Harry was an evil douche, he really was an evil douche.
|And I left that flaming bag of dog doo on your doorstep too!|
Even in Harry's first outing as the Goblin in Amazing, I felt so damned satisfied when he's threatening to kill MJ, May and Flash, and Peter just one-punches him.
And of course, he gets a touching death scene and all that...and of course like with Kraven, they ruined all that by bringing him back. Still, those classic stories with him will never go away in my mind. Even crap like the "Robot Parents" storyline at least had a satisfying pay-off thanks to Harry.
|I made you beat your parents, nyah nyah nyah nyah NYAAAH nyah!|
I don't care much for his current portrayal in the comics, but I felt like Dane DeHaan's Harry Osborn in the Amazing Spider-Man movies had potential. His was a Harry who wasn't hung-up on his father's approval and was someone I could have seen becoming Spider-Man's greatest foe in Norman's absence. Too bad it was not to be.
1. Roderick Kingsley (Hobgoblin)-
First Appearance- Spectacular Spider-Man # 43 (1980)
Obviously nostalgia plays a large factor here as the original Hobgoblin was in some of the first Spidey comics I ever read, but Kingsley earns this spot on his own anyhow.
Granted, mostly due to retcons, but this bastard got away with his crimes for so damn long through a string of patsies, stand-ins, and sacrificial lambs. Roderick Kingsley played the game smarter, not harder, and that made him seem pretty badass to me when all the cards were finally on the table. Not to mention the fact that Ned Leeds being the Hobgoblin never seemed right to me to begin with, so the bonus of wiping that away worked well too.
The original Hobgoblin was one cold bastard, particularly under his creator, Roger Stern. He decayed a bit under Tom DeFalco, becoming the Rose's stooge...and of course once the revelation of his true true identity was revealed, most of the mystique was gone.
Still, Roddy managed to maintain his badass rep in Spider-Girl (with DeFalco making up for his own contribution to the Hobgoblin's decay).
|A GIRL Spider-Man? How droll.|
Nowadays, he could do worse than running a villain identity-for-rent business and looking sorta like Slade Wilson. Heck, he comes out looking like a total boss by the end of Superior Spider-Man's “Goblin Nation” storyline. Some might call his methods out as cowardice, but I prefer to just think of ol' Roddy as the man with the plan. And that's why he's my favorite Spidey villain!
|Yeah, he hangs out with David Xanatos, no doubt.|
And those are my picks! Questions? Comments? I welcome them. Please write in and tell me why I'm stupid for not including Carnage. You know you want to.